Repro ancient boats

I've been a sucker for these stories of people re-building sailing and exploring craft based on 1,000-year old plans ever since my parents gave me  Kon-Tiki to read as an impressionable youth. Maybe it is why I love such riduculous Hollywood tripe like the 13th Warrior.

Now comes this news item: A replica 16th Century junk has sunk off Taiwan, one day short of completing an epic voyage to the US and back (see article). One day short of finishing! And you know why? They were, in BBC lingo, "rammed in two" by a freighter (there is a photograph). The 54ft-long (16.5m) Princess Taiping, powered only by cotton sails on three masts, was designed according to ancient specifications. Like the original Kon-Tiki, the raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. (Amazingly, there is a you tube video). Both expeditions set out to prove that folks other than the usual suspects could have made it here and back earlier than we thought.

There was another, similar, high-profile event with the building and sailing of the "Sea Stallion" Viking ship, which made the journey from Denmark to Ireland in 2007, fully blogged. The entries started with hopeful titles like "Building a Viking warship" and "the ship is launched", and quickly turned shorter and grimmer, with "a rough first night" and "hypothermia strikes" and "hampered by the weather" and "false hope"... suggesting 1) that Vikings were, perhaps not surprisingly, very hardy, and 2) reasons why they didn't have time to leave detailed on-voyage journals.

Still, I guess this stuff appeals to the same part of me that loves old maps, and that is the purported link to the blog.

Rad! Mapping Manhattan Project

Manhattan in 1609 Eric Sanderson is visiting CNR next week: Chris G pointed me to his work. Imagining Manhattan before European contact through visualization. Gorgeous work, and appealing on many levels for geographers everywhere.  Project site, and highlights from the New Yorker.  The image here shows an aerial view of Manhattan as it might have looked in 1609, juxtaposed with the outline of Manhattan today.

Reimagining cities through “hyper-exploration”

For those with an interest in historical maps and/or new uses of the google maps API , check out this HyperCities site created by a group at UCLA. The original of such a site has more data: Hypermedia Berlin, which was created by UCLA Germanic Languages and Jewish Studies Professor Todd Presner when he wanted a better way to teach about Berlin. For details on the sites, here is a short article on Presner.

Schiaparelli’s Beautiful Canali

Sciaparelli’s Canali For those of you without at least a passing interest in Martian cartography, Giovanni Schiaparelli was one of the first astronomer's to map Mars using a halfway decent telescope. He drew exceedingly detailed maps of what he saw, depicting massive, linear trenches he called canali. He firmly believed these were too straight to be formed by any natural process, and that they must have been artificially produced by inhuman minds (perhaps even cool and unsympathetic ones). His maps were the state of the art for about 20 years. BibliOdyssey has a wonderful post showing some of Schiaparelli's maps, which are far more beautiful than I had imagined, having previously only seen crude reproductions in 2-tone print. Wonderful stuff. Via The Map Room

The VTM photo-hunt is on (at least in the Bay Area)

I am reinvigorating the mission to re-shoot the VTM photos. At least in the Bay Area. This was prompted by the recent Berkleyan article about the new UC reserve in Santa Clara County ("preserves oak-woodland ecosystem at urban/wildland interface"). I thought "I wonder if there are any pictures of the area from the VTM collection?" and had a search this weekend. Sure enough, there are some nice ones. So I've geo-located a few from around the bay to get us started. Any ideas on: automating the process; making an easy site to upload paired photos; an easy way to link Township/Range queries into gmaps... Any volunteers to do Santa Cruz County? Lots of great pics there. And check out the local logging history documented in the photos of the New Almaden quad.