Located! NZ found on 865 Year Old Itallian Map
January 9, 2019
Some early New Zealand historians (eg Eccles, Mackay) were willing to suggest Western discovery prior to Able Tasman. If so, the credit would go to Al-Idrisi (1154AD) for adding this to his famous manuscript and map ‘Tabula Rogeriana’. His King (of Italy) was actually Norman, having pulled off a similar caper in Italy as William in England.
What does Tabula Rogeriana say about New Zealand?
As you would expect, England is described as French property and in glowing terms. So impressive to be able to interpret London, Dover, Hastings etc from a world map so ancient (Londrs, Dobrs, Hastinks). The rest of the world is handled very well too, including knowledge of animals, people, and their habits. What does it say about New Zealand? Allegedly…
“A large and very mountainous country in the farthest Southern Ocean, beyond and far south-east of both Borneo and New Guinea, and as being uninhabited by man, and containing nothing but gigantic birds known as the Seemoah”.
So claimed reputable scientist Dr. Alfred Eccles in 1870 in our newspapers and to his Otago Institute. He was citing second-hand what Napoleon’s right-hand man, Pierre Jaubert, had supposedly translated (1830s). I’ve read and scanned this French text of Tabula Rogeriana (thanks Goolgle translate) but there are no moas described in this source, sadly.
The above passage Doc. Eccles found came from ‘The English Mechanic’ (1865-1926) which was a sort of Wikipedia/Reddit of its day so not reliable enough for this sort of field. It cites ‘Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society’ which has an online database showing me no such thing, and the other titles ring somewhat fake to me.
Here’s a part that rings more true. Uakuak is the name of two islands together in about the right place to be New Zealand. Also, ‘gesira sabarma’ may be the North Island (or possibly Tasmania). And here seem to be the descriptions to match up with these islands that may be New Zealand…
The ‘Island of Clouds’, (Climate 1, Section 10),..
“This last island is named because it sometimes rises from its bosom very white clouds, dangerous for ships.”
Or, as we would say today, the Land of the Long White Cloud. A more ancient title than we ever imagined?
“It comes out of a tongue, thin and long, accompanied by an impetuous wind.”
Could this be the witnessing of Milford Sound, in the Dark Ages? It would be natural to think so as both Cook and Tasman approached New Zealand from this vantage. It seems to be the default landing strip.
“When this point reaches the surface of the waters of the sea, there results a kind of boiling; The waters are agitated as if by a frightful whirlwind, and if it reaches ships, it engulfs them. The cloud then rises, and reappears in rain, without knowing whether this rain comes from the water of the sea, or how the thing passes.”
Yeah, don’t park your boat under a West Coast waterfall, Mohammed…
“In the hills of this Island there is a sand which, presented to the fire, merges and…”
West Coast coal discovered but Arab correspondents don’t know what coal is yet.°
“Close to it, are places cut off from islets and mountains, inaccessible to travellers, on account of the extreme dilapidation of communications.”
Tell me about it. Absolutely. Our State Highways are far in the future. Coasters are still complaining about the road to Southland not being completed even though Labour 1.0 promised it in 1936! But sorry, back to the text..
“The inhabitants are infidels who know no religion, and have not received a law.”
Both of these must wait until at least the eighteen teens…
“The women go bareheaded, wearing only ivory combs
decorated with mother of pearl. A single woman sometimes carries as many as twenty of these combs.”
No hijabs on Maori women, but certainly these combs are well known to us.
“Men’s hairstyles resemble which we call alcan and which is called in the Indian language el-bouhari.”
This must be that heavy bunned up style we’ve seen as recently as Tasman’s and Cook’s depictions.
“They remain fortified in their mountains without leaving them, and without allowing themselves to be visited. However, they ascend on the heights, along the shore, to look at ships, and sometimes they address them in a language unintelligible. Such is their manner of being.”
Tasman probably experienced the same thing 500 years later. And when he did, he says, ‘Zelandia’ was already on the map he carried.¹
So what do you think?
So what do you think? Never heard anyone mention this before but this text was only just digitised in 2017 after all. I’ve convinced myself that this is New Zealand now, known to the West back in 1154. Others have been wrong about that before of course.
Anyone who takes the trouble to look through the text as I have will see the above passages. If they are a New Zealander they will be quite inclined to see great resemblance to their own country as I have. Can anyone blame us?
It’s a big discovery. You heard it here first!
° Correction: Reviewing the notes now (2019) I think the reference is to about mercury ore not coal. See here
1 I’ve quested for sources for this. Evidence, yes. Proof, no.
Image ref. Zoom in on 1927 remastering of the map. North and South Island
Image. Al Idrisi; thefamouspeople.com
Image ref. Milford Sound, [circa 1910s-1930s]; Alexander Turnbull Library
Image ref. Signpost at Gunns Camp; gunnscamp.org.nz
US Library of Congress interactive map:
Manuscript of French translation:
Big blog post, Jonathan Jarrett (2010):
Image, Dr. Alfred Eccles, 1821-1904
- Told the country that he suspected New Zealand was on the 1154AD Italian/Norman/Arab map.I think he was right but had the wrong reasons!