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First Globe to Show New World Goes 3D
January 14, 2015

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A team of researchers has created a three-dimensional scan of the first known globe that depicted the New World.

Known as the Lenox Globe, the small hollow copper sphere is thought by geographers to date to the 1500s, based on what is depicted on the globe and how it is named. The globe measures just 4.4 inches across, and the engravings, including a depiction of South America, are very detailed.

In all, the curator, cartographer, and scientists who made up the research team took dozens of pictures of the globe, in 3D and in 2D. The 3D scan involved 18 pictures around the equator and more than 70 images of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The high-resolution scans used different colors of light, including ultraviolet.

To ensure an entirely accurate representation of the not-quite-perfectly globe, the researchers also took two-dimensional scans. Putting the 2D scans together with the 3D scans will give the researchers the most accurate picture possible of the tiny globe.

The globe is very similar to one known to be created in Poland about 1510. Historians think that that globe and the Lenox Globe were made by the same person.

The Lenox Globe is named for James Lenox, a rare book collector whose library became part of the New York Public Library. The Lenox Library acquired the globe in the 1860s, when it was donated by Richard Hunt, who bought the globe at Paris flea market in 1850.

The Lenox Globe is also one of two known globes to contain the Latin words Hic sunt dracones, which translate into English as "Here be dragons."

The other globe is one carved onto an ostrich egg in the 16th Century but not known publicly until 2013.

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