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Tasmanian treasure: Rare 17th-century map of Australia to refresh

“Archipelagus Orientalis” has been described as the most important European map of Australia for the arrival of the British.

(The national Library of Australia)

A rare map of Australia from the 17th century before the Europeans had fully explored the continent —resurfaced after 350 years. Now, it is finally restored and put on public display in the capital city of Australia, Canberra.

Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu made the map called “Archipelagus Orientalis,” or “Eastern Archipelago,” in 1659. (This new copy was printed in 1663.)

Much of the eastern coast of the continent is missing in this vision of Australia. But the map is notable for, including the earliest records of the sighting of Tasmania by the navigator Abel Tasman, who planted a Dutch flag on the island during his expedition on board the Zeehaen, in 1642. [Amazing Images from Australia’s ‘Lost World’]

“Archipelagus Orientalis”has been described as the most important European map of Australia for the arrival of the British. It is made up of more than 100 years before Captain James Cook sailed into uncharted parts of the Pacific Ocean, and completed the map of the australian coast. Only a handful of complete copies of Blaeu’s map are known.

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This copy turned up in a Stockholm-storage facility in 2010, on the estate of an antiquarian bookstore. The card was sold at an auction, and then acquired by the National Library of Australia in 2013. After a long preservation effort, the library announced that the map is now on display at its head office in Canberra until mid-2018.

The delicate map measures more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) in width. It has a letter pressed text around the outside of the telling of the story of Tasman’s voyages. The map was printed on paper, mounted on cloth, and some pieces were cracking, flaking off or missing when it is returned to the surface. The required years of conservation work before it was ready for display.

The map is supposed to have gone in the store in Sweden in 1950, when the antiquarian bookseller who is the owner of the hotel went out of business, according to the news.com.au. But there is not much known about the map place of residence for that time.

“The fact that it survived is remarkable, and probably owes much to the fact that no one knew existed for about a century,” Ryan Stokes, chairman of the National Library of Australia Council, said in 2013.

Original article on Live Science.

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