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Sailors from Columbus’ hometown knew the United States 150 years before him, study finds

Long before the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America, sailors in his hometown may already have known of its existence, a new analysis of 14th-century documents reveals. Experts in medieval Latin literature at the University of Milan, while transcribing a document dated 1345 and written by Galvaneus Flamma, a friar from Milan, realized that a passage from this ancient essay refers to an area we know today as North America. Discovered in 2013, it suggests that sailors from Genoa, Columbus’s hometown, already knew about this land called Marckalada, as America finds mention for the first time in the Mediterranean region.

According to Paolo Chiesa, one of the authors of the study, it is the “first known reference” of the continent in the Mediterranean area.

The findings were published in the journal Terrae Incognitae before Columbus Day 2021 (October 11), which marks the anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas in 1492.

Galvaneus is known to have written several literary works in Latin, mainly on historical subjects. The document analyzed in this study, Cronica niversalis, is believed to be perhaps his last work.

The document was intended to detail the history of the entire world, from the “Creation” to 1345, the year of publication. However, it was left unfinished.

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