The discovery that could change everything about the discovery of America

A text from 1340 contains a reference to America: Genoese sailors knew of the existence of the continent 150 years before Columbus

A research by the State University of Milan, coordinated by Professor Paolo Chiesa and published in the journal "Terrae Incognitae" reveals that Genoese sailors were already sharing information about the New World 150 years before Christopher Columbus' expedition in 1492.

Everything we know about the discovery of America, the event that traditionally marks the beginning of modern history, could be revolutionized by the important discovery.

The news about America dated 1340

The discovery of the research group of the University of Milan concerns a work of which the traces had been lost, and that has just been given back to history: it is the "Cronica Universalis" of the Milanese chronicler Galvano Fiamma.

The work, dating back to 1340, presents an evident reference to the American continent, of which until now it was thought nobody had any news before Columbus' expedition.

In the Cronica Universalis it is written: "Sailors who sail the seas of Denmark and Norway say that beyond Norway, towards the north, there is Iceland. Further on is an island called Groland. And still beyond that, toward the west, is a land called Marckalada."

Researchers are certain that Galvanus Flame's Marcklada coincides with the Markland spoken of in the Norse sagas, the medieval Viking legends that with the name Markland, "land of forests," essentially indicate Greenland.

Well, until the discovery of Fiamma's Cronica Universalis, the only pre-modern references to the territories beyond the ocean were found only in Scandinavian and Norse traditions.

The Marcklada, however, was also known among the Genoese sailors, among whom Fiamma lived for a few years, and from which he drew the important information reported in the work just revealed.

America: a land of Giants

The study led by Professor Chiesa has therefore identified, in all probability, "the first mention of the American continent in the Mediterranean region": proof that Genoese sailors and navigators were aware of Viking expeditions across the Ocean.

And it is not a matter of vague information, for the time: Gawain Fiamma even describes the characteristics of the lands that extended beyond Greenland, and those of its inhabitants.

It is written in the Cronica Universalis: "The inhabitants of the place are giants: there are buildings of stones so large that no man would be able to put them in place, except very great giants. There grow green trees and live many animals and birds."

The medieval chronicler seems to report simply what was the oral information available to mariners, and points out a little further that "there has never been any sailor who has been able to know with certainty news about this land and its characteristics."

It seems that the Genoese of the time therefore knew of the existence of America a good 150 years before Columbus' expedition: the news that circulated was shrouded in an aura of legend, in keeping with the spirit of the times and with Norse sources.

According to Professor Chiesa, there are no reasons not to believe in the truthfulness of the chronicle of the Dominican Galvano Fiamma: "it has been known for a long time that the nautical charts drawn in Genoa and in Catalonia offer a more accurate geographical representation of the northern lands, which could indicate a direct contact with those regions".