Benjamin Olshin: Adventures in History of Science: Maps, Marco Polo, and other Curiosities

Network Node: 
Tue., Oct. 29, 2013, 12:30pm

The Institute for Science and Technology Studies is pleased to announce the following talk by Prof. Benjamin Olshin of the University of the Arts, Philadelphia:

"Adventures in History of Science: Maps, Marco Polo, and other Curiosities"
Benjamin Olshin, University of the Arts, Philadelphia
12:30-2, October 29th, 203 Bethune College
(Lunch will be provided)

Academic history of science can seem a very dry subject. But there are many mysteries out there, and investing them can make for a true academic adventure... As far as history tells us, Marco Polo himself never drew any maps recording his travels to the Far East. But some years ago there appeared a quite
curious collection of little-known maps relating to the voyages of Marco Polo.

These fourteen maps and related documents currently are held in a private collection, and they present many curiosities, including hints at knowledge of the New World before Columbus. This talk will not only look at this historical puzzle, but also will highlight how a researcher can have a true academic
adventure in this kind of investigation, with encounters in many areas of knowledge -- from early exploration in Asia to medieval Italian history, and from tales of the remote reaches of the northern Pacific Ocean to early Chinese texts. A few old maps turn into an exciting exploration of knowledge, delving into old manuscripts and deciphering texts to find clues to a historical