Kangaroo Drawing Could Rewrite Australia's History
It possibly indicates the Portuguese got there first
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 18, 2014 7:05 AM CST
An image of the page of an illuminated Portuguese manuscript.   (Les Enluminures Medieval Art)

(Newser) – A tiny prayer book could upend the conventional wisdom about the European discovery of Australia. New York City's Les Enluminures gallery recently acquired a medieval Portuguese manuscript that appears to contain a drawing of a kangaroo curled into the letter "D." The manuscript, which provides text and music for a liturgical procession and was thought to be owned by a nun, is believed to date between 1580 and 1620, which means it just might predate a 1606 Dutch voyage to the island continent that's long been considered the first European visit, the Guardian explains.

The theory that Portugal beat the Netherlands to Australia has been floating about for years, fueled by Portugal's medieval reputation for maritime secrecy. "It is not surprising at all," a historian who has been a longtime proponent of the theory tells The Age; he believes Portugal charted the continent's coast in 1521-22. But the maps curator of Australia's National Library is skeptical. "It could be another animal in south-east Asia, like any number of deer species," he said, pointing out that some stand on their hind legs while feeding. He adds, "There's no tail showing, which would be the, excuse the language, the major telltale." (Click to read about a manuscript that adds to America's history.)

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Jan 19, 2014 7:35 AM CST
I would have thought for sure that the Vikings would have shown up there.
Jan 18, 2014 1:22 PM CST
And there's a Chinese map documenting the Americas before the Europeans as well. Validity is in question, but it seems legit. Point is: We've always been an exploring, traveling species, and since the victors write history, we've still got a lot of unearthing to do.
Jan 18, 2014 9:23 AM CST
Okay, so...first up, the discoverers of Australia, arrived a loooooong time before the 16th C. But casting that aside, a) the theory of Portuguese 'discovery' has been around since before I was a kid & b) the conventional wisdom is that Portugal is a part of Europe.