The Erdapfel (German: lit. earth apple) produced by Martin Behaim in 1492 is considered to be the oldest surviving terrestrial globe. It is constructed of a laminated linen ball in two halves, reinforced with wood and overlaid with a map painted by Georg Glockendon.
The Americas are not included, as Columbus returned to Spain no sooner than March 1493. The globe shows an enlarged Eurasian continent and an empty ocean between Europe and Asia. The mythical Saint Brendan's Island is included. The islands of the Japanese and Malay archipelago are disproportionately large.
The idea to call the globe "apple" may be related to the Reichsapfel ("Imperial Apple", Globus cruciger) which was also kept in Nuremberg along with the Imperial Regalia (Reichskleinodien). While Erdapfel means potato in some German dialects, the potato was not yet known in Germany and the name clearly is not a reference to one.
From its creation until early in the 16th century, it stood in a reception room in the Nuremberg town hall. After that time it was held by the Behaim family. In 1907, it was transferred to the Germanic Museum in Nuremberg. In 1992, it has been moved to the Vienna University of Technology, to be studied at high resolution by the Behaim Digital Globe Project. In 2011, a second digitalization by the German National Museum has begun.
- "Der Behaim-Globus in Nürnberg" (in German). Bayern-online.
- Lionel Dorffner: Der digitale Behaim-Globus - Visualisierung und Vermessung des historisch wertvollen Originals, in: Cartographica Helvetica 14/1996.
- Digitalisierung durch das Germanische Nationalmuseum Nürnberg (German)
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