Researchers believe that Italian mariners knew about America 150 years before Christopher Columbus found the continent.
A 14th-century Milanese friar has left a collection of writings referring to Genoan mariners knowing of a country west of Greenland “where giants live.”
The text was discovered by Italian researchers when researching the Cronica Universalis for the first time, which was authored by Galvaneus Flamma circa 1340, long before Columbus set sail in 1492 from the Spanish port of Palos with hopes of finding a route to the fabled riches of Asia, Daily Mail reported.
Referring to “Markland,” meaning Forestland, the Dominican friar writes: “In this land, there are buildings with such huge slabs of stone that nobody could build with them, except huge giants.
“There are also green trees, animals and a great quantity of birds. However, no sailor was ever able to know anything for sure about this land or about its features.”
The old texts show that rumors of the American continent were circulating in the Mediterranean region before Columbus’ discovery.
Paolo Chiesa, who led the research at the University of Milan, told The Times: “This astonishing find is the first known report to circulate in the Mediterranean of the American continent, and if Columbus was aware of what these sailors knew it might have helped convince him make his voyage.”
The professor of Medieval Latin Literature added: “Nordic legends describe the trips, but until now there has been no evidence that word of this land spread to the Mediterranean.”
In his essay, published in the journal Terrae Incognitae, Mr. Chiesa writes: “The Genoese might have brought back to their city scattered news about these lands, some real and some fanciful, that they heard in the northern harbors from Scottish, British, Danish, Norwegian sailors with whom they were trading.”
First drawn attention to in 2013, the Cronica Universalis was auctioned at Christie’s in 1996 for $14,950 (£10,980).