Terra Cognita

Newsletter of the Society for the History of Discoveries

Page 13

May 2002

Search for Mazaua: Magellan’s Lost Harbor
      The Philippine search for Magellan’s lost port of March 28, 1521, the islet Mazaua, has taken a critical turn after fixing its true latitude. This was done by correlating the three latitudes—Antonio Pigafetta’s 9° 40’ N, Francisco Albo’s 9° 20’ N, and the Genoese Pilot’s 9° N – with Ginés de Mafra’s 1521 testimony that the islet was 45 nautical miles below Butuan, which appears in Pigafetta’s map where present-day Surigao City is located at 9° 46’ N. The correct latitude of Mazaua turns out to be 9° N. 
      On November 29, 2001, a geomorphologist discovered the improbable: an islet fused with today’s Butuan. It appears in maps as Pinamanculan Hill, a karstic landscape. It may be Mazaua. On May 30, 2001, an archaeologist prised a metal pestle from its soil a few inches below the 15th-17th century shards. It was found to be bronze by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. Pothunters are reported to have found bronze/brass bracelets, glass beads, metal basins, a metal mortar, and a bronze duck. Bronze or brass mirrors have turned up in nearby areas. It is not known yet if these are authentic remains of Magellan.
      The circumference of Mazaua, according to Mafra was 3-4 leagues (or 9-12 nautical miles), an isle of 3,900 hectares. Pinamanculan’s area appears to be the same. Magellan and his men carried tens of thousands of mirrors, glass beads, iron nails, knives, pots, pipes, mess bowls, etc. If this is Mazaua, any or many of these will turn up. Mafra in his second visit to the isle stayed two months. He and his shipmates would have left many relics, certainly more than Magellan, who was there only seven days. In Pinamanculan the paths of historiography, geology, archaeology, cartography, linguistics, oceanography, nuclear science, and religion have converged.
Vicente de Jesus
Malabon City, Philippines

Our Man at the R.G.S.
(Francis Herbert sent this short account of what is going on presently at the Royal Geographical Society)

      The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has been allocated funds towards a two-year project approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The projects include retroconversion online of the hitherto predominantly card catalogues of its constituent collections (Library, Map Room, Pictures, Archives, and Museum (i.e., artefacts)); and rebuilding (to include the central reading area with environmentally-controlled and increased storage area – both subterranean), and a new entrance in Exhibition Road, with different uses of existing spaces.
      As the majority of the Map Room and library materials are stored in areas to be excavated, they will be stored off-site, hence will be inaccessible. Both the Picture Library and the Archives (manuscript correspondence of geographers and travelers, the Society’s business records, etc.) will continue to function as best as possible. The Picture Library, Archives, and artefacts have contributed considerably over the past two years to exhibitions, and to publications relating to the Antarctic (Scott, Shackleton, etc.)

Dennis Reinhartz at stop near Colorado Springs along the way to Bent’s Fort, Colorado, 
September 9, 2001. (Fig. 8)

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