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A Lost Map of Hidden Gold!

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#1
Michael Karpovage

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Hey everyone,

Hopefully that title is an eye-catcher!

Not sure if you knew but I wrote a mystery thriller novel called Crown of Serpents and of course I created some map illustrations for that book. It's gotten excellent reviews and readers love the maps to help them visualize a scene. Reviewers have called it "National Treasure meets The Lost Symbol." With that said I am having a lot of demand for a sequel and I've already started research into a new novel to be based here in Georgia, USA. And because I LOVE maps I want the basis of the new novel to be about an ancient lost map that marks all of the known gold mines and buried treasure locations that the Cherokee Indians have pinpointed over the many centuries of their existence in the north Georgia mountains. This area was actually America's first gold rush once the white man had "discovered" gold. But in fact the Cherokee had been mining for centuries before and accumulated countless hoards. This hypothetical map would have been handed down over generations and continually rendered by a secret society of cartographers until the Cherokee were forced from their lands in the 1830's on the tragic Trail of Tears. It would be the mother lode prize that my main character - a military historian - would be on a dangerous hunt or quest for. And of course it could only be deciphered with a legend key based on Cherokee language symbols.

This map would have first been started by a Spanish cartographer so assume the materials had come from Europe. But then this Spanish cartographer trained a Cherokee in this ancient art and thus how the secret cartographic society was formed and progressed until their forced removal.

So, my question is about authenticity of the map materials -- not about plot (I'll work out all of those logistics on my own). What type of material would this map be drawn on? Of course that would depend on the year it was started so let's say since the Spanish started mining gold in north GA about the 1560's and Cherokee Indians also were heavily engaged in mining at that time, then what would be the material of that day? And the type of ink used, implements, tools, and any other specific attributes about the authenticity of an ancient map. I'm probably going to have this map very large and broken into three panels - which will be hidden of course. So, how would one go about storing or sealing a map of this nature (rolled up like a scroll?) and what would it be stored in too? I'm looking for period materials.

Any input would be greatly appreciated for my research. And you know I'm going to have a ball to recreate this ancient map in Photoshop!

Best Regards,

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Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com


#2
DaveB

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Maybe something like portolan charts? I think these were often done on vellum (more durable than paper). Not sure about inks and such. Portolan charts were regarded as state secrets, so they woiuld've been taken care of and kept as safe as possible (given that they would've been carried around in ships so they could be used for navigation).
Dave Barnes
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#3
Hans van der Maarel

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Maybe something like portolan charts? I think these were often done on vellum (more durable than paper). Not sure about inks and such. Portolan charts were regarded as state secrets, so they woiuld've been taken care of and kept as safe as possible (given that they would've been carried around in ships so they could be used for navigation).


Wouldn't it have been likely that the original vellum map had deteriorated over the course of centuries and the Cherokee made a replacement copy on animal skins? Just throwing a thought out there.
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#4
Michael Schmeling

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This is the ideal question for the MapHist mailing list. There are historians over there who would know all about it. (Perhaps they'll even find out that your map already exists :D )
Michael Schmeling
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#5
Michael Karpovage

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Maybe something like portolan charts? I think these were often done on vellum (more durable than paper). Not sure about inks and such. Portolan charts were regarded as state secrets, so they woiuld've been taken care of and kept as safe as possible (given that they would've been carried around in ships so they could be used for navigation).


Wouldn't it have been likely that the original vellum map had deteriorated over the course of centuries and the Cherokee made a replacement copy on animal skins? Just throwing a thought out there.


Not if the map was stored in a container of some sorts and then placed deep in a cave where the temperature was a constant lower degree.

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Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com


#6
Michael Karpovage

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This is the ideal question for the MapHist mailing list. There are historians other there who would know all about it. (Perhaps they'll even find out that your map already exists :D )


IF that map exists then I'll be out there looking for it the rest of my life!!! Could you imagine if you came into possession of something like that? Pretty cool. In reality though, there are lots of waybill maps that were created by the Cherokee right before they were forced from their homeland. They were unable to take their gold with them and buried their treasures in community vaults/tunnels and other countless locations across the mountains that they knew intimately. They carved symbols in trees and on rocks to help guide them. Many came back from Oklahoma to retrieve their family treasures based on these waybills being handed down to family members.

I'm getting this information from the rare book called Cry of the Eagle.

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Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com


#7
Dennis McClendon

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First problem I see is that there were no Cherokee "language symbols" until 1821, and pretty much never in Georgia.

As for materials, I suppose there's always charcoal on deerskin, but I would sooner think it would be carved into a cypress log or piece of flat limestone.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#8
Hans van der Maarel

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Wouldn't it have been likely that the original vellum map had deteriorated over the course of centuries and the Cherokee made a replacement copy on animal skins? Just throwing a thought out there.


Not if the map was stored in a container of some sorts and then placed deep in a cave where the temperature was a constant lower degree.


A plot spoiler before you've even written the book? ;) But yeah, if stored properly it would easily last all that time.
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
Red Geographics
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#9
Michael Karpovage

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First problem I see is that there were no Cherokee "language symbols" until 1821, and pretty much never in Georgia.

As for materials, I suppose there's always charcoal on deerskin, but I would sooner think it would be carved into a cypress log or piece of flat limestone.


I'm not worried about the written language - which was developed in 1819. Instead I'm going to be using the petroglyph symbols that were used as a way to communicate and navigate way before then. Here is an example of these symbols at a place called Track Rock: http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Track_Rock -- this type of challenge will be worked out in the plot. Right now I'm merely interested in materials of the period for a map.

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Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com


#10
Matthew Hampton

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and pretty much never in Georgia.



What about New Echota?

co-cartographic creator of boringmaps.com


#11
Michael Karpovage

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Arid Ocean, I posted this question on MapHist too. Thanks for that advice.
Hans, yeah a bit of a spoiler I suppose. But I think you'll forget in about two years or so before it's published! ;)
Dave B., great feedback on the portolan charts. I looked those up and found out they were frequently drawn on sheepskin. And the first portolan chart dates back to 1296. Can you imagine finding a map that old? Pretty freakin wild. But whether it be sheepskin or another animal skin the material was called vellum way back then - meaning skin. Only later did vellum paper appear. So, it seems that I should be using an animal skin most certainly as the material and the proper term is vellum. YEAH! And hear I thought it was a paper product way back when. Appreciate the tips!

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Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com


#12
l.jegou

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The FilterForge plugin for Photoshop contains some mayby interesting filters to produce such a map, for example :

- old parchment : http://www.filterfor...lters/1480.html
- old drawing : http://www.filterfor...lters/4326.html
- cartography : http://www.filterfor...lters/2849.html
- scribble :http://www.filterforge.com/filters/5384.html

The new browser of the David Rumsey map collection could also help to find map examples form this period / place :

http://www.davidrumsey.com/view/luna

#13
Michael Karpovage

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The FilterForge plugin for Photoshop contains some mayby interesting filters to produce such a map, for example :

- old parchment : http://www.filterfor...lters/1480.html
- old drawing : http://www.filterfor...lters/4326.html
- cartography : http://www.filterfor...lters/2849.html
- scribble :http://www.filterforge.com/filters/5384.html

The new browser of the David Rumsey map collection could also help to find map examples form this period / place :

http://www.davidrumsey.com/view/luna


What sick site for Photoshop users. I looked at the gallery and was stunned as to the cool pictures after the filters were applied. Thanks so much. I've got it bookmarked.

--
Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com


#14
Dennis McClendon

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I just think that, culturally, the idea that you kept the world's most important secrets on a piece of animal skin (rather than a rock, piece of wood, or earthwork) would have been pretty foreign to the Cherokee. The early reaction to Sequoyah's work also would seem to indicate that the use of glyphs to represent ideas rather than tangible things was not familiar to the Cherokee.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#15
Michael Karpovage

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I just think that, culturally, the idea that you kept the world's most important secrets on a piece of animal skin (rather than a rock, piece of wood, or earthwork) would have been pretty foreign to the Cherokee. The early reaction to Sequoyah's work also would seem to indicate that the use of glyphs to represent ideas rather than tangible things was not familiar to the Cherokee.


Dennis, actually that's all speculation on your part because you're trying to inject your 21st century cultural beliefs and practices back onto a nation of people hundreds and hundreds of years ago assuming that they were incapable of anything but primitive record-keeping. Vellum - from animal skin is probably the most durable form of record-keeping as opposed to carvings in trees or on rocks which disappear from the elements. The portolan charts date back to 1296 for heaven's sake. And there are theories that Europeans - like Moorish fisherman from the Iberian Peninsula - were visiting the New World way before the heavily funded brand names of Christopher Columbus did in the late 1400s. So, who is to say that a Spanish cartographer who comes in contact with a Cherokee Indian in say 1350 couldn't teach him the process of skinning an animal and preparing vellum to create a new material for record-keeping? Who's to say this Spanish cartographer couldn't teach a fellow human being the art of cartography or a new skill of pen and ink? That's the beauty of writing fiction, the opportunity to create what-if scenarios. It's entertainment. Keep an open mind.

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Michael Karpovage

• Savannah Historic District Illustrated Map
www.karpovagecreative.com/savannah

• Account Manager/Illustrator
Mapformation, LLC - Atlanta, GA office
www.mapformation.com

• Author of Map of Thieves
www.mapofthieves.com





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