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Who discovered the Great Salt Lake?
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by NaturalResources: [QB] I went to my local library last week and checked out a few books that are frequently referenced in works regarding Andre Thevet. I have just finished reading one of them titled "Andre Thevet's North America" by Roger Schlesinger and Arthur P. Stabler. The first few chapters are on Thevet's life and works, written by the authors. The rest of the book consists of English translations of three of Andre Thevet's major books, "Les Singularitez de la France antarctique" (1556), "La Cosmographie universelle" (1575), and a portion of his unpublished book "Grand Insulaire" (1586). One thing is quite clear after reading the book... Andre Thevet was both a plagiarist and borderline senile in his later years. Some portions of his works, (particularly his last unpublished one, "Grand Insulaire"), are simply the same stories, rephrased and repeated over and over again and other paragraphs are blatantly copied word for word from previously published works by other authors. Ironically, Thevet was a very poor translator, and errors he made while plagiarising, often left him making ridiculous statements such as his translation of a native American phrase to mean "let's wash our beards" when the proper translation was "let's go to our boats". He also devotes large portions to refute works written by other authors, (two former employees in particular who have been subsequently proven more correct), claiming he is the utmost authority on whatever particular subject he is discussing. For example, he claims earthquakes are caused by bottled up winds inside the earth. He can also be proven a liar because he claims he was in three different places at the same time. However, Thevet cannot be totally discredited, and some information included in his works appear to be original, including the first description of snowshoes, tobacco smoking and three unique "Native Canadian" names which can be found in no other works available to him at the time. And, while some of his works are stolen, he has done the world a favor by inadvertently preserving copies of other works, which would otherwise be lost to modern scholars. He was one of the most traveled Frenchmen of his time and had visited Italy, Switzerland, Naples, Venice, Levant, Rhodes, Athens, Alexandria, Lebanon, Arabia, Malta and Brazil all before his death in 1592. (Thevet claims to have visited Florida and Canada, but much evidence suggests he merely passed along the coast of those regions on his return trip from Brazil.) He held the office of royal cosmographer of France for four consecutive kings starting with King Henry II. He was good friends with the famous French explorer Jacques Cartier, (who had extensively explored Canada and surrounding regions), and other 16th century French "notables" such as Sebastian Cabot and Sieur de Roberval. My interest in Thevet centers around his 1575 map that features a lake at the same latitude and longitude of the Great Salt Lake in modern day Utah. This map was published with his 1575 book "La Cosmographie universelle". It is based on Gerardus Mercator's 1569 map, which does not feature the above mentioned lake. Another 1575 map, published by Francois Belleforest, (Thevet's former employee), was featured in his published work (also titled "La Cosmographie universelle") but does not feature the lake either. This leads me to believe that the knowledge of this lake is unique to Thevet, or a source Thevet used which was not available to other authors at the time, (or even to his employees, as demonstrated by the Belleforest map). Thevet describes the "Cibola" and "Quivera" regions twice in his book, (common names given to the regions surrounding the lake), and even mentions the three main branches of the Colorado and confirms that they drain into the Gulf of California. No mention of a lake near either region is made, although Thevet does give the latitude of both regions, 35N and 40N, respectively. I have learned that Thevet's primary source for his descriptions of "New Spain" and surrounding regions came from both his access to the "Mendoza Codex" and the works of other early explorers of the American Southwest such as Marcos de Nizza, Cabeza de Vaca, Coronado and Diego de Alcaraz. All these names should be familiar to anyone following my work, and all could theoretically be the source of Thevet's lake. However, I have done fairly extensive research on these explorers, and thus far found that none of them mention a lake to the north of "Cibola". This fact fits nicely with the idea that knowledge of the lake was exclusive to Thevet, for were it commonly known from one of the above mentioned explorers, the lake would be present in most maps of the period, starting around 1540 onward, which it is not. I have also found partial English translations of the "Mendoza Codex" and discovered that while this is indeed Thevet's main source for information on the Aztecs, thus far, it makes no mention of "Aztlan" or "Cibola", the supposed homeland of the Aztecs. According to modern scholars, knowledge of "Aztlan" comes primarily from both the "Botunrini Codex" and the "Florentine Codex", codices that Thevet likely had no access to. This leaves the source for Thevet's lake still unknown to me, but does provide some new avenues of research, and I am by no means finished researching... Stay tuned, more to follow... NR. [/QB][/QUOTE]
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