Mediterranean explorers in search of the spices and riches of the Far East initially believed that they had reached Asia. In part due to this confusion, Europeans conjured up or "invented" images and tales to explain America that would conform to the descriptions of Marco Polo and others.
In early allegorical images, "America" was sometimes portrayed as a noble, native woman submissively awaiting European arrival. Ferocious sea animals and exotic creatures filled early maps of the region. Regrettably, we still have incomplete knowledge of the world view and everyday life of the varied peoples of the Americas before European settlement.
The map contains information available in 1554 at the Casa de Contratacion in Seville, which regulated travel to the Western Hemisphere.
To Europeans, most of the interior of America was still terra incognita (unknown land). Diego Gutierrez filled it in with a mixture of real and highly fanciful images. The map highlights the course of the Amazon River and the location of the silver mines of Potosi.
In Gutierrez, 1562.
The Gutierrez map, which relies upon the collection of data acquired by Spain on America, contains the most up-to-date information on the people, settlements, and other geographical fetures of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America, all of Central and South America, and portions of the map details an area roughly between 0 and 115 degrees longitude west of Greenwich and 57 degrees north and 70 degrees south latitude. Six separately engraved sheets are neatly joined to form the largest printed map of the Western Hemisphere up to that time (36.75 inches by 33.5 inches).
The map provides a grand view of an America filled with images and names that had been popularized in Europe over seventy years: parrots, monkeys, mermaids, huge sea creatures, Brazilian cannibals, Patagonian giants, and an erupting volcano in central Mexico complement the settlements, rivers, mountains, and capes. Although contaiing fanciful imagery, Gutierrez's map did correctly recognize the existence of the Amazon River system, other rivers of South America, Lake Titicaca, the location of Potosi, and the myriad coastal features of South, Central, North, and Caribbean America. It was the last printed Spanish map of America to appear before the late seventeenth century. It was also the first map of America to include the name of California.
Continue the Voyage with Europe Claims America or abandon ship and use the Outline.