Drawings of an Australasian cockatoo discovered on the pages of a 13th-century European manuscript suggest trade with Australia was flourishing as far back as medieval times, researchers said yesterday.
Four images of the white cockatoo feature in Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily’s De Arte Venandi cum Avibus (The Art of Hunting With Birds), which dates from between 1241 and 1248, and is held in the Vatican library.
The colored drawings predate by 250 years what was previously believed to be the oldest European depiction of the bird, in Andrea Mantegna’s 1496 altarpiece Madonna della Vittoria.
Heather Dalton, an honorary research fellow at Melbourne University, published an article about the cockatoo in Mantegna’s painting in 2014 which was seen by three academics at the Finnish Institute in Rome.
They were working on De Arte Venandi cum Avibus and realized they had found much older depictions.
A resulting collaboration between Dalton and the trio revealed that Frederick’s bird was likely to have been either a female Triton or one of three sub-species of the yellow-crested cockatoo.
This means it originated from Australia’s northern tip, New Guinea, or the islands off New Guinea or Indonesia.
Essentially, it indicates that trade with Australia’s north was taking place much earlier than previously thought, and linked into sea and overland routes to Indonesia, China, Egypt and beyond into Europe, Dalton said.
“Although our part of the world is still considered the very last to have been discovered, this eurocentric view is increasingly being challenged by finds such as this,” she said. “Small craft sailed between islands buying and selling fabrics, animal skins and live animals before making for ports in places such as Java, where they sold their wares to Chinese, Arab and Persian merchants. The fact that a cockatoo reached Sicily during the 13th century shows that merchants plying their trade to the north of Australia were part of a flourishing network that reached west to the Middle East and beyond.”
According to the National Library of Australia, the first documented landing by a European in the nation was in 1606.
There are claims of earlier landings by the Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Arabs and Romans, but there is little credible evidence.
Dalton said the Latin text next to one of the images revealed that the cockatoo was a gift from the fourth Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt to Frederick II, who referred to him as the “Sultan of Babylon.”
She pieced together the journey a cockatoo would have taken from Australasia to Cairo and then on to Sicily — which would have been primarily overland and taken several years.
The findings have been published in the Parergon Journal.
With YouTube videos “debunking” allegations of human rights abuses and diatribes on Western “conspiracies” against China, an unlikely set of foreigners is loudly defending Beijing against international critics. They are teachers and business owners from the UK, Colombia and Singapore, a collage of YouTubers garnering fame for their video takedowns of what they say are unfair accusations against Beijing. Videos alternate between praise of China’s rapid development and rebuttals of negative foreign reports about the country. Experts say they are being deployed as a weapon in the information war against China’s critics, with hundreds of videos reaching millions of viewers. “I am trying to
Hospitals are overwhelmed, ventilators are difficult to find and there is no longer enough space at the main cemetery for COVID-19 victims in Mauritius. Barely three weeks before it fully opens its doors to international travelers at the start of the peak tourist season, the island nation is struggling with an alarming explosion in COVID-19 infections and deaths. In just two months, cases have jumped more than fivefold to more than 12,600 as of Friday, by far the largest increase across Africa during this period, data compiled by Agence France-Presse showed. Since the pandemic started, Mauritius has recorded 1,005 cases of COVID-19 per
ELEVATED PARTNERSHIP: The agreement enables Japan to share its equipment and technology, as the countries deepen defense ties amid China worries Japan is to give defense equipment and technology to Vietnam under an agreement signed on Saturday, as the two countries step up their military cooperation amid worries about China’s growing military influence. Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates the countries’ defense partnership “to a new level,” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Details about the transfer of specific equipment, including naval vessels, is to be worked out in subsequent talks, the ministry said. Kishi’s meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phan Van Giang in Hanoi
A city in southern China that is trying to contain a COVID-19 outbreak told the public on Sunday not to leave, suspended bus and train services, and closed cinemas, bars and other facilities. Anyone needing to leave Putian, a city of 2.9 million people in China’s Fujian Province, for an essential trip must have proof of a negative coronavirus test within the past 48 hours, the city government said. China declared the virus under control early last year, but has suffered outbreaks of the more contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. Authorities say that most cases have been traced to travelers arriving from