In July 2004 Bernard Hauck, Honorary Professor of Astronomy at UNIL, informed his colleague Jean-François Loude that there were two unidentified ancient globes, one terrestrial and the other celestial, in a room at the Physical Sciences building. At the time Loude, also an honorary professor at UNIL and a scientific instrument enthusiast, was drawing up an inventory of all the ancient physics instruments with a view to showcasing them in an exhibition. Upon taking possession of his office the following month in the Physical Sciences Building, Georges Meylan, the newly appointed professor of astrophysics at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), noted the globes as well.
An inset on the terrestrial globe indicates the year 1541 while one on the celestial globe indicates 1551. Both globes bear the signature of Gerardus Mercator. Based on their separate preliminary research, Loude, Meylan and another scientist concluded that these were very probably a pair of rare original globes by the famous geographer Gerardus Mercator that should be housed as soon as possible in the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne at Dorigny.
It was effectively necessary to stow these artefacts, which might be of great value, in a safe place so that they could be conserved in optimal conditions, restored by specialists and exhibited to the public. The opening stage of the Lausanne University globes’ exciting comeback was complete!
Find out more
- Des globes anciens découverts à l’UNIL : in Uniscope 505, Muriel Romani, University of Lausanne 2005.
- Deux globes inestimables oubliés entre deux plantes vertes… : in 24 Heures, Lucia Sillig, 18 January 2005.