Antarctic Maps
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Orthodox history tells us that we are the first technologically advanced civilization to inhabit the earth. We see ourselves as the smartest, toughest, most evolved critter to stake its claim on this planet. But is there evidence that someone was here before us?

In the year 1799, Captain Cook became the first person in recorded history to glimpse the ice-shrouded continent Antarctica. Before his voyage, not a single explorer in recorded history had reported sailing that far south or sighting any land. To Cook and his contemporaries, the continent was an entirely new discovery. And yet, a curious tradition existed among medieval map makers of a vast land to the south, "Terra Incognita" or Unknown Land. Even though no explorers' accounts of this place existed, traditions and legends of it were strong, telling of a temperate climate, unusual animals which roamed jungles and plains, and a civilization of dark skinned people. For centuries mapmakers and philosophers speculated about the great southern land and what might be there. Cook's voyage finally dispelled the utopian visions. He found only ice, and beyond that more ice. In fact, the ice was so dangerous that it forced him to turn back and retreat northward before he even got close enough to land. If this desolate place ever was a paradise, it must have been a very long time ago.

Most maps dating from the Medieval and Renaissance period are highly inaccurate due to the limits of surveying technology of the time. However, strangely there exist a few dramatically different maps, ones which are many times more accurate than any other maps drawn at the time, even from areas as well surveyed as central Europe. Stranger still, the land which these maps all show is Antarctica, a place no explorer had ever seen.

 

Copyright 2010 Tim Stouse
Last modified: December 10, 2010
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