17 January 2011

The Oronteus Fineus map of an "ice-free Antarctica"

One of my "guilty pleasures" has been the reading of what some would term "fringe archaeology" articles and books - material that advocates viewpoints not in line with mainstream historical archaeology and history:  Vikings in America (the Kensington Runestone),  ancient astronauts (the Chariots of the Gods, the Nazca lines), lost continents, "unexplainable" artifacts, Zheng He's voyages to the Americas...

Occasionally I encounter references to an "ice-free Antarctica" and maps depicting it, including one I stumbled upon this week at Ancient Destructions -
In 1959, however, in the Library of Congress, Hapgood noticed a presumably authentic map that instantly wiped out his doubts: a map of what was almost certainly Antarctica, done in 1531 by the French cartographer Oronce Fine, also known as Oronteus Finaeus... Admittedly it is too close to the tip of South America, and it is incorrectly oriented, yet the proportions seem similar, the coastal mountains, found in the 1957 geophysical study are in roughly the right places and so are many bays and rivers. Furthermore, the shape of South America itself seems right, and the close resemblance between a modern, scientifically exact map of the Ross Sea and Finaeus' unnamed gulf is striking.

What is different, however, is that the Oronteus Finaeus map does not seem to show the great shelves of ice that, today, surround the continent, nor the great glaciers that fringe the coastal regions. Instead there seem to be estuaries and inlets, suggesting great rivers... It also suggested to Hapgood that since the Antarctic was certainly ice-bound in 1531 - when Oronteus Finaeus made his map - Finaeus must have had access to very ancient maps indeed: maps made when Antarctica was largely free of the mile-thick ice cap that buries it today, and presumably has covered it for millennia.
I've embedded the map above, and it is quite striking for a document from the early 1500s.  It took a bit of searching today, but I finally found a well-written (and extensively illustrated) site that addresses these questions from a "mainstream" point-of-view.
Some of the land depicted to the south of South America may be Antarctica, but the map also conflates that land mass with Tierra do Fuego itself and, more significantly, the continent of Australia (see the screencap above). 

So much for an ice-free Antarctica within recorded human history.  But the Kensington Runesone and Zheng He's voyages are still intriguing possibilities...  Stay tuned.


  1. Charles Hapgood's remarkable book _Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age_ is back in print and available from booksellers such as Amazon.

    Things are labeled "fringe" when one cannot or deigns not to deal with them analytically and rigorously. I taught a course in the early 1970's in the experimental curriculum at Indiana University on the Von Danigen books and how to read them critically and how to sort out wheat from chaff, concepts supported and those only offered.

    I also would recommend Richard Nielsen and Scott Wolter's _The Kensington Rune Stone: Compelling New Evidence_ [also available from Amazon, etc.] for hard evidence against just about every point raised against the authenticity of the Kensingto Runestone.

  2. Another worthwhile study on the Kensington Runestone is Barry J. Hanson's _Kensington Runestone: A defense of Olof Ohman, the accused forger_ unfortunately no longer in print, but I'd bet it is available in some Minnesota libraries!

  3. Doc, I'm about a quarter of the way through Nielsen and Wolter's book and plan to blog it when I finish it.

    I agree it's very convincing.

  4. In reference to your first paragraph, I wonder if you've listened to the Jack Flanders adventures from ZBS? http://preview.tinyurl.com/6a355gj

    Too, too fun.

  5. Not only have I not listened to those episodes, I hadn't even heard of them. Thankx.

  6. Thomas Reiersgord's The Kensington Rune Stone- Its Place in History gives a plausible explanation of the rune stone's history in a cultural context. Robert Argod's Out of Antarctica offers another theory of a warm Antarctic, not very scientific, but he incorporates several legends in a very poetic way.

  7. (I think you meant Antarctica in your last sentence.)

  8. Oops. Typing too fast again. Fixed. Thank you.

  9. I read about the Fineus map, and Hapgood's theory in Graham Hancock's
    "Fingerprints Of The Gods".
    It is a must read for a person of your interests.

  10. "Admittedly it is too close to the tip of South America"

    If the map is from a time when the area was ice free, wouldn't it be possible that it could have been closer to South America as well?

  11. That's true since the level of the sea was around 400 ft below actual levels and what about the continental plate motion.. did it produce a rotation and displacement of antartica..? which if understood, it can provide a date for the maps.. We know some world catastrophe happened around 10,000 years .. since Antarctica became the frozen South pole after being tropical, that means some violent earth upheaval of some type..

    1. Andre, -- You will vastly enjoy, appreciate, and learn from a good introductory Course in Geology, Earth History, and Basic Physics. If both "heard and listened to", you will be thrilled by your new ways of observing and understanding.Bon Voyage!!

  12. I know this post is old, so perhaps you've seen the other maps. The other maps, showing the Atlantic Ocean and other continents, clearly shows the location of ice-free Antarctica. It is certainly not Australia.

    As someone mentioned above, the ice-free Antarctica was probably before the disaster that struck Earth 10,600 years ago.

  13. I read somewhere a while back, that the 1531 maps where copied from much older maps drawn centuries before.


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