A Tale of Two Maps: Johannes Schöner's 1515 and 1524 Depictions of an Antarctic Continent

Originally posted at abovetopsecret.com under the title Antarctica And The Discovery Of A 2,000-Year-Old Map
(Some images retain references to the previous website, atlantismaps.com.)

Doug Fisher

  1. Discovery Of Agrippa's 2,000-year-old Orbis Terrarum
  2. The Art Of Scaling Old To New
  3. When Two Worlds Collide
  4. Confirmation Of Ancient Maps Of Antarctica?
  5. Conclusion

I. Discovery Of Agrippa's 2,000-year-old Orbis Terrarum

Judge for yourselves, but I am convinced that the evidence that follows proves beyond a reasonable doubt that I have indeed discovered a long lost world map, Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum. The map was created by Roman statesman and general Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa roughly 2,000 years ago. Over the centuries many copies were dispersed throughout Europe but dwindled into nonexistence as they were eventually replaced with a hybrid known as the mappa mundi, medieval world maps.

Now I didn't find this antiquated map in one of the usual places: shuffled in amongst some old documents acquired from an estate sale, lying in the corner of a dusty old attic, or filed away in the backroom of a centuries-old library. No, I found this world map in the most unusual of places, affixed to the bottom of a 16th-century globe, or globe gores to be more precise.

It is my belief that German cartographer Johannes Schöner preserved the last remaining copy of an ancient world map by unwittingly incorporating it onto his world globe to depict a large southern continent. This gives a more literal meaning to the expression "a world within a world" with the ancient world map spread across much of the globe's southern hemisphere. That's it below highlighted on Johannes Schöner's 1515 globe gores.

Johannes Schöner's 1515 globe gores which include a depiction of an extremely large nonexistent southern continent.

Below represents the two stages of my reconstruction of Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum based on Schöner's southern landmass. The first image highlights the map's internal framework. The map was designed around three aligned symmetrical zones. Zone 1 is an arch and has been oriented toward the top of the map, returning the map to its original alignment with the arch in its natural upward arcing form. This is the most prominent position on the map and along with the confirmation which follows of this being a world map, further confirms that this was indeed a Roman map. Greek and medieval maps were Greco- and Christocentric in nature, placing Greece and Jerusalem in the center of the map, but this map accords prominence to Rome by locating the city at the top of the map at the base of the arch.

The map's internal symmetry comprising three main zones, 1) an upper arch, 2) a central circle, and 3) a downward arcing band.

When medieval Christians began creating the mappae mundi they borrowed heavily from Agrippa's map and Greek design. I believe the central zones on Agrippa's map had to be eliminated when the Christians decided to adopt and adapt the concept of cartographic centricity by distorting the map to position Jerusalem at the map's center.

The mappae mundi are littered with text which experts believe are part of an extensive commentary produced by Agrippa. I believe that when Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum was originally created and put up for display on the wall of a portico, this extensive commentary was consolidated within the center circular zone (2), but extending Jerusalem and Asia Minor into the map's center necessitated and led to the text's removal and redistribution about the mappa mundi's new design, placing every comment in the appropriate region to which it pertained. Therefore in the reconstruction below I have returned the text to its original central location.

Johannes Schöner's map of a southern continent restored to its original form as a world map.
Zone 1: The uppermost arched zone sitting above Rome most likely honored Caesar Augustus who commissioned the map, while the mappae mundi reserved the uppermost region of the map for images of Christ.
Zone 2: The center circular zone likely comprised a consolidation of the commentary later dispersed throughout the mappae mundi.
Zone 3: The lower downward arcing band likely housed depictions of the world's flora, fauna, and races, much like the downward arcing bands on the mappae mundi also located at the southernmost point of the map.

The world's flora, fauna, and many races fared no better in this cartographic remodel, their images similarly requiring redistribution about the map. Only one place on the multitudes of mappae mundi do we consistently find these images still consolidated together, and that is in Africa sandwiched around a continent-wide waterway. On the Hereford and Ebstorf mappa mundi, these images combine to form downward arcing bands conforming with the arced design of the lateral waterway. It seems a little more than convenient that zone 3 maintains this same shape of a downward arcing band. I believe the images scattered about the mappae mundi were all originally consolidated together in this manner, and thus in the reconstruction I have returned the map's flora and fauna to their original location below the central commentary.

Consolidated band of flora, fauna, and races as found on the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi in the southernmost region of the map, which likely originally occupied the similarly downward arcing southernmost zone of Agrippa's map. (Also viewable in this and the following image is a portion of the extensive commentary distributed throughout the map, which would have originally been consolidated within the central circular zone of Agrippa's map.)

Finally, one last element common to the mappae mundi is a depiction of Christ located at the top of the map. If you are keeping count, this makes three elements on the mappae mundi that make them unique from Greek maps. So perhaps it is not surprising that I believe this too was inspired by Agrippa's map and the content of its third and final zone (1). I believe the arched zone placed as it is occupying the map's most prominent position above Rome and the remaining two zones, was intended to honor someone of great importance and have therefore inserted an image of Caesar Augustus, the man who commissioned the creation of the map and who would have been extremely worthy of the honor.

Image of the Christ placed at the top of the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi. This was likely an adaptation from Agrippa's map where an image of someone of honor, likely Caesar Augustus, occupied the arch above Rome, likewise the most prominent position on the map.

Initially, I was able to recognize that this was a world map of some sort based on its general shape which forms an open ring or 'C'. This was the basic shape for ancient Greek maps and the medieval mappae mundi. But the common feature among all of these maps is seen when rotating these maps so that the opening of the 'C' faces to the left or west providing a northern orientation which most of us are familiar with. Common among these ancient world maps and Schöner's landmass in this reverse 'C' orientation is the inclusion of TWO, and ONLY TWO, prominent peninsulas which project out into the center of the 'C' ALWAYS extending off its northern half depicting Italy and Greece. In the following two images you can see how accurately these two peninsulas are portrayed.

Schöner's depiction of Italy (left) alongside a modern depiction.
Schöner's depiction of Greece (left) alongside a modern depiction.

Schöner's design also includes a portrayal of Turkey with its southern undulating coast cantilevered out into the Mediterranean while also incorporating an accurately proportioned and aligned portrayal of the small hook-shaped peninsula that extends out from the western coast of Turkey and bounds the Gulf of Izmir. The depiction is so accurate, the gulf even appears to detail the small bump of land or cape that extends upward from the bay's southern shore.

Schöner's depiction of Turkey and the Gulf of Izmir (left) alongside a modern depiction.

In the following image, you can see a comparison of the Greek Hecataeus world map alongside Schöner's design. Note not only the fact that all three peninsulas (1,2, and 3) are accurately placed in order from left to right above the southern coast of Turkey (4) which veers perpendicularly into the Mediterranean, but they are proportioned similarly as well, to each other and the overall map. Both maps round out the normally squared corner between Israel and Egypt (5) creating a continuous sweeping coastline from Syria to Egypt that extends westward to a significant northern rise in the west (6), a rise that comprises the combined northern coasts of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.

Greek Hecataeus map (left) set alongside Schöner’s world map (right). Note that both feature ONLY TWO prominent peninsulas (1 and 2) and they similarly extend off the upper portion of their C-shaped forms. They both include a depiction of the Gulf of Izmir (3) just above a cantilevered southern coast of Turkey (4). Both maps round the coast between Israel and Egypt (4) and significantly raise up the western end of North Africa comprising Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco (5).

At this point, any reasonable person should realize that the mathematical probability of this not being a world map is pretty slim, yet there are two other elements on Schöner’s map that not only further substantiate the claim that this is indeed a world map, they also further establish the map's Roman roots.

Below is an image of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, one of the many medieval maps known to have been based on Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum. The image on the left is an actual image while on the right I have created a template for clarity which highlights a prominent water feature in red. This landlocked waterway is common to all mappae mundi and represents the Roman belief that the Nile river originated in the mountains of Mauritania and ran laterally across the continent "forming the boundary-line between Africa and Aethiopia.” - Pliny NH, Book V, chapter 10

If you view the image of Schöner’s map in the illustration just above, you can see that I have highlighted a similar waterway also truncated at both ends by large lakes. If you take a moment to consider the rarity of a landlocked waterway, one that doesn't flow out into a sea or ocean you must realize the monumental significance of this feature, especially when taking into consideration that like the Hereford map, Schöner orients it laterally and places it on his C-shaped map opposite the two prominent peninsulas in what would equate to Africa. (Note that the mappae mundi are oriented with east rather than north to the top, thus the C-shape faces downward.)

Still, should someone think this could all be the result of extraordinary coincidence, I would also like to point out the line of mountains on the Hereford map that parallel the arced waterway. Schöner’s map also features a prominent lengthy range paralleling it and, coincidentally, it also lies on the waterway's north side. (Refer to the images at the top of this post.)

The Hereford Mappa Mundi, which like Schöner’s map, incorporates an extremely unique and unusual landlocked waterway spanning the African portion of the map terminated at each end by large lakes (highlighted in red) and a mountain range paralleling its length to the north. (Please note that the map is oriented with east to the top of the map.)

Schöner's inclusion of this continent-wide mountain range actually falls in line with ancient Roman world maps. Following are portions of two ancient Roman world maps, the Ptolemy and Peutinger maps, in both instances this mountain range is depicted as a continuous unbroken chain extending the full width of the continent very much like Schöner's design. Ptolemy's design is very similar to Schöner's, not only in the style in which the mountains are drawn as if they are an extruded flow, but they are also placed very closely just inside the northern coast of the continent leaving only a thin sliver of the continent sitting above. Note that the Peutinger Table, or Tabula Peutingeriana in the lower image, only portrays North Africa, cropping off the rest of the continent along the mountain chain's southern edge, but again this chain extends the width of the continent.

Ptolemy World Map displaying an unbroken chain of mountains just inside the North African coast much like Schöner's map.
An enlarged section of the Tabula Peutingeriana displaying the unbroken chain of mountains lining the bottom of North Africa.

While the evidence provided thus far seems both substantial and sufficient in establishing Schöner's 1515 landmass as Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum, there is one very small detail of large significance still remaining. Note that Schöner depicts the western lake as surrounded by mountains with a very well defined opening or gap where the lateral waterway clearly flows out on its eastern side. (See B&W inset on the left side of the image below.) This 'mountain lake' as it is labeled on the map, conforms to the Roman concept that the Nile River originated in a large mountain lake in Mauritania and flowed eastward out from the mountain. The full-color backdrop is the western lake as it appears on an extremely large and highly detailed mappa mundi known as the Ebstorf map. It does not depict the surrounding mountains but clearly depicts the open flow out from the lake heading eastward. Nothing too unusual here, both versions of the western lake clearly depict the water flowing freely from a large lake.

Schöner’s western lake inset beneath the Ebstorf's western lake (left) and Schöner’s eastern lake inset above the Ebstorf's eastern lake. While both clearly show water flowing out of the western lake, both maps depict the waterway truncated, or dropping underground in the vicinity of the eastern lake, conforming with Roman belief.

Where things get interesting is in the depiction of the eastern end of this waterway. Again, keep in mind that nearly all inland waterways flow out to the sea, so we are already witnessing strong validation of Schöner's map with its unique depiction of a completely landlocked laterally arcing waterway located in the African portion of the map. But where the depiction of a lake opening up to the waterway at the western end might not be all too surprising, the unique depiction of the eastern end proves especially noteworthy.

Schöner's portrayal of the eastern end may at first appear identical to the western end, two large mountain lakes terminating each end of the waterway, but there is an extremely key difference in the design of the eastern lake. If you examine this lake closely, which is inset on the right side of the above image, you will notice that unlike the western lake there is no opening or gap in this lake's mountain enclosure. It is obvious that the waterway is truncated right at the base of the mountain and therefore is diverted underground before filling this lake. Similarly, the eastern end of the Ebstorf depicted in the backdrop is clearly truncated as well, albeit mysteriously within the lake, suggesting that the waterway continues flowing below the lake, underground.

Why are these similar portrayals of a truncated eastern end significant? Again, both designs are attempts at conforming to the Roman view of the Nile River. The Romans believed the Nile originated in the mountains of the west, flowed eastward dividing Africa to the north and Ethiopia to the south, and then...flowed underground.

"It then buries itself once again in the sands of the desert, and remains concealed for a distance of twenty days' journey, till it has reached the confines of Æthiopia." - Pliny NH, Book V, chapter 10

The waterway was believed to disappear underground in the east before rising one last time as the Upper Nile we know, flowing unabated above ground and emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. Pliny's description is far more involved and varies significantly from Schöner’s design, but Agrippa did not necessarily adhere to Pliny's view. In fact, since the mappae mundi were based directly on Agrippa's map, it seems more likely that Schöner’s design is in line with Agrippa's design of the Nile as it mimics the mappae mundi design of flowing uninterrupted across Africa before dropping underground in the east, but since the map is incomplete, unlike the mappae mundi, it lacks the last stretch of the Nile flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

A modern reconstruction of Agrippa’s Orbis Terrarum—not the author's—based on the mappae mundi, which depicts the lateral waterway spanning the African continent dividing Africa to the north and Ethiopia to the south. The waterway originates in the west and ends in the east where it disappears underground before rising one last time as the Nile River flowing above ground to the Mediterranean Sea.

Combine the detailing of this underground waterway and all the evidence provided above where elements of the map are correct in number, accurate portrayal, arrangement, proportion, and alignment and the uniquely Roman portrayals of the landlocked waterway and unbroken North African mountain range, and there should absolutely be no doubt that I have indeed discovered Agrippa's 2,000-year-old Orbis Terrarum.

The obvious question remains, however: How did this ancient world map find itself affixed to the bottom of a world globe?

II. The Art Of Scaling Old To New

To understand exactly how this grand error transpired we are going to look at a map that often comes up during discussions of ancient maps of Antarctica, The Piri Reis Map of 1513.

The Piri Reis map of 1513.

First of all, it is important to realize that contrary to Charles Hapgood's belief, the Piri Reis map does not portray the Antarctic continent. It is an incomplete map, consisting of only the lower left portion, the remainder being nonextant. While the map's full portrayal of the world is not entirely known, it can most reliably be discerned by viewing another map of the same period, after which it can be stated with almost complete certainty that the 1513 Piri Reis map in its original complete form depicted the concept of a nearly enclosed southern sea very similar to the Lopo Homem map of 1519.

1519 Lopo Homem Map with its depiction of a vast enclosed southern sea.

Not only does the nearness in dates suggest that the cartographers would have been aware of similar contemporary cartographic designs, but the unique depiction of the Rio de la Plata and the arced coastline immediately beneath shared only between these two maps is a clear indication that the maps were based on the same design, implying that the complete Piri Reis map would have also depicted the same lateral extension of the South American continent which ultimately wrapped around a southern sea.

Portions of the 1519 Lopo Homem (left) and 1513 Piri Reis maps(right) sharing identical depictions of the Rio de la Plata and arcing coastline beneath.

So where did this unorthodox design originate? What inspired this vast enclosed sea in the south? It appears to have been a map by Claudius Ptolemy from the 2nd century A.D.

Copy of Ptolemy’s 2nd-century world map with its depiction of a vast enclosed southern sea.

Ptolemy's map, however, depicted a fully enclosed sea with the African continent forming the western shore and extending down and laterally across the sea's southern perimeter, so why would Piri Reis suddenly substitute the South American continent as the western shore?

First off, Piri Reis and other cartographers of his time were well aware that Africa did not extend out in the manner Ptolemy depicted, as sailing around Africa was commonplace in his day with this being the lone sea route to the Spice Islands in the east. The Americas were currently being explored in hopes of establishing an alternate route.

The problem cartographers like Piri Reis were running up against was how to depict new partial discoveries. The Strait of Magellan had not yet been reached or discovered, so no one knew the full shape or extent of the South American continent. So is it possible that Piri referenced an older source map like Ptolemy's to determine how to depict the remainder of the unexplored continent? Well, Piri very candidly and proudly informs us with an inscription included on his map:

"No one now living has seen a map like this. I have composed and constructed it using about twenty maps and mappaemundi; these are the maps which were composed in the time of Alexander of the Two Horns, and which show the inhabited portion of the earth. The Arabs call these maps ja'fariya.

I have used eight ja'fariya map, an Arab map of India and four recent Portuguese maps - these maps show the sea of Sind (Sindhu-sagara), India (Arabian Sea) and China according to mathematical principles - and also a map of the western regions drawn by Colombo (Columbus). The final form was arrived at BY REDUCING ALL THESE MAPS TO THE SAME SCALE. Therefore the present map is as accurate for the Seven Seas as the maps of our own countries used by sailors."

With a range of maps, some allegedly dating all the way back to Alexander the Great's day, Claudius Ptolemy's world map or some form of it was undoubtedly among the mix. In fact, the reference to Alexander is almost certainly an error in confusing Ptolemy I, one of Alexander's generals and future ruler of Egypt, with Claudius Ptolemy. Therefore, if he was indeed seeking inspiration from a collection of Claudius Ptolemy based maps in hopes that there might be a previous charting of the region, Piri obviously surmised that Ptolemy's erroneous depiction of an enclosed sea might have had merit and been based on a legitimate geographical concept. Consequently, it appears that he rescaled the sea laterally substituting South America for Africa as the sea's western shore.

The process in itself is very logical and straightforward. For the most, part Piri Reis would draw upon recent maps for his design, but when these maps failed to provide details of new discoveries, Piri would look to older maps for possible enlightenment. If the ancient concept or design seemed reasonably suited, the design was scaled to his map to conform with the contemporary find.

Enter Johannes Schöner two years later...

III. When Two Worlds Collide

Merely two years after the Piri Reis map was created, Johannes Schöner introduced his 1515 world globe with Agrippa's world map attached. The landmass is set just beyond the tip of South America forming a strait between the two continents. Some have assumed that the incorporation of this strait proves that the Strait of Magellan was discovered five years prior to Magellan's entry into the strait, but upon closer examination, it is obvious that this is not true. The strait on Schöner's globe is 350 miles north of Magellan's strait and actually represents an erroneous description of the San Matias Gulf which, though not fully explored, was purported to be a strait with a large southern shore.

Schöner’s 1515 erroneous depiction (left) of the San Matias Gulf as a Strait.

The misleading information appeared in a 1508 German tract titled 'Copia der Newen Zeitung auss Presillg Landt', or 'New Tidings out of the Land of Brazil'. The Portuguese sailors responsible for the report had been blown out of the San Matias Gulf by a strong north wind before they were able to realize they were in a closed waterway, yet in spite of their limited knowledge of the waterway they chose to provide an overly optimistic description of their discovery:

"They have sailed around that point, and ascertained that the country lay, as in the south of Europe, entirely from east to west. It is as if one crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to go east in ranging the coast of Barbary."

Sprinkled with a pinch of optimism and a dollop of exaggeration, the gulf was suddenly transformed into a strait similar to the Strait of Gibraltar and forming the southern shore of the strait lie a vast coastline similar to the Barbary Coast that extended west beyond the mouth of the waterway, mirroring Gibraltar and the Barbary Coast.

Seven years later Johannes Schöner working out of his Bamberg workshop was tasked with incorporating the alleged strait and its associated large southern shore onto a new globe. In fulfilling this task, there's little doubt Schöner followed a similar process used by Piri Reis. As a cartographer, he no doubt researched many recent and old maps to piece his globe together. That a lost map like Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum might be at Schöner's disposal is not that unrealistic. In fact just a few years earlier and a mere 100 miles away in a library in Worms, Germany, Conrad Celtes, another German scholar, discovered the only known copy of another early Roman world map which would later come to be known as the Tabula Peutingeriana.

An image of the Tabula Peutingeriana vertically stretched for clarity above an image in its true proportions.

Like Piri Reis, I imagine Schöner, a skilled cartographer, began researching older maps for portrayals of this alleged strait, and like Conrad Celtes discovered a copy of an ancient map, in this instance Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum. Now keep in mind that these maps were not always in ideal condition. For example, Celtes' map was missing a section portraying the Iberian peninsula. It was reconstructed almost 400 years later and can be discerned in the image above by its white background.

For Schöner to not recognize his find as a Roman world map, it would have had to have been devoid of any Latin inscriptions of familiar toponyms. I believe the map he found had been abandoned in the early stages of construction, still awaiting text which was typically the last detail applied to a map after it was drawn and color added. Below I have provided a facsimile of how it might have appeared at the time Schöner discovered it, partially constructed with linear and concentric guidelines still visible. To the best of his perceptible knowledge, Schöner was gazing upon a map of an unknown land and the only identifying references were a series of concentric circles with a series of lines at 45° intervals traversing the center and one other very important feature, a strait separating this unknown land from a small tip of land. (Upper right corner of the map.)

Recreation of Agrippa's partially constructed map with linear and concentric guidelines still visible. To someone unfamiliar with the map, it would simply be recognized as a large landmass separated from the tip of another land (top right).

In this scenario, the concentric grid used as a guide to draw the map still remained visible because color had not been added to the map which would overlay the guides in much the same way a painter might paint over a sketched outline of his subject. The feature which Schöner identified as a strait was of course the English Channel and the tip of land was the southeastern corner of Britain. This complied very well with the report by the Portuguese sailors who described the northern shore of the strait, allegedly the tip of South America, as a point:

"After they had navigated for nearly sixty leagues [180 miles] to round the Cape, they again sighted the continent on the other side, and steered towards the northwest."

Schöner had located a map that had all the potential of being an ancient charting of the recent find, but the strait in itself would not necessarily be enough to convince him. That grid of concentric circles with crisscrossing lines through their center created a different situation altogether. There was only one place in cartography where you could find such a pattern and that was on a polar projection where the concentric circles represented latitudes, the crisscrossing lines represented longitudes, and of course the point where they intersected at the center of the concentric rings represented one of Earth's poles.

Example of a polar projection which exhibits an array of latitudinal and longitudinal delineations resembling the concentric grid used on Agrippa's map.

Schöner would now be convinced that he had found what he was looking for, a large continent encircling the South Pole that also depicted a strait at the tip of South America. All that was left to do was scale it to his globe, which was accomplished by simply centering and anchoring the map's concentric rings over the South Pole, and enlarging the map until the English Channel reached the 40th parallel, the location of the alleged strait.

Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum affixed to Schöner's 1515 globe by centering the map's concentric rings over the South Pole and stretching the English channel up near the 40th parallel, the location of an alleged strait.

IV. Confirmation Of Ancient Maps Of Antarctica?

As a disclaimer of sorts, I would like to point out that I do not necessarily believe that a deglaciated Antarctica was charted in the recent past, but...

In 1524, only nine years after incorporating Agrippa's map onto a globe, Schöner returned with a drastically new design for a southern continent:

Charles Hapgood's tracing of Johannes Schöner 1524 globe with a depiction of a large southern continent which is an extreme departure from his 1515 design.

Suddenly symmetry and concentricity that existed in his 1515 design were nowhere to be found. And, in fact, absolutely no portion of the earlier design was retained. This was a complete and utter overhaul of the continent. If there were any chance he was designing these continents from scratch, then his method of design was highly erratic. If on the other hand, he incorporated the designs from two different maps then his method would prove consistent and in line with Piri Reis' method. But the question arises, what would have led Schöner to abandon his previous design?

One reason for the sudden change was the recent voyage by Ferdinand Magellan. It not only included the discovery of Magellan's historic strait but also confirmed that no strait existed further north as Schöner had charted on his previous maps. Still, this in itself would not have necessitated the abandonment of his earlier design, a simple rescaling and Agrippa's map could have easily been adapted to this latest discovery. Well, except for a slight twist associated with this particular strait. Magellan's crew had discovered a sizable waterway composed of Inútil Bay and Canal Whiteside extending into the strait's southern shore.

The Strait of Magellan with a large waterway composed of Inútil Bay and Canal Whiteside extending into the southern shore.

Pigafetta, who kept a journal during the historic voyage, included a modest sketch of the strait with the waterway extending into the southern shore. Schöner's 1524 globe included a very similar rendering of the U-shaped bay cut into the strait's southern shore.

The Strait of Magellan as portrayed on Schöner's 1524 World Globe (left) alongside Antonio Pigafetta’s map of the strait, both sharing a similar portrayal of a U-shaped southern bay in the center of the strait.

If Schöner had simply invented his 1515 design for the southern landmass, he could still rescale it, cut a bay into the strait's southern shore and his 1524 globe would have been complete. The fact that he abandoned the design makes it seem all the more likely that he was not willing to cling to a design if it meant compromising the source map, especially if he had in his possession another map proving more suitable to his needs. Although it would not be enough in itself to sway Schöner, it appears that he may have discovered a map with an adequate portrayal of the southern bay.

Thrusting this thread into a hard turn directly toward the fringe, I will point out that an ancient map of a deglaciated or partially deglaciated Antarctica with an ice-free Atka Bay would initially fit Schöner's needs. In the image below, there is a comparison of Oronce Finé's 1531 map of Antarctica with a modern map of Antarctica—Oronce Finé's design is nearly identical to Schöner's original, but Finé's is far better detailed than Hapgood's simple hand-traced map above. Note that when Eastern Antarctica is aligned vertically with Western Antarctica set off to the left, this bay sits similarly centered at its highest point with the sides of the bay resembling upward reaching appendages. This is just one of the many striking accuracies found on the map.

Atka Bay, Antarctica (top), a U-shaped bay similar to Finé’s depiction (bottom) in both appearance and location.

When I began my personal journey toward 'the fringe' I had innocently come upon the Piri Reis map while googling Antarctica. I was a reasonable skeptic and actually found it bizarre that anyone would make the claim that it depicted Antarctica and have it intrude on my search results. I relented to curiosity and did a quick investigation confirming Charles Hapgood's extremely poor analysis of the map. But my curiosity eventually brought me to the next map Hapgood introduced, Oronce Finé's 1531 World Map, which was quite a bit harder to dismiss.

Oronce Finé 1531 World Map.

Looking past the glaring omission of the Palmer Peninsula—which I will address a little further down—the remainder of the map is an astonishingly accurate portrayal of Antarctica, composed of a large elongated Eastern Antarctica that is roughly 1½ times taller than it is wide and a small similarly squarish Western Antarctica accurately extending off the upper third of the continent (see comparative image below). The flat chamfered coastline of Western Antarctica with a bay cut into one of its coasts is a unique combination both within Finé's map and the real world (C, D in the image below). Throw in the accurate portrayals of Atka Bay (A) and Ross Island sitting beneath a lone point of land jutting out from Victoria Land (F), and the map had amazing potential. But one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in validating the map is explaining why the continent is misaligned and scaled many times its actual size.

Outline of a modern map of Antarctica with the Palmer Peninsula faded out (left) alongside an outline of Oronce Finé’s map of the continent (right) displayed as they would both appear on a standard polar projection. Both versions consist of a large, elongated eastern landmass that is roughly 1½ times taller than it is wide. This part of Antarctica is called Greater or Eastern Antarctica. Protruding almost perpendicularly off of the upper western side of this mass is a much smaller and uniquely squarish landmass called Lesser or Western Antarctica whose lower coastline aligns with the center of Eastern Antarctica.

A schematic template based on the shape of Antarctica overlaid onto Finé’s Antarctica demonstrates the uncanny accuracy of Finé’s design. The template is aligned to the shape of Western Antarctica and to Ross Island (F). Note how Atka Bay (A) is accurately rendered and aligned while finding itself placed just short of its actual location. Meanwhile, the precise placement and alignment of Western Antarctica along the upper half of Eastern Antarctica allow for a very accurate rendering of the Weddell Sea’s wide-angled coastline (B). We find Finé’s rendering of Western Antarctica’s flat westernmost coast (C) running parallel to Eastern Antarctica with a similarly angled chamfer extending off its southern end which is notched by Sulzberger Bay (D). Western Antarctica's southeastern coast aligns nearly at a right angle with Eastern Antarctica with the mouth of a similar inland waterway cutting into the Western Antarctic coast where they converge (E). And finally, Ross Island is accurately portrayed just below a lone point along the coast of Victoria Land (F).

Hapgood offered up an explanation that proved less than satisfactory, suggesting that a copyist confused the Antarctic Circle with the 80th parallel, but Hapgood completely overlooked Atka Bay. His analysis was so flawed that not only did he not recognize the feature resembling Atka Bay, he actually suggested that the western arm of the Bay could possibly be Palmer Peninsula (Palmer extending off Eastern Antarctica?!). Nor did he recognize the significance of a southern oriented bay in the midst of Magellan's Straight.

I felt a better explanation for the overscaling and misalignment of the continent was related to some very basic principles of scaling. The original source map would have been devoid of latitudinal and longitudinal delineation, perhaps delineated by an ancient unfamiliar grid or, more likely, no delineations whatsoever. Lacking latitude and longitude for reference, there would have to be at least two key, distinct geographical features on the source map matching two features on the current map in order to size and position the source map onto the current map. Upscaling and realigning would occur as the map was scaled between these two new features or points. This is a pretty basic concept demonstrated in the following animation where points 'a' and 'b' of a square are positioned and stretched between new points 'A' and 'B'. The original square is redrawn maintaining its original shape or proportion, while it is realigned and enlarged to fit the new points; still a square, but with a new size and alignment.

Simple concept of scaling between two points. In this case, the smaller square is enlarged and realigned when points 'a' and 'b' are stretched between new points 'A' and 'B'.

As I suggested earlier, I had determined that the first point in scaling Finé's Antarctica would have been the placement of Antarctica's Atka Bay at the Strait of Magellan to match up to a southern oriented bay. The second point, however, would prove much more elusive and yet lead eventually to a rather astonishing discovery.

Atka Bay had an obvious link with the discovery of Magellan's strait, but Finé's map of the continent had no other well-defined feature that seemed to be reasonably or noticeably linked to a contemporarily known feature. I had noticed a set of two islands on a later map, the Mercator World Map of 1538, but since they were not on Finé's earlier map, I assumed that they were a later find and therefore would not have been involved in the original scaling process. When I exhausted all options, however, I finally decided to investigate the islands. They were paired with the Latin inscription, "Insulas Infortunatas": Unfortunate Islands.

Mercator World Map of 1538.
Magnification of a pair of islands in the Pacific lying beyond Mercator's Antarctic continent inscribed with the name "Insulas Infortunatas": Unfortunate Islands.

It was truly a Eureka moment when I found that these islands were a discovery resulting from Magellan's voyage. If the islands were linked to Western Antarctica, it would explain why someone would have felt compelled to extend the imposing landmass so high up into the Pacific in the vicinity of the Unfortunate Islands, which flies directly in the face of the tragic and harrowing account of this leg of Magellan's voyage which saw the Pacific as a huge empty void dotted with only two desolate islands which offered little to no relief for a tortured and dying crew. The cartographer was not taunting or mocking the intrepid crew by inventing and dangling a landmass directly beneath the islands but was convinced by his source map that the two islands were truly linked to nearby land.

This theory still required two things to be true:

First, there had to be an earlier, initial rendering of Finé's 1531 design which depicted both the continent and the Unfortunate Islands. This would have been ‘Depiction X’, the map which introduced the Antarctic design, with the cartographer likely working directly from the ancient source map utilizing the source map’s islands to align the map with the recently discovered Unfortunate Islands. I was fortunate to discover that this ‘Depiction X’ still existed and was incorporated onto Schöner's 1524 globe which was created immediately after Magellan’s discovery of the strait and island set. Everything seemed to be falling into place all too well.

Of course, there was still the second requirement that seemed somewhat important: The Antarctic islands had to actually exist. Of course, the odds of these two islands even existing off the coast of Western Antarctica were about one in a million if Schöner's design was not based on a genuine map, in which case I would be lucky to find one island let alone two paired together resembling Schöner's depiction. So even though I was fast becoming convinced they existed based on the accurate detailing of the maps and the fact that the islands would have been the perfect distinct geographical feature used as a scaling point, it should not have been too surprising when I began looking at modern maps and found absolutely no signs of the islands.

It was disappointing, yet I realized that there was still a small glimmer of hope that an ice shelf might blanket the islands, so I continued looking for a more detailed map. When I finally got my hands on a highly detailed map I was truly stunned. Extending off the coast of Western Antarctica where the islands should be was the Getz Ice Shelf, and drawn within the ice was a set of two islands: Carney and Siple.

The two islands were not only paired together similarly to Schöner's depiction of the Unfortunate Islands, they paralleled the coast in similar fashion and were also positioned toward the northern end of a uniquely flat shoreline. The possibility now seems more clear as to why Schöner completely abandoned his previous 1515 design of the continent. A map of a deglaciated Antarctica would have been better suited to his needs as it carried two features matching recent discoveries, Atka Bay and the island set of Carney and Siple.

Schöner's depiction of the Unfortunate Islands more closely resemble Antarctica's Carney and Siple Islands than the actual Unfortunate Islands.

What further bolsters the possibility that Schöner was affixing a genuine map of Antarctica to his globe is that he neglects to depict the Unfortunate Islands as they are described. According to Pigafetta and other varied accounts of the voyage, the Unfortunate Islands were located some 600 to 800 miles apart east to west, and all accounts agree that there was also a separation of 4 to 6 degrees latitude; Pigafetta declares the island of San Pablo to be located at 15 degrees south latitude and the island of Tiburones to be 600 miles west of San Pablo at 9 degrees south latitude. Other 16th century maps like the Hadji Ahmed Map of 1559 (see below) conform precisely to these parameters while Schöner's map places the two islands on the same parallel and also disregards the stated 600-mile distance between islands, locating them an extremely insufficient 100 miles apart.

The end result being that Schöner showed little regard for or awareness of the positioning or distances recorded in logs of the voyage, but instead opts for a depiction which more closely resembles a respectable portrayal of Siple and Carney as a set of islands accurately proportioned and aligned to each other and to the Antarctic continent.

The actual Unfortunate Islands depicted more accurately on the Hadji Ahmed Map.

Now one might imagine that I have merely discovered an exceptional coincidence, and that might indeed be the case, but let's consider the ramifications of this discovery.

First of all, consider the iterations of Schöner's design which followed: 1) As noted above Finé's map omits the Unfortunate Islands, 2) Mercator's map is unaware of any link between the continent and the islands and therefore pulls Western Antarctica southward, but leaves the Unfortunate Islands off in the distance, and 3) The Hadji Ahmed Map replicates Schöner's design for the continent but repositions the islands to match Pigafetta's coordinates.

Yet Schöner who first introduces the design not only includes the islands but also portrays them in the correct location with the correct alignment. It is exactly what you would expect from 'Depiction X', the original incorporation of the design directly from an Antarctic source map would be the most accurate.

Secondly, consider what this now adds to the overall accuracy of Schöner's Antarctica. In the image below, I have once again used Finé's map as it is a better representation than Hapgood's, and also added Schöner's depiction of the Unfortunate Islands.

Modern map of Antarctica.
Finé's 1531 depiction of Antarctica with Schöner's portrayal of the Unfortunate Islands added.

This leaves us with one last issue to address, the omission of the Palmer Peninsula, where there are a few possible explanations. First I believe that in a pre-glacial Antarctica, Palmer may have existed as an island, separate from Western Antarctica. The subglacial topography allows for this possibility, which would create a similar arrangement as say Sakahlin to Asia. Schöner's source map may, therefore, have been a territorial map excluding Palmer Island. It is also possible that Palmer may have been omitted to fit the shape of the skin or other medium it was drawn upon. The Tabula Peutingeriana displayed in the previous post omits the greater part of Africa for this very reason.

Recreation of Schöner's source map with Palmer Peninsula rendered as an island. (Modern-day inscriptions added)

There is also one last option which combines Schöner's 1515 method with Piri Reis' 1513 method. Schöner may have been drawn initially to the map because like Agrippa's map it included a strait, this time between Palmer and Western Antarctica, while the map's inclusion of Carney and Siple Islands as possible matches to the Unfortunate Islands may have increased the attraction.

Knowing that older maps were strewn with inaccuracies, some worse than others, Schöner may have utilized a similar adjustment used by Piri Reis. Piri Reis realized that Ptolemy's depiction of the tip of Africa was erroneous, and therefore reconciled it to fit South America. Likewise, Schöner may have determined that Palmer might be a representation of South America, but after scaling Palmer to South America and Siple and Carney to the Unfortunate Islands, which would have created a mega-continent enveloping most of the globe, similar to Piri Reis who moved the western coast of an enclosed southern sea from Africa and merged it with South America, Schöner moved Palmer from alongside Western Antarctica to a position over the continent's next available bay, Atka Bay, and merged Palmer with South America.

Of course, it is impossible to know for a certainty what actually led to the omission of the Palmer Peninsula, but these are just a few viable possibilities based on the precedents cited. The main point being that the omission is a true concern, but should not negate the possibility that Schöner's design was based on a genuine map any more than cropping off a greater portion of Africa would negate the Tabula Peutingeriana being a true world map.

V. Conclusion

"Schöner's incorporation of Agrippa’s Orbis Terrarum onto his 1515 world globe, increases exponentially the likelihood that an ancient map of a deglaciated Antarctica was incorporated onto his 1524 globe."

In summation, there is at least one thing of which I am very certain: Schöner did indeed preserve a copy of Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum on his 1515 globe. But I am not fully convinced—nor should anyone else be for that matter—that his 1524 map was based on a genuine map of Antarctica. There are far too many questions this assumption leaves unanswered, such as where did the source map originate? Who charted the continent and when? How did the map find its way into Europe? How and why was it preserved until the 16th century? And of course, how could millions of years of Antarctic ice accumulation have occurred within mere thousands of years?

Yet the apparent shared methodology between the two globes should be afforded serious consideration, as Schöner's incorporation of Agrippa’s Orbis Terrarum onto his 1515 world globe increases exponentially the likelihood that a deglaciated Antarctica was visited and charted in the ancient past. The complexity of the elements within Schoner's 1524 depiction that matches Antarctica is compelling in itself, but since Schöner's incorporation of Agrippa's map establishes a clear methodology with his 1515 globe of reconciling and scaling ancient maps to new discoveries, this increases the probability of adherence to a similar methodology on his 1524 globe in which case there is absolutely no better geographical candidate for the source map than a map of a deglaciated Antarctica. All in all, this may not be enough to overturn established history or scientific dating methods, but it is a strong enough argument to significantly expand Hapgood's initial crack in Antarctica’s 34-million-year-old ice cap.

Schöner's Methodology For Cartographic Incorporation Of New Discoveries:

Step 1. Referencing ancient maps for his template: Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum in 1515 (left) and an ancient map of Antarctica in 1524 (right),
Step 2. Reconciling the ancient maps to new discoveries:
   (A) Matching the British Channel to a purported strait and
   (B) Atka Bay to a southern bay in the Strait of Magellan, and
Step 3. Scaling the maps to new globes via a secondary point:
   (C) Aligning the center of a concentric Mediterranean to the South
         Pole and
   (D) the islands of Carney and Siple to the Unfortunate Islands high
         in the Pacific.

Personally, I find it extremely hard to fathom that an inauthentic map could so accurately portray Antarctica that it would precisely reveal the existence of Carney and Siple Islands which I previously had no knowledge of, and then go on to reveal Agrippa's Orbis Terrarum on Schoner's 1515 globe thanks to the discovery of the methodology used on his 1524 globe...

Except that if the map of Antarctica is not genuine no such methodology was actually implemented on his 1524 globe.

It is eerily reminiscent of one of those contrived plot twists where the main character is led to a specific destination or exposed to hidden truths by a mysterious acquaintance, only to find out later that the individual was actually a spirit or ghost. Leaving one to wonder, if the end result is genuine, could the mysterious guiding force—an ancient map of Antarctica in my case—have been real as well?