The Map At The Bottom Of The World (cont.)
By Doug Fisher
Figure 2 - Oronce Finé 1531 World Map. A double-cordiform projection providing a slightly different perspective on his Antarctic design. Considering the continent's remarkable resemblance to Antarctica, one can easily understand Hapgood's reaction of awe and disbelief upon first viewing it.
Evaluating these maps while focusing entirely on the volume and degree of accurate detailing they contain it would appear nearly impossible that these maps could be produced without the cartographers having referenced maps of the continent and yet there are enormously glaring inaccuracies which challenge their authenticity, the omission of the Palmer Peninsula being one. There is at least one possible explanation for this omission and that would be that these maps of Antarctica were territorial maps similar to maps of the United States with their omissions of Canada and Mexico. The only contradiction to this are the multiple river inlets along the northwestern coast of Western Antarctica suggesting that the area was bounded by a body of water whereas an overland border between Palmer and Western Antarctica would bear a solid delineation. This of course is assuming that the Palmer Peninsula was attached to the Antarctic continent. It is possible that, devoid of ice, the Palmer Peninsula would sit apart from Western Antarctica and find itself separated by a channel of water.
Yet even if this were so there are still the issues of the continent's orientation and overscaling which demand an explanation. Finé's Antarctic continent is rotated roughly 20 degrees counterclockwise from its actual alignment with South America, but much more troubling is the fact that Finé renders the continent 2-1/2 to 3 times its actual size. Hapgood attributes the error of overscaling to a copyist confusing the 80th parallel on the source map with the Antarctic Circle. It would seem that Hapgood spent little time investigating this particular theory. Had he done so he would have realized how flawed this idea actually was. If the copyist confused the 80th parallel with the Antarctic Circle—66.6° latitude—and the source map was inscribed with additional latitudinal delineations as Hapgood also suggests, this would mean that the source map had very little resemblance to Finé's renderings of the continent and in turn have very little resemblance to Antarctica.
The error that Hapgood is postulating would have the copyist overscaling the continent's interior by enlarging it 13-plus degrees latitude in all directions, but maintaining latitudinal scaling beyond the Antarctic Circle with the aid of latitudes marked on the source map. The result would actually be a major distortion or shortening of the continent's perimetric features. This would be similar to an artist doubling or tripling the torso of a model, but maintaining the limbs at their normal size. In the case of both the cartographer and the artist, there is absolutely no possible way that they could overlook the fact that their resulting images in no way resembled the original subject. No, if we intend to validate these maps as ancient chartings of Antarctica, the overscaling and misalignment of the continent require a much more reasonable explanation.
In our quest to reconcile these distortions and establish these mysterious 16th century maps of Antarctica as valid maps having ancient origins, we will need to track this particular design back to its initiation into the cartographic archives. By analyzing the source we will attempt to determine the cartographer’s methodology and whether he was prone to dabbling in a little cartographic creativity or if he was more apt to rely upon ancient source maps in creating the Antarctic continent. The initial design appears to have been introduced by German mathematician and cartographer Johannes Schöner, appearing on his 1524 world globe (Fig. 3).