A new book by Edward Brooke-Hitching called the Phantom Atlas charts the fantastical islands and countries drawn onto maps which don’t actually exist and the mythical creatures that swim off their shores. Here we look at some of the mythical beasts of the 16th century map, the Carta Marina – from island whales to the Kraken.
NON-existent islands, invented mountain ranges, mythical civilisations and other fictitious geography were all at various times presented as facts on maps and atlases.
And phantom islands that never really existed are still being presented as “real” in the 21st century.
As recently as 2012, the so-called Sandy Island between Australia and New Caledonia was established as non-existent.
Australia and North America were once supposed to have vast inland seas that were drawn on maps.
California was believed to be an island off the west coast of America, and a mythical sea passage known as the Strait of Anian gave sailors hope of a quick passage to the East.
But along with mythical sea monsters and imagined and bizarrely shaped humans that occupied mysterious parts of the earth, these are all fictitious.
Throughout much of the 19th century more than 40 different mapmakers included the Mountains of Kong, a huge range of peaks stretching across the entire continent of Africa, in their maps.
It was only in 1889 when Louis Gustave Binger revealed the whole thing to be a fake.
For centuries, explorers who headed to Patagonia returned with tales of the giants they had met who lived there, some nine feet tall.
All these stories and fascinating and genuine old maps are featured in a new book,
The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps.
The Phantom Atlas is an atlas of the world not as it ever existed, but as it…