History Archive Icon

History Archive

Terra Australis

Collections > Regions > Terra Australis Collection

Terra Australis Collection

History Archive - Terra Australis Collection

Terra Australis (Latin for South Land) was a hypothetical continent first posited in antiquity and which appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries. Aristotle first speculated in Meteorologica Book II 5, "Now since there must be a region bearing the same relation to the southern pole as the place we live in bears to our pole...".

His ideas were later expanded by Ptolemy (2nd century AD), who believed that the Indian Ocean was enclosed on the south by land, and that the lands of the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by land in the south. Marcus Tullius Cicero used the term cingulus australis ("southern zone") in referring to the Antipodes in Somnium Scipionis ("Dream of Scipio"). The land (terra in Latin) in this zone was the Terra Australis.

Legends of Terra Australis Incognita, an "unknown land of the South" date back to Roman times and before, and were commonplace in medieval geography, although not based on any documented knowledge of the continent. Ptolemy's maps, which became well known in Europe during the Renaissance, did not actually depict such a continent, but they did show an Africa which had no southern oceanic boundary (and which therefore might extend all the way to the South Pole), and also raised the possibility that the Indian Ocean was entirely enclosed by land. Christian thinkers did not discount the idea that there might be land beyond the southern seas, but the issue of whether it could be inhabited was controversial.

The first depiction of Terra Australis on a globe was probably on Johannes Schoner's lost 1523 globe on which Oronce Fine is thought to have based his 1531 double cordiform (heart-shaped) map of the world. On this landmass he wrote "recently discovered but not yet completely explored". The body of water beyond the tip of South America is called the "Mare Magellanicum," one of the first uses of navigator Ferdinand Magellan's name in such a context.

Schoner called the continent Brasiliae Australis in his 1533 tract, Opusculum geographicum. In it, he explained:

Brasilia Australis is an immense region toward Antarcticum, newly discovered but not yet fully surveyed, which extends as far as Melacha and somewhat beyond. The inhabitants of this region lead good, honest lives and are not Anthropophagi [cannibals] like other barbarian nations; they have no letters, nor do they have kings, but they venerate their elders and offer them obedience; they give the name Thomas to their children [after St Thomas the Apostle]; close to this region lies the great island of Zanzibar at 102.00 degrees and 27.30 degrees South.

References:

Franz von Wieser, Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent. Auf den Globen Johannes Schoner. Beitrage zur Geschichte der Erdkunde im xvi. Jahrhundert, Innsbruck, 1881 (reprinted Amsterdam, Meridian, 1967),

Pelletier, Monique (1995). "The cordiform World maps by Oronce Fine". Cartographica Helvetica. 12: 27-37. Retrieved 31 December 2011.

Johannes Schoener, Opusculum Geographicum, Norimberga, [1533], Pt.II, cap.xx. Ioannis Schoneri ... Opusculum geographicum

John Noble Wilford: The Mapmakers, the Story of the Great Pioneers in Cartography from Antiquity to Space Age, p. 139, Vintage Books, Random House 1982, ISBN 0-394-75303-8

Duo [cingulis] sunt habitabiles, quorum australis ille, in quo qui insistunt adversa vobis urgent vestigia, nihil ad vestrum genus ("Two of them [the five belts or zones that gird and surround the earth] are habitable, of which the southern, whose inhabitants are your antipodes, bears no relation to your people"). Alfred Hiatt, "Terra Australis and the Idea of the Antipodes", Anne M. Scott (ed), European Perceptions of Terra Australis, Ashgate Publishing, 2012, pp. 18-10.

William Eisler,The Furthest Shore: Images of Terra Australis from the Middle Ages to Captain Cook, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 10.

Regional Sub-Divisions

Available Books

Related Images

Image Name
Vallard Atlas - Enssuyt le Regime et Gouvernement du Solleil (1547)
Vallard Atlas - Europe and Northern Africa (1547)
Cosmographie Universelle - Troisieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe centrale et meridionale (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Septentrionalium Regionum Descrip (1570)
Vallard Atlas - North America, East Coast (1547)
Cosmographie Universelle - Pourtour de la mer noire (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Hungariae Descriptio Wolfgang Lazio Auct. (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Spine (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe I (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Turcici Imperii Descriptio (1570)
Vallard Atlas - Europe and Northern Africa (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Silesiae Typus (1570)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Back Cover (1881)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Ducatus Mediolanensis (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique du Nord-ouest (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Zelandicarum et Prussiae Descriptio (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Title Page (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Palestinae Sive Totius Terrae (1570)
Vallard Atlas - Southern Africa and southwest Indian Ocean (1547)
Vallard Atlas - Enssuyt le Regime et Gouvernement du Solleil (1547)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique meridionale (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Lakii Lacus Vulgo Terretorii Romani Descrip Fori Iulii (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Insularum Aliquot Maris Mediterranei Descriptio (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique orientale I (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Pourtour de la mer noire (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Royaume de Ginganton (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Portugalliae (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Neuve Espagne III (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Asiae Nova Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Inde orientale (1555)
Vallard Atlas - Terra Java (1547)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mediterranee orientale et Moyen-Orient (1555)
Vallard Atlas - Enssuyt le Regime et Gouvernement du Solleil (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Cyprus Insula (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Cinquieme Projection (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Title Page (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Typus Vindelicae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Schlavoniae, Croatiae, Carniae, Istriae, Bosniae, Finitimarumque Regionum Nova Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Russiae, Moscoviae et Tartariae Descriptio (1570)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Coupe de la ville de Paris (1757)
Vallard Atlas - Western Europe and Northwestern Africa (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Natoliae / Aegypti, Recentior Descriptio / Carthaginis Celeberrim Sinus Typis (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Premiere Projection (1555)
Vallard Atlas - Atlantic Ocean with coast of Africa and Brazil (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Transilvania (1570)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte physique de la mer des Indes (1757)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Vtriusque (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Grande et Petite Jave I (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Barbariae et Biledvlgerid Nova Descriptio (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Front Cover (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Franciae Orientalis Monasteriensis (1570)
Vallard Atlas - Enssuyt le Regime et Gouvernement du Solleil (1547)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Title Page (1881)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte des Terres Australes (1757)
Cosmographie Universelle - Deuxieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Neuve Espagne II (1555)
Vallard Atlas - Northwest Africa (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Tartariae Sive Magni Chami Regni (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - America Sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio (1570)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte physique de l'ocean (1757)
Cosmographie Universelle - Grande et Petite Jave II (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe VII (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Amerique - Terre du Bresil (1555)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Globus des Johannes Schöner A.D Jahare 1520 (1881)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique orientale II (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer des Antilles (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Regni Bohemiae Descriptio (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe meridionale et orientale (1555)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - I.ere Table de la geographie Physique (1757)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer de l'Inde orientale I (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique occidentale II (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe septentrionale et Groenland I (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe meridionale et Afrique du nord-ouest I (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Palatinatus Bavariae Descriptio et Wirtenbergensis Duvatus Vera Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Gelriae, Cliviae Finitimorumque Locorumverissima Descriptio (1570)
Vallard Atlas - Back Cover (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Angliae, Scotiae et Hiberniae sive Britannicar Insularum Descriptio (1570)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Westliche Hemisphaere nach der Weltkarte des Lionardo da Vinci (1881)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte physique de la Grande mer (1757)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer rouge et golfe persique (1555)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Front Cover (1881)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Caletensium Verom. (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Front Cover (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre-Neuve, Europe et Barbarie (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Rose des vents (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Italia Novissima Descriptio (1570)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Südliche Hemisphaere des Globus von Johannes Schöner A.D Jahare 1533 (1881)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Flandria (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre de Floride - Partie de la mer oceanne (1555)
Vallard Atlas - Front Cover (1547)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Daniae Regni Typus (1570)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Profil ou coupe des differens fonds du Canal de la Manche (1757)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Helvetiae Descriptio Aegidio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Brabantiae (1570)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe IV (1555)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Descriptio Germaniae Inferioris (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Poloniae (1570)
Magalhaes-Strasse und Austral-Continent - Südliche Hemisphaere der Weltkarte des Orontius Finaeus A.D Jahare 1531 (1881)

Related Maps

Map Name
Cosmographie Universelle - Deuxieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Premiere Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique du Nord-ouest (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe meridionale et Afrique du nord-ouest [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe meridionale et Afrique du nord-ouest [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Pourtour de la mer noire [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe meridionale et orientale (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe centrale et meridionale (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe septentrionale et Groenland [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe septentrionale et Groenland [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Europe occidentale (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre-Neuve, Europe et Barbarie (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Sixieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Troisieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Quatrieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Cinquieme Projection (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer de l'Inde orientale et des Moluques (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Inde orientale (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer de l'Inde orientale [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer de l'Inde orientale [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mer rouge et golfe persique (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Pourtour de la mer noire [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Mediterranee orientale et Moyen-Orient (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Ocean indien et mer rouge (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique orientale [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique orientale [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique occidentale [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique occidentale [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Afrique meridionale (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [X] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [IX] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [VIII] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [VII] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [VI] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [V] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [IV] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [III] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Grande et Petite Jave [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre australe [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Grande et Petite Jave [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Floride, Canada et Labrador (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Neuve Espagne [III] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Neuve Espagne [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Neuve Espagne [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre de Floride - Partie de la mer oceanne (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Defaite de Databalipa (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre du Perou [III] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre du Perou [II] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Terre du Perou [I] (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Partie des canibales (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Royaume de Ginganton (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Atlantique sud (1555)
Cosmographie Universelle - Floride, Terre-Neuve et Labrador (1555)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte physique de l'ocean (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte physique de la mer des Indes (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte physique de la Grande mer (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte des Terres Australes (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte des Lieux (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte du globe Terrestre (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Profil ou coupe des differens fonds du Canal de la Manche (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Coupe de la ville de Paris (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Carte de la partie de l'ocean (1757)
Cartes et Tables de la Geographie Physique ou Naturelle - Planisphere physique, ou l'on voit du pole septentrional ce que l'on connoit de terres et de mers (1757)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Barbariae et Biledvlgerid Nova Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Natoliae / Aegypti, Recentior Descriptio / Carthaginis Celeberrim Sinus Typis (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Palestinae Sive Totius Terrae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Turcici Imperii Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Persicic Sive Sophorum Regni Typus (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Tartariae Sive Magni Chami Regni (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Russiae, Moscoviae et Tartariae Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Septentrionalium Regionum Descrip (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Poloniae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Transilvania (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Hungariae Descriptio Wolfgang Lazio Auct. (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Schlavoniae, Croatiae, Carniae, Istriae, Bosniae, Finitimarumque Regionum Nova Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Graeciae Universae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Cyprus Insula (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Insularum Aliquot Maris Mediterranei Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Regni Neapolitani (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Thusciae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Lakii Lacus Vulgo Terretorii Romani Descrip Fori Iulii (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Pedemontanae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Ducatus Mediolanensis (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Italia Novissima Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Helvetiae Descriptio Aegidio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Palatinatus Bavariae Descriptio et Wirtenbergensis Duvatus Vera Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Typus Vindelicae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Salisburgensis (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Austriae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Silesiae Typus (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Regni Bohemiae Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Franciae Orientalis Monasteriensis (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Saxoniae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Daniae Regni Typus (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Vtriusque (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Hollandiae (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Zelandicarum et Prussiae Descriptio (1570)
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - Flandria (1570)

Regions

View All Regions