Friday, October 22, 2010

Geography That Wasn't

I've been doing a lot of reading lately on lost cities, phantom islands, and the like, and I've come across some "historical" maps that time has proven to be more like alternate history.  Maybe you'll find some inspirations from these examples of terra fabula, too:

First off, here's California back when it was an island.  It ddin't finally settle on the North American mainland for good until the 1770s.

Let's get rid off that pesky California (and all the Americas, for that matter), with Paolo Toscanelli's 1474 map which gets the the earth's circumference wrong and has Cathay and Cipangu (Japan) just a quick sail away.  Hey, this map was good enough for Columbus!  Helpfully, the real North America appears ghostly in the background of this reproduction.

And this is another projection.

Finally, here's an island of Taprobana, which may have become Ceylon, or Sumatra--or disappeared all together.  It was an important trading port between east and west.  Marco Polo thought Adam was buried there, on the top of Mount Serendib.


Chris said...

Don't forget the Great Southern Continent, which logically had to be there to balance the weight of the northern hemisphere.

It really was there, just brigadooned out of phase with the rest of the world (hence Lemuria, Maple White Land, People That Time Forgot, etc.)

matt said...

Those are all awesome, pretty neat to see what people believe at one time before education was available to the masses.

Jayson said...

Yes, I've always been fascinated by this stuff as well. The speculation over what Lewis & Clark might find would make for a nifty Alternate Universe--mammoths and huge volcanoes and the God-Queen Califia!

There was thought to be a great inland sea in the west as well, wasn't there?

John Matthew Stater said...

Taprobane (or taprobana) appears in the South Seas of NOD, so that explains where it went.

Also - don't forget that California was visited by one Dr. Lemuel Gulliver, and he discovered a race of giants there. Google Gullivar maps and you'll find maps of all the fantastic places he visited. In fact, if you don't own 'The Dictionary of Imaginary Places', I suggest you buy it or borrow it from the library - quite good!

Trey said...

@Chris - And we just got Australia..

@jayson - That would be the Sea of the West. Both it and Queen Califa took up residence in the alternate world of the City.

@Matt - Glad to know I'm not the only one stealing from pseudohistory. ;)

Harald said...

Sorry for showing up late to this party. Great post! You gotta love old maps.

Trey said...

Better late that never. ;) Glad you liked the post.

Chris said...

@Trey: Oz, for all its wacky wildlife (duck-beavers, giant hopping mice and poisonous everythings), is the only part of the GSC normal enough to fall into phase with the rest of the world.

Dreamtime as mythos/visionquest? Hah! The Aborigines were telling the unadorned, honest truth all along. Songlines are the roads you take to enter the wider GSC.