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For many years, scientific consensus has held that Antarctica has been covered with a thick sheet of ice for approximately one million years. However, more recent and accurate research suggests that the continent might have been inhabitable for much longer than scientists previously supposed and their work seems to have been validated by the discovery of an incredible map known as the Piri Reis map.
Incredible map of Antarctica shows it was once ice-free
The gazelle skin map was discovered by historians in 1929 and attributed to the legendary Turkish admiral and cartography enthusiast, Piri Reis. It is assumed that Piri Reis drew the map in 1513 and it depicts the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America and the northern coast of Antarctica.
The map is remarkable for some reasons. Firstly, historians at this time believed that Antarctica had not even been discovered in the 16th century. In fact, it was commonly held that the Russians had come across the wintry land in the 19th century. Secondly, Reis’s depiction of the continent was not as an icy, barren and inhospitable region but rather a lush area covered with dense vegetation.
Reis certainly did not visit Antarctica personally but became acquainted with the land through a large number of ancient maps available to him at the Library of Constantinople. He notes on the map that the region depicted on the image was compiled from a large variety of source maps, some of which dated back to at least the 4th century BC.
This map seems to indicate that recent investigations are correct and that Antarctica was covered with forests until approximately 6000 years ago. However, the discovery of this map raises difficult new questions for historians. Which civilization was equipped with the extremely sophisticated technology to map the exact outline of Antarctica with such breath taking accuracy in the 4th century BC? As of yet, historians and archaeologists have no answer to this question.
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