Early Antarctic Adventures

The great continent of Antarctica has been a source of fascination for Europeans for thousands of years.

The subject of much speculation, the idea of an unknown southern land began with the ancient Greeks. They believed that the earth was a sphere and that a southern land mass 'Antarcktikos' must exist as a counterweight to balance the northern world which lay beneath the constellation 'Arktos', the Bear.

Egyptian geographer Ptolemy also proposed the existence of the southern continent, terra incognita. From the 15th century on, many European map-makers included the mythical land Terra Australis Incognita on their maps.

 Aurora alongside the ice off Western Base

Aurora alongside the ice off Western Base, 1911-1914, by Frank Hurley
Photograph, ON 144/H627

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