Fact Check: 'Map Of America From 1500' Does NOT Prove Antarctica Was Inhabited For Centuries - It's A Fake Map From A 1911 Book

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: 'Map Of America From 1500' Does NOT Prove Antarctica Was Inhabited For Centuries - It's A Fake Map From A 1911 Book Imaginary Map

Does a supposed map of America, purportedly from 1500, prove that Antarctica was inhabited by people for centuries? No, that's not true: The map that is shown in a social media post is not from the 1500s. It is a fake map created by the English illustrator Henry Justice Ford for a 1911 book.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) where it was published on TikTok on February 15, 2024. It opened with a person saying:

Look Antarctica is the only continent without a native population. That means that anyone that lives in or visits Antarctica is considered an alien.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 2.55.04 PM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Apr 23 21:20:16 2024 UTC)

The person in the video points to what appears to be a hand-drawn map of the Western Hemisphere, with the writing on the "map" saying there were men on "Terra Antarctica." Here's a screenshot of the map from the video, at 00:28

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 11.41.26 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Apr 23 21:25:27 2024 UTC)

The map is not from the 1500s. It was originally published in the 1911 book, A School History of England. The book has a "List of Coloured Plates," where the map is described as "An Imaginary Map of America, 1500," as this screenshot from a copy found in Google books shows (archived here):

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 10.49.41 AM.png

(Source: Google books screenshot taken on Tue Apr 23 21:27:12 2024 UTC)

The map takes up two pages in the book and is in color, not just yellow and black like the image in the video posted on TikTok. The caption at the bottom of the map reads, "This is a map of America (and the way to China as men believed it to be) which is an old pilot shewed to King Henry VII in the year 1500."

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 3.14.24 PM.png

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 3.14.44 PM.png

(Source: Google books screenshot taken on Tue Apr 23 21:29:43 2024 UTC)

The phrasing and archaic spelling is old Elizabethan and becomes satirical with the sentence, "Terra Antarctica where by Salvages men ye worship Devvilles," on Antarctica. In the sea to the west of the continent, pictures of mermaids accompany the words: "Here be Mermaydens which some do call sirens."

As the opening pages of the book state, the pictures are by "Henry Ford," (archived here) an English artist and illustrator born in 1861 who died in 1941.

A Google image search of the map returns websites that sell the image and clearly call it "An Imaginary Map of America, 1500," as this site shows:

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 3.23.24 PM.png

(Source: Meister Drucke website screenshot taken on Tue Apr 23 21:35:56 2024 UTC)

The claim that there was a population of people on Antarctica in the 1500s is false, as the National Geographic reports (archived here):

Antarctica is a unique continent in that it does not have a native human population.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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