Conventional history tells us that mainland Antarctica was not first sighted until 1820 by a Russian expedition. Though Captain James Cook had crossed the Antarctica Circle and discovered nearby islands in 1773, he did not apparently visit mainland Antarctica itself. This means, that for nearly all of human history, this enormous continent was totally unknown.
Or was it?
Maori legends suggest that a navigator named Ui-te-Rangiora set sail from Polynesia in the 7th century CE and made his way with a crew down to Antarctica. If true, this would place human contact with Antarctica nearly a thousand years earlier than that made by Europeans, using much less sophisticated technology.
But what if the true hidden history of Antarctica goes back much, much farther?
Most people are familiar with the continent of Australia, but few today know the long history of its name. Originally dubbed New Holland in the 17th century by Europeans, Terra Australis or Terra Australis Incognita was used originally to refer to a hypothetical South Land, or Unknown South Land. Or what we now call Antarctica.
This South Land was first hypothesized probably by Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE, who thought that the land of the Northern Hemisphere must be logically counter-balanced by land at its oppposite points (antipodes) in the Southern Hemisphere. It turns out he wasn’t entirely wrong. And for many centuries (nearly a millenium and a half), this fabulous South Land was depicted on maps.
Or so the “official” accounts of history go, anyway.
Many alternative historians (such as Mallery, Hapgood, Von Daniken, and Graham Hancock) have challenged this viewpoint, and with some evidence in hand. Namely the Piri Reis map, which some claim shows the coast line of Antarctica in great detail. Hapgood went so far as to suggest that Piri Reis himself had copied the map from Ancient Sea Kings who existed many millenia prior, and whose knowledge had been preserved in the Library of Alexandria, prior to its destruction.
What we know today as Antarctica though, and what ancient and medieval scholars and sailors called Terra Australis Incognita, was actually the home of the lost crypto-civilization of Ancient Quatria. They were the original “Sea Kings” which Hapgood was referencing, with an incomplete knowledge of the true hidden history of the world and its long-forgotten inhabitants. (See also: Sea Peoples)
In actual fact, the real reason so many old maps were marked “Here be dragons,” is because isolated pockets of Quatrians still existed very late into history, and patrolled those seas in their dragon boats. Medieval sailors mistook them for literal dragons, and were greatly afraid.