Piri Reis map
Scholars believe the resemblance of the coastline to the actual coast of Antarctica to be tenuous. For centuries before the actual discovery of Antarctica, cartographers had been depicting a massive southern landmass on global maps based on the theoretical assumption by Europeans that one must exist, if only to balance the landmass of the North. The landmass in question on the Piri Reis map would thus be simply a continuation of this tradition, with its debatable resemblance to the actual coastline being coincidental. It was widely believed that South America and, once its northern coastline was discovered, Australia, must be joined to this land mass, which was thought to be very much bigger than the real Antarctica. This theoretical southern continent, the Great Southern Land or Terra Australis Incognita (literally Unknown Southern Land), in various configurations, was usually shown on maps until the eighteenth century.
An alternate view is that the "Antarctic" coast is simply the eastern coastline of South America skewed to align east-west due to the inaccurate measurement of longtitude or to fit it on the page 1. Close examination of the coastline supports this view, revealing depictions of the basins at the mouth of the Strait of Magellan and the Falkland Islands. 2 The annotations on the map itself, stating that this region is hot and inhabited by large snakes do not fit with the likely climate and fauna in Antarctica in the 1500s. Similarly the map states that "spring comes early" to the islands off the coast, which is true of the Falkland Islands but not of any islands close to the Antarctic mainland.
Hapgood suggests that the Antarctic section of the map was copied at an incorrect scale to the rest of the map and resulted in the distortion and enlargement of the continent on several ancient maps. This would explain why there is no waterway between South America and Antarctica. He suggests several points of continuity between the Piri Reis Map and modern maps of the continent below the ice caps.
Since the Antarctic continent was not officially sighted until 1820 and its full coastline was not known until much later, this claim, if true, requires major revisions to the history of exploration.
At the mountains of madness
Another proposed inspiration for At the Mountains of Madness is Edgar Rice Burroughs' At the Earth's Core (1914), a novel that posits a highly intelligent reptilian race, the Mahar, living in a hollow earth. "Consider the similarity of Burroughs' Mahar to Lovecraft's Old Ones, both of whom are presented sympathetically despite their ill-treatment of man," writes critic William Fulwiler. "[B]oth are winged, web-footed, dominant races; both are scientific scholarly races with a talent for genetics, engineering, and architecture; and both races use men as cattle." Both stories, Fulwiler points out, involve radical new drilling techniques; in both stories, humans are vivisected by nonhuman scientists. Burroughs' Mahar even employ a species of servants known as Sagoths, possibly the source of Lovecraft's shoggoths.
Other possible sources include A. Merritt's "The People of the Pit", whose description of an underground city in the Yukon bears some resemblance to that of Lovecraft's Elder Things, and Katharine Metcalf Roof's "A Million Years After", a story about dinosaurs hatching from eggs millions of years old that appeared in the November 1930 edition Weird Tales. In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft declared the story to be a "rotten", "cheap", and "puerile" version of an idea he had come up with years earlier, and Joshi suggests it may have provoked him to write his own tale of "the awakening of entities from the dim reaches of earth's history."
The long scope of history recounted in the story may have been inspired by Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West. Some details of the story may have been taken from M. P. Shiel's 1901 novel of Arctic exploration, The Purple Cloud, which was republished in 1930.
Lovecraft's own "The Nameless City" (1921), which also deals with the exploration of an ancient underground city apparently abandoned by its nonhuman builders, is a clear precedent for At the Mountains of Madness. In both stories, the explorers use the nonhumans' artwork to deduce the history of their species.
The Hollow Earth Explorer has a New Champion
Advanced Planetary Explorations, LLC staff writer
Brooks A. Agnew, PhD has been elected to lead the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition (NPIEE). He is a scientist and an engineer with more than 20 years of experience as a launch manager. The religious and scientific idea that the Earth is hollow has been around for more than 600 years, carved into the celing of places like Rosslyn Chapel and reaching serious notoriety with the likes of Edmond Halley in 1692.
Now, after more than half a millennia, the first civilian expedition is being mounted to reach what the best historians in the world have determined to be the most likely location for an opening through the crust into the interior of the Earth. There have been challenges to this team already, not the least of which was the untimely and unexpected passing of the former expedition leader, Steve Currey.