While maps and globes continue to all feature some spacial distortion, they are more accurate than ever due to satellite technology and GPS. However, maps and globes have not always been such responsible authorities on geography. Many ancient maps and globes are filled with wild geographic inaccuracies, in many cases going so far as to include entirely made up or mythic locations. To honor how far we have come with Columbus' exacting cartography, we wanted to look at some curious maps of mythical locations. The most famous of all is of these legendary locations, is of course, Atlantis. Created by Plato as metaphoric, the mythic island has grown in reputation throughout history. In Plato's works, Timaeus and Critias, the Atlantian navy besieged Athens. However, Athens won the battle over Atlantis, even though no other state in the west was able to withstand Atlantis' mighty army. The gods, in a fit of anger, eventually sent Atlantis to the bottom of the ocean. Although many conspiracy theorists across history have speculated as to the "real" location of Atlantis, Plato alleged it was situated "beyond the Pillars of Hercules." While Atlantis was clearly meant as a metaphor in his work, this mythic island has indeed been the subject of many ancient maps, such as this one from 1669, designed by Athanasius Kircher.
Apparently Atlantis is not the only island that sank to the bottom of the ocean. Taking this idea to even more absurd heights, the 19th century traveler Augustus Le Plongeon suggested the existence of a lost, or sunken, continent he called Mu. Originally, Plongeon suggested that Mu was located in the Atlantic Ocean. According to him, many ancient civilizations, like Egypt and Mesoamerica, were established by refugees from the lost continent. Later, James Churchward, the British occult writer who also drew this map, took the idea of Mu and ran with it. In the early 20th century he popularized Mu but placed it in a different location: the Pacific Ocean. As he said, Mu "extended from somewhere north of Hawaii to the south as far as the Fijis and Easter Island." The civilization was home to 64 million civilians, which he dubbed Naacals. The continent, which sunk about 50,000 years before Churchward's time, was also the home of the Garden of Eden according to the imaginative writer. The idea of Mu has been widely discredited by the scientific and historical community and holds absolutely no water in academic circles.
El Dorado, also known as Manõa, which is Spanish for "the Golden One," is the name of the quite famous and legendary golden city supposedly located in South America. Sitting on the mythic Lake Parime, this city of gold was highly sought after by explorers from Europe. Many expeditions in the late 16th century sought after this fictional land where gold was readily available for the picking. Perhaps the most famous quest for the lost city and its golden king was from Sir Walter Raleigh in the late 16th century and early 17th century. He mounted to two trips total in desperates attempt to find the mythic El Dorado and claim its glories for the British throne. However, he was beheaded upon returning to England after the second trip for disobeying the King James' orders. Besides Raleigh, the 16th century was ridden with failed quests from Spanish conquistadors, who heard tales of the golden city from natives they had taken as prisoner. See El Dorado on the northwestern shore of this 1656 map of the mythic Lake Parime, where it was thought to be.