map myths

A map from the 16th century showing Mexico around the Gulf of Mexico.

The Map Myth of Bermeja Island

Caitlin Dempsey

For hundreds of years, cartographers mapped Bermeja Island off the coast of Mexico, but no evidence has been found to prove its existence.

A detailed look at the Latin phrase for "here be dragons" on a 16th century globe.

Here Be Dragons: The Facts and Fictions of Mapmakers

Elizabeth Borneman

A common myth is that ‘Hic Sunt Dracones’ (here be dragons) was used frequently on maps throughout history.

[Map of California shown as an island], Joan Vinckeboon, ca. 1650.

California as an Island

Caitlin Dempsey

Well into the 17th and 18th centuries, cartographers created maps of the region showing California separated from the mainland by a strait.

Review | Phantom Islands: In Search of Mythical Lands

G.T. Dempsey

In this book, Dirk Liesener provides the life-stories of islands, some thirty of them, which though thought to exist in some cases for many centuries turned out to either not be an island or to have never existed to start with. 

1862 map from an atlas showing the supposed location of Sandy Island.

The Map Myth of Sandy Island

Rebecca Maxwell

Sandy Island near Australia has long appeared on maps even though it doesn't exist.