The original & more frequently encountered version of the Buache Map, which does not show Antarctica.

The Buache Map: A Controversial Map That Shows Antarctica Without Ice

(Read the article on one page)

The Buache Map is an 18th century map commonly claimed to accurately depict the continent of Antarctica before it was buried by ice. By extension, it has been claimed that this map is evidence that an ancient civilization had mapped Antarctica when it was free from ice, and that it was based on this source that the Buache Map was drawn. However, t ere are arguments against this interpretation of the Buache Map, and the claim that the continent of Antarctica was known to a highly advanced ancient civilization long before it was ‘re-discovered’ by modern man in the early part of the 19th century.    

Philippe Buache

The Buache Map was drawn by a French geographer by the name of Philippe Buache de la Neuville, hence its name. The full title of this map (in French), however, is “ Carte des Terres Australes comprises entre le Tropique du Capricorne et le Pôle Antarctique où se voyent les nouvelles découvertes faites en 1739 au Sud du Cap de Bonne Esperance " , which translates into English as “Map of the Southern Lands contained between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Pole, where the new discoveries made in 1739 to the south of the Cape of Good Hope may be seen”. Although the Buache Map is often said to have been published in 1737, the date of publication on the map itself is given to be September 3, 1739.

Philippe Buache, Carte d'une partie de l'Océan vers l'Équateur entre les costes d'Afrique et d'Amérique... Paris, 1737. Map engraved on copper (63,5 x 48,3 cm)

Philippe Buache, Carte d'une partie de l'Océan vers l'Équateur entre les costes d'Afrique et d'Amérique... Paris, 1737. Map engraved on copper (63,5 x 48,3 cm) ( Public Domain )

The man behind the map, Philippe Buache de la Neuville, was a cartographer and map publisher, as well as the “foremost theoretical geographer of his generation”. Buache began his career as a workshop assistant and apprentice of Guillaume de L’Isle, who was himself an important and prolific cartographer.

When de L’Isle died in 1726, his publishing firm was taken over by Buache, who had also married his mentor’s daughter so that he was part of the family. In 1729, Buache was appointed as the Premier Geographe du Roi , roughly translated as the ‘first / principal geographer of the king’. In the following year, Buache entered the Académie des sciences as the successor of Guillaume de L’Isle.

Drawing of Philippe Buache.

Drawing of Philippe Buache. ( Public Domain )

Buache was a pioneer of a new form of theoretical geography. Although Buache’s new system was “defective in many instances”, it nevertheless “contributed greatly toward the progress of that science, and popularized it.”

To produce his maps, Buache is said to have employed “geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation”. From these, he made a number of deductions. One of the deductions made by Buache which turned out to be true, for instance, was the existence of Alaska and the Bering Strait. Nevertheless, not all of Buache’s speculations were true. One example of this would be the existence of a central Antarctic sea.

Legends of the Buache Map

Returning to the Buache Map, it has been suggested that it “accurately depicts the subglacial topography” of Antarctica, a claim said to have its origins in Charles Hapgood’s 1966 book, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings . It has also been suggested that Buache used a map / maps that was / were either made by some highly developed ancient civilization or even by “alien cartographers”.

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age.

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age. ( Amazon)

One argument against this interpretation is the fact that nobody knows for sure what the topography of subglacial Antarctica actually looks like. At present, there is no way to judge the veracity of the claim that the Buache Map provides an accurate representation of the subglacial Antarctic coastline. Additionally, it has also been pointed out that there are numerous differences between the Buache Map and the Piri Re’is Map, another map purported to illustrate the topography of an ice-free Antarctica.

The French legends that cover the Buache Map also provide a clue as to the way the map may be read and understood. For example, the words conjecturée (conjectured) and  soupçonnée (suspected) can be found on parts of the southern continent, indicating that this landmass was not copied from some ancient map, but was a hypothesis by Buache.


This is originally piri reis's map. Not buaches

From this article:

"Additionally, it has also been pointed out that there are numerous differences between the Buache Map and the Piri Re’is Map, another map purported to illustrate the topography of an ice-free Antarctica."

I thought NASA did scans from orbit that confirmed the map. Speculative or not if NASA is correct he did a masterful job.

No matter where you go, there you are.

No, the map doesn't look much like the real Antarctica. For instance the Antarctic peninsula is missing. IRL it almost reaches South America and has mountains running along it that are a part of the Andes, sundered from the main range by continental drift. It's not the sort of feature that could be obliterated by sea level change, or covered by ice, or in any way missed by someone making a map of Antarctica. It looks like the mapmaker was smart enough to figure out there was continent there, but had no idea of tthe coastline shape and just made it up.

Interesting hypothesis by all involved with attempting to show that which doesn’t exist...the South Pole! Unless, of course, you still believe we live on a “Spherical” Earth!

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Total eclipse of the sun, Chita, Russia, 1997.
When a total solar eclipse occurred just over 2,600 years ago, on May 28, 585 BC, the sight of it is believed to have been the main reason for the end of the battle between the Medes and the Lydians. This year’s anniversary of the strange phenomenon, comes in a year that Americans are getting ready to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the same extraordinary astronomical event that will conquer the skies of their country on August 21.

Human Origins

Detail of ‘God creating the Sun, the Moon and the Stars’ by Jan Brueghel the Younger.
Although most mainstream scientists and most of the developed world now accept the theory of evolution and the scientifically established age of Earth and the universe, there is still a group of people that resist the status quo and insist, based on a particular literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 in the Hebrew Bible

Ancient Technology

Representation of an ancient Egyptian chariot.
The wheel can be considered mankind’s most important invention, the utility of which is still applied in multiple spheres of our daily life. While most other inventions have been derived from nature itself, the wheel is 100% a product of human imagination. Even today, it would be difficult to imagine what it would be like without wheels, since movement as we know it would be undeniably impossible.


El Caracol Observatory at Chichen Itza (Wright Reading/CC BY-NC 2.0) and Composite 3D laser scan image of El Caracol from above
In 1526, the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo arrived on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and found most of the great Maya cities deeply eroded and unoccupied. Many generations removed from the master builders, engineers, and scientists who conceived and built the cities, the remaining Maya they encountered had degenerated into waring groups who practiced blood rituals and human sacrifice.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article