Aethiopian Sea

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Map showing the Aethiopian Sea in the Gulf of Guinea area. Drawn by James Rennell, 1799.

Aethiopian Sea (Æthiopicum Mare in Latin) was the name given to the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean in classical geographical works from ancient times to the 19th century. The term Aethiopian was also used at the time to describe un-inhabitable parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.


Ancient Greek historians Diodorus and Palaephatus mention that the Gorgons lived in the Gorgades, islands in the Aethiopian Sea. The main island was called Cerna and, according to Henry T. Riley, these islands may correspond to Cape Verde.[1]

In the 16th century maps the name of the Northern Atlantic Ocean is Sinus Occidentalis, while the central Atlantic, southwest of present-day Liberia, appears as Sinus Atlanticus and the Southern Atlantic as Mare Aethiopicum.[2] John Seller in his Atlas Maritimus divided the Atlantic Ocean in two parts by means of the equator. He called the northern portion of the Atlantic "Mar del Nort" and the southern part "Oceanus Æthiopicus". Edward Wright did not label the North Atlantic at all but called the portion south of the equator the "Aethiopian Sea" in a map that was published posthumously in 1683. The same name is used in "A New Map of the World" (1703) by John Thornton.[3]

Botanist William Albert Setchell (1864–1943) gives this name to the sea around certain islands close to Antarctica.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ovid, The Metamorphoses, commented by Henry T. Riley ISBN 978-1-4209-3395-6
  2. ^ Georg Heinrich von Boguslawski, Handbuch der Ozeanographie, 1907.
  3. ^ Ian K. Steele, The English Atlantic, 1675-1740: An Exploration of Communication and Community, Oxford, ISBN 978-0-19-503968-9
  4. ^ Studies of South African Phaeophyceae. I. Ecklonia maxima

External links[edit]