Lost lands

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Map of Mu by James Churchward

Lost lands can be continents, islands or other regions existing during prehistory, having since disappeared as a result of catastrophic geological phenomena or slowly rising sea levels since the end of the last Ice Age.[citation needed] Lost lands, where they existed, are supposed to have subsided into the sea, leaving behind only a few traces or legends.[citation needed] The term can also be extended to mythological lands generally, to underground civilizations, or even to whole planets.[citation needed]

The classification of lost lands as continents, islands, or other regions is in some cases subjective; for example, Atlantis is variously described as either a "lost island" or a "lost continent". Lost land theories may originate in mythology or philosophy, or in scholarly or scientific theories, such as catastrophic theories of geology.[citation needed]

Lost continents[edit]

As the study Lost Continents by L. Sprague de Camp seeks to show, many modern writers speculate about ancient civilizations that dwelled on continents now deluged under sea level.[citation needed] According to de Camp, there is no real scientific evidence for any lost continents whatsoever.

Submerged lands[edit]

The Sahul Shelf and the Sunda Shelf during the ice ages and today. The area in between is called "Wallacea".

Although the existence of lost continents in the above sense is mythical (aside from Zealandia), there were many places on earth that were once dry land but submerged after the ice age around 10,000 BCE due to rising sea levels, and possibly were the basis for neolithic and bronze age flood myths. Some others were lost due to coastal erosion or volcanic eruptions. Approximately listed by size, these are:

  • Dvārakā, mythical city of Krishna, claimed by some to be found in marine archeology in the Gulf of Khambhat
  • Sundaland, the now submerged Sunda Shelf.
  • Kerguelen Plateau, a submerged micro-continent which is now 1–2 km below sea level.
  • Beringia, connecting Asia and North America.
  • Doggerland, the bed of the North Sea, inundated by rising sea level during the Holocene.
  • A large island in the Mediterranean Sea, of which Malta is the only part not now submerged.
  • Maui Nui, once a large island of the Hawaii archipelago; several major islands represent residual high ground of Maui Nui.
  • New Moore Island, an island in the Bay of Bengal submerged in 2010 by rising sea levels.
  • Verdronken Land van Reimerswaal, most of this region in The Netherlands vanished in a storm in 1532; the town of Reimerswaal survived as an island into the 17th century; the last bits of land vanished in the early 19th century.
  • Strand, an island off the German coast with the town Rungholt, eroded away by storm surges before being washed away by a final flood in 1634.
  • Jomsborg and Vineta, legendary cities on the south coast of the Baltic Sea supposed to have been submerged in the Middle Ages.
  • Jordsand, once an island off the Danish coast, eroded away by storm surges before being washed away by a final flood between 1998 and 1999.
  • Ferdinandea, submerged volcanic island which has appeared at least four times in the past.
  • Sarah Ann Island, now submerged guano island, located just north of the equator. Vanished between 1917 and 1932.
  • Ravenser Odd, a large 13th-century town on an old sandbank promontory in East Yorkshire, which became an island and then vanished in January 1392.
  • Dunwich, the traditional capital of the Kingdom of the East Angles that was lost to the sea by gradual coast erosion and partly by a storm surge in 1286.

Mythological lands[edit]

Plato's Atlantis described in Timaeus and Critias

Phantom islands[edit]

Phantom islands, as opposed to lost lands, are land masses formerly believed by cartographers to exist in the historical age, but to have been discredited as a result of expanding geographic knowledge. Terra Australis is a phantom continent. While a few phantom islands originated from literary works (an example is Ogygia from Homer's Odyssey), most phantom islands are the result of navigational errors.

In literature and philosophy[edit]

The following individuals are known for having written on the subject of lost lands (either as fiction, hypothesis, or supposed fact):

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • L. Sprague de Camp and Willy Ley, Lands Beyond, Rinehart & Co., New York, 1952.
  • L. Sprague de Camp, Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature, Dover Publications, 1970.
  • Raymond H. Ramsay, No Longer on the Map: Discovering Places that Never Were, Ballantine, 1972.