Terra Incognita

A collection of places remote in location, obscure to knowledge, and lost to time.

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Kristjan Rems, Alone

Flying over Greenland.


The Antarctic Photographs of Herbert Ponting

The British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition, 1910-1913, on which Captain Robert Falcon Scott and four of his companions perished whilst returning from the South Pole, is among the most important early expeditions to the Antarctic. The photographs of the endeavour taken by Herbert Ponting, constitute one of the most compelling visual records in the history of exploration. [via]


The Ishtar Gate And The Animals It Holds

The Ishtar Gate is a part of the fortified walls that surrounded the ancient city of Babylon. The Ishtar Gate was actually the eighth and final gate into the city and served as the city’s main entrance. Pictured is a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate from Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. They were built by King Nebuchadnezzar in 575 BCE as part of his plan to beautify his capital city. Just like any modern-day city beautification project, the Ishtar Gate was just a part of a series of construction projects that included restoration to the Temple of Marduk and the world famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The Gate stood as high as 11.5 metres in some places and was decorated all over with glazed brick tile reliefs. The mosaics that these bricks formed depicted creatures of importance to the Mesopotamian world, whether these animals were real or mythical.

(via dendroica)


Opened Up Passage in Lower Antelope Canyon.


I wish there were paintings of Inca cities before the empire’s collapse.

It was said by the Spanish that they were so marvelous and architecturally magnificent that they easily rivaled the cities of Spain and Europe.

I guess its just another of those great losses to history, of a time and culture which is only on paper for us to learn about :(


Magnificent Machu Picchu Nathan C Wade

Machu Picchu stands 2,430 meters above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.”


HISTORY MEME: (1/10) Moments - Inca Civil War/Spanish Conquest

The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. After years of preliminary exploration and military skirmishes, 169 Spanish soldiers under Francisco Pizarro and their native allies captured the Sapa Inca Atahualpa in the 1532 Battle of Cajamarca. It was the first step in a long campaign that took decades of fighting but ended in Spanish victory and colonization of the region as the Viceroyalty of Peru. The conquest of the Inca Empire led to spin-off campaigns into present-day Chile and Colombia as well as expeditions towards the Amazon Basin. (+)

The Inca Civil War, the Inca Dynastic War, the Inca War of Succession, or, sometimes, the War of the Two Brothers was fought between two brothers, Huáscar and Atahualpa, sons of Huayna Capac, over the succession to the Inca throne. The war followed Huayna Capac’s death in 1527, although it did not begin until 1529, and lasted until 1532. Huáscar initiated the war because he saw himself as the rightful heir to the kingdom of all the Incas. Regardless of legitimacy, Atahualpa proved himself to be tactically superior to his brother in warcraft and to the mighty armies of Cuzco, which their father had stationed in the North during the military campaign. (+)

"When I set out to write for the people of today and of the future, about the conquest and discovery that our Spaniards made here in Peru, I could not but reflect that I was dealing with the greatest matters one could possibly write about in all of creation as far as secular history goes. Where have men ever seen the things they have seen here? And to think that God should have permitted something so great to remain hidden from the world for so long in history, unknown to men, and then let it be found, discovered and won all in our own time!" —Pedro Cieza de León, Chronicles of Peru

(Source: batfamilia)


Luca Ciamberlano
Prester John, King of Ethiopia
Italy (1599)
196 x 152 millimetres
British Museum
In the twelfth century, a mysterious letter began to circulate around Europe. It told of a magical kingdom in the East that was in danger of being overrun by infidels and barbarians. This letter was supposedly written by a king known as Prester John.

"…I, Prester john, who reign supreme, surpass in virtue, riches and power all creatures under heaven. Seventy kings are our tributaries. I am a zealous Christian and universally protect the Christians of our empire, supporting them by our alms. We have determined to visit the sepulchre of our Lord with a very large army, in accordance with the glory of our majesty to humble and chastise the enemies of the cross of Christ and to exalt his blessed name."
"For gold, silver, precious stones, animals of every kind and the number of our people, we believe there is not our equal under heaven."
"If again thou askest how it is that the Creator of all having made us the most superpotential and most glorious over all mortals-does not give us a higher dignity or more excellent name than that of Priest (Prester), let not thy wisdom be surprised on this account, for this is the reason. We have many ecclesiastics in our retinue of more dignified name and office in the Church, and of more considerable standing than ours in the divine service. For our house-steward is a patriarch and king; our cup-bearer is an archbishop and king; our chamberlain is a bishop and king; our archimandrite, that is chief pastor or master of the horse, is a king and abbot. Whereof our highness has not seen it repugnant to call himself by the same name and to distinguish himself by the order of which our court is full. And if we have chosen to be called by a lower name and inferior rank, it springs from humility."

Throughout the Middle Ages, the legend of Prester John sparked geographic exploration across Asia and Africa. The letter first surfaced in Europe as early as the 1160s, claiming to be from Prester (a corrupted form of the word Presbyter or Priest) John. There were over one-hundred different versions of the letter published over the following few centuries. Most often, the letter was addressed to Emanuel I, the Byzantine Emperor of Rome, though other editions were also often addressed to the Pope or the King of France.
The letters said that Prester John ruled a huge Christian kingdom in the East, comprising the “three Indias.” His letters told of his crime-free and vice-free peaceful kingdom, where “honey flows in our land and milk everywhere abounds.” Prester John also “wrote” that he was besieged by infidels and barbarians and he needed the help of Christian European armies. In 1177, Pope Alexander III sent his friend Master Philip to find Prester John; he never did.
Despite that failed reconnaissance, countless explorations had the goal of reaching and rescuing Prester John’s kingdom that had rivers filled with gold and was the home of the Fountain of Youth (his letters are the first recorded mention of such a fountain). By the fourteenth century, exploration had proved that Prester John’s kingdom did not lie in Asia, so subsequent letters (published as a ten-page manuscript in several languages), wrote that the besieged kingdom was located in Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia).
When the kingdom moved to Abyssinia after a 1340 edition of the letter, expeditions and voyages began to head to Africa to rescue the kingdom. Portugal sent expeditions to find Prester John throughout the fifteenth century. The legend lived on as cartographers continued to include the kingdom of Prester John on maps through the seventeenth century.
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