In the second century, Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy proposed an incorrect but influential theory. He knew of Europe and the civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
He also knew of the Middle East and had a dim knowledge of the massive Asian continent beyond it. But, he wondered, how could the earth spin and not wobble off balance, when all the land seemed to be in the Northern Hemisphere?
He theorized that a giant continent must exist in the Southern Hemisphere to balance the lands of the north. He called this imaginary place Terra Australis Incognita, meaning “unknown southern land.”
Centuries later, European explorers, such as James Cook and Comte Louis Antoine de Bougainville, sailed in search of this land.