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The Atlantic Ocean Was Formally Called the Ethiopian Sea


On maps from ancient times until the 19th century, today’s southern half of the Atlantic Ocean in classical geographical works was known as the Aethiopian or Ethiopian Sea or Ethiopian Ocean.
But why?

Some people wonder why this body of water was named after a country that is located at the opposite eastern end of Africa nowhere near its namesake body of water. Well, the term Aethiopian was linked to the fact that all of Africa west and south of Egypt was formally known as Aethiopia.

Obviously, the historic use of the term has become defunct nowadays.

However, a historic map called the Accuratissima Totius Africae, that was sketched by Johann Baptist Homann and Frederick de Wit and published by Jacob von Sandrart in Nürnberg in 1702, proves that the body of water continued to be referred to as the Ethiopian Ocean until the mid-19th century.

After the name of the body of water was changed to the Atlantic Ocean, botanist William Albert Setchell (1864-1943) began using the name to refer to the sea around some islands near Antarctica.