Cape Bojador and The Fortunate Islands

Reconciling Ptolemy’s Fortunate Islands with modern maps is a challenge.

This is especially true for Gradualists who don’t accept Before and After Earth images represent a catastrophic transformation.

The Fortunate Isles or Isles of the Blessed were semi-legendary islands in the Atlantic Ocean, variously treated as a simple geographical location and as a winterless earthly paradise inhabited by the heroes of Greek mythology.

Instead of identifying changes Gradualists identify “errors”.

If Ptolemy’s calculations are correct then the Earth used to be about 20 per cent smaller i.e. similar to the 20% inflation implied by the work of Marinus of Tyre.


Because Ptolemy derived many of his key latitudes from crude longest day values, his latitudes are erroneous on average by roughly a degree (2 degrees for Byzantium, 4 degrees for Carthage), though capable ancient astronomers knew their latitudes to more like a minute. (Ptolemy’s own latitude was in error by 14′.)

It must be added that his original topographic list cannot be reconstructed: the long tables with numbers were transmitted to posterity through copies containing many scribal errors, and people have always been adding or improving the topographic data: this is a testimony to the persistent popularity of this influential work in the history of cartography.

Instead of acknowledging change Gradualists explain away anomalies.

Explanations are given for the errors of Ptolemy’s position data.

A likely error by Ptolemy barely considered is his repetition of a part of Mauritania Tingitana in his description of Libya Interior.

The existence of this repetition is confirmed by an adjustment of a transformation between the positions of the duplicated places and a statistical test of the arranged model.

In Sect. 3.2, possible errors of the Ptolemaic distances are pointed out and the data are compared with distances given by Pliny.

The distances derived from Ptolemy’s coordinates are possibly adulterated by diverse errors, such as rounding errors of the distances and coordinates and unsuitable conversions of journey times into distances.

A few gross errors of distances were ascribed to alterations by Ptolemy.

The western coast of Africa in Ptolemy’s Geography and the location of his prime meridian – Christian Marx – Hist. Geo Space Sci., 7, 27–52 – 2016

This crazy comedy is compounded by Gradualists who don’t realise Ptolemy’s Geographia carefully tracked Earth changes.

The contents of Ptolemy’s Geographia indicate it was a living document which incorporated inherited knowledge from the Greek tradition.

Ptolemy’s Geographia also incorporates knowledge contributed by successive generations of geographers and cartographers.


This lack of understanding means some Gradualist reconciliations of the Fortunate Islands are fanciful fudges.

It will be found from the diagram that applying Ptolemy’s rectified longitudes and latitudes to a modern map the Fortunate Islands, as the ancient Hesperides, include both the Canaries and Cape Verdes.

As a matter of fact, Ptolemy finding it impossible to discriminate between them, gave them the longitude of the one and the latitude of the other.

The Geography of Ptolemy Elucidated
Thomas Glazebrook Rylands – 1893

Hesperides are nymphs who tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world in Greek mythology.

In Greek mythology, the Hesperides are the nymphs of evening and golden light of sunsets, who were the “Daughters of the Evening” or “Nymphs of the West”.

They were also called the Atlantides from their reputed father, the Titan Atlas.

At the other end of the spectrum:

Brave individuals provide detailed Fortunate Island reconciliations.

The localisation of Ptolemy’s places is based on distances derived from Ptolemy’s coordinates and partly on further information by ancient authors.

Through it previous identifications are confirmed and new identifications are found.

It shows that the Fortunate Islands correspond to several eastern islands of the Canary Islands.

The western coast of Africa in Ptolemy’s Geography and the location of his prime meridian – Christian Marx – Hist. Geo Space Sci., 7, 27–52 – 2016

However, there are a couple of issues with Christian Marx’s reconciliation.

1) The islands of Alegranza and Graciosa are suspiciously small.

2) The transformation of the Fortunate Islands into the Canary Islands involves an extraordinary north-westward swing of the island chain but the transformation is badly aligned and the resultant island chain is compressed.

An alternate allocation drops the two suspiciously small islands and adds Concepcion Bank at the start and La Gomera at the end of the reconciliation.

The alternate also involves an extraordinary swing of the island chain but it’s better aligned and the resultant island chain isn’t compressed.


Being familiar with whiplash mechanics can be helpful.

Teisendorf – Aperschnalzen im Rupertiwinkel
Teisendorf Tourismus – 24 Jan 2015


This alternate scenario involves two notable features.

a) A subsequent rise in Ocean Level that’s submerged Concepcion Bank.

The Concepcion Bank presently rises up to 2,433 m above the adjacent seafloor and exhibits two main domains: an extensive summit plateau and steep flanks.

The sub-round summit plateau is 50km by 45 km and ranges from 158 to 1,485 m depth.

The steep flanks that bound it descend to depths ranging between 1,700 and 2,500 m and define a seamount base that is 66km by 53 km.

This morphology is the result of constructive and erosive processes involving different time scales, volumes of material and rates of change.

The volcanic emplacement phase probably lasted 25–30 million years and was likely responsible for most of the 2,730 km3 of material that presently form the seamount.

Subsequently, marine abrasion and, possibly, subaerial erosion modulated by global sea level oscillations, levelled the formerly emerging seamount summit plateau, in particular its shallower (<400 m), flatter (<0.5°) eastern half.

Subsidence associated to the crustal cooling that followed the emplacement phase further contributed the current depth range of the seamount.

Morphometry of Concepcion Bank: Evidence of Geological and Biological Processes
on a Large Volcanic Seamount of the Canary Islands Seamount Province
Jesus Rivera, Miquel Canals, Galderic Lastras, Nuria Hermida, David Amblas, Beatriz Arrese, Pablo Martín-Sosa, Juan Acosta – PLoS ONE 11 (5) – 2016

In natural science, subaerial (literally “under the air”), has been used since 1833, notably in geology and botany, to describe events or features that are formed, located, or taking place immediately on or near the Earth’s land surface.They are thus exposed to Earth’s atmosphere.


b) The exclusion of the western El Hierro and La Palma islands.

The two excluded Canary Islands are the youngest islands.

El Hierro is 1.1 million years old and La Palma is 1.7 million years old.

Evidently the million year old El Hierro and La Palma hadn’t emerged as Fortunate Islands during Ptolemy’s lifetime [about 100 to 170 AD].

This should come as no surprise to Malaga Bay readers.

This discovery of a “flat-bottomed river vessel” built using “Roman techniques” in riverbed mud is somewhat embarrassing because this riverbed also contained the Kostolac Mammoth that’s meant to have died between 1.0 and 0.4 million years ago.


Overall, the evidence suggests El Hierro and La Palma emerged as Canary Islands sometime after 1300 CE.

The 1,170 year difference aligns the Antonine Plague with the Black Death i.e. 180 AD + 1,170 years = 1350 CE.


The “Bulging Cape” appellation and the observation that “the ocean was burning” suggest Cape Bojador was volcanically active.

The Cape Bojador volcanic activity subsided between 1433 and 1434.


But, as always:

Review the evidence and draw your own conclusions.

This entry was posted in Cape Bojador, Catastrophism, Earth, Geology, Hecker Horizon, History, Inflating Earth, Science, Uniformitarianism, Water. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Cape Bojador and The Fortunate Islands

  1. Sheila Hendry says:

    Fascinating and thought-provoking.
    Thank you.

  2. Sheila Hendry says:

    Big thanks to Malaga Bay, you kept me alive & kicking throughout 4 months of French lockdown. I have read and digested everything 🙂

  3. Yry says:

    I made this comment below to Tim regarding his ‘TOTO & PHOTS’ article dated Oct 31, 2019. Past this comment, I resume with a new question & remarks.

    CHAPTER XXXIII (of “The Mythology of All Races”, Vol. II)
    Sub chapter THE DOOM OF THE GOD, p342.

    Verses by Kormak (c. 935 A.D.) say:
    “the earth shall sink, the mountains drop into the sea”
    before such a fair woman as Steingud shall be born.

    Arnor Iarlaskald (c. 1065 A.D.) wrote:
    “the bright sun shall turn black, the earth sink into the dark sea,
    the dwarfs’ burden (Heaven) shall be rent, the sea rush up over the
    hills, ere such a one as Thorfinn shall be born.”

    These references are in conformity with the Eddic account.

    Cfer “Eddic Mythology” by John Arnott MacCulloch via:
    “The Mythology of All Races” In 13 Volumes, Volume II. PDF internet ref.: MAR02.pdf

    ===> Comment Yry:
    – these accounts and the Eddic Poems composition date seem to me to match the Heinsohn Horizon date as per Tim’s GRIP diagram.


    Aug 13, 2020
    ==> My new question then in the light of your mostly confirmed “Hecker Horizon:

    – ” these accounts and the Eddic Poems composition date seem to me to match the HECKER HORIZON date as per Tim’s GRIP diagram??”
    – Would that be correct?
    And what do you think of the dates 935 & 1065 AD from Kormak & Iarlaskald?

    – The son of Christopher Colombus ‘Hernando’ did report that his father’s last expedition had encountered terrible giant interlacing waves between Venezuela and Santo Domingo Island upon his return leg from northern Brazil.
    That would be another match to the Atlantic splitting Event consequences.
    – It could also explain the presence of dark-skinned cannibal inhabitants in the Caribbeans who had nothing to do with the other great civilizations in the Americas.
    (Note: the word ‘Caribbean’ actually means cannibal.)

    – Terrific work Tim.
    I never dreamed I’d get to know the answer before my passing away!
    What’s more, I’m familiar with the coasts of Morocco and Senegal.

    • malagabay says:

      The Olmecs were the earliest known major Mesoamerican civilization. Following a progressive development in Soconusco, they occupied the tropical lowlands of the modern-day Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco.

      The Olmecs flourished during Mesoamerica’s formative period, dating roughly from as early as 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE.

      Pre-Olmec cultures had flourished since about 2500 BCE, but by 1600–1500 BCE, early Olmec culture had emerged, centered on the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán site near the coast in southeast Veracruz.

    • malagabay says:

      “Would that be correct?
      And what do you think of the dates 935 & 1065 AD from Kormak & Iarlaskald?”

      Sorry – I haven’t got an answer for you.
      The period between the Heinsohn and Hecker horizons contains “intermittent periods of violent erosion such as would dismember animal remains and splinter trees, interspersed with other periods of comparative quiescence so as to allow the growth of “forests” and peat bogs in the same area.” Frank C Hibben – 1941.
      It’s a lot to unravel.

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