What was the former name of the Atlantic Ocean?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

Discovering the Atlantic Ocean’s Former Name

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest ocean in the world, covering approximately one-fifth of the earth’s surface. Its name is derived from the Greek mythological figure, Atlas, who held the world on his shoulders. However, before the ocean was known as the Atlantic, it had a different name. In this article, we will explore the history of the Atlantic Ocean’s name and how it has evolved over time.

Pangea and the Ancient Ocean

The origins of the Atlantic Ocean can be traced back to the supercontinent of Pangea, which existed approximately 300 million years ago. At that time, the Earth had one ocean, known as the Panthalassa. As Pangea began to break apart, a new ocean started to form. This new ocean was surrounded by the continents of North America, South America, Africa, and Europe and was known as the Proto-Atlantic Ocean.

The Birth of the Atlantic Ocean

Around 200 million years ago, the Proto-Atlantic Ocean began to widen as the continents drifted apart. This process continued for millions of years until the Atlantic Ocean, as we know it today, was formed. The Atlantic Ocean was named by the ancient Greeks, who were the first to discover it.

The Ancient Greeks and the Atlantic

The ancient Greeks were seafarers who explored the Mediterranean Sea and beyond. According to Greek mythology, Atlas was a Titan who was punished by Zeus for his role in the Titanomachy war. His punishment was to hold up the sky on his shoulders. The Greeks believed that Atlas was located at the western end of the world, which they called the "Atlantean Sea." This sea was later renamed the Atlantic Ocean.

The Latin Name of the Atlantic Ocean

The ancient Romans called the Atlantic Ocean the "Oceanus Atlanticus," which means "Sea of Atlas." The Latin name was used until the Middle Ages when it was replaced by the modern name, Atlantic Ocean.

The Atlantic Ocean in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, the Atlantic Ocean was known as the "Mare Tenebrosum," which means "Sea of Darkness." This name was given due to the belief that the ocean was filled with monsters and sea serpents. Despite this superstition, the Atlantic Ocean played a significant role in the Age of Exploration.

The Age of Exploration and the Atlantic

The Age of Exploration was a period of European history that lasted from the 15th to the 17th century. During this time, European explorers sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in search of new trade routes and resources. The Atlantic Ocean became a vital link between Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

The First Maps of the Atlantic

The earliest maps of the Atlantic Ocean were created during the Age of Exploration. One of the first maps was created by Portuguese cartographer, Diogo Ribeiro, in 1529. The map showed the Atlantic Ocean as a vast expanse of water, with the continents of Europe, Africa, and the Americas surrounding it.

The Atlantic in the Age of Discovery

The Age of Discovery was a period of European history that lasted from the 15th to the 18th century. During this time, European explorers discovered new lands and peoples across the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean played a crucial role in the spread of European culture and technology to the New World.

The Atlantic in the Age of Colonization

The Age of Colonization was a period of European history that lasted from the 15th to the 19th century. During this time, European powers established colonies across the Americas, Africa, and Asia. The Atlantic Ocean was a crucial means of transportation and communication between these colonies and their mother countries.

The Atlantic in Modern Times

Today, the Atlantic Ocean remains an important body of water for global trade, transportation, and communication. It is home to diverse marine life, including whales, dolphins, and sharks. The Atlantic Ocean has also been the site of many significant historical events, including the sinking of the Titanic and the transatlantic flights of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

Conclusion: The Evolution of the Atlantic Ocean’s Name

The Atlantic Ocean has come a long way since its origins as the Proto-Atlantic Ocean. Its name has evolved over time, from the Greek "Atlantean Sea" to the Latin "Oceanus Atlanticus" to the modern "Atlantic Ocean." Today, the Atlantic Ocean remains a vital part of the global ecosystem and continues to shape the course of human history.

Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment