350 B.C.: The ancient Greeks knew about the Arctic and decided that to balance the world, there should be a similar cold Southern landmass that was the same but opposite.
1773: Captain Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle and circumnavigated Antarctica. Deposits of rock in icebergs showed that a southern continent existed.
1819 – 21: The first sighting of the continent.
1821: The first known landing on Antarctica. A group of 11 men were stranded and spent a winter in Antarctica. Their ship had been driven offshore and did not return to pick them up again. They were rescued the following summer.
1840s: Separate British, French and American expeditions established the status of Antarctica as a continent after sailing along continuous coastline. A British naval officer and scientist took two ships to within 80 miles of the coast but were stopped by a massive ice barrier, now called the Ross Ice Shelf.
Late 1800s onwards: Many expeditions undertaken by sealers and whalers.
1901: Captain Robert F. Scott, from the UK, led his first Antarctic expedition to the South Pole. They turned back two months later, suffering from snow blindness and scurvy. Several other expeditions were initiated in the interests of science, geography and exploration.
1909: Australian Douglas Mawson reached the South Magnetic Pole.
1911: Norwegian Roald Amundsen led a five-man expedition that reached the South Pole for the first time.
1912: Britain's Captain Scott reached the South Pole to discover he was narrowly beaten by Amundsen. The five-man team perished on the return journey, when they were only 11 miles from the supply depot. Douglas Mawson discovered and described a new section of coast, and used radio for the first time in Antarctica.
1915: Ernest Shackleton tried to cross the continent. His ship was crushed in the sea ice and a small group set out for South Georgia and the whaling station. The party was eventually rescued in 1917.
1923: The beginning of large-scale factory ship whaling in the Ross Sea. Australian Sir Hubert Wilkins and American Carl Benjamin Eielson were the first to fly over Antarctica.
1929: The first flight over the South Pole.
1947: The largest ever expedition of over 4700 men, 13 ships and 23 airplanes went from the US to Antarctica. Most of the coast was photographed for map making.
1956: US aircraft landed at the South Pole. They were the first people there since 1912.
1957: Twelve nations established 60 stations in Antarctica, marking international cooperation and the use Antarctica for peaceful purposes only.
The number of signatories is now 54.
Source: A Time Line of the Exploration of Antarctica
Copyright of Paul Ward and CoolAntarctica.com