Ocean-driven basal melting has been shown to be the main ablation process responsible for the recession of many Antarctic ice shelves and marine-terminating glaciers over the last decades. However, much less is known about the drivers of ice shelf melt prior to the short instrumental era. Based on diatom oxygen isotope (δ18Odiatom; a proxy for glacial ice discharge in solid or liquid form) records from western Antarctic Peninsula (West Antarctica) and Adélie Land (East Antarctica), higher ocean temperatures were suggested to have been the main driver of enhanced ice melt during the Early-to-Mid Holocene while atmosphere temperatures were proposed to have been the main driver during the Late Holocene. Here, we present a new Holocene δ18Odiatom record from Prydz Bay, East Antarctica, also suggesting an increase in glacial ice discharge since 4500 years before present ( 4.5 kyr BP) as previously observed in Antarctic Peninsula and Adélie Land. Similar results from three different regions around Antarctica thus suggest common driving mechanisms. Combining marine and ice core records along with new transient accelerated simulations from the IPSL-CM5A-LR climate model, we rule out changes in air temperatures during the last 4.5 kyr as the main driver of enhanced glacial ice discharge. Conversely, our simulations evidence the potential for significant warmer subsurface waters in the Southern Ocean during the last 6 kyr in response to enhanced summer insolation south of 60°S and enhanced upwelling of Circumpolar Deep Water towards the Antarctic shelf. We conclude that ice front and basal melting may have played a dominant role in glacial discharge during the Late Holocene.