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On The Piri Reis Map

This somewhat lengthy post is based entirely on an article in Naval History magazine, the April 1996 issue, by Commander Paolo Bembo of the Italian Navy. I have to apologize for the limited amount of scholarship here, but I did search the WWW, on this subject, and discovered basically only some pictures of the map. One of those is now posted in Potogold's (ISCA Handle at the time – now Mr. walleyes.org) home page, as noted in my previous post.

Let me summarize what I claim to be at least one interpretation (mine) of the previous discussion in this forum on this topic: There exists an ancient map, somehow associated with one Piri Reis, that shows the land mass of Antarctica in such a form and in such detail that it could have been generated only by someone with access to aerial reconnaissance of the area. This can be taken as evidence that Mr. Reis either had access to data from an ancient civilization that had flying machines, or that he was supplied data by alien visitors to our planet, who photographed & mapped the area with their own aerial vehicles.

Having said that, let me summarize the referenced article.

First, let me say that there are perhaps four versions of the map to consider:

  1. The "map" as discussed in this forum.
  2. A "chart" (to use the author's terminology) drawn by Piri Reis, circa 1513, only a fragment of which has survived. The pictures on WWW and in Potogold's home page are of this fragment.
  3. A copy the entire chart, made some 80 years after the original, is on display in Greillestein castle north of Vienna, Austria.
  4. A second chart drawn by Piri Reis some 15 years after the first, incorporating data from the explorer voyages of the intervening years.

The following discussion deals with (b), the original "Piri Reis" chart.

Piri Reis was born in Gallipoli, around 1465 – 1470, and followed a Naval career for his entire life. After various adventures, he dedicated himself to studies and construction of nautical charts during the period 1511 – 1517, at which point he returned to the sea. In particular he wrote a definitive book of the times, "Kitab–i–Bahriye," translated as "Sailing Directions." Some 29 hand–written copies of this book still survive to this day.

In the "Sailing Directions" Piri Reis describes in detail the chart that he drew – (b), above – and documents his sources. These include some 20 older maps, including a Portuguese chart known as "Portulan" and an Arabic chart called "Djaferiye." He also notes that he obtained elements from charts drawn by Christopher Columbus on his various voyages.

The remaining fragment shows basically the Atlantic ocean seaboards – the western coasts of parts of Africa and southern Europe, and parts of the eastern coasts of the New World. Let me quote the article:

"In his "Sailing Directions," Piri describes the precision he took in drawing the chart.... In drawing the coast of the New World, for instance, Piri remained faithful to the Columbus chart. Cuba and the Antilles remain as part of a continent, which is exactly what Columbus thought. Columbus named a cape in the island of Trinidad as "Galera," which Piri later named "Kalera" in his chart..." And so on.

I also must quote the following passage:
"Some of the features drawn resemble modern ones (discovered in more recent times), including – in almost disturbing detail – the Rio de la Plata (which is known never to have been noticed by the contemporary sailors of the time). The land of South America is bent toward the east, showing a Ptolemaic influence..."

And one more quote:
"Past scholars believed that this and similar charts were missing mathematical bases, but this theory is not correct. Accurate studies have shown that five centers of projections were used for the Atlantic Ocean, and latitudes and longitudes could be added to the chart without much trouble."

I looked for any reference to "Antarctica" in the article. There was none. In looking at the chart myself, it strikes me that the eastward extension of the lower part of South America could be taken to be some resemblance to lands to the south, but this is clearly an erroneous construction of Piri Reis, as noted above. It is not Antarctica.

So what have we here, on the basis of the evidence I have cited? We have a remarkable scientific document, clearly created by Piri Reis from sources available to him at the time. That is what I believe we have.

And one final quote:
"That Piri left unexplored areas empty is further proof that he followed the scientific method; he added only those that were proved real. During an age in which myth and legend often intermingled with science, it is remarkable that explorers and scientists such as Piri Reis managed to keep magic and superstition out of their studies."

And may I offer the following:

Should we not also follow his example?

The Piri Reis Map, in case you missed it.

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Last Modified: April 5, 2004
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