Mysterious Map Emerges at the Dawn of the Egyptian Civilization and Depicts Antarctica Without Ice – Who Made it?

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On a chilly winter day in 1929, Halil Edhem, the Director of Turkey's National Museum, was hunched over his solitary task of classifying documents.  He pulled towards him a map drawn on Roe deer skin. As Halil opened the chart to its full dimensions (two feet by three feet wide or 60 X 90 cm) he was surprised by how much of the New World was depicted on a map which dated from 1513.

The document was the legacy of a pirate turned Turkish Admiral, Piri Reis ( circa 1470-1554). He was born in Gallipoli, a naval base on the Marmara Sea and was the nephew of Kemal Reis, a pirate who had reinvented himself as a Turkish Admiral adventurer who had made his name in naval warfare. At the time, the distinction between pirate and Admiral was more flexible than might be expected from looking back through a Hollywood lens. 

Map of the world by Ottoman admiral Piri Reis, drawn in 1513

Map of the world by Ottoman admiral Piri Reis, drawn in 1513. ( Public Domain )

Piri Reis sailed with his famous uncle from 1487 to 1493. During these voyages, he was introduced to the lucrative spoils of piracy. The fleet fought pirates and captured and plundered enemy ships. In 1495, Kemal Reis’ great skill in the art of battle earned him an invitation to join the Imperial Turkish Fleet. His nephew accompanied him to his new assignment. The pirates were transformed into respectable Admirals.

After Kemal was killed during a naval battle in 1502 Piri Reis turned his back on the seafaring life and began a second career as a map maker. A perfectionist - Piri Reis would not tolerate the slightest error in his drawings - he created his famous map in 1513 using older source maps; including charts captured from Christopher Columbus. The Turks had boarded one of Columbus’s ships before the crew had a chance to throw the charts into the sea; standard practice in a time when the contours of the planet remained veiled in mystery and maps held secrets that were invaluable to pirates, admirals, kings and queens.

‘Christopher Columbus on Santa Maria in 1492’ (1855) by Emanuel Leutze.

‘Christopher Columbus on Santa Maria in 1492’ (1855) by Emanuel Leutze. ( Public Domain )

A Columbus Controversy

The general public first learned of the existence of the Piri Reis map in the 27 February 1932 issue of the Illustrated London News . Entitled, “A Columbus Controversy: America – And Two Atlantic Charts”, the article noted that: “... Columbus got little further than the mouth of the Orinoco, in Venezuela, in his voyage along the coast of South America in 1498, so that the stretches of the South American coast given in the Piri Reis's chart must have been copied from other sources.”

In the July 23rd edition of the magazine Akcura Yusuf, President of the Turkish Historical Research Society, wrote a more detailed account. The author pointed out a significant fact: “...the map in our possession is a fragment. If the Other fragments had not been lost, we should have had in our possession a Turkish chart drawn in 1513 representing the Old and New Worlds together.”

U.S. Navy's Hydrographic Office.

An amateur scientist by the name of Captain Arlington Mallery made it his mission to determine the age of the source maps used by Piri Reis. So radical were Mallery's conclusions that he hesitated to reveal them. In August 1956, he finally decided to reveal his findings on a radio show sponsored by Georgetown University. He explained that in June 1954 he was working in the map room of the Library of Congress when his friend "... the Chief Engineer of the Hydrographic Office handed me a copy of a map which had been sent to him by a Turkish naval officer. He suggested that I examine it in the light of the information we already had on the ancient maps. After making an analysis of it, I took it back to him and requested that the Officer check both the latitude and longitude and the projection. When they asked why, I said, 'There is something in this map that no one is going to believe coming from me, and I don't know whether they will believe it coming from you.' That was the fact that Columbus had with him a map that showed accurately the Palmer Peninsula in the Antarctic continent.”

1753 world map by the French cartographer Philippe Buache

1753 world map by the French cartographer Philippe Buache. ( Public Domain )



As most of your articles this one also misleads the reader to accept the "greatness" of Egyptian and Jewish civilizations, Adam and Eve etc. Eratoshenes was Greek and an astronomical analysis of Orphic Hymns by Dr. Chasapis in Athens in early 1950's (!) has proven that ancient Greeks were sailing around the globe by 4500BC...having already established a very advanced civilization at the Haemus Peninsula by 6500 BC.Ancient Greek maps were passed strictly from father to the son who inherited the sacred position as a "Navigator" for ships and kept as a treasured secret from anybody else. Barbarossa was a half Greek from Samos island and Columbus was a Greek ( posing as a Catholic Italian) from the island of Chios...."Wise" Human beings first appear in "Old Europe", travel all around the globe and give and receive Knowledge all around!

....I belive it to be much more likely that Colombus only had this part of the map...
you see, he "thought" the earth to be round, so when he got to America he figured he was in India (hence the aboriginals were called "Indians"). Had he been in possession of the entire map however it would have been much more likely that he could/would have corrected that error very easily....

I too believe that the original maps are far older than suspected. The proposed Younger Dryas Impact theory may be controversial, but the evidence is mounting that it is, indeed accurate, and that 12,900 tears ago, a large part of the Northern Hemisphere was subjested to an event which basically wiped out the Clovis Culture, and nearly all of the megafauna in existence at that time.

R. Lee Bowers

I think the maps are much, much older and tend to support the controversial theory that an asteroid impact occurred 12,900 years ago and triggered the start of an unusual cold period on Earth, leading to widespread extinction of human and animal life. This memory of the absolute devastation of that asteroid strike and possibly one prior is why very old cultures were so obsessed with astronomy and calendars, they wanted to accurately predict when the earth would again enter the asteroid belt. And as I understand it, we are entering that asteroid field once again, in fact are probably in it now.

Tsurugi's picture

They're not saying the ice built up in the last 6k years. They're saying the map Piri Reis used was made 6k years ago, but that the mapping must have been done "many thousands of years before that".
And yes we have ice cores from Antarctica that go back a long time, but those are from high elevations at central locations. There were times in the more recent past when the shoreline appears to have been free of ice.

Furthermore, given Piri Reis's reputation as a perfectionist, the claim that he "bent the South American coastline horizontally" because he was "running out of paper" is dubious at best, and still doesn't answer the question of how he was able to "adequately" map the South American coastline which was supposedly totally unknown aside from Columbus' limited expeditions, and whatever Columbus may have mapped would have had terribly inaccurate longitude.

Finally, I have to wonder how people who believe such an explanation, which originates from professional "skeptics" who know absolutely nothing of cartography, reconcile the considered opinions from cartographic experts at the Navy Hydrological Office and the Cartography Office of the USAF, that it does show the coast of Antarctica as it would be if it were free of ice?


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