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The Piri Reis’ map: advanced cartography in the 1500s?

Piri Reis was a Turkish admiral, a refined and ingenious man often erroneously dismissed as a pirate. He is remembered as the author of a nautical map, drawn up in 1513, which later became known as the Piri Reis map, half of which was found in 1929, during the restructuring work on the Imperial Palace in Istanbul.

The map was traced on gazelle hide and shows the west coast of Africa, the west coast of Europe, the east coasts of South America and North America and Queen Maud’s Land, in Antarctica.

This last location brings up an interesting question: how could Piri Reis draw a map of the Antarctic before it had been officially discovered (in 1818)? But strangest of all, how could he have represented it as it appeared only during the subglacial period (free of ice), from 15,000 to 4,000 years before Christ?

An intriguing hint was provided by the admiral himself, who drew up the map thanks to his privileged access to ancient sources, which he had permission to consult at the legendary library of Constantinople, destroyed in the disastrous fire that resulted in the loss of hundreds of ancient manuscripts and scrolls of inestimable historical value.

The question remains: who on earth, 4,000 years before Christ, could have had the knowledge and skill to produce such advanced cartography, which required considerable mathematical ability as well?

For years, numerous scholars have debated the issue, expressing their theories in bestseller form and discrediting those advanced by their adversaries. Between scientific investigations and theories of alien presences, what remains certain is that Piri Reis, like many other explorers of his time, Christopher Columbus among them, was an excellent cartographer. A far different type of knowledge from what we possess today, thanks to the application of new technologies, but fascinating and admirable nonetheless.

April 20, 2012 2 Comments Posted in: Educational



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