Ottoman seafarer, navigator and cartographer, 1468(?)-1554.
Piri Reis was born between 1465 and 1475 in Gelibolu (Gallipoli) with the name of Muhiddin Pin. His father's name was Haci Mehmet and one of his uncles was Kemal
Reis, famous pirate and later admiral of the Sultan's fleet.
Coming from a place and family with a long seafaring tradition, he joined his uncle's crew after completing his elemetary education at age twelve and sailed with him for 14
years, during which his keen observational skills helped him gather material for the Bahriye, a seafarer's manual and survival guide that would only be equalled by that of the British admiralty 300 years later.
In the 1490s he assisted in the evacuation of the Muslim population from Granada in which Kemal Reis and other Ottoman and Egyptian pirates took part. At the same time, he
made detailed observations of the western Mediterranean coast to follow those of the Aegean and north African coasts he had made earlier. He also chronicled naval battles
of the time. In 1500-1502 he distinguished himself as a commander against the Venetians in a campaign which resulted in substantial gains for the Ottoman Empire.
Following his uncle's death in a battle in which Pin didn't take part, he retired to Gelibolu and started working on compiling the Bahriye and in 1513 put together the world map
known today as the Piri Reis map, his most famous and debated work.
In 1516, he sailed with the Sultan's fleet against Egypt and during this victorious campaign sailed up the Nile as far as Cairo, making a detailed map at the same
time. Upon his return, he presented his world map to the Sultan and returned to Gelibolu to build his Bahriye notes into a book.
Under Suleyman the Magnificent who ascended to the throne in 1520, Pin took part in several more victorious campaigns and was appointed guide to chief Vizir Ibrahim Pasha who urged him to make a copy of the Bahriye and in 1526 (923 A.H. in his own verse) Pin presented a rearranged version of the book to the Sultan. It was received favourably and prompted him to draw another map and present that too.
After 1526, Pin continued in the Sultan's service as commander of a fleet which ranged throughout the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. He is said to have died at the hand of the Sultan of Egypt when he refused to share his bounty from a raid.
His excellent observational skills and knowledge of several languages helped him gather enormous amounts of information which he used to create the works that established him as one of the top seafarers of all times although much of his fame came late since his world map disappeared until 1929. Even though he didn't venture as far into the unknown as his contemparies Columbus, Magellan or Dias, he left a written legacy equalled by few.