Drawn in 1513 by Piri reis, this map has been one of many maps found to be filled with information and accurate geographical data of areas which were, at the time, unexplored, if not undiscovered. The map is a compilation of many maps, some dating back as far as 4th century B.C., and most of those were based off of older maps still. The map is not drawn with the traditional horizontal and vertical lines forming a grid, but rather with a sequence of circles with lines emitting out from the center. This type of map was invented by Dulcert Portolano, and are often referred to as Portolan maps.

Some of the peculiarities on the map:
-Antarctica is accurately drawn on the map, this was long before Antarctica was discovered in 1818.
-The map is drawn of the actual land in Antarctica, without the ice sheet covering it. (This would have been impossible unless the ice wasn’t there)
-The map contains a wealth of information on South America; it accurately depicts the east coast, and the west coast, including the Andes Mountains, which had not been discovered at that time. The Amazon River is shown traversing through this yet undiscovered mountain range before heading east.
-The Falkland Islands appear at their proper latitude. These islands were not discovered until 1592.
-The map also shows a large island in the Atlantic Ocean to the east of the South American coast. There is no such island today. Located at the position on the map where this island is, 700 miles off the coast of Brazil and just above the equator, is the sub-oceanic mid-Atlantic ridge. At this position, the small Rocks of Saints Peter and Paul can be seen poking through the waves. Perhaps during the last ice age, the water was lower, and this piece of land would be fully exposed.
-South America and Africa are placed in their correct relative longitudes. This would be impossible before 1761 when John Harrison invented the first Chronometer, and yet the map was drawn in 1513.

While it is known that Piri Reis obtained maps from some explorers of his time (Christopher Columbus to name one), the majority of his maps are believed to have originally come from the libraries of Constantinople, where he had privileged access. In some bit of irony, his map was found in the rubble of the library in 1929. None of his original source maps have been found.

Reis was not alone in making maps that contained seemingly impossible information for the time. Other notable cartographers whose maps have been found to contain candid information include:

-Oronteus Finaeus – Drawn in 1531, also portrays Antarctica in a non-glacial state, with details of rivers and mountains on the mainland.
-Mercator – Shows many identifiable parts of Antarctica, including places such as Cape Dart, the Amundsen sea, Thurston Island, Cape Norviega, and several others.
-Bauche – Bauche was a French geographer who also drew startling pictures of Antarctica. However, it seems Bauche used maps from a much older source than any of the others listed here. Bauche's map portrays Antarctica with no ice on it at all. It shows the complete sub glacial topography of the continent.
-Zerro – The Zerro map accurately mapped and placed Nova Scotia hundreds of years before Columbus ever sailed.

I feel I need to point out in this node some of the criticisms that have been made of the Piri Reis map, and in particular Charles Hapgood's interpretation of it.

First of all is the claim that Antarctica is represented on the map. What the Piri Reis map actually shows is the East coast of South America extended towards Africa. Hapgood's explanation is that this was an error introduced on copying from original sources, which showed the correct seperation between Antarctica and South America. But there is a more likely explanation. Ever since Ptolemy, cartographers have theorised a 'counterweight continent' that balances the land masses in the northern hemisphere, keeping the Earth balanced. When South America was discovered, it was tempting for mapmakers to portray it as a northern peninsula of this counterweight continent. The most extreme example is the Lopo Homem map of 1519, where South America stretches right under Africa to join up with Asia, completely enclosing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Also see the Contarini map for an alternatively shaped counterweight continent.

Secondly is the claim of amazing accuracy of the map. Hapgood made the map fit by fitting it to four different grids, explaining that it was drawn from four different source maps. Two are parallel but to a different scale. One is rotated 79 degrees clockwise. And the fourth is turned 40 degrees counterclockwise, and to half the scale of the main grid. How did Hapgood come up with all these different placements? By fitting features on the Piri Reis map to features on modern maps. Therefore it is no great wonder that the features are in the correct places! And yet still he admits that two pieces of South America are missing, as well as the Drake Passage and the Palmer Peninsula. And the Amazon River is drawn twice.

Thirdly, the claim that the map shows the Andes just to the east of the West coast of South America. In fact, the map does not show the West coast at all! All that is there is a thin brown line seperating the map from a section of text, not a thick black line like most of the coastlines. The mountains are interesting in that they are in vaguely the same place as the Andes. This deserves further looking into, but doesn't neccessarily mean that the information came from any ancient civilization.

Fourth, the supposed coastline of Antartica without the ice sheet. Hapgood theorises that the original source dates to about 6000 years ago, when the ice was not present. However, most geologists place the date far further back; tens of thousands or perhaps millions of years have passed since antarctica was ice-free. But what about the supposed similarity of the map to present day sonar scans of the antarctic land mass? The problem this time is our modern day accuracy. We have only fuzzy maps of the land beneath the ice. Even then, if the ice were to be removed, the land would look entirely different; the land would become less compressed, while the sea level would rise. We have very little idea what antarctica would look like without ice.

What is the Piri Reis map, then? It is a fairly accurate, but not stunningly so, map of the atlantic that gets very distorted around the southern half of South America, much like the Portugese and Spanish maps of the time. This is understandable given that Piri Reis writes on the map itself that most of his information came from Columbus and Portugese navigators. It is a good map, but there is nothing in it that neccessitates Atlanteans, UFOs, or any other such creations.


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