Reis, a Turkish admiral in the sixteenth century, was credited as the
most brilliant cartographer of his time. While he was most certainly an
extremely competent cartographer, it was his passion for collecting old
navigational maps that fueled his insights placing him in possession of
some of the most curious ancient charts and maps ever imagined.
primary sources for these antiquities must have been in the bazaars of
exotic ports and possibly from captured enemy ships. In 1513, Admiral
Piri Reis compiled the first World Map using information from his
collection of ancient charts. While the actual source of the remarkably
detailed geographic information is still in question, it was this map
(presented to Sultan Selim I in 1517) and a subsequent World Map that
served as the catalyst for his fame.
the 1500’s, his maps were considered to be extraordinary, and now more
than 487 years later, the only known surviving piece of the map
continues to amaze and startle scholars and scientists with the
information it contains. Not only is the Piri Reis map far more accurate
than any map of its time, the map has recently been used to correct
several 20th century maps.
examining the Piri Reis map, the modern scientific community is
astonished to discover that the map shows the coastal outlines of South
and North America. It also includes precise data on the southern polar
continent, Antarctica, which was supposedly not discovered until 1818.
Equally astonishing, Antarctica is shown to be free of ice depicting a
topology that we only know of due to modern radar measurements.
characteristic of the map did puzzle scholars however; much of the
geographical data on the map was not in the correct position and
appeared distorted. Working with the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Bureau,
Arlington T. Mallerey, an authority on ancient maps, constructed a grid
to allow the map to be overlain on a globe. The result was truly
astounding as the Piri Reis map then proved to be totally accurate.
by Professor Charles H. Hapgood and Richard W. Strachan suggests the
originals of the Piri Reis charts may have been aerial pictures snapped
at a great height. They point out that the rivers, mountain ranges,
islands, and other features of the Earth’s topology, were drawn with
an accuracy that would have been un-attainable in the 16th
Century. For example, Greenland was represented as two separate islands.
This was confirmed just recently by a French polar expedition conducting
a seismic survey. The seismic readings indicated that a thick (ancient)
ice flow covers an area separating two distinct landmasses.
have not been able to answer the question as to how anyone living in the
sixteenth century could have constructed such a highly accurate map.
Interestingly, modern analysis reveals a strong resemblance between the
Piri Reis World Map and photographs taken from space with the city of
Cairo, Egypt in the center. While the Piri Reis Map is certainly a
mystery, the real enigma is the source of the information used to create
Dr. Von Zuko 2004©
Detail from the Piri Reis Map.