UNSOLVED MYSTERY-.Piri 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.
His 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.
In 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.
In 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.
One 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.
Research 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.
Scholars 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 the map.
by: Dr. Von Zuko 2004©
Detail from the Piri Reis Map.
Detail from the Piri Reis Map.
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