Piri Reis Map
The Piri Reis Map (1513)(c) was a world map drawn on a gazelle skin of which only the left-hand side still exists. It was a composite of detail gleaned from a large collection of maps, including one allegedly captured from Christopher Columbus(i), that were collected by Piri Ibn Haji Mehmed (1465/70–1553), an admiral or ‘reis’ in the Ottoman navy and noted by Rand Flem-Ath as a former pirate. Flem-Ath wrote a lengthy article for Atlantis Rising magazine #38, which I have used here(k) and which contains a lot of interesting background information.
It was discovered in 1929 in the Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul by Gustav Deissmann (sometimes attributed to Library director Halil Edhem).
Ferdinand Speidel has written an interesting article for Atlantisforschung on the background of Piri Reis as well as a translation of the handwritten notes on the map itself(l).
Apart from a Conference in 1931, the general public was not made aware of the map until the following year.
Piri Reis wrote on the map “It is the only chart of its kind existing now. I, personally, drew and prepared it. In preparing the map I used about twenty old charts and eight ‘Mappa Monde’ (i.e., the charts called ‘Jaferiye’ by the Arabs, and prepared at the time of Alexander the Great, in which the whole inhabited world is shown); the charts of the West Indies; and the new maps made by four Portuguese, showing the Sind, Indian, and Chinese Seas geometrically represented. I also studied the chart that Christopher Columbus drew for the West. By reducing all these charts to a single scale, I compiled the present map.”
In 1956 a Turkish naval officer presented the map to the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office. From there, it was first fully investigated by Captain Arlington H. Mallery, who had spent years studying ancient maps. He is now better remembered as a controversial amateur archaeologist. Mallery concluded that the map accurately depicted an ice-free Antarctica.
This map has become one of the controversial elements in the theory of an Antarctic Atlantis so strongly promoted by Rose and Rand Flem-Ath. They followed the views of Charles Hapgood, who, having studied a range of ancient maps, were convinced that they showed parts of Antarctica as ice-free. However, the principal argument against this idea is that the removal of the massive Antarctic ice cap would have had two effects:
(i) The consequent isostatic rebound would have altered the coastline dramatically and unpredictably.
(ii) The melting of the icecap would have raised sea levels, producing further changes to the coastline of the exposed continent.
However, Jason Colavito has pointed out(h) that “as scholars have known for decades, the segment of the map identified by Hapgood as “Antarctica” was in fact the southern part of South America, bent to fit the shape of the skin on which it was drawn.”!
Nevertheless, the late Robert Argod supported the antiquity of the original maps upon which the Piri Reis Maps and other medieval charts were based and he also supported the idea of an inhabited ice-free Antarctica.
A view contrary to the Flem-Aths can be found in a recent book by Gregory McIntosh. Professor Steve Dutch of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay offers a paper(b) debunking the value of the Piri Reis map, which should be read to get a more balanced view of the controversy. Paul V.Heinrich has also added a highly critical paper with many references(a).>Paul Lunde was equally critical in the Jan-Feb 1980 edition of Aramco World Magazine(n).<
Professor Steven Earle uses an assignment entitled ‘Project Atlantis‘(g) for his geology students in order to hone their critical thinking, which focuses on the Flem-Ath’s preferred variant of Pole Shift Theory known as Crustal Displacement.
>Diego Cuoghi has produced a four-part paper on the Piri Reis Map that is highly critical of those authors who have apparently rushed to adopt Hapgood’s interpretation of the chart without proper investigation with the following comments –
“But what mystery lovers are most enthusiastic about is the bottom edge of the map, which is said to represent Antarctica. Some claim that Queen Maud Land and other features of Antarctica are clearly recognizable on the map, even though that continent was not explored but many centuries later. Unfortunately, these people, including Hancock, claim the above hypothesis without making any cartographic comparison or first-hand check: they just accept Charles Hapgood’s statements as true. Hancock in particular does not mention any book about the history of cartography within the notes of the first two chapters of his book “Fingerprints of the Gods” (the very chapters about geographic charts). He just quotes Hapgood’s work, thus clearly showing that he didn’t even make an attempt to learn on the subject.”
Cuoghi also tackles the Oronteus Finaeus Map (Part 2), the Philippe Bauche Map (Part 3) and Atlantis (Part 4)(m).<
What the Piri Reis Map has done for Antarctica, the Nicolo Zeno Map of 1380 has done for Greenland which appears to show a deglaciated landmass. Features, hidden by ice but confirmed by modern seismic soundings, are shown. However, controversy has dogged the Nicolo Zeno Map as much as the Piri Reis chart.
Phillipe Buache the renowned French geographer also published a map of ice-free Antarctica in 1737, long before its recorded discovery and centuries before seismic surveys revealed the topography of the sub-glacial landmass. The source of the data for this map is so far unexplained.
In 2004, Jean-Pierre Lacroix & Robert Bywater presented a paper(d) to the International Piri Reis Symposium in which they made the radical claim that the western part of the Piri Reis map was a depiction of the outline of east and southeast Asia, rather than the Caribbean.
The ancient-origins website(e) has several papers relating to the Piri Reis Map.
The most recent studies(f) include a map showing the effects of just a partial retreat of the ice sheet, showing exposed coastlines, during the Pliocene era, which again indicates an outline of the landmass at variance with the Piri Reis Map.
A 2021 study(j) of the Map urges caution when interpreting its details.
(a) Piri Reis Map (archive.org) *
(g) Wayback Machine (archive.org) *
(i) Saudi Aramco World : Piri Reis and the Columbus Map (archive.org)
(j) Pîrî Reis Map of 1513 · Dubious History
(k) Atlantis Rising magazine #38 http://pdfarchive.info/index.php?pages/At
(l) What the Piri Reis card reports – Atlantisforschung.de (atlantisforschung-de.translate.goog)
(m) https://www.diegocuoghi.com/Piri_Reis/PiriReis_eng.htm *
(n) https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/198001/piri.reis.and.the.hapgood.hypotheses.htm *