The Piri Reis map


People found an ancient map during the renovations of a palace in Turkey. The Piri Reis map gathered dust for years until a professor with an interest in maps took a closer look. His findings shocked the scientific world with a challenge to our history and culture.


During renovations of the old Imperial Palace in what is now Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), a painted, parchment map was found, dated in the month of Muharrem, in the Moslem year 919 (A.D. 1513), and signed by an admiral of the Turkish navy, Piri Ibn Haji Memmed, known as Piri Reis.


It is one of the earliest “world maps” to show the Americas. The Piri Reis map was originally used to bolster Turkish national pride. Early scholars suggested that it showed accurate latitudes of the South American and African coastlines – only 21 years after the voyages of Columbus! (And remember, Columbus did NOT discover North America – only the Caribbean!)

Based on even older maps 

Writing in Piri Reis own hand described how he had made the map from a collection of ancient maps. After that he supplemented it by charts that were drawn by Columbus himself. This suggests that these ancient maps were available to Columbus and could have been the basis of his expedition. A copy of the map was presented to a diplomat in the U.S. government. Here it remained a curious artifact for years. The true mysteries of of this map were eventually discovered by professor Charles H. Hapgood and revealed to the scientific community in his book, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings.

Antarctica without ice

During scrutiny of the map, Hapgood discovered a partial charting of Antarctica. It was drawn during a period when the coast was free of ice. This coastal structure, now covered again by ice, was subsequently verified by satellite radar scanning. Ice core samples of the coastline have fixed the last ice-free period to between 11,000 B.C. and 4,000 B.C.

The mystery of the Piri Reis map


Our historical understanding of navigation includes a period of time before which it was impossible to determine a ships latitude (North to South position) in the Southern Hemisphere. This was because the known method involved sighting the angle of the only fixed star – the North Star – which cannot be seen in the Southern Hemisphere because of the curvature of the Earth. These maps show amazing details and accurate latitude placement. This accuracy is seen in many known islands along the southern most coastlines of Antarctica.  But this paradox of history was made even more astounding.


Planar geometry vs. spherical trigonometry

Hapgood has proved that the Piri Re’is map is plotted out in plane geometry, containing latitudes and longitudes at right angles in a traditional “grid”; yet it is obviously copied from an earlier map that was projected using spherical trigonometry! Not only did the early map makers know that the Earth was round, but they had knowledge of its true circumference to within 50 miles! (See similar map on right, based on spherical projection and used for air flights originating in Cairo to determine distances and fuel consumption.

This map uses spherical trigonometry. A science unknown to scholars until its discovery by Greek and Islamic mathematics.


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