Thursday, January 5, 2012

Piri Reis map

The story of the Piri Reis map is the story of how a perfectly innocent 16th-century navigational chart can end up, through no fault of its own, at the centre of a crackpot theory about our planet’s ancient history.

The Piri Reis Map is named for a Turkish cartographer who compiled the map in 1513. It was later presented to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1517. It lay hidden away for centuries until its discovery in 1929 as Topkapi Palace was converted into a museum.

His passion was cartography. His high rank within the Turkish navy allowed him to have a privileged access to the Imperial Library of Constantinople. The Turkish admiral admits in a series of notes on the map that he compiled and copied the data from a large number of source maps, some of which dated back to the fourth century BC or earlier.

The map is a portolan chart, a common form at this time. Instead of latitude and longitude grids, compass roses were placed at key points with azimuths radiating from them. That said, the east-west lines through the small rose off South America in the center of the map are a very good approximation to the Equator, both there and with respect to Africa. The small one at the very top of the map is a very good estimate of 45 north where the east-west azimuth hits the coast of France. The two big compass roses in mid-Atlantic are harder to place. They might locate the tropic lines (23-1/2 north and south) or they could represent 22-1/2 latitude (one-fourth of the way from equator to pole). Considering they are a bit closer to 45 degrees than the equator, the tropic lines are the best bet.

Piri wrote about his sources in one of the map’s marginal notes:
In this century there is no map like this map in anyone’s possession. The hand of this poor man has drawn it and now it is constructed from about twenty charts and Mappae Mundi (these are charts drawn in the days of Alexander, Lord of the Two Horns, which show the inhabited quarter of the world; the Arabs name these charts Jaferiye), from eight Jaferiyes of that kind and one Arabic map of Hind, and from the maps just drawn by four Portuguese which show the countries of Hind, Sind and China geometrically drawn, and also from a map drawn by Colombo in the western region. By reducing all these maps to one scale this final form was arrived at. So that the present map is as correct and reliable for the Seven Seas as the maps of our own countries are considered correct and reliable by seamen.
Ironically, it is the map’s correctness and reliability that has since become the issue.
The map seems to show more detail than Europeans were likely to have in 1513. He hadn't been to Peru, yet, so how did Piri Reis know about the Andes? Did somebody hear tales of mountains far inland? Also, the detail on the South American coast seems a bit rich for 1513. Was the map begun then and completed later? Was the map copied later and the date miscopied? But if the map was derived from ancient sources that contained details otherwise unknown to Europeans, why are so many parts of it so crude?

In the end, all indcitates that Piri Reis must had help from some extraordinary sources like:
  • aliens
  • future us
  • divine being

No comments: