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. It's significance in portraying one of the earliest known maps of the Americas was quickly realized, as unsuccessful attempts at maps used by - and drawn by - Columbus had never been found. Piri Reis had written that the map had been drawn using twenty other maps as reference, including not only those of Columbus, but even claiming some of the maps had been around from the time of Alexander the Great. However far-fetched that last point may seem, it was quite normal for early cartographers to use a variety of older maps.

Map of an Ice-Free Antarctica

   Charles Hapgood, the original proponent behind the pole shift theory, began studying the map and authored a book in 1966 titled Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings. He believed the southern portion of the Piri Reis Map was in fact a detailed coastal outline of Antarctica, which had not been officially discovered until 1820, and even then neglected because of hostile conditions, only receiving the name Antarctica in 1890. The idea that an ancient civilization had been around to survey an ice-free continent served expertly towards his theory of the earth's crust having shifted at a point when Antarctica sat longitudinally in a more temporate zone. Further speculation over the years has placed Atlantis on the continent, and even given rise to beliefs among some of the UFO community that ancient spacecraft supplied the original maps. This drawing, and others to come, was taken by many as proof that ancient civilizations existed who were technologically capable of mapping the planet.

   When I first read Graham Hancock's recital of Hapgood's findings in Fingerprints of the Gods, I was excited. I will be the first to admit that I wait for the day when proof of ancient races such as the Atlanteans emerges, but it doesn't take much of a search to realize how quickly the Piri Reis Map will fail to prove anything. It doesn't disprove anything really - just doesn't provide anything to support such theories. I've seen so many back and forth arguments over this inaccurate piece of gazelle skin that Hapgood and Hancock begin to look foolish, which I hate to say because I enjoy their work even if I spend more time verifying the facts than I do reading the books. Again, as much as I would love to believe that this map indeed shows the coast of Antarctica, and I'm sure many a reader will feel the same, and even disagree no matter the 'proof' given, I believe this is nothing more than the coastal outline of South America.

Give Me Some Skin!

   The best website I found with in-depth information on this, right down to the Falkland Islands, is an Italian site, with an English version, of course, but you can see in the left-hand picture here how so many points are lined up. Clicking on the photo will load up a larger version, which goes for the other two pics as well. The best reasoning for the coast's curve across the bottom is nothing more than Piri Reis needed room to draw. It's also possible it was drawn this way deliberately over future claims to the land between Portugal and Spain, but judging by the oversized South America, and the highly inaccurate Northern continent (despite what some will tell you), I'd say Reis just ran out of room. The last thing I want to do is send you away from my website, but there are many, many good illustrations on that other website that detail the fine-points in a much clearer way, but let me add my favourite to this.

Snakes on the Plains

   Though not officially discovered until 1592, early 16th century maps showed a group of islands, as shown, which are believed a rough representation of the Falkland Islands. The line says, "Those islands are deserted but spring here lasts long." Below the islands, on the coast, can be seen two basins, which are believed to be the Straight of Magellan, matched by another bay to the east - or south, depending on how the map's been rotated. At the very tip of the continent you will see a drawing of a snake. Reis wrote, "This land is uninhabited. Everything is in ruin and it is said that large snakes are found here. For this reason the Portuguese infidels did not land on these shores and these are also said to be very hot." Snakes and heat in Antarctica? Somebody had clearly seen that portion of the map, and a frozen southern continent does not fit this description.

   Like I said, for more information feel free to visit the above link or search for yourself. I've given you some of the finer points, in a brief way. Remember, this isn't neccessarily the debunkal of ancient civilization theories, just my own judgement on the Piri Reis Map. Let's take it for what it's worth.


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