Piri Reis Map 35

Piri Reis Map

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Piri Reis Map: Unraveling the Puzzles Of A Cartographic Odyssey

It’s 1513, and a swashbuckling Turkish admiral named Piri Reis is whipping up a storm in the world of cartography.  Piri Reis Map

With a quill in one hand and a compass in the other, he sets out to create what might just be the most talked-about map of the century – the Piri Reis Map.

This bad boy is rumored to be the earliest glimpse we’ve got of the Americas.

Piri Reis was born in the second half of the 15th century in Gallipoli, and began his maritime life under the command of his illustrious uncle, Kemal Reis.

He fought many naval battles alongside his uncle, and was later a naval commander, leading the Ottoman fleet that fought the Portuguese in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.


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Our man Piri he had a nose for adventure and a knack for charting uncharted waters.

Rumor has it that he had the keys to the Imperial Library of Constantinople, where he’d dive headfirst into dusty tomes in search of hidden treasures.

His masterpiece, the “Kitabi Bahriye,” was the stuff of legend, detailing every nook and cranny of the Mediterranean and Aegean like he was giving directions to his grandmother’s house.

Piri Reis Map: A Profound Discovery

But alas, like all good tales, this one took a dark turn.

Piri met his end in 1554 or 1555, and let’s just say it wasn’t over a friendly game of chess. Piri Reis Map old map

Some say he faced the chop for reasons unknown, adding a spicy dash of mystery to his already intriguing story.

Fast forward to the roaring ’20s, not the ones with flappers and jazz, mind you, but the ones where the Ottoman Empire was crumbling faster than a soggy biscuit.

To draw the map rediscovered in the Palace Museum, Piri Reis did not rely on personal experience of traveling or sailing, as you might expect.

He assembled it by referring to 20 regional maps; an Arab map of India; four Portuguese maps showing India and China; and a map “of the Western Parts,” the coasts, and islands, drawn by Columbus.


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Enter the Piri Reis Map, stage left, stealing the limelight and becoming the poster child for Turkish nationalism faster than you can say “Istanbul.”

They even slapped it on their currency, the lira, as if to say, “Hey world, check out our ancient GPS!”

Piri Reis Map: Contents Of The Map

But what’s all the fuss about, you ask?

Legend has it that Piri mashed together info from twenty other maps and eight planispheres.

It’s the ancient equivalent of cutting and pasting with scissors and glue.  Piri Reis Map contents

It is covered with notes describing the various regions depicted, including 117 place names and thirty inscriptions, all but one written in the Ottoman-Turkish language of Reis’ day.

A network of rhumb lines radiate from compass roses on the extant portion of the map, similar to European portolans which had been made and used for centuries.


The Piri Reis Map was born, with intricate details that would make even a GPS blush.

Piri Reis Map: Antarctica Enigma

But hold on to your hats because here comes the plot twist: the Antarctic enigma.

Picture South America doing the limbo, bending eastward like it’s trying to touch its toes.

Of course, no tale worth its salt is complete without a healthy dose of controversy.

The map was controversial for decades for what some claimed to be the depiction of an ice-free continent of Antarctica in the South Atlantic, concerning which much has been written.

Its content reveals the serious research undertaken by Piri Reis as he prepared to create the map, his familiarity with navigation, and his access to the most recent reports of exploratory voyages.


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They point fingers at the wonky projections and the curious case of the Turkish script in a sea of Arabic.