Ancient Sea Maps


Ancient Sea Maps

The story starts in 1929 at the old Imperial Palace. There an old parchment was found with a map painted on it dated the month of Muharrem in the Moslem year 919 (1513AD). The map was signed by the Turkish Admiral Piri ibn-Haji Memmed (also known as Piri Reis.) The parchment appeared to show the outline of the coast of the Americas and drew attention as it also appeared to show South America and Africa in correct relative longitude, despite the fact that the navigators of that time had no way to establish longitude. The map later came to the attention of Captain Arlington H Mallery, who, in 1951 had published a book entitled Lost America. In that book, Mallery claimed that ancient maps of Greenland show landforms under the present ice cap. The Piri Reis map therefore interested Mallery as it appeared to show the same coastal detail of Antarctica as had recently been identified by the Seismic Survey. In other words, this ancient map appeared to show the outline of the Antarctic Coast before it was covered in ice.

Mallery, convinced of the authenticity of the map, asked two astronomers and a cartographer to check his assertion that the map accurately showed coastal detail of Antarctica's Queen Maud Land. He wanted this confirmation before going public. And on being satisfied that he had this confirmation he duly went public on radio on August 1956 and announced his discovery (28). Mallery's work, by this stage had come to the attention of one Charles Hapgood (below), a Professor at Keene State College who, at that time, was working on a theory of Earth Crust Displacement. (Hapgood later published this work in 1959 as Earth's Shifting Crust, complete with an encouraging, but ultimately erroneous, introduction from Albert Einstein.)

Charles Hapgood

Hapgood, along with his students at the college, began a tireless research into the Piri Reis and other ancient maps, and eventually published Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings in 1966. (This book has recently been reissued following a further wave of interest most notably generated by the work of Graham Hancock, the Flem-Aths and others.) In that work, Hapgood states "in one of the legends inscribed on the map by Piri Reis, he stated that he had based the western part of it on a map that had been drawn by Columbus". Hapgood added "Piri Reis made other interesting statements about his source maps. He used about twenty, he said, and he stated that some of them had been drawn in the time of Alexander the Great and some of them had been based on mathematics." (29)

The conclusions to be drawn from Hapgood's work are as startling as those from Schoch's redating of the Sphinx, for we know that the very last time the coastline could possibly have been sufficiently free of ice would have been eight to ten thousand years ago, but more probably millions of years ago if the opening of the Holocene period was not warm enough to melt the ice. This map therefore appears to be evidence that there existed on this planet, or at least Antarctica, at that time person or persons unknown who conducted their lives in a way that required reasonably sophisticated maps of the area during a period when we are taught that no such civilisations existed! (The maps must have come from a civilisation, as only an advanced society would have required them.)

Who, then, was this Piri Reis? Perhaps the most succinct and best account of the man and his life is contained within a letter written by the Turkish Embassy in Washington as a reply to a letter dated October 16th 1960, from Hapgood, himself. Piri Reis "was born at the town of Karaman, near Konya, Turkey. The exact date of his birth is unknown. In his early youth he joined his Uncle Kemal Reis, a well-known pirate. He distinguished himself during the operations of his uncle's small fleet on French and Venetian coasts. When Kemal Reis had abandoned piracy and joined the Imperial Ottoman Fleet during the reign of Beyazit II (1481-1512), Piri Reis followed suit and was appointed captain. The battles of Modon and Inebahti (Lepanto) made him famous. According to historian Von Hammer, 'he gained awesome fame for his deeds in these expeditions.

"Piri Reis, whose real name was Ahmet Muhiddin, stayed with the Ottoman Fleet during the reigns of Yavuz Selim (1512-1520) and Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). He served as an aide to Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha, Great Admiral of the Imperial Ottoman Fleet. In 1551 he was elevated to the rank of Commander in Chief of the Fleet of Egypt, then a dependency of the Ottoman Empire. Piri Reis was executed in Egypt in 1554. 'Kitabi Bahriye - the Navy's Book', which was the most famous of his works, is considered as an excellent geography book of his times. He also prepared a map of the world, which has been reproduced in recent years. He wrote many poems too." (30).

Hapgood, convinced, as was Mallery, that the map put together from older maps by Piri Reis did show the outline of part of Antarctica before it was covered in ice, sought independent verification of his conclusions. To that end he wrote to Colonel Harold Ohlemeyer at the United States Airforce, 8th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron. Ohlmeyer's conclusion was what Hapgood was looking for. "We have no idea how the data on this map can be reconciled with the supposed state of geographical knowledge in 1513." However, looking at the map itself, it is not so easy to be impressed on first examination. Indeed the first thoughts that come to mind, include, what exactly is it a map of, and if it was used, did the navigators become hopelessly lost when using it? One cannot help a wry smile, in forgiving Columbus for thinking America was India if he used maps such as this appears to be. The top right-hand side of the map shows the outline of Spain, above western Africa, with the left side of the map showing the outline of the Americas flowing down to Antarctica. The map appears to merge Antarctica and the Americas into one continuous coastline by missing out Drake's Passage at the tip of Southern America.

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