Much has been made of the Piri Reis map of 1513.
We have seen where the southernmost part of South America... the Argentinian coast... was turned sideways along the bottom of the map. This piece of land, a coastline that is firmly attached to the rest of South America (and is a reasonably good representation of the Argentinian coast, to boot), has been taken to represent part of Antarctica. One good, healthy examination of the map shows that not only does this assertion mean that the continent of Antarctica was attached to Brazil, but that the Palmer Peninsula (supposedly pictured in the Piri Reis Map) had also shifted about 130 degrees around the bottom of the planet... from under India, to just under the Caribbean Islands.
However, I think it is also important to examine the wording used by various "alternative historian" authors to bolster their case that the Piri Reis map was based on other, much older maps. For example, in Graham Hancock's 1995 book, "Fingerprints of the Gods", the author states:
"How can this be explained? (the map representing Antactica) Piri Reis obligingly gives us the answer in a series of notes written in his own hand on the map itself. He tells us that he was not responsible for the original surveying and cartography. On the contrary, he admits that his role was merely that of compiler and copyist and that the map was derived from a large number of source maps. Some of these had been drawn by conteporary or near-contemporary explorers (including Christopher Columbus), who had by then reached South America and the Caribbean, but others were documents dating back to the fourth century BC or earlier.
Piri Reis did not venture any suggestion as to the identity of the cartographers who had produced the earlier maps..."
From this quotation, it is quite clear that the author's intent is to establish and assert that the details of the map are provided, in the majority, by an unknown person or group of persons that are lost in antiquity. Columbus' own involvement with the map sounds ambiguous, and reflects an unknown level of contribution, except in the area of South America and the Caribbean, specifically.
However, if one reads the actual text written by Piri Reis... this ambiguity is an absolute fallacy.
" 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. " (source)
Now, let's compare the claims specifically:
Hancock: "the map was derived from a large number of source maps"
Piri Reis: "it is constructed from about twenty charts" (he then lists the specific charts and their sources)
Hancock: "Piri Reis did not venture any suggestion as to the identity of the cartographers who had produced the earlier maps"
Piri Reis: "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. "
Saying that Piri Reis did not identify the cartographers IS technically correct... he did not identify them by NAME. Piri Reis did, however, give very specific references to the cartographers' countries of origin and the timeframe in which they drew their maps.
Most significantly, however, is the insinuation that Columbus' contribution to the map is ambiguous. There is no doubt whatsoever, from the actual quote of Piri Reis, that the ENTIRE western hemisphere was from a map provided by Columbus ("from a map drawn by Colombo in the western region.").
However, to remove any further doubt, the cartographer specifically states, "The names which mark the places on the said islands and coasts were given by Colombo, that these places may be known by them. And also Colombo was a great astronomer. The coasts and island on this map are taken from Colombo's map." This attribution...this "giving of credit where credit is due"... is written in the middle of the South American coast...just before it is bent to fit the bottom of the paper.
The 1513 map was clearly and unambiguously based on maps drawn by people from known seafaring nations, having made known travels to various regions around the world, including Columbus and his trek in 1492. The attributions and sources are crystal clear to anyone who has the source material available.
Alternative Historians try to paint a picture of themselves as "champions of the common folk" and "people who finally bring clarity to the murky depths of history". If the alternative authors are so sure of the ambiguity of the Piri Reis attribution, then how come they do not print the exact quote from Piri Reis in their books?
As you can see, the direct quote from Piri Reis is no longer than the passage Hancock has written to describe what the ancient cartographer wrote. Yet the meaning from the two passages is, in this author's opinion, entirely different. In this difference... this artificially constructed ambiguity... lies the heart of the pseudohistorians' claims about human history. When you remove this false ambiguity, so go the pseudohistorical claims, and all the later theories that rest on them.
(c)Copyright 2002, Anthony Sakovich. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Ali Turan's excellent site for it's online access to the Piri Reis Translations, with appropriate credit given to "The Oldest Map of America", by Professor Dr. Afet Inan. Ankara, 1954
Other sites for Piri Reis references include: Piri Reis and An article by Gregory C. McIntosh from Mercator's World, May/June 2000