20 April 2013

500th Anniversary of the Piri Reis map

Surviving fragment of the Piri Reis map (1513) showing Central and South America shores.
UNESCO has declared 2013 the five hundredth anniversary of the "Piri Reis map," the name for the map of the New World by Ottoman admiral Piri Reis (full name: Hacı Ahmed Muhiddin Piri; Reis was an Ottoman military rank akin to that of captain).

The 1513 map shows the Caribbean and the coast of South America soon after the European discovery of the Americas.  One written inscription on the map tells of its sources, one "a map drawn by Qulūnbū in the western region."  Qulūnbū is Columbus, and scholars such as Gregory McIntosh note that the map's features are similar to the geographical notions of Christopher Columbus.

The Piri Reis map has also served as fodder for "alternative historians" who claim it depicts evidence of Atlantis, an ice-free Antarctica, unknown Chinese voyages around the globe, or even extraterrestrial mapping of the globe.

Turkey is celebrating the anniversary with exhibitions around the country.  Ankara University hosted the International Piri Reis Symposium on April 12, 2013, with speakers from Turkey and around the world.  Even Google got into the act with a Piri Reis map Google Doodle on April 7.

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