The Piri Reis Map of 1513

The Piri Reis Map of 1513

Gregory C. McIntosh
With a Foreword by Norman J. W. Thrower
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Piri Reis Map of 1513
    Book Description:

    One of the most beautiful maps to survive the Great Age of Discoveries, the 1513 world map drawn by Ottoman admiral Piri Reis is also one of the most mysterious. Gregory McIntosh has uncovered new evidence in the map that shows it to be among the most important ever made. This detailed study offers new commentary and explication of a major milestone in cartography. Correcting earlier work of Paul Kahle and pointing out the traps that have caught subsequent scholars, McIntosh disproves the dubious conclusion that the Reis map embodied Columbus's Third Voyage map of 1498, showing that it draws instead on the Second Voyage of 1493-1496. He also refutes the popular misinterpretation that Reis's depictions of Antarctica are evidence of either ancient civilizations or extraterrestrial visitation. McIntosh brings together all that has been previously known about the map and also assembles for the first time the translations of all inscriptions on the map and analyzes all place-names given for New World and Atlantic islands. His work clarifies long-standing mysteries and opens up new ways of looking at the history of exploration.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4359-4
    Subjects: History, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)

    One of the most controversial and enigmatic maps in the history of cartography is the Islamic chart which is the subject of this book. In fact, scholars have suggested that a detailed critique of certain claims made for this map is long overdue. Such an evaluation has now been undertaken in The Piri Reis Map of 1513 by Gregory C. McIntosh, and much more besides. The author is both a professional engineer and a longtime member of the Society for the History of Discoveries. He thus brings to this study at least two essential qualities: a scientific impartiality and a...

    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The Piri Reis map of 1513 is one of the most beautiful, most interesting, and most mysterious maps to have survived from the Great Age of Discoveries. Yet it is one of the least understood maps of this momentous and remarkable period in the history of cartography and geographical explorations.

    Many diverse claims have been made regarding this map: that it includes a copy of a map made in 1498 by Christopher Columbus, that it is the oldest map of the Americas, and that it is the most accurate map made in the sixteenth century. Some have argued that it...

  8. 1 The Life of Piri Reis
    (pp. 5-7)

    The cartographer who made the map (identified in inscription no. 4 on the map) was the famous Ottoman admiral known as Piri Reis.¹ He was born Muhiddin Piri, the son of Haci Mehmet, probably in Gallipoli, at the northwest extremity of the Dardanelles, about 1465–70. At the age of twelve, he joined the crew of his uncle, Gazi Kemal (c. 1450–1510), a corsair or privateer. In 1495, at the invitation of Sultan Bayzeid II (1447–1513; reigned 1481–1512), his uncle joined the Ottoman navy with the rank of Reis (admiral or captain), and became known as Kemal...

  9. 2 Description of the Map
    (pp. 8-18)

    The Piri Reis map of 1513 was discovered in 1929 by Bey Halil Ethem, director general of the Topkapi Serai in Istanbul, when that palace was being converted to a museum of antiquities.¹ He showed the map to Prof. Adolf Deissmann, who was then researching Greek and Latin manuscripts in the Serai Library. Deissmann, in turn, showed it to Dr. Paul Kahle, a noted German Orientalist who had previously published an incomplete transcription and translation of the earlier version of the Kitab-i Bahriye.² Kahle studied the document and presented his initial findings at the Eighteenth International Congress of Orientalists in...

  10. 3 Europe and Africa
    (pp. 19-25)

    There are 117 place-names on the map. Most of these are easily identifiable and were undoubtedly copied by Piri Reis from typical European-made portolan charts and portolan-style maps of his time. On the source maps, most of these place-names were originally written in European languages, such as Italian and Portuguese, although some in the western regions have Native American place-names, preserved by the Spanish, as will be seen. On the European source maps used by Piri Reis, these were written in the Roman or Latin alphabet. Piri Reis and his calligrapher transliterated these into the Arabic script on the map....

  11. 4 The Atlantic Islands
    (pp. 26-34)

    Typical of portolan charts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the major island groups of the Atlantic—the Azores, the Canaries, and the Cape Verde Islands—are shown and named on the Piri Reis map along with other real and imagined islands. The islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, and the Deserta Group are also shown but not named. An unidentified island is shown midway between the Azores and Madeira that may be one of the legendary islands, such as St. Brendan’s Isle, Capraria, or Lobo, often shown in this location on fifteenth-century portolan charts.¹ A small, unnamed island is also...

  12. 5 South America
    (pp. 35-47)

    The place-names along the east coast of South America on the Piri Reis map are those the Portuguese bestowed during their voyages of exploration in the early sixteenth century. These same names commonly appeared on maps derived either directly or indirectly from the Portuguese, for instance, Kunstmann no. 2 (c. 1502–4), Cantino (1502), Canerio¹ (c. 1505), Kunstmann no. 3 (c. 1502–8), Waldseemüller (1507), Pesaro (c. 1505–10), and Egerton MS 2803, fol. 9v (c. 1508–13). Most of these place-names are still used today.

    The island named Ile de tirnam delonce is the island of Fernão (Fernamo or...

  13. 6 The Southern Continent
    (pp. 48-68)

    Three inscriptions, 9, 10, and 26, inscribed upon or next to the Southern Continent, and the images of animals on the Southern Continent may pertain to South America.

    9. And in this country it seems that there are white-haired wild beasts in this shape and also six-horned oxen. The Portuguese infidels have written it on their maps.

    This inscription is next to the image of a quadruped with six horns. Here again Piri Reis makes an explicit reference to the Portuguese maps from which he obtained much of his information regarding the delineations, toponyms, and inscriptions he depicts in Africa, the...

  14. 7 The Christopher Columbus Inscription
    (pp. 69-75)

    The longest inscription on the map, no. 5, tells the story of Columbus and the discovery of the new lands to the west. Much of the information, both correct and incorrect, in this inscription regarding Columbus is the same as was commonly told by many chroniclers of the sixteenth century. There is, however, some information that is not found elsewhere, particularly the statement that Piri Reis used a map by Columbus in making his depiction of these new western lands. As will be shown later in the analysis of the depiction of the Caribbean, a copy of a Columbian map...

  15. 8 Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles
    (pp. 76-86)

    The islands of Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles are easily discernible on the Piri Reis map (see fig. 16). Although correctly shown as an east-west rectangle, Puerto Rico is depicted with two peninsulas at its northwest corner. This same delineation with two peninsulas is seen on the Juan de la Cosa map. On the Cantino map (1502), the Canerio map (c. 1505), and the Waldseemüller maps (1507, 1513, and 1516), derived from the Portuguese Padrão, there is only one peninsula. The rectangle shape with two peninsulas, the earliest surviving cartographic delineation of Puerto Rico, as exemplified by the La...

  16. 9 Hispaniola and the Bahamas
    (pp. 87-102)

    According to Piri Reis in inscription no. 6, he used a map by Columbus for part of the depiction of the western regions, or New World. An analysis of the depiction of Hispaniola, the Bahamas, and Cuba indicates that this is probably correct and that a copy of a map made by Columbus or under his supervision, possibly in 1495–96 (not 1498, as Kahle asserted), is preserved within the Piri Reis map of 1513.

    On the map, the depiction of Hispaniola does not at first glance appear to resemble the true shape of Hispaniola. It can be identified, however,...

  17. 10 Cuba and Central America
    (pp. 103-121)

    The island of Cuba is depicted as mainland on the Piri Reis map in accordance with the opinion of Columbus, who believed that Cuba was a great cape of Asia.¹ During the first voyage he identified Cuba as the mainland of China, even sending an emissary into the interior with a letter from Ferdinand and Isabella to the Grand Khan.² He continued to identify Cuba as the mainland of Asia.³ On the second and fourth voyages, Columbus equated the native place-name Mago, a region on the south side of Cuba, with Mangi, the name of a province in southern China...

  18. 11 Conclusions
    (pp. 122-140)

    In the preceding analysis, it has been demonstrated that the Piri Reis map of 1513 exhibits many features in common with other surviving portolan charts and extended portolan-style maps of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and fits well into the evolution of mapmaking from the late Middle Ages to the early Renaissance. It resembles the contemporary Portuguese maps of Francisco Rodrigues, especially the delineations of the west coast of Africa, the east coast of South America, and the island of San Mateo, as well as the inscription which suggests that the castle at Elmina or a Portuguese padrão was depicted...

  19. APPENDIX A. Maps Referenced in the Text
    (pp. 141-154)
  20. APPENDIX B. Cross-References of Inscription Numbers
    (pp. 155-156)
  21. NOTES
    (pp. 157-196)
    (pp. 197-216)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 217-230)