On 6th July 1960 the U. S. Air Force responded to Prof. Charles
H. Hapgood of Keene College, specifically to his request for an
evaluation of the ancient Piri Reis Map:
6, July, 1960
Subject: Admiral Piri Reis Map
TO: Prof. Charles H. Hapgood
Keene, New Hampshire
Dear Professor Hapgood,
Your request of evaluation
of certain unusual features of the Piri Reis map of 1513 by this
organization has been reviewed.
The claim that the lower part of the map portrays the Princess
Martha Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctic, and the Palmer
Peninsular, is reasonable. We find that this is the most logical
and in all probability the correct interpretation of the map.
The geographical detail shown in the lower part of the map agrees
very remarkably with the results of the seismic profile made across
the top of the ice-cap by the Swedish-British Antarctic Expedition
This indicates the coastline had been mapped before it was covered
by the ice-cap.
The ice-cap in this region is now about a mile thick.
We have no idea how the data on this map can be reconciled with the
supposed state of geographical knowledge in 1513.
Harold Z. Ohlmeyer Lt.
Colonel, USAF Commander
All through the Middle Ages were circulating
a number of sailing charts called "portolani", which were accurate
maps of the most common sailing routes, showing coastlines, harbors, straits,
Most of those portolani focused on the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas, and
other known routes, just as the sailing book which Piri Reis himself had
But a few reported of still unknown lands, and were circulating among few
sailors who seemingly kept their knowledge about those special maps as hidden as
they could. Columbus is supposed to have been one of those who knew these
special sailing charts.
To draw his map, Piri Reis used several
different sources, collected here and there along his journeys. He himself has
written notes on the map that give us a picture of the work he had been doing on
He says he had been not responsible for the original surveying and cartography.
His role was merely that of a compiler who used a large number of source-maps.
He says then that some of the source-maps had been drawn by contemporary
sailors, while others were instead charts of great antiquity, dating back up to
the 4th century BC or earlier.
Dr. Charles Hapgood, in his book Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (Turnstone books, London 1979, preface), said
It appears that accurate information has been passed down from people
to people. It appears that the charts must have originated with a people unknown
and they were passed on, perhaps by the Minoans and the Phoenicians, who were,
for a thousand years and more, the greatest sailors of the ancient world. We
have evidence that they were collected and studied in the great library of
Alexandria (Egypt) and the compilations of them were made by the geographers who
Piri Reis had probably come into
possession of charts once located in the Library of Alexandria, the well-known
most important library of the ancient times.
According to Hapgood's reconstruction, copies of these documents and some of the
original source charts were transferred to other centers of learning, and among
them to Constantinople.
Then in 1204, year of the fourth crusade, when the
Venetians entered Constantinople, those maps begun to circulate among the
Most of these maps - Hapgood goes on - were of the Mediterranean
and the Black sea. But maps of other areas survived. These included maps of the
Americas and maps of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. It becomes clear that the
ancient voyagers travelled from pole to pole. Unbelievable as it may appear, the
evidence nevertheless indicates that some ancient people explored Antarctic when
its coasts were free of ice. It is clear too, that they had an instrument of
navigation for accurately determining the longitudes that was far superior to
anything possessed by the peoples of ancient, medieval or modern times until the
second half of the 18th century. [...]
This evidence of a lost technology will support and give credence to many of the
other hypothesis that have been brought forward of a lost civilization in remote
Scholars have been able to dismiss most of those evidences as mere myth, but
here we have evidence that cannot be dismissed. The evidence requires that all
the other evidences that have been brought forward in the past should be re-examined with an open mind." (Ibid.)
In 1953, a Turkish naval officer sent the
Piri Reis map to the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Bureau. To evaluate it, M.I.
Walters, the Chief Engineer of the Bureau, called for help Arlington H. Mallery,
an authority on ancient maps, who had previously worked with him.
After a long study, Mallery discovered the projection method used. To check out
the accuracy of the map, he made a grid and transferred the Piri Reis map onto a
globe: the map was totally accurate. He stated that the only way to draw map of
such accuracy was the aerial surveying: but who, 6000 years ago, could have used
airplanes to map the earth??
The Hydrographic Office couldn't believe
what they saw: they were even able to correct some errors in the present days
The precision on determining the longitudinal coordinates, on the other hand,
shows that to draw the map it was necessary to use the spheroid trigonometry, a
process supposedly not know until the middle of 18th century.
Hapgood has proved that the Piri Re'is map is plotted out in plane geometry,
containing latitudes and longitudes at right angles in a traditional "grid"; yet
it is obviously copied from an earlier map that was projected using spherical trigonometry! Not only did the early map makers know that the
Earth was round, but they had knowledge of its true circumference to within 50
Hapggod had sent his collection of ancient maps (we will see the Piri reis map
was not the only one...) to Richard Strachan, at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. Hapggod wanted to know exactly the mathematical level needed in
order to draw the original source maps. Strachan answered in 1965, saying that
the level had to be very high.
In fact Strachan said that in order to draw such maps, the authors had to know
about the spheroid trigonometry, the curvature of the earth, methods of
projection; knowledge that is of a very high level.
The way the Piri Reis map shows the Queen
Maud land, its coastlines, its rivers, mountain ranges, plateaus, deserts, bays,
has been confirmed by a British-Swedish expedition to Antarctic ( as said by
Olhmeyer in his letter to Hapggod); the researchers, using sonar and seismic
soundings, indicated that those bays and rivers etc, were underneath the
ice-cap, which was about one mile thick.
<< View Piri Reis map with projected latitudes and
Charles Hapggod, in 1953, wrote a book
called "Earth's shifting crust: a key to some basic problems of earth
science", where he made up a theory to explain how Antarctic had been
ice-free until year 4000 BC (see Bibliography
The theory summing up is as follows:
The reason Antarctic was ice-free, and therefore much warmer, it is to be found
in the fact that, at one time, its location wasn't the south pole. It was
located approximately 2000 miles further north. Hapgood says this "would
have put it outside the Antarctic Circle in a temperate or cold temperate
Read more information about Pole
The reason why the continent moved down to
its present location has to be found in a mechanism called
"earth-crust-displacement". This mechanism, not to be confused with
the plate-tectonics or the continental drift, is one whereby the lithosphere,
the whole outer crust of the earth "may be displaced at times, moving
over the soft inner body, much as the skin of an orange, if it were loose, might
shift over the inner part of the orange all in one piece". (Charles Hapgood, "Maps of the ancient sea-kings", cited,
visit the Bibliography
for more info).
This theory was sent to Albert Einstein,
which answered to Hapgood in very enthusiastic terms. Though geologists did not
seem to accept Hapgood's theory, Einstein seemed to be as much open as Hapgood
"In a polar region there is a continual deposition of ice, which is not
symmetrically distributed about the pole. The earth's rotation acts on these
unsymmetrically deposited masses, and produces a centrifugal momentum that is
transmitted to the rigid crust of the earth. The constantly increasing
centrifugal momentum produced in this way will, when it has reached a certain
point, produce a movement of the earth's crust over the rest of the earth's
body...." (Einstein's foreword to "Earth's shifting crust"
Anyway, whether Hapgood's theory is correct,
the mystery still thrills.
The Piri Reis map is something which is not supposed to exist. I mean that by no
means there was supposed to be anyone that far back in time able to draw a map
of such precision; in fact the relative longitudinal coordinates are totally
accurate, as stated by Official studies on the map that we saw above.
And this is a demonstration of impossible technology: the first instrument to
calculate the longitude in a approximately correct way has been invented in 1761
by the english John Harrison.
Before there was no way to calculate the longitude in an acceptable way: there
could be errors of hundreds kilometers....
And the Piri Reis map is just one of several which show supposedly unknown
lands, impossible knowledge, precision which still today would surprise........
In fact Piri Reis himself admitted he based
his map on way older charts; and those older charts had been used as sources by
others who have drawn different maps still of great precision.
Impressive is the "Dulcert's Portolano", year 1339, where the
latitude of Europe and North Africa is perfect, and the longitudinal coordinates
of the Mediterranean and of the Black sea are approximated of half degree.
An even more amazing chart is the "Zeno's chart", year 1380. It
shows a big area in the north, going up till the Greenland; Its precision is
flabbergasting. "It's impossible" says Hapgood "that someone in
the fourteenth century could have found the exact latitudes of these places, not
to mention the precision of the longitudes..."
Another amazing chart is the one drawn by the Turkish Hadji Ahmed, year
1559, in which he shows a land stripe, about 1600 Km. wide, that joins Alaska
and Siberia. Such a natural bridge has been then covered by the water due to the
end of the glacial period, which rose up the sea level.
Oronteus Fineus was another one who drew a
map of incredible precision. He too represented the Antarctic with no ice-cap,
There are maps showing Greenland as two separated islands, as it was confirmed
by a polar French expedition which found out that there is an ice cap quite
thick joining what it is actually two islands.
As we saw, many charts in the ancient times
pictured, we might say, all the earth geography. They seem to be pieces of a
very ancient world wide map, drawn by unknown people who were able to use
technology that we consider to be a conquer of the very modern times.
When human beings were supposed to live in a primitive manner, someone "put
on paper" the whole geography of the earth. And this common knowledge
somehow fell into pieces, then gathered here and there by several people, who
had lost though the knowledge, and just copied what they could find in
libraries, bazaars, markets and about all kind of places.
Hapggod made a disclosure which amazingly
lead further on this road: he found out a cartographic document copied by an
older source carved on a rock column, China, year 1137.
It showed the same high level of technology of the other western charts, the
same grid method, the same use of spheroid trigonometry. It has so many common
points with the western ones that it makes think more than reasonably, that
there had to be a common source: could it be a lost civilization, maybe the same
one which has been chased by thousands years so far?
The Piri Re'is map is often exhibited in cases seeking to prove that
civilization was once advanced and that, through some unknown event or events,
we are only now gaining any understanding of this mysterious cultural decline. The earliest known civilization, the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, appear out of
nowhere around 4,000 B.C. but have no nautical or maritime cultural heritage.
They do, however, speak reverently of ancestral people who were like the "gods"
and were known as the Nefilim.
Here is a summary of some of the most unusual findings about the map:
Scrutiny of the map shows that the makers knew the accurate circumference of
the Earth to within 50 miles.
The coastline and island that are shown in Antarctica must have been
navigated at some period prior to 4,000 B.C. when these areas were free of ice
from the last Ice Age.
The map is thought to be one of the earliest "world maps" to show the Americas. Early scholars suggested
that it showed accurate latitudes of the South American and African coastlines -
only 21 years after the voyages of Columbus! (And remember, Columbus did NOT
discover North America - only the Caribbean!) Writing in Piri Re'is own hand
described how he had made the map from a collection of ancient maps,
supplemented by charts that were drawn by Columbus himself. This suggests that
these ancient maps were available to Columbus and could have been the basis of
As can be seen below, an azimuthal projection ( looking at
the globe from a point above the globe), from the point above
Cairo, Africa (Egypt) shows that the Piri Reis map corresponds
more or less with the lower right quarter of this map if one
rotates it some 20 degrees counter clockwise.
Piri Re'is own commentary indicates that some of his source maps were from
the time of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.).