There’s an ancient map, called the Piri Reis Map, that has scientists scratching their heads and theologians saying, “We told you so”. It is extremely accurate and charts much of the land that had yet to be discovered at the time of its creation. Even more remarkably, it charts the Antarctica land mass which was not even possible until ground penetrating radar was invented that would allow map makers the ability to peer beneath the mile-thick ice covering. The map was found among discarded documents on a dusty shelf in Constantinople and dates back to 1500 – hundreds of years before the required cartography technology existed that would have allowed such accurate mapping.
The Piri Reis map was compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the Ottoman-Turkish admiral and drawn by cartographer Piri Reis. The half of the map which survives shows the western coasts of Europe and North Africa and the coast of Brazil with reasonable accuracy. Various Atlantic islands including the Azores and Canary Islands are depicted, as is the mythical island of Antillia and a land mass that is quite likely Japan.
The Piri Reis map has been used to claim an ancient knowledge of an ice-free Antarctica, transmitted either from extra-terrestrials or an Ice Age civilization. Scholarly opinion however, is that the region sometimes thought to be Antarctica could be Patagonia or the Terra Australis Incognita (“Unknown Southern Land”) widely believed to exist before the Southern Hemisphere was fully explored. The undisputed historical importance of the map lies in its demonstration of the extent of Portuguese exploration of the New World by approximately 1510, and in its claim to have used Columbus’s maps, otherwise lost, as a source.
Still, the absence of the ice caps in the Piri Reis map is peculiar and unexplainable. Antarctica was not discovered by the Russians until 1820 and by that time, Antarctica had been covered by polar ice (about a mile thick) for 34-45 million years. Any maps made of the area would have documented the ice caps and not the lands underneath.
Unquestionably not a hoax, the map is certifiably authentic, but the information on the map is of mysterious origin and hints that the map was drawn before the area was covered by the ice-cap. Piri Reis himself (the cartographer who drew the map) notes that the map was drawn from information sourced from other, older maps, charts and logs, many of which may have been copied and transcribed repeatedly since before the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, which wiped out the literature of antiquity and vast cultural knowledge. Could the map contain remnants of geographical information from an unknown, earlier civilization?
When the United States Air Force was asked to examine the map and assess its accuracy, they reported:
“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 of 1949.”