Fingerprints of the Gods

Re: Piri Reis Map

I recommend that anybody interested in the Piri Reis Map read:

Soucek, Svat, 1996, Piri Reis and Turkish Mapmaking After
Columbus. Studies in the Khalili Collection, Volume II. Oxford
University Press, Cambridge.

Gregory C. McIntosh
The Piri Reis Map of 1513.
University of Georgia Press
Atlanta, Georgia.

Both are excellent sources of information about the Piri Map of 1513.
Both have extensive discussion concerning the source maps and
cartographic data from which he compiled Piri Reis Map of 1513.

Below is a post that I posted to sci.archaeology on August 10, 1996
about the Piri Reis Map.

William Miller wrote:

   "Does anyone have any good recommendations for additional
    information on the progress of research and studies into
    the Piri Reis Map?"

Someone needs to provide some sort of evidence that it
is indeed an accurate map.  The examinations that I have
made of it show all sorts of errors that certainly falsify
any claim of unusual accuracy for this map.  Also, the
methodology used to determine the longitude and latitude
of the map allowed all sorts of unintentional fudging.  As
Mallery in his, "Rediscovery of Lost America", on page 145

    "Midway in my research on the old charts and maps,
    I discovered that the grids marked on them were incorrect.
    After deciding that these incorrect grids had probably
    been added much later by persons other than the original
    draftsman, I removed them and worked out what I consider
    to be the correct grids.  During this time it became obvious
    that each map or chart was an assembly of several charts
    and/or maps of contiguous areas and that the separate
    charts or maps combined to produce a single map were not
    all drawn to the same zero point."

The basic assumption of Mallery is that the maps were
originally accurate and any errors are the result of later
copying and compilation.  As a result, any error, whether it
was part of original source map(s) or not, is erased in the
reconstruction of the original "source map(s)" on which a
particular map is based.  Thus because removing errors
regardless of their origin is a standard part of reconstructing
the original source map(s), it is not surprising that they are
remarkable accurate.  However, these reconstructed source
maps may have no basis in fact because no proof is offered
that the errors that they corrected were indeed the result of
the copying and compilation process and not actually part of
the actual source map.

Dr. Hapgood fixed up the Piri Reis Map in much the same
way.  The accuracy that the Piri Reis Map has results from
his "source maps" being reconstructed with the
assumption that original source maps were accurate and
any errors in it came from copying and compilation.  Thus,
any errors in the Piri Reis map were eliminated by
fitting the Piri Reis to modern maps and accounting for
the misfits by adjusting the boundaries and separate grids
of his hypothesized and unproven "source maps".  The
latitude and longitude on the Piri Reis is accurate because
Dr. Hapgood drew the boundaries and lat.-long. grids on his
"source maps" in order eliminate errors the gross errors
exhibited by the Piri Reis as best as he could.

Although the Piri Reis Map mentions the existence of various
source maps, there a complete lack of any evidence for the
correctness of boundaries and grids of the alleged source
maps drawn by Hapgood (1966, 1979).  The reconstructed
"source maps" are assumed to be accurate because they
eliminated many of the errors present in the uncorrected
Piri Reis Map.  However, there is no proof whether these
errors were in the alleged original "source maps" or created
during compilation.  Dr. Hapgood reasoned that because
the hypothetical grids and "source maps" of his can
remove the errors proves these maps are accurate and,
since they are accurate, that proves that the error was created
by copying and compilation of the Piri Reis Map and not in
the source maps from which it was made.  Thus, one is the
proof of the other without any other independent evidence
including not even one of the alleged "source maps" from
which the Piri Reis Map was compiled.  As a result, the
alleged accuracy of the Piri Reis Map could just
be the result of the assumptions made by Dr. Hapgood
as to the source of the errors in the existing map.

Even with this fixing, there are still lots of problems with
the Piri Reis Map remaining.

    "I find this map fascinating, and would like to
    see what other studies have been published regarding
    the trigonometric travelogue used to make such an
    accurate map so long ago."

The Piri Reis Map itself is grossly inaccurate.  The claims of
accuracy apply only to the "source maps" reconstructed by
Mr. Hapgood.  As discussed above, the accuracy of these maps
likely is the result of the assumptions used in reconstructing
the "source maps" and is in reality nonexistent.

What needs to be done is for someone to track a couple
of the original source maps from which the Piri Reis
Map was compiled.  Otherwise, the reconstructions of
the "source maps" made by Dr. Hapgood are pure
speculation lacking any independent evidence
confirming their correctness.  Without any solid proof
for the validity of the "source maps" reconstructed by
Dr. Hapgood, the claims of accuracy for the Piri Reis
Map are simply claims lacking any supporting evidence.

Another example of the problems with this map are
illustrated by the claims that it shows the ice-free
coastline of Antarctica.

I address some of these claims in brief at:
The Long Explanation

The source of the ice-free claim is a cartographic analysis by
a Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer of the Strategic Air Command
According to an appendix in Hapgood (1966, pp. 244-245),
one of the major claims by the 8th Reconnaissance Technical
Squadron (SAC) USAF in their letter report of August 14, 1961

    "b. As stated by Colonel Harold Z. Ohlmeyer in his letter
    (July 6, 1960) to you, the Princess Martha Coast of Queen
    Maud Land, Antarctica, appears to be truly represented on
    the southern sector of the Piri Reis Map. The agreement of
    the Piri Reis Map with the seismic profile of this area made
    by the Norwegian-British Swedish Expedition of 1949,
    supported by your solution of the grid, places beyond a
    reasonable doubt the conclusion that the original source
    maps must have been made before the present Antarctic
    ice cap covered the Queen Maud Land coasts."

However, Lt. Colonel Harold Z. Ohlmeyer, 8th
Reconnaissance Technical Squadron and Dr. Hapgood all made
significant errors that invalidate their conclusions.  First,
both Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer and Dr. Hapgood incorrectly assume
that the subglacial topography of Antarctica is the same as the
ice-free topography of Antarctica. The actual subglacial topography
differs from a hypothetical ice-free topography because of the
293,778,800 cubic kilometers of ice that either lies grounded
on bedrock or stacked as ice rises on bedrock islands (Drewry
1982, sheet 4).  The sheer weight of this ice has depressed the
continent of Antarctica and associated crust by hundreds of
meters.  Should the weight of the Antarctic ice be removed
form the Antarctic crust, isostatic rebound would raise the
subglacial topography as much as 950 meters (3100 feet) in
the interior to 50 meters (160 feet) along the coast.  Furthermore,
melting of all of the world's ice, of which Antarctic ice cap
is 90 percent of the total, would raise sea level by about 80
meters (260 feet)(Drewry 1983, sheet 6).  Thus, the modern
subglacial bedrock topography and the modern coastline
differs significantly from the coastline and topography of a
hypothetical ice-free Antarctica.  Thus, the topography and
coastline that Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer and Dr. Hapgood claim
match the Piri Reis Map would be different from the
topography and coastline that would characterize a
hypothetical ice-free Antarctica.

Second, the Piri Reis Map lacks any topographic contours.  If
contours are lacking on the Piri Reis Map, the topographic data
needed to compare the topography shown by the 1949 seismic
data with the topography of the Piri Reis Map on a scientific
basis are completely lacking.  Without this data, the claims of
Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer and Dr. Hapgood are nothing more personal
opinions, certainly not proof, that cannot be scientifically tested.

Finally, the single seismic line, i.e. the seismic profile of the
Norwegian-British Swedish Expedition of 1949, is insufficient
evidence to determine if the subglacial bedrock topography of
Antarctica resembles the Piri Reis map.  The problem is that
the comparison is being made along one essentially randomly
chosen line.  Neither Lt. Colonel Ohlmeyer, Dr. Hapgood, nor
the 8th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron could know whether
the topography outside of this line, a good 99.9 percent of the
area resembled the Piri Reis map because they lacked any
other data in addition to the seismic profile.  Even the map of
the bedrock geology of Antarctica compiled in 1972, Heezen
et al. (1972) shows that even by that date the bedrock topography
lying beneath Queen Maud Land was largely unmapped and
unknown.  Thus, even in 1961, because of insufficient
information, it would have been impossible for anybody to make
any positive claims about whether the Piri Reis Map and the
subglacial topography shows any resemblance.

Since 1949 and 1966, Drewry (1982) compiled the available
data obtained from seismic  surveys and radio echo soundings
into what still considered the most comprehensive mapping
that has ever been published.  A comparison of the portion
of the Piri Reis map, which they claim to be Antarctica, with
a both more recent subglacial bedrock topography map
(Drewry 1982, sheet 3) and a bedrock surface map isostatically
adjusted for glacial rebound (Drewry 1982, sheet 6) showed
a distinct lack of any striking similarities their coastlines and
that of the Piri Reis Map.  The lack of correspondence between
the Piri Reis Map and an ice-free Antarctica is not surprising
given the evidence presented by Linde (1980) that the source
maps for the other parts of the Piri Reis Map are of no great

The Problem of An Ice-Free Antarctica

As previously discussed, there is an abundance of evidence that
demonstrates that Antarctica was covered by a fully developed
ice cap between 40,000 to 6,000 B.P. contrary to the claims of
FOG and Hapgood (1966, 1979).  This evidence includes ice core
data (Jouzel et al 1987, Lorius et al. 1979), cores from the Ross
Sea (Licht et al. 1996, Kellogg 1979), palynological data from tip
of South America (Heusser 1989), and numerous radiocarbon
dates from glacio-lacustrine deposits and deltas (Stuvier et al.
1981).  In fact, these and other studies show that a maximum
development of the ice cap and Ross Ice Shelf occurred during
that period, 21,000 to 16,000 B.P. (Denton et al. 1991), which
falsifies all of the claims made by FOG, "The Mysterious
Origins of Man," and Hapgood (1966, 1979) about the glacial
history of Antarctica.

As I have reviewed in previous posts, numerous studies, e.g.
Denton et al. (1991) and Marchant et al. (1986) present an
abundance of evidence that Antarctica was last completely
ice-free over 14 million years ago.  Deep cores and borings made
into sediments filling deep basins within and thousands of
kilometers of seismic data from the continental shelf of
Antarctica confirm these studies (Cooper et al. 1995).  Thus,
at no time was Antarctica ice-free enough for maps showing
either a totally or partially ice-free Antarctica to have been
made during the last 14 million years or so.


The clearest deduction that can be made from the above analysis
is that there is no evidence of any advanced map-making
technology being involved in the production of the Piri Reis
Map.  There is really no evidence that the accuracy that it does
have reflects accuracy in the original source maps because of the
assumptions and methodology used to reconstruct the boundaries
and grid of the alleged source maps.  If a person automatically
assumes that the errors are all the result of poor compilation,
then the "source maps" reconstructed using that assumption
are naturally going to be accurate.  They may be accurate, but
will still be purely fictional and lack any resemblance to
the actual source maps from which the Piri Reis Map was

References Cited

Bentley, C. R., and Ostenso N. A., 1961, Glacial and subglacial
topography of West Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology. vol. 3,
no. 29, pp. 882-912.

Cooper, A. K., Barker, P. F., Brancolini, G. (eds.), 1995,
Geology and seismic stratigraphy of the Antarctic Margin.
Antarctic Research Series, vol. 68, American Geophysical Union,
Washington, D.C., 303 pp.

Denton, G. H., Prentice, M. L., and Burkle, L. H., 1991,
Cainozoic history of the Antarctic ice sheet. in R. T.
Tingey (ed.), pp. 366-433, The Geology of Antarctica.
Claredon Press, Oxford.

Drewry, D. J. (ed.), 1983, Antarctica: Glaciological and
Geophysical Folio. Scott Polar Research Institute,

Hapgood, C. H., 1966, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, 1st
Edition, Chilton Books, Philadelphia.

Hapgood, C. H., 1979, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, 2nd
Edition, E. P. Dutton, New York.

Heezen, B. C., Tharp, M., and Bentley, C. R., 1972, Morphology
of the Earth in the Antarctic and Subantarctic.  In Antarctic
Map Folio Series no. 16. American Geographical Society.

Heusser, C. J., 1989, Climate and chronology of Antarctica
and adjacent South America over the past 30,000 years.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 76,
no. 1/2, pp. 31-37.

Jouzel, S. J., Dansgaard, W., and many others, 1987, Vostok
ice core: a continuous isotopic temperature record over the last
climatic cycle (160,000 years). Nature. vol. 239, pp. 403-408.

Kellogg, T. B., Truesdale, R. S., and Osterman, L. E., 1979, 
Late Quaternary extent of the West Antarctic ice sheet: New
evidence from Ross Sea cores. Geology. vol. 7, pp. 249-253.

Licht, K. J., Jennings, A. E., and others, 1996, Chronology of
late Wisconsin ice retreat from the western Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Geology. vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 223-226.

Lorius, C., Jouzel, S. J., and many others, 1979, A 150,000-yr
isotopic climatic record from Antarctic ice. Nature, vol. 316,
pp. 644-648.

Lunde, P., 1980, The Oronteus Finaeus Map. Aramco
World Magazine. (Jan-Feb 1980)(accessible from:
under LUNDE02 ART

Marchant, D. R., Denton, G. H., Swisher, C. C., and
Potter, N., 1996, Late Cenozoic Antarctic paleoclimate
reconstructed from volcanic ashes in the Dry Valleys
region of southern Victoria Land. Geological Society
of America Bulletin, vol. 108, no. 2, pp. 181-194.

Stuvier, M., Denton, G. H., and others, 1981, History of marine
ice sheet in Antarctica during the last glaciation: a working
hypothesis. In G. H. Denton and T. J. Hughes (eds.), pp. 319-
436, The Last Great Ice Sheets. Wiley-Interscience, New York.

....signature omitted......

Other Significant References to Read

Below are recent publications, which either provide or summarize
the results of research which thoroughly disprove claims of an ice-free
Antarctica as proposed by Mr. Hapgood and others.

Anderson, J. B., 1999, Antarctic Marine Geology.
University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, United

Domack, E. W., Jacobson, E. K., Shipp, S., and Anderson,
J. B., 1999, Late Pleistocene-Holocene retreat of the West
Antarctic Ice-Sheet system in the Ross Sea: Part 2,
Sedimentologic and stratigraphic signature. Geological
Society of America Bulletin, vol. 111, no. 10, pp. 1517-1536.

Francis, J. E., and Hill, R. S., 1996, Fossil plants from the
Pliocene Sirius Group, Transantarctic Mountains: evidence for
climate from growth rings and fossil leaves. Palaios. vol. 11,
pp. 389-396.

Kennett, J. P., and Hodell, D. A., 1995, Stability or instability
of Antarctic ice sheets during warm climates of the Pliocene.
GSA Today. vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1,10-13.

Surgen, D. E., Marchant, D. R., and others, 1995, Preservation
of Miocene glacier ice in East Antarctica. Science. vol. 376,
no. 6539, pp. 412-414.

Shipp, S., Anderson, J. B., and Domack, E. W., 1999, Late
Pleistocene-Holocene retreat of the West Antarctic Ice-
Sheet system in the Ross Sea: Part 1,Geophysical results.
Geological Society of America Bulletin, vol. 111, no. 10,
pp. 486-1516.

van der Wateren, D., and Hindmarsh, R., 1995, Stabilist strike
again. Science. vol. 376, no. 6539, pp. 389-391.

Wilch, T. I., McIntosh, W.C., and Dunbar, N. W., 1991,
Late Quaternary volcanic activity in Marie Byrd Land:
Potential 40Ar/39Ar-dated time horizons in West Antarctic
ice and marine cores. Geological Society of America
Bulletin. vol. 111, no. 10, pp. 1563-1580.

Ancient Maps

1. Minds in Ablation Part Five: Charting Imaginary Worlds
(More discussion of Hapgood, Mallory, and interpreting ancient maps).

2. Minds in Ablation Part Five Addendum: Living in Imaginary Worlds.
(Even more discussion of Hapgood, Mallory, and interpreting ancient maps).

3. Columbus and the Piri Reis Map of 1513 by Gregory C. McIntosh
(May/June 2000 Mercator's World)

4. Reply by Gregory C. McIntosh
in the letters to the Editor (September/October 2000 Mercator's World)

Return to Wildside Index Page.
Return to Home Page.
Version 4.0
Dec 18, 2001

Copyright 1996-2002 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.