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The Piri Reis Map of 1513

Gregory C. McIntosh

Publication Year: 2000

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.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

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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. Mclntosh, and much more besides. ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

More than any other individual, this book owes its genesis to my friend and fellow cartophile, Donald L. McGuirk Jr. It was his suggestion, made to me on 11 November 1989 at the Phileas Society Columbus Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, that not much work had been done on the Piri Reis Map of 1513 and that perhaps I should look into it, ...

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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. ...

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1. The Life of Piri Reis

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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. ...

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2. Description of the Map

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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. ...

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3. Europe and Africa

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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, ...

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4. The Atlantic Islands

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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. ...

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5. South America

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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), ...

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6. The Southern Continent

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pp. 48-68

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 Southern Continent, and South America. ...

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7. The Christopher Columbus Inscription

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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. ...

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8. Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles

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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. ...

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9. Hispaniola and the Bahamas

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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 ...

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10. Cuba and Central America

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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 ...

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11. Conclusions

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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. ...

Appendix A. Maps Referenced in the Text

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pp. 141-154

Appendix B. Cross-References of Inscription Numbers

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pp. 155-156


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pp. 157-196


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pp. 197-216


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pp. 217-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780820343594
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820321578
Print-ISBN-10: 0820321575

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2000