P is for Piri Reis Map

The Letter PThe Piri Reis Map was drawn in 1513 by Admiral Piri Reis of the Ottoman Empire. It is the oldest surviving map to show the Americas. Admiral Reis stated he compiled the map from several other charts, including eight Ptolemaic maps, an Arabic map, four Portuguese maps and a map by Christopher Columbus.

What is unique about the map is the controversy about what continents it actually portrays.


One theory is that it shows the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America and the northern coast of Antarctica.

If the map shows the coastline of Antarctica, it portrays it in great detail and ice-free, 300 years before the continent was discovered. But Antarctica has been covered by ice since 4000 B.C. So how could a Turkish Admiral have drawn its details with such accuracy in 1513?

Some believe this proves the existence of ancient high-technology civilizations or visits by extraterrestrials.

Piri Reis map mosaic

Piri Reis map mosaic

Not Antarctica

An alternate theory about the map is that it actually portrays the western coast of Europe, the western coast of North Africa and the coast of Brazil.

My Idea:

Piri Reis was an avid cartographer. In my story, he has an assistant with a secret. The assistant is from another world and has intimate knowledge of the geography of Earth. He draws maps in secret and carefully feeds knowledge of the world to Reis. The mystery in the story is why he does so.

What do you think of the Piri Reis Map? Antarctica or not Antarctica?

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photo by: David Haskiya