The Piri Reis Map and the Possibiliy of a Pre-Ice-Ace Antarctic Civilization

This argument is coming from Graham Hancock’s book Fingerprints of the Gods. While I am not necessarily supporting Mr. Hancock’s views, or granting him great skill in archaeological research, his hypothesis intregues me.

In 1513 a Turkish admiral, Piri Reis, compiled a map of the known world. Puzzlingly enough, this map depicts what some believe to be the antarctic coastline. Based on the cartologicat evidence provided in Mr. Hapgood’s book Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, some people believe that the coastline depicted is NOT that which is visible, but is the true coastline that is currently covered by miles of ice. Three conclusions have been drawn from this information:

a). The map does not actualy depict Antarctica; rather, it shows the coast of South America.

b). The map does depict Antarctica and was drawn by persons who had access to technology that wasn’t available until recently (which is strange, since the map’s age is undisputed).

c). The map does depict Antarctica and was drawn by persons who observed the coast when it was free of ice. According to Mr. Hancock, this would have been before the last ice age.

Hancock takes C, and propises that Antarctica was once inhabited by a technologicaly superior culture that is responsible for building the pyramids, stonehenge, etc (I know :rolleyes:). BUT, is it possible that there could have been some sort of Antarctic civilization prior to the ice age? Could they have advanced their technology to the point of map making? COULD come of them have preserved their knowledge and imparted it to our ancient forefathers, thus resulting the the pyramids et al. ?

What the heck do pyramids have to do with mapping a coast line?

Of course there was a civilization in Antarctica once, but it was not a human civilization. Read “The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym” by Edgar Allen Poe and “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

Well, you see, folks needed to know how to make maps in order to be able to lay out the pyramids so that the match Orion in the sky. I know this because I heard Richard Hoagland talk about it on Art Bell. It’s all true, he swears! :dubious:

Of course there was a civilization in Antarctica once, but it was not a human civilization. Read “The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym” by Edgar Allen Poe and “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

Plus there is the small question here of exactly who would have made up that pre-freeze Antarctic civilization. When was the latest time that Antarctica was “green”?

Also… there is the small detail that you mention in the OP: “some people believe [it is] the true coastline that is currently covered by miles of ice”. I’d wait until someone actually figures if it IS. The copies I have had access to of the original Reis map (not later “reconstructions”) don’t impress me: they look just about as sophisticated as you expect for 1513 anyway, and in particular do not show the separation between Antarctica and South America. That’s kinda important, if we’re going to hypothesize “extraordinary” knowledge.

In any case the idea that early civilization could have come from a point source “somewhere else” is just a curious “what if” scenario. Me, I feel that the guys in Egypt, Sumer and China were simply quite smart and were able to bring together a sythesis of various knowledges that had been knocking about among many peoples of the Neolithic age.

Antarctica is actually two bodies of land, which have been sometimes separate, sometimes joined;
East Antarctica has been at least partially glaciated for 35 million years, West Antarctica 15 milion years;
the ice cap has been pretty total since the beginning of the Pliocene 5 million years ago.
there might have been periods of glacial retreat, but I am sure that the Piri Reis map has no relation to the real coastline of these two land masses.


A thread in GQ briefly took a wrong turn onto the Piri Reis map, last August, providing the following links to the Antarctica claims:


A pro Antarctica site

An anti-Antarctica site

A second anti-Antarctica site

Well I liked most of what he talks about except for this

Well straight lattitudes could mean it was a conical projection as well. Plus I have no idea what he means that a cylindrical equidistant projection has rarely been used pre-computer times. Well to the best of my knowledge USGS maps are partly based upon a transverse mercator projection and IIRC is an equidistant projection. Now I could be wrong as I don’t have my books in front of me but that’s how I remember it.

However the projection, is it does seem that it is South America and not Antartica. Oh and Shiva418, please tell me Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings is ok as I have that book but haven’t read it as of yet and I don’t want to waste my time with it if it is something like Hancock.

eburacum45I had no idea that this was the case. I guess that is why Hancock makes his propostrous assertion that 15,000 years ago, the crust of the Earth slid 23 degrees, which, according to him, would’ve made Antarctica sub-tropical. But, if the info you provided is the geological concensus, I’ll go with that. However, I would like to ask, since you seem so knowledgable, have any fossils been recovered from Antarctic digs?

BrainGluttonI know. My next thread will deal with the ruins of Ponape and the the lost city of R’lyeh. Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

Oh and Edward The Head, the Sea Kings book is a bit more scholarly, but it is VERY tedious. In the end, similar conclusions are drawn.

Some fossils have been found in Antarctica, but, unfortunately for Hancock, their presence is consistent with and tends to confirm the conventional view that Antarctica has been covered with ice for a very long time.

The period that Hancock talks about may seem a long time ago, but when scientists talk about an ice-free Antarctica they are refering to a period which is much, much earlier. The difference is whether we are talking about only thousands of years (Hancock) or millions of years (every geologist who has studied the matter).

More recently, Hancock has quietly dropped the whole crust displacement theory, although (typically) he has never explicitly acknowledged that the scientific evidence made it a non-starter from the outset and anyone who reads only Fingerprints of the Gods will still be none the wiser.

The thing is, even if Antarctica was ice-free in 10,500 BCE, (a) would still be by far the most plausible answer.

I can never say this enough. Hancock is an idiot. He never supports his claims. I read Fingerprints, and didn’t find anything in it to convince me that his ideas are correct, let alone have merit. To be honest, the maps were the one thing that I thought he had going for him, but I’ve seen enough debunking of them to realize it is just another thing he has pulled out of a body orifice.

Hancock has tried to fit this site, Yonaguni into his little world that revolves around 10,500 BC. He claims that it is a sunken temple/city/whatever. Geologists have said that they are rock formations that are common to the coast in the that area, they are not human constructs.

Of course, IIRC, Hancock has said that the Holy Grail is in either Newfoundland or Nova Scotia.

Whether it’s worth reading largely depends on your tastes in rubbish.
It’s not a particularly coherently organised book, but then Hapgood’s wasn’t a particularly coherent argument. His thesis was that some of the information in early maps had been handed down from a hypothetical “lost civilisation”. He saw something like the Piri Re’is map as a hotchpotch of earlier, lost maps, the contents of which had been stitched together by Piri Re’is. In particular, he though portions of the map were locally very accurate - moreso than the map overall. But his case is that these fragments have different projections and different scales.
Now, such a hypothesis may be testable in principle. In much the same way that literary scholars can test hypotheses about particular texts being compilations from multiple authors. But Hapgood’s methodology was to isolate pieces of the map, stretch them to fit the real geography, then claim astonishing matches. Since there are no real constraints on how this is done, such an approach is bound to come to a positive conclusion. Much of his text is taken up with laborously going through these meaningless comparisons.
Furthermore, this approach even undercuts his big conclusion about Antarctica. For, if we’re allowed to stretch and detach portions of the map, can’t we take the “coast of Antarctica” and bend it round to become the southern part of South America. After all, the two are joined together on this map. (And, indeed, this is likely a distortion, but an isolated deliberate one. Piri Re’is or his draftsman probably ran out of room on the parchment and twisted the South American coast round to fit it all on.)
For some years, Hapgood’s book did at least have the slim merit of being the only convenient book about the Piri Re’is maps. But even that’s not true any more.

Even if you don’t read it, it’s worth looking at Figures 47 and 48. Hapgood makes much of the endorsement letters from Ohlmeyer and Burroughs. The latter states that the agreement between the map and the seismic profile of Queen Maud Land by a 1949 expedition places the whole matter “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Hancock also makes much of this endorsement; if I recall correctly, he opens Fingerprints by quoting one of the letters. He’s suggesting, in effect, that the “experts” were convinced and so should you, dear reader. For Hancock never reproduces what the comparison actually was. Hapgood at least shows us the data - it’s those two figures. Basically, the survey tramped across the ice in a single straightish line from the coast to the interior and constructed a single 600 km long profile of how deep the ice was. Not a map, just a single slice across the area. In this profile, most of the underlying rock is above sea level, but in a few places it dips below it. Ohlmeyer seems to have concluded from this that, without the ice sheet, there might be islands off the coast. (Even though the sparse data is just as consistent with these being inlets or lakes. Not to mention the issue of rebound if you remove the ice.) And what does the Piri Re’is map show “there”. A few islands vaguely scattered about.
Yes, the “match” is that thin. But you’d never know that from reading Hancock.

“…is it possible that there could have been some sort of Antarctic civilization prior to the ice age?..”

Yes, it is possible.

“…Could they have advanced their technology to the point of map making?..”

Yes, “they” could have.

“…COULD come of them have preserved their knowledge and imparted it to our ancient forefathers, thus resulting the the pyramids et al. ?..”

Yes, some of “them” could have.

Because any proposition that consists in meaningful terms, and does not affirm both existence and nonexistence of some one given entity (ie, “A exists and A does not exist”) cannot be taken as false a priori. And that suffices for some something to be “possibly true.”

But there are likelihoods–defeasible presumptions, but whattaya want?

“Pole reversal” is pretty-much-a-fact; I had understood that “pole wandering” is also PMAF. The Hapgood (NOT Hancock) theory of crustal displacement has a great deal NOT going for it, but I’ve always been struck by something I learned in college geology. (It was in, sigh, the 70s.) The crust of the earth shows a kind of “magnetic fingerprint”, a very fine-detailed pattern. (It is distinct from the local patterns of magnetization that show how the continents have drifted with respect to the magnetic poles.)

As I recall, this pattern is in coherent motion–that is, as a whole mass over the entire crustal surface. The motion is, I think, just inches a year. But the point is, it seems a straightforward matter to coclude that, if the planet’s underlying magnetic field “pattern” is inching along coherently at a rate that differs from the geographical features of the overlying crust, the crust is, indeed, playing slip 'n slide. Which means that it CAN. Which means that thinking it MIGHT’VE on a much more alarming scale is not utterly without support.

I want to emphasize the element of COHERENCE. As I understood it, the relative motion is worldwide and more or less uniform–and thus separable from the effects of continental drift per se.

To take one further step toward the outre, I don’t find any other straightforward explanation of the fact that planetary magnetic poles are significantly displaced from the axial poles, than to take this as evidence that planetary insides can, for periods of time, have axes entirely different from their exteriors.

I’m not being vulgar when I suggest that you, inquiring Doper, take a close look at Uranus.

There’s a big difference between magnetic pole reversals and the movement of the axis of the Earth’s rotation. There is no reason to believe that a pole reversal would have any visible effect on the natural world other than perhaps some spectacular aurora for a while.

And if Antarctica has been covered with ice since the Pliocene, there could not have been a human civilization there. Antarctica was once much more hospitable, but that was back around the time the common ancestor of chimps, gorillas, and humans was still around.

I think it would be quite hard for 12,000 feet of ice to form in 500 years. Not to mention that core dating puts the date at 100,000 - 160,000 years ago.

Lets not forget that at the time of this supposed discovery, the “little ice age” was still going strong, and that Antartica was actually 4-5 degrees cooler yet.

Can anyone point me at a modern map on the web of what Antarctica would look like without ice?
Either now, without the ice shown, or what it would look like if the ice had never formed and the tectonic plate not depressed by it’s weight…

Either version would show a chain of mountainous islands and a larger, flatter island, wouldn’t it?

I’m surprised that nobody has posted the Talk Origins article on this subject: