The Lost Map of Columbus

For several centuries scholars have been searching for the lost map of Christopher Columbus. The map is referred to by Colum­bus’ contemporaries, and by the historian Las Casas, as one he used to navigate by to the New World. In 1929 a map was discovered in the former Imperial Palace (The Seraglio) in Constantinople, authored by a Turkish admiral of the 16th Century, Piri Reis. In the inscriptions written on this map the author states that the western part, showing the American coasts, was copied from a map that had been in the possession of Christopher Columbus, but which had fallen into the hands of Piri Reis with the booty seized from eight Spanish ships captured by him in a battle off the coast of Valencia in 1501 or 1508.

The Piri Reis map attracted the attention of President Kemal Ataturk, and of the American Secretary of State, Henry Stimson, who, in 1932, asked the Turkish Government for a color facsimile of the map, and for a search of Turkish archives and collections to see if the lost map of Columbus might not be found. The facsimile of the map now hangs in the Map Division of the Library of Congress, but the original Piri Reis worked from— Columbus’ own map (or a copy of it)—was never found. The reason that this map has remained so long undiscovered appears to be, simply, that it is very different from the other contemporary maps and is not at all what scholars would expect to find in a map of Columbus.

It is not a map Columbus himself made, but one he found in the Old World...

Kemo D. 7

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