Great post, star and flag and thanks for not falling over the edge of the world with speculation. Here's a few thoughts on Piri Reis.
(this is not my scholarship)
"If claims are made to the map’s accuracy and representation, it’s surprisingly easy to refute them. Both Steven Dutch and Diego Cuoghi do just
this, pointing out that
* the map is tremendously inaccurate around the Caribbean, reflecting Columbus’s own errors;
* the map does not fit an azimuthal equidistant projection; and, most importantly,
* the curve in South America’s coast does not match Antarctica nearly as well (for one thing, it misses lots of coastline, as well as Cape Horn)
as it does Patagonia, if the map is suddenly turned at that point.
The most persuasive reason for the sudden curve in South America’s coastline is put forth by Paul Lunde:
To put it more simply, Piri Reis, or the scribe who copied his work, may have realized, as he came to the Rio de la Plata, that he was going to
run off the edge of his valuable parchment if he continued south. So he did the logical thing and turned the coastline to the east, marking the turn
with a semicircle of crenelations, so that he could fit the entire coastline on his page. If that was the case, then the elaborate Hapgood hypotheses
— or at least those elements based entirely on the Piri Reis map — would have no foundation whatever."
I could post links to sites that actually explain the maps in honest and interesting archaeological terms but you get the idea.
Thing is, hucksters and charlatans will use these maps to make all kinds of outrageous claims about ice-free antarctica etc. etc, and creationists
have even coopted the maps for their own use. Fact is, our forebears weren't great mapmakers... I mean Columbus knew the world was round, knew the
basic circumference and yet he thought he'd sailed to India... go figure.
ps: Zheng He is an awesome story... thanks for putting that out.
[edit on 25-1-2010 by kenochs]