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Cartographica Helvetica


Peter Mesenburg:

Cartometric investigation and reconstruction of the world map by Pīrī Re’īs (1513)

Cartographica Helvetica 24 (2001) 3–7


As remarkable as the course of Pīrī Re’īs's life, a decorated admiral of the Turkish navy who was executed in 1554 by Suleyman II, is the development of the world map he finished in 1513. It was based on about 20 different maps, one of which was probably made by Christopher Columbus. Even though it has been lost, this map is of special interest for the history of cartography. Because Pīrī Re’īs could speak several languages, he probably used different sources for the content of his map and thus a variety of elements can be found in this map which are not common in Turkish maps.

A fragment of the map by Pīrī Re’īs was found in the Topkapi Serail in Istanbul in 1929. It describes especially the coastlines of Western Europe and West Africa and the eastern coastlines of South America. A cartometric investigation resulted in an optimized cartographic projection and a more accurate representation of the coastlines. The fragment also showed parts of a system of rhumb lines. This system allows the reconstruction of the absent coastlines and the probable size of the original map.

Bibliographic note

  • Also published as: Geoinformationen aus dem Mittelalter: Piri Re'is (1513). In: Kartographie als Baustein moderner Kommunikation. Symposium 2002, 6. bis 8. Mai 2002, Königslutter am Elm. Ed. Jürgen Dodt, Siegmund Schulz. Bonn, 2002. (Kartographische Schriften 6). pp. 152–160.

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