The year is 1799. The explorer Humboldt is paddling down the wild waters of the upper Orinoco. Formidable cliffs press upon him from both sides. Suddenly he glimpses, etched in the rock high above, an array of strange messages.
Humboldt asks the natives what it means. Their reply is so startling, he almost tips out of his canoe.
Exactly 130 years later, Halil Edhem, Director of the National Museums of Turkey, is cleaning out debris in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. He comes upon the dusty fragments of an old map. Examination shows that it was compiled by an Admiral Piri Reis in 1513, from portions of much older maps.
Not until 1956, however, is the map subjected to a serious analysis. The Hydrographic Office of the U.S. Navy issues a statement. What it reveals is almost unbelievable.
Just twelve years later, Richard Nixon arrives in China. A cultural
exchange is initiated with America. Interest is awakened in an ancient Chinese document, the Shan Hai King. Something which this old manuscript reveals is enough to rock you off your seat.
All these seemingly unrelated events would come together with
compelling force on October 17, 1984. On that day, I strolled into the foyer of a I Hong Kong hotel for a rendezvous with the Jigsaw Team. Five men and one woman were converging with results of separate investigations into some very strange recent discoveries.
Phillip Corderoy was a cartographer; Denise Tagg a linguist of no mean accomplishment; Paul Heron a mathematician; Jacob Wajsmann a keen student of prehistory; and Charlie Perch a Scotland Yard-trained detective who had turned to genealogy more from passion than from pecuniary ambitions. His innate skepticism would render Perch all the more valuable for critical analysis.
As it turned out, we would spend four days in a tight little suite,
advancing the pieces each of us held of the jigsaw puzzle, then slowly keying them together until a clear picture developed—a picture which would prove more startling than any of us ever expected.
…Corderoy snapped open his briefcase, withdrew a sheaf of papers and squinted at us over his spectacles.
“I want you each to take a gander at these maps. There are fourteen of them, all from the Medieval and Renaissance period.” Corderoy laid them on the table.
“This one is the Zeno map, drawn in 1380. See how accurately it
outlines the coasts of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Scotland, as well as the exact latitude and longitude of a certain number of islands.”
“Just a minute, Phil,” Heron cut in. “The chronometer, necessary to
determine longitude, was not invented until 1765.”
“He’s right,” said Perch. “That is why the readings of Columbus were all inaccurate.”
“Nevertheless, the Zeno map is most accurate,” insisted Corderoy.
“And notice, the topography of Greenland is shown free of glaciers as it was prior to the Ice Age. Unknown rivers and mountains shown on this Zeno map have since been located in probes of the French Polar Expedition of 1947-1949. What do you think of that?”
“See this photograph? It shows a Chinese map on stone from 1137, formed on a spherical grid.
“And this is the Camerio map of 1502, which uses the same spherical grid.”
Miss Tagg looked agitated. “Listen, Phil, in the Middle Ages they
thought the earth was flat. Are you certain these are not modern fakes?”
“No chance of a mistake, I assure you. But just wait till you see this.” Corderoy passed around another sheet.
“Now, here’s the Zauche map of 1737. It shows Antarctica free of—”
Wajsmann interjected. “Impossible, Phil. Antarctica’s existence was
not verified until 1819!”
Corderoy grinned. “I expected that. Nevertheless, this map does show that continent—and completely free of ice to boot. Surprisingly, it is shown not as one continent but two islands separated by a strait from the Ross to the Weddell Seas (a fact which was not established until the Geophysical Year, 1968). Also shown are islands of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, now known to lie on the bottom of the ocean.
“Now here’s a map drawn in 1531 by Orontius Fineus, in which the dimensions of the Antarctic land mass correspond very closely to those on the best modern maps. The map indicates that the center of Antarctica was beginning to fill with ice when its source maps were drawn. It shows rivers and fjords in Antarctica where today mile-thick glaciers flow.
“Next, notice this Mercator chart of 1569; it depicts only the Antarctic coast left uncovered by glaciers.
“I really don’t follow you,” said Heron. ‘The events you’re describing are Ice Age, cave man era and all that. Yet you admitted these are Renaissance maps.”
Corderoy burst into laughter. “That’s right. But I think you’ll agree
these particular maps are infinitely superior to the regular maps made at that time. Now I’ll share a secret. You see, my friends, many of the Medieval and Renaissance mapmakers admitted they were copying from sources whose origins were unknown.
“These maps are a scientific achievement far surpassing the abilities of the navigators and mapmakers of the Renaissance, Middle Ages, the Arab world, or any ancient geographers. They are the product of an unknown people antedating recognized history.
“Now, here’s a very exciting map, copied in 1559. The Hadji Ahmed map shows Antarctica and the Pacific coast of the United States of America with extreme accuracy. It also depicts the land bridge that once existed between Siberia and Alaska.
“This Andrea Benincasa map (1508) indicates that Northern Europe was being covered by the Ice Age glaciation’s furthest advance.
“Here is the Iehudi Ibn ben Zara map of 1487. Notice these remnants of glaciers in Britain? And the detailed profiles of islands in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas? Those islands are still there—but now under water.
“The Hamy King chart (1502) indicates northern Siberian rivers emptying into the Arctic Ocean (but which are now all under ice). It also shows glacial actions in the Baltic countries. What are today huge islands in Southeast Asia are shown on this map joined to land (which they once were). And you know what? The map even shows an ancient Suez Canal!
‘Ptolemy’s map of the North depicts a glacial sheet advancing across south-central Greenland; and at the same time it shows glaciers retreating from northern Germany and southern Sweden.
“Do you see? This all could only have come from the findings of surveying parties that tracked the areas before, during and after the Ice Age.
Fig. 3-1a. The Orontius Fineus map. Its greatest error is that Antarctica is drawn too large, possibly a copyist’s mistake, although mountains and other details, not rediscovered until
1958, are accurately presented.
Fig. 3-1b. Antarctica on the Orontius Fineus map of 1531 (left) reduced to the same scale and grid as modern map of Antarctica.
During the Ice Age, according to the evolutionary theory, humans were grunting savages.
“The Gloreanus map (1510) shows not only the exact line of the Atlantic coast of America from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, but also the whole length of the Pacific coast.
“The King Jaime World Chart (1502) shows the Sahara Desert as a fertile land with large lakes, rivers and cities (which, at a remote period, it was).
“Then there’s this Dulcert map of 1339, tracing from Ireland to the Don River of Eastern Europe; I tell you, this map shows precision beyond understanding.
“But there’s one more. Its a beauty.”
With a teasing twinkle, Corderoy eyed us each in turn, arose from his chair and ambled over to the window. He stood there gazing over the harbor toward Victoria Peak with its skirt of skyscrapers. He just stood there and said nothing. It was as though we were no longer with him.
“Come on, Phil. We’re waiting. What’s this trump of yours?”
Corderoy turned, still smirking, and rejoined us. He felt for something in his briefcase and plopped it on the table.
“This is the Piri Reis chart of 1513,” he began. “After its discovery,
Captain Arlington H. Mallery, an American authority on cartography, asked the U.S. Hydrographic Office to examine it. The U.S. Navy, through Commander Larsen, subsequently issued this statement.” Corderoy took his notes and read to us.
“‘The Hydrographic Office of the Navy has verified an ancient chart—it’s called the Piri Reis map, that goes back more than 5,000 years. It’s so accurate, only one thing could explain it—a worldwide survey. The Hydrographic Office couldn’t believe it, either, at first. But they not only proved the map genuine, it’s been used to correct errors in some present-day maps.’”
Corderoy grew excited. “I say if ever there were a treasure map, this is it. Just crammed with priceless gems. It tells the story of ancient coastlines, as well as the surprising exploits of our ancestors five thousand years ago.
“Piri Reis stated that his copy was a composite from twenty ancient
maps. So let’s explore it.”
I took a pad and noted the following features:
1. South America and Africa in correct relative longitude and latitude. Not only were the Caribbean, Spanish, African and South American coasts in correct positions relative to each other, but even isolated land areas, like Cape Verde Island, the Azores, the Canary Islands, as well as topographies of the interiors—mountain ranges, peaks, rivers, plateaus. All were accurately positioned by longitude and latitude.
2. The coastline of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. The islands and bays of the depicted coastline are the same as they appear below the Antarctic ice sheet (as recently revealed by seismic echo soundings).
Pictured in great detail are regions scarcely explored today, including a mountain range that remained undiscovered until 1952.
Interestingly, the map shows two bays where the modern seismic map showed lands. However, when the experts were asked to check their measurements, they found that the ancient map was correct, after all. One thing was crystal clear. Either somebody had mapped Antarctica before the ice cap covered the continent, or else the ice covered continent was mapped with very sophisticated instruments.
3. The Isle of Pines, Andros Island, San Salvador, Jamaica, the mouth of the Amazon and the island of Morajo are all correctly shaped and perfectly located in latitude and longitude.
4. A major error appeared to be Greenland, shown as three islands. But during the International Geophysical Year it was proved that this correctly represented the state of affairs about 3000 B.C.
5. Every mountain range in northern Canada and Alaska was recorded on this ancient map—including some ranges which the U.S. Army Map Services did not have on their maps. But the U.S. Army has since found them!
6. The ancient source-maps were drawn using a circular grid based on spherical trigonometry, with the focal point situated in Egypt. The copiest Piri Reis (unfamiliar with circular projection) shifted and spliced the original grid to compensate for the curvature. Any modern spheroid projection on a flat surface would cause the same distortion. (Notice this in the accompanying comparison between Piri Reis and a modern map.)
Corderoy pressed the point. Was this not compelling proof of the map’s validity? Clearly it came from an advanced ancient technology and its grid system is similar to air navigation maps.
Even so, we cannot know how many times it was imperfectly copied.
“Now listen to this,” said Corderoy. “The Piri Reis map projection was based on an overestimate of 4 1/2 degrees in the circumference of the earth.
Only one geographer in the ancient world had made that overestimation: the Greek Eratosthenes.
“When the Piri Reis map is redrawn to correct the Eratosthenes error, all existing longitude errors on the map are thereby reduced to almost zero.
“This can mean only one thing. Do you see? The Greeks who mapped according to Eratosthenes’ circumference had before them source maps which had been drawn without that error. Thus, the geographical knowledge on which the Piri Reis map is based ultimately originated not with the Greeks but with an earlier people who possessed a more advanced science of mapmaking than even the Greeks!”
“That’s brilliant!” exclaimed Perch. “Couldn’t do better myself. What you’re saying is that while Greece and Rome were developing new civilizations, the vestiges of an older one, seemingly worldwide in scope, was vanishing It left these maps, which were partly incomprehensible. So\ later cartographers altered them. Yes, I can see that.”
“There’s just one more thing,” said Corderoy. “The evidence indicates that what we have here is only part of an original world map.”
He paused. “Whew!” whistled Wajsmann.
So here it was—evidence of science in an early epoch, which is considered to have had none. Here were physical fragments of the amazing knowledge of a super culture long vanished.
We spread out six pieces of the jigsaw—facts which were now apparent concerning those early explorers:
1. They possessed a knowledge of cartography comparable to our own.
2. They knew the correct shape and size of the earth.
3. They possessed a knowledge of cartography comparable to our own.
4. They knew the correct shape and size of the earth.
5. They used spherical trigonometry in their mathematical
6. They utilized ultramodern methods of projection (exact
7. They must have had at their disposal advanced geodetic instruments
(and trained specialists to use them) to measure longitude and
latitude (totally lost and not developed in the modern world until the end of the eighteenth century).
Fig. 3-2a. The Piri Reis map, dated 1513 but compiled from world maps of ancient times.
Fig. 3-2b. For comparison a global projection based on Cairo, complied from NASA sources.
Copy of the Hadji Ahmed globe.
8. They must have been organized and directed on a global scale.
The picture falling into place was this. Almost 5,000 years ago
somebody undertook a survey of the whole planet. The technology at their disposal was very sophisticated.
Breakfast next morning was in a small restaurant off Nathan Road. Rice congee and fried pastries. Different!
Wajsmann had uncovered some little-known data which quite rocked us.
Back in our room, he elaborated.
“Did you know that thousands of years ago people in India knew faraway England as ‘the Island of the White Cliffs’? Their Vishnu Purana reveals a close acquaintance with Europe. The geographical contours of the Americas and the North Polar zone are also described in detail.”
“That interests me, Jacob.” All eyes turned to Denise Tagg. “My family was Irish, so I’ve had a penchant for the most ancient Irish legends. And you know what? They agree. They say that Ireland was visited by men from India—the Dravidians—who came not as invaders but as surveyors.
Wajsmann nodded. “The Maya of Guatemala divided a spherical earth into five major continents: Africa, Europe-Asia, North and South America and Australia.
“And in second-century Greece, Flavius Philostratus wrote, ‘If the land be considered in relation to the entire mass of water, we can show that the earth is the lesser of the two.’ Now, I ask you, how could the ancients have known this if they had not traversed and measured the earth’s surface?”
“Admittedly, you have a point there,” observed Heron.
“Of course, the earliest Egyptians were knowledgeable about land measurements, too; and they practiced sophisticated surveying techniques.
In fact, they understood enough to influence many other nations, in locating important cities and temples on meridians, all based on simple fractions of the earth’s dimensions.
“It seems to me that this independent testimony from different races does back up Phil’s evidence from the maps.”
Perch smoothed his moustache. “Over breakfast, Jacob, you spoke of an ancient Chinese book.”
“That I did, Charlie. I find it quite an astonishing document. I’m referring to the Fourth Book of Shan Hai King entitled ‘The Classic of Eastern Mountains,’ from 2250 BC. In it there are four sections describing mountains located ‘beyond the Eastern Sea’—on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Each section begins by describing the geographical features of a particular mountain: its height, shape, mineral deposits, surrounding rivers and types of flora. Then it points the direction and distance to the next mountain, and so on.
“It’s like a road map. By following the clues, we’ve found that these sections describe in detail the topography of western and central North America.
‘Each mountain can be identified—and each river.
“I tell you, this document is a geographical survey. But that’s not all. It even gives the experiences of the surveyors—from picking up black opals and gold nuggets in Nevada, to watching seals frolic on the rocks in San Francisco Bay. They recorded their fascination at a strange animal that avoided danger by pretending to be dead (obviously the native opossum).
You can read about their wonder at the Grand Canyon, ‘a stream flowing in a bottomless ravine,’ and a sunrise there. (That’s in the Ninth and Fourteenth Books.)
‘By the third century B.C., when many Chinese records were
reevaluated and condensed, it was found that the geographical learning it contained did not correspond to any lands known at that time. So it was reclassified as a myth. Now we know better.”
“Well, what do you know!” exclaimed Perch. “A detailed Chinese
survey of North America 4,500 years ago!”
“Precisely. Part of the global survey, I dare say.”
Denise Tagg sprang into action. “This is where my piece of the jigsaw comes in. I’ve done some detective work along many of the routes which those surveyors of North America took. Would you believe, some rock drawings still survive? Among these pictures on stone you can recognize carvings of the Chinese dragon.
“Stone-writers left their traces on every continent. A single system of signs was used. They used 241 special sequences of particular geometric signs and symbols. The stone-writers were not barbaric hunters or nomads. They were intelligent people who were systematic in what they did. In their repetition and locations, the symbols had meaning and purpose.
I am certain the stone-writers left these guide signs to mark the way for others who would follow them. These surveyors left their traces in the form of maps, symbols and place names.” (Of course, symbols left on rocks and tablets presuppose communication by language. I recalled the biblical assertion that “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” The evidence seemed now to support it.) It was my turn to submit a piece of the jigsaw; I passed around copies.
“This is a report by the explorer Humboldt. In 1799, while wandering in Guiana and the upper Orinoco, Humboldt came across rock pictures and hieroglyphic signs high up on the mountains.
“The natives told him that their ancestors, in the time of the great
waters, came to the tops of these mountains in canoes, and that the rocks were still so soft that a man could trace marks on them with his bare fingers.”
I paused to let this sink in.
“Go on,” urged Heron.
“Can you see the significance?” I asked. “It tallies precisely with conditions that prevailed after the global Deluge. Great inland seas remained on all continents, often trapped at high levels, and not draining back into the ocean for centuries.
“The Deluge, as it reshaped continents, thrust sedimentary rubble mountain-high. This would have remained soft and impressionable for a considerable time.”
Miss Tagg cut in. “That reminds me of picture writings elsewhere.
From the highlands of Colombia to the gorge of the Xingu, on the eastern side of Brazil’s Matto Grosso, they all have one feature in common: they are carved on high rocks, in gloomy canyons, impossible to climb. You know, some are up to seventy feet tall. It’s the same in the Mexican mountain ranges; in Siberia too. The signs are found on impossible cliffs.”
Perch cleared his throat. “So within centuries of the Flood, the new population undertook a resources survey of the whole earth. And they mapped every continent. Yeah, I see that.
“Now I think we can identify some of the men involved in this. Biblical chronology throws some light on it.”
That was one out of the blue! Actual names?
“Yes, three, in fact. During the period 2800 to 2500 B.C.
“First there was a guy called Peleg. The Book of Genesis (10:25) states that ‘in his day was the earth divided’ (as in ‘allotment,’ ‘marking off an area’). I’ve looked into this. A more accurate translation would be: ‘In his day was the earth measured’ (or ‘surveyed’).”
I noticed a murmur of surprise.
“Then there was Mizraim, according to the chronology a grandson of Noah, who is credited with founding Egypt. His name means ‘to delineate,’ ‘to draw up a plan,’ ‘to make a representation’ (especially in association with measuring distances). And sure enough, at least two old maps linked with the ancient past (the Piri Reis and Reinal) were based on a circularprojection with the focal point in Egypt.
“Perhaps it is no accident that the Great Pyramid records in its dimensions the measurement of the earth on the scale of 1:43,200. Both the earth’s circumference (including the equatorial bulge) and polar radius (with the flattening at the poles) were known with an accuracy comparable to that recorded by satellite surveys from space.”
Perch the detective was sparking now.
“There was also Almodad (‘measurer’), the inventor of geometry, ‘who measured the earth to its extremities.’9 According to chronology, Almodad is the progenitor of the Southern Arabians.
Many of these maps we’ve been studying reveal peculiarities of geography that were first noticed by the Arabs.”
Wajsmann spoke now. “That’s really something, Charlie. When did Almodad die?”
“About 2350 B.C. give or take a few.”
“What a clincher! That Chinese Shan Hai King book was written only a century later!”
Dead Men’s Secrets, by Johnathan Gray, Archaeologist