On a chilly winter day in 1929, Halil Edhem, the Director of Turkey’s National Museum, was hunched over his solitary task of classifying documents. He pulled towards him a map drawn on Roe deer skin. As Halil opened the chart to its full dimensions (two feet by three feet wide or 60 X 90 cm) he was surprised by how much of the New World was depicted on a map which dated from 1513.
The document was the legacy of a pirate turned Turkish Admiral, Piri Reis (circa 1470-1554). He was born in Gallipoli, a naval base on the Marmara Sea and was the nephew of Kemal Reis, a pirate who had reinvented himself as a Turkish Admiral adventurer who had made his name in naval warfare. At the time, the distinction between pirate and Admiral was more flexible than might be expected from looking back through a Hollywood lens.
H/t reader kevin a.
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