Discovery of the new world

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Discovery of the new world

The Piri Reis Map fragment Public domain photograph Discovery of the new worldColumbus sailed the blue; and was, for a time, considered to be the first European to set foot on the Americas.

And then came evidence that Viking explorers, led by Leif Ericson, had beaten him to it by some five centuries. Early archaeological uncertainty resulted in a minor controversy over which explorer was first, but the story was yet to thicken.

Along came authors who suggested that Chinese admiral Zheng He had also beaten Columbus, though only by a few years not European, but since he came by boat and not by the Bering Strait land bridge, we'll let him enter the contest. And then, someone discovered petroglyphs in West Virginia that seemed to indicate that 6th-century Irish navigator St.

Brendan had beaten everyone to the continent. Finally, this wrestling mass of Spaniards, Italians, Vikings, Chinese and Irish were joined by Muslims, when researchers presented both archaelogical and documentary evidence that West African Muslims were in fact first to the New World.

These are the five main contenders for the honor. There are always other fringier claims to this and just about everything elsebut these are the five we're going to look at today. They can't all be right. So among these five, who was actually the first to arrive in the Americas?

And of those who weren't the first, did any of them not make it at all? Columbus So there's no real doubt anywhere about the familiar Columbus story.

Discovery of the new world

He landed in the Bahamas inand although he believed he'd reached India, he'd actually reached some big continent that was blocking the way.

In three subsequent voyages over the next twelve years, he explored the Caribbean, the top of South America, and the coast of Central America. On his heels came colonists and other explorers, and ever since he first set foot on land, the New World has been connected with Europe.

So now, let's look at the other claimants one at a time, working backwards from Columbus' own time. Muslims The Muslim claim is not of a specific explorer, but of general knowledge of the New World that predated Columbus and could have only been obtained by previous European visitors.

Discovery of the new world

Piri Reis was an Ottoman Turk mariner and naval cartographer who died in His name means Captain Piri. He's best known for a map he drew inknown today as the Piri Reis map.

The map is often referenced by alternative historians who say that it depicts an impossibly accurate representation of the entire world, thus indicating that Piri must have had knowledge far superior to that of Columbus, and thus traditional history must be wrong and early Ottomans must have traveled the entire world, including the Americas from Cuba all the way down through Brazil, and even Antarctica.

The Piri Reis map forms the basis for almost all modern claims about Islamic sailors being the first to the New World. There is no doubting the historical importance of the Piri Reis map, however most of the sensational claims surrounding it are inaccurate. Mainly, it does not at all upset traditional history; it fits right in where we'd expect.

In his notes on the map, Piri wrote that he'd compiled it from about 20 existing maps from seafaring nations all around Europe and Asia. These included ancient Greek maps of the Meditteranean and Indian Ocean, Arabic maps of India, Portuguese maps of Pakistan and China, and the latest map from Columbus showing the Caribbean islands and a bit of the American east coast.

The map is nowhere near as accurate or comprehensive as usually claimed. At a glance it's obvious that major features are wrong, and the consensus to explain this is that Piri didn't have context for all the individual charts he assembled.

Piri showed Brazil as connected to Antarctica, and we believe this was either just an effort to include the presumed Terra Incognita, or was just the coast of South America twisted around to fit on the page.

Portuguese sailors, following Prince Henry the Navigator, had thoroughly explored western Africa and had made sorties west across the Atlantic prior to Columbus. Columbus himself studied navigation in Portugal, and was closely followed by other Portuguese sailors when he arrived in the New World.

From his base, these explorers quickly developed a sketchpad knowledge of the eastern Americas from Newfoundland to Argentina, and by the first decade of the 16th centuy, there was more than adequate source material from which Piri could draw.

In short, there is no need to introduce an Islamic voyage to the Americas to explain the Piri Reis map; and insufficient archaelogical or documentary evidence to support such a voyage either.

I give early Islamic explorers 0. We've talked about Zheng before on Skeptoid in connection with various urban legends surrounding his travels and his ships. It's always been well known and well documented that Zheng traveled south and west from China as far as Africa, but there had never been any evidence that he ventured east across the Pacific to reach the New World.

This changed in when a Chinese lawyer, Liu Gang, announced the discovery of a map copied in from an original datedtitled Overall Map of the Geography of all Under Heaven. The map shows the Americas in all their glory, proof that Chinese cartographers, sailing under Zheng He, had beaten Columbus to the New World by coming from the other direction.Brendan's voyage to the New World gets 0 out of 5 Skeptoid Plausibility Points, and the carvings get points until such time as a proper expert analysis is done.

And so tallying up the score, we have a winner: the Vikings, under the leadership and probable physical presence of Leif Ericson. The War and Treaty at WFUV with Alisa Ali (photo by Dan Tuozzoli).

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