Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings
Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age
Charles H. Hapgood

Table of Contents


Foreword by Dr. John K. Wright
Chapter I The Treasure Hunt Begins
Chapter II The Secrets of the Piri Re’is Map
Chapter III The Piri Re’is Map in Detail


This book contains the story of the discovery of the first hard evidence that advanced peoples preceded all the peoples now known to history. In one field, ancient sea charts, it appears that accurate information has been passed down from people to people. It appears that the charts must have originated with a people unknown; that they were passed on, perhaps by the Minoans (the Sea Kings of ancient Crete) and the Phoenicians, who were for a thousand years and more the greatest sailors of the ancient world. We have evidence that they were collected and studied in the great library of Alexandria and that compilations of them were made by the geographers who worked there.

Before the catastrophe of the destruction of the great library many of the maps must have been transferred to other centers, chiefly, perhaps, to Constantinople, which remained a center of learning through the Middle Ages. We can only speculate that the maps may have been preserved there until the Fourth Crusade (1204 A.D.) when the Venetians captured the city. Some of the maps appear in the west in the century following this “wrong way” crusade (for the Venetian fleet was supposed to sail for the Holy Land!). Others do not appear until the early 16th Century.

Most of these maps were of the Mediterranean 4nd the Black Sea. But maps of other areas survived. These included maps of the Americas and maps of the Arctic and Antarctic seas. It becomes clear that the ancient voyagers traveled from pole to pole. Unbelievable as it may appear, the evidence nevertheless indicates that some ancient people explored the coasts of Antarctica when its coasts were free of ice. It is clear, too, that they had an instrument of navigation for accurately finding the longitudes of places that was far superior to anything possessed by the peoples of ancient, medieval, or modern times until the second half of the 18th Century.

This evidence of a lost technology will support and give credence to many other evidences that have been brought forward in the last century or more to support the hypothesis of a lost civilization in remote times. Scholars have been able to dismiss most of that evidence as mere myth, but here we have evidence that cannot be dismissed. This evidence requires that all the other evidence that has been brought forward in the past should be reexamined with an open mind.

To the inevitable question, are these remarkable maps genuine, I can only reply that they have all been known for a long time, with one exception. The Piri Re’is Map of 1513 was only rediscovered in 1929, but its authenticity, as will be seen, is sufficiently established. To the further question, why didn’t somebody else discover all this before, I can only reply that new discoveries usually seem self-evident, by hindsight.

—C. H. H.


The geographer and geologist William Morris Davis once discussed “The Value of Outrageous Geological Hypotheses.” (Science, vo1. 63, 1926, pp. 463-468.) His point was that such hypotheses arouse interest, invite attack, and thus serve useful fermentative purposes in the advancement of geology. Mr. Hapgood will agree, I am sure, that this book records a mighty proliferation of outrageous cartographical and historical hypotheses, as luxuriant as an equatorial vine. His hypotheses will “outrage” the conservative instincts of historically minded cartographers and cartographically minded historians. But while those in whom conservatism predominates will react to this book like bulls to red rags, those of radical, iconoclastic bent will react like bees to honeysuckle, and the liberals in between will experience a feeling of stimulating bafflement.

A map dating from 1513, and by the Turkish Admiral, Piri Re’is, is the seed from which the vine has grown. Only the western half of the map has been preserved. It shows the Atlantic coasts from France and the Caribbean on the north to what Hapgood (following Captain A. H. Mallery) holds to be Antarctica on the south; and, of course, the proposition that any part of Antarctica could have been mapped before 1513 is startling. But yet more startling are the further propositions that have arisen from the intensive studies that Mr. Hapgood and his students have made of this and other late medieval and early modern maps. These studies, which took seven years, have convinced him that the maps were derived from prototypes drawn in pre-Hellenic times (perhaps even as early as the last Ice Age!), that these older maps were based upon a sophisticated understanding of the spherical trigonometry of map projections, and—what seems even more incredible—upon a detailed and accurate knowledge of the latitudes and longitudes of coastal features throughout a large part of the world.

In my opinion, Mr. Hapgood’s ingenuity in developing his basic concept regarding the accuracy of the maps is fascinating and accounts for the book’s most valuable contribution. Whether or not one accepts his “identifications” and his “solutions,” he has posed hypotheses that cry aloud for further testing. Besides this, his suggestions as to what might explain the disappearance of civilizations sufficiently advanced in science and navigation to have produced the hypothetical lost prototypes of the maps that he has studied raise interesting philosophical and ethical questions. Had “Sportin’ Life” in Porgy and Bess read this book, he would have been inspired to sing: “it ain’t nessa … it ain’t nessa … it ain’t necessarily not so.”

John K. Wright,
Lyme, New Hampshire
June 7, 1965

John K. Wright, who did his undergraduate work at Harvard and also received his Ph.D. in history from that university , was with the American Geographical Society in New York for thirty-six years. He was director of the society for the last eleven years of his association with it. His latest work, Human Nature in Geography, has iust been published by the Harvard University Press.

Continue to Chapter I The Treasure Hunt Begins