Piri Reis – a pioneer of marine knowledge and marine science heritage in the seas of the Old World

Emin Özsoy

Institute of Marine Sciences, Middle East Technical University, 33720, Mersin, TURKEY


A review is made of the developments leading from marine knowledge to marine science in the seas of the ‘Old World’. Piri Reis, a technically well-equipped captain and chart maker of medieval times, was also a good observer of nature leading to important conclusions on the workings of nature. Like most other medieval figures, such contributions did not surface to gain recognition in the old world for many years, and often centuries. In particular, the efforts of Luigi Ferdinando Marsili, who actually initiated the methods of marine science that evolved into the basic science of modern oceanography, had his share of the ignorance from the establishment, but survived the centuries, as compared to Piri Reis who gave his life against bigotry, while his superior world map remained undiscovered until the beginning of the 20th century. A much overlooked set of observations reported by Piri Reis on tides is brought under light, and referenced with respect to the historical trend of development which was far behind his level.

Keywords: Piri Reis, civilization, oceanography, Turkish Straits, Black Sea, Bosphorus, Mediterranean, ecosystems

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