In 1966 Professor Charles H. Hapgood of the University of New Hampshire published his remarkable claim that the world had been mapped before history began to be written. Navigators and geographers, he asserted, had visited and charted the New World centuries before Columbus. More controversially, he argued that the arctic mainland – not sighted until 1820, according to most historians – had actually been mapped at least 6,000 years before.
Hapgood based these assertions on the study of a map drawn in 1513 by the Turkish admiral Piri Re’is. The map had some obvious errors in it: the Amazon River appeared twice, and 900 miles of South America’s east coast had been left out. But it seemed to show part of the coastline of Antarctica without any ice cover – as it would have appeared when the region was warmer, thousands of years earlier. Hapgood believed that the admiral had compiled his map from several earlier versions, some possibly dating back to Alexander the Great.
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