SEA QUEST - Chapter 5
Outside, the dining shack looked like a local shack which villagers in the area store fishing equipment and boats. It was painted white only to keep the rain from seeping in. But inside, there were three beautiful sturdy hand-crafted tables that can accommodate all the forty people who were at the site.
As Brian followed Sir Francis into the shack, the difference between the inside and the outside was clearly visible. Inside, the walls were well decorated with paintings, and spectacular wallpaper.
As they all sat down, Brian met someone who he did not expect. It was his professor from college, Sarah Duncan. She was a forty-year old playful British teacher who taught him the many mysteries of archeology. At first he didn’t recognize her last name, but now it was clear.
“Brian, this is Sarah Duncan, my daughter.” Sir Francis said.
“Yes Brian, it’s me. A nice thing you decided to come here.” She answered.
“Very nice to meet you too,” Brian responded
“I actually remembered you, you were the student that tested ancient Egyptian mummification techniques with cats. You also experimented to see if the geometry of a pyramid actually prevents the bodies from decomposing. It failed and the whole left wing of the historical studies building had to be evacuated due to the smell.”
“That wasn’t me.” Brian lied.
“Of course it was you; I was lecturing about tools the ancients used for surgery when you tried the experiment. Your friend recorded the whole ritual and the school news paper took 27 pictures as you came out of the university’s special experiments lab.”
“Let’s settle down to dinner, I guess.” Said Brian, trying to change subject.
Brian hadn’t eaten anything all day and the meal that was already delicious tasted even better on an empty stomach. It was like an exquisite restaurant, only without the waiters. It was a three-course meal with Salad, Spaghetti, and Gelatin for dessert. After Brian was full Sir Francis called him.
“Brian, follow me. The discovery is in my tent.”
He led Brian to a large green tent next to the excavation site. The inside was well lit and Brian could see a glass cabinet at the back of the room that stands out from the furniture. As he walked closer it was clear there was a piece of paper inside the cabinet.
“Help yourself,” said Sir Francis with a smile.
It was clear after a while that the object Brian was looking at was a map. A map hundreds of years old.
“Is it?” Brian thought. “Yes”, he replied to himself, “what else could it be?”
“Piri Reis map,” he spoke quietly.
“That’s correct, Mr. Right.”
“But I don’t understand, I thought when this map was discovered a hundred years ago there was only half the map.”
“Brian, we carbon dated the map. It’s older than the one they discovered which means what they have is a copy, this is the original.” said Sir Francis.
Brian was very impressed. To many archeologists and historians what he was holding in his hands was the second best artifact to the Holy Grail.
In 1929 historians working at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul found a map in a pile of rubble. It was drawn by the Turkish admiral Piri Ibn Haji Mehmed who lived in about the same period as Christopher Columbus around 500 years ago. The first map discovered in Istanbul, when examined archeologists points out that it clearly shows Europe, Africa, North and South America and the tip of Greenland. But the most astounding thing is that the map also shows Antarctica, a continent not discovered until 200 years later. The admiral claimed to have drawn the Piri Reis map from various sources including Christopher Columbus and ancient Greek maps.
Like other maps in those days, it had circles radiating from each port which help in navigating from one port to another. Despite without having the longitude and latitude like a modern map, the map was remarkably accurate, except for North America which Columbus mistakenly thought was Japan and China. It includes rivers in South America that most explorers did not notice. In Antarctica, the map recorded rivers and geographical characteristics even the US military geographers said to be clearly impossible without using seismological mapping technology due to ice caps around the continent. In some areas, the map was so accurate that it even corrected the modern maps. Apparently the original map’s navigational lines could indicate that it was only half the map. And this map clearly showed itself as being torn apart.
Note: a) Time line of the discoveries. Antarctica discovered in 1820
b) The first Piri Reis map discovered in Istanbul; historically dated to 1513, half of what should be
And now Brian could glance at the remarkable pictures of Asia, Japan, India and even parts of Indonesia.
“This is simply remarkable,” Brian said, gasping in awe.
“I was excited too when we discovered the map.”
“But I still don’t get why you would go through such lengths for the map.” Brian looked at Sir Francis curiously.
“We discovered more in that tomb than just a map Mr. Right.” He said pointing to the polished ceramics at the corner of the tent.
“Don’t tell me those pots are from china.”
“We also carbon dated that, it was made in 1419. It was transported on a ship and of course when it came into contact with sea water there was a chemical reaction, which further dated it to 1421.” Sir Francis spoke with a calm voice.
Brian was shocked to realize and it took a while to say the undeniable, “You’re about to say that this discovery confirms that the Imperial Fleet from China really sailed the oceans and discovered the new world?”
It had been suggested by theorists before that the Americas could have been discovered by the Chinese Imperial Fleet. The fleet was commanded by the Arab Zhong Hur and other skilled Arab navigators who settled in China. Although history recorded that in the seven expeditions the fleet only reached Eastern Africa and Arabia, it included more than 200 ships. Six of those ships dwarfed the ships Columbus used three times. The fleet would have had no problem crossing the Atlantic.
“Well, in Europe at the time no one had a clue about how to make a Chinese vase.”
“And you’re telling me that the Chinese discovered America 75 years before Columbus.”
With the excitement Brian paused for a minute to think whether all this is even possible.
“Wait, if this is a Chinese vase, what the hell is it doing in a tomb of a Portuguese captain with a map belonging to a Turkish admiral?” asked Brian.
“I should have explained this to you before to prevent confusion. This is a tomb of a Portuguese captain who we simply name Alios 1. He died from a serious fever when trying to round Cape Horn in a cold winter like this one now. He was a friend of Piri Reis after meeting the admiral in a trade station, or at least that’s what his log says. Thus he was given a map as a gift for exploring South America.” Sir Francis explained.
“But where did the ceramics come from?”
“Our best guess is that when the Chinese came eighty years earlier they traded with the Native Americans. And when the Portuguese came they traded for the vase. His first mate probably liked him so much that he was buried with a few parting gifts next to his coffin.”
“That’s almost an unbelievable story,” said Brian.
“I know,” Sir Francis answered,” but at least we have proven that the artifacts are real.”
Brian sat down on a wooden chair to calm down from all the confusing excitement.
“There is one other thing I haven’t shown you. And I bet to god it will mean a hell lot to you.” Sir Francis muffled with the sound of excitement in his voice.
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