I may have to change my mind about Columbus – maybe.

Some time ago I said to “Bdid1dr” – who believes that the written part of the text was set down after 1492, and in the context of Spanish presence in the Americas – that the only reconciliation of our views that I could imagine is if the work turned out to be one that was carried by one of the Spanish mariners (Jewish or Christian) who accompanied Columbus on his journey.

I did not expect to see any circumstantial evidence that Columbus would have carried any work whose imagery derives (as I’ve explained) from originally Hellenistic sources, and which (as I alone have argued) relates chiefly to the matter of trade by land and by sea though the maritime routes from south-east Asia, in addition to the  overland silk roads.

I could accept, in general way, that Columbus might carry some account of those routes and their valuable goods. After all, he was travelling by sea and believed himself headed towards the east Indies, intent on aiding the Spanish crown gain direct access to those same spice routes.  In fact, until the day he died, Columbus believed that was exactly what he had done.

It was the Hellenistic character of the imagery, overlaid though it was by eastern, Jewish and some late and fairly minor European-Latin cultural additions, which I thought must stand as a permanent terminal stumbling-block to theories or arguments about a connection between MS Beinecke 408 and the new world.

But today I discover that  Piri Re’is himself believed that Columbus had obtained a Hellenistic text – one which the Latins of mainland Europe were generally unable to understand – but which provided Columbus with this sort of information, and with sailing directions. I have said, in various places, that I have found the imagery to be so informative and self-contained that the main part of the written text might even be devoted to ancillary information, or indeed something quite other. I’ve also had reason on numerous occasions to mention Piri Re’is here, especially in connection with folio 86v which- as  I have said – may represent an example of those jaferiye – maritime charts which Re’is himself used and attributes to the time of Alexander, not that of Claudius Ptolemy.

This is from Piri Re’is account of Columbus’ voyage. You see why  I may have to change my mind about the Columbus thing – maybe.


Columbus book


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