Piri Reis was born in 1470 in Gallipoli (Gelibolu). When he was 14 years old he attended the journeys of his uncle, the famous seaman, Kemal Reis who was working both as a corsair and for Ottoman Empire. Piri noted the places and events he saw, in his book Kitab-i Bahriye. Most of this knowledge was either lived by him or heard at the place. His uncle and Piri enacted corsairy for six years on different islands, fought with other corsairs, captured ships and stopped at ports in times of bad weather. It is obvious that they had the map of America by Christopher Columbus during these years (1493 - 1498).
In 1511 after the death of his uncle he had quitted seamanship for a period of time and went to Gallipoli where he drew his first work of art; the world map (1513). The piece that belongs to America is a part of this. He organized his notes of Kitab-ı Bahriye which was a sea guide.
After Egypt was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim's journey to Alexandria by ship gave Piri Reis the opportunity of meeting the Sultan and he gave the map, which he had prepared.
After the Egypt journey, Piri went to Gallipoli to make a book from the notes he took for Bahriye. During this time Piri was a commander in the Ottoman Navy.
The era of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent) who was the new leader of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire was time for great conquers. In 1523 Piri joined the Ottoman Navy during the Rhodes campaign.
After he was appreciated by Sadrazam Pargali Ibrahim Pasha whom he guided in his journey to Egypt in 1524, he presented his book after revising it in 1526. Piri Reis' life can be followed from Kitab-ı Bahriye until 1526. After his success, in 1528 he drew a second world map. The North America map, which we have today, is a part of this map.
It can be understood from governmental documents that after this date Piri Reis was working for the government in Southern waters. Piri Reis has been in jobs like being the Captain of India and the chief administrator in the Oman Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Piri Reis was sentenced to death after a failed journey to Egypt in 1554."
On November 9, 1929, while the Topkapi Palace (Istanbul) was undergoing renovations for a conversion into a national museum, a map of the western half of the world was found. We still do not know what happened to the eastern half. This map was then studied by the scholars: Adolf Deismann, a professor from the University of Berlin; Paul Kahle, a German scholar of Orientalism; and Dr. Halil Ethem, the director of the Topkapı Palace Museum. Dr. Deismann and Kahle were doing another research at Topkapı at the time and the map was shown to them by Dr. Ethem.
Under the direction of M. Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey and the first president of Turkey, the country was undergoing many reforms and changes, becoming a modern and western nation. Atatürk became personally interested in the discovery of the map as it promised to be of substantial significance to the international community. He set up a research group to study it and had the map published with translations of the legends in various languages. Two years later, the 1513 map of Piri Reis was presented to the world in September 1931 at the 18th Congress of Orientalists, assembled at Leiden University, the Netherlands, by Paul Kahle. The map became an international sensation. One of the main reasons for the stir was that author, Piri Reis, wrote on the map itself that:
The coast and islands that you can see on (my) map have all been copied from Columbus' map (1,see section from the 1513 Piri Reis' Map)
This one phrase tremendously changed the nature of the discovery. Since Columbus' maps are not extant (as far as we know). Piri Reis' Chart represents the sole known work directly derived from Columbus' maps. The lost map of Columbus was found! The international press--in Rome, Madrid, Berlin, Leipzig, Turkey, Vienna, among other cities--covered the story. The Illustrated London News, for example, published two articles on the subject: 'Columbus Controversy: America and two Atlantic Charts' and Turkish Interest in America in 1513: Piri Reis' Chart of the Atlantic,' both in 1932.
This map was first presented to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I. in 1517. According to some historians, the Sultan looked at the world map and said: 'How small is the world....' Sultan Selim tore the map in half. The reason to that was as Sultan is supposed to have said:' We will keep the eastern part.'. And he threw away the portion found in 1929. He wanted to use the eastern portion for a possible campaign to gain control of the Indian Ocean and its spice trade. The eastern half of the map has not survived."