When Did Columbus 'Discover' The Americas? 1492? Not according to Ruggero Marino, who claims that Columbus actually reached America in 1485. The conventional view is that Columbus set sail on the first of his four great voyages in 1492, having been sponsored by Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Spain. Marino argues that there was an earlier, and wholly successful voyage, financed by Pope Innocent VIII and his relatives, the Medici family. Marino continues, claiming that when Innocent died the new Pope, Alexander VI, gave the 'rights' and information to the leaders of his native Spain, prompting Columbus's, apparently better known, journeys.
Marino has two main pieces of evidence: the Piri Reis map and Innocent's tomb. Although a genuine document, the map drawn by the Turkish Admiral (or Reis) Piri Ibn Haji Mehmed in 1513 has been the subject of many ludicrous theories, often by people who don't appear to have read it. Marino, however, is using the work of Professor Bausani, an authority on the document. Academics accept that Piri based his work on maps derived from Columbus, and Bausani believes that an annotation referring to an "infidel from Genoa", who discovered the landmass in "890", is a reference to Columbus, a Genoan by birth. (890 is an Islamic date, equivalent to 1485-6.)
An inscription on Innocent's tomb may also be further proof: it states that "the glory of the discovery of the New World" occurred during his pontificate. This could be evidence that Columbus had already been to the America's at the time of Innocent's death in 1492, but it could also be an anticipation of later success. Although Marino accepts both possibilities, he favours the former.
Will the academic community accept Marino's ideas? He certainly stands a better chance than many others who have used the Piri Reis map.
Quotations are from Richard Owen's article originally in The Times Online.
Note: although many websites feature a translation of the Piri Reis map, they are almost always reproducing the work of Professor Afet Inan. Ankara, from a book published in 1954. He translates the date used by Marino differently, as 896 instead of 890.