However, new research shows that Central Asian Muslim scholar Abu Raihan al-Biruni discovered the continent centuries before Columbus. This theory was proposed in around 1037, by which point al-Biruni would have been 70 years old, and perhaps too old to travel it himself.
Writing in History Today, S. Frederick Starr says al-Biruni, born in Iran was the first person to officially suggest that a landmass exisited other than Europe and Asia. Al-Biruni’s expertise on geography and mapping led him to conclude that Europe, Africa and Asia, only accounted for two-fifths of the world.
Starr writes that al-Biruni’s knowledge of both Middle-Eastern and Indian languages, as well as being trained in mathematics, astronomy, mineralogy, geography, cartography, geometry and trigonometry under great scholars like Ahmad al-Farghani, gave him deep insight into the sciences of various fields and civilizations. Al-Biruni also mapped the latitudinal and longitudinal locations of various cities in central Asia, India, the Middle-East and the Mediterranean.
Al-Biruni was one of the most important figures in developing Greek science. The work of al-Biruni’s teacher al-Farghani, is thought to be the basis for Columbus’s own explorations. Al-Biruni also provided an estimation of the earth’s circumference, only off by 10.44 miles from modern measurements.