Atlantology as a distinct field of study is accepted by most to have begun with the works of Ignatius Donnelly, however flawed many of his ideas may have been. Since Donnelly, it has developed into a very complex multidisciplinary subject. Students of the topic are known today as Atlantologists although an earlier designation was Atlantists, a term now used to describe supporters of political and economic co-operation between the USA and western Europe. The inventive Zia Abbas prefers to use the term ‘Atlantisology’!
N. Zhirov, the leading Russian Atlantologist, has offered the following formal definition of the subject: “It may be regarded as a department of the biogeography of the modern, Quaternary period (Anthropogen) of the Earth’s geological history, a department chronologically relating to the period of the emergence of intelligent man, a period directly preceding our historical epoch beginning with the last glaciation.” He believed that Atlantis was primarily a geological problem that could only be resolved through a study of the geological history of the Atlantic Ocean.
A less cumbersome definition might be “the study of all aspects of Plato’s references to Atlantis”
A forum dealing with Atlantology(a) and suggested parameters for its study may be found interesting by readers. I personally disagree with a number of the headings proposed for inclusion, such as ‘Rudolf Steiner’, ‘Ireland & Tara’ and ‘Shangri-la’, as I consider them unrelated to Plato’s Atlantis.
Over the years that I have spent compiling Atlantipedia it became clear that different theories became ‘fashionable’ from time to time, because of new discoveries, the opinions of prominent individuals or as a consequence of heavily publicised books. The 15th century saw Gutenberg develop the printing press in 1436 and the first complete works of Plato, translated by Marsilio Ficino were published in 1484, so when Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, there were many who speculatively identified the Americas as Plato’s Atlantis. This idea persisted until the end of the 19th century*and even today some think it a possibility.*
More specifically, when the monumental structures of the Maya and Incas were gradually revealed to Europeans, once again a link with Atlantis was proposed for South America and still has some support today.
However the most popular and enduring theory is that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic Ocean, with the Azores as the prime candidate. It received a boost in support with the discovery of the Mid Atlantic Ridge in the 19th century and was used by Ignatius Donnelly in the formulation of his Atlantis theory.
In 1872, the elements of the Minoan Hypothesis began to appear when Louis Figuier was first to link Atlantis with the 2nd millennium eruption of Thera. Today, this idea is probably the most accepted, apart from the Atlantic location.
There are many other theories regarding Atlantis, some more exotic than others, but, in my opinion, none that match all the criteria that can be gleaned from Plato’s account, although their authors would disagree.