An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Flooding of Atlantis

The Flooding of Atlantis was, according to Plato, an event that left the city just beneath the surface of the sea, creating an area of dangerous shallows. Plato’s text implies that at the time of his writing the hazard remained, since he says:

“For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.”

This description has all the appearance of an eyewitness account. The mention of muddy shallows might suggest that the large plain described in the story was flooded by just a few feet of water. However, it would seem incredible that a flooding that took place 9000 years before Solon would still be creating a menace to shipping in Plato’s day. If the catastrophe had occurred more recently than that, it is possible that it was still a danger when Plato wrote.

If the inundation flooded the plain creating shallows it raises questions about the surrounding mountains, which should have remained above water. As sea levels have changed only marginally over the past 5000 years, the mountains surrounding the former site of the plain should be visible today as islands and hopefully identifiable. Various researchers have suggested a variety of locations for the site, such as Canaries, Azores or Caribbean islands, the islands of the Aegean or the Indonesian archipelago.

It is not unreasonable to conclude that Plato’s account of the flooding of Atlantis is probably one of the core historical facts in the narrative. Without the flood there is really no story to relate.

It is also worth mentioning that Plato’s description of shallows would appear to rule out Sarmast’s chosen location near Cyprus, which is now under a mile of water and Erlingsson’s suggestion of Ireland, which I can personally confirm is above water.