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

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Flora and Fauna of Atlantis

The Flora and Fauna of Atlantis is mentioned by Plato in Critias;

“Besides all this, the earth bore freely all the aromatic substances it bears today, roots, herbs, bushes and gums exuded by flowers or fruit. There were cultivated crops, cereals which provide our staple diet. And pulse (to use its generic name) which we need in addition to feed us; there were the fruits of trees, hard to store but providing the drink and food and oil which gives us pleasure and relaxation and which we serve after supper as a welcome refreshment to the weary when appetite is satisfied – all these were produced by that sacred island, then still beneath the sun, in wonderful quality and profusion.” (115a-b)

James Bramwell noted how Leo Frobenius was convinced that his chosen Atlantis location of Yorubaland in Nigeria was reinforced by Plato’s description of the flora of his disappeared island[0195.119].

The lack of sufficient detail in the extract from Critias has led to a variety of interpretations. Jürgen Spanuth in support of his North Sea location for Atlantis has claimed[015.68] that during the Bronze Age the snow line in that region was higher than at any other time since the last Ice Age at 1,900 metres. He claims that as a result, grapes and wheat were cultivated there during that period.

The existence of the same species plants and animals on both sides of the Atlantic has been noted for some time, so when the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) was discovered in the 19th century and subsequently combined with the realisation that sea levels had dropped during the last Ice Age, it was thought that a stepping stone, if not an actual landbridge, between the continents had been identified. This idea was popular with many geologists and botanists at the beginning of the 20th century, such R.F. Scharff and H.E. Forrest, both of whom also saw the MAR as the location of Atlantis, an idea that still persists today. Emmet Sweeney is a modern writer who also sees the earlier exposed MAR as an explanation for the shared transatlantic biota and is happy to identify the Azores as the last remnants of Atlantis[0700].

Andrew Collins has attempted to squeeze a reference to coconuts out of this text to support his Caribbean location for Atlantis. However, coconuts were not introduced into that region until colonial times(c)Ivar Zapp & George Erikson, driven by similar motivations had made the same claim earlier. My reading of the text is that Plato is describing food with which he is personally familiar.

Mary Settegast points out that around 7300 BC there is evidence of crop rotation including cereals at the Tell Aswad site in Syria.

The olive tree thrives best in the regions with a Mediterranean climate. Olive trees are mainly found between 25° and 45° N. latitude and, as for France, only in the Mediterranean area.

Ignatius Donnelly devoted Chapter VI(a) of his Atlantis tome to a review of the Atlantean flora and fauna. The print media at the start of the 20th century kept the general public aware of these theories(b).


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