Spanuth, Dr Jürgen (L)
Dr Jürgen Spanuth (1907-1998) was born in Austria and studied theology and archaeology at university. He became pastor of Bordelum in Northern Germany. His first book Das Entraselte Atlantis was published in 1953, following excavations near Heligoland. It was later published in English and is now available on the Internet(a). His basic thesis was that following a major catastrophe in the North Sea around 1250 BC, the Mediterranean experienced an invasion of Scandinavians, whom he referred to as the ‘North Sea Peoples’. Part of the physical evidence he produced was the horn-helmeted Sea Peoples depicted at Medinet Habu. Since we are all used to seeing Vikings depicted with horned helmets, many are surprised to find that it is a late 19th century invention(e)(f).
Spanuth theory implies that such helmets had been standard army issue in the region for over a millennium. In fact the Vikings used rather plain helmets which they did not manufacture themselves but traded for them from other Germanic peoples on mainland Europe(d). However, one of the Sea Peoples, the Shardana, generally believed to have come from Sardinia, did use horn-helmets. However, there are aspects of this claim that are the subject of continuing debate, but the matter of a North Sea connection has weakened considerably.
Spanuth considered Basileia, the royal island of Atlantis, to have been located near Heligoland. He produced a mass of evidence to support his views but found his book under severe attack by many academics, which, in general, had the support of the public. After being publicly labelled, among other things, a liar, Spanuth was forced to challenge his detractors in the courts. After some six years he was vindicated when ten professors withdrew their plea, admitting that their arguments against the pastor were untenable.
A study of Spanuth’s references would suggest that he had access to the prehistoric research archives of the Ahnenerbe and has successfully collated and analysed a lot of this extensive material in his books. Vidal-Naquet bluntly labels him a Nazi[580.124], although his publisher, Wolfram Zeller, denied it. The German Wikipedia claims that he was a member of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) from 1933 until 1945. Similar claims that he had been in the SS have also been refuted(c). In 2002 a German language forum(b)discussed Spanuth’s politics at length. In my view, all these matters risk distracting us today from discussing dispassionately the merits or otherwise of Spanuth’s Atlantis theories.
Spanuth’s second book had a much better reception. His final offering was Die Atlanter(1976), which was also published in English, however this is really just a revised and expanded version of his 1965 book.
Spanuth has still a lot of supporters and is constantly referred to, particularly by German investigators such as Arn Strohmeyer and Gerhard Herm. Felice Vinci, who strongly favours a Northern European origin for Homer’s epic tales, also places Atlantis in a northern context. The Danish writer, Kirsten Bang, published a short book in which she also placed Atlantis in the Wadden Sea where Helgoland is located. She also supports a date of 1300 BC for its destruction.
Another recent supporter of Spanuth’s Atlantis theory is Holger Kalweit who has written a trilogy, the first of which is Irrstern über Atlantis. This initial volume is concerned with the destruction of Atlantis by a comet (Phaeton) in 1222 BC, leaving Helgoland as a remnant. Refugees fled south to the Eastern Mediterranean leaving their cultural imprint on the region. Unfortunately. this huge 700-page book is to be followed by two more in which the author moves on to expand on the subject of ‘lizard people’, which for me has him as a fully paid-up member of the lunatic fringe.