George (Jorge) Edward Bonsor (1855-1930) was born in France of British parents, but spent most of his life working as an artist and archaeologist in Spain. In the 1920’s Bonsor and Adolph Schulten searched in The Doñana Marshes for Tartessos. An account of Bonsor’s work is available online(a), in Spanish, but it translates quite well with Google. In spite of comments recently attributed to Professor Richard Freund(b), I have no evidence that Bonsor equated Tartessos with Atlantis as Schulten did.
Ivar Arthur Nicolai Lissner (1909-1967) was born in what is now the Latvian city of Livani. After an unhappy sojourn in Russia the family returned to Riga, the Latvian capital and subsequently moved to Berlin. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and remained with it in spite of the fact that the Gestapo spent three years trying to prove his father’s Jewish ancestry until they dropped charges in 1940. Lissner had moved to Japan acting as a press attaché, in reality a double-agent for both the Nazis and the Soviets. Eventually, he was accused of being a Soviet spy and imprisoned and tortured but eventually acquitted by a Japanese court and released before the end of the war.
After the war be developed his career as a journalist in Germany and France. He had authored a number of books before the war and continued writing afterwards. Two of his later books have been translated into English which deal with ancient civilisations, The Living Past  and The Silent Past. He supported the idea that Tartessos in Spain had been Atlantis, and extensively cites the work of Adolf Schulten in support of this contention.
Tartessos or Tartessus is generally accepted to have existed along the valley of the Guadalquivir River where the rich deposits of copper and silver led to the development of a powerful native civilisation, which traded with the Phoenicians, who had colonies along the south coast of Spain(k).
It is assumed by most commentators that Tartessos was identical with the wealthy city of Tarshish that is mentioned in the Bible. There have been persistent attempts over the past century to link Tartessos with Atlantis. The last king of Tartessia, in what is now Southern Spain, is noted by Herodotus to have been Arganthonios, who is claimed to have ruled from 630 BC until 550 BC. Similarly, Ephorus a 4th century BC historian describes Tartessos as ‘a very prosperous market.’ However, if these dates are only approximately true, then Atlantis cannot be identified with Tartessos as they nearly coincide with the lifetime of Solon, who received the story of Atlantis as being very ancient.
The existence of a ‘Tartessian’ empire is receiving gradual acceptance. Strabo writes of their system of canals running from the Guadalquivir River and a culture that had written records dating back 6,000 years. Their alphabet was slightly different to the ‘Iberian’. The Carthaginians were said to have been captured Tartessos after the reign of Arganthonios and after that, contact with Tartessos seems to have ended abruptly!
The exact location of this city is not known apart from being near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River in Andalusia. The Guadalquivir was known as Baetis by the Romans and Tartessos to the Greeks. The present day Gulf of Cadiz was known as Tartessius Sinus (Gulf of Tartessus) in Roman times. Cadiz is accepted to be a corruption of Gades that in turn is believed to have been named to after Gaderius. This idea was proposed as early as 1634 by Rodrigo Caro, the Spanish historian and poet, in his Antigüedades y principado de la Ilustrísima ciudad de Sevilla, now available as a free ebook(i).
In 1849, the German researcher Gustav Moritz Redslob (1804-1882) carried out a study of everything available relating to Tartessos and concluded that the lost city had been the town of Tortosa on the River Ebro situated near Tarragona in Catalonia. The idea received little support.
The German archaeologist Adolf Schulten spent many years searching unsuccessfully for Tartessos, in the region of the Guadalquivir. He believed that Tartessos had been the centre of an ancient culture that was Atlantis or at least one of its colonies. Schulten also noted that Tartessos disappeared from historical records around 500 BC, which is after Solon’s visit to Egypt and so could not have been Atlantis.
Otto Jessen also believed that there had been a connection between Atlantis and Tartessos. Jean Gattefosse was convinced that the Pillars of Heracles were at Tartessos, which he identifies as modern Seville. However, Mrs E. M. Whishaw, who studied in the area for 25 years at the beginning of the 20th century, believed that Tartessos was just a colony of Atlantis. The discovery of a ‘sun temple’ 8 meters under the streets of Seville led Mrs Whishaw to surmise that Tartessos may be buried under that city. Edwin Björkman wrote a short book,The Search for Atlantis in which he identified Atlantis with Tartessos and also Homer’s Scheria.
More recently Karl Jürgen Hepke has written at length, on his website(a), about Tartessos. Dr. Rainer W. Kühne, following the work of another German, Werner Wickboldt, had an article published in Antiquity that highlighted satellite images of the Guadalquivir valley that he has identified as a possible location for Atlantis. Kühne published an article(b) outlining his reasons for identifying Tartessos as the model for Plato’s Atlantis.
Although there is a general consensus that Tartessos was located in Iberia, there are a number of refinements of the idea. One of these is the opinion of Peter Daughtrey, expressed in his book, Atlantis and the Silver City in which he proposes that Tartessos was a state which extended from Gibraltar around the coast to include what is today Cadiz and on into Portugal’s Algarve having Silves as its ancient capital.
It was reported(c) in January 2010 that researchers were investigating the site in the Doñana National Park, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir, identified by Dr. Kühne as Atlantis. In 2011, Professor Richard Freund of the University of Hartford garnered a lot of publicity when he visited the site and expressed the view that it was the location of Tartessos which he equates with Atlantis.
A minority view is that Tarshish is related to Tarxien (Tarshin) in Malta, which, however, is located some miles inland with no connection to the sea. Another unusual theory is offered by Luana Monte, who has opted for Thera as Tartessos. She bases this view on a rather convoluted etymology(e) which morphed its original name of Therasia into Therasios, which in semitic languages having no vowels would read as ‘t.r.s.s’ and can be equated with Tarshish in the Bible, which in turn is generally accepted to refer to Tartessos. Giorgio Valdés favours a Sardinian location for Tartessos(f). Andis Kaulins has claimed that further south, in the same region, Carthage was possibly built on the remains of Tartessos, near the Pillars of Heracles(j).
A more radical idea was put forward in 2012 by the Spanish researcher, José Angel Hernández, who proposed(g)(h) that the Tarshish of the Bible was to be found on the coast al region of the Indus Valley, but that Tartessos was a colony of the Indus city of Lhotal and had been situated on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar!
There is an extensive website(d) dealing with all aspects of Tartessos, including the full text of Schulten’s book on the city. Although this site is in Spanish, it is worthwhile using your Google translator to read an English version.
Professor Otto Jessen (1891-1951) of Tubingen in Germany was another of a number of German academics, such as Schulten & Hennig, who, in the early part of the 20th century, were convinced that the answer to the Atlantis mystery lay in Southern Spain. Jessen excavated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir in Spain in a quest for Tartessos, which he believed to be Atlantis.
*In the early 1920’s he carried studies of the Strait of Gibraltar, the results of which were published in 1927.
Atlantisforschung.de gives a good overview of his life and work(a).
Richard Hennig (1874-1951) was a German student of ancient geography. He drew on the work of Adolf Schulten and Otto Jessen to support his conviction that the Scheria referred to by Homer was in fact Atlantis. Hennig drew up a list of similarities between the two but as N. Zhirov remarked, an equally long list of discrepancies could be compiled leaving the question still open.
In 1925 he argued forcefully that Atlantis had controlled Cádiz in Spain where Tartessos was located. He claimed to have demonstrated that the Atlantean kingdom of Gadeirus controlled Atlantic Spain during pre-Classical times.
Hennig also saw similarities between Atlantis and Tartessos and believed that the Greeks of Plato’s era thought of Tartessos as having disappeared no more than a hundred years earlier. This idea would have placed the demise of Tartessos/Atlantis around 500 BC, in other words after Solon’s visit to Egypt!
Erytheia is recorded by Hesiod (8th cent. BC) as one of the Hesperides, a sunken island beyond the Pillars of Heracles.Pherecydes of Athens (5th cent. BC), is considered to be the first to identify Erytheia with Gádeira (Cadiz) according to Strabo (Geog. Bk. III). Some commentators have found many of its characteristics comparable with that of Plato’s Atlantis. Herodotus (Hist. 4.8) also describes it as an island that was located beyond the ‘Pillars’ near Gades. Avienus also supported this idea while Solinus described it being on the Lusitanian coast (Portugal).
N. Zhirov agreed with Adolf Schulten in identifying Erytheia with Tartessos. However, while Schulten located Tartessos at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River in South West Spain, Zhirov argued that the story of Hercules taking from Erytheia, the oxen of Geryon, indicated a distance of around 60 miles from the coast. He points out that since Hercules had to get from Helios the ‘golden cup’ in order to show direction by day and night, it would not have required a compass had the island been close to land. Similarly, he reasoned that Erytheia could not have been more than one or two day’s journey since their small boat could not have carried enough food and water for the animals on a longer journey.
Isla de León is a large piece of land between the city of Cádiz and the mainland and accepted by some as having been the home of the mythical giant Geryon and his cattle.
Gades(a) and Erytheia(b) have both been placed on the Map Mistress website in the Central Mediterranean and since they have both been associated with the ‘Pillars of Heracles’, is she suggesting a location in that region for Atlantis?
Antonio Blázquez y Delgado–Aguilera (1859-1950) published a work in 1923 that identified Tartessos as having been located near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, a year before Adolf Schulten published his book on the subject. He was a friend of George Bonsor who also sought Tartessos in the Doñana Marshes.
Andalusia is the second largest of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. It is situated in the south of the country with Seville as its capital, which was earlier known as Spal when occupied by the Phoenicians.
Andalusia probably takes its name from the Arabic al-andalus – the land of the Vandals. Joaquin Vallvé Bermejo (1929-2011) was a Spanish historian and Arabist, who wrote; “Arabic texts offering the first mentions of the island of Al-Andalus and the sea of al-Andalus become extraordinarily clear if we substitute these expressions with ‘Atlantis’ or ‘Atlantic’.”
Andalusia has been identified by a number of investigators as the home of Atlantis. It appears that the earliest proponents of this idea was José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar and Johannes van Gorp in the 17th century. This view was echoed in the 19th century by the historian Francisco Fernández y Gonzáles and subsequently by his son Juan Fernandez Amador de los Riosin 1919. A decade later Mrs E. M. Whishaw published the results of her extensive investigations in the region, particularly in and around Seville. In 1984, Katherine Folliot endorsed this Andalusian location for Atlantis in her book, Atlantis Revisited.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos has added his authorative voice to the claim for an Andalusian Atlantis in a 2010 paper(a) delivered to the 12th International Congress of the Geological Society of Greece. He argues that the Andalusian Plain matches the Plain of Atlantis but Plato clearly describes a plain that was 3,000 stadia long and 2,000 stadia wide and even if the unit of measurement was different, the ratio of length to breadth does not match the Andalusian Plain. Furthermore, Plato describes the mountains to the north of the Plain of Atlantis as being “more numerous, higher and more beautiful” than all others. The Sierra Morena to the north of Andalusia do not fit this description. The Sierra Nevada to the south are rather more impressive, but in that region the most magnificent are the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. As well as that Plato clearly states (Critias 118b) that the Plain of Atlantis faced south while the Andalusian Plain faces west!
During the same period, the German, Adolf Schulten who also spent many years excavating in the area, was also convinced that evidence for Atlantis was to be found in Andalusia. He identified Atlantis with the legendary Tartessos.
Dr. Rainer W. Kuhne supports the idea that the invasion of the ‘Sea Peoples’ was linked to the war with Atlantis, recorded by the Egyptians and he locates Atlantis in Andalusiain southern Spain, placing its capital in the valley of the Guadalquivir, south of Seville. In 2003, Werner Wickboldt, a German teacher, declared that he had examined satellite photos of this region and detected structures that very closely resemble those described by Plato in Atlantis. In June 2004, AntiquityVol. 78 No. 300 published an article(b) by Dr. Kuhne highlighting Wickboldt’s interpretation of the satellite photos of the area. This article was widely quoted throughout the world’s press. Their chosen site, the Doñana Marshes were linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer. Kühne also offers additional information on the background to the excavation(e).
However, excavations on the ground revealed that the features identified by Wickboldt’s were smaller than anticipated and were from the Muslin Period. Local archaeologists have been working on the site for years until renowned self-publicist Richard Freund arrived on the scene,and spent less than a week there, but subsequently ‘allowed’ the media to describe him as leading the excavations.
Although most attention has been focussed on western end of the region, a 2015 theory(d) from Sandra Fernandez places Atlantis in the eastern province of Almeria.
(b) http://antiquity.ac.uk/ProjGall/kuhne/ (offline July 2016) See Archive 3135
Juan Fernandez y Amador de los Rios was a Spanish professor of geography and history who proposed Andalusia as the possible site of Tartessos which he equated with Atlantis as early as 1919. This was before Adolf Schulten expressed a similar view. Juan Fernandez was the son of another renowned historian Francisco Fernández y González, who held similar views.
Lyon Sprague de Camp (1907-2000) is probably better known as a science fiction writer with over 120 books to his credit, including, including two non-fiction titles, Citadels of Mystery (First ed.: Ancient Ruins and Archaeology) and Lost Continents, in which he was extremely sceptical of the reality of the Atlantis described by Plato. He offers the blunt declaration that Plato concocted the whole story, basing the tale on a mixture of the wealth of Tartessos in Spain, the destruction of the Greek island of Atalanta all intermingled with the mythology of Atlas. Although his criticism is harsh, it should be said that de Camp does display a reasonable degree of objectivity. It is probably because of his perceived integrity that other Atlantis sceptics continually trot out his views in support of their position.
One of deCamp’s most quoted extracts is that “you cannot change all the details of Plato’s story and still claim to have Plato’s story.” While I fully endorse this comment, I must point out that there is a difference between changing and interpreting. For example when Plato refers to Asia or Libya, even deCamp accepted that in Plato’s day ‘Asia’ was not the landmass we know, stretching from the Urals to Japan, but a much smaller territory[194.27]. In fact the term ‘Asia’ at one point was just applied to a small region of modern Turkey. Similarly, ‘Libya’ was not the country we know by that name today, but the term was often employed to designate all of North Africa west of Egypt. There are a number of other details in Plato’s narrative that require explanation or interpretation and so as long as any such elucidation is based on evidence and reason they cannot be glibly dismissed as substantive ‘changes’.
He scathingly refutes the more outlandish Atlantis theories that have deviated dramatically from Plato’s narrative, commenting that without matching the “date, location, size and island character” with the text we do not have Atlantis.
DeCamp also considered Alfred Wegner’s theory of continental drift as “very doubtful”, but corrected this statement in a 1970 edition of his book. Immanuel Velikovsky also received the sharp end of deCamp’s pen, describing his catastrophic theories as ‘mad’.
Further information on de Camp can be found on the Internet (a) where excerpts from his Lost Continents are also available(b).
Henry Eichner drew attention to the fact that in three books relating to Atlantis authored by de Camp he describes a ring found by Adolf Schulten at the site of Tartessos slightly differently in all three! In Lost Continents it is plain, in Lands Beyond it is copper, while in Ancient Ruins and Archaeology it became gold!
Frank Joseph incorrectly claimed in the July/August 2011 issue of Atlantis Rising magazine that DeCamp “formerly a staunch disbeliever in Atlantis, was later convinced it did indeed exist in south-coastal Iberia.”
(a) http://www.lspraguedecamp.com/ (offline August 2016)