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.
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’ she is 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)
Dating the Atlantis War is one of the most contentious difficulties faced by Atlantology. The critical problem is to identify the time of the Atlantean War and that of the later destruction of Atlantis itself; two events apparently separated by a time span not recorded by Plato. This entry is only concerned with the date of the war. However, it should be pointed out that Plato also reveals that the Atlantis story has a very long history before the war, back to a time when ships and sailing did not yet exist (Crit.113e), so it is understandable when Plato filled the historical gap with mythological characters, namely fives sets of twins sired by Poseidon. Of course, Poseidon being a sea god did not require a boat to get to the island of Atlantis! Plato also informs us that the twins and their descendants lived on the island for ‘many generations’ and extended their rule over many other islands in the sea (Crit.114c).
There are roughly three schools of thought regarding this important detail. The first group persist in accepting at face value Plato’s reference to a period of 9,000 solar years having elapsed since the War with Atlantis up to the time of Solon’s visit around 550 BC. The second group are convinced that the 9,000 refers to periods other than solar years, such as lunar cycles or seasons. The third group seeks to identify the time of Atlantis by linking it to other known historical events.
[1.0] 9550 BC is factually correct
This view has a slowly dwindling number of supporters among serious investigators. In order to defend this date they cite a wide range of evidence to suggest the existence of advanced cultures in the 10th millennium BC. Matters such as an earlier than conventionally accepted date for the Sphinx, early proto-alphabets a la Glozel or apparently anomalous structures such as the Lixus foundations or the controversial Baalbek megaliths have all been recruited in order to support an early date for Atlantis, many, if not all, have their dates hotly disputed. Apart from the contentious dates there is NOTHING to definitively link any of them with Plato’s Atlantis.
In common with most nations, the Egyptians competitively promoted the great antiquity of their own origins. Herodotus reports that while in Egypt he was told of a succession of kings extending over 17,000 years. The priests of Memphis told him firmly that 341 kings and a similar number of high priests had until then, ruled their country. (Herodotus, Book II, 142). Even an average reign of 20 years would give a total of nearly 7000 years whereas a more improbable 26-year average would be required to span the necessary 9000 years.
It is therefore obvious that the 17,000 years related to Herodotus is not credible raising a question regarding the trustworthiness of the 9000 years told to Solon.
In The Laws Plato refers to Egyptian art going back 10,000 years, seemingly, indicating a consistency in his belief in great antiquity of civilisation and fully compatible with his date for Atlantis. However, I have discovered that in Plato’s time ‘ten thousand’ was frequently used simply to express a large but indefinite number.
*A Bible study site tells us that “The use of definite numerical expressions in an indefinite sense, that is, as round numbers, which is met with in many languages, seems to have been very prevalent in Western Asia from early times to the present day.”(h)*
The acceptance of Plato’s 9,000 years as literally correct defies both commonsense and the archaeological evidence, which demonstrates that neither Athens nor a structured Egypt existed at such an early period.
[2.0] 9000 refers to units of time other than solar years
Advocates of this view, understandably point out, that the Atlantis described in such detail by Plato belongs to the Bronze Age and could not have existed at an earlier date. It is worth noting that the technology is coincidental with the most advanced known to Plato and his audience. For those who argue that mankind has been destroyed on one or more occasion and has had to start again from scratch, it is not credible that if this was the case, that the culture and technology described by Plato as existing in 9500 BC is precisely what he would have experienced himself. There is nothing in the Atlantis texts to connect it with a pre-Bronze Age society, nor is there anything to suggest any technology or cultural advance beyond that of the 4th century BC. Plato’s tale tells of the existence of at least three major nations before the destruction of Atlantis: Egypt, Athens and Atlantis. There is no archaeological evidence to indicate anything other than Neolithic cultures existing in Egypt or Athens around 9500 BC. In fact, the currently accepted date for the beginning of Egyptian civilisation is circa 3100 BC and also for the existence of a primitive culture around Athens at about the same time. This would parallel the time of the western European megalithic builders.
It may be worth noting the comments of Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman who have argued for a 7thcentury BC date for the final draft of the Exodus narrative rather than during the 2nd millennium BCas suggested by the text.
“In much the same way that European illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages depicted Jerusalem as a European city with turrets and battlements in order to heighten its direct impact on contemporary readers” (p68). Similarly, it is quite possible that Plato added architectural and technological details of his day to a more ancient tale of a lost civilisation in order to make a more powerful impression on his audience.
According to Bury’s translation, Plato mentions (Crit. 119e) that iron was used for utensils and weapons in Atlantis and so forcing us to look to a date later than 2000 BC for its destruction. Olaf Rudbeck spotted this reference around 1700.
Diaz-Montexano claims that the ‘9000 years’ in Critias has been mistranslated. He refers to the earliest versions of Critias that are available and insists that the texts permit a translation of either ‘9 times in a 1000 years’ or ‘1009’, the first being the more rational! Frank Joseph has also used this 1009 number, quoting private correspondence from Kenneth Caroli, in his 2015 regurgitation of Atlantis and 2012. Diaz-Montexano has also drawn attention to the commentary on Timaeus by Proclus,writing in the 5th century AD, where he treats Plato’s use of 9000 as having symbolic rather than literal meaning. It should also be kept in mind that many cultures, ancient and modern use specific numbers to indicate indefinite values(e).
*[2.2] In June 2017, a forum on the Historum.com website included the following possible explanation for the Atlantean dates:
“ The date 8000 is given as a fraction of 8 since the Greeks commonly used fractional notation. Plato wrote in 400 BC and Solon obtained the account in 570 BC.
No Egyptian Annals ever went back 9000 or even 8000 years. The furthest back the Egyptian annals went at the time of Herodotus was to 3050 BC to the reign of Menes the first Pharaoh who Herodotus knew about. Therefore it is obvious that the number of years has been given as a fraction which was extremely common in Greek numerology.
Thus the war between Atlantis and Athens occurred in 9000/8 + 570 = 1695 BC (+/-63 years) which is pretty close to the date of the war between the Titans and the Gods c.1685-1675 BC. The entire story of Atlantis runs concurrent to the time of the Thera Eruption. You even have 10 kings ruling the land equivalent to the 12 Titans.”
The bible too denotes years as fractions, i.e. seasons, equinoxes/solstices etc. That is why you have biblical patriarchs that lived 800 and 900 year old. The ages to Noah are all counted in Lunar months.”(i)
While I’m aware that the Egyptians also had a different way of dealing with fractions, I really cannot fully understand the suggestion made above.*
[2.3] 900 not 9000 years
In order to address these apparent conflicts, some have suggested that the stated 9000 years, which allegedly elapsed since the catastrophe, are the result of incorrect transcription by someone along what is a very long chain of transmission and that hundreds have somehow been confused with thousands and that the correct figure should be 900 years. Another suggestion is that the Egyptian hieroglyphics for ‘hundred’ and ‘thousand’ are easily confused. This explanation does not hold water, as there is little room for confusion between these hieroglyphics as illustrated below.
However, 900 years earlier than Solon would place the conflict with the Atlanteans during the XVIIIth Dynasty and would have been well recorded. More recently Diaz-Montexano put forward the idea that the Egyptian words for ‘100’ and ‘1000’ when spoken sounded similar leading to Solon’s error. This idea has now been taken up by James Nienhuis and in greater detail by R. McQuillen(a) .
Another explanation offered by James W. Mavor Jnr. is that the original Egyptian story emanated from Crete where it may have been written in either the Linear A or Linear B script where the symbols for 100 and 1000 are quite similar. In both scripts the symbol for 100 is a circle whereas the symbol for 1000 is a circle with four equally spaced small spikes or excrescences projecting outward.
However, the most potent argument against the ‘factor ten’ solution is that if the priests did not intend to suggest that Egypt was founded 8000 years before Solon’s visit but had actually meant 800 years, it would place the establishment of Egypt at around 1450 BC, which is clearly at variance with undisputed archaeological evidence.
[2.4] 9000 months not years
As early as 1572 Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa suggested the application of lunar ‘years’ rather than solar years to Plato’s figures. Augustin Zárate expressed the same view in 1577, quoting Eudoxus in support of it.
Then there are some, such as Émile Mir Chaouat and Jürgen Hepke who subscribe to the view that the 9000 ‘years’ recorded by Plato referred to months rather than solar years, as the early Egyptians extensively used a lunar calendar and in fact continued to use it throughout their long history, particularly for determining the dates of religious festivals and since Solon received the Atlantis story from Egyptian priests it would be understandable if they used lunar ‘years’ in their conversations. Eudoxus of Cnidos (c.400 BC- c. 350 BC), mathematician and astronomer, who spent a year in Egypt, declared, “The Egyptians reckon a month as a year”. Diodorus Siculus (1st cent. BC) echoes this statement. (see Richard A. Parker) and Manetho (3rd cent.BC) (Aegyptiaca[1373.40])
This use of months rather than years would give us a total of just 750 years before Solon’s visit and so would place the Atlantis catastrophe around 1300 BC, nearly coinciding with the eruption of Thera and the collapse of the Minoan civilisation.
A similar explanation as been offered by J.Q. Jacobs to rationalise the incredible time spans found in ancient Indian literature, who suggested that numbers referred to days rather than years(b).
[2.5] 5,000 not 9,000 years
A claim was made on Graham Hancock’s website in 2008(c) that Plato did not write 9,000 but instead wrote 5,000, but that the characters for both were quite similar leading to the misunderstanding. This claim was apparently originally made by Livezeanu Mihai. However, my reading of Greek numerals makes this improbable as 9,000 requires five characters ( one for 5,000 and one for each of the other four thousands), while 5,000 needs just the one.
[3.1] Sometime after 9500 BC.
Jonas Bergmancorrectly points out that according to the story related by the priests of Sais to Solon,the Egyptian civilisation was founded 1000 years after Athens was first established in 9600 BC. Plato describes the original division of the earth between the gods of old, Poseidon got Atlantis and Athena got Greece. The implication is that both were founded at the same time, namely 9600 BC. Realistically, the 9000 year time span is better treated as an introductory literary cliché such as ‘once upon a time’ or the Irish ‘fado, fado’ (long, long ago). Plato’s text describes the building of Atlantis and informs us that no man could get to the island ‘for ships and voyages were not yet’. Since Atlantis had twelve hundred warships at the time of the conflict with Athens, the war could not have taken place in 9600 BC. The development of seafaring and shipbuilding would have taken a considerable time. Bergman concludes that the war with Atlantis took place long after 9600 BC.
[3.2] Peter James in Francis Hitching’s The World Atlas of Mysteries[307.138] is reported to have accepted the orthodox date of 3100 BC as the start of Egyptian civilisation and considering the priest’s statement that the events outlined took place one thousand years before the creation of Egypt and so added only 500 years to compensate for nationalistic exaggeration and has concluded that 3600 BC is a more realistic date for the destruction of Atlantis.
[3.3] Early in the 20th century, the German scholar Adolf Schulten and the classicist H. Diller from Kiel, both advocated an even more radical date of around 500 BC, having identified the narrative of Plato as paralleling much of the Persian wars (500-449 BC) with the Greeks. This however would be after Solon’s trip to Egypt and have made little sense of Plato’s reference to him.
[3.4] 4015 BC is the precise date offered by Col. Alexander Braghine who credits the destruction of Atlantis to a close encounter with Halley’s Comet on the 7th June in that year. This is close to the date favoured by deGrazia.
[3.5] 3590-1850 BChas been suggested by the Czech writer Radek Brychta who has developed an ingenious idea based on the fact that the Egyptians who were so dependent on the Nile, divided their year into three seasons related to their river, the flooding, the blossom and the harvest periods. Brychta points out that counting time by seasons rather than solar years was common in the Indus civilisation that occupied part of modern Pakistan. Even today Pakistan has three seasons, cool, hot and wet. Brychta contends that the 9000 ‘years’ related to Solon were in fact seasons and should be read by us as 3000 years which when added to the date of Solon’s Egyptian visit would give an outside date of 3590 BC. If Brychta is correct this 9000 year/season corruption could easily have occurred during the transmission and translation of the story during its journey from the Indus to the Nile valley.
[3.7] 2200 BCis the proposed date put forward by Dr. Anton Mifsud for the end of Atlantis, located in the vicinity of his native Malta. He arrived at this conclusion after studying the comments of Eumelos of Cyrene who dated the catastrophe to the reign of King Ninus of Assyria. Around the same time, in Egypt, unusually low Nile floods led to the collapse of centralised government and generations of political turmoil(f). According to some commentators(g) the Los Millares culture also ended around the same time.
[3.8] 1200 BC is a date favoured by investigators such as Frank Joseph, Eberhard Zangger and Steven Sora. It is dependent on the acceptance of Plato’s 9000 ‘years’ being lunar rather than solar. It is worth noting that this date has also been linked to the suggested close encounter with the Phaëton comet and its destructive effects globally.
[3.9] More than one Atlantis!
It is not unreasonable to consider Plato’s Atlantis narrative as a literary amalgam of two or more historically based stories or myths. One possibility is that the Egyptian priests related to Solon the tale of the inundation of a powerful and advanced culture in the dim and distant past. Such an event did occur, worldwide, when the Ice Age glaciers melted, resulting, for example, in the eastern Atlantic, the flooding the North Sea, the Celtic Shelf and dramatically reducing in size the Canaries and the Azores and creating the British Isles. Obviously, the entire world was affected by this event, so that there were also major inundations in the West Indies and the South China Sea. However, events off the coasts of Europe and Africa would be more likely to become part of folklore on this side of the Atlantic.
[4.0] My own preference is to treat the use of 9000 by Solon/Plato as an expression of an indefinite number. It is worth noting that the Egyptian hieratic numerals also stopped with the highest value, expressed by a single character, being 9000.
The 1st millennium BC saw the introduction and gradual development of new writing and numerical systems by the Greeks. At an early stage 9000 was the highest number expressed by a single character in Greek and in time it came to be used to denote a large but uncertain number. As the needs of commerce and science demanded ever higher numbers a new character ‘M’ for myriad with a value of 10,000 was introduced. It also was used to indicate a large indefinite number, a practice that continues to this very day. Greek numerical notation was still being developed during Plato’s life.
Today, we use similar expressions such as ‘I have a million things to do’ with no intention of being taken literally, but simply to indicate ‘many’(e). It is unfortunate that this interpretation of 9,000 does little to pinpoint the date of the Atlantean war, but it is not unreasonable to attribute a value to it of something in excess of 1,000 and possibly a multiple of it.
However, having said that, I am also attracted to the ’factor ten’ theory after a study of other numbers in the Atlantis narrative which all seem to be consistently exaggerated by a similar amount, which seems to be a factor of ten!
Andrew Collins in his Gateway to Atlantis[072.52] wrote “a gross inconsistency has crept into the account, for although Critias affirms that Athens’ aggressor came from ‘without’ the Pillars of Hercules, the actual war is here said to have taken place ‘nine thousand years’ before the date of the dialogue, c.421 BC. This implies a date in the region of 9421 BC, which is not what was stated in the Timaeus. Here 9000 years is the time that has elapsed between the foundation of Athens and Solon’s visit to Sais c. 570 BC. Since Egypt was said to have been founded a full thousand years later, and the ‘aggressor’ rose up against both Athens and Egypt, it provides a date post 8570 BC. These widely differing dates leave us with a glaring anomaly that defies explanation. The only obvious solution is to accuse Plato of a certain amount of sloppiness when compiling the text.”
Collins’ suggestion of ‘sloppiness’ is made somewhat redundant if my suggestion that Plato was using 9,000 as a large, but indefinite idiomatic value, could be substantiated.
The late Ulf Richter was quite unwilling to accept Plato’s 9,000 years as reliable after a close study of the relevant texts.
Others have produced evidence to suggest that this period in the Earth’s history saw one or more major catastrophic events that may or may not have been interconnected; (i) a collision or near miss with an extraterrestrial body, (ii) a pole shift, (iii) the melting of the glaciers of the last Ice Age and the consequent raising of sea levels worldwide. This rise provides a credible mechanism that could account for the ’sinking’ of Atlantis.
Mary Settegast, an archaeological researcher, has defended the early date for Atlantis with a remarkable book that delves extensively into Mediterranean and Middle Eastern prehistory and mythologies.