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

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Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.


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Aegean

Gaki-Papanastassiou, Kalliopi

Kalliopi Gaki-Papanastassiou, a geologist at the University of Athens, was the lead author of a 2010 paper entitled Palaeogeographic Evolution of the Cyclades Islands (Greece) During the Holocene(a). In it she suggests that the Cycladic Islands in the Aegean Sea was the location of the lost Atlantis, probably situated between Naxos, Paros and Antiparos.

(a) https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4020-9720-1_28

Warshofsky, Fred (L)

Fred Warshofsky is an American science writer and film director. In 1977, he Fred-warshofskypublished Doomsday: The Science of Catastrophe in which he reviews the catastrophist literature of his day, particularly the work of Velikovsky. He also fleetingly touches on the subject of Atlantis[1146.87] noting “the increasing evidence that Atlantis was an island city in the Aegean”, namely Santorini, which matches Atlantis “in startling detail.”

Invasion

Invasion today, as in the past, is usually the consequence of a shortage of resources (food, metals, oil, water), climate change (affecting food supply), overpopulation (also affecting food supply) or political upheaval. Although I do not speak as a military strategist, it would seem obvious that if, for any of these reasons, a state is forced into an expansionism, it will first look at their nearest neighbours and assess the chances of military success. It is obvious that before the introduction of airborne attacks, propinquity in the form of contiguous territory or short sea journeys have always been critical for a successful invasion(a) and the continued control of occupied territories. This is borne out by the simple historical fact that all the earliest empires, which were located in what we now call the Middle East, expanded through the invasion of its neighbours.

However, over-expansion can be costly and potentially dangerous. With particular reference to the fall of the Roman Empire, Rachel Nuwer noted in a recent BBC article(c) that. “By the end of the 100 BC the Romans had spread across the Mediterranean, to the places most easily accessed by sea. They should have stopped there, but things were going well and they felt empowered to expand to new frontiers by land. While transportation by sea was economical, however, transportation across land was slow and expensive. All the while, they were overextending themselves and running up costs.

Many people think that military intelligence gathering is a relatively modern development. However, ancient documents, including the Bible, have accounts of spying thousands of years ago. Mary Rose Sheldon has produced an invaluable sourcebook[1445] on the subject, as well as a volume on Spies in the Bible[1446], while Peter Dubovsky, in his Hezekiah and the Assyrian Spies[1568], focuses on espionage described in 2 Kgs 18-19. It is reasonable therefore to assume that Atlantis also exercised due diligence and endeavoured to assess their opponents strengths and weaknesses before invading.

Boris Rankov has noted(b) in The Encyclopedia of Ancient History that military intelligence in ancient times had its value limited by the “slowness of communications, which meant that it was often out of date before any response could be brought to bear.” This, of course, ties in with the then established practice of invading those within your immediate proximity; supply lines are shorter and information more up-to-date. In turn, it implies that Atlantis was within relatively easy striking distance of Athens!

Even in modern times the same constraints determined the actions of invaders. Hitler could not have invaded Russia without first controlling Poland and Romania. Even expansionist Japan, although an island nation, expanded into Korea and Manchuria (China) and following the attack on Pearl Harbour spread even further within the same region.

The ancient land-based empires were dependent on military might, whereas others, such as the Phoenicians, expanded their influence through trade, supported by extensive merchant fleets. However, over time, Phoenician or more correctly Carthaginian rivalry with Rome led to disastrous wars.

One of the primary military concerns today, as in ancient times, will be to ensure that its men are fed and watered and consequently there will be a need to keep its supply lines as short as possible.

The nearest possible belligerent to the west of Athens was across the Adriatic in Italy. I argue elsewhere that according to Plato, southern Italy constituted part of the Atlantean domain (see Etruscans). I suggest that the Atlantean invasion of Greece was probably launched from there. The motivation is unclear, but we can speculate that success in Greece would have been followed by the control of the entire Aegean, including Crete, offering a huge expansion in trade.

The alternative is that the nearest part of Atlantis was elsewhere, necessitating the bypassing of other territories on the way and stretching supply and communication lines more than desirable. Italy looks the best bet, with forces added from the Atlantean HQ in Sicily or Sardinia, possibly travelling through the Strait of Messina, sometimes identified as the location of the Pillars of Heracles.

In the south, the Atlantean forces in North Africa (Ancient Libya), if not augmenting the attack on Greece, were probably planning their invasion of Egypt (Timaeus 25b & Critias 114c). Success there would have been followed by a two-pronged attack by both northern and southern Atlantean forces on the eastern Mediterranean coast, later known as the Levant, giving them total control of the eastern Mediterranean Basin.

Invasion requirements are the strongest argument against any of the fanciful Atlantis theories that place Plato’s Atlantis in Antarctica, the Andes, or North America. It is ludicrous to claim that any invasion force came across the Atlantic to attack Greeks and Egyptians. That there were remarkable early cultures in both North and South America is absolutely undeniable, however, it is foolishness to claim that they had any connection with Plato’s story.

(a) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_invasions

(b) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah26323/abstract

(c) http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170418-how-western-civilisation-could-collapse

Treuil, René (L)

 René Treuil  (1940- ) is a French professor of prehistory with a special interest in the ancient Aegean Treuiland since 2003 he has been professor emeritus at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Although Treuil is an Atlantis sceptic, he published Le mythe de l’Atlantide[1088] in which he reviews a number of the locations theories on offer, as well as the cultural and political uses that Plato’s narrative has been put to over the centuries, particularly its misuse by the Nazis.

Santorini

SantoriniSantorini, earlier known as Thera, is claimed by tradition to have received its name from Theras, a 9th century BC invader. It is the most southerly member of the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean Sea. It is named after St. Irene of Thessaloniki. In ancient times it was known as Calliste (Most Beautiful) and Stronghyle. One source states that for a short period in the 16th century a Jew named Nazi (sic) owned Thera.  A potted history of the island was compiled by Professor Christos Doumas(c).

Many writers over the past century have supported the idea that Atlantis was a Minoan society that was destroyed when Thera erupted violently in the second millennium BC. This is discussed more fully under Thera.

The archaeological site near the village of Akrotiri on the south of the island was closed nearly seven years ago after a ceiling collapsed killing one tourist and injuring six others. Now the site is due to open again in April 2012(a) ironically just as evidence is mounting of increased volcanic activity in the Santorini caldera(b).

Rather unexpectedly, I came across an article about a link between Santorini and vampires by Paul Devereux, not surprisingly in the Fortean Times of April 2013.

May 1st 2019 saw the opening of a new museum on Santorini, called The Lost Atlantis Experience.(d)

*Santorini is also the home of Atlantis Books, which has been described as “one of Europe’s most enchanting bookstores” and has now become a tourist attraction in its own right.(e)*

(a) http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/04/10/the-archaeological-site-of-akrotiri-in-santorini-to-reopen/

(b) http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/03/13/volcanic-island-of-santorini-shows-activity/

(c) http://www.noteaccess.com/APPROACHES/AGW/SanHistory.htm

(d) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm

*(e) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/books/atlantis-books-bookstore-santorini.html*

Pelasgians

Pelasgians or Pelasgi is the term applied to early populations of the Aegean, prior to the Flood of Deucalion and subsequent arrival of the Hellenic peoples to the region. Pelasgian Greeks are recognised as having occupied Crete at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. It is unclear from classical sources(b) exactly what regions the Pelasgians occupied, not to mention when or where they originated.

Some writers such as Densusianu have postulated a Pelasgian Empire extending over a large stretch of central Europe.

Euripides stated that the Pelasgians were later called Danaans.

Spiro N. Konda believes that today’s Albanians are descendants of the Pelasgians and has written The Albanians and the Pelasgian Problem in support of this idea, unfortunately, it is in Albanian, but some of his arguments can be read, in English, online(a).

Oliver D. Smith in his book Atlantis in Greece identified “the Pelasgians with both the Atlanteans and prehistoric Athenians – as two regional tribes at war with each other”.

A more radical, highly speculative and quite incredible, alternative definition is offered by Marin, Minella and Schievenin[0972.471],  which is that Pelasgians were refugees from their homeland in Antarctica after its catastrophic destruction. They claim that these refugees were also known as Titans, Tyrrhenians and Atlanteans, among other names! They further claim that anthropology calls them Cro-Magnon!

(a) https://at001.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/the-etymology-of-the-names-of-pelasgian-gods-2/ {2911}

(b) https://stoa.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/the-pelasgians-in-the-ancient-historians-texts/

 

Melos or Milos

Milos mapMelos or Milos is the most westerly of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea. Dr. Galanopoulos was of the opinion that Melos was named after Eumelos the brother of Atlas, the King of Atlantis.

This view led Galanopoulos to conclude that the Pillars of Heracles were therefore located at the western entrance to the Aegean.

Obsidian, a volcanic glass, principally native to Melos, has been found all over the Aegean as well as mainland Greece and has been dated to 13,000 BC implying that that extensive seafaring was possible at that time(a). However, during that period, sea levels were much lower than at present, as the Ice Age glaciations were still in place. This would have led to greater land exposure in the Aegean with shorter distances between islands, which were easily crossed with relatively primitive boats.

A major conference on Atlantis was held on the island in July 2005, entitled The Atlantis Hypothesis: Searching for a Lost Land. At the conclusion of the conference a majority of the attendees supported a 24-point list of criteria that any candidate for the location of Atlantis must satisfy. These are listed under The Atlantis Conference 2005 entry.

(a) http://www.sott.net/articles/show/234192-New-Evidence-Hints-at-Ice-Age-Mariners-in-Ancient-Greece

Lambeck, Kurt L.

LambeckKurtKurt L. Lambeck (1941- ) is Professor of Geophysics at The Australian National University in Canberra. He has carried out a study in many parts of the world of sea level changes and together with A. Purcell presented a paper to the 2005 Melos Atlantis Conference with the tantalising sub-title of “Was Atlantis on the doorstep of Athens”.

Lambeck particularly charts the reduction of the Cyclades from a landmass of approximately 160 x 85 km (13,600 km2)  to the archipelago we know today, which has an area of 2,572 km2.

He suggests that a memory of the break-up of this large landmass may have been the source of Plato’s Atlantis. His findings in the Aegean have been published in Antiquity[430] and maps of sea level changes, based on his investigations, are also available on the Internet. It is interesting to compare Lambeck’s findings with the theory of Paulino Zamarro who firmly places Atlantis in the Aegean.

Lambeck’s sea level data has been harshly criticised by Izabol Apulia(d), who has developed a large series of maps showing the ancient coastlines of most Mediterranean islands at various stages since the Last Glacial Maximum.  

Lambeck has also studied the Persian Gulf and concluded that it had been a fertile valley that was inundated after the last Ice Age forcing the inhabitants to move inland and leading to the establishment of the intriguing Mesopotamian civilisations such as the Sumerians. This flooding of the Persian Gulf(b) may have inspired the Epic of Gilgamesh which contains a Deluge story, accepted by many, to be an earlier version of the Biblical flood of Noah. The December 2010 issue of Current Anthropology discusses this subject and suggests that the flooding of both the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea took place around the same time(c).

(b) http://people.rses.anu.edu.au/lambeck_k/pdf/171.pdf

(c) http://news.discovery.com/earth/ancient-desert-oasis-echoes-of-eden.html

(d) http://mapmistress.blog.com/timescale/ (link broken) See: Archive 2566

Atlantis Destroyed

Atlantis DestroyedAtlantis Destroyed [225] by Rodney Castleden favours a Minoan Atlantis, but opts for Crete rather than Thera as the centre of power. He outlines the parallels between Plato’s story and the Minoan civilisation of the Aegean. He uses statistical analysis to demonstrate that Minoan Crete was closer to Plato’s description of Atlantis than previously thought.

Castleden’s book discusses in detail the archaeology and geography of Minoan Crete and Thera and how these relate to Atlantis. This book is to be highly recommended although this reviewer does not agree with its conclusions.

*I have linked to other reviews (a)(b) for the sake of balance.

(a) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rodney-castleden/atlantis-destroyed/

(b) https://www.amazon.com/Atlantis-Destroyed-Rodney-Castleden/product-reviews/0415247594/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_acr_sr?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews*

Bull Cult

A Bull Cult is noted by Plato as one of the characteristics of the culture of Atlantis. Unfortunately it does little to identify the location of Atlantis since the bull featured prominently in the culture of so many ancient peoples and continues today, principally in the bullfights of Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.

In northern Italy there was a Gaulish tribe called the Taurini during the first and second centuries BC. The bull was also a symbol of the southern Italic tribes, in a region which Plato informs us was occupied by Atlanteans(e).*In Sicily, modern Taormina was formerly known as Tauromenium in Roman times, which may suggest an even earlier association with a bull cult!*

Mithraism, which originated in Iranian mythology and developed rapidly in Italy in the first century AD, included in its beliefs, the killing of a bull by the deity Mithras(g).

Writing in Egerton Sykes’ Atlantis in 1955 (Vol.8 No.3), Vera Howe outlined the extent of the bull cults which ranged from Assyria, across the Mediterranean and up to the British Isles. In the February 1963 (Vol.16 No.1) edition of the samejournal, it is recounted that Ireland had bull feasts and bull-fighting in ancient times. There is also evidence of a bull cult among the Picts of Scotland(h). Let us not forget that the Israelites began to worship a golden bull-calf when they thought that they had been abandoned by Moses(b).

It is generally accepted that the bull was also associated with lunar religions(a) as the horns resembled the crescent Moon. Even today the crecent is one of the principal icons of the Islamic faith.

At the 2005 Atlantis Conference, Professor Stavros Papamarinopoulos delivered a paper(i) outlining the Bronze Age bull rituals in Egypt and the Aegean and their parallels in Iberia. In the Temple of Seti at Abydos there is a well-known wall carving depicting Seti I and his son Ramses II roping a bull and further along the wall sacrificing it.

Felice Vinci draws attention to the fact that both Plato and Homer (Iliad 20.403-404 & Odyssey 13.181) refer to the sacrifice of bulls to Poseidon.

Robert Ishoy had pointed out bull carvings in Sardinia. The Minoan bull jumpers on Crete are widely known. The Egyptians had a cult of Apis the Bull, a fact bullmentioned by R. McQuillen in support of his Egyptian Atlantis theory. When the Israelites rebelled they worshipped a golden calf or more correctly a young bull (Exodus 32). Exodus 29.36 also instructs the priests that “Each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement.

In the seventeenth century Olof Rudbeck associated the ancient Swedish custom of sacrificing a bull to Odin with the bull immolation described in Plato’s Atlantis.

Carvings of bulls’ heads decorated the home of ancient Anatolia in modern Turkey. There are bull carvings to be seen at Tarxien in Malta and not far away in Northern Tunisia ancient carvings of bulls are also to be found(c).  The ancient Celts also included bulls in their ceremonies. The Assyrians had a bull-god as their guardian. The oldest church in Toulouse is dedicated to St. Taur, a possible reference to an earlier bull cult. Further afield, in India, there is a bull taming sport, jallikattu, which is practiced annually in the villages of the southern state of Tamil Nadu and recently the subject of a failed attempt to ban it(f).

Dhani Irwanto, who claims a Sundaland location for Atlantis has proposed that Plato’s mention of bulls was the result a distorted account of the original Atlantis narrative brought by refugees from Indonesia and was a reference to the local water buffalo!

Peter James in a short appendix to his book, The Sunken Kingdom[047] supports a Lydian origin for the Atlantis tale argued that Plato’s text makes no reference to the bull-leaping game depicted in Minoan art. However, quoted the studies of the British anthropologist Jane Harrison(1850-1928) who discovered[600] that a coin from Troy’s Roman period depicted a bull being sacrificed in exactly the same manner as Plato’s description, namely, suspended from a pillar. The Roman bull sacrifice ritual was known as ‘taurobolium’.

James also provides other instances of possible Atlantean style bull worship in the same region which also contains his proposed location for Atlantis, ancient Sipylus.

In conclusion therefore, it must be obvious from the above that Plato’s reference to bull rituals is no definitive guide to finding an exclusive location and so probably has limited value in any quest for Atlantis.

(a) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20170705055429/http://www.touregypt.net:80/egypt-info/magazine-mag04012001-magf5.htm

(b) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0007_0_07514.html

(c) http://encyclopedieberbere.revues.org/1697 (French)

(d) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_Italy

(e) Timaeus 25b & Critias 114c

(f) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-38705616

(g) https://www.ancient.eu/Mithraic_Mysteries/

(h) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burghead_Fort

(i) https://www.academia.edu/25808101/Ritual_capture_and_sacrifice_of_the_bull_at_Atlantis._Are_there_any_parallels_anywhere