Giovanni Ugas is an archaeologist at the University of Cagliari, Sardinia, who has written extensively about the Shardana, their name, origin and language(c). The Shardana are usually counted as one of the Sea Peoples.
He has also touched on the subject of Atlantis, describing it as “a fabulous story with a political message, but this does not preclude the existence of a physical and historical substratum on which the myth is built. The task of tracing the shreds of history and geography of this story is fraught with pitfalls.”
* He also claims that the Mediterranean coast of southern Spain and France, along with the Italian peninsula was the ‘true continent‘ referred to by Plato (Timaeus 25a).*
(c) http://www.sardiniapoint.it/5085.html (Italian)
Two Crops a year is one of the characteristics of Atlantean agriculture according to Plato (Critias 118e).
The North African climate was slightly wetter at the time of Hannibal (2nd & 3rd cent. BC), later, Algeria, Egypt and particularly Tunisia, were the ‘breadbasket’ of Rome(b) and may also have been so for the Atlanteans who earlier had control from North Africa to Tyrrhenia! Even today well-irrigated plains in Tunisia can produce two crops a year, usually planted with the autumnal rains and harvested in the early spring and again planted in the spring and harvested in late summer. The Berbers of Morocco produce two crops a year—cereals in winter and vegetables in summer(a).
*It is worth noting that Mago, the Carthaginian author of a 28-book work on the agricultural practices of North Africa. had his books brought to Rome after the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, where they were translated from Punic into Latin and Greek and were widely quoted. It is clear that Mago’s work was a reflection of a highly developed agricultural society in that region, a description that could also be applied to Plato’s Atlantis!*
Although two crops are possible annually in other parts of the world, I must emphasise that North Africa is the only part of the Atlantean territory referred to by Plato (Timaeus 25b) that was so productive and continued to be so until the Romans, who depended on it along with Egypt to feed Rome.
Atlanteans vs Roman Technology
The ditch surrounding the Plain of Atlantis was found to be ‘incredible’ by Plato (Crit.118c), it is worth comparing it with one of the most extensive ancient ditch systems still visible to day.
While the length of the ditch is remarkable, but being a stade (600ft) in width and a plethrum (100ft) deep, it amounts to a cross section of an astounding 60,000 sq ft. It brought to my mind the Fossatum Africae, which was a defensive ditch over 600 km long delineating the southern limit of the Roman Empire in what is now Algeria and Tunisia. This feature was rediscovered in 1947 by Jean Baradez, a retired French Air Force pilot and described in great detail in his 1949 book, Fossatum Africae. While the depth and width of the fossatum varies considerably, they are approximately 10ft x 10ft, which would give an average cross section of just 100 sq ft.
This means that the Atlantean ditch described by Plato would have been 600 times greater in cross section than the best produced by the might of the Roman Empire. A rough graphical depiction is given in the paragraph above, where the initial letter ‘W’ represents the cross section of the Roman fossatum, while the entire paragraph represents the presumed dimensions of the perimeter ditch surrounding the plain of Atlantis. Also keep in mind that the effort required to raise earth from a depth of ten feet becomes exponentially greater the deeper you go, so that the manpower required excavating the Atlantean ditch would be many thousands of times greater than that required for the fossatum. No wonder Plato found the dimensions passed to him by Solon ‘incredible’.
The illustration above should convince any reasonable person that Plato’s numerical data, at least in this instance, is greatly exaggerated.
Henri-Paul Eydoux has also written a chapter on this African feature [927.171].
Dr. Robert F. Schmalz (1929- ), a geologist with Pennsylvania State University, declared his support for a Tunisian-Algerian location for Atlantis, which included northern Tunisia and part of northeastern Algeria. He describes how just northeast of Gabes there is a low sandy plain which separates the Mediterranean from the salty chotts that extend hundreds of miles westward into the Sahara.
In the article in the Montreal Gazette of 26/8/77(a), he cities dramatic changes in sea levels and land elevations as the cause of its destruction. He dates this event to the end of the last Ice Age conforming closely to the prima facie date given by Plato for the time of Atlantis!
His ideas, among others, were reviewed by the geographer Richard B. Cathcart in a 2001 paper(b).
(b) http://www.wdf.org/gspc/virtual2001/pdf/EmancipatoryPaper.pdf (offline July 2015) <see Archive 5079
Lake Tritonis is frequently referred to by the classical writers.* Ian Wilson refers to Scylax of Caryanda as having “specifically described Lake Tritonis extending in his time over an area of 2,300 km2.” He also cites Herodotus as confirming it as still partly extant in his time, a century later, describing it as a ‘great lagoon’, with a ‘large river’ (the Triton) flowing into it.[185.185]*
Lake Tritonis was considered the birthplace of Athene, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, after whom Athens is named. The exact location of the lake is disputed but there is some consensus that the salty marshes or chotts of central Tunisia and North-East Algeria are the most likely candidates. It appears that these marshes were originally formed a large inland sea connected to the Mediterranean but due to seismic activity in the area were cut off from the sea. Diodorus Siculus records this event in his third book.
*I should also mention that Lake Tritonis along with the Greek island of Lemnos and the river Thermodon in northern Turkey, now known as Terme Çay, have all been associated with the Amazons(d).*
Edward Herbert Bunbury, a former British MP, included a chapter(a) on Lake Tritonis in his 1879 book on the history of ancient geography[1531.v1.316].
In 1883, Edward Dumergue, published a brief study of the Tunisian chotts, which he concluded were the remnants of an ancient inland sea that had been connected to the Mediterranean Sea at the Gulf of Gabes.
Lucile Taylor Hansen in The Ancient Atlantic, has included a speculative map taken from the Reader’s Digest showing Lake Tritonis, around 11.000 BC, as a megalake covering much of today’s Sahara, with the Ahaggar Mountains turned into an island. Atlantis is shown to the west in the Atlantic.
In modern times, Alberto Arecchi has taken the idea further and suggested that the inland sea, where the chotts are now, was the original ‘Atlantic Sea’ and that the city of Atlantis was situated on an extended landmass to the east of Tunisia and connected to Sicily due to a lower sea level. Arecchi’s identification of the chotts with Lake Tritonis has now been adopted by Lu Paradise in a May 2015 blog(c). The Qattara Depression of Northern Egypt also contains a series of salt lakes and marshes and is believed by others to have been Lake Tritonis.
Cindy Clendenon is the author of a book on hydromythology in which she concludes that “the now-extinct Lake Tritonis once was a Cyrenaican lagoon-sabkha complex near today’s Sabkha Ghuzayyil and Marsa Brega, Libya.”(b).
Hot and Cold Springs are noted by Plato as a distinctive feature of the central island of Atlantis. Hot springs are usually, but not exclusively, associated with volcanic regions such as Iceland or Yellowstone Park in the USA. Atlantologists have pointed out the existence of hot springs at a variety of locations in support of their particular theories. Jim Allen has highlighted the springs to be found near his option in the Andes, while Robert Ishoy has similarly found comfort in the existence of hot springs on Sardinia.*[but does not mention the hot springs at Caldana on neighbouring Corsica.]*
Likewise the Azores, the Canaries, Santorini and even Troy have all had their putative Atlantis status supported with reference to their natural hot springs.*[The volcanoes of Italy and its islands have many hot springs associated with them(a). In North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt also have hot springs.]*
Unfortunately, instead of helping to solve the Atlantis mystery, the existence of these hot and cold springs at so many suggested Atlantis locations is further confused by the fact that also at a number of these same locations, such as the Canaries, Azores and Santorini, are found to have red, white and black stone.
The Shardana (or Sherden) is usually accepted as another name for one of the groups that comprised the maritime alliance of Sea Peoples. The earliest reference to the Shardana is in the Amarna Letters (1350 BC). However, they are also recorded as mercenaries in the Egyptian army. Since a number of writers have linked the Sea Peoples with the Atlanteans, the Shardana may be legitimately included in any comprehensive search for the truth of the Atlantis story.
The Shardana do appear to have a more complicated history than we are initially led to believe. They are first mentioned in the Amarna Letters (14th century BC.) where they are depicted as part of an Egyptian garrison, after that, some of them were part of the personal guard of Rameses II, later still they are listed as part of the Sea Peoples. A subsequent reference describes them occupying part of Phoenicia.
They are generally identified with the ancient Sardinians, who were the builders of the Nuraghi. Leonardo Melis, a Sardinian, has written extensively on the subject. Links have also been proposed between the Shardana and the lost tribe of Dan and even the Tuatha De Danaan who invaded Ireland.
Trude & Moshe Dothan in their People of the Sea identify the Shardana as part of the ‘Aegean Sea Peoples’, who settled on the coast of Caanan[p.214]. They also note that “There was as well linguistic and archaeological evidence connecting them with the island of Sardinia, where Mycenaean IIIC:1b pottery was found. Sardinia may have been either their original homeland or, more probably, one of their final points of settlement.”
D’Amato & Salimbeti concluded that ” on the basis of the combined evidence from Corsica and Sardinia, it is difficult to conclude with any confidence if the Sherden originated from or later moved to this part of the Mediterranean.” They find the second theory “more reasonable.”[1152.17]
*David Rohl has suggested that the Shardana had originated in Sardis in Anatolia, but “ended up settling in the western Mediterranean, first on the Italian coastal plain west of the Apennines and then in Sardinia – which is, of course, named after them – and Corsica. Their name was clearly pronounced ‘Shardana.'” [229.410]*
DNA testing has shown links between Sardinia and Anatolia in Turkey. The late Philip Coppens also noted that the Sardinians are genetically different to their neighbours on Corsica and the mainland of Europe and suggested an Eastern Mediterranean origin for them.(a)
Giovanni Ugas an archaeologist at the University of Cagliari has written extensively on the subject of the Shardana, who he claims were the builders of the nuraghi. Ugas has also touched on the subject of Atlantis, which he locates in northwest Africa(b), across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
Obviously further research is required to try to establish with greater certainty the exact origins of the Shardana and their links, if any, with Sardinia and/or Atlantis.
(a) http://www.philipcoppens.com/sardinia.html (Offline Dec. 2017) (See Archive 2131)
The Sahara Desert and in particular its northern regions have attracted its share of attention from Atlantis investigators. However unlikely it may appear as a possible location for Atlantis it must be kept in mind that the Sahara of prehistory was very different from what we see today. Not only was it wetter at various periods in the past, but also there is clear evidence for the existence of a large inland sea extending across the borders of modern Algeria and Tunisia. This evidence is in the form of the chottsor salt flats in both countries. This proposed sea is considered by some to have been the Lake Tritonis referred to by classical writers. It is suggested that some form of tectonic/seismic activity, common in the region, was responsible for isolating this body of seawater from the Mediterranean and eventually turning it into the salt flats we see today.
An even more extensive inland sea, further south, was proposed by Ali Bey el Abbassi and based on his theory a map was published in 1802 which can be viewed online(c).
More recently, Riaan Booysen has published an illustrated paper on the ancient inland Saharan seas as indicated on the 16th century maps of Mercator and Ortelius(i). King’s College London runs The Sahara Megalakes Project which studies the Megalakes and the Saharan Palaeoclimate record(m).
A 2013 report in New Scientist magazine(d) revealed that 100,000 years ago the Sahara had been home to three large rivers that flowed northward, which probably provided migration routes for our ancestors.
Other studies(h) have shown the previous existence of a huge river system in the Western Sahara, which flowed into the Atlantic on the Mauritanian coast.
An article in the Sept. 2008 edition of National Geographic pointed out that the Saharan climate has been similar for the past 70,000 years except for a period beginning 12,000 years ago when a number of factors combined to alter this fact. A northerly shift by seasonal monsoons brought additional rain to an area the size of contiguous USA. This period of a greener Sahara lasted until around 4,500 years ago. Henri Lhote contributed an article to the Reader’s Digest’s, The World’s Last Mysteries, regarding the ‘green’ Sahara that existed prior to 2500 BC.
An interesting question might be; what happened circa 2500 BC to cause this reversal? Some have suggested a connection between the aridification of the Sahara and the destruction of Atlantis!
More recently, human activity has been blamed as a major contributory factor for the desertification of the Sahara region less than 10,000 years ago.(n)
Related to the above is a recent study of sediments off the west coast of Africa, which resulted in the discovery of what was “primarily a new “beat,” in which the Sahara vacillated between wet and dry climates every 20,000 years, in sync with the region’s monsoon activity and the periodic tilting of the Earth.” (o)
In 1868, it was proposed by D.A. Godron, the French botanist, that the Sahara was the location of Atlantis. In 2003, the non-existent archaeologist Dr.Carla Sage announced that she was hoping to lead an international expedition to the Sahara in search of Atlantis. Her contention was that “Atlantis was the capital of a vast North African empire with ports on the Gulf of Sidra”. This report is now confirmed to have been a hoax! I am indebted to Stel Pavlou for uncovering the origin of this story(e).
Gary Gilligan, the well-known catastrophist, wrote a thought-provoking article(k) on the origin of the Saharan sands, which he claims are extraterrestrial in origin and expands on the idea in his 2016 book Extraterrestrial Sands.
David Mattingly, an archaeologist at Leicester University has found that an ancient people known as the Garamantes had an extensive civilisation in the Sahara(l). He has evidence of at least three cities and twenty other settlements. The Garamantes reached their peak around 100 BC and then gradually diminished in influence as fossil water supplies reduced until in the 7th century AD they were subjected to Islamic domination. Some researchers such as Frank Joseph have identified the Garamantes as being linked with the Sea Peoples. Bob Idjennaden has published short but informative Kindle books about both the Garamantes and the Sea Peoples,*without a suggestion of any connection between the two.*
The discovery of the megalithic structures discovered at Nabta Playa (Nabta Lake) in the Egyptian Sahara has provided evidence for the existence of a sophisticated society in that area around 5000 BC. In the same region, near the Dakhleh Oasis, archaeologists have produced data that supports the idea that pre-Pharaonic Egypt had Desert Origins rather than being an importation from Mesopotamia or elsewhere(a).
Nabta Playa is not unique, in fact the largest megalithic ellipse in the world is to be found at Mzorah, 27 km from Lixus in Morocco(b). It appears that the construction methods employed at both Mezorah and Nabta Playa are both similar to that used in the British Isles. An even more impressive site is Adam’s Calendar in South Africa which has been claimed as 75,000-250,000 years old.
West of Cairo near the border with Libya is the Siwa Oasis, where it has now been demonstrated that “it is in fact home to one of Ancient Egypt’s astounding solar-calendar technologies– the solar equinox alignment between the Timasirayn Temple and the Temple of Amun Oracle in Aghurmi.”(j).
I think we can expect further exciting discoveries in the Sahara leading to a clearer picture of the prehistoric cultures of the region and what connections there are, if any, with Plato’s Atlantis. In the meanwhile in the Eastern Egyptian Desert, Douglas Brewer, a professor of archaeology at the University of Illinois, has discovered over 1,000 examples of rock art, including numerous depictions of boats although the sites, so far undisclosed, are remote from water.
Even more remarkable is the report(e) of March 2015 that a survey of the Messak Settafet escarpment in the central Sahara revealed that there were enough discarded stone tools in the region “to build more than one Great Pyramid for every square kilometre of land on the continent”! Coincidentally, around the same time it was reported that over a thousand stone tools had been found in the Northern Utah Desert(g). What the Utah discovery lacked in quantity was made up for in quality with the finding of the largest known Haskett point spear head, measuring around nine inches in length.
(a) Saudi Aramco World(2006, Vol. 57, No.5 p.2-11)
(d) NewScientist.com, 16 September 2013, http://tinyurl.com/mg9vcoz
(l) See: Archive 3268
North Africa has received considerable attention as a possible location for Atlantis since the beginning of the 19th century. Gattefosse and Butavand are names associated with early 20th century North African theorists. They, along with Borchardt, Herrmann and others have proposed locations as far west as Lixus on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, on through Tunisia and Libya and even as far east as the Nile delta.
One of the earliest writers was Ali Bey El Abbassi who discussed Atlantis and an ancient inland sea in the Sahara. The concept of such an inland sea, usually linked with Lake Tritonis, has persisted with the Chotts of Tunisia and Algeria as prime suspects. There is acceptance that a seismic/tectonic convulsion in the vicinity of the Gulf of Gabés cut off this inland sea from the Mediterranean. Diodorus Siculus records this event in his third book dating it to around 1250 BC. If such an event did not occur, how do we explain the salt laden chotts? However, proving a connection with Atlantis is another matter.
Whether this particular geological upheaval was related to the episode that destroyed parts of ancient Malta is questionable as the Maltese event was one of massive subsidence.
It should be kept in mind that Plato described the southern part of the Atlantean confederation as occupying North Africa as far eastward as Egypt (Tim.25b & Crit.114c). This of course conflicts with the idea of the Atlanteans invading from beyond ‘Pillars of Heracles’ situated at Gibraltar since they apparently already controlled at least part of the Western Mediterranean as far as Italy and Egypt.
*One of the principal arguments against Atlantis being located in North Africa is that Plato clearly referred to Atlantis as an island. However, as Papamarinopoulos has pointed out that regarding the Greek word for island, ‘nesos’ “a literary differentiation between ‘island’ and ‘peninsula’ did not exist in alphabetic Greek before Herodotus’ in the 5th century BC. Similarly, there was not any distinction between a coast and an island in Egyptian writing systems, up to the 5th century BC.” In conversation with Mark Adams[1070.198] Papamarinopoulos explains that in the sixth century BC, when Solon lived, nesos had five geographic meanings. “One, an island as we know it. Two, a promontory. Three, a peninsula. Four, a coast. Five, a land within a continent, surrounded by lakes, rivers or springs.”
Personally, from the context, I am quite happy to accept that the principal city of the Atlantean alliance existed on an island as we understand the word. This was probably north of Tunisia, where a number of possible candidates exist. However, it may be unwise to rule out a North African city just yet!
Another argument put forward that appears to exclude at least part of North Africa is that Plato, according to many translations, he refers to Atlantis as ‘greater’ than ‘Libya’ and ‘Asia‘ combined, using the Greek word, ‘meizon‘, which had a primary meaning of ‘more powerful’ not greater in size. Atlantis could not have been situated in either Libya or Asia because ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole’. However, if Plato was referring to military might rather than geographical extent, as seems quite likely, North Africa may indeed have been part of the Atlantean alliance, particularly as Plato describes the control of Atlantis in the Mediterranean as far Tyrrhenia and Egypt.*