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

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Joining The Dots


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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Aristotle

Roy, Loys le

Loys(Louis) le Roy (1510-1577) was a French humanist, historian and professor of Greek. He translated some of the works of Plato and Aristotle including the first translation of Timaeus in French, published in 1551[1463].

Trojan War

The Trojan War, at first sight, may appear to have little to do with the story of Atlantis except that some recent commentators have endeavoured to claim that the war with Atlantis was just a retelling of the Trojan War. The leading proponent of the idea is Eberhard Zangger in his 1992 book The Flood from Heaven[483]. He also argues that survivors of the War became the Sea Peoples, while Frank Joseph contends that conflict between the Egyptians and the Sea Peoples was part of the Trojan War[108.11]. Steven Sora asserts that the Atlantean war recorded by Plato is a distortion of the Trojan War and he contentiously claims that Troy was located on the Iberian Peninsula rather than the more generally accepted Hissarlik in Turkey. Others have located the War in the North Sea or the Baltic.

However. controversy has surrounded various aspects of the War since earliest times. Strabo(a) tells us that Aristotle dismissed the matter of the Achaean wall as an invention, a matter that is treated at length by Classics Professor Timothy W. Boyd(b). In fact the entire account has been the subject of continual criticism.

The reality of the Trojan War as related by Homer has been debated for well over a century. There is a view that much of what he wrote was fictional, but that the ancient Greeks accepted this, but at the same time they possessed an historical account of the war that varied considerably from Homer’s account(f). 

Over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data, which may account for Plato’s Atlantean fleet having 1200 ships which might have been a rounding up of Homer’s 1186 ships in the Achaean fleet!

Like so many other early historical events, the Trojan War has also generated its fair share of nutty ideas, such as Hans-Peny Hirmenech’s wild suggestion that the rows of standing stones at Carnac marked the tombs of Atlantean soldiers who fought in the Trojan War! Arthur Louis Joquel II, proposed that the War was fought between two groups of refugees from the Gobi desert, while Jacques de Mahieu maintained that refugees from Troy fled to America after the War where they are now identified as the Olmecs!*In November 2017, an Italian naval archaeologist, Francesco Tiboni, claimed(h). that the Trojan Horse was in fact a ship. This is blamed on the mistranslation of one word in Homer.*

Various attempts have been made to determine the exact date of the War, with astronomical dating relating to eclipses noted by Homer. In the 1920’s astronomers Carl Schoch and Paul Neugebauer put the sack of Troy at close to 1190 BC. In 2008, Constantino Baikouzis and Marcelo O. Magnasco proposed 1178 BC as the date of the eclipse that coincided with the return Odysseus, ten years after the War.*Stuart Harris published a paper on the Migration & Diffusion website in 2017(g) , in which he endorsed the 1190 BC date for the end of the Trojan War.*

A new dating of the end of the Trojan War has been presented by Stavros Papamarinopoulos et al. in a paper(c) now available on the Academia.edu website. Working with astronomical data relating to eclipses in the 2nd millennium BC, they have calculated the ending of the War to have taken place in 1218 BC and Odysseus’ return as 1207 BC.

What is noteworthy is that virtually all the recent studies of the eclipse data are in agreement that the Trojan War ended near the end of the 13th century BC, which in turn can be linked to archaeological evidence at the Hissarlik site. Perhaps even more important is the 1218 BC date for the Trojan War recorded on the Parian Marble, reinforcing the Papamarinoupolos date.

However, even more radical redating has been strongly advocated by a number of commentators(d)(e) and not without good reason.

(a)Geographica XIII.1.36

(b) https://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GZEV_enIE442IE442&q=achaean+wall+aristotle

(c) http://www.academia.edu/7806255/A_NEW_ASTRONOMICAL_DATING_OF_THE_TROJAN_WARS_END

(d) http://www.mikamar.biz/rainbow11/mikamar/articles/troy.htm (offline) see Archive 2401

(e) http://www.varchive.org/schorr/troy.htm

(f) https://gatesofnineveh.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/the-trojan-war-in-greek-historical-sources/

(g) http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?year=2017&id=509

*(h) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/italian-archaeologist-claims-that-the-trojan-horse-was-really-the-trojan-boat*

Gisinger, Friedrich (L)

Friedrich Gisinger (1888-1964) was a German classical scholar and in 1951 was appointed honorary professor of ancient geography at the University of Freiburg. He was the author of a short 1932 paper Zur geographischen Grundlage von Platons Atlantis (The geographical basis of Plato’s Atlantis). He was of the opinion, along with many others, that Aristotle implicity disputed the existence of Atlantis. This interpretation has been recently refuted by Thorwald C. Franke in his Aristotle and Atlantis[880] .

Casaubon, Isaac (t)

Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) was born in Geneva where he became a professor of Greek. He later worked in France and England, but finally settled on editing Greek literature as a more rewarding occupation. Among his works was a 1587 commentary on Strabo and it was this production which inadvertently brought him into the Atlantis controversy in the early part of the 19th century.

In commenting on Strabo 2.3.6., Casaubon refers to Aristotle doubting the existence of the Achaeans walls reported by Homer in the Iliad. Casaubon notes that this statement was taken by Posidonius, who then inserted Plato’s Atlantis in place of the Achaean walls. Franke explains that this was done “in order to reject this comparison.” Nowhere does Casaubon attribute to Aristotle any claim that Atlantis was an invention by Plato.

However in 1816, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre when referring to Casaubon’s commentary hastily misinterprets the passage and describes Atlantis as the object of Aristotle’s doubt. This error was then repeated by later writers until gradually the idea reached critical mass so that in the 20th century it became “received wisdom”.

Nevertheless, in 2012, Thorwald C. Franke published a complete refutation of this incorrect addition by Delambre in his forensic study Aristotle and Atlantis[880], an English translation of the original German.

Delambre, Jean Baptiste Joseph (L)

Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre (1749-1822) was a French astronomer and mathematician and in his 1819 book, Histoire de l’astronomie du moyen age, he misinterpreted a passage in Isaac Casaubon commentary on Strabo, which contributed to two centuries of misunderstanding Aristotle’s attitude to Plato’s Atlantis.

In 2012 Thorwald C. Franke published an English translation[880] of his Aristoteles und Atlantis in which he provides convincing evidence that Aristotle had accepted the reality of Atlantis and hopefully in some measure has redressed the damage done by Delambre’s error.

Aristotle and Atlantis

Aristotle and Atlantis [880] is an English translation of Thorwald C. Franke’s book, Aristoteles und Atlantis, first published in German in 2010. From the beginning the author makes it clear that this monograph is not concerned with debating the existence of Atlantis but is focused on how Aristotle viewed Plato’s Atlantis.

When I began my own research the prevailing understanding was that Aristotle had rejected the story of Atlantis as an invention. Franke’s study has turned this idea completely on its head, clearly demonstrating that there is implicit evidence that Aristotle was “rather inclined towards the existence of Atlantis”. However, he goes further and forensically demolishes the idea that the two passages in Strabo’s Geographica (2.3.6.& 13.1.36) were quotations from Aristotle and even if they had been, that they were references to Homer not Plato.

Perhaps even more important is Franke’s revelation of how the prevailing attitude regarding Aristotle’s opinion of the Atlantis story arose. He has carried out extensive research that brought him back to 1587 when a commentary on Strabo by Isaac Casaubon was published, which in turn was badly misinterpreted in 1816 by Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre who attributed a critical comment by Aristotle regarding Homer’s Achaean wall in the Illiad to be instead a reference to Plato’s Atlantis. This had far-reaching consequences as Delambre’s book was probably more generally available than Casaubon’s, resulting in Delambre’s error being widely disseminated and so in time his misinterpretation gained sufficient critical mass to become ‘received wisdom’.

If the work of one person, Delambre, initiated nearly two centuries of misinformation, I hope that another individual, Thorwald C. Franke, can now begin to redress that situation.

This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in a serious study of the Atlantis question.

Sea of Kronos

The Sea of Kronos (Cronos), according to modern researchers such as Alan Alford and Frank Joseph as well as Immanuel Velikovsky, is a name frequently applied to the Atlantic Ocean by ancient writers. Velikovsky cites Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria and Aristotle in support of this contention(a). If Plato believed that Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic why did he not simply say that it was situated in the Okeanos or the Sea of Kronos?

The 1624 Argonautica Map by Abraham Ortelius has the Adriatic Sea designated as ‘Cronivm Mare’. Eratosthenes in his Map of the Oecumene referred to the frozen Cronian Sea as being seven days north of Britain. Diodorus Siculus (Bk.III 61.3) describes Kronos as lord of Sicily, Libya and Italy!

Until it can be shown otherwise, I am inclined to think that Plato did not know precisely where Atlantis had been located but used the term ‘beyond the Pillars of Herakles’ as indicative of a place outside the ambit of what was then current Greek maritime knowledge!

(a) http://www.varchive.org/lec/valais/satflood.htm

Usai, Antonio

Antonio Usai (1957- ) was born in Assemini, 12km northwest of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Having a passion for ancient  UsaiAntoniohistory, he has written a number of papers(a) locating the Pillars of Heracles within the Mediterranean. An English translation of The Pillars of Hercules in Aristotle’s Ecumene is now available on the excellent Academia.edu website as well as a 67-page booklet[0980]. Included in his work is a critique(b) of Sergio Frau’s book[302].

Usai followed a reading of Frau’s book with a study of the works of Herodotus, Aristotle, Polybius and Strabo among others. He was drawn to the story of Hanno’s voyage, where Hanno ls described as leaving Carthage, turning east, then passing through the ‘Pillars’ and following the coast south towards Syrtis Minor, which is described as being on their right.

According to Usai, this would only make sense if the Pillars had been situated between the east coast of Tunisia and the islands of Kerkennah. Furthermore, Usai contends that part of Hanno’s report of his voyage was a hoax!

Finally, after devoting most of his essays to identifying the original Pillars at Kerkennah, he concludes his work by identifying Greenland as the location of Atlantis.

A number of translations of the Periplus (Sea Voyage Guide) of Hanno are available on the internet(d).

(a) http://www.archeomedia.net/images/archeomedia/Le_colonne_dErcole_nellecumene_di_Aristotele.pdf

(b) http://www.edicolaweb.net/arti156a.htm

(d) http://books.google.com.mt/books?id=qbMBAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=voyage+of+Hanno&source=bl &ots=jLnRCZPPxG&sig=bQJ3BSMQg8oYS0QY5FJ90bRJIhQ&hl=mt&ei=–tuS4fNEIaqnAOo_NjHBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=true

 

Theophrastus (M)

Theophrastus (372–287 BC) was a student of Aristotle, whom he eventually succeeded him at the Lyceum, the home of the Peripatetic school of philosophy. He is frequently quoted as referring to Atlantis having colonies in the ‘sea’. Philo of Alexandria in his De Aeternitate Mindi[1423] has cited Theophrastus’ belief in the reality of Atlantis. Thorwald C. Franke expands on this in Appendix F of his Aristotle and Atlantis[880].

Theophrastus is sometimes referred to as the ‘father of botany’ and was one of the earliest writers to note that trees gained an extra outer layer each year. However, it would take over two thousand years before this fact led to the development of today’s invaluable science of dendrochronology.

 

Sceptics

Sceptics regarding the existence of Atlantis have been around since the time of Plato. The first such critic was assumed to be Aristotle, a pupil of Plato’s, who apparently denounced the Atlantis tale as an invention. However, this presumed scepticism of Aristotle’s has now been seriously challenged by Thorwald C. Franke in a 2012 book, Aristotle and Atlantis[706] specifically dealing with the subject. Nevertheless, Aristotle does record the existence a large island in the Atlantic known to the Phoenicians as Antilia, inadvertently supporting Plato’s story(i).

Franke has recently outlined the extensive support for the existence of Atlantis from the earliest times in his recent German language book[1255]. He has followed that with a YouTube video(j) in which he relates how scepticism became more extensive in the 19th century.

Many modern commentators believe that in the interests of dramatic effect Plato heavily embellished the core truth underlying the story, namely that of an ancient submerged civilisation.

However, when we consider modern sceptics we find that they have been provided with unlimited ammunition by the poor scholarship of many Atlantis supporters and the outright ravings of the likes of Blavatsky, Steiner, Cayce, and a profusion of other authors, who claim to have channelled information regarding Atlantis.

Edwin Ramage, in his essay[522] on Atlantis, makes the interesting comment that “believers tend to overshadow the sceptics for the simple reason that a positive theory, whether it is simple or elaborate, tends to be more attractive and to make better reading than any attempt at refutation, no matter how well taken it may be.” This is probably akin to referenda questions being framed by governments in a manner that favours a Yes vote that will provide the outcome that they want. This is because most people prefer to say Yes rather than No.

However, if the Atlantis narrative has any truth in it, the legitimate criticisms of sceptics must be given due consideration. One such sceptic is Paul Jordan who has produced a highly critical work[418] on the subject. Jason Colavito is another vocal non-believer and has written a considerable amount on the subject(d). A number of other websites(b)(c)(e) can also be recommended.

I recently came across a sceptic review of Atlantis theories by Justin Spring which I thought contained some novel views and although I totally disagree with his conclusions, I feel it should be given a reading(g).

While I expect that few sceptics will be reading this entry, I would recommend to anyone a paper by Karla Mclaren, a former New Age ‘believer’ who developed into a sceptic(f).

A 2015 survey by Chapman University of California was repeated in 2016, which suggested that nearly 40% of American believe that an advanced prehistoric civilisation, such as Atlantis, existed, causing consternation among sceptics(h). Why they found it so depressing is hard to understand, since popular belief is no guarantee that it is supported by reality. After all, it was once commonly thought that the sun revolved around the earth!

*There are times when I regret that I have not had a university education and then along comes a qualified academic who manages to remove any such feeling. One of those is Seth Stein, a professor at Northwestern University, who specialises in plate tectonics, who was reported in early 2018(k) to have proposed that “one of the strongest reasons to dispel Atlantis as a true ancient civilization is the fact that we haven’t found it.” This asinine comment shows a total abandonment of critical thinking, because he seems to think that because something has not been found, proves that it does not exist. For example, before Heinrich Schliemann, Troy did exist, but had yet to be located. Professor Stein’s stupid statement is also built on a flawed understanding of what Plato said or more correctly, did not say. Plato never described Atlantis as a continent, as assumed by Stein and it can be reasonably argued that our Atlantic Ocean where he sought Atlantis was not the Atlantic ‘Sea’ referred to by Plato. I suggest that Stein sticks to earth sciences and leave Atlantis to others.*

(b) http://www.skepdic.com/atlantis.html

(c) http://www.intersurf.com/~chalcedony/wildside.shtml

(d) http://searchatlantis.blogspot.com/2007/08/atlantis-mu-and-maya.html

(e) http://www.skepticssa.org.au/html/atlantis.html

(f)  http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/

(g) http://scyllasoulspeak1.blogspot.ie/2011/06/atlantis-what-was-plato-really-up-to.html {3129}

(h) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/chapman-university-survey-finds-astonishing-levels-of-belief-in-ancient-astronauts-and-atlantis

(i) Strabo, II, 102 and XII, 598. Cf. Proclus In Timaeum 61a (Diehl I, p. 197).

(j) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF62FLucvQk

*(k) http://www.newsweek.com/could-lost-city-atlantis-exist-ocean-mapping-reveals-likelihood-legendary-city-828457*