Elephants are specifically mentioned by Plato as being indigenous to Atlantis. This must have significance for anyone trying to arrive at a credible location for Atlantis. For example, supporters of the Theran Atlantis School cannot show where such large animals could have lived on the small volcanic island. There are no physical remains, no frescos and no historical references. Rodney Castleden who supports the Minoan Hypothesis admits that “no raw elephant ivory has been found (on Thera) and very little in the way of worked ivory”[225.70]. He later speaks of the importation of ivory into Crete[p.172] having bravely denounced Plato’s description (Critias 115a) of herds of elephants on Atlantis as “false”[p.136].
Similarly, Spanuth’s Heligoland location would have been climatically unsuited to elephants. Spanuth himself admits that the elephant reference “is hard to explain“. Nevertheless, Felice Vinci who champions a Northern European origin for Greek mythology is of the opinion that Plato’s elephant reference may be a lingering memory of the woolly mammoths that inhabited Arctic regions as recently as 1700 BC. In the late 17th century Olof Rudbeck, recognising the problem that Plato’s reference to elephants presented for his Swedish Atlantis, argued that Plato had been speaking figuratively when describing the large voracious animals and had in fact been referring to wolves, the Swedish word for wolf being ‘ulf’, which sounds like the beginning of ‘elephant’!!
Elephants in Western Europe were undoubtedly represented by mammoths, remains of which have been recovered from the North Sea – Doggerland and dated to around 40,000 years ago. Coincidentally, a tool made of mammoth bone, used for making rope, has also been dated to 40,000 years ago(i)(n). This discovery (s) by Nicholas Conard from the University of Tubingen was made shortly before Ashley Cowie published his interesting book on the history of rope-making. Further information on string, ropes and knots was published in March 2017(o).
Allied to the demise of the Siberian mammoths is the often repeated fib that when the remains were first discovered, their flesh was still fresh enough to eat, has recently been debunked by Jason Colavito(j). He has also unearthed the truth behind that other canard relating to a Siberian mammoth, namely that fresh buttercups were found in its mouth(j). He has now(q) traced back the earliest reference to the frozen mammoths to George Cuvier in 1822 [1586.11].
Eckart Kahlhofer, in a forthcoming book advocates a North-West European location for Atlantis, suggests that where Plato referred to elephants he really meant deer! Kahlhofer offers, as a simple explanation for this seemingly daft contention, the fact that the Greek for elephant, elephas, is very similar to the Greek elaphos which means deer. A simple transcription error by a scribe could have caused the mix-up. The elk was the largest species of deer to be found in the northern hemisphere and are still to be found in Scandinavia. The Great Irish Deer which died out around 5500 BC had an antler span of 11ft and a maximum height of 10ft.
Gene Matlock in an attempt to bolster his Mexican location for Atlantis has suggested that Plato’s elephants were in fact the long-snouted tapirs of Meso-America!(c), an idea ‘borrowed’ from Hyde Clarke
While the elephant issue should not be dealt with in isolation it does serve to illustrate the difficulties involved in analysing Plato’s text. Consider the possibility that the early date of 9600 BC for Atlantis is accepted, then the islands that are too small today to accommodate elephants may have been considerably larger and sometimes connected to each other or a mainland during the Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, and consequently capable of supporting pachyderms. In this regard, Sundaland would have been a most suitable candidate. Not only would to-day’s South China Sea’s archipelagos been a single landmass, but there would have been access to the area from the Asian mainland, home today to large numbers of elephants.
Strangely enough even the Andes, considered by some as the home of Atlantis, reveal the fact that during the last Ice Age a species of elephant called Cuvieronius lived there but became extinct around 8000 BC. These animals are to be found carved on the great Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco suggesting that they were common in the region. Supporters of an Atlantis link with Tiahuanaco have highlighted this fact.
James Bailey who supports the idea of Atlantis in America believes that Plato’s mention of elephants could be a reference to the American mammoth, generally believed to have died out circa 10,000 BC, although Victor von Hagen, the American explorer, contentiously maintained that they survived as late 2000 BC. A similar idea was presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference by American researcher, Monique Petersen.
The Schoppes, in support of their theory of Atlantis in the Black Sea region, contend(l) that Indian elephants existed there until 800 BC and support this with a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmosis III who killed 120 elephants ‘there’ around 1200 BC, which is a strange claim as Thutmosis did not venture beyond Syria and he died circa 1426 BC!
Elephas Antiquus (Palaeoloxodon), is a dwarf species whose remains have been found throughout the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus. All those found were dated 200,000 BC or earlier! In sharp contrast, Simon Davis, in an article in New Scientist (3 Jan.1985), dated Mediterranean dwarf elephants to as recent as 6000 BC(p). A number of writers, such as Roger Coghill, have tried to use the pygmy elephant as an explanation for Plato’s text (Crit. 114e & 115a) where we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious’. This is not a description of pygmy elephants.
However, Ghar Hasan or Hasan’s Cave in southeast Malta has paleolithic cave paintings that depict elephants, indicating more recent contact with the animals. Whether these represented full-sized or the pygmy variety is unclear. A small booklet by Dr. Anton Mifsud and Dr. Charles Savona-Ventura describes this cave system.
In Dossier Malta – Neanderthal  Mifsud has drawn attention to another cavern, not far away, formerly known as Ghar Dulam, now Ghar Dalam, where thousands of dwarf elephant bones were discovered. Dulam means ‘small elephant’ in Arabic. This is one of the mainstays of his ‘Atlantis in Malta’ theory. Whether these diminutive creatures justify Plato’s description that they were the “largest and most voracious” of animals (Crit.115a) is clearly debatable. For me this is not a description of pygmy elephants and so in all probability is an indication of a North African location or, as some claim, an Asian one!
The Atlanteans had control in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt, which would have included what is now modern Tunisia, the home of the last recorded wild elephants in that region!
Readers should be aware that there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(e)(h). In fact the New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(d) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire.
In Elephant Destiny Martin Meredith records that one of the earliest references to the African elephant came from Hanno, the 5th century BC Carthaginian explorer, who related how he came across marshes at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, which “were haunted by elephants and multitudes of other grazing beasts.” Meredith also mentions that stables for as many as 300 elephants were to be found within the city of Carthage itself.
Nevertheless, the species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(f). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare(g). It would seem to me that the North African Elephant, rather than the Asian or African species, would have been more suited to the trek across the Alps. Needless to say, the Atlas Mountains were part of the Atlantean sphere of control (Timaeus 25a-b) and so may be the reason that Plato mentioned them.*It is also reported that during the reign of the Ptolemies in Egypt (323 BC-30 BC), they imported war elephants from Eritrea in East Africa(r). *
The latter half of 2010 saw a new piece of nonsense hit the blogosophere when a claim that the Atlanteans had flying machines made of elephant skins suddenly appeared and before you could say “cut and paste” it was ‘adopted’ by a variety of websites(a)(b). So Dumbo was not the first flying elephant! In fact this daft idea was just a recycling of one of Edgar Cayce’s ‘revelations’ (Reading 364-6)(m).
(a) http://www.articledashboard.com/Article/Speaking-of-Atlantis/1872335 (Offline October 2017)
A Lunisolar Calendar is hidden within the Atlantis story according to a paper presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference by Alexios Pliakos. Lunisolar calendars have been in use since ancient times in many cultures(b), indicating the phases of the moon as well as the passage of time through the solar year.
Pliakos believes[750.631] that Critias 119 d2-d4, which refers to the convening of the Atlantean kings every five and six years, contains a previously unknown lunisolar calendar of 11 years duration with an accuracy of 0.09 days per year. As he also claims that it could have been applied in both 9600 BC and 12th century BC, it cannot be used to date the time of Atlantis. However, he points out that this 11 year lunisolar calendar is in conformity with the development of calendars generally adding to the improbability of the Atlantis story being an invention.
*In a recent paper by Ashley Cowie, he explains how the Hittite shrine of Yazilikaya, at least in part, could have been used as a lunisolar calendar. Eberhard Zangger, an expert on the ancient history of the region, has also identified astronomically related features at the site (d).*
Paul Dunbavin, in his Atlantis of the West[0099.319], has offered a speculative explanation for the fifth and sixth year meetings of the Atlantean kings based on the fragments that make up the French ‘Coligny Calendar’(a) .
David Ohrenstein has a short blog on the significance of ‘five and six’ from megalithic times to that of the Egyptians and later the Maya(c).
Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) is an ancient city whose remains are located over two miles above sea level near the southern end of Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano of Bolivia. It was first encountered by Spanish conquistadors in 1549. Tiwanaku has all the features of a harbour, which has led some to describe it as the seaport of nearby Puma Punku another remarkable ancient site(o).
The ruins are scattered over a number of square miles through which the Guayqui-La Paz railway was constructed, which was responsible for the breaking up of many monuments to provide ballast. Prior to that, stone from the site was used in the construction of nearby homes and a church.
Belisario Díaz Romero believed that Tiwanaku had been built by a race of people he calls Homo atlanticus, who had come to America from Atlantis over a landbridge from the east, outlined in his 1906 book Tiahuanacu. Heather Pringle notes(t) that before Romero, “Francis de Castelnau (1810-1880), for example, proposed in the mid-19th century that Tiwanaku was the work of wandering Egyptian pharaohs, as opposed to the ‘imbicilic race that inhabits the country today’.”
The controversial Arthur Posnansky, who linked Tiahuanaco with Aztlan, the mythical “white” island homeland of the Aztecs investigated them in the early 20th century. The similarity of Aztlan with the name of Plato’s city has excited some straw clutching Atlantis seekers into claiming a definite connection between the two.
Posnansky also noted that the expected alignments of structures at Tiwanaku were offset by an amount which suggested their construction at a time when they would have been correctly aligned with respect to the cardinal points. He, after many years of study, was convinced that Tiahuanaco was the oldest civilisation on Earth dating it to around 15,000 BC. Charles Orser jnr. debunked Posnansky’s dating in a 2001 article(k) as did Paul Heinrich(n).
Some researchers, including Jim Allen, have studied Tiwanaku’s remarkable Gate of the Sun and identified the figures carved on it as a sophisticated calendar(v) . Ashley Cowie has recently proposed that Tiwanaku was located on an ancient Prime Meridian(w).
In the 1920’s Edmund Kiss studied the ruins of Tiwanaku and concluded that it had been constructed by Nordic refugees from Atlantis which had been destroyed by a falling moon! His ideas were enthusiastically received back in Nazi Germany. A further expedition was planned, but never materialised because of the start of World War II.(u)
In sharp contrast is the claim(l) by Roger Elefant that later construction at Tiwanaku was carried out by the Vikings!
However, a more recent, but catastrophic, explanation is offered by Stephen Smith(d) on the Thunderbolts.info website. Perhaps Smith’s ideas might be combined with the studies of George Dodwell to produce a more comprehensive hypothesis. Posnansky’s date is greatly at variance with conventional dating that puts the flourishing of Tiwanaku at 1200 BC until 1200 AD. The latter part of that period roughly coincides with the existence of the Wari Empire, a possible rival of Tiwanaku(e).(e).
The claim of a direct connection between Tiahuanaco and Atlantis is hard to accept on a number of grounds; for example, the idea of an army travelling from the west coast of South America to attack Greece in the east of the Mediterranean is not tenable. That there was an advanced culture in the Andes is undeniable but to link it to Plato’s story is stretching credibility to extremes. Lake Titicaca and Tiahuanaco have plenty of mysteries still to be explained. In 1980 the Bolivian scholar, Hugo Boero Rojo, aided by one of the local natives, Elias Mamani, located underwater ruins off the coast of Puerta Acosta. His discoveries included megalithic temples, flights of stairs and stone roads.
More recently, Dave Truman has written about an alignment known as ‘The Way of Viracocha’ that runs from Cajamarca in the north, through Cuzco and Tiwanaku and finishing at Pukara Grande(p), oriented exactly 45° west of true north. Truman has built on the work of Maria Sholten d’Ebneth (1926-2007), who wrote of the La Ruta de Wiracocha in the 1970’s(q). Others have expanded on her work, but usually in Spanish. Truman has speculated on whether “Viracocha, the great teacher and restorer of civilisation in the Andes, in some way embodied the scientific knowledge of a sophisticated, but long forgotten high culture?” Truman
also discusses the ‘chakana’ or Andean stepped cross and it possible meaning.
It was reported in October 2013(g) (that a team of Belgian and Bolivian archaeologists had found an assortment of ceramics, gems and gold objects at an apparent ceremonial site beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca, which was sacred for the Incas and Tiwanakus.*It was not until 2019 that images of some of the artefacts recovered from the lake were widely published(x).*
We cannot leave the matter of mysterious Tiahuanaco without referring to the fact that some miles further south is Lake Poopó beside which Jim Allen is convinced that the city of Atlantis was located. Allen claims that the large plain to the west of the lake is the plain mentioned by Plato as being adjacent to the city of Atlantis. In a recent documentary “Atlantis in the Andes” broadcast by ‘Discovery Civilization’, Allen identified Tiahuanaco as one of the ten kingdoms of Atlantis.However, I cannot help noticing that while Tiwanaku, claimed to be 17,000 years old, provides us with an astonishing wealth of structures, Allen’s chosen Atlantis site, Pampa Aullagas, offers little more than rubble!
Another supporter of an Andean Atlantis is Sean Bambrough, who has been developing a theory since 1999 that identifies Tiwanaku as the city of Atlantis(h). In February 2015, Marcelo Ozorio also suggested a link with Plato’s Atlantis and most interesting is the huge number of images included on his site(i). There is also a large collection of related images on a YouTube clip(m).
In 2008 David E. Flynn brought to public attention an astonishing series of satellite photos(a) that show a vast network of the remains apparently of human structures that extend for many miles around Lake Titicaca. These ‘geoglyphs’ encompass Tiahuanaco.
The most remarkable collection of early photos of the Tiwanku site can be found on the Above Top Secret website(b). The accompanying text makes a strong case for treating the location as archaeologically contaminated and as a consequence that many of the dates proposed for the site should be considered suspect. Other mysteries are the fact that saltwater Lake Titicaca contains known sea life and that old waterlines are slanted(c).
In late March 2015, the Bolivian government announced(j) that ground-penetrating radar had identified what appeared to be a buried pyramid in the Tiwanaku complex as well as other ‘anomalies’ and that excavations may start in May or June.
A mixed Spanish and English website(f) offers a number of interesting papers including a chapter from Posnansky’s book Tiahuanaco: The Cradle of American Man.
Archaeology magazine has an interesting Q & A paper relating to the history and current state of preservation at the Tiwanaku site(s).
A May 2017 report(r) confirmed that the Tiwanaku complex is much more extensive than previously thought, covering an area of at least 650 hectares (1,675 acres).
(i) http://documentaries.camera/tiwanacu/ (offline Sept 2015)
*(j) http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2015/03/27/bolivia-detects-buried-pyramid-at-tiahuanaco-site/print (offline April 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20170319193806/http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2015/03/27/bolivia-detects-buried-pyramid-at-tiahuanaco-site/print*
*(o) http://www.atlantisquest.com/prehistcity.html (offline March 2018) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20170601230717/http://www.atlantisquest.com/prehistcity.html*