Civilisation Collapse has occurred many times over past millennia in all parts of the world. Joseph A. Tainter defines collapse as “a rapid shift to a lower level of complexity(a) .” Societal disintegration immediately brings to mind the Maya, the Indus Valley and in what are relatively more modern times, the Western Roman Empire.
The causes are usually a combination of factors, such as, climate change, warfare, disease or excessive expansionism. Global catastrophes such as encounters with comets or asteroids are rare, while more local events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis can also be thrown into the mix. These have all been encountered from time to time, but have rarely been blamed for the collapse of a society; recovery from such limited regional events is usually possible.
The Mediterranean has seen its share of all these catastrophic events. A major tsunami on Sardinia, volcanic eruptions in Italy, earthquakes in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Close encounters with extraterrestrial bodies have also been proposed in that region.
Perhaps the best documented civilisation collapse is that which occurred around 1200 BC and affected many societies, particularly in the Middle East(b) . Israel Finkelstein, a leading Israeli archaeologist, has attributed this event to climate change and is of the view that this disruption was global in extent.
Inevitably, Atlantis has been cited as an example of civilisation collapse, particularly supporters of the Minoan Hypothesis, who link the 2nd millennium BC eruptions of Thera with the demise of the Minoans on Crete. Also popular is the idea that Atlantis had been a large island in the Atlantic Ocean destroyed by a cometary impact or the rising sea levels as the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age.
A variety of other theories have associated Atlantis with the collapse of a civilisation. For example, Frank Joseph claims that 40,000 years ago “sudden sea-level rises triggers migration from Mu around. The Pacific motherlanders settle on a large, fertile island about 380 kilometers due west from the Straits of Gibraltar. There, the newcomers merge with the native Cro-Magnon inhabitants, resulting in a new, hybrid culture – Atlantis.”
*(a) http://www.historytoday.com/christopher-chippindale/collapse-complex-societies (link broken June 2018)*
Alain Moreau is a French writer who has written a series of articles debunking a number of the suggested locations for Atlantis including, the North Sea(a), Antarctica & Spartel Island(b), Socotra(c) and Santorini(d). Throughout his criticisms he loses no opportunity to promote his own preferred Atlantis location. in the Atlantic Ocean.
Michael Jaye is Associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California. He is a confirmed catastrophist focused on cometary impacts. In a lecture to the Geological Society of America in 2011(a) he describes two major events in the earths history that had profound effects on the earth and the life one. The first was a double impact 65 million years ago and generally accepted to have led to the demise of the dinosaurs and the second 460,000 years ago.
In an April 2015 lecture entitled Resolving the Problem of Atlantis he expands on his original ideas(b) introducing a third event 13,000 years ago when another cometary impact brought an enormous amount of water to earth, which linked together previously disconnected seas and oceans.
At this point he introduces Atlantis or more correctly the alleged Google image of Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean that now Jaye claims was the Plain of Atlantis. As I have previously stated, the image in question shows lines that would have been kilometers in width and could not have been streets and so are also too wide to have been the irrigation ditches described by Plato.*The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also debunked the silly Atlantis claims generated by these images(e). However the problem remains, that some people believe what they want to believe not what can be demonstrated.*
Jaye does not accept the explanation for these anomalous lines given by Google, joining conspiracy theorists in the process. I personally think that he should stick to geology and leave the subject of Atlantis to others.
Jaye has also given me a link(c) to a video of one of his lectures. In it, one of his claims is that most of the Earth’s water is the result of a collision with an icy comet around 12,800 years ago. However, the widespread distribution of fossil fish far exceeds the areas occupied by original unconnected bodies of water suggested by Jaye. This is just one of many inaccuracies offered by him. His ideas can be read on Graham Hancock’s website(d) and his 2017 book, The Worldwide Flood .
Jaye has failed to explain how his claim of a relatively recent acquisition by the Earth of most of its water, can account for the recurring Ice Ages that our planet has endured over many millions of years. Ice Age theory is well established, but according to him, the Earth would not have had enough water over that timespan to produce the glaciers that enveloped large areas of the globe, sometimes to a depth of 3 or 4 km, leading to the measurable isostatic rebound we still experience today.
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!
The Strait of Sicily is the name given to the extensive stretch of water between Sicily and Tunisia. Depending on the degree to which glaciation lowered the world’s sea levels during the last Ice Age; three views have emerged relating its possible effect on Sicily during that period:
(ii) The Strait of Messina was closed, joining Sicily to Italy, while the Strait of Sicily remained open.
(iii) Both the Straits of Messina and Sicily were closed, providing a land bridge between Tunisia and Italy, separating the Eastern from the Western Mediterranean.
I find it strange that what we call today the Strait of Sicily is 90 miles wide. Now the definition of ‘strait’ is a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water. How 90 miles can be described as ‘narrow’ eludes me. Is it possible that we are dealing with a case of mistaken identity and that the ‘Strait of Sicily’ is in fact the Strait of Messina, which is narrow? Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD) in his On the Eternity of the World(a) wrote “Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy?” (v.139). The name ‘Italy’ was normally used in ancient times to describe the southern part of the peninsula(b). Some commentators think that Philo was quoting Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor.
It is worth pointing out that the Strait of Messina is sometimes referred to in ancient literature as the Pillars of Herakles and designates the sea west of this point as the ‘Atlantic Ocean’. Modern writers such as Sergio Frau and Eberhard Zangger have pointed out that the term ‘Pillars of Herakles’ was applied to more than one location in the Mediterranean in ancient times.
In 1910, the celebrated Maltese botanist, John Borg, proposed that Atlantis had been situated on what is now submerged land between Malta and North Africa.*A number of other researchers, Axel Hausmann and Alberto Arecchi, have expressed similar ideas.
The Strait of Sicily is home to a number of sunken banks, previously exposed during the Last Ice Age. As levels rose most of these disappeared, an event observed by the inhabitants of the region at that time. The MapMistress website(c) has proposed that one of these banks was the legendary Erytheia, the sunken island of the far west. The ‘far west’ later became the Strait of Gibraltar but for the early Greeks it was the Central Mediterranean.*
Atlantology as a distinct field of study is accepted by most to have begun with the works of Ignatius Donnelly, however flawed many of his ideas may have been. Since Donnelly, it has developed into a very complex multidisciplinary subject. Students of the topic are known today as Atlantologists although an earlier designation was Atlantists, a term now used to describe supporters of political and economic co-operation between the USA and western Europe. The inventive Zia Abbas prefers to use the term ‘Atlantisology’!
N. Zhirov, the leading Russian Atlantologist, has offered the following formal definition of the subject: “It may be regarded as a department of the biogeography of the modern, Quaternary period (Anthropogen) of the Earth’s geological history, a department chronologically relating to the period of the emergence of intelligent man, a period directly preceding our historical epoch beginning with the last glaciation.” He believed that Atlantis was primarily a geological problem that could only be resolved through a study of the geological history of the Atlantic Ocean.
A less cumbersome definition might be “the study of all aspects of Plato’s references to Atlantis”
A forum dealing with Atlantology(a) and suggested parameters for its study may be found interesting by readers. I personally disagree with a number of the headings proposed for inclusion, such as ‘Rudolf Steiner’, ‘Ireland & Tara’ and ‘Shangri-la’, as I consider them unrelated to Plato’s Atlantis.
Over the years that I have spent compiling Atlantipedia it became clear that different theories became ‘fashionable’ from time to time, because of new discoveries, the opinions of prominent individuals or as a consequence of heavily publicised books. The 15th century saw Gutenberg develop the printing press in 1436 and the first complete works of Plato, translated by Marsilio Ficino were published in 1484, so when Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, there were many who speculatively identified the Americas as Plato’s Atlantis. This idea persisted until the end of the 19th century*and even today some think it a possibility.*
More specifically, when the monumental structures of the Maya and Incas were gradually revealed to Europeans, once again a link with Atlantis was proposed for South America and still has some support today.
However the most popular and enduring theory is that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic Ocean, with the Azores as the prime candidate. It received a boost in support with the discovery of the Mid Atlantic Ridge in the 19th century and was used by Ignatius Donnelly in the formulation of his Atlantis theory.
In 1872, the elements of the Minoan Hypothesis began to appear when Louis Figuier was first to link Atlantis with the 2nd millennium eruption of Thera. Today, this idea is probably the most accepted, apart from the Atlantic location.
There are many other theories regarding Atlantis, some more exotic than others, but, in my opinion, none that match all the criteria that can be gleaned from Plato’s account, although their authors would disagree.