William Corliss (1926 – 2011) was an inveterate collector of anomalous facts. Described by Arthur C. Clarke as a latter-day Charles Fort, “only more scientific”, he did not venture into the field of Atlantology, but his writings have provided much material for those seeking to attribute advanced technology to prehistoric cultures, including Atlantis.
He has published extensively, usually quoting scientific journals where a filtering process had already minimised hoax material.
His 1978 book, Ancient Man: A Handbook of Puzzling Artifacts is one of his more highly regarded offerings.
James Q. Jacobs is an American anthropologist/archaeologist, who, to the best of my knowledge, has not ventured into the choppy waters of atlantology. However, he has commented on many peripheral subjects covered in Atlantipedia.
He rationalised the incredible time spans found in ancient Indian literature, by suggesting that the numbers referred to related to days rather than years(a). He has also written extensively on archaeology(b). His website(c) has many articles devoted to pre-Columbian America, both North and South.
Geodesy is another of his interests about which he has written a useful introduction(d).
Gullibility and Credulity are two of the greatest enemies of serious Atlantology. When any attention-seeking PhD pronounces on the location of Atlantis, there is always a herd of credulous listeners willing to believe what they say. Having abandoned their critical faculties, many of these will pay good money to purchase their books or attend their lectures. After committing their cash and time to back any given idea, some, often through pride, will often be reluctant to later abandon their support or switch to any other competing theory.
The history of Atlantology has recorded a recurring pattern. It was not until the 15th century that Plato’s complete Atlantis story was made available in Europe with the Latin translation of Marsilio Ficino, which was around the same time that America was discovered. This led to a knee-jerk reaction identifying the New World with Atlantis. In due course the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was discovered leading to a variety of claims, placing Atlantis in the Atlantic.
Then the Minoan civilisation was rediscovered at the start of the 20th century, which led to its identification as Atlantean, an idea consolidated by the unearthing of Minoan remains on Santorini following a 2nd millennium BC eruption of the volcano there. Even more exotic locations have been proposed over the last century, including Antarctica, the Andes and Indonesia.
Obviously, there were many other proposed locations, but the American, Atlantic and Minoan theories have persisted over the centuries.*As I have argued elsewhere, common sense rules out America and the Atlantic since both involve distances from Athens that conflict with the need to be within easy striking distance. With regard to the Minoans, Athens was attacked from the west not the south, apart from which, relatively speaking, Crete is ‘just down the road’, which begs the question, why Plato did not simply say that Athens were attacked by their regional neighbours, the Cretans. To me, it is clear that Plato did not know the identity of the Atlanteans.*
If Critical Thinking is properly applied to any these locations they will, in my opinion, fail as potential sites for Plato’s Atlantis.
*Apart from location, there are a number of other aspects of Plato’s Atlantis story that stretch credibility, in fact Plato himself found Solon’s dimensions for the ditch surrounding the Plain of Atlantis difficult to accept (Critias 118c) but out of deference to Solon, recorded them anyway. Then we have the timespan of 9,000 years between the Atlantean War and Solon’s visit to Egypt, which would require Atlantis to have waged war against Athens and Egypt before either existed as organised societies!*
An online article on the subject of gullibility is worth a read(a).
Federico Bardanzellu (1954- ) is a Roman researcher(a) with a special interest in Mediterranean prehistory. His ‘Dolmen Museum’ website(b) has particular relevance for Atlantology, as in it he discusses, in some detail, the Sea Peoples(c) and their connection with Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily as well as the Italian mainland. He claims that Homer’s Odysseus did not sail in the Okeanos beyond Gibraltar but instead had voyaged in the Tyrrhenian Sea. He identifies Tarshish with the Sardinian Tharros and places the Pillars of Hercules in the Strait of Sicily on the island of Motya off the west coast of Sicily. Although he refers to Sergio Frau’s location for the ‘Pillars’ he does not specifically mention Atlantis.
Bardanzellu has also published a book on the earliest inhabitants of Italy entitled Gli Antenati Che Vennero dal Mare.
Critical Thinking is the only way forward in the pursuit of truth whether it is in respect of Atlantology or any other area of interest. It’s an unfortunate aspect of our nature that we humans seem to believe all too quickly what we want to believe rather than what can be demonstrated. This is particularly true in the case of religious faith as well as ‘fringe’ beliefs such as astrology, tarot cards or channelling. It also applies to more secular matters like politics or even controversial subjects including the existence and/or nature of Atlantis.
Atlantis has spawned a virtually endless collection of outlandish theories, each of which has its believers. Plato’s island has been variously claimed to have been founded by aliens, located at both poles, had flying machines, electricity and monorail transport and this is just a few of the more entertaining claims.
The application of critical thinking(a)(b) to any of the above suggestions would expose them for the falsehoods they are. However, keep in mind what Lenin said – “A lie told often enough becomes truth.” An example of this is the repetition to this day, a century later, of the fraudulent Atlantis claims of Paul Schliemann, long after they were exposed as untrue(c). As recently as 2017 Schliemann’s lies were still being quoted as facts(e)(f).
Also consider, a 2016 large-scale study(d) which concluded that “The results don’t prove that relatively poor analytical thinking skills cause people to become believers in psychic phenomena, but they are certainly consistent with the idea that a lack of these skills may leave people more prone to developing such beliefs.”
Franz Susemihl (1826-1901) was a professor of classical philology at Greifswald University and later became rector there. He was renowned in academic circles for his translations of the works of Plato and Aristotle. His remarks on the Atlantis commentators of his day are as relevant today as over a century ago when he said “The catalogue of statements about Atlantis is a fairly good aid for the study of human madness.” The accuracy of his statement is borne out by the swollen ranks of today’s ‘lunatic fringe’ who claim inspiration from psychics, extraterrestrials or who insist that Atlantis was powered by crystals and possessed flying machines. The publication of such nonsense has continually undermined the credibility of serious Atlantology.
*Susemihl’s German translation of Plato’s Timaeus and Critias is available online.(a)(b). Thorwald C. Franke has also included Susemihl’s translation along with that of Müller, Bury and Jowett and the Greek text of John Burnet, all in a parallel format(c).*
It should be noted that Susemihl was an Atlantis sceptic.
Robert Wauchope (1909-1979) was an American archaeologist who specialised in the prehistory of the Americas. In his Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents, he adopts a softly sceptical view of Atlantology, discussing the consequences of proponents becoming obsessive about their pet theory and often abandoning objectivity in the process. He has some harsh criticism directed at the poorly constructed claims of Churchward and Le Plongeon. Although his book is now out print it is worth obtaining a used copy as it give a good overview of some of the popular ‘alternative’ pre-history theories of six decades ago and a sober assessment of them by a conventional scientist of that era.
ROIPA is an acronym for the original Russian title of the Russian Society for the Study of Problems of Atlantis which is the leading association in the Russian Federation for the study of Atlantology.
It was formally established in 2003 although it has its roots in the early 1990’s. Since then it has organised three congresses of Atlantologists, published papers and books including its recent Cronos almanac. There is also an ongoing programme of lectures.
Alexander Voronin was the president of ROIPA and I had the pleasure of meeting him in Malta in 2011. Sadly, Alexander died November 6th 2012.
Membership of ROIPA is normally confined to Russian citizens, so I was greatly flattered when I was given honorary membership of the organisation in 2011.
In March 2014, I was contacted by the new president of ROIPA, George Nefediev, who informed me that the work of the society was back on track and has already held a conference in December, 2013. They are currently developing a new website(a).
Later in 2014, ROIPA published the second edition of their Cronos ‘almanac’. It has a number of contributions by researchers frequently encountered in the pages of Atlantipedia, such as Emilio Spedicato and R. Cedric Leonard. Although it will be published in Russian, you can view the contents in English here. As you will see the subjects are wide-ranging and it is regrettable that the volume will not be available in English.
ROIPA is organising its fourth Congress on the 13-14 April 2015. All are welcome and contributions invited
(a) The theme of the Congress is Atlantology in the XXI century – Development Prospects and is seeking to have Atlantology recognised as a legitimate scientific discipline.
See: Russian Atlantology
Italian Atlantology can be traced back to the 16th century when Fracastoro, Garimberto and Ramusio, identified the Americas as Atlantis. In fact we should look to the 15th century when Ficino was the first to translate Plato’s entire works into Latin giving medieval Europe its first access to the complete Atlantis texts. Not much happened until 1788 when Carli attributed the destruction of Atlantis to a close encounter with a comet. In 1840, Angelo Mazzoldi proposed Italy as the location of Atlantis and as the hyper-diffusionist mother culture of the great civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean region. He was followed by others such as Giuseppe Brex(b).
Not much developed in pre-war Italy apart from Russo’s journal which ran from 1930 until 1932. After the war other Atlantis journals was established by Gianni Belli in 1956 and Bettini in 1963. After that there was a wide range of theories advanced by Italian researchers. Spedicato located Atlantis in Hispaniola, Stecchini opted for São Tomé, Barbiero, who although Croatian by birth was an admiral in the Italian Navy nominated the Antarctic as the home of Atlantis before the Flem-Aths published their Antarctic ideas. Bulloni chose the Arctic, Pincherle identified the Mandaeans as the last of the Atlanteans and Monte links Thera with Tarshish.
In recent years the most widely reported Atlantis theory to emanate from Italy came from Sergio Frau who advocates Sardinia as the original Atlantis. However, this idea is not new having been promoted by Poddighe in 1982. Frau has subsequently been supported by other commentators such as Tozzi and Novo. I cannot help feeling that there might be a trace of nationalism underlying this theory, a suspicion that I have held regarding writers of other nationalities.
The latter end of the 20th century saw the development of the Internet which enabled the instant promotion of Atlantis theories, both silly and serious, to a global audience. Italy was no exception, where websites, such as Edicolaweb that are sympathetic to the exploration of historical mysteries emerged(a).
More recently, Marin, Minella & Schievenin had The Three Ages of Atlantis published in 2014. This is an English translation of their original 2010 work. In it they suggest that Atlantis had originally existed in Antarctica and after its destruction survivors established two other Atlantises in South America and the Mediterranean. Perhaps more credible was the theory of Capuchin friar, Antonio Moro, who suggested in 2013 that Atlantis included Iberia, the south coast of France and the west coast of Italy!
Timaeus is the title of one of the two Dialogues of Plato, named after one of the participants. In it we encounter the first clear reference to Atlantis. The dialogue is usually seen as a continuation of The Republic. The first Latin translation of Timaeus comes from Cicero in the first century BC(b), but unfortunately from the point of view of Atlantology, he only translated 27d-47b, just missing the Atlantis passages. One of the most influential Latin translations came from Chalcidius in the 4th century AD. However, it fell to the 15th century Marsilio Ficino to produce the first translation of Plato’s complete works(c).
Some claim that Timaeus is the only character used by Plato that does not appear to have actually existed in ancient Greece. However, it is more generally accepted that the Timaeus in the Dialogues was based on a real astronomer and mathematician known as Timaeus of Locri, who was a Pythagorean philosopher who formed his own Pythagorean School in Locri in Southern Italy when the School in Croton was forced to close. Timaeus is said to have been around 70 at the time that the Dialogues were written.
Timaeus of Taormina who was born about 20 years before Plato died is not the Timaeus referred to in the dialogue of the same name. This Timaeus was a noted historian who among others was heavily relied on by Diodorus Siculus.
Also at issue is the actual authorship of Timaeus, because Hermippus of Smyrna (3rd cent. BC) claimed that Plato copied his text from the philosopher Philolaus. This suggestion has been debated into modern times(a).