Konrad Kretschmer (1864-1945) was a German geographer who devoted a chapter of an 1892 book to the subject of Atlantis in which he mentioned in a footnote that a writer named Hafer proposed in 1745 that Atlantis had been situated in the Baltic Sea with its capital located on the German island of Rügen. A similar footnote was used by Gunnar Rudberg without any further information.
Floods on a catastrophic scale have been recorded in the mythologies and histories of all ancient civilisations. There are various possible causes for such devastating floods. Undoubtedly, many of these legends originated with the raising of sea levels that followed the de-glaciation at the end of the last Ice Age.
Other floods may have been caused by tsunamis resulting from underwater earthquakes or storegga. Quite recently it was discovered(a) that around 6000 BC a calamitous tsunami was generated in the Mediterranean when Mt. Etna in Sicily sent approximately 6 cubic miles of rock and rubble crashing into the sea. One could be forgiven for speculating that this event may have triggered the flooding of the Black Sea, which is dated to this same period.
Since writing, as we know it, did not develop until long after de-glaciation, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify the date, location or extent of any of the early myths relating to these possible de-glaciation inundations.
Flood Myths are found throughout the world and for centuries were seen as confirmation of the reality and universality of the Biblical Flood of Noah. However, when it was discovered that the Earth had endured a series of Ice Ages and that following each of these, the melting ice caps led to worldwide inundations with a consequent immortalisation of these events through locally developed myths, it led to speculation that Noah’s Flood may have been just a regional but nonetheless a catastrophic event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event.
Nevertheless, megafloods are not necessarily only caused by tsunamis and melting glaciers. “A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months” a catastrophic event that is now generally forgotten. An extensive 2013 article(f) in Scientific American has full details.
China has its own ‘Great Flood’ tradition, which in the August 2016 edition of Science journal had its reality given strong support in a paper(e) by a mainly Chinese team of researchers. They date the event to 1920 BC.
Recent years have seen the above-mentioned flooding of the Black Sea or even more controversially, the flooding of the Mediterranean basins, following the breaching of a suggested landbridge at Gibraltar, proposed as possible sources of the story of Noah in the Bible. These inundations are dated at around 5600 BC and their memory should have survived in the traditions and mythologies of the region. In addition to that, the Persian Gulf is also accepted by many to have been dry during the last Ice Age but also began to flood around 5000 BC. In Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Shelf both suffered post-glacial inundations, while around the same time in the South China Sea the enormous Sunda Shelf suffered extensive flooding.
Plato’s Atlantis story contains a curious reference in Timaeus (23a-c) to a series of floods having apparently occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean. If based on historical fact, on its own, the Biblical Flood or the breach of a land bridge cannot explain this succession of inundations, but suggests that there could be a much more complex story, still to be revealed, that was spread over millennia.
Anastasios Stamou presented a paper[0750.183]to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he reviewed the evidence relating to three floods that befell ancient Greece and alluded to by Plato. Drawing on ancient Greek texts including the Parian Marble, he places these events in chronological order beginning with the flood of Ogyges, then Deucalion’s and finally that of Dardanos.
Stamou accepts that convention wisdom has it that these flood events occurred in the 2nd millennium BC and based his paper on that assumption. However he expressed serious doubts about this dating suggesting a much earlier date for some inundations and promising a future paper dealing with this revision.
*In an August 2017 paper, on the Migration & Diffusion website(g), Stuart L. Harris has put forward his reasons for dating the Flood of Noah to 3161 BC and the Exodus Flood to 1445 BC.*
An extensive and more general collection of Flood myths can be found on the internet(b). A USGS list of the world’s greatest floods, ancient and recent, is available as a pdf file(c). Similarly, a website by Mark Isaak offers an extensive overview of flood myths around the world, although the site does not appear to have been updated for some years(d).
The Baltic Sea however improbable at first sight as a candidate for the location of Atlantis has a number of features that cannot be ignored. The area was subjected to post-glacial inundations following the last Ice Age. Tacitus, the respected Roman historian placed the Pillars of Hercules or at least one set of them, in the Baltic.
It was reported by Konrad Kretschmer towards the end of the 19th century that another German writer only referred to as Hafer proposed in 1745 that Atlantis had been located in the Baltic with its capital situated on the island of Rugen.
Jürgen Spanuth based his Atlantis theory on an unambiguous identification of the Atlanteans with the Hyperboreans of the Baltic region. His map of the Atlantean Empire is shown on the right. The German writer Doris Manner attempted to identify the legendary Baltic city of Vineta with Atlantis.
The Italian writer Felice Vinci has recently offered[0018,0019] compelling arguments that support his contention that much of Greek mythology has its roots in northern Europe. He focuses on the epic poems, IIliad and Odysseus, attributed to Homer, to demonstrate a Baltic origin for the stories. Vinci suggests that the Atlantis story should also be reviewed in the light of his own research. He also offers some interesting views on the size of Atlantis.
Spanuth’s views on the subject of Nordic influences on Greek poets and writers, are also worth a read[017.163].
Perhaps the strongest argument against the Baltic Hypothesis is geological when Plato records that some time after the war both Athens and Atlantis suffered catastrophic destruction as a consequence of a powerful earthquake and floods. Unlike the Aegean, the Baltic was not noted for earthquakes and they lie over 1,200 miles from each other. It is unknown for an earthquake to simultaneously cause even minor damage at two locations so far apart and would appear to be impossible when one of them is seismically stable.
The British Daily Mail of Jan. 27th, 2014 reported(a) that Swedish divers had discovered the remains of a 11,000-year-old settlement under the Baltic at Hano, off the coast of Skane County, which was quickly labelled ‘Sweden’s Atlantis’!
The Deglaciation that occurred at the end of the last Ice Age has attracted a lot of attention from Atlantis seekers because it coincides with Plato’s apparent date for the destruction of Atlantis and provides us with a possible source of the flood that subsequently not only wiped out the Atlanteans but possibly also the Athenians. However, meltwater from deglaciation causes global sea levels to rise very, very, slowly and so is extremely unlikely to have caused the destruction of the Atlanteans or Athenians as described by Plato.
The melting of the ice caps gradually caused the ocean levels to rise over a period of thousands of years and at times the retreat of the glaciers was halted and occasionally reversed. Although the melting of the ice was relatively steady, the water produced did not always reach the sea in a steady flow. Instead, it was frequently punctuated by enormous discharges of water particularly where ice dams had retained vast melt water lakes.
In the 1920’s a maverick geologist, J. Harlen Bretz (1882-1981), postulated that a huge ice-age flood had carved the landscape of Eastern Washington state, in just a few days. In spite of acrimonious opposition from the geology establishment of the day, Bretz persevered with his investigations, which eventually led to the identification of Lake Missoula as the probable culprit. Bretz was finally vindicated in 1979 when, in his nineties, he was awarded the prestigious Penrose Medal for his work(f). There is a beautifully illustrated National Geographic online article that reviews Bretz’s work(i).
These discharges of huge quantities of water are recognisable as relatively sudden spikes in the rate of sea level increases and are referred to as Melt Water Pulses WMP).
Lake Missoula in what is today the state of Montana is one of the best studied of these glacial lakes. The regular discharges from Lake Missoula, following ice dam collapses, were responsible for the creation of the dramatic scablands of the North-Western United States. Studies have revealed that between forty and eighty such floods were released from Lake Missoula alone.
However, an alternative to Lake Missoula as the cause of the scablands has been recently proposed(g), namely, the younger-dryas comet impact event. This event was highlighted by Richard Firestone and his colleagues in The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes. My problem with the idea of the comet impact is that it was a single event, whereas the Missoula discharges were numerous.
The power of fast flowing water was recently highlighted by a report published(c) in the journal of America’s National Academy of Sciences, where a study of Iceland’s unpronounceable Jokulsargljufur canyon indicated that this huge feature was created in a matter of days. In Iceland, such glacial outburst floods are known as Jökulhlaups(d).
It has now been estimated by scientists that around 6200 BC the ancient glacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway discharged into the Atlantic Ocean. These lakes were more than twice the size of the Caspian Sea and on their own are estimated to have raised sea levels by up to 4 feet. The freshwater flow is calculated at between 25 and 50 times the flow of the Amazon River and recent studies suggest that this sudden inflow of fresh water brought the Gulf Stream to a halt for more than a hundred years. A 2016 report(e) from CAGE (Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment) suggests that the Gulf Stream was not interrupted during the Ice Age.
Nick Thom has suggested that an even more dramatic consequence of the discharge from Lake Agassiz was the tilting of the Earth’s axis leading to the biblical Deluge and recorded around the world in hundreds of flood myths!
Similar melt water lakes across Northern Europe retained by ice dams produced equally dramatic discharges as the dams periodically broke. One of these occupied what is now the Baltic Sea and was 30 metres above the then ocean level before bursting into the North Sea around 10,000 BC. Less well known is the flooding that took place further east resulting in the creation of a vast inland sea of which the Black and Caspian Seas were just a small part. Ronnie Gallagher has written a revealing paper on the subject(a).
It is worth noting that, although on a smaller scale, two thirds of the thousands of Himalayan glaciers contain glacial lakes, which because of global warming today are growing at risk of bursting with consequent catastrophic results. As these glaciers retreat, apart from the damage to people and property the discharges will gradually reduce the downstream flow of water to rivers such as the Ganges.
paleoclimatologist, Hartmut Heinrich, who as recently as 1988 published evidence that there had been at least six massive discharges of icebergs from the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last Ice Age. These discharges could have contained millions of cubic kilometres of ice and must have caused substantial sea level rises. This Laurentide Ice Sheet was an enormous mass of ice that stretched from the Arctic through eastern Canada to the northern half of the United States that covered over 5 million square miles. The weight of this ice sheet was so great that it has been calculated that it depressed the earth’s crust by nearly half a mile. A recent paper contends that it was the collapse of this ice sheet, 8000 years ago causing a sea level rise that led to the breaching of a ridge damming the Bosporus and the inundation of the then freshwater Black Sea, which flooded over 73,000 square km of land.
In the southern hemisphere it was discovered a few years ago (Science, Dec.22, 2000) that the River Amazon had experienced a doubling of its outflow between 9800 BC and 9700 BC, probably as a consequence of the melting of Andean glaciers and perhaps increased rainfall during this period. The dates proposed are very close to the 9600 BC date provided by Plato for the submergence of Atlantis.
All these worldwide discharges must have resulted in the inundation of low-lying landmasses, such as the Celtic Shelf or Sundaland, in fits and starts forcing the inhabitants of these regions to regularly migrate to higher ground.
Since it is reasonable to assume that a large percentage of human settlements were then, as now, located along coasts, particularly at river mouths, the consequence for these embryonic cultures must have been catastrophic. It is very easy to see how legends of sunken civilisations probably have a very sound basis in fact. Two books by Graham Hancock and Stephen Oppenheimer have covered this idea in greater detail, lending credibility to the idea of a sunken island such as Atlantis.
However, it can be reasonably argued that the effects of deglaciation are not what Plato described. He spoke of earthquake and a flood that overwhelmed both the Athenians and the Atlanteans. This would more closely match the aftermath of a large seismic or tectonic event that generated enormous tsunamis rather than the gradual rising of sea levels, which even at its most dramatic could never have produced the effect of sinking Atlantis overnight.
However, the waters of tsunamis eventually flow back to the sea, but Plato’s account describes the event resulting in the creation of muddy shallows. To me it sounds more like liquefaction which occurs in soil with particular characteristics when subjected to an earthquake(b), similar to the destruction of the cities of Canopus and Herakleion near Alexandria.
A website that graphically illustrates the process of deglaciation after the last Ice Age is available(h).
(b) http://www.ce.washington.edu/~liquefaction/html/why/why1.html (offline June 2016) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20160316063736/http://www.ce.washington.edu/~liquefaction/html/why/why1.html