Factor Ten is a term I have employed to describe the fact that so many of the numbers in Plato’s Atlantis story, referring to time, physical dimensions and population all appear to be exaggerations, but would be more credible if reduced by a factor of ten. The date of 9600 BC for a war between Atlantis and Athens is not compatible with the Bronze Age description given by Plato, the dimensions of the canals in the city of Atlantis suggest a profligate degree of over-engineering and the size of the Atlantean army, as recorded, is comparable to the numerical strength of today’s USA’s military. On top of that, there is no archaeological evidence to support the idea of Athens having anything more than a Stone Age culture in the 10th millennium BC.
Dr A. G. Galanopoulos, who spent years excavating on Santorini, alsosuggested that all numbers in the thousands in Plato’s text were exaggerated, during translation, by a factor of ten. One can be forgiven for thinking that he was prompted to do this in order to match Atlantis to the timeframe of the Theran eruption, which occurred about 900 years before Solon’s Egyptian trip. However, J. V. Luce and Dorothy Vitaliano have refuted this idea.
A more frequently suggested explanation for the conflict between the 9,000 years given by Plato and the Bronze Age backdrop is that a lunar rather than a solar calendar was utilised by the Egyptian priests which would bring the two elements more into phase. So perhaps ‘Factor Twelve’ might be a more appropriate appellation.
Eudoxus of Cnidos (c.408-355 BC) who also studied astronomy with the priests of Heliopolis in Greece was one of the first to suggest that the Ancient Egyptians used lunar cycles to measure time. The idea was later endorsed by the Egyptian priest Manetho, Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus. Centuries later, Francisco Cervantes de Salazar (1514-1575) in his Crónica de la Nueva España he was a firm supporter of the idea of interpreting Plato’s 9,000 ‘years’ as lunar cycles, echoing the earlier statement of Eudoxus.
However, while the substitution of solar years with lunar cycles would give a date for the Atlantean war that is more compatible with conventional archaeology, it still leaves the apparently inflated dimensions and military numbers recorded by Plato, unexplained. Since all of Plato’s numbers, in the Atlantis narrative appear to be overstated by a similar amount it would seem appropriate to invoke the application of Occam’s Razor(c), which leads to an exaggeration by a factor of ten as the most likely explanation!
The use of lunar rather than solar units might explain the unrealistic ages ascribed to biblical characters such as Adam, Methuselah, or Noah although close study does not address all the difficulties. Similar problems exist with the length of the reign of individual Sumerian kings. My belief is that a common explanation will eventually be found to rationalise both sets of anomalies. The answer will probably include the application of the Sumerian use of a numeric base of 60, coupled with lunar, solar and the Egyptian use of three seasonal ‘years’ per solar year. Zoltán Simon has claimed that the ages of the patriarchs were calculated using 90-day ‘years’[0549.7].
A number of suggestions have been put forward to explain how Plato’s exaggerated numbers came to be. Georgeos Diaz-Montexanocontends that it was not any confusion over hieroglyphics that led to the a tenfold exaggeration of numbers but the fact that in the spoken language of the Egyptians 100 and 1000 can be easily confused.
What may be of relevance is the fact that the Cretan scripts known as Linear A and Linear B use similar numbering signs. The number 100 is designated by a circle whereas 1000 is a circle with four nipples known as excrescences at the cardinal points. Both James Mavor and Rodney Castleden have advocated the idea that it was a misreading of these Minoan numerals that led to Plato recording hundreds as ‘thousands’.
Another reason for considering a factor ten error in Plato’s numbers may be drawn from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary, which has been developed over the past three decades at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. It is edited by Professor Janet H. Johnson and is concerned with the ancient Egyptian cursive script in use from circa 650 BC, which is around the time of Solon, until the 5th century AD. Their website reveals that the cursive numerals for hundreds only differ from thousands by having longer tails(b) . I note that Johnson also records “that thousands sometimes had longer tails than expected”(p.23). This offers another credible explanation for how a transcription error could increase numbers by a factor of ten, which would bring Plato’s dates into conformity with other details in his Atlantis story, namely the Bronze Age milieu so clearly described there.
I also note that the Greeks had no zero or decimal point in their number system, making this kind of tenfold mistake quite a credible one(a).
Dr Paul Borchardt (1886-1957) at the very least could never have claimed to have lived a dull life. He came from a Jewish family but adopted Theosophy, publishing a commentary on Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled while still in his early twenties. He joined the German army and served in the Middle East during the First World War , working as a pilot and spy. After that war he explored Tunisia, which led to his contribution to Atlantology. In 1929 he became a professor of military geography in Munich, but, his Jewish background led to his dismissal in 1933 and later in 1938 was sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Intervention by a relative led to his release and emigration to Britain in 1939. MI5 were impressed by his wartime exploits and his anti-Nazi outlook.
However, Borchardt travelled to the United States and quite incredibly was recruited as a German spy by the infamous Kurt Frederick Ludwig who was already under surveillance by the authorities. When the so-called Joe K spy ring was broken up Borchardt was sentenced to 20 years in prison, narrowly avoiding the death penalty. Once again through the influence of friends he got early release and a pension.
Borchardt was convinced that Atlantis had been located in North Africa(a). He particularly favoured an area between the Chott el Jerid and the Gulf of Gabés, off Tunisia. James Bramwell notes[195.115] that Borchardt recorded the location as Ham Mam and that he had deduced that the salt lake, Chott Hammeina, was once called the “Lake of the Atlantes”, formerly known as Lake Tritonis. El Hamma (Al Hammah) is a town 30km west of Gabès.
The topography of the region together with the ruins of an ancient city near Gabés that Borchardt discovered along with with traces of irrigation canals, as well as a huge concentric feature, convinced Borchardt that he had identified Plato’s Atlantis. He believed that the Pillars of Hercules were not the mountains on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar but instead were actual pillars in a temple of Hercules in the at the Gulf of Gabés near the entrance to the chotts.
It may be worth mentioning that the Maltese archipelago, just north of Tunisia, also had an ancient temple dedicated to Hercules.
Borchardt differentiated between the island of Atlantis and the location of the citadel of Poseidon. He identified similarities between Berber tribal names and the ten kings of Atlantis e.g. Plato refers to the founder of the royal house of Atlantis as Euenor, which is claimed to be echoed in the name of Uenur, the mythical father of all the Berbers.
A 1928 newspaper report(b) is also worth a look.
Ulf Richter (1935-2006) was a German researcher who was a regular contributor to the Atlantis Rising forums and presented a paper(a) to the 2005 Atlantis conference on Melos. Richter offered us a number of very interesting and cogently argued points in his essay. He discusses the topographical details provided by Plato and concludes that the capital city of Atlantis was constructed on a river delta(b). He contended that the ‘circular’ canals were possibly an adaptation of existing natural features and provides good reasons to believe that the dimensions noted by Plato are incorrect as a consequence of confusion between the Greek stade and the Egyptian ‘khet’.
Richter offered some thoughtful comments regarding his interpretation of Plato’s reference to 9,000 years, subsequently quoted on an online forum(d). [see Archive 2846]
Sadly, Ulf died of cancer in April 2006.
Cuba is a Caribbean island favoured by some as a serious contender for the location of Atlantis.
” A two-page article appeared in the February 1952 edition of the magazine ECOS entitled ’Formó Cuba Parte de la Atlándida?’. Written by Francisco Garcia-Juarez, the press secretary of the Instituto Cubano de Arqueologia (Institute of Cuban Archaeology, or ICA) it posed the question: did Cuba once form part of Atlantis? He explained how members of the Institute were investigating the idea that traces of an Atlantean culture might be found in Cuba and Hispaniola.” This study had been prompted by a suggestion from Egerton Sykes(e).
Some years ago, Leicester Hemingway, the brother of Ernest, claimed to have spotted off the northern coast of Cuba “an expanse of stone ruins, several acres in area”.
In more recent years, it was reported that Paulina Zelitsky and her team of underwater explorers found formations, in 2000 feet of water off the western tip of Cuba that resembled submerged cities. Although further explorations were planned it is reported that U.S. government applied pressure to have any further funding denied. May 2013 had Zelitsky trying to revive interest in her theories in an interview with Luis Mariano Fernandez(d).*However, in 2012, Andrew Collins offered a different account of the Zelitsky funding difficulties(g).*
Andrew Collins is probably the best-known supporter of a Cuban Atlantis. His book and website(a) list eleven points in favour of this theory. He contends that Cuba’s western plain, which stretches from Havana westwards to Pinar del Rio was the great Plain of Atlantis described by Plato. He believes that the main city was located near the present Isle of Youth (Isla de la Juventud) situated in the south of the island. In 2009 Norman Frey wrote a paper(b) supporting the Gulf of Batabanó which lies north of the Isle of Youth as Atlantis’ location at the end of the last Ice Age. He supports his contention with satellite images and the work of Dr. Christine Pellech.
A.R.E. is also a supporter of Cuba as a possible location for the capital of Atlantis. They have suggested an underwater ‘island’ at Zapata, located on the southern side of Cuba, north of the Isle of Youth and just to the west of the infamous Bay of Pigs. This ‘island’ is surrounded by a small ring of water and is about 7 miles in diameter, consistent with Plato’s description of the outer ring of Atlantis. A.R.E.’s Greg Little obtained old depth and bottom contour charts of the site and found that the island was comprised of a series of rings. Little also identified other features in the locality that match Plato’s story; ancient manmade canals north of the underwater island. These canals have been attributed to the Taino Culture, a mound builder culture present in Cuba about 3,000 years ago that became extinct shortly after the Spanish conquest. Further north there is a mountain range enclosing the area with a wide river running at its base — a further match with Plato. Little also found that the centre of the underwater island is not only the tallest portion, but also has several springs on it.
One completely off-the-wall suggestion has been that the Cuban Missile Crisis was instigated to prevent the soviets from finding Atlantis(f)!!
A project to compile an archaeological Atlas of Cuba has so far identified over 3,000 pre-Columbian sites. Cuba’s westernmost province, Pinar del Rio and the central region of Villa Clara have the highest density of sites, with 500 each(c).
(f) http://www.geekation.com/atlantis-found-aka-the-cuban-atlantis-crisis/ (link broken May 2018) See: Archive 2462
Canals are recognised as having been critical for the development of many ancient civilisations and are also evidence for the engineering capabilities of these early societies. Recent discoveries(a) in the Peruvian Andes revealed canals over 5,400 years old.
Canals in the capital city of Atlantis are described by Plato in great detail but with dimensions that are quite unrealistic. One possible explanation for this; the whole story is fiction and the dimensions were just pulled out of thin air. However, if Plato or anyone had been writing fiction you would expect such details to be closer to reality. In fact Plato expresses incredulity at these dimensions but notes them as a record of Solon’s report. This adds weight to the theory that the numbers had been transcribed erroneously from the original Egyptian sources or the units of measurements were misunderstood.
To my mind the extent of the irrigation canals recorded by Plato would seem to suggest that the Plain of Atlantis was subject to a dry climate.
The dimensions might be that of a natural feature adapted to suit the needs of a fortified harbour. The latter idea has been proposed and expanded on by Ulf Richter(e).
Extensive ancient canal systems have been identified in both North and South America. John Jensen has discovered one such network in the Louisiana region(a), but has had the good sense not to try to associate it with Atlantis. Jensen’s site also deals with canals in Mexico and Africa. His claim regarding the Louisiana canals has been challenged online(c) and as of March 2016 his own website is offline. However, in early 2017 Jensen published another paper on the Migration-Diffusion website(d) about ancient canals, which includes a reference to the ancient canals on the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts, also dated to the 6th millennium BC.
Further information regarding the Mexican pre-Colombian irrigation systems is available on the Ancient Origins website(b).
Albania has not been excluded from the quest for links with Atlantis. Andi Zeneli had a website that delved into the ancient history of Albania which from the 10th century BC was part of Illyria. He makes great use of the controversial Oera Linda Book and linguistics in order to produce a convoluted association between Albania and Atlantis.
Zeneli had a separate website, also defunct, that dealt more specifically with the history of the ancient Illyrians.
There was also an ancient kingdom of Albania in the Caucasus between Iberia and and the Caspian Sea, approximately where Azerbaijan is now situated. It was once thought that the Adriatic Albanians had originated there but this was disproved on linguistic grounds in the 19th century.
A more recent claim is that satellite imagery has revealed a network of lines near Durrés, west of Tirana, which are the remnants of Plato’s Atlantean canals. The co-ordinates of 41.08-41.02 N and 19.23 E. A blogsite(c) is also home to a number of articles adding further support to the Durrés theory.
The Albanian hypothesis, however interesting has so far failed to answer many of the critical questions raised by Plato’s dialogues. Where were the Pillars of Heracles? What evidence is there for Albanian (Illyrian) influence extending to Tyrrhenia and Libya? Why did Plato not simply say that Atlantis had been located next door in the western Balkans? Without an answer to these and other questions we are forced to consider the Durres location as at best speculative.
However, in a desperate attempt to bolster this theory it has been pointed out (e) that the Illyrian tribe in the region was called Taulanti and the region itself Taulantis, inferring that it was modified to ‘Atlantis’!
A YouTube clip(d) offers a more graphic presentation of the theory while another link(f) offers a number of satellite images of Durres.
(e) http://www.zeriyt.com/the-link-between-albania-and-atlantis-the-lost-continent-t17095.0.html (offline 6/6/14)
The Adriatic Sea was mainly dry land during the last Ice Age until it was inundated between 8500-6000 BC. The last decade has seen a number of sites in the Adriatic region nominated as possible locations for Atlantis. A sunken town near Zadar would appear to be the latest candidate(d).
Fatih Hodzic, a Slovenian writer, has offered of a new theory(a), which places Atlantis in the southern Adriatic Basin. He contends that the destruction of Atlantis was a consequence of an asteroid impact, recorded in Greek mythology as Phaëton, impacting in either the Ionian or the Tyrrhenian Sea just west of Sicily.
*The Italian side of the Adriatic has also had claims made of an association with Atlantis such as with Valbruna . More detailed is the claim by Morven Robertson that Atlantis had been situated between Padua and Ferrara, not far from Venice.*
Mljet is a Croatian island close to Dubrovnik and believed by some to be Homer’s Ogygia, which in turn has been identified as Atlantis. This same island offers a competing claim to be the place where St. Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome, rather than Malta. At the risk of offending my Maltese friends, I consider the Mljet claim to have some considerable merit. Apart from anything else, at that time ships, for reasons of safety, preferred to stay close to shore, which suggests that to use the Strait of Otranto would provide the shortest open sea journey available, after that the Strait of Messina would bring them straight up the Italian coast to Rome! I find it hard to understand how at any point on that route that a storm could have threatened to carry them to Syrtis Minor (Southern Tunisia) which was about 400 miles at the nearest point.
*Dubrovnik was recently claimed to have a number of pyramids in its vicinity by Pero Metkovic as well as the location of Atlantis. His rather rambling blog(g) offers no evidence apart from over-imaginative speculation.*
Another claim is that satellite imagery has revealed a network of lines near Durrés, west of Tirana in Albania, which are the remnants of Plato’s Atlantean canals. The co-ordinates are 41.08-41.02 N and 19.23 E. A blogsite(b) is also home to a number of articles adding support for this Durrés theory.
While the above suggestions are interesting, they are not convincing. Does it not seem strange that had Atlantis been located in the Adriatic, next door to Greece, that the Greeks in general and Plato in particular would have been unaware of it?
The Adriatic was also the backdrop to Homer’s Odyssey according to a new book by Zlatko Mandzuka, himself a native of the region. Even more radical is the claim that Troy itself had been located in Bosnia-Herzegovina or adjacent Croatia, the former by Roberto Salinas Price in 1985, while more recently the latter is promoted by Vedran Sinožic.
When the sunken ruins of a city, dated to around 1500 BC were discovered in 2015, near Croatia’s oldest city, Zadar, it generated the usual flurry of Atlantis speculation.
There was a media report(f) in early 2017 in which Mark Kempf claimed to have discovered the remains of Atlantis 30 miles off the coast of Croatia. Kempf is a treasure hunter and hopes that the discovery by him and his team will yield a fortune. I consider this report to be somewhat dubious.