Late Bronze Age Collapse of civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC has been variously attributed to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and severe climate change. It is extremely unlikely that all these occurred around the same time through coincidence. Unfortunately, it is not clear to what extent these events were interrelated. As I see it, political upheavals do not lead to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or drought and so can be safely viewed as an effect rather than a cause. Similarly, climate change is just as unlikely to have caused eruptions or seismic activity and so can also be classified as an effect. Consequently, we are left with earthquakes and volcanoes as the prime suspects for the catastrophic turmoil that took place in the Middle East between the 15th and 12th centuries BC. Nevertheless, August 2013 saw further evidence published which blamed climate change for demise of civilisations in the region.
Robert Drews dismisses any suggestion that Greece suffered a critical drought around 1200 BC, citing the absence of any supporting reference by Homer or Hesiod as evidence. He proposes that “the transition from chariot to infantry warfare as the primary cause of the Great Kingdoms’ downfall.”
This extended period of chaos began around 1450 BC when the eruptions on Thera took place. These caused the well-documented devastation in the region including the ending of the Minoan civilisation and probably the Exodus of the Bible and the Plagues of Egypt as well. According to the Parian Marble, the Flood of Deucalion probably took place around the same time.
Professor Stavros Papamarinopoulos has written of the ‘seismic storm’ that beset the Eastern Mediterranean between 1225 and 1175 BC(a). Similar ideas have been expressed by Amos Nur & Eric H.Cline(b)(c). The invasion of the Sea Peoples recorded by the Egyptians, and parts of Plato’s Atlantis story all appear to have taken place around this period. Plato refers to a spring on the Athenian acropolis (Crit.112d) that was destroyed during an earthquake. Rainer Kühne notes that this spring only existed for about 25 years but was rediscovered by the Swedish archaeologist, Oscar Broneer, who excavated there from 1959 to 1967. The destruction of the spring and barracks, by an earthquake, was confirmed as having occurring at the end of the 12th century BC.
(this is a shorter version of (c) below)
The Population of Atlantis has been estimated by a number of Atlantologists, based on the data provided by Plato.
Otto Muck considered the population of Atlantis to have been at least 20 million.
“Let us begin with the allegedly excessive numbers of inhabitants. This can be roughly calculated from the details Plato gives of the organisation of the Atlantean armed forces: 480,000 foot soldiers, 120,000 horsemen, 160,000 manning the 10,000 heavy chariots and 60,000 light chariots, and 240,000 sailors. These add up to approximately one million men under arms.” From this, Muck extrapolated a total population of between twenty and forty millions for Atlantis.
Wolter Smit estimates(a) the Atlantean population figure to be between 28 and 155 millions. Constantin Benetatos suggests(b) a lower figure of between 6 and 10 millions but also considers Plato’s data to be exaggerated.
The total population of the entire world in 10,000 BC has been estimated at somewhere between one and ten millions(c)(d)(e)(f). Even if we accept the somewhat questionable higher figure, we can see that this is only a half or a quarter of the population of Atlantis on its own. Consequently, we are forced to conclude that either Plato’s dating is wrong or the Atlantean military manpower is exaggerated or, as I suspect, both are incorrect. Therefore, once again we are forced to view Plato’s numbers with some suspicion.
Recently, P.P. Flambas in his oversized Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis has suggested that the world population at 11,000 BC was stable at around three million people, although there is a greater consensus that the figure was one million. However, Plato’s total for the Atlantean military alone is one million, which forces us to either consider that his date for the Atlantean War and/or the size of the Atlantean army seriously wrong.I consider both to be exaggerated by a similar factor. The fact that the Athenians defeated the Atlanteans suggests much smaller armies and a lack of any archaeological evidence on Greek territory of more than a handful of troglodytes in the 10th millenium BC contradicts the date.
(b) http://www.atlantishistory.net/page8.htm (Offline March 2015)
Chariots numbering ten thousand are mentioned as an important part of Atlantis’ armed forces. However, it is generally accepted that chariots first appeared in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC and became fairly commonplace by the middle of the second millennium BC. There is no evidence of any of the major Late Bronze Age nations having any more than a few hundred chariots. It would also appear that these chariots were normally reserved for nobles, wearing full bronze armour. War chariots were only effective over open and relatively flat ground.
We should also keep in mind that the invention of the wheel itself is currently dated to not much earlier than 3500 BC(c) indicating that Plato’s reference to Atlantean chariots is anachronistic if we accept his apparent claim that the war with Atlantis took place around 9600 BC.
With regard to the Atlantis story, we must comment that 10,000 chariots controlled by one army, would only be required if a battleground had large tracts of flat land and if the enemy also possessed a similar force of chariots. Since no such enemy had been identified, we are forced to consider the clear possibility that the chariot numbers, as with so many other of the figures in Plato’s story, are suspect.
The greatest chariot battle in history took place in what is now Syria at the Battle of Kadesh in 1275 BC, between the Egyptians and the Hittites. The total number of chariots involved was between 5,000 and 6,000. In other words a literal acceptance of what Plato wrote suggests that the Atlanteans had twice the number of chariots as that of the opponents at Kadesh combined. On top of that, those that accept the Atlantis story literally try to tell us that the Atlanteans had 10,000 chariots, eight thousand years earlier than Kadesh, millennia before chariots were invented! As an aside, I should mention that the Battle of Kadesh was not the great victory by Ramses II that is often claimed(f).
The date given by Plato for the destruction of Atlantis is 9600 BC. This would make the existence of chariots at that time, not to mention in such numbers, a complete anachronism. It is not likely that Atlantis to have waged war with 10,000 chariots at that time without their enemies having developing a comparable fighting accessory. As already stated the Atlanteans would not have needed chariots in such numbers unless their opponents also had chariots and that the battlefield was suitable for such a conflict. Plato’s date would appear to be out by about 8000 years. Since chariots were only introduced into Britain in the 5th century BC, in other words after Solon. This would seem to rule out Britain as the home or even a colony of the original empire of Atlantis. Similarly, with no evidence of chariots in the ancient Americas or the Caribbean, it would not be unreasonable to rule them out as the Atlantis of Plato. If the reference to chariots is to be taken as a real attribute of the Atlantean military machine, we are forced to look, in very general terms, to the Mediterranean region, both inside and outside the Strait of Gibraltar as far as the Black Sea and Egypt.
I must also add that from a functional point of view the most efficient chariots required spoked wheels and that the oldest examples of which have been dated no earlier than 2000 BC(a). This alone is a reason to question Plato’s Atlantis date.
Arthur Cottrell, in his Chariot, discusses how the chariot lost its dominance in battle but developed as a form of entertainment with the introduction of chariot racing and were frequently used in funerary rituals of a number of cultures. Chariot racing as a spectator sport in Rome dates back to around the 6th century BC. It was also quite popular among the Etruscans and the Lucanians of Sicily in the 5th century BC. It was recently revealed that Roman racing chariots had an additional iron tyre fitted to the right wheel greatly enhancing the charioteer’s chance of winning(e).
The close of the Bronze Age saw an end to the supremacy of the war chariot with the introduction of new weaponry and military tactics. Robert Drews is Professor of Classics and History at Vanderbilt University has claimed in his book, The End of the Bronze Age,that these changes were responsible for the collapse of so many eastern Mediterranean cities around 1200 BC. A review(b) of Drews’ book should also be read.
In conclusion, Plato’s reference to 10,000 chariots being employed in 9600 BC is either a colourful embellishment or a mangled account of the military power of an unnamed Bronze Age society. If the former, supporters of this early date for Atlantis must explain the total lack of archaeological evidence of chariots as early as 9600 BC as well as its comtinued absence during the succeeding six or seven thousand years. Plato’s numbers are clearly flawed and are a matter that I hope to deal with more comprehensively in the near future.
The Army of Atlantis, according to the details given by Plato portrays a force comparable with any of the major empires of the Mediterranean or Middle East.
Even today the U.S. army only numbers around 1.5 million active soldiers. Atlantis had 800,000 foot soldiers, 200,000 horses, 10,000 chariots, and 1,200 ships. Most writers seem to have glossed over the enormous size of the Atlantean war machine although a few such as Wolter Smit have commented on it(a).
There is no need to maintain an army of that size unless there are potential enemies of similar strength. Who were these enemies? If the 9600 BC date is accepted, the size of this Atlantean army seems quite excessive. A fascinating military website(b)should have its first three chapters studied closely. Among many other matters it describes how in 2300 BC, Sargon of Akkad was hard put to maintain an army of 5,400 men. The same site relates how a thousand years later the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II had a mainly conscript army of 100,000 soldiers to maintain his entire empire, although another source(c) puts the figure as low as 20,000. Towards the end of the Roman Empire an army of 350,000 men controlled its vast territories.
The Battle of Karkar (Qarqar) in 853 BC was fought between the Assyrian army of Shalmaneser III against an alliance of eleven kings led by the king of Damascus. It is claimed to have had the greatest number of combatants up to that date. The Assyrians claimed to have had 100,000 troops, but this is disputed by some scholars(d).
The military numbers presented by Plato do appear inflated to the same extent as his dimensions of the Atlantean capital city as well as the date of the war with Atlantis. Either the entire story is an invention or Plato felt obliged to embellish an account of a real prehistoric military power with his own numbers in order to emphasise their might. Alternatively, we must consider the real possibility that all of Plato’s large numbers are suspect and should be revised downward by a common factor, probably ten!
Advanced Technology is regularly claimed by ‘fringe’ writers to have existed in ancient times. Technology can be defined as techniques, skills, methods and processes, usually intended to improve human lifestyle. ‘Advanced’ is a relative term implying superiority over what had previously existed – wheeled vehicles were an improvement on sleds or bronze tools were better than copper ones.
When such writers refer to advanced technology, they really mean apparent anachronistic technology, which is frequently inferred from the existence of structures that cannot be duplicated with today’s technology. It is argued by proponents of ancient advanced technology that many ancient monuments, such as Stonehenge, Lixus, Baalbek or the Pyramids, could not have been built without some unknown power source, frequently attributing the existence of such technologies to extraterrestrials from the planet ‘Zog’.
Also from Egypt is the claim that there is compelling evidence of powered stone cutting ‘machinery’. Similar evidence is also found in South America. A one hour Russian video with English dialogue, relating to this, is quite thought provoking(g) . While the evidence is strong, we cannot rule out the possible existence of long forgotten techniques rather than mechanical technologies, of which nothing has been found. In the case of ancient Egypt, we have the remains of their primitive tools as well as tomb walls decorated with the same implements. If they had possessed some advanced technology, why did they need those simple tools, which are still available to us, or depict such technology on their tomb walls.
For me it is also remarkable that cultures such as that of the Pueblo people of the American Southwest managed to “create architectural complexes using advanced geometry — with incredible mathematical accuracy”(o) despite having no written language or system of numerical notation.
Chris Dunn, famous for his belief that the Great Pyramid was in fact built as a power generator, has also claimed that the ancient Egyptians were capable of advanced machining(k) . Margaret Morris, a respected Egyptologist, took issue with Dunn, challenging him to a debate, which, as far as I can ascertain, never materialised. Morris encapsulated her objections thus(l) : “In short, Chris Dunn’s methodology is so poor that he has resorted to inventing a cataclysm that cannot be scientifically substantiated and he elevates the pyramid builders to the technological level of space travelers, with no physical evidence at all for either assertion.”
For my part, if the 2.9m high red granite head of Amenhotep III was carved by the Egyptians, without alien intervention, Dunn’s claims are pretty shallow.
However, I think it only fair that readers should have access to Dunn’s side of the dispute(m).
Sometimes the process is reversed and a simple technology is discovered today, which could have been known in the past, but since lost, which might explain the megalithic structures that still fill us with awe. An example of this is the discovery by W.T. Wallington(j), he calls it a ‘rediscovery’, of a simple method using a lever and a couple of pivots, for moving concrete blocks weighing many thousands of pounds.
While Wallington’s ‘rediscovery’ may not answer all the mysteries of the past it does raise the real possibility that future discoveries may provide unexpected explanations for some of today’s ‘mysteries’.
*A recent article on the Ancient Origins website by Lia Mangolini(r) offers her view that crude chemistry, using plant extracts, provided the means of dissolving rock, which could explain how some quality artifacts as well as tight-fitting ancient masonry, such as found in Peru and Egypt, may have been achieved. This certainly worth a read, but I would prefer to see a demonstration.*
Another or comparable technology may have been used by Edward Leedskainin when he single-handedly built Coral Castle in Florida City(n). What is certain is that Leedskainin had no help from intergalactic visitors.
The idea that advanced technology existed in Atlantis has been regularly claimed by various writers since the latter part of the 19th century.*However, I must emphasise that Plato offered no suggestion of the existence of any such technology.*
In 1886, Frederick S. Oliver (1866-1899) wrote a channelled book entitled A Dweller on Two Planets in which he attributed a number of technologies to the Atlanteans including anti-gravity and flying machines. This book has been the source of much more recent New Age drivel. Edgar Cayce also spoke of Atlantis having flying machines, but more entertainingly, he had them made of elephant skins!
However, leaving all that speculative nonsense aside, is it not strange that this ‘technologically advanced’ civilisation was defeated by the Athenians and that such a culturally sophisticated society was referred to by Plato as barbarians? Even more important is the fact that Plato, who provided such a detailed description of Atlantis, never gave the slightest hint that the Atlanteans had anything more technologically advanced than the chariot.
Technology worldwide, circa 9600 BC, is generally accepted as having been greatly inferior to that described by Plato in Atlantis. The reconciliation of this conflict is the greatest challenge facing supporters of such an early date for Atlantis. Their stance is quite understandable given that Plato refers to the war with Atlantis occurring 9,000 years before Solon’s visit to Egypt around 600 BC and that Atlantis was destroyed ‘afterwards’.
Plato’s description is totally consistent with a Late Bronze Age society. Not only does Plato’s Atlantis appear to be technologically advanced, in Bronze Age terms, but also their military might implies the existence of equally powerful potential enemies supported by similar technology. Consequently, it is not sufficient to claim that Atlantis disappeared along with its superior skills. It would be reasonable to expect that archaeology would uncover comparable technologies in various locations existing around the same time particularly since imperial Atlantis is supposed to have occupied or at least heavily influenced both north and south of the Mediterranean as far as Tyrrhenia and Libya respectively.
Some authors in an effort to verify Solon’s date have highlighted a number of controversial instances of apparently anachronistic advanced technology to support the possibility of an early Atlantis date. Artefacts such as the Antikythera Mechanism, the Baghdad Battery(a) and even the Ark of the Covenant(b) have all been adduced to give credence to such an idea. Even more daring are the independent claims that both the lighthouses at Pharos in Egypt and Faro in Portugal were powered by electricity. The claim of ancient Egyptian electricity is regularly trotted out(f) and was the subject of a recent book, edited by Larry Brian Radka. In all these instances hard proof is clearly lacking, with the sole exception of the Antikythera Mechanism, which, however, cannot be dated earlier than the 2nd century BC. The ingenuity of our ancestors was often underrated until something such as the Antikythera Mechanism was found and we were forced to modify our view of the past, but not necessarily abandon the accepted view that technology has evolved gradually, even if there are a few ‘missing links’ in the chain.
Even more worrying is the recurrent claim that atomic warfare was engaged in on the Indian sub-continent thousands of years ago. The late Philip Coppens wrote a short paper on this possibility in 2005(c). Equally persistent are claims of flying machines in ancient India which were given impetus by the publication of Aeronautics, a Manuscript From the Prehistoric Past, a translation of the 3,000 year old Vymanika Shastra by G.R.Joyser.
Casey Terry notes[1542.36] that Pavel Smutny, a Slovakian researcher has proposed that “maybe it is unusual and surprising, but in ornaments in old carpets are woven-in schemes, and principle plans of advanced technologies, which come from vanished cultures and thousands-year-old civilizations. These residues are probably the last ones, which can help revive forgotten, very sophisticated technologies and methods for exploitation of natural electrostatic energy sources.”
Smutny goes on to claim that the layouts of Egyptian temples “to a person familiar with the basics of computer technologies or even better to a person experienced with the construction of microwave circuits in bands above 1 gigahertz (GHz), he will tell you that these plans (of the temples) are schemes of PCB’s (boards for electronic circuits).”
Commenting on the Maltese temples Smutny proposes that the complexes “were used probably as generators of high frequency acoustic waves. Purpose were (maybe) to arrange a communication channel between various islands.”
Although the idea of electricity in ancient Egypt is a recurrent speculation, the possibility of electricity in ancient India is somewhat more credible. However, James Hartman refers(p) to another Sanskrit text which supports this belief, telling us that “In another amazing Indian text, the Agastrya Samhita, gives the precise directions for constructing electrical batteries:
‘Place a well-cleaned copper plate in an earthenware vessel. Cover it first by copper sulfate and then moist sawdust. After that put a mercury-amalgamated-zinc sheet on top of an energy known by the twin name of Mitra-Varuna. Water will be split by this current into Pranavayu and Udanavayu. A chain of one hundred jars is said to give a very active and effective force.’
Agastya Samhita (Indian Princes’ Library)
By the way, MITRA-VARUNA is now called cathode-anode, and Pranavayu and Udanavayu are to us oxygen and hydrogen. This document again demonstrates the presence of electricity in the East, long, long ago. In the not so distant past strange events are recorded in Europe’s past.”
A sceptical view of these claims is presented by Jason Colavito(d)(e)(q) who points out that, according to some sources, the passage quoted above is not to be found in the original text!
(h) http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/trades/tools.htm (link broken April 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20181226050814/http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/trades/tools.htm
America as the home of Atlantis took off as an idea shortly after its discovery (or perhaps more correctly, rediscovery) by Columbus. Initially, reports sent back to Europe designated America as ‘Paradise’
until its identification as Atlantis quickly took hold. John Dee in the time of Elizabeth I was convinced that the newly discovered Americas were in fact Atlantis, an idea endorsed by Francis Bacon. The first time that America was so named on a map was on the 1507(c) Waldseemüller map, sometimes referred to as “America’s birth certificate.” A rare copy of this map was recently found in Germany(e).
As late as 1700, a map of the world by Edward Wells was published in Oxford that highlights the paucity of information regarding the Americas at that time. However in this instance the accompanying text notes that “this continent with the adjoining islands is generally supposed to have been anciently unknown though there are not wanting some, who will have even the continent itself to be no other than the Insula Atlantis of the ancients.”
For over five centuries a variety of commentators have associated Atlantis with America and many of its ancient cultures together with a range of location theories that stretch from Maine through the Caribbean and Central America to Argentina.
Although most proponents of an American Atlantis, particularly following the continent’s discovery, did not specify a location, but were happy to consider the Americas in their entirety as Plato’s lost land.
Over time attention was more focused on Mesoamerica and the northern region of South America, where the impressive remains of the Maya and Incas led many to consider them to be Atlantean.
North America received minimal attention until the 19th century, when an 1873 newspaper report(i) claimed that there was support from unnamed scientists for locating remnants of Atlantis in the Adirondacks and some of the mountains of Maine! More recently Dennis Brooks has advocated Tampa Bay, Florida, while John Saxer supports Tarpon Springs, also in Florida as Atlantean. To confuse matters further, Mary Sutherland locates Atlantis in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and for good measure suggests that King Solomon’s mines are to be found in the same region!
For example, the discovery of the remains of the remarkable cultures of Mesoamerica generated speculation on the possibility of an Atlantean connection there. This view gained further support with the publication of Ignatius Donnelly’s groundbreaking work on Atlantis.
Some have seen an Atlantic location for Atlantis as a conduit between the culture of ancient Egypt and that of Meso-America(d).
Half a century ago Nicolai Zhirov claimed that Plato had knowledge of America[458.22] indicated by his statement that Atlantis was in a sea with a continent encompassing it. He thought that this was the earliest record of a continent beyond the Atlantic.
However, Plato also said that Atlantis was surrounded ‘on all sides’ by this continent, which is not compatible with the Azores, advocated by Zhirov as the location of Plato’s sunken island. In an effort to strengthen this claim Zhirov also claims that there is evidence that King Sargon of Akkad travelled to America in the middle of the third millennium BC, an idea that has gained little traction.
The idea of Sumerians in America was promoted by A.H. Verrill and his wife Ruth, who claimed that King Sargon travelled to Peru, where he was known as Viracocha. The Verrills support their contention with a range of cultural, linguistic and architectural similarities between the Sumerians and the Peruvians.
More recently, Andrew Collins has promoted the idea of Atlantis in the Caribbean, specifically Cuba. Followers of Edgar Cayce are still expecting the Bahamas to yield evidence of Plato’s island. Gene Matlock supports the idea of a Mexican location with an Indian connection, while Duane McCullough opts for Guatemala. Ivar Zapp and George Erikson have also chosen Central America for investigation. Further south Jim Allen has argued strongly for Atlantis having been located on the Altiplano of Bolivia. A website entitled American Atlantis Research from Edward Alexander , now offline, was rather weak on content and irritatingly referred to the ‘Andies’.
Although much of what has been written about an American location for Atlantis is the result of serious research, it all falls far short of convincing me that the Atlantis of which Plato wrote is to be found there. No evidence has been produced to even hint that any American culture had control of the Mediterranean as far Tyrrhenia in the north and Libya in the south. No remains or carvings of triremes or chariots have been found in the Americas. How could an ancient civilisation from America launch an attack across the Atlantic and at the furthest end of the Mediterranean 9,000 or even 900 years before Solon? An even more important question is, why would they bother? There is no evidence of either motive, means or opportunity for an attack from that direction.
A number of Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis would seem to rule out America as its location.
(a) As mentioned above, the ‘opposite continent’ referred to by Plato (Timaeus 25a) is described as encompassing the sea in which Atlantis lay. America cannot be described as enclosing the Atlantic.
(b) The Greeks only knew of three continents, Europe, Asia and Libya. Armin Wolf, the German historian, when writing about Scheria relates(f) that “Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria (southern Italy) they say they are going to the “continente.” I suggest that Plato used the term in a similar fashion and was quite possibly referring to that same part of Italy which later became known as ‘Magna Graecia’. Robert Fox in The Inner Sea[1168.141] confirms that this long-standing usage of ‘continent’ refers to Italy.
(c) Herodotus described Sardinia as “the biggest island in the world” (Hist.6.2). In fact Sicily is marginally larger but as islands were measured in those days (Felice Vinci) by the length of their coastal perimeter Herodotus was correct. Consequently, it can be argued that since Cuba and Hispaniola are much more extensive than Sardinia, the Greeks had no knowledge of the Caribbean.
(d) Plato makes frequent reference to horses in Atlantis. The city itself had a track for horseracing (Critias 117c). The Atlanteans had thousands of chariots (Critias 119a). The Atlanteans even had horse baths (Critias 117b). All these references make no sense if Plato was describing an American Atlantis as there were no horses there for over 12,000 years, when they died out, until brought back by the Spaniards millennia later. Furthermore, it makes even less sense if you subscribe to the early date (9600 BC) for Atlantis as it is thousands of years before we have any evidence for the domestication of the horse, anywhere.
A recent study of worldwide DNA patterns suggests that “no more than 70 people inhabited North America 14,000 years ago.”(b) But a more important claim has been offered by Professors Jennifer Raff and Deborah Bolnick who have co-authored a paper offering evidence(J) that the genetic data only supports a migration from Siberia to America. This certainly runs counter to any suggestion of transatlantic migration from Europe.
A 2013 book, L’America dimenticata, by Italian physicist and philologist Lucio Russo, claims that the ancient Greeks had knowledge of America and it was gradually forgotten because of mistakes made by Ptolemy including a 15 degree error for the latitude of the Canaries(g).
While there is extensive debate regarding the Americas being visited by ancient Greeks (Minoans), Phoenicians and even Sumerians, there seems little doubt that America had been visited by various other peoples prior to Columbus such as Welsh, Vikings or Irish. The case for the latter is strengthened by a 500-year-old report(h) of a long-established Irish colony in North America called Duhare.
*America as Atlantis and the source of freemasonry knowledge was recently repackaged in a brief article on the Odyssey website(k) quoting Manly P. Hall who in turn cited Plato and Sir Francis Bacon. It then proceeds to speculate on what lessons the story of this original American Atlantis offers the America of today!*
(h) http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.ie/2014/03/490-year-old-spanish-documents-describe.html (link broken August 2018) See: Archive 2843
Horse Racing in Atlantis is an unexpected reference by Plato (Critias, 117c). It should be pointed out that his reference is, it would appear to be to horse racing as opposed to chariot racing, both of which were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 638 BC, and later were avidly followed in the Roman Empire. It is worth mentioning here that Paul Cartledge, professor of Greek History at Cambridge University informs us that at Olympia and other Greek locations, both the running and horse racing tracks were straight where laps were up and back. This would seem to suggest a foreign source for the Atlantis story rather than it being a concoction of Plato’s.
Originally horses were hunted for food and their hides. Our knowledge at present is that the horse was first domesticated in central Asia around 4500 BC. A major study published in May 2018(e) has reinforced this ‘steppe theory’ and importantly has shown how the spread of horse domestication went hand-in-hand with the proliferation of Indo-European languages.
Marsha A. Levine, a leading expert in this field, has pointed out that the earliest existing evidence for the use of the horse, as a means of transport is around 2000 BC, with the Sintashta chariot burials. Sintashta was in the steppes east of the Urals. However, there is evidence that horses were used for riding as early as 4000 BC. This is based on the type of bit wear found on the molars of excavated remains. On the other hand these early horses were much smaller than their modern successors and in the view of some were too small for riding and so must have been driven. Our knowledge of the prehistoric horse is still developing and subject to considerable debate. A number of researchers have argued for a very early date for the domestication of the horse including the archaeologist, Evan Hadingham, who points to evidence which indicates the existence of this domestication as early as the Upper Palaeolithic.
The latest evidence for domestication of the horse as early as 3500 BC has come from studies carried out in Kazakhstan(a)(c). However, this is put in the shade by the discovery of the 9,000 year-old al-Maqar civilisation in Arabia where evidence for domestication is pushed back to late Neolithic period(b).
A recent paper now offers evidence that equine dentistry was practiced as early as 1150 BC in northern Mongolia(f).
There is a record that in 1,340 BC a remarkable Mitanni called Kikkuli was enticed by the Hittite king Suppililuma to become his horse manager. After training the Hittite horses to a high degree, they were instrumental in wiping out the Mitanni.
In the case of Plato’s Atlantis tale we have not only the horse racing to consider but also the considerable number of chariots referred to. It should be borne in mind that war chariots were only of use in open and reasonably flat terrain. Effective chariots were dependent on spoked wheels, which were not invented until around 2000 BC. This could be a clue to the origin of the Atlantis story.
There is also reference to a statue in the Temple of Poseidon, the god of horses, of a chariot drawn by six winged horses. (Why would such chariots require wheels?)
Even more bizarre, is Plato’s description of horse baths (Critias 117b), a facility that was highly unlikely around 9600 BC. Furthermore, if we take Plato’s text at face value, all these references to horses clearly rules out America as the location of Atlantis, as horses were not found there until imported by the Spaniards.
An interesting website dealing with the relationship of humans with the horse is available(d).
(d) http://www.imh.org/search/node/domestication%20of%20the%20horse (link broken Oct. 2018) See: Archive 2370