An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Joining The Dots


Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.


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Cornwall

Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla and Charybidis were a sea monster and a whirlpool in Greek mythology who according to Homer and other writers were located opposite each other across a narrow strait. This led to the idiomatic phrase “between Scylla and Charybidis” similar to our more modern phrase of being “between the devil and the deep blue sea” describing being caught between two opposing forces.

Many, such as Heinrich Schliemann[1243], assume the original to have been located between Sicily and the Italian mainland at the strait of Messina. A minority have opted for the Scylla being Calpe (The Rock of Gibraltar) and Charybdis being Mt. Abyla across the strait in North Africa or in other words the Pillars of Heracles(a) . However, Professor Arysio Santos promoting his Atlantis in Indonesia theory suggested that the ‘original’ Pillars of Heracles were in at Sunda Strait and later brought to ancient Greece where it was included by Homer in his Odysseus as Scylla and Charybdis!(b)

Writers who have located the wanderings of Ulysses in the North Atlantic have gone further afield in their search for Scylla and Charybdis with the west coast of Scotland (Pillot[742] and Nyland[394]), the Orkneys (Sora)[395] southwest Cornwall near the Scilly Isles (Wilkens)[610] .

(a)  http://www.cadiznews.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=29858 (offline April, 2015)
(b) http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1yeBGKreTCYC&pg=PA286&lpg=PA286&dq=%22scylla+and+charybdis%22+pillars+of+heracles&source=bl&ots=OHY6tg_u_n&sig=CCNonMEsUxIRU4DXYPUGH8F_mP8&hl=en&ei=_xF6TrW0DIqp0AX_ltyvAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Mining

Mining as a human activity dates back many thousands of years in various parts of the world Recently, the earliest example of mining in the Americas was an iron oxide mine in Chile dating back to around 10,000 BC(a). However, metals, such as gold, silver, copper and tin were not the only material extracted in this way, pigments, flint and salt were also mined in ancient times. The silver mines of Lavrio in Greece employed 29,000 slaves at its peak.

In the Mediterranean itself, Cyprus was an important source of copper, giving the island its name. However, the most important mineral source was probably Sardinia, which for the Romans was one of the three most important sources of metals, along with Spain and Brittany. Although there was a limited amount of tin mined in the Mediterranean region, most came from Spain, Brittany as well as Devon and Cornwall.

Mining in Atlantis is recorded by Plato in Critias 114e where he states that there were many mines producing orichalcum as well as other metals. Mrs. Whishaw contended that the pre-Roman copper mines of Southern Spain was the source of the Atlantean orichalcum.

However, the most extensive ancient mines were probably those of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where copper mining was carried on between 3000 and 1200 BC. It has been guesstimated that up to 1.5 billion pounds of the metal was extracted. It is further speculated that much of this was used to feed the Bronze Age needs of Europe and the Mediterranean(b)(c). This is hotly disputed by local archaeologists(d). 

(a) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-05/uocp-auo051811.php

(b) http://www.grahamhancock.com/forum/WakefieldJS1.php

(c) http://www.superiorreading.com/copperhistory.html

(d) http://www.ramtops.co.uk/copper.html   (offline Sept. 2017) (see Archive 2102)

Steuerwald, Hans (L)

Hans Steuerwald is another unconventional German writer who favours the idea of the capital of Atlantis being located on the Celtic Shelf near Penzance in Cornwall. This he expressed in his 1983 book, Der Untergang von Atlantis (The Fall of Atlantis)[564], in which he also dated its demise to 1240 BC.

He has also supported[565] the idea that Homer’s Odysseus (Roman Ulysses} visited Scotland on his famous travels.

Scilly Isles

The Scilly Isles are located south west of Cornwall’s Land’s End in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands were more extensive before the ending of the last Ice Age and their inundation following the melting of the glaciers undoubtedly produced the numerous legends in the region of sunken cities and lost civilisations. Apparently there was once a paved causeway joining some of the islands and according to an 18th century report, it was then under 8 feet of water. Even earlier in the 3rd century AD, Solinus referred to the Scillies in the singular as insulam Siluram.

O.G.S. Crawford, who was the first Archaeology Officer with the British Ordnance Survey, was also the founder in 1927 of Antiquity which continues today. In its first edition(c) he wrote of the earlier Scillies as a single landmass and its relationship to the legend of Lyonesse(b).

scilly 1Some writers have identified the Scillies as the Cassiterides (Isles of Tin) referred to by Pliny the Elder. However, there are no known tin deposits on the islands, although it is possible that before the ocean levels rose ore deposits were accessible, similar to those in nearby Devon and Cornwall, but this inundation probably occurred before the technology existed to exploit its use.

A popular view is that the mythical sunken land of Lyonesse was situated between the Scillies and Land’s End in Cornwall. This is often seen as a parallel with the Breton legend of Ys.

In more recent times the Russian Scientist Viatcheslav Koudriavtsev was convinced that Atlantis was located on the Celtic Shelf near the Scilly Isles. He specifically identified an underwater feature know as the Little Sole Bank, whose highest point is just 75 metres beneath the ocean’s surface. He had been promoting his theory since 1995 and eventually obtained official government permission to carry out explorations in the area, but he was unable to raise the necessary funds to carry out the operation.

In 2009, excavations on St. Agnes in the Scillies revealed a remarkable Bronze Age pottery sherd which seems to depict the earliest know image of a sailing boat ever found in the United Kingdom(a).

In 1651, the Netherlands declared war on the Scillies, a little detail that was forgotten until 1986, when a peace treaty was finally signed(d) !

(a) http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/archaeology/art397577

(b) http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/180738221?searchTerm=Atlantis discovered&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

(c) http://antiquity.ac.uk/archive (Jan. 2019 access restricted)

(d) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Hundred_and_Thirty_Five_Years%27_War

Bronze Age

The Bronze Age is the second of the generalised three part division of prehistory into Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. I say generalised because different parts of the world developed bronze technology at different times(g), while some moved straight from Stone to Iron, others had a Copper Age before their Bronze Age. There is now clear evidence that tin-bronze was used at a Vinca site in Serbia as early as 4650 BC(d).

However, the Bronze Age was clearly the literary if not the historical backdrop to Plato’s Atlantis narrative. In Greece this is generally accepted as the 2nd millennium BC. Plato refers to Triremes (developed around 600 BC), Chariots (Mesopotamia around 3000 BC), Horse-racing (first domesticated in Asia around 4500 BC), writing, metallurgy etc., etc. Recently, the date of the end of the Greek Bronze Age has been pushed back by approximately a century to around 1125 BC(f).

The Bronze Age in the Mediterranean region saw two periods of great political turbulence, the first around 2200 BC and the second a millennium later(h).

However, when he twice states that Atlantis was destroyed 9,000 years before Solon’s visit to Egypt, he presents us with a serious problem, as the Bronze Age is incompatible with a 9600 BC date. Which is right or are they both wrong and consequently is the entire story a complete fiction? Alternatively, it is possible that Plato’s story is a combination of more than one story or is Plato’s narrative a combination of fact and fiction.?

In general terms, although there was copper in North America and tin in South America, it seems that they were not brought together in any meaningful way to give America a Bronze Age comaprable with Europe or Asia(n).

Frank Joseph among others has suggested that the enormous quantities of copper mined in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were destined for the bronze manufacturers of Europe(I). He considers this extraction and exportation to have been the work of the Atlanteans. Gavin Menzies attributes the exploitation of the Michigan mines to the Minoans[780].

In 2018, it was claimed in a new paper(m) that Plutarch may have referred to Greek visits to Canada in the first century AD. The authors who included Greek archaeologist Ioannis Liritzis, do admit that the claim is speculative.

The America Unearthed TV series, presented by Scott Wolter, also examined the idea of Minoans mining in Michigan (S1 E3). Jason Colavito wrote a highly critical review of the episode(j), while an even more extensive critique can be found on the archyfantasies.com website(k).

It is interesting that this mining appears to have ceased around 1200 BC or approximately at the same time that the Bronze Age came to an end in Europe. This idea of the Michigan copper mining being the work of Old World traders is hotly disputed by local archaeologists such as Susan R. Martin(b).

Recent years have seen the discovery of numerous Bronze Age mines in the British Isles and across Europe, including the vast Great Orme Mines in Wales accepted by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest Bronze Age copper mine in the world that were rediscovered again in 1987(a), a view reinforced, more recently, with research, by scientists from the University of Liverpool(o)(p). When you consider the output of these copper mines and the huge amount of tin produced in Cornwall, it is clear that Britain made a major contribution to the development of the European Bronze Age. These Welsh mines are estimated to have been abandoned around 600 BC.

Such European mines together with those found in the Near East have naturally led to a questioning of Joseph’s thesis. If copper was so widely available to the Europeans at home, what was the incentive for Atlanteans to mine copper in Michigan and ship it to Europe with the relatively primitive vessels and navigation available at that time?

It is interesting to note that the geophysicist Marc-André Gutscher who had supported Collina-Girard’s contention that Spartel Island near the Strait of Gibraltar had been the possible location of Atlantis, withdrew his support(c) for the idea following the evidence presented at the 2005 Atlantis Conference, which convincingly demonstrated the Bronze Age setting of Plato’s story. Gutscher found this incompatible with the fact that Spartel Island had been submerged about 12,000 years ago.

In spite of Gutscher’s withdrawal of support Collina-Girard continues to promote his theory, having published a book, L’Atlantide retrouvée, in support of it, in 2009.

The other half of bronze production requirements is a supply of tin. In this connection, recent research has show that the eastern Mediterranean is virtually devoid of any sources of tin(e), contrasting sharply with the western basin which had Cassiterite in Sardinia, Spain and Morocco.

(a)  http://www.greatormemines.info/

(b)  See Archive 2547

(c) http://archaeology.about.com/od/controversies/a/atlantis05_3.htm

(d) http://www.stonepages.com/news/archives/005197.html

(e)  See: Archive 2100

(f) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141009100924.htm

(g) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age#Age_sub-divisions

(h) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1361474/Meteor-clue-to-end-of-Middle-East-civilisations.html

(i) See Archive  3645

(j) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/review-of-America-unearthed-s01e03-great-lakes-copper-heist

(k) https://archyfantasies.com/mysterious-minoan-miners-and-the-missing-michigan-minerals-america-unearthed-s-1-ep-3/

(l) https://medium.com/the-bronze-age

(m) https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/did-ancient-greeks-sail-to-canada/

(n) https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/2519/was-there-a-bronze-age-in-the-americas

(o) https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/boom-and-bust-in-bronze-age-britain-major-copper-production-from-the-great-orme-mine-and-european-trade-c-16001400-bc/356E30145B1F6597D8AAA0DDBE69BD51

(p) https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-50213846

Also See: Factor Ten

Lyonesse

Lyonesse is a mythical land between Cornwall and the Scilly Isles that reputedly sank into the sea. Ancient maps indicate that most of the Scillies were united in Roman times(a) noted by Peter Stanier in his book[0997] about the region. Legend has it that it contained 140 temples. Mordred, is said to have fought his final battle with King Arthur at Lyonesse. This ancient tale has been regularly linked with the destruction of Atlantis.

There is a parallel Breton legend of Kêr-Is (Ker-Ys in French).scilly 1

A group of rocks called the “Seven Sisters” lies six miles (10 km) off Land’s End, the southernmost tip of Britain. According to legend, these rocks mark the site of a kingdom that once linked Britain to France. The site description fits in with the Cornish myth of the kingdom of Lyonesse – also known as the City of Lions. In the 5th century A.D., Lyonesse was inundated and disappeared beneath the sea. The legend has it that there was only one survivor. Since then, local fishers have caught pieces of buildings and other remains in their nets. They claim that these come from Lyonesse.

Henry Beckles Willson in a 1902 booklet[1427]  claimed that land now lost, once extended from Land’s End to the Scilly Isles. Contrast that with a speculative map in Lucile Taylor Hansen’s book The Ancient Atlantic[572], which shows Lyonesse as a large landmass west of the Scillies. She also informed us that the island of Tresco, which today is roughly 2 miles long and a mile across at its widest, had a circumference of ten miles in 1538.

A team of Russian scientists were hoping to answer the two and a half thousand-year-old mystery regarding Plato’s Atlantis, with an investigation of the underwater ‘Celtic Shelf’ beyond the Scilly Isles. Viatcheslav Koudriavtsev, of the Moscow Institute of Meta-history, has used a re-interpretation of the classical Greek texts to locate the possible position of the fabled ancient lands. It is claimed that in the 1990’s the British authorities were set to issue a six-week licence for the exploration of Little Sole Bank, a conical submerged hill lying only 50m below the surface approximately 100 miles south-west of the mainland, but apparently due to a lack of funding nothing has been heard of the project since.

In 2012 the ‘micronation’ selfstyled as the Principality of Lyonesse declared its ‘independence’(b)(c).

Also see: Micropatrology

(a)  https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isles_of_Scilly

*(b)  https://lyonesse.weebly.com/*

(c)  http://shimajournal.org/issues/v10n2/k.-Hallerton-Shima-v10n2.pdf