Claude Frédérick-Armand Schaeffer (1898-1982) was a French archaeologist who is probably best known for his work at the Ras Shamra site in Syria which he identified as the ancient port city of Ugarit. He worked on and wrote about the site from 1929 until his death.
Schaeffer enter the arena of catastrophism in 1948 when he declared that during the Bronze Age on at least five occasions widespread catastrophic destructions has taken place throughout the Middle East. He attributed these events to seismic activity,which was perhaps related to the ‘seismic storm’ referred to by Stavros Papamarinopoulos in his paper, Plato and the seismic catastrophe in the 12th century BC Athens(b).
Plato recorded how the priests of Sais told Solon of a succession of catastrophies that befell the region, including earthquakes, inundations such as the Flood of Deucalion and the fall of Phaeton adding historical support for the theories of Schaeffer, Velikovsky and Gallant inter alia.
Dale Drinnon has a worthwhile article(a) on Schaeffer and his relationship with Velikovsky.
Volcanism is not part of the Atlantis story as related by Plato. His narrative clearly attributes the destruction of Atlantis and the Athenians to flooding and earthquake. Admittedly, flooding can be the result of some volcanic activity, but in the absence of any evidence to support this view in the case of Atlantis, the idea is only supposition. While most accept that Atlantis was named after its first king, Atlas, Frank Joseph’s fertile imagination suggests that ‘the island of Atlantis was named after its chief mountain, a dormant volcano’. For those that place Atlantis in the Atlantic the idea of volcanic or seismic activity as the cause of the flooding of Atlantis AND Athens are hard pressed to suggest a location for this activity that would explain two catastrophes two thousand miles or more apart.
However, the red, white and black stone that Plato may be related to volcanic eruptions that produce rock of tufa (red), pumice (white) and lava (black). Pumice has been found at various locations in Egypt and identified as originating not only from Thera, but also from eruptions on the Greek islands of Nisyros and Giali as well as the Italian Lipari Islands(o).
Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Sanders are the authors of Volcanoes in Human History in which they support the idea that the eruption on Thera was a factor in the development of the Atlantis story and also suggest a link with the Flood of Deucalion.
Nevertheless, a recent book by William Lauritzen, The Invention of God, makes a convincing case for accepting volcanic activity as the inspiration behind some of the imagery of ancient mythologies and most major religions. A recent article(i) on the BBC website expanded on this further. Lauritzen also suggests that the pyramids were meant to represent volcanoes.
The most active volcanic region of Europe is to be found in Italy, where Etna and Stromboli have been continuously erupting for thousands of years(b). There is a report that a 6000 BC extreme eruption of Etna resulted in a tsunami 130 feet in height which swept the Mediterranean(c). However, the most devastating prehistoric volcanic eruption discovered so far seems to have been in Siberia 252 million years, which may have led to the most extensive mass extinction of life on earth(e). This is now rivalled by Tamu Massif in the Pacific mentioned below.
The cataclysmic volcanic eruption of Thera in the second millennium BC has had a strong level of support as the cause of Atlantis’ collapse, a view endorsed by recent television documentaries and an IMAX film. The Greek volcanologist, George Vougioukalakis, whose research is featured in the aforementioned film, is convinced that the eruption of Santorini offers the most rational explanation for the truth behind Plato’s story(a). However, he dissents from the recently expressed view that pumice found on the Northern Sinai Peninsula was transported there by a tsunami generated by the eruption of Thera and prefers to believe their transportation there was by normal sea currents.
Apart from Santorini, Jim Allen had initially proposed the Andean village of Quillacas, which lies on top of a volcano, as the site of Atlantis, but later found that the nearby site of Pampa Aullagas had a greater correspondence with the description of Atlantis. More recently Richard W. Welch has suggested the eruption of a supervolcano in the Atlantic as the cause of Atlantis’ demise. And so the idea of a volcanic destruction of Atlantis still has some support!
Since January 2011, Santorini has shown some signs of a volcanic reawakening(d).
In September 2013 studies revealed(f) what may be the location of the largest volcano ever to have erupted on our planet. It would have been the size of the British Isles and situated underwater in the northwest Pacific and known as Tamu Massif. It would have rivalled the Olympus Mons on Mars, but fortunately has been dormant for 140 million years.
March 2014 saw a post on Dale Drinnon’s website(g) take the linkage between Atlantis and a volcano rather further with the suggestion that “the capital city of Atlantis in Plato’s description was built in the caldera of an extinct volcano and that many of the features of the description are volcanic in origin.The “Poseidon’ temple is the pyramidal volcanic neck, an erosional feature that stood out like a conical mound some hundreds of feet in diameter and possibly some hundreds of feet high on the outside. there was a tunnel bored through this aligned East and West, to allow the sunlight in at the beginning and the end of the day for certain rituals.”
In December 2014 a report from Princeton University revealed that a massive series of volcanic eruptions 66 million years ago can be aligned with the extinction of the dinosaurs and should be included as part of the cause of that extinction along with the Yucatan meteorite impact(h).
The Laki volcano in Iceland erupted in 1783 killing 9,000 local people but more dramatically causing the Nile Valley population to be cut by a sixth, according to a study published by scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. “The study is the first to conclusively establish the linkage between high-latitude eruptions and the water supply in North Africa”(j).
A 2015 report(k) suggests that a series of North American volcanic eruptions in 536 AD had such a detrimental effect on the climate of Europe that contributed to the demise of the Roman Empire.
Furthermore, there is now evidence(m) that the eruption of El Chicon volcano in Southern Mexico around 540 AD led to the disruption of the Maya civilisation. Can there be a connection between these two events?
However, David Keys in his book, Catastrophe, has proposed that a massive eruption of Krakatoa around 535 AD caused disruption on a global scale. Matthew Toohey from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, has suggested the possibility of a double event involving both El Chicon and Krakatoa!
Recently the longest (1,200 miles) continental volcano chain was identified in Australia(l).
The BBC reported(n) in 2016 that “Deep-sea volcanoes are so remote, until recently we did not even know they existed” and although “We do not see them erupt, yet more than half of the Earth’s crust can be attributed to their dramatic explosions” and “In fact, the mid-ocean ridges form the largest volcanic systems on Earth. But as they are largely hidden from sight, they have long remained elusive.”
*In July 2017, the BBC offered an interesting article on the potential ongoing threat from supervolcanoes around our globe(p) and the inevitability of a future eruption.*
Emilio Spedicato (1945- ) was born in Milan. He graduated in physics and is now working in numerical analysis and applied mathematics. He has held a full professorship at Bergamo University since 1984. In addition to his more conventional academic pursuits, he also researches ‘non-standard models of planetary evolution and non-standard interpretation of myth and ancient religions.’
Spedicato has developed a list(a) of ‘54 theses for reconstructing Earth and human history during the catastrophic period 9500 to 700 BC’. This list is partly based on the work of Velikovsky, DeGrazia and Ackerman and is intended to be the basis of a larger work in book form. Some of his ideas will be seen as highly controversial such as the genetic manipulation of humans by extraterrestrial visitors. He locates the Garden of Eden and the ‘creation’ of Adam and Eve in the Hunza valley of modern Pakistan(e).
He ventured into further controversial territory with his support for an updated version of Hörbiger’s moon capture theory(f) and endorsement for pole shifts(g) after long periods of stability following encounters with large extraterrestrial bodies. He considers the last of these to have taken place in the 10th millennium BC.
Spedicato, in a series of papers delivered to the Atlantis Conference on Melos in 2005, linked the biblical Exodus with the Flood of Deucalion, which he dates as 1447 BC(d). He contended that these events were connected with the explosion of a large extraterrestrial body over Southern Denmark remembered in Greek tradition as Phaëton.
Atlantis has not escaped Spedicato’s attention and he has put forward the Caribbean island of Hispaniola as the home of Atlantis(b), specifically suggesting that Lake Enriquillo in the Cul-de-Sac Depression, which runs from Haiti across the border into the Dominican Republic. Spedicato accepts the possibility of the destruction of Atlantis around 9600 BC and has written an interesting paper(c) that links its demise of Atlantis with a direct asteroidal impact or a close encounter with a planet-sized body.
Spedicato has contributed at least a dozen papers to the Migration and Diffusion website including one on a possible Indian inspiration behind the Giza pyramid complex(h) as well as a paper(i) on the planet known to the Sumerians as Nibiru and today sometimes referred to as Planet X. He controversially claims that a close encounter with Nibiru around 9500 BC ended the last Ice Age and brought about the demise of Atlantis! A difficulty with that idea, is that if the encounter with Nibiru destroyed Atlantis AND ended the Ice Age how could the location where Atlantis was submerged still be marked by mud shoals 9,000 years later when sea levels had risen by 300-400 feet?
In 2010 Spedicato published Atlantide e L’Esodo (Atlantis and Exodus) which is currently being translated into English.
In February 2015 Spedicato published another paper(j) with the radical proposal that the alignment of the three main Giza pyramids was not intended to be a reflection of the three stars in Orion’s belt, as proposed by Gilbert & Bauval, but instead were more closely matched to the arrangement of three volcanoes on Mars!*He claims that these volcanoes were visible from Earth during Mars periodic close encounters with our planet between 7000 BC and 700 BC, during a 54-year cycle.*
Later in 2015 the prolific Spedicato published another paper(k) in which he linked Mayan catastrophes with those of Hesiod, Plato and the Bible.
Pelasgians or Pelasgi is the term applied to early populations of the Aegean, prior to the Flood of Deucalion and subsequent arrival of the Hellenic peoples to the region. Pelasgian Greeks are recognised as having occupied Crete at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. It is unclear from classical sources(b) exactly what regions the Pelasgians occupied, not to mention when or where they originated.
Some writers such as Densusianu have postulated a Pelasgian Empire extending over a large stretch of central Europe.
Euripides stated that the Pelasgians were later called Danaans.
Spiro N. Konda believes that today’s Albanians are descendants of the Pelasgians and has written The Albanians and the Pelasgian Problem in support of this idea, unfortunately, it is in Albanian, but some of his arguments can be read, in English, online(a).
Oliver D. Smith in his book Atlantis in Greece identified “the Pelasgians with both the Atlanteans and prehistoric Athenians – as two regional tribes at war with each other”.
A more radical, highly speculative and quite incredible, alternative definition is offered by Marin, Minella and Schievenin[0972.471], which is that Pelasgians were refugees from their homeland in Antarctica after its catastrophic destruction. They claim that these refugees were also known as Titans, Tyrrhenians and Atlanteans, among other names! They further claim that anthropology calls them Cro-Magnon.
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 Deluge is the term usually used when referring to the biblical flood of Noah. It might perhaps be more accurate to use the plural, as there is evidence of several large-scale catastrophic inundations within the memory of man. The Noachian deluge has been the subject of continuous debate: was it real or pure fantasy, was it a local, regional or global and is the Ark to be found on Mt. Ararat.
The most recent controversy concerns a Babylonian tablet which, unlike the biblical record, describes an ark 70 metres in width and round in shape(c)(e). This would have been recorded a thousand years before the Genesis story was written down. Understandably, this has caused the knickers of some fundamentalist Christians to be seriously twisted! This has now been expanded on by Irving Finkel in The Ark before Noah. Another eye-catching theory is that of Thomas J. Krupa (1930- ), author of Biblical Flood: Noah’s Ark and the Star of David, in which he claims that the keel of the Ark was shaped like the Star of David! Equally radical is the result of a high-tech study of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which suggest that Noah’s Ark was pyramidal in shape(j)! Commenting on this report, Jason Colavito, pointed out that the concept of a pyramid shaped ark is not new(k).
A life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark is due to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Holland in the summer of 2016(i). It was built over a four year period by carpenter, Johan Huibers, completing it in 2012. It is 410 feet long, 95 feet wide and 75 feet tall. It weighs 2,500 tons and is said to hold more than 5,000 people at any one time. However, there is no provision for animals!
An interesting overview of traditional as well as modern thinking regarding the possible historical reality behind the Deluge of Genesis is presented(f) by Robert Squillace on the New York University website.
Even more radical is the claim by Hebrew scholar Richard Seary that the Ark never actually existed, but that conventionally accepted understanding of the Genesis text is the result of a number of incorrect translations(d). One example being that there is no such material as gopher-wood and that the word ‘gofer’ means lava!
The Flood of Noah is an echo of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, which in turn has a resonance with the deluge story of Manu in Indian mythology. If all three relate to the same event it would be of interest to discover its origin.
Many Atlantologists have sought to link the Deluge with the inundation of Atlantis. Egerton Sykes was a keen supporter of the idea. Joseph S. Ellul has interpreted the biblical story to support the idea of a landbridge at Gibraltar that eventually collapsed when the waters of the Atlantic rose after the last Ice Age.
Ellul maintained that Genesis 7:11 ‘All the springs of the Great Deep broke through’ is a reference to the percolation of the Atlantic waters, through the Gibraltar dam, that eventually led to its collapse as the sea level rose or was shattered by seismic or tectonic movements. I find it hard to accept this, because the pressure that is exerted by the Atlantic, would have rapidly changed any such seepage into a major breach and the subsequent collapse of the dam. Gerhard F. Hasel, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology offers a more conventional interpretation of “the fountains of the great deep” in a paper with the same name(h).
Alexander and Edith Tollman link the Noachian Deluge with the consequences of a cometary impact in 7552 BC. On the other hand, G. F. Dodwell the Australian astronomer, after studying ancient gnomons, concluded that it was a worldwide catastrophe in 2345 BC that altered the earth’s tilt, leading to the Deluge. This is comparable with the 1696 claim by William Whiston that the earth had an encounter with a comet in 2346 BC, which caused the Flood of Noah. Emilio Spedicato advocates 3161 BC as the date of the biblical deluge(l).*which has also been endortsed by Stuart L. Harris(n).*
On a more controversial level, Donald Patten and Samuel Windsor present evidence for a series of close encounters between Mars and the Earth during the 1st millennium BC. David Rohl, the Egyptologist, dates Noah’s Flood at 3114 BC and links it with the climatic consequences of a major catastrophe in the Aleutian Islands.
Ancient flood stories are to be found around the world with a remarkable similarity of detail. It is worth pointing out that none of these legends ever recount the ‘hero’ of their particular tale returning to his former home. One simple explanation for this might be that the original homelands no longer existed. This would not normally be the case if the floods in question were tidal, storm driven or even giant tsunamis. However, if the inundations were the result of rising sea levels, resulting from the melting of Ice Age glaciers, we could expect two principal effects. The first would have been the gradual submergence of all low-lying flood plains that are now identified as continental shelves. Two of the best known of these would be the Sunda Shelf (Sundaland) and the area stretching from the west coast of mainland Europe across the North Sea encompassing the British Isles and into the Atlantic beyond Ireland. The second effect would have been the dramatic inundation of valleys and basins protected by low land bridges or dams. Again, we have examples, some debatable, such as, the Baltic, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and perhaps the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Japan. It is very interesting that so many of the deluge stories include a scenario where the ’hero’ is warned beforehand of the impending doom. To me, this would make sense that where a land bridge was threatened by gradually rising waters on one side, simple observation would have provided adequate time to warn those at risk on the other side.
The flooding of all these worldwide locations would have occurred over an extended period following the last Ice Age, possibly providing the basis for the widespread existence of these flood myths.
Nick Thom, an Engineering lecturer at Nottingham University, has written The Great Floodwhich gives an overview of Flood myths, but more importantly identifies the emptying of glacial Lake Agassiz around 6250BC as the mechanism which caused a tilting of the Earth, which in turn generated a global deluge remembered by the survivors in myth and later recorded in scriptures.
A website with a huge collection of worldwide flood myths is available online(b). However, one omission from all such collections is a contribution from Egypt who inexplicably has no such tradition.
Plato’s story of Atlantis makes mention of a number of major floods during the ‘9,000’ years following the war with Atlantis, one of these being the flood of Deucalion. However, it may be worth mentioning that with so many ancient cultures having recorded flood myths, Egypt is notable by having none!
Stephen Oppenheimer mentions three sudden ice-melts, 14,000, 11,500 and 8,000 years ago that would have had a global effect. It should be noted that the earliest date is close to the date given by Plato for the destruction of Atlantis.
As I see it, we are left with two explanations for the global flood myths, either a close encounter with an extraterrestrial body that created a mega tsunami that was on such a scale that it swept around the globe, perhaps a number of times before dissipating or the melting of the Ice Age glaciers produced the cyclical bursting of ice-dams and landbridges and the inundation of vast areas of low-lying land(a). I’m inclined to believe that the balance of probabilities favours the latter explanation, although I find it difficult to accept that gradual deglaciation would have generated floods that ‘covered mountains’ (Gen. vii.19)!
Kirk Kirchev in a recent (April 2018) two-part article(m) “offers a unifying scientific hypothesis that connects diverse ancient flood myths with mainstream scientific fact.”
T.R.Holme has an interesting article(g) on the flooding of the Black Sea and the migration from the region that resulted. He also links that event with the work of the late Marija Gimbutas.
(a) http://wapedia.mobi/en/Deluge_(prehistoric) (offline March 2015)
(c) http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/6746/20140128/noahs-ark-round-mesopotamia-flood-cuneiform-instructions-mathematically-accurate.htm (link broken May 2018)
(d) Fortean Times, April 2014, p.55
Crete was until recently thought to have been first settled around 7000 BC. However, excavations at nine sites in 2008 and 2009 have revealed double-edged hand axes dated to “at least” 130,000 years ago. This discovery has suggested(a) that Stone Age man had developed seafaring abilities.
By general consensus Crete was known as Keftiu to the ancient Egyptians.
Sir Arthur Evans, knighted for his archaeological finds on Crete, excavated at Knossos from 1900-1905 leading to the discovery of the famous ‘palace’ there. Evans saw Knossos as an administrative centre although it had no defensive features, which might be expected. In the 1970’s Hans Georg Wunderlich (1928-1974) following the views of Oswald Spengler, proposed in The Secret of Crete , that the ‘palace’ was in fact a mortuary temple. This idea has more recently been considered by the late Philip Coppens(c).
As early as 1910 the Rev. James Baikie suggested Crete as the location of Atlantis. A year earlier K.T. Frost outlined parallels between Atlantis and the Minoan empire. In the 1920’s Joseph McCabe a former Catholic priest was also comvinced that Crete was the location of Atlantis. More decades were to pass before Dr Angelos Galanopoulos developed the idea further. There has been doubt that the decline of the Minoan civilisation in the 2nd millennium BC was linked with Theran explosion. Nevertheless, Bacon and Galanopoulos admit that a Minoan explanation for the Atlantis story ‘is correct in all points’ except date, dimensions and location of ‘Pillars’! Many commentators have added reasons to support the Minoan Hypothesis.
*Atlantis was the way to other islands. This is an accurate description of Crete as the gateway to the Cyclades and Greece.
*The palace of the Atlantians is on a low hill 50 stadia inland and near to a fertile plain is a good description of Knossos.
*The description of the land fits perfectly with the southern coast of Crete.
*There were bulls hunted without weapons, which is characteristic of Minoan Crete.
*The construction of the buildings matches Knossos.
Marjorie Braymer highlights the fact that the Cretan Mesara Plain is oblong in shape and one tenth of the dimensions of the plain mentioned by Plato. A fact that gains in importance if a tenfold exaggeration of the dimensions by Plato is accepted.
J. G. Bennett has gone further and argued strongly for a linkage of the destruction of Minoan civilisation, with the Flood of Deucalion, the Biblical Exodus and the obliteration of Plato’s Atlantis. Bennett quotes Plato’s Laws (705.15), which speaks of a significant migration from Crete, as evidence for a major catastrophe on the island.
In April 2004 a BBC Timewatch programme looked at a possible link between Crete and Atlantis focussing on evidence of ancient tsunami damage on the island that they linked to the eruption of Thera. This idea has been refuted by W. Shepard Baird who offers a pyroclastic surge as a more credible explanation(b). In 2010 the BBC broadcast another documentary supporting the Minoan Hypothesis, although not very convincingly in the opinion of this compiler.
On the other hand, Peter James points out that there is no connection in Greek mythology between Crete and Atlas. Further objections include the fact that no ancient canals have been found on Crete, the island did not sink and the failure of Plato to simply name Crete as the location of his Atlantis.
Recently Gavin Menzies has, unsuccesfully, in my view, attempted to breathe new life into the Minoan Hypothesis in The Lost Empire of Atlantis.
An even less impressive effort to support a Minoan Atlantis is a slender work by Lee R. Kerr entitled Griffin Quest – Investigating Atlantis , who also published an equally useless sequel, Atlantis of the Minoans and Celts.
(c) http://www.philipcoppens.com/crete_dead.html (offline Mar. 2018 see Archive 2133)
Catastrophism today is the name given to a school of thought that supports the idea that the history of the Earth has been punctuated by natural events such as floods, fires and asteroid strikes that have caused widespread if not global devastation and that some of these events occurred within the memory of man and are recorded in worldwide mythologies.
Georges Cuvier (1768-1832) is sometimes referred to as ‘the father of paleontology’ and an early exponent of catastrophism.
Worryingly, it is now more generally accepted that further catastrophes will occur as a result of future cometary/asteroidal strikes. One such close encounter, around 2800 BC, was considered by the christian catastrophist, Donald W. Patten, to have generated the Deluge of Noah(j) and was the source of the flood legends found around the world! Patten nominates Mars as the intruder(l), an idea also advocated by Elsar Orkan, who, however, proposes a date of around 8000 BC for this encounter.
Some readers may think that the subject has no direct connection with Plato’s Atlantis, however, his text refers to a number of catastrophic events that clearly brought devastation to Athens, Atlantis and beyond. The Flood of Deucalion and earlier inundations, Phaeton and other cosmic encounters, plus conflagrations and earthquakes all point to periods of great instability in the early prehistory of the Aegean region and quite probably much further afield.
Jürgen Spanuth devotes chapter 4 of his Atlantis of the North to an examination of “the natural catastrophes of the 13th century BC” that deals with Phaeton and the blizzard of floods, earthquakes and eruptions that beset the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Some of these matters have been recently expanded upon by Nur & Cline(f)(g) and endorsed by Stavros Papamarinopoulos[0750.73].
August 2013 saw studies published(h) which pointed the finger at climate change as the cause of the widespread political instability in that region during the second millennium BC.
Claude Schaeffer, a celebrated French archaeologist, declared in 1948 that on at least five occasions during the Bronze Age the Middle East had been subjected to widespread catastrophic destruction as a result of natural events rather than human activity.
Immanuel Velikovsky is arguably the best know of the 20th century catastrophists, who published two books in the 1950’s that provoked widespread controversy that continues today. There is an interesting albeit a sceptical review of catastrophism in the last century by Patrick Moore & Bob Forrest in Chapter 14 of More Things in Heaven and Earth.(k)
In 1964, the Belgian mathematician René Gallant (1908-1985) published Bombarded Earth which dealt in great detail with the consequences of meterorite impacts with the earth. Gallant, perhaps because of his amateur status as a geologist, never received the attention he deserved.
More recently Allan & Delair produced another book that identified 9500 BC as the date of a global catastrophe following an encounter with a comet. Their conclusions are at variance with Velikovsky’s, particularly regarding dates. Professor Mike Baillie of Queens University, Belfast is a well-known dendrochronologist who has recently entered the debate with his book, Exodus to Arthur that adds evidence from his discipline to support the theory of cometary or asteroidal impacts with the Earth. Unfortunately his work is confined to the last 4,500 years and so casts no further light on the 9,500 BC date apart from offering support for the possibility of extraterrestrial impacts.
However, Richard Firestone and his co-authors have researched an impact ‘Event’ the occurred 13,000 years ago and caused devastation in North America including the creation of the hundreds of thousands of Carolina Bays and some of the outbursts of Lake Missoula. Like Baillie, they claim that a memory of this event has been preserved in the folktales of many of the North American Indians. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the latest developments in catastrophist research.
The destruction of Atlantis has been linked to a number of possible catastrophic events including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and asteroid strikes. Plato’s account cites a flood as the immediate cause of the disappearance of Atlantis. In the 18th century Giovanni Carli was probably the first to link a cometary encounter with the Earth as the cause of Atlantis’ demise. This idea has been supported by numerous writers ever since with Emilio Spedicato being one of its leading exponents today.
There are numerous sites on the Internet relating to catastrophism of which one(a) can be recommended as a good starting point for further study. Andy Blackard has listed(b) events connected with global upheavals around 3200 and 2000 BC. An Australian archaeologist, Peter Jupp, is the creator of the Ancient Destructions website(e) which deals with a number of historical mysteries including, Baalbek and Antarctica.
A more recent book by Robert Argod postulates that many of these historical catastrophes were caused by an irregular series of accelerated tectonic movements, although he does not offer a credible mechanism to explain the triggering of such upheavals. Is it possible that the strikes by or near misses with extraterrestrial objects, proposed by so many, generated the tectonic shifts proposed by Argod?
Professor Trevor Palmer has written a comprehensive history of catastrophes and catastrophism from the earliest times and its relevance today. His Perilous Planet Earth includes a couple of chapters in which he reviews Atlantis theories in the context of catastrophism.
Dr Michel-Alain Combes has a PhD in astronomy from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). He has an extensive website(i) dealing with catastrophism, which translates quite well.
2012 was been promoted as the date of the next worldwide catastrophe based on a highly questionable interpretation of the Mayan calendar. New Age gurus were promising a change in global consciousness, whatever that means. If interested you can read more of this nonsense online(c) or consider a more balanced view(d).
A huge catastrophist bibliography is available online(m)
(i) http://www.astrosurf.com/macombes/index.html (French)
In 1925 was Bennett was a witness to low level volcanic activity on Santorini, which led him to investigate the possibility many historical events were triggered by volcanic eruptions.
Bennett published an interesting paper(c) in 1963, in which he argued cogently for the linking of the destruction of Minoan Crete, the Biblical Exodus, the Flood of Deucalion as well as the demise of Plato’s Atlantis. A more controversial paper(d) was delivered the same year promoting the idea of a Hyperborean or Arctic origin for the Indo-European culture
The Parian Chronicle or Marmor Parium is inscribed on a stele made of high quality semi-translucent marble found on the Aegean island of Paros, which was greatly prized throughout the Hellenic world during the 1st millennium BC.
Two sections were found on the island in the 17th century*by Thomas Arundell (1586-1643), 2nd Baron Arundell of Wardour, an ancestor of the 12th Baron, John Francis Arundell (1831-1906), who wrote a rebuttal of Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis theory. A final third section was found on Paros in 1897, silencing claims that the first two were fakes.*
As early as 1788, Joseph Robertson (1726-1802) declared the Chronicle to be a modern fake(e)in a lengthy dissertation, a claim disproved by the discovery of the final piece over a century later. Even before the third fragment was found, Franke Parker published an in-depth study of the inscription in 1859(f).
This important register recounts the history of Greece in chronological sequence from 1581 BC until 264 BC and it is reasonably assumed that the latter date was the year it was written.
The first king of Athens is noted on the stele as the mythical Cecrops commencing 1582 BC. This is important as Cecrops is also mentioned by Plato in the Atlantis texts (Critias 110a). This date is far more realistic than the 9,600 BC told to Solon by the Egyptian priests as the time of Athens foundation. The Parian Chronicle seems to have been given little attention regarding the Atlantis mystery. The lack of a direct reference to the Atlantean war may be explained by a comment in Britannica which notes(g) that “the author gave little attention to constitutional history or battles but recorded the dates of the establishment of festivals, of the introduction of various kinds of poetry, of the births and deaths of the poets, and of their victories in contests of poetic skill.” There is also no reference to Plato.
Andrea Rotstein in a lengthy series of papers(i) discusses various aspects of the Parian Marble and also comments that “The Parian Marble, as many have noted, may be disappointing as a historical source. People and events that we deem important are missing: Lycurgus, Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles, the Peloponnesian wars, do not appear in the extant text.” (j)
Wikipedia lists pages(h) of wars, battles and sieges involving the Greeks, few of which are mentioned in Parian Marble, although quite a number of Alexander’s exploits are recorded.
Another name mentioned on the stele and by Plato is that of Deucalion. While there is some debate regarding the exact date of the deluge named after him, all commentators agree that it occurred in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. J.G. Bennett(b) has calculated the date this Flood to around 1478 BC, while Britannica(c) offers 1529 BC. Stavros Papamarinopoulos has developed his own king-list based on other ancient sources, which generally parallels the Parian content(d).
A further item of interest is the date ascribed to the Trojan War as 1218 BC, but again some controversy surrounds this precise date. While there are a number of flawed details in the Parian Chronicle, probably due to the use of defective sources or perhaps transcription errors, the very specificity of the recorded dates strongly suggests that it was produced in order to offer a real historical record and not merely to recount Greek mythology.
The chronicle is far from being comprehensive, particularly regarding the earlier years, when understandably information is more sparse.
I believe that the full implication of the inscriptions for the Atlantis debate has yet to be realised.
An English translation of the Parian Marble is available on the internet(a).
(c) http://www.libraryindex.com/encyclopedia/pages/cpxktwkjsf/parian-chronicle-athens-archonship.html (offline May 2016)