George (Jorge) Edward Bonsor (1855-1930) was born in France of British parents, but spent most of his life working as an artist and archaeologist in Spain. In the 1920’s Bonsor and Adolph Schulten searched in The Doñana Marshes for Tartessos. An account of Bonsor’s work is available online(a), in Spanish, but it translates quite well with Google. In spite of comments recently attributed to Professor Richard Freund(b), I have no evidence that Bonsor equated Tartessos with Atlantis as Schulten did.
Dr. Richard Freund is the latest academic to enter the Atlantis debate. Freund is a rabbi and the director of the Greenberg Centre for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. He is the author of Digging Through the Bible in which he recounts his experiences excavating in the Middle East.
Freund ‘led’ (see below) an expedition of Spanish, American and Canadian scientists in 2009 and 2010 to investigate satellite the images of the Doñana Marshes, showing circular and rectangular features, discovered by Werner Wickboldt in 2003. National Geographic have included the findings of the expedition in a 2011 documentary entitled Finding Atlantis(a). Freund believes that these structures discovered at Doñana are related to Atlantis/Tarshish. Freund has pointed out that the large amounts of methane emanating from the site suggests that only a tsunami could have suddenly trapped the large quantities of organic matter required to generate that quantity of methane!
However, a more sober view is presented by by Juan Villarias-Robles a Spanish anthropologist working with the Spanish team investigating the Doñana site. He recounts(b) how Professor Freund spent less than a week on the site and was not the leader of the Hinojos Project. With regard to the features identified by Wickboldt, Villarias-Robles explains that so far anything found has been smaller than anticipated or dated to the Muslim period. He declares that no remains of Tartessos or Atlantis have been found. Equally moderate are the comments of archaeologist Philip Reeder from the University of South Florida, who is also unconvinced that Atlantis has been found(c).
Furthermore, the respected Greek historian Ephorus described Tartessos in his day (4th century BC) as a rich source of tin, copper and gold(d). This was after Solon’s visit to Egypt which would appear to rule out identifying Atlantis with Tartessos.
Freund also believes that the Phoenicians were descendants of the Atlanteans. No doubt these contentious claims will be explored in greater detail in his book Digging Through History: From Atlantis to the Holocaust.
The Doñana Marshes, a National Park in the valley of the Andalusian Guadalquivir River was linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer. George Bonsor and Adolph Schulten searched the area for evidence of Tartessos during the 1920’s. After that interest in the marshes waned until a few years ago when Werner Wickboldt identified circular and rectangular features in the Park from satellite images, which he claimed a possibly Atlantean.
Professor Richard Freund, a professor from the University of Hartford, claims to have led a team to study the area and has had work included in a March 2011 National Geographic documentary, Finding Atlantis. However, Spanish anthropologist Juan Villarias-Robles who has worked on the site for some years has declared that Freund did not lead the investigations on the site and in fact spent less than a week there. Wickboldt’s images turned out to be smaller than expected or were from the Muslim period. Evidence for Tartessos or Atlantis has not been found.
Spain has been a favoured as a probable location of Atlantis by a sizeable number of investigators, principally Spanish and other Europeans. For about a century attention has been focussed on the region of Andalusia although one writer, Jorge María Ribero-Meneses, has opted for Cantabria in Northern Spain. The most vocal proponent today of a Spanish Atlantis is arguably Georgeos Diaz-Montexano who has just begun the publication of a series of books on the subject.
Richard Freund is a latecomer to the question of Atlantis and recently foisted himself on the excavators in the Doñana Marshes, announcing that the site was related to Atlantis/Tarshish and garnering widespread publicity ahead of the publication of his own book on Atlantis!
One commentator has suggested that the origin of the name of Spain itself was derived from the Semitic language of the Phoenicians who arrived in Spain around 1500 BC. Apparently they referred to the region as ‘span’ or ‘spania’ which means hidden! Cadiz, equated with Plato’s Gades, is frequently cited as the oldest colony of the Phoenicians. The date appears to be based on tradition rather than hard evidence. Archaeology puts the date closer to 800 BC.
The oldest Phoenician remains, found in the vicinity of Malaga, were discovered during the recent building of a second runway. Occupation of the site is dated at around 700-600 BC.
In September 2012 a report(a) revealed that at the La Bastida site in Murcia, Spain, fortifications dated to 2,200 BC had been discovered and heralded as “Continental Europe’s First Bronze Age City” and “is comparable only to the Minoan civilisation of Crete”.
Antonio Blázquez y Delgado–Aguilera (1859-1950) published a work in 1923 that identified Tartessos as having been located near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, a year before Adolf Schulten published his book on the subject. He was a friend of George Bonsor who also sought Tartessos in the Doñana Marshes.
Andalusia is the second largest of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. It is situated in the south of the country with Seville as its capital, which was earlier known as Spal when occupied by the Phoenicians.
Andalusia probably takes its name from the Arabic al-andalus – the land of the Vandals. However, a suggestion has been made that Andal is derived from Antal, demonstrating a rather tenuous linguistic connection with Atlantis.
Andalusia has been identified by a number of investigators as the home of Atlantis. It appears that the earliest proponent of this idea was José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar in the 17th century. This view was echoed in the 19th century by the historian Francisco Fernández y Gonzáles and subsequently by his son Juan Fernandez Amador de los Riosin 1919. A decade later Mrs E. M. Whishawpublished the results of her extensive investigations in the region, particularly in and around Seville. In 1984, Katherine Folliot endorsed this Andalusian location for Atlantis in her book, Atlantis Revisited.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos has added his authorative voice to the claim for an Andalusian Atlantis in a 2010 paper(a) delivered to the 12th International Congress of the Geological Society of Greece. He argues that the Andalusian Plain matches the Plain of Atlantis but Plato clearly describes a plain that was 3,000 stadia long and 2,000 stadia wide and even if the unit of measurement was different, the ratio of length to breadth does not match the Andalusian Plain. Furthermore, Plato describes the mountains to the north of the Plain of Atlantis as being “more numerous, higher and more beautiful” than all others. The Sierra Morena to the north of Andalusia do not fit this description. The Sierra Nevada to the south are rather more impressive, but in that region the most magnificent are the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. As well as that Plato clearly states (Critias 118b) that the Plain of Atlantis faced south while the Andalusian Plain faces west!
During the same period, the German, Adolf Schulten who also spent many years excavating in the area, was also convinced that evidence for Atlantis was to be found in Andalusia. He identified Atlantis with the legendary Tartessos.
Dr. Rainer W. Kuhne supports the idea that the invasion of the ‘Sea Peoples’ was linked to the war with Atlantis, recorded by the Egyptians and he locates Atlantis in Andalusiain southern Spain, placing its capital in the valley of the Guadalquivir, south of Seville. In 2003, Werner Wickboldt, a German teacher, declared that he had examined satellite photos of this region and detected structures that very closely resemble those described by Plato in Atlantis. In June 2004, AntiquityVol. 78 No. 300 published an article(b) by Dr. Kuhne highlighting Wickboldt’s interpretation of the satellite photos of the area. This article was widely quoted throughout the world’s press. Their chosen site, the Doñana Marshes were linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer.
However, excavations on the ground revealed that the features identified by Wickboldt’s were smaller than anticipated and were from the Muslin Period. Local archaeologists have been working on the site for years until renowned self-publicist Richard Freund arrived on the scene,and spent less than a week there, but subsequently ‘allowed’ the media to describe him as leading the excavations.
*[Although most attention has been focussed on western end of the region, a 2015 theory(d) from Sandra Fernandez places Atlantis in the eastern province of Almeria.]*
José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar (1602-1679), a Spanish writer, was probably the first (1673) to identify an Andalusian location for Atlantis, proposing that Tartessos was identical with Atlantis and that it was located on the Guadalquivir River in southern Spain near Seville. He specified the Doñana Marshes, coincidentally where; Kühne and Wickboldt have identified ground features using satellite images, which they claim corresponds with Plato’s description of Atlantis.