National Geographic or Nat Geo are registered trademarks of the National Geographic Society and are now, sadly, part of the Murdoch communications empire. Its magazine and TV channel enjoy global recognition. Undoubtedly, NG has enhanced our view of the world around us. One piece of NG trivia is that the word ‘tsunami’ first appeared in an English language publication in the September 1896 edition of National Geographic Magazine.
Generally, NG has avoided controversy, but not always(a) , so it will be interesting to see how its new chief James Murdoch, a climate change denier(b), will deal with the NG views on the subject up ’til now(c) . However, for me, it was something of a surprise when NG tackled the subject of Atlantis.
In 2004 NG News published a short article(d) highlighting the theories of Ulf Erlingsson and Rainer Kühne, who, respectively, were advocates for Ireland and Spain as Atlantis locations. Also in 2004, Zeilitsky and Weinzweig claimed to have found submerged man-made structures near Cuba and subsequently sought US government funding for further research there. It has been suggested that NG objected and further exploration did not take place! In 2006 NG gave the Atlantis in America theory of Zapp & Erikson an airing(e).
*In 2011 a short article(l)., NG trotted out the now generally abandoned idea that Atlantis had been a continent. The idea was obviously later dumped by NG as well, when James Cameron et al went looking for Atlantis in Malta, Sardinia and Santorini in 2016.*
December 2012 saw NG publish an article on Doggerland, without any reference to the suggestion that there might be an Atlantis connection. NG has also voiced the scepticism of well-known commentators, such as Robert Ballard and Charles E. Orser jnr(f).
*However, I find that the NG treatment of Atlantis inconsistent. In October 2011 an anonymous article(k) on one of their sites, entitled The Truth Behind Atlantis: Facts, declared that Atlantis was continental in size (and so must have been located in an Ocean?) This is based on a misinterpretation of the Greek word meison. Nevertheless last year NG had Simcha Jacobovici, remotely guided by James Cameron, scouring the Mediterranean, from Spain to Sardinia, Malta, and Crete for evidence of Atlantis. This attention-seeking exercise found nothing a few stone anchors that proved nothing and inflicted on viewers an overdose of speculation!*
NatGeo TV aired a documentary(g) in 2015 relating to earlier excavations in the Doñana Marshes of Southern Spain by a Spanish team and partly hijacked by Richard Freund. A new NG documentary, hyped with the involvement of James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, was filmed in 2016, and later broadcast at the end of January 2017. Initially, it was thought by Robert Ishoy to be in support of his Atlantis location of Sardinia, but at the same time Diaz-Montexano was convinced that his Afro-Iberian theory was to be the focus of the film. To coincide with the airing of the new documentary D-M has published a new book, NG National Geographic and the scientific search for Atlantis with both English and Spanish editions.
Jason Colavito was promised a screener but had the offer subsequently withdrawn. One wonders why?
Once again NG promotes the region of the Doñana Marshes as a possible location for Atlantis(i), based on rather flimsy evidence, such as six ancient anchors found just outside the Strait of Gibraltar. They estimate the age of the anchors at 3,000-4,000 years old but. unfortunately, they are not marked ‘made in Atlantis’. Rabbi Richard Freund, never afraid to blow his own shofar, makes another NG appearance. Jacobovici throws in the extraordinary claim that the Jewish menorah represents the concentric circles of the Atlantis capital cut in half, a daft idea, already suggested by Prof. Yahya Ababni(k).
What I cannot understand is why this documentary spends time dismissing Santorini and Malta as possible locations for Plato’s Atlantis and at the same time ignoring the only unambiguous geographical clue that he left us, namely that the Atlantis alliance occupied part of North Africa and in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Tuscany) and presumably some of the islands between the two.
Overall, I think the NG documentaries have done little to advance the search for Atlantis as they seem to be driven by TV ratings ahead of truth. Perhaps, more revealing is that Cameron is not fully convinced by the speculative conclusions of this documentary.
Jason Colavito, an arch-sceptic regarding Atlantis has now published a lengthy scathing review(j) of NG’s Atlantis Rising, which is well worth a read. While I do not agree with Colavito’s dismissal of the existence of Atlantis, I do endorse the litany of shortcomings he identified in this documentary.
Johannes Goropius Becanus (1519-1572) was a Dutch physician and linguist, although he was of the opinion that the Dutch language had been used in the Garden of Eden and was the mother of all other languages(c) ! We hope his knowledge of medicine was better than his linguistics. He was also one of the first to propose the Doñana Marshes of Andalusia as the site of Atlantis(a)(b). This can be found in the Hispanica section of his Opera published posthumously in 1580.
Manuel Cuevas is a Spanish researcher from Sanlucar de Barrameda (Cadiz), who claimed in 2015(a) to have identified the location of what is possibly a lost civilisation in the area of Pinar de La Algaida, covering an area of about 8 square kilometers (5 square miles.) beside the Guadalquivir River in Spain. This location is not far from the better known Atlantis candidate of the Doñana Marshes.
Another site(b) quotes Cuevas as saying ‘I believe 99 percent that I have finally found the lost city of Atlantis’.
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).
Another documentary, along with a transcript, which also ‘stars’ Freund, entitled “Atlantis – The Lost City” is available(e). *[Freund has also inveigled his way in to the 2017 National Geographic documentary, Atlantis Rising.]*
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 still being a rich source of tin, copper and gold(d). Since he wrote this long after Solon’s visit to Egypt, and even longer since the sinking of Atlantis, it 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.
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 either smaller than expected or were from the Muslim period. Evidence for Tartessos or Atlantis has not been found.
(b) http://blogs.courant.com/roger_catlin_tv_eye/2011/03/muddying-up-atlantis.html (offline: June 2016) see Archive 2122
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. Joaquin Vallvé Bermejo (1929-2011) was a Spanish historian and Arabist, who wrote; “Arabic texts offering the first mentions of the island of Al-Andalus and the sea of al-Andalus become extraordinarily clear if we substitute these expressions with ‘Atlantis’ or ‘Atlantic’.”
Andalusia has been identified by a number of investigators as the home of Atlantis. It appears that the earliest proponents of this idea was José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar and Johannes van Gorp 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. Whishaw published 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. Kühne also offers additional information on the background to the excavation(e).
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.
(b) http://antiquity.ac.uk/ProjGall/kuhne/ (offline July 2016) See Archive 3135
José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar (1602-1679), a Spanish writer, was probably the first in 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, where, coincidentally, Kühne and Wickboldt had identified ground features using satellite images, which they claimed corresponded with Plato’s description of Atlantis.
However, subsequent excavation there showed Wickboldt’s images to be smaller than expected or were from the Muslim period. Evidence for Tartessos or Atlantis has not been found.