Tantalis is referred to, by Pliny, as the capital of ancient Lydia in western Turkey. It was later known as Magnesium ad Sipylum. Tantalis was apparently named after the legendary King Tantalus, who had remarkable similarities with Atlas; they were both Titans, supported the heavens and had mountains named after them(a). This powerful city was flooded following an earthquake and is now reputed to be located beneath the now dried-up Lake Saloe. Also note that Atlantis is an anagram of Tantalis – coincidence?
British archaeologist Peter James has identified Tantalis as the original Atlantis and that it was located just north east of modern Izmir (Smyrna). James reached this conclusion after a study of classical writers, comparative mythology and local place-names. Unfortunately, there has, as yet, been no archaeological expedition to confirm James’ contention.
Objections to James’ theory are that Tantalis was:
i) not on an island.
ii) not outside the conventional location of the Pillars of Hercules.
iii) too close to Greece (James raises this objection against the Santorini theory).
iv) not a circular city (?).
N.B. Sardis was also known as the capital of Lydia by the early 7th century BC.
Spartel Island also known as the Majuan Bank, was situated just west of the Strait of Gibraltar and according to Jacques Collina-Girard was the site of Atlantis. There is little doubt that before the last deglaciation Spartel was dry land.
Marc-Andre Gutscher from the University of Brest has added some support to Collina-Girard’s theory based on his interpretation of new bathymetric data and is prepared to debate the viability of human habitation on Spartel around 9600 BC. According to Gutscher a large earthquake hit the island 12,000 years ago. Furthermore, there is also evidence of at least eight subsequent earthquakes, each of which could have resulted in a drop of the seafloor by several metres.
Accordingly Gustcher speculated that Spartel circa 9600 BC could have been 40 metres higher than expected. However, at this early date he would not expect the Bronze Age civilisation described by Plato to have existed on the island and that his sonar investigation did not reveal any suggestion of an extinct civilisation.
Gustcher subsequently withdrew his support for a Spartel Atlantis(a). However, Collina-Girard continues to advocate the idea, expanding on his views in a 2009 book, L’Atlantide retrouvée? Enquête scientifique autour d’un mythe.
Further criticism of Collina-Girard’s theory has been voiced by Alain Moreau(b).
*(b) http://www.mondenouveau.fr/continents-disparus-les-fausses-atlantides-antarctique-ile-du-cap-spartel-partie-4/* (link broken Oct. 2017)
Jacques Hébert is the author of Atlantide: La Solution Oubliee concerning Atlantis. As a former Parisian police chief, he claims to have applied his skills in that field to solving the mystery of Plato’s island. He critically re-examines the original text and offers an interpretation that he believes provides a more rational and harmonious reading of the narrative. His conclusion is that Atlantis lay in the Indian Ocean and that its culture was derived from the Indus valley. He specifically identifies the Yemeni island of Socotra as part of the Atlantean civilisation
Hébert identifies Bab el Mandeb as Plato’s Pillars of Heracles, by assuming that Solon mistook the description of that strait, given to him by the priests of Sais, with the Strait of Gibraltar, which has similar features. The earthquake that destroyed Atlantis is attributed by him to a close encounter with an extraterrestrial body.
A 2004 interview with Hébert can be read online(a).
(a) http://www.vox-populi.net/article.php3?id_article=21 (French)
Ammianus Marcellinus (330-395 AD) was a Greek historian, who was well-known to the Roman Emperor Julian. He is widely quoted on the internet as having written that the destruction of Atlantis was an accepted fact by the intelligentsia of Alexandria. However, I am indebted to Bernhard Beier of Atlantisforschung.de for pointing out that no such statement was made by Marcellinus, referring to the English translations of his work by John C. Rolfe(a) and Charles D. Yonge(b). On the Atlantisforschung website(c) be suggests that the quote originated from an overly liberal interpretation of a line from Lewis Spence’s The History of Atlantis[259.33]. He described a class of earthquake that suddenly swallows up large tracts of land as had happened in the Atlantic to a large island.
An earthquake, not a volcanic eruption resulted in the inundation of Atlantis according to Plato’s account. Although, for those who believe that the destruction of ancient Santorini was the inspiration behind Plato’s Atlantis story, it is not difficult to imagine an earthquake accompanying an eruption such as that which occurred on Thera in the 2nd millennium BC, particularly in an area that had been prone to frequent earthquakes over thousands of years.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos at the 2005 Atlantis Conference highlighted(h) the part played by earthquakes in the description of the ancient Athenian Acropolis in the Atlantis narrative, which he saw a part of a 50-year ‘seismic storm’ which ravaged the Eastern Mediterranean around the 12th century BC [629.499].*Later, in 365 AD, a massive earthquake near Crete, killed thousands, caused damage in Alexandria and submerged the Roman city of Neapolis on the east coast of Tunisia, which has only recently been rediscovered(j). On Crete, some land was uplifted by as much as 30 feet.*
However, earthquakes in the region have continued ever since. Dr. Iain Stewart recounts how an earthquake in Greece in the 5th century BC led to the death of 20,000 Spartans(i).
Earthquakes were once thought to be a form of divine retribution, so when an earthquake in 1570, causing death, damage and the alteration of the River Po’s course, ‘infallible’ Pope Pius V declared it to be the consequence of god’s wrath against the Jews!(b)
A PhD Dissertation by Jamie Rae Bluestone investigates early understanding of earthquakes, which inevitably touches on the Atlantis story(a).
A recent paper by Marc-Andre Gutscher discussed the Cadiz subduction zone, which appears to be ‘locked’ and consequently liable to generate very strong earthquakes over long return periods. Gutscher offered evidence of deposits dated to 12000 BC which ‘may correspond to the destructive earthquake and tsunami described by Plato’. However, he recognised that Plato describes a Bronze Age society, while Spartel Island in the Strait of Gibraltar would only have been inhabited by ‘simple fishermen’ unlikely to have merited a mention in the records of the Egyptian priests.
In the Mediterranean the Aegean and Turkey are the most seismically active, followed by Italy (including Sicily)(f) and North Africa from Morocco to Tunisia. There is a European Earthquake Catalogue that graphically illustrates earthquake activity over the past 1,000 years(e). Italy is also home to most of the active volcanoes in the Med.
Ben Davidson, promotes the idea that earthquakes are caused by solar activity (c) and offers what he considers compelling evidence on a YouTube clip(d).
Up-to-date earthquake information is available on the Geofon website(g).
[The words ‘seismology’ and ‘epicentre’ were coined in 1858 by an Irishman, Robert Mallet (1810-1881)]