Felice Vinci (1946- ) is an Italian nuclear engineer with a background in Latin and Greek studies and is a member of MENSA, Italy. It is his belief that Greek mythology had its origins in Northern Europe.
His first book on the subject in 1993, Homericus Nuncius, was subsequently expanded into Omero nel Baltico and published in 1995. It has now been translated into most of the languages of the Baltic as well as an English version with the title of The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales. The foreword was written by Joscelyn Godwin.
However, the idea of a northern source for Homeric material is not new.*In the seventeenth century Olof Rudbeck insisted that the Hyperboreans were early Swedes and by extension, were also Atlanteans.*In 1918, an English translation of a paper by Carus Sterne (Dr. Ernst Ludwig Krause)(1839-1903) was published with the title of The Northern Origin of the Story of Troy.(m)
Vinci offers a compelling argument for re-reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey with the geography of the Baltic rather than the Mediterranean as a guide.A synopsis of his research is available on the Internet(a).
His book has had positive reviews from a variety of commentators(j). Understandably, Vinci’s theory is not without its critics whose views can also be found on the internet(d)(b).and in particular I wish to draw attention to one extensive review which is quite critical(k).
Stuart L. Harris has written a number of articles for the Migration and Diffusion website(c) including a number specifying a Finnish location for Troy following a meeting with Vinci in Rome. M.A. Joramo was also influenced by Vinci’s work and has placed the backdrop to Homer’s epic works to northern European regions, specifically identifying the island of Trenyken, in Norway’s Outer Lofoten Islands, with Homer’s legendary Thrinacia.
Jürgen Spanuth based his Atlantis theory on an unambiguous identification of the Atlanteans with the Hyperboreans of the Baltic region.*More specifically, he was convinced [p88] that the Cimbrian peninsula or Jutland, comprised today of continental Denmark and part of northern Germany had been the land of the Hyperboreans.*
As a corollary to his own theory, Vinci feels that the Atlantis story should also be reconsidered with a northern European origin at its core. He suggests that an island existed in the North Sea between Britain and Denmark during the megalithic period that may have been Plato’s island. He also makes an interesting observation regarding the size of Atlantis when he points out that ‘for ancient seafaring peoples, the ‘size’ of an island was the length of its coastal perimeter, which is roughly assessable by circumnavigating it’. Consequently, Vinci contends that when Plato wrote of Atlantis being ‘greater’ than Libya and Asia together he was comparing the perimeter of Atlantis with the ‘coastal length’ of Libya and Asia.
A 116 bullet-pointed support for Vinci from a 2007 seminar, “Toija and the roots of European civilization” has been published online(h). In 2012 John Esse Larsen published a book expressing similar views.
An extensive 2014 audio recording of an interview with Vinci on Red Ice Radio is available online(f). It is important to note that Vinci is not the first to situate Homer’s epics in the Atlantic, northern Europe and even further afield. Henriette Mertz has Odysseus wandering across the Atlantic, while Iman Wilkens also gives Odysseus a trans-Atlantic voyage and just as controversially locates Homer’s Troy in England. Edo Nyland has linked the story of Odysseus with Bronze Age Scotland.
Christine Pellech has daring proposed in a 2011 book, that the core narrative in Homer’s Odyssey is a description of the circumnavigation of the globe in a westerly direction(i). These are just a few of the theories promoting a non-Mediterranean backdrop to the Illiad and Odyssey. Obviously they cannot all be correct and probably all are wrong. Many have been seduced by their novelty rather than their provability. For my part I will, for now, stick with the more mundane and majority view that Homer wrote of events that took place mainly in the central and eastern Mediterranean. Armin Wolf offers a valuable overview of this notion(g).
(m) The Open Court magazine. Vol.XXXII (No.8) August 1918. No. 747
The Minoan Hypothesis proposes an eastern Mediterranean origin for Plato’s Atlantis centred on the island of Thera and/or Crete. The term ‘Minoan’ was coined by the renowned archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans after the mythic king Minos. (Sir Arthur was the son of another well-known British archaeologist, Sir John Evans). Evans thought that the Minoans had originated in Northern Egypt and came to Crete as refugees. However, recent genetic studies seem to indicate a European ancestry!
It is claimed(a) that Minoan influence extendedas far as the Iberian Peninsula as early as 3000 BC and is reflected there by what is now known as the Los Millares Culture. Minoan artifacts have also been found in the North Sea, but it is not certain if they were brought there by Minoans themselves or by middlemen. The German ethnologist, Hans Peter Duerr, has a paper on these discoveries on the Academia.edu website(e). He claims that the Minoans reached the British Isles as well as the Frisian Islands where he found artifacts with some Linear A inscriptions near the site of the old trading town of Rungholt, destroyed by a flood in 1362(f).
The advanced shipbuilding techniques of the Minoans are claimed are claimed to have been unmatched for around 3,500 years until the 1950’s(l).
The Hypothesis had it origin in 1872 when Louis Guillaume Figuier was the first to suggest a link between the Theran explosion and Plato’s Atlantis. The 1883 devastating eruption of Krakatoa inspired Auguste Nicaise, in an 1885 lecture(c) in Paris, to cite the destruction of Thera as an example of a civilisation being destroyed by a natural catastrophe, but without reference to Atlantis.
The Minoan Hypothesis proposes that the 2nd millennium BC eruption(s) of Thera brought about the destruction of Atlantis. K.T. Frost and James Baikie, in 1909 and 1910 respectively, outlined a case for identifying the Minoans with the Atlanteans, decades before the extent of the Theran eruption was fully appreciated by modern science.*In 1917, Edwin Balch added further support to the Hypothesis.*
As early as April 1909 media speculation was already linking the discoveries on Crete with Atlantis(h), in spite of Jowett’s highly sceptical opinion.
Supporters of a Minoan Atlantis suggest that when Plato wrote of Atlantis being greater than Libya and Asia he had mistranscribed meson(between)as meizon (greater), which arguably would make sense from an Egyptian perspective as Crete is between Libya and Asia, although it is more difficult to apply this interpretation to Thera which is further north and would be more correctly described as being between Athens and Asia. Thorwald C. Franke has now offered a more rational explanation for this disputed phrase when he pointed out[750.173] that “for Egyptians the world of their ‘traditional’ enemies was divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the ‘usual’ enemies, which was the case with the Sea Peoples’ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia put together”.
It has been ‘received wisdom’ that the Minoans were a peace-loving people, in fact Dr. Barry Molloy of Sheffield University has now shown that the exact opposite was true(d) and that “building on recent developments in the study of warfare in prehistoric societies, Molloy’s research reveals that war was in fact a defining characteristic of the Minoan society, and that warrior identity was one of the dominant expressions of male identity.”
In 1939 Spyridon Marinatos published, in Antiquity, his opinion that the eruption on Thera had led to the demise of the Minoan civilisation. However the editors forbade him to make any reference to Atlantis. In 1951, Wilhelm Brandenstein published a Minoan Atlantis theory, echoing many of Frost’s and Marinatos’ ideas, but giving little credit to either.
The greatest proponents of the Minoan Hypothesis were arguably A.G. Galanopoulos and Edward Bacon. Others, such as J.V. Luce and James Mavor were impressed by their arguments and even Jacques Cousteau explored the seas around Santorini, while Richard Mooney, the ‘ancient aliens’ writer, thought that the Minoan theory offered a credible solution to the Atlantis mystery. More recently Elias Stergakos has proposed in an overpriced 68-page book, that Atlantis was an alliance of Aegean islands that included the Minoans.
Alain Moreau has expressed strong opposition to the Minoan Hypothesis in a rather caustic article(i), probably because it conflicts with his own support for an Atlantic location for Atlantis.
The hypothesis remains one of the most popular ideas with the general public although it conflicts with many elements in Plato’s story. A few examples of which are: where were the Pillars of Heracles? How could Crete/Thera support an army of one million men? Where were the Elephants? There is no evidence that Crete had walled cities such as Plato described. The Minoan ships were relatively light and did not require the huge harbours described in the Atlantis story.
Gavin Menzies has now become the standard bearer for the Minoan Hypothesis. In The Lost Empire of Atlantis he argues for a vast Minoan Empire that spread throughout the Mediterranean and even discovered America (p.245). He goes further and claims that they were the exploiters of the vast Michigan copper reserves, which they floated down the Mississippi for processing before exporting it to feed the needs of the Mediterranean Bronze industry.
Tassos Kafantaris has also linked the Minoans with the exploitation of the Michigan copper, in his paper, Minoan Colonies in America?(k) He claims to expand on the work of Menzies, Mariolakos and Kontaratos. Another Greek Professor, Minas Tsikritsis, also supports the idea of ancient Greek contact with America. However, I think it more likely that the Minoans obtained their copper from Cyprus, whose name, after all, comes from the Greek word for copper.
Frank Joseph has criticised[802.144] the promotion of the Minoan Hypothesis by Greek archaeologists as motivated by nationalism rather than genuine scientific enquiry. This seems to ignore the fact that Nicaise and Figuier were French, Frost, Baikie and Bacon were British, Luce was Irish and Mavor was American.
Furthermore, Crete has quite clearly not sunk beneath the waves. Henry Eichner commented, most tellingly, that if Plato’s Atlantis was a reference to Crete, why did he not just say so? The late Philip Coppens was also strongly opposed to the Minoan Hypothesis.(g)
Excavations on Thera have revealed very few bodies resulting from the 2nd millennium BC eruptions there.The understandable conclusion was that pre-eruption rumblings gave most of the inhabitants time to escape. Later, Therans founded a colony in Cyrene in North Africa, where you would expect that tales of the devastation would have been included in their folklore. However, Eumelos of Cyrene, originally a Theran, opted for the region of Malta as the remnants of Atlantis. How could he have been unaware of the fame of his homeland?
A 2008 documentary, Sinking Atlantis, looked at the demise of the Minoan civilisation(b). There is also an interesting article from James Thomas, who has published an extensive study of the Bronze Age, with particular reference to the Sea Peoples and the Minoans(j).
More extreme is the theory of L. M. Dumizulu, who offers an afrocentric view of the Atlantis. He claims Thera was part of Atlantis and that the Minoans were black!(m)
(e) https://www.academia.edu/7256326/r_r_r_KOM_M_E_NTA_R_Eine_unendliche_Geschichte (offline 1/7/14)
*(g) https://web.archive.org/web/20180128190713/http://philipcoppens.com/lectures.php (June 3, 2011)*