Pareidolia is the technical term to describe the human tendency to mentally construct familiar images from random visual stimuli, both dynamic and static, such as clouds, fires, mountains, trees, toasted bread, vegetables etc., etc., etc. The links below(a)-(e) give many examples, some funny, some pathetic. The Fortean Times magazine provides regular examples.
Readers will by now be asking what this has to do with Atlantis. Well quite frankly, very little, except that a recent book by the Columbian author, Santiago Martínez Concha, entitled Atlantis devotes a large part of this slender volume to photos of mountains where pareidolic images of heads are claimed to have been carved by ‘giants’ which the author identifies with the nephilim of the Old Testament. The book is available as a free Kindle download(f) and quite frankly it is overpriced at that. [offer no longer available as of April 2014]
Perhaps even more pertinent is the claim by Doug Yurchey that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic and connected to twelve colonies by a perfect grid(g), one of which was in Canada and marked by an Indian head! This perceived image is a classic case of pareidolia.
Another example is what is known as ‘The Carpathian Sphinx’ in Romania’s Brucegi Natural Park. A pathetic attempt to construct a serious theory linking this natural rock formation with the Egyptian Sphinx is the subject of a 2014 feature-length YouTube video by filmmaker Oana Ghiocel(h).
A collection of 20 images with a claimed religious significance has been published on the website of The Telegraph website in the UK(i).
(b) http://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/pareidolia/8739 (see elephant ear image above)
Santorini, earlier known as Thera, is claimed by tradition to have received its name from Theras, a 9th century BC invader. It is the most southerly member of the Cyclades group of islands in the Aegean Sea. It is named after St. Irene of Thessaloniki. In ancient times it was known as Calliste (Most Beautiful) and Stronghyle. One source states that for a short period in the 16th century a Jew named Nazi (sic) owned Thera. A potted history of the island was compiled by Professor Christos Doumas(c).
Many writers over the past century have supported the idea that Atlantis was a Minoan society that was destroyed when Thera erupted violently in the second millennium BC. This is discussed more fully under Thera.
The archaeological site near the village of Akrotiri on the south of the island was closed nearly seven years ago after a ceiling collapsed killing one tourist and injuring six others. Now the site is due to open again in April 2012(a) ironically just as evidence is mounting of increased volcanic activity in the Santorini caldera(b).
Rather unexpectedly, I came across an article about a link between Santorini and vampires by Paul Devereux, not surprisingly in the Fortean Times of April 2013.
May 1st 2019 saw the opening of a new museum on Santorini, called The Lost Atlantis Experience.(d)
*Santorini is also the home of Atlantis Books, which has been described as “one of Europe’s most enchanting bookstores” and has now become a tourist attraction in its own right.(e)*
Rand and Rose Flem-Ath live in British Columbia, Canada. Both are librarians and have spent several years in the British Museum assembling evidence that they believe supports their contention that Antarctica was the home of Plato’s Atlantis. Together they wrote a highly controversial book, When the Sky Fell , promoting the Antarctic location, which included an Introduction by Colin Wilson.
In 2000, Rand published his second book, co-authored with the late Colin Wilson on the subject of ancient civilisations including Atlantis. However, Wilson subsequently changed his views and switched his support to Robert Sarmast’s theory of Atlantis being located off Cyprus. Wilson revealed later, in a 2007 edition of From Atlantis to the Sphinx [p381], that he was unhappy with the final content of The Atlantis Blueprint stating that “it did not represent his views” and wrote an account in Fortean Times(f) of how that book evolved.
In 2014, the Flem-Aths published Killing Moses, which is a speculative account of the life and particularly the death of Moses, even identifying his killer(e). Their narrative builds on ideas originally expressed by Sigmund Freud . In 2017, they published From Atlantis to the Promised Land 1594], which is a recycling of a variety of material published by them over the past forty years.
Rose Flem-Ath is also a thriller writer.
The Flem-Aths used to maintain an interesting and well illustrated website(a). It recently included a paper on their theory of crustal displacement written over twenty years ago(d).
Professor Steven Earle at the Geology Department of Malaspina University in British Columbia uses the Flem-Ath’s Crustal Displacement hypothesis as the basis for his students to write an essay on its inconsistency with our current understanding of crustal and mantle processes(b).
Further criticism of the Flem-Ath’s work is offered by David L. Mohn(c), a Christian writer.
A new revised and expanded hardcopy edition of When the Sky Fell, entitled Atlantis Beneath the Ice, was published in 2012.
To put the Flem-Ath theory in historical context see my Antarctica entry, where I show that they were not the first to suggest the southern pole as the location of Atlantis, a distinction that belongs to Roberto Rengifo, nearly a century ago.
(b) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20190502052353/http://serc.carleton.edu/files/nagt/jge/abstracts/Earle_v51n3p290.pdf
(c) See Archive 2858
(d) See Archive 2893
Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky(1831-1891) was nothing but another charlatan in a long line of fraudsters who have tried to exploit the story of Atlantis. However, she and her ilk are frequently quoted as ‘authorities’ on the subject. Consequently I felt obliged to give some of her history in order to bring some perspective into her rather dubious credentials.
Blavatsky was born in Ekaterinoslav, now known as Dnepropetrovsk in the Ukraine. She had a colourful life including a stint as a circus bareback rider to being a professional pianist. She was born in the Ukraine and married a Russian military man, who was a provincial governor. After a brief period she left him and embarked on extensive travels in the East, during which she claims to have spent seven years studying in Tibet. Eventually, she ended up in New York and became a co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Theosophy is an occult philosophical religious system allegedly based on ancient Hindu writings. She claimed to have had direct contact with two dead Tibetan Mahatmas. In 1877, Blavatsky published a huge, two-volume book called Isis Unveiled. It contained ONE page on Atlantis in which she presented her views regarding Atlantis. She claimed that the people of Atlantis were the “fourth race” on Earth. She said they were a super-human people who lived long before human beings. According to Blavatsky, the era of Atlantis lasted for eight to ten million years, and the cataclysms that caused its main continental formations to sink happened as much as four to five million years ago. She believed Atlanteans had amazing psychic powers. However, they were corrupted by a great dragon king, Thevetat, and turned into wicked magicians who started a war that destroyed Atlantis.
In 1884, following accusations by the Indian press that she was promoting a deception, the London Society for Psychical Research carried out an investigation and the following year declared that Blavatsky was a fraud.
In her next book, The Secret Doctrine,published after her death, Blavatsky tells much more about her Atlantis. In that book she comments on an ancient text that she claims to have been written in Atlantis. She tells how the survivors of Atlantis settled in Egypt and built the pyramids about 100 thousand years ago. A far cry from the conventionally accepted, though sometimes disputed, date of around 2600 BC for their construction. In 1893, W.E. Coleman made a study(c)(e)of her books and concluded that they were the result of a remarkable act of plagiarism. Isis Unveiledwas calculated to contain at least 2,000 passages copied without credit. A core of around 100 books were used which in turn quoted with references to a further 1,400 works. By the time Secret Doctrinewas being ‘assembled’ Ignatius Donnelly’s first book had been published and was also subjected to Blavatsky’s style of literary cannibalism.
*Coleman concluded his analysis with the following observation; “ There is not a single dogma or tenet in theosophy, nor any detail of moment in the multiplex and complex concatenation of alleged revelations of occult truth in the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and the pretended adepts, the source of which cannot be pointed out in the world’s literature. From first to last, their writings are dominated by a duplex plagiarism, – plagiarism in idea, and plagiarism in language.” *
Theosophy spawned a number of breakaway groups and has inspired quite a number on the lunatic fringe of Atlantis writers. Anthroposophy, a concoction of Rudolf Steiner, was one of these. Blavatsky has done nothing to advance the study of the Atlantis mystery, instead with her deceit; she only muddied the waters further. Since Atlantis had disappeared through flooding, it was possible to write almost anything about it, without any real danger of being definitively refuted. It is rather like libelling the dead; they can’t come back to prove you wrong. To-day Blavatsky is often referred to as “the grandmother of the New Age movement”.
For further information you can view a website(a) devoted to Blavatsky. A further site(b) outlines in some detail the level of plagiarism that she engaged in.
In 2013, Gary Lachman, the musician and occult writer, published a book attempting to rehabilitate Blavatsky and followed up with an article in the June edition of Fortean Times of the same year promoting the book. Jason Colavito has written a review(d) of the FT article. Colavito has also debunked(f) the claim that Blavatsky had discovered the theory of relativity before Einstein, an idea put forward by her grand-nephew Boris de Zirkoff (1902-1981).