Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse
Syrtis was the name given by the Romans to two gulfs off the North African coast; Syrtis Major which is now known as the Gulf of Sidra off Libya and Syrtis Minor, known today as the Gulf of Gabes in Tunisian waters. They are both shallow sandy gulfs that have been feared from ancient times by mariners. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27.13-18) it is described how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on ‘Syrtis sands.’
The earliest modern reference to these gulfs that I can find in connection with Atlantis was by Nicolas Fréret in the 18th century when he proposed that Atlantis may have been situated in Syrtis Major. Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse expressed a similar view around the same time. Since then there has been little support for the idea until recent times when Winfried Huf designated Syrtis Major as one of his five divisions of the Atlantean Empire.
However, the region around the Gulf of Gabes has been more persistently associated with aspects of the Atlantis story. Inland from Gabes are the chotts, which were at one time connected to the Mediterranean and considered to have been part of the legendary Lake Tritonis, sometimes suggested as the actual location of Atlantis.
In the Gulf itself, Apollonius of Rhodes placed the Pillars of Herakles(a) , while Anton Mifsud has drawn attention to the writings of the Greek author, Palefatus of Paros, who stated (c. 32) that the Columns of Heracles were located close to the island of Kerkennah at the western end of Syrtis Minor. Lucanus, the Latin poet, located the Strait of Heracles in Syrtis Minor. Mifsud has pointed out that this reference has been omitted from modern translations of Lucanus’ work!
Férréol Butavand was one of the first modern commentators to locate Atlantis in the Gulf of Gabés. In 1929 Dr. Paul Borchardt, the German geographer, claimed to have located Atlantis between the chotts and the Gulf, while more recently Alberto Arecchi placed Atlantis in the Gulf when sea levels were lower(b) . George Sarantitis places the ‘Pillars’ near Gabes and Atlantis itself inland, further west in Mauritania, south of the Atlas Mountains. Antonio Usai also places the ‘Pillars’ in the Gulf of Gabes.
In 2018, Charles A. Rogers published a paper(c) on the academia.edu website in which he identified Tunisia as Atlantis with it capital located at the mouth of the Triton River on the Gulf of Gabes. He favours Plato’s 9.000 ‘years’ to have been lunar cycles, bringing the destruction of Atlantis into the middle of the second millennium BC and coinciding with the eruption of Thera which created a tsunami that ran across the Mediterranean destroying the city with the run-up and its subsequent backwash. This partly agrees with my conclusions in Joining the Dots!
(a) Argonautica Book IV ii 1230
The Erythraean Sea as referred to by Herodotus (Histories Bk I.202) derives its name from the Greek for ‘red’. To the ancient Greeks ‘Erythraean’ was a term used to refer to the Red Sea as well as the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. There is an ancient Persian tradition(a) that the Phoenicians migrated from the shores of the Erythraean Sea. This view is echoed at the very beginning (I.1) of The Histories of Herodotus.
Even more ‘exotic’ is the claim by W.C. Beaumont (see map) that the English Channel was in fact the Erythraean or Red Sea, along with the relocation of many other places mentioned in Exodus to sites in Britain.
It is claimed by some writers that Erythraean is an alternative name for the ‘Sea of Atlantis’. R. Cedric Leonard offers the following translation “but the Caspian Sea is by itself, not connected to the other sea. For the sea navigated by the Greeks, also that outside the Pillars called the Atlantis Sea and the Erythraean, are one and the same”. Both Leonard and Anton Mifsud claim that this passage demonstrates that Herodotus identified the Erythraean with the Atlantis Sea. However, a careful reading of the context clearly shows that what Herodotus was describing was the extent to which the world’s oceans were connected, even though the Caspian was landlocked. Africa had already been circumnavigated eastward from Egypt on the instruction of Pharaoh Necho II around 600 BC demonstrating the connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Furthermore, the mention of ‘the sea navigated by the Greeks’ is probably a reference to the eastern Mediterranean, placing the Pillars of Heracles in the vicinity of Malta. This would identify the western Mediterranean and/or Tyrrhenian Sea as the ‘Sea of Atlantis’ complementing Plato’s description of Atlantis extending as far as Tyrrhenia and Libya. It is worth noting that Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse envisaged the Island of Atlantis occupying the Gulf of Syrtis off the coast of Libya and designated the sea to the west of Malta as ‘Mare Atlantico Antico’ or the ancient Atlantic Sea.
Joseph Bosco (?- 1931), according to David Hatcher Childress, was an archaeologist, who identified Malta as the location of Atlantis in 1922. He seems to have been greatly influenced by the research of Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse
Bosco lived in Constantine, then a city in French Algeria. He contributed frequently(a) to the local archaeological society, Societé Archaeologique du Departement de Constantine, from 1911 until 1927.
The Spanish writer Javier Sierra also refers to Bosco but is probably just quoting the earlier work by Childress. Pierre Carnac, in chapter six of his L’Atlantide, Autopsie d’un Mythe similarly refers to Bosco as a supporter of the Maltese location. Deloux and Guillaud in their French A–Z guide to Atlantis note Gozo as Bosco’s more specific choice. Gennaro d’Amato, the Italian writer also referred to Bosco in his 1930 book on Atlantis.
(a) http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb328496371/date.r=.langFR (1921-1922)
Malta is a small densely populated archipelago, strategically situated in the Central Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia. There is a claim that early Maltese were Phoenicians who came from Lebanon around 3000 BC(i).
Malta’s name is generally accepted to be derived from the Greek word for honey meli and was later known to the Romans as Melita the Latin equivalent. Malta was renowned in ancient times for the quality of its honey, which may explain why the light-fingered, 1st century BC Roman governor, Verres, stole 400 amphorae of it (about 2800 gallons) over a three-year period.
Today, Malta is a stepping-stone between North Africa and Europe. At the time of the last Ice Age it was probably joined to Sicily but whether it was also joined to North Africa is a matter for debate. This possibility depends on the extent to which the level of the Mediterranean was lowered by the growth of the Ice Age glaciers and whether that lowering was exacerbated by the existence of a land bridge between Southern Spain and Morocco. Vittorio Castellani offers a possible map of the enlarged Sicily extending to include the Maltese Islands, leaving a narrow strait between the expanded Malta and the coast of Tunisia. Dr. Anton Mifsud has researched ancient maps of the Central Mediterranean region and demonstrated that the early cartographers knew the Maltese archipelago as having a much larger area than at present. G.N. Godwin expressed similar views regarding an earlier enlarged Maltese landmass in his Guide to the Maltese Islands .
The Greek text describes Atlantis as being ‘pro’ in front of or before the Pillars of Heracles rather than ‘meta’ beyond them, which would fit a description of Malta being in front of (east of) Pillars, if as suggested, they were located at the Strait of Sicily.
Commenting on this preposition, J. Warren Wells points out that “Plato uses ‘pro’ seven times in Timaeus and twice in Critias. In eight of these cases, it is used in relation to ‘time before’ rather than ‘place before.’It is used only one time in relation to place or position. That single occurrence is where he refers to the island of Atlantis being before (pro) the straits at the Pillars of Heracles.” He concludes that at the very least, close proximity is implied.
W.K.C.Guthrie in A History of Greek Philosophy (Vol.5, p245) comments similarly – “’before the entrance’ I take to mean that it was at no great distance, but the volcanic Azores have a better geographical claim to be the remains of Atlantis than any spot within the Mediterranean.”
Guthrie recognised that Plato was describing the island of Atlantis being near the Pillars of Heracles, but based on the assumption that the Pillars were situated at Gibraltar, he was forced to opt for the Azores as the location of Atlantis, in spite of the fact that at a distance of 1,100 miles they cannot in any way be described as being “at no great distance” from the ‘Pillars’. Consideration of other know locations, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, that were also, at different times, designated as the Pillars of Heracles, show a number of islands, including Malta, in close proximity to each nominated site.
Malta is home to some of the earliest and most spectacular megalithic monuments in Europe. Unfortunately many more have been lost, Lenie Reedijk in her recent book, Sirius – the Star of the Maltese Temples , she lists 100 megalithic sites on Malta & Gozo, of which two-thirds have been lost [p.14/15]. She also contends that the temple building in Malta was spread over a much longer period than generally accepted, beginning as early as 9150 BC and last until 4250 BC.
A number of attempts have been made to link the orientation of the temples with various astronomical bodies. A limited study by John Cox proposed a connection with moonrise (t) . Mario Vassallo favours an association with the winter solstice sunrise(u) . Klaus Albrecht also identifies the winter solstice sunrise as his preferred orientation(v) . Reedijk offers a far more radical explanation for the alignment of all the temples, namely that they directed at Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky at that time. However, precession slowly broke that alignment. Reedijk noted that “a star whose rising and setting point was aligned with a temple axis of a given monument at a given time will have moved out of its line of sight in the course of several centuries. When this happened the need would have been felt to build another monument with a slightly different orientation of its main axis, in order to be in line with the star again.”
What I do not understand is why, according to Reedjik, the Maltese temple builders continued to build their re-aligned monuments for over five millennia without simply modifying existing temples rather than engaging in the immense work involved in starting from scratch after every failure of orientation.
Malta is home to some the earliest and most spectacular megalithic monuments in Europe. Dr. Mifsud has pointed out that the size and number of these ancient monuments is greater than an island of Malta’s present extent could be expected to produce. This view when combined with the mysterious ‘cart-ruts’[ that run straight off cliffs, and then reappear on the opposite side of a bay or across open sea, all point to Malta having been a much larger landmass within the experience of man, namely, not earlier than 5000 BC. The cartruts.com website shows(d) the possible shoreline of Malta at 5000 BC and 8000 BC. The same site has a page on ‘torba’ an alleged prehistoric Maltese cement.The tiny island of Filfla three miles off the south coast of Malta had cart ruts visible on it before it was used for target practice by British military(g). The clear implication being that it had been connected to the main island while it was inhabited. Furthermore, three miles offshore from Sliema on the north site of Malta submerged ruins of what is thought to be a temple (now named ‘Gebel Gol-Bahar’)(h) were discovered in 1999.
It is quite possible that further discoveries will be made, but as it is, there is sufficient evidence to prove that when it was initially settled and certainly as late as some of the Temple Period, the archipelago had been considerably greater in extent than today. A short history of Filfla is worth a read.(o)
In 2010, a former co-author of Mifsud’s, Charles Savona-Ventura, rather strangely, independently published a fourteen-page booklet, In Search of Atlantis, in which he reiterated his support for Malta as Atlantis!
In 2014, it was reported(k) in the Times of Malta that a huge canyon, previously unknown, with an area eight times the size of the Maltese Islands, had been discovered in an area known as the Malta Escarpment. It was also found that the canyon had been active recently, highlighting the geological instability in the region. (The link below includes a short video clip).
In 1923, R. M. Gattefossé commented that many of Malta’s ancient monuments were “Atlantean” in character, although he believed that Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic. Dr Mifsud attributes the earliest linking of Malta with Atlantis to the 16th century writer, Bibischok. However, it was over three hundred years before the suggestion was made again, when in 1854, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, the renowned Maltese architect, proposed that the Maltese Islands were remnants of Atlantis. In 1910 the celebrated Maltese botanist, John Borg offered the opinion that Atlantis had been situated on the submerged land between Malta and North Africa.
D. H. Childress reports that in 1922, the archaeologist, Joseph Bosco also supported this idea. Another three quarters of a century passed before that the idea of a Maltese connection with Atlantis was again revived, in particular by the publication of two books, one by Anton Mifsud and the other Francis Galea, in English and Maltese respectively. Both of these books are the result of extensive investigation and have inspired others to continue the study. Graham Hancock was prompted to visit the island and gained material there for his popular book on ancient flooded cities.
Two other contributors to the study and literature of the island’s prehistoric origins that should be mentioned are the late Joseph S. Ellul and Hubert Zeitlmair. Ellul was Maltese and the author of a work, Malta’s Prediluvian Culture…, that links the submergence of some of Malta’s monuments with Noah’s Flood, which he identified with the controversial idea of the breaching of a land bridge between Spain and Morocco.
While most researchers have focused on the extraordinary number of ancient monuments on the small archipelago, it might be worth considering what is not found on the islands, namely, anything to do with military action. There are no obvious defensive structures and no depiction of warriors or their weaponry. Everything seems to indicate a peaceful society, perhaps, as I, and others have already speculated, it was originally a place of pilgrimage(m)(n) or some form of sanctuary!
Zeitlmair, a retired German real estate investor, who is fascinated by the Megalithic remains on Malta, but unfortunately he ascribes their existence to the intervention of alien visitors a la Zechariah Sitchin. He has outlined his views in a book, written in German with an English version promised in the future. Zeitlmair expands on a number of his outlandish claims on his website(f), UFOs, Nibiru as well as “the Atlantean ‘Cold Fire Fusion’ Power house in Malta that still generates Non-lethal High Frequency Active Auroral Energy.” Similar waffle has been published in the first two books of a trilogy by Francis Xavier Aloisio, who claims that the Maltese temples “are a Reservoir of Consciousness, so we need to start to look at the structures in a very different way. They were ‘charge compressors’, ‘energy generators’ and ‘power houses.’ In a word, they were ‘energy centres’ for planet Earth.” Quite recently, Aloisio’s wife, Christine, also joined the ‘lunatic fringe’ and plans to publish The Crystal City of Atlantis, which she claims is under Malta!
Casey Terry notes[1542.36] that Pavel Smutny, a Slovakian researcher, who is an ardent promoter of the idea of ancient advanced technology, has proposed that the Maltese temple complexes “were used probably as generators of high frequency acoustic waves. Purpose were (maybe) to arrange a communication channel between various islands”!
The most recent and more rational support for a Maltese location has come from Albert Nikas, a computer engineer, who submitted a paper(b) to the 2008 Atlantis Conference. Sunday November 19th 2017 saw the publication of an article(l) by Nikas in Malta’s Sunday Independent, in which he describes his recent visit to many temples in the archipelago. He goes on to claim that he has located the ruins of an ancient city, just offshore, which he believes to have been the capital of Atlantis, not far from Valletta, the modern capital.
Massimo Rapisarda submitted another paper to the same conference suggesting that Atlantis had been located in Sicily in the vicinity of the seaport of Marsala. That conference also heard Axel Hausmann identify a region that included part of North Africa and the area between Libya and Sicily as the home of Atlantis.
Alberto Arecchi, who also advocates a Central Mediterranean Atlantis noted that “We can identify in this system the “Heracles’ columns” of the ancient mythology (one of the two “columns” appears identifiable with the island of Malta).” (s)
I do not know what future investigations will reveal, but I am certain that they will demonstrate that Malta had a more important part to play in the Atlantis story than is generally accepted today. The megalithic heritage of Malta predates that of Egypt by a millennium, considerably enhancing its candidacy as the location of Atlantis. A wonderful panoramic view of some the temples can be seen on the Internet(c).
The second largest of the Maltese archipelago, Gozo, is claimed by some to have been Ogygia the home of the mythical Calypso.
A number of websites discuss the prehistory of Malta(a). One well-illustrated site(e) concentrates on the evidence of catastrophic events affecting the landscape of the archipelago in the distant past. A newspaper report of June 2016(j) pushes back the prehistory of Malta by 30,000 years with the claim that Neanderthals may have lived on the island, assuming that it was an island then!*In 2016, Mifsud published Dossier Malta – Neanderthal  in which he outlines the evidence for the existence of Neanderthal Man on Malta.*
Malta also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the town of Marsaxlokk appropriately, but not uniquely, called Atlantis.
On Sunday January 13th 2019. the UK’s Sunday Express delighted its readers with TWO Atlantis stories(q)(r). The online edition of the paper offered a video clip of the Maltese island of Filfla, while the commentator told us that Plato had said that a devastating earthquake had destroyed Atlantis it was finished off by an eruption. This is factually incorrect as Plato never mentioned an eruption. Then, as if that was not enough, the same edition of the same newspaper has another story by the same ‘reporter’, with an ‘Atlantis Discovered’ headline claims that the remains of an ancient 8,000-year-old city, home to ‘tens of thousands’ of people, had been discovered in the North Sea, in a huge region sometimes referred to as Doggerland. The reporter cites Dr.Richard Bates in support of this account. Unfortunately, the 2012 comments by Dr. Bates never mentioned ‘a city’, only a vast area occupied by ‘tens of thousands’ of people, presumably early farmers(p). These two accounts are a sad reflection on the quality of media reporting today.
(a) http://www.aboutmalta.com/HISTORY/PREHISTORY/ (link broken June 2018)
(d) http://cartruts.com/ (Link broken Mar. 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20190102032648/http://cartruts.com/
(f) http://www.maltadiscovery.org/en/ (link broken 2018) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20160401190453/http://www.maltadiscovery.org/en/
(m) http://www.templesofmalta.com/ggantija.htm (Link broken Aug. 2018) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20160823204054/http://www.templesofmalta.com/ggantija.htm
(u) ‘The Location of the Maltese Neolithic Temple Sites’, Sunday Times, 26 August 2007, pp. 44–46.
Francis Galea (1953- ) is another Maltese author who has written about his island and its possible connection with Atlantis. His offering came some years after Anton Mifsud published his Malta – Echoes of Plato’s Island. Galea’s book is unfortunately available in Maltese only.
In it he investigates various theories, in particular the suggestion in the 19th century by Grongnet de Vasse that Malta was a remnant of Atlantis. It was Grongnet deVasse who was the architect of the famous church Dome in Galea’s hometown of Mosta.
Galea supports the literal acceptance of Plato’s 9,000 years before Solon as the date for Atlantis’ demise. In April 2008, Galea disclosed that his book was being translated into English. The new book will in fact be a re-write of the original as well as containing new material. Galea has a personal website(a).
Galea is also a novelist, poet and historical researcher and has been the literary editor on the Maltese Sunday newspaper it-Torca since 1987.
The foreward to the Maltese edition of his book can now be read in English(b).
The Identity of the Atlanteans has produced a range of speculative suggestions nearly as extensive as that of the proposed locations for Plato’s lost island. However, it is highly probable that we already know who the Atlanteans were, but under a different name.
The list below includes some of the more popular suggestions and as such is not necessarily exhaustive. While researchers have proposed particular locations for Atlantis, not all have identified an archaeologically identified culture to go with their chosen location. The problem being that most of the places suggested have endured successive invasions over the millennia by different peoples.
It would seem therefore that the most fruitful approach to solving the problem of identifying the Atlanteans would be to first focus on trying to determine the date of the demise of Atlantis. This should reduce the number of possible candidates, making it easier to identify the Atlanteans.
A final point to consider, is that the historical Atlanteans were a military alliance, and as such may have included more than one or none of those listed here. The mythological Atlanteans, who included the five sets of male twins and their successors would be expected to share a common culture, wheras military coalitions are frequently more disparate.
Basques: William Lewy d’Abartiague, Edward Taylor Fletcher
Maltese: Anton Mifsud, Francis Xavier Aloisio, Kevin Falzon, Bibischok, Joseph Bosco, David Calvert-Orange, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, Albert Nikas, Joseph S. Ellul, Francis Galea, Tammam Kisrawi, Charles Savona-Ventura, Hubert Zeitlmair.
Maya: Robert B. Stacy-Judd, Charles Gates Dawes, Colin Wilson, Adrian Gilbert, L. M. Hosea, Augustus le Plongeon, Teobert Maler, Joachim Rittstieg, Lewis Spence, Edward Herbert Thompson, Jean-Frédérick de Waldeck,
Minoans: K.T. Frost, James Baikie, Walter Leaf, Edwin Balch, Donald A. Mackenzie, Ralph Magoffin, Spyridon Marinatos, Georges Poisson, Wilhelm Brandenstein, A. Galanopoulos, J. G. Bennett, Rhys Carpenter, P.B.S. Andrews, Edward Bacon, Willy Ley, J.V. Luce, James W. Mavor, Henry M. Eichner, Prince Michael of Greece, Nicholas Platon, N.W. Tschoegl, Richard Mooney, Rupert Furneaux, Martin Ebon, Francis Hitching, Charles Pellegrino, Rodney Castleden, Graham Phillips, Jacques Lebeau, Luana Monte, Fredrik Bruins, Gavin Menzies, Lee R. Kerr, Daniel P. Buckley.