Seasons are sub-divisions of the year usually based on changes in ecology, weather or hours of daylight. The number of seasons varies between two (Polar) and six (India). My native Ireland has been described by cynics as now having only three seasons, as recent weather changes seem to have removed summer from our calendar.
The Egyptian year is divided into three seasons as they also did in the Indus civilisation. In an effort to make Plato’s 9,000 years more credible, commentators as early Giovanni Carli in the 18th century and Rafinesque in the 19th have suggested that Plato’s years were in fact ‘seasons’. The idea has gained further traction in more recent years with support from Axel Hausmann and Radek Brychta and most recently Rosario Vieni. Both Hausmann and Vieni presented papers to the 2005 Atlantis Conference, where Hausmann proposed that the ‘years’ be treated as seasons and so concluded that the demise of Atlantis took place in 3522 BC[629.359]. However, at the same conference Vieni presented his paper entitled “11,500 years ago…..” [629.337], obviously at that stage accepting Plato’s 9,000 years at face value. Three years later, he presented a paper to the 2008 Atlantis Conference which he entitled “About 5600 years ago….” [750.347], in which he had changed his understanding of Plato’s ‘years’ to be now seasons. While his intellectual honesty is to be applauded, I must point out that because a person changes their opinion, there is no guarantee that their second choice is any more correct than the first.
I am not convinced by the ‘seasons’ explanation, as it just seems to be a rather feeble attempt to explain away Plato’s 9,000 being a reference to solar years. Supporters of this ‘seasons’ explanation appear to be forced to look for an alternative to a literal 9,000 years as that figure conflicts dramatically with the Bronze Age setting of the Atlantis narrative and runs counter to the archaeological evidence for dating the foundation of both Athens and the Egyptian civilisation.
The more popular alternative suggestion of treating the ‘years’ as lunar cycles makes much more sense, as it brings the Atlantis story into the end of the Greek Bronze Age. It also matches the time of the destruction of the spring on the Acropolis (Crit.112d) and conforms to details on the Parian Marble. But perhaps most important of all is that the use of lunar cycles by the Egyptian priesthood for calculating time was noted by Eudoxus of Cnidos (410-355 BC) and also by Plutarch, Manetho, Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus.
Italian Atlantology can be traced back to the 16th century when Fracastoro, Garimberto and Ramusio, identified the Americas as Atlantis. In fact we should look to the 15th century when Ficino was the first to translate Plato’s entire works into Latin giving medieval Europe its first access to the complete Atlantis texts. Not much happened until 1788 when Carli attributed the destruction of Atlantis to a close encounter with a comet. In 1840, Angelo Mazzoldi proposed Italy as the location of Atlantis and as the hyper-diffusionist mother culture of the great civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean region. He was followed by others such as Giuseppe Brex(b).
Not much developed in pre-war Italy apart from Russo’s journal which ran from 1930 until 1932. After the war other Atlantis journals was established by Gianni Belli in 1956 and Bettini in 1963. After that there was a wide range of theories advanced by Italian researchers. Spedicato located Atlantis in Hispaniola, Stecchini opted for São Tomé, Barbiero, who although Croatian by birth was an admiral in the Italian Navy nominated the Antarctic as the home of Atlantis before the Flem-Aths published their Antarctic ideas. Bulloni chose the Arctic, Pincherle identified the Mandaeans as the last of the Atlanteans and Monte links Thera with Tarshish.
In recent years the most widely reported Atlantis theory to emanate from Italy came from Sergio Frau who advocates Sardinia as the original Atlantis. However, this idea is not new having been promoted by Poddighe in 1982. Frau has subsequently been supported by other commentators such as Tozzi and Novo. I cannot help feeling that there might be a trace of nationalism underlying this theory, a suspicion that I have held regarding writers of other nationalities.
The latter end of the 20th century saw the development of the Internet which enabled the instant promotion of Atlantis theories, both silly and serious, to a global audience. Italy was no exception, where websites, such as Edicolaweb that are sympathetic to the exploration of historical mysteries emerged(a).
More recently, Marin, Minella & Schievenin had The Three Ages of Atlantis published in 2014. This is an English translation of their original 2010 work. In it they suggest that Atlantis had originally existed in Antarctica and after its destruction survivors established two other Atlantises in South America and the Mediterranean. Perhaps more credible was the theory of Capuchin friar, Antonio Moro, who suggested in 2013 that Atlantis included Iberia, the south coast of France and the west coast of Italy!
Disaster Archaeology is the name given to the interdisciplinary scientific field that deals with the consequences of catastrophes on societies. The label was coined by the Greek archaeologist Amanda Laoupi in 2005(a)(b). The subject is concerned with a range of subjects that includes earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and asteroidal/cometary impacts, together with their local, regional and global effects.
The study of Plato’s Atlantis story has linked most of its putative location sites with at least one of the calamitous events noted above. Plato clearly states that Atlantis was destroyed by an earthquake, while tsunami damage has been identified on Crete, Malta and Sardinia. The volcanic eruption of Thera has been widely associated with the destruction of Atlantis and a possible connection with an extraterrestrial impact has been regularly suggested since Carli first did so at the end of the 18th century and let’s not forget Plato’s reference to the story of Phaëton.
Rosario Vieni (1941- ) is an Italian Professor of History who was born in Messina, Sicily and currently lives in Pistoia in Northern Italy. He has studied the Phaistos Disk and published a calendrical interpretation of that artefact(e)(f).
Vieni also presented a paper(a) to the 2005 Atlantis Conference on Melos entitled “11,500 years ago….” He proposes that prior to the ending of the last Ice Age; the Mediterranean was 150-200 metres lower than at present. He also suggests that the Strait of Messina was closed and that a landmass extended south to encompass the Maltese Islands.
He was greatly annoyed that Sergio Frau has claimed to have been the first to make this assertion a couple of years after he did(g). Which explains why, when Vieni subsequently published his theories in book form in 2011, he entitled it Atlantide e le Colonne d’Ercole (Atlantis and the Pillars of Hercules).
Although Vieni does not opt for any particular location for Atlantis, the focus of his paper is on the matching of Plato’s description with the Central Mediterranean. The title of his 2005 paper clearly indicates his support for the very early date for Plato’s Atlantis.
Not content with the Atlantis controversy, Vieni ventured into even more heretical territory when he indicated support for the Expanding Earth Hypothesis. James Maxlow, a leading proponent of this theory claims that the concept, sometimes referred to as Earth Expansion Tectonics, explains all existing physical geological data better than Plate Tectonics(b).
Obviously Vieni came to realise that Plato’s mention of 9,000 years could not be taken as a reference to solar years and therefore to suggest that Atlantis was destroyed 11,500 years ago was no longer tenable. Consequently, when he addressed the 2008 Atlantis Conference he revised the title of his paper to “about 5,600 years ago….” in which he offered strong arguments in support of the idea that when Plato wrote of 9,000 years he was referring to ‘seasons’ of which there were three in the Egyptian solar year. This idea is not new having been suggested by the naturalist C. S. Rafinesque in 1836, referring to even earlier sources[896.231]. These included Giovanni Carli who dated Atlantis at 3890 BC.
He also suggests volcanic activity as the probable cause of Atlantis’ demise, pointing to the ongoing volcanic activity in the Central Mediterranean. A website dealing briefly with this region’s volcanology is worth a visit(c) as well as the Wikipedia article on Italian volcanoes(d).
(a) See Archive 3424
(f) http://www.antikitera.net/articoli.asp?ID=85 (Italian)
(g) http://www.antikitera.net/articoli.asp?ID=28 (Italian)
The Destruction of the Athenian Army, together with that of Atlantis, as related by Plato, (Timaeus 25d) makes no sense if the whole story is allegedly offered as a morality tale, where the wicked and corrupt Atlanteans are destroyed because of their evil ways. Normally, such a story would show the allegedly morally superior Athenians prospering and triumphant over their opponents. The very fact that both military protagonists were destroyed, though not necessarily at the same time, would seem to be at odds with the idea of it being a morality tale and instead adds to the credibility of Plato’s narrative as containing some historical truth. Bernard Suzanne offers a totally different interpretation based on the background and motives of Critias(a). Serbian Atlantis sceptic, Slobodan Dušanic (1939-2012), has noted(b) that “while the Atlantis myth has been recognised, with good reason, by the majority of modern Platonists as a parable, no consensus has been reached on the parable’s character or precise purpose.” I’m not sure if this is a criticism of Plato or of modern scholarship!
Plato’s description of the demise of Atlantis and the obliteration of Athens has prompted many writers to link these occurrences with more global events. The association of Atlantis with catastrophism has persisted for over a century, ever since Ignatius Donnelly published his landmark book Atlantis and his contribution to catastrophist literature Raganorak. However, the idea of Atlantis as a victim of a global or at least a very widespread catastrophe was articulated as early as 1788 by Giovanni Rinaldo Carli who claimed that a close encounter with a comet caused worldwide devastation that included the permanent inundation of Atlantis.
In more recent times, commentators such as Stuart L. Harris have specified the cause of Atlantis’ destruction as an encounter with Nibiru (Marduk) in 9577 BC, in a number of papers (c)(d)(e) on the Academia.edu website. If the demise of the Athenian army was concurrent with that of the Atlanteans, 9577 BC is far too early, as Athens does not emerge as a structured society many thousands of years later. However, Harris’ early date is close to the that of the Younger Dryas and the extraterrestrial encounter that bombarded North America, which has been highlighted by Richard Firestone and others.
Atlantis is recorded by Plato as being destroyed in ‘a day and a night’, which led George H. Cooper to made the point that the knowledge of the speed of its demise could only have come from ‘survivors or passing mariners’ and should have been incorporated into the traditions of many nations[236.283].
*What is clear, is that Plato identifies an earthquake as the primary cause of Atlantis’ destruction. If that earthquake was triggered by a very close encounter with the likes of Carli’s comet, it would needed to have come near enough to the Earth and been so highly visible as to demand its inclusion in the destruction narrative!*
The bottom line is that the date of the destruction of Atlantis and its army is not known, although it has been assumed by commentators to have occurred shortly after the war with Atlantis. All that Plato says is that it happened “at a later time’ Similarly, However, Plato records the destruction of the two armies in the same passage (Tim.25d-e) in a manner that might suggest a common cause, a view that I’m inclined to accept.
Catastrophism today is the name given to a school of thought that supports the idea that the history of the Earth has been punctuated by natural events such as floods, fires and asteroid strikes that have caused widespread if not global devastation and that some of these events occurred within the memory of man and are recorded in worldwide mythologies.
Georges Cuvier (1768-1832) is sometimes referred to as ‘the father of paleontology’ and an early exponent of catastrophism.
Worryingly, it is now more generally accepted that further catastrophes will occur as a result of future cometary/asteroidal strikes. One such close encounter, around 2800 BC, was considered by the Christian catastrophist, Donald W. Patten, to have generated the Deluge of Noah(j) and was the source of the flood legends found around the world! Patten nominates Mars as the intruder(l), an idea also advocated by Elsar Orkan, who, however, proposes a date of around 8000 BC for this encounter.
Some readers may think that the subject has no direct connection with Plato’s Atlantis, however, his text refers to a number of catastrophic events that clearly brought devastation to Athens, Atlantis and beyond. The Flood of Deucalion and earlier inundations, Phaeton and other cosmic encounters, plus conflagrations and earthquakes all point to periods of great instability in the early prehistory of the Aegean region and quite probably much further afield.
Jürgen Spanuth devotes chapter 4 of his Atlantis of the North to an examination of “the natural catastrophes of the 13th century BC” that deals with Phaeton and the blizzard of floods, earthquakes and eruptions that beset the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Some of these matters have been recently expanded upon by Nur & Cline(f)(g) and endorsed by Stavros Papamarinopoulos[0750.73].
August 2013 saw studies published(h) which pointed the finger at climate change as the cause of the widespread political instability in that region during the second millennium BC.
Claude Schaeffer, a celebrated French archaeologist, declared in 1948 that on at least five occasions during the Bronze Age the Middle East had been subjected to widespread catastrophic destruction as a result of natural events rather than human activity.
Immanuel Velikovsky is arguably the best know of the 20th century catastrophists, who published two books in the 1950’s that provoked widespread controversy that continues today. There is an interesting albeit a sceptical review of catastrophism in the last century by Patrick Moore & Bob Forrest in Chapter 14 of More Things in Heaven and Earth(k).*Paul Dunbavin, author of Towers of Atlantis , has published a paper(n), highly critical of Velikovsky’s work.*
In 1964, the Belgian mathematician René Gallant (1908-1985) published Bombarded Earth which dealt in great detail with the consequences of meteorite impacts with the earth. Gallant, perhaps because of his amateur status as a geologist, never received the attention he deserved.
More recently Allan & Delair produced another book that identified 9500 BC as the date of a global catastrophe following an encounter with a comet. Their conclusions are at variance with Velikovsky’s, particularly regarding dates. Professor Mike Baillie of Queens University, Belfast is a well-known dendrochronologist who has recently entered the debate with his book, Exodus to Arthur that adds evidence from his discipline to support the theory of cometary or asteroidal impacts with the Earth. Unfortunately his work is confined to the last 4,500 years and so casts no further light on the 9,500 BC date apart from offering support for the possibility of extraterrestrial impacts.
However, Richard Firestone and his co-authors have researched an impact ‘Event’ the occurred 13,000 years ago and caused devastation in North America including the creation of the hundreds of thousands of Carolina Bays and some of the outbursts of Lake Missoula. Like Baillie, they claim that a memory of this event has been preserved in the folktales of many of the North American Indians. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the latest developments in catastrophist research.
The destruction of Atlantis has been linked to a number of possible catastrophic events including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and asteroid strikes. Plato’s account cites a flood as the immediate cause of the disappearance of Atlantis. In the 18th century Giovanni Carli was probably the first to link a cometary encounter with the Earth as the cause of Atlantis’ demise. This idea has been supported by numerous writers ever since with Emilio Spedicato being one of its leading exponents today.
There are numerous sites on the Internet relating to catastrophism of which one(a) can be recommended as a good starting point for further study. Andy Blackard has listed(b) events connected with global upheavals around 3200 and 2000 BC. An Australian archaeologist, Peter Jupp, is the creator of the Ancient Destructions website(e) which deals with a number of historical mysteries including, Baalbek and Antarctica.
A more recent book by Robert Argod postulates that many of these historical catastrophes were caused by an irregular series of accelerated tectonic movements, although he does not offer a credible mechanism to explain the triggering of such upheavals. Is it possible that the strikes by or near misses with extraterrestrial objects, proposed by so many, generated the tectonic shifts proposed by Argod?
Professor Trevor Palmer has written a comprehensive history of catastrophes and catastrophism from the earliest times and its relevance today. His Perilous Planet Earth includes a couple of chapters in which he reviews Atlantis theories in the context of catastrophism.
Dr Michel-Alain Combes has a PhD in astronomy from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI). He has an extensive website(i) dealing with catastrophism, which translates quite well.
2012 was been promoted as the date of the next worldwide catastrophe based on a highly questionable interpretation of the Mayan calendar. New Age gurus were promising a change in global consciousness, whatever that means. If interested you can read more of this nonsense online(c) or consider a more balanced view(d).
A huge catastrophist bibliography is available online(m).
(i) http://www.astrosurf.com/macombes/index.html (French)