The Doñana Marshes, a National Park in the valley of the Andalusian Guadalquivir River was linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer. George Bonsor and Adolph Schulten searched the area for evidence of Tartessos during the 1920’s. After that interest in the marshes waned until a few years ago when Werner Wickboldt identified circular and rectangular features in the Park from satellite images, which he claimed a possibly Atlantean.
Richard Freund, a professor from the University of Hartford, claims to have led a team to study the area and has had work included in a March 2011 National Geographic documentary, Finding Atlantis. However, Spanish anthropologist Juan Villarias-Robles who has worked on the site for some years has declared that Freund did not lead the investigations on the site and in fact spent less than a week there. Wickboldt’s images turned out to be either smaller than expected or were from the Muslim period. Evidence for Tartessos or Atlantis has not been found.
(b) http://blogs.courant.com/roger_catlin_tv_eye/2011/03/muddying-up-atlantis.html (offline: June 2016) see Archive 2122
Professor Otto Jessen (1891-1951) of Tubingen in Germany was another of a number of German academics, such as Schulten & Hennig, who, in the early part of the 20th century, were convinced that the answer to the Atlantis mystery lay in Southern Spain. Jessen excavated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir in Spain in a quest for Tartessos, which he believed to be Atlantis.
*In the early 1920’s he carried studies of the Strait of Gibraltar, the results of which were published in 1927.
Atlantisforschung.de gives a good overview of his life and work(a).
He expressed the view that the collapse of eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age civilisations was the result of climate change while ignoring the more extensive evidence for concurrent widespread seismic activity in the region. The most recent (August,2013) studies have again pointed to climate change as the culprit(b).
In one of his books, Discontinuity in Greek Civilisation. Carpenter declared his conviction that the catastrophic destruction of Santorini was the original inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis narrative. In another, Beyond the Pillars of Heracles he voiced the opinion that Tartessos was not a city but the name of the river, today’s Guadalquivir, which assisted the extensive mining activities in the area.
Antonio Blázquez y Delgado–Aguilera (1859-1950) published a work in 1923 that identified Tartessos as having been located near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, a year before Adolf Schulten published his book on the subject. He was a friend of George Bonsor who also sought Tartessos in the Doñana Marshes.
Andalusia is the second largest of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. It is situated in the south of the country with Seville as its capital, which was earlier known as Spal when occupied by the Phoenicians.
Andalusia probably takes its name from the Arabic al-andalus – the land of the Vandals. Joaquin Vallvé Bermejo (1929-2011) was a Spanish historian and Arabist, who wrote; “Arabic texts offering the first mentions of the island of Al-Andalus and the sea of al-Andalus become extraordinarily clear if we substitute these expressions with ‘Atlantis’ or ‘Atlantic’.”
Andalusia has been identified by a number of investigators as the home of Atlantis. It appears that the earliest proponents of this idea were José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar and Johannes van Gorp in the 17th century. This view was echoed in the 19th century by the historian Francisco Fernández y Gonzáles and subsequently by his son Juan Fernandez Amador de los Riosin 1919. A decade later Mrs E. M. Whishaw published the results of her extensive investigations in the region, particularly in and around Seville. In 1984, Katherine Folliot endorsed this Andalusian location for Atlantis in her book, Atlantis Revisited.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos has added his authoritative voice to the claim for an Andalusian Atlantis in a 2010 paper(a) delivered to the 12th International Congress of the Geological Society of Greece. He argues that the Andalusian Plain matches the Plain of Atlantis but Plato clearly describes a plain that was 3,000 stadia long and 2,000 stadia wide and even if the unit of measurement was different, the ratio of length to breadth does not match the Andalusian Plain. Furthermore, Plato describes the mountains to the north of the Plain of Atlantis as being “more numerous, higher and more beautiful” than all others. The Sierra Morena to the north of Andalusia does not fit this description. The Sierra Nevada to the south is rather more impressive, but in that region the most magnificent are the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. As well as that Plato clearly states (Critias 118b) that the Plain of Atlantis faced south while the Andalusian Plain faces west!
During the same period, the German, Adolf Schulten who also spent many years excavating in the area, was also convinced that evidence for Atlantis was to be found in Andalusia. He identified Atlantis with the legendary Tartessos.
Dr. Rainer W. Kuhne supports the idea that the invasion of the ‘Sea Peoples’ was linked to the war with Atlantis, recorded by the Egyptians and he locates Atlantis in Andalusiain southern Spain, placing its capital in the valley of the Guadalquivir, south of Seville. In 2003, Werner Wickboldt, a German teacher, declared that he had examined satellite photos of this region and detected structures that very closely resemble those described by Plato in Atlantis. In June 2004, AntiquityVol. 78 No. 300 published an article(b) by Dr. Kuhne highlighting Wickboldt’s interpretation of the satellite photos of the area. This article was widely quoted throughout the world’s press. Their chosen site, the Doñana Marshes were linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer. Kühne also offers additional information on the background to the excavation(e).
However, excavations on the ground revealed that the features identified by Wickboldt’s were smaller than anticipated and were from the Muslim Period. Local archaeologists have been working on the site for years until renowned self-publicist Richard Freund arrived on the scene, and spent less than a week there, but subsequently ‘allowed’ the media to describe him as leading the excavations.
Although most attention has been focussed on western end of the region, a 2015 theory(d) from Sandra Fernandez places Atlantis in the eastern province of Almeria.
(b) http://antiquity.ac.uk/ProjGall/kuhne/ (offline July 2016) See Archive 3135
Werner Wickboldt (1943- ) is a teacher and amateur archaeologist, living in Braunschweig, Germany. On January 8, 2003, he gave a lecture on the results of his examination of satellite photos of a region south of Seville, in Parque National Coto de Doñana, he had detected structures that very closely resemble those, which Plato has described on Atlantis. These structures include a rectangle of size 180 x 90 metres (Temple of Poseidon?) and a square of 180 x 180 meters (Temple of Poseidon and Kleito?). Concentric circles, whose sizes are very close to Plato’s description, surround these two rectangular structures. The largest of these has a radius of 2.5 km. Among the suggested explanations for the structures are; a Roman ‘Castro’, a Viking fort or even a dam for salt production, which is an activity still carried today in the locality.
In his lecture, Wickboldt went further and claimed that the Atlanteans should be identified as the Sea Peoples.
Wickboldt’s discovery inspired Rainer Kühne to develop his theory on Atlantis, which was published in Antiquity. Wickboldt and Kühne hold differing views on various aspects of the Atlantis, which were aired in the comments section of an online forum in 2011(b).
Some debate has developed regarding the actual state of this area in Phoenician times.
It would appear that, during the Roman period, sedimentation brought the mouth of the Guadalquivir about 40 km further south to a position near modern Lebrija. However, in the age of the Tartessians, it was only 13 km south of Seville. If correct this would imply that Wickboldt’s structures were under water at the time of Plato’s Atlantis. The only way to resolve this issue would be to excavate on the site, but unfortunately, the location is in a national park and at that time any digging was forbidden. Nevertheless, non-intrusive investigative methods were employed to produce additional evidence that might justify a formal archaeological dig. 2010 saw this work begin at the site, with preliminary results indicating that the area was probably hit by a tsunami or a storm flood in the 3rd millennium BC.
The sedimentation argument is not clear-cut, so that over a period of millennia, when other factors such as seismic activity are brought into the picture, different scenarios are possible. Even if it is not Atlantis or one of its colonies, it would still appear to be a very interesting site, with a story to tell.