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 German 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.
However, Colin MacDonald, an archaeologist at the British School in Athens, is of the opinion that “Thira’s eruption did not directly affect Knossos. No volcanic-induced earthquake or tsunami struck the palace which, in any case, is 100 meters above sea level.” The Sept. 2019 report(n) in Haaretz suggests it’s very possible the Minoans were taken over by another civilization and may have been attacked by the Mycenaeans, the first people to speak the Greek language and they flourished between 1650 B.C. and 1200 B.C. Archaeologists believe that the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations gradually merged, with the Mycenaeans becoming dominant, leading to the shift in the language and writing system used in ancient Crete.
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.*In more measured tones, Ronnie Watt has also dismissed a Minoan Atlantis, concluding that “Plato’s Atlantis happened to become like the Minoan civilisation on Theros rather than to be the Minoan civilisation on Theros.”*
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. *He also accepts Hans Peter Duerr’s evidence that the Minoans visited Germany regularly [p.207].*
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.
*While the suggestion of an American connection may seem far-fetched, it would seem mundane when compared with a serious attempt to link the Minoans with the Japanese based on a study(o) of the possible language expressed by the Linear A script.*
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 history of his famous 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 that Thera was part of Atlantis and that the Minoans were black!(m)
Guanches and Canarios were the names given to the natives of the Canary Islands when conquered by the Spanish in the 15th century following a hundred-year campaign. They are generally considered to be of Cro-Magnon origin having fair or red hair and blue/grey eyes, characteristics that are still to be seen today. Many writers have been convinced that the Guanches were the remnants of the Atlantean civilisation. Recent DNA studies(j) reveal a diversity of origins for the descendants of Guanches, comparable with the general Canarian population today.
However, a number of recent genetic studies(l)(m) have established a clear relationship with the Berbers of North Africa. Furthermore, it is claimed that the aboriginal language of the Guanches is related to one of the Berber dialects(n).*Further evidence favouring a Berber connection was provided in 2017(o). A 2018 paper develops this further with particular reference to the Lybico-Berber script(p).*
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans it is claimed that the population numbered over 20,000. It is not commonly known that in the 15th century many of the Guanches were abducted and brought to the Madeiras to work as slaves(g).
The Guanches were reported to have had no boats or maritime heritage. If they were all that was left following a catastrophic event, the Guanches were probably the descendents of mountain people who had no sea going heritage. This view was queried by Henry Eichner who claims that this idea was generated by the faulty assumptions of one of the first Spaniards to visit the island, Nicoloso de Recceo. In 2013, Sergio Navio decided to disprove this notion with a practical demonstration. The plan is to use a basic raft-like boat, named ‘Ursa Minor’ to sail from Lanzarote to La Palma, a distance of 250 miles(f).
The Spanish conquerors of the Canary Islands may have been able to shed more light on the subject, had they been more interested in history than in territory. According to these early explorers, the natives were surprised to learn that other people had survived the disaster that had flooded their world and submerged much of their homeland. They excitedly asked the conquistadors for help translating ancient inscriptions left by their ancestors that they could no longer read, but unfortunately – for the natives and for history – the Spanish exterminated their tribe before any more information was learned about their history and legends. Their inscriptions remain undeciphered.
The Guanches have been linked with both ancient Egypt and America on a number of grounds including similar methods of mummification(i) and the step pyramids found at both locations(d). Perhaps the most radical idea to emerge in recent times was the suggestion that the Guanches or more correctly their ancestors were the founders of predynastic Egypt. In a similar vein Helene E. Hagan wrote The Shining Ones, in which she identified the Tamazigh, related to the Guanches, as the founders of Egyptian civilisation.
Reinhard Prahl has published a paper(k) on the Migration & Diffusion website in which he highlights cultural similarities of the Guanches and ancient Egyptians.
José Luis Concepción (1948- ), a Canarian, has written a number of books with a local theme including The Guanches, Survivors and their Descendant , a booklet providing a brief history of the islands. He concurs with the view that the Guanches have an African Cro-Magnon ancestry and are related to modern Berbers. The author also claims that the Guanches are still the dominant race on the Canaries. The booklet has been translated into a number of languages and includes an extensive Spanish bibliography.
A website(a) discussing the Guanches has some interesting if controversial suggestions regarding their origins. Another site highlights a possible connection with the Dravidians of Southern India(c). This Dravidian connection is supported by the late Edo Nyland(e) in his Linguistic Archaeology. Furthermore Arysio dos Santos who promoted a Sundaland location for Atlantis also supported a Dravidian origin for the language of the Guanches(h).
Two Russian writers, B.F. Dobrynin and B. L. Bogaevsky in the first quarter of the 20th century wrote articles that supported the idea that there were links between the Guanches and the original Atlanteans.
(i) See Archive 2617
Atlantis: Mother of Empires  was written by Robert B Stacy-Judd, a Californian architect and artist. This large-format volume studies the links between the Maya and Atlantis and is lavishly illustrated by the author. Stacy-Judd touches on a wide range of subjects such as the Mormons and the Maya, the Iberian connection, Quetzalcoatl and of course ancient architecture.
Commenting on the theories of James Churchward, who claimed that Mu had been the birthplace of the Mayan civilisation Stacy-Judd wrote “I cannot accept his arguments as they lack corroboration, are illogical and unconvincing.”
Stacy-Judd introduced Mayan features into many of his own architectural designs that at the time were considered sensational. This development was later the subject of a book by David Gebhard.
Angelos Georgiou Galanopoulos (1910- 2001) was a Greek seismologist with the Athens Seismological Institute. To a great extent his views on Atlantis are based on the work of Spyridon Marinatos. Dr. Galanopoulos’ best known work on Atlantis  was co-authored with the British archaeologist Edward Bacon. This book offers probably the best argument in support of the Minoan Hypothesis. In 1960 he listed 19 of Plato’s statements that could be related to Minoan Crete or Thera. The geologist Dorothy Vitaliano considered this list in her book and thought that up to 14 of them ‘could be made to fit’ Plato’s description. Francis Hitching also refers to this list in the work he edited on world mysteries[307.137], while personally supporting a Minoan influence on Plato’s account[578.166].
Dr. Galanopoulos was a supporter of the idea that the Egyptian hieroglyphic for 100 was misread as 1000 and so decreased all numbers in Plato’s text by factor of ten. This explanation does not stand up to scrutiny, as the Egyptian hieroglyphics are distinctly different and in any case the Egyptian priests who presumably would have a clear understanding of their own inscriptions would have carried out the interpretation.
Immanuel Velikovsky also proposed a factor ten reduction of Plato’s 9,000 years in 1950[037.152], although he was not certain regarding the specific source of the error. My own study of Plato’s large numbers in the Atlantis narrative led me to also conclude that all of them made more sense is reduced by a factor of ten, but a definitive explanation of how this may have occurred has so far eluded me (see: Factor Ten).
In December 1969, the classical scholar, Moses I. Finley (1912-1986), wrote a critical review of ‘Atlantis’ for The New York Review of Books(a), to which Galanopoulos responded(b).
The Eel Enigma was first noted by the Danish biologist Johannes Schmidt (1877-1933) at the beginning of the 20th century. The American eel spawns in the western part of the Sargasso Sea and their European relatives in the eastern sector. When the larvae hatch, the Europeans eels are carried on the Gulf Stream towards Europe; a trip that takes about three years. The survivors of this long journey split up when they reach the shores of Europe. The males remain at sea and the females swim up the rivers and remain there for two years. They then rejoin the males and return together to the Sargasso where they mate, after a short journey of only one hundred and forty days.
A number of investigators, such as Otto Muck, have cited this mystery of nature as the result of the eels ’remembering’ a former landmass in the middle of the Atlantic. These writers have equated this landmass with Atlantis. However, a landmass is not what the eels require but the protective cover provided by the seaweed of the Sargasso while mating. I find it hard to accept this eel theory, although many find it credible. Perhaps millions of years ago before the tectonic plates had separated the European and American continents as far as they are today, the eels had originally only a short distance to travel. Over the ages the journey became longer until it is now close to the physical limitations of the creatures.
A similar observation was made by Henry Eichner who pointed out the existence of shellfish in the Sargasso who are normally found in shallow waters along shorelines. Eichner suggested that this adaptation by the shellfish may be evidence for the existence of an earlier shoreline now lost through inundation!
Equally intriguing but unconnected to any Atlantis claim is the migratory path of monarch butterflies(a).
Lyon Sprague de Camp (1907-2000) is probably better known as a science fiction writer with over 120 books to his credit, including, including two non-fiction titles, Citadels of Mystery (First ed.: Ancient Ruins and Archaeology) and Lost Continents, in which he was extremely sceptical of the reality of the Atlantis described by Plato. He offers the blunt declaration that Plato concocted the whole story, basing the tale on a mixture of the wealth of Tartessos in Spain, the destruction of the Greek island of Atalanta all intermingled with the mythology of Atlas. Although his criticism is harsh, it should be said that de Camp does display a reasonable degree of objectivity. It is probably because of his perceived integrity that other Atlantis sceptics continually trot out his views in support of their own position.
One of deCamp’s most quoted extracts is that “you cannot change all the details of Plato’s story and still claim to have Plato’s story.” While I fully endorse this comment, I must point out that there is a difference between changing and interpreting. For example when Plato refers to Asia or Libya, even deCamp accepted that in Plato’s day ‘Asia’ was not the landmass we know, stretching from the Urals to Japan, but a much smaller territory[194.27]. In fact the term ‘Asia’ at one point was just applied to a small region of modern Turkey. Similarly, ‘Libya’ was not the country we know by that name today, but the term was often employed to designate all of North Africa west of Egypt. There are a number of other details in Plato’s narrative that require explanation or interpretation and so as long as any such elucidation is based on evidence and reason they cannot be glibly dismissed as substantive ‘changes’.
He scathingly refutes the more outlandish Atlantis theories that have deviated dramatically from Plato’s narrative, commenting that without matching the “date, location, size and island character” with the text we do not have Atlantis.
DeCamp also considered Alfred Wegner’s theory of continental drift as “very doubtful”, but corrected this statement in a 1970 edition of his book. Immanuel Velikovsky also received the sharp end of deCamp’s pen, describing his catastrophic theories as ‘mad’.
Further information on de Camp can be found on the Internet (a) where excerpts from his Lost Continents are also available(b).
Henry Eichner drew attention to the fact that in three books relating to Atlantis authored by de Camp he describes a ring found by Adolf Schulten at the site of Tartessos slightly differently in all three! In Lost Continents it is plain, in Lands Beyond it is copper, while in Ancient Ruins and Archaeology it became gold!
Frank Joseph incorrectly claimed in the July/August 2011 issue of Atlantis Rising magazine that DeCamp “formerly a staunch disbeliever in Atlantis, was later convinced it did indeed exist in south-coastal Iberia.”
(a) http://www.lspraguedecamp.com/ (offline August 2016)