*Italy seems to have an uncertain etymology; Thucydides claims that Italos, the Sicilian king gave his name to Italy, while more recently Emilio Spedicato(h) considers that ”the best derivation we believe to be the one proposed by the Italian nuclear engineer Felice Vinci (1998), in his monograph claiming a Baltic setting for the Homeric epic: he derives Italia from the rare Greek word aithalia, meaning the smoking one.” This is thought to be a reference to Italy’s many volcanoes.*
Italy today is comprised of territory south of the Alps on mainland Europe including a very large boot-shaped peninsula, plus Sicily, Sardinia and some smaller island groups, which along with the French island of Corsica virtually enclose the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The earliest proposal that Italy could be linked with Atlantis came from Angelo Mazzoldi in 1840 when he claimed that before Etruria, Italy had been home to Atlantis and dated its demise to 1986 BC. Mazzoldi expressed a form of hyperdiffusion that had his Italian Atlantis as the mother-culture which seeded the great civilisations of the eastern Mediterranean region(b).
Some of Mazzoldi’s views regarding ancient Italy were expanded on by later scholars such Camillo Ravioli, Ciro Nispi-Landi, Evelino Leonardi, Costantine Cattoi, Guido DiNardo and Giuseppe Brex. Ravioli sought to associate the Maltese island of Gozo with his proposed Atlantis in Italy.
The Italian region of Lazio, which includes Rome, has had a number of very ancient structures proposed as Atlantean; Monte Circeo (Leonardi), Arpino(a) (Cassaro). Another aspect of Italian prehistory is the story of Tirrenide, which was described as a westward extension of the Italian landmass into the Tyrhennian Sea during the last Ice Age, with a land bridge to a conjoined Sardinia and Corsica.. At the same time there were land links to Sicily and Malta, which were all destroyed as deglaciation took place.
It is surprising that so few researchers have commented on Italy’s part in Plato’s Atlantis narrative considering that he twice, without any ambiguity, informs us that the Atlantean domain extended as far as Tyrrhenia (modern Tuscany).
Crit.114c. So all these, themselves and their descendants, dwelt for many generations bearing rule over many other islands throughout the sea, and holding sway besides, as was previously stated, over the Mediterranean peoples as far as Egypt and Tuscany. Tim.25a/b. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvellous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent; and, moreover, of the lands here within the Straits they ruled over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tuscany. (Bury)
The quotation from Timaeus is most interesting because of its reference to a ‘continent’. Some have understandably but incorrectly claimed that this is a reference to America or Antarctica, when quite clearly it refers to southern Italy as part of the continent of Europe. Moreover, Herodotus is quite clear (4.42) that the ancient Greeks knew of only three continents, Europe, Asia and Libya.
Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD) in his On the Eternity of the World(g) wrote “Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy?” (v.139). The name ‘Italy’ was normally used in ancient times to describe the southern part of the peninsula(e). Some commentators think that Philo was quoting Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor. This would push the custom of referring to Italy as a ‘continent’ back near to the time of Plato. More recently, Armin Wolf, the German historian, when writing about Scheria relates(f) that “Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria (southern Italy) they say they are going to the ‘continente’.” This continuing usage is further confirmed by a current travel site(d) and by author, Robert Fox[1168.141]. I suggest that Plato used the term in a similar fashion and can be seen as offering the most rational explanation for the use of the word ‘continent’ in Timaeus 25a.
When you consider that close to Italy are located the large islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, as well as smaller archipelagos such as the Egadi, Lipari and Maltese groups, the idea of Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean can be seen as highly compatible with Plato’s description.
If we accept that Plato stated unambiguously that the domain of Atlantis included at least part of southern Italy and also declared that Atlantis attacked from beyond the Pillars of Heracles, then this appellation could not be applied at that time to any location in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar, but must have been further east, probably not too far from Atlantean Italy. This matches earlier alternative locations recorded by classical writers who placed the ‘Pillars’ at the straits of Messina or Sicily. I personally favour Messina, unless there is stronger evidence that some of the islands in or near the Strait of Sicily such as the Maltese or Pelagian Islands or Pantelleria were home to the ‘Pillars’.
(c) http://www.giardinodidiana.com/storia-e-archeologia.html (Italian)
Jacques-Julien Bonnaud (1710-1792) was a French abbot with a PhD in theology and law. In his 1786 book, Hérodote historien du people hébreu sans le savoir (Herodotus, unknowingly the historian of the Hebrew people), he expressed the view that Plato’s Atlantis story was just a distorted description of the Holy Land. Bonnaud was killed during the 1792 September massacres of the French Revolution.
The Egyptian Calendar is central to the debate regarding the date of the Alantean war. At first sight it appears that Plato dated that event to 9,000 years prior to Solon’s visit to Egypt. However, since such a date conflicts with both archaeology and common sense commentators have striven to reconcile the differences. Either the number is exaggerated, the unit of measurement is wrong, or both require revision. I’m inclined towards the latter.
The ancient Egyptians had three types of ‘years’, solar, lunar or seasonal(a). The first was based on the heliacal rising(b) of the star Sirius, the second was a count of the annual lunar cycles and the last was the number of seasons of which there were three in the Egyptian year. The lunar cycles or months were the means by which the Egyptian priesthood calculated the passage of time and since Solon received the story of Atlantis from Egyptian priests it is assumed by many that the 9,000 ‘years’ were in fact months. Apart from modern authorities, the use of lunar cycles by the Egyptians for calculating time was noted by Eudoxus of Cnidos (410- 355 BC) and also by Plutarch, Manetho, Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus.
Some others, such as Radek Brychta and Rosario Vieni, have proposed that the number of seasons were used in a similar manner. Even more extreme was the contention of André de Paniagua who claimed that the date of Atlantis was recorded in Sothic cycles of 1,460 solar years each, which would push its time back 13 million years!
Nevertheless, there are many who still maintain that Plato’s 9,000 should be taken literally, even though neither Egypt nor Athens existed as structured societies at such an early date!
Sean Bambrough is a New Zealand researcher of ancient mysteries. Since 1999 he has been developing a theory which places Plato’s Atlantis in the Andes and identifies its city as Tiwanaku. He has published 37 pages of notes in support of this contention(a)(c). A reader will find them tough going and at times repetitious, but it is clear that he has put a lot of study into the subject even if he has, in my opinion, produced a very flawed theory.
A number of researchers have assumed that when Plato referred to an ‘opposite continent’ he was referring to the Americas, however Herodotus, who flourished after Solon and before Plato, was quite clear that there were only three continents known to the Greeks, Europe, Asia and Libya [4.42].
Bambrough’s first major error is to equate the sinking of Atlantis with the uplifting of the Andes! The Andes are rising at a rate of some millimetres per year. and the geological evidence is that in the past the uplift rate was somewhat more rapid, which “in geologic terms, rapid means rising one kilometer or more over several millions of years.”(b)(e)
There is no evidence that the cataclysmic upheaval described by him could have occurred around 1400BC. He does not explain how these newly elevated mountains created muddy shoals that made the Atlantic impassable.
As I have already argued in respect of Jim Allen’s Andean theory, the idea of an invasion of the eastern Mediterranean by an army from the west side of South America is untenable. That they would try it in reed boats like those of Titicaca is equally daft. Then, this mighty army from ten regions of South America were defeated by the small city-state of Athens is equally laughable.
I could go on, but just a final couple of points; Plato never described Atlantis as a continent and Kircher’s speculative map depicts Atlantis quite clearly in our Atlantic Ocean between Spain and America.
Bambrough has recently updated his website(d), however, his writing style is as irritating as ever, in particular his excessive use of retronyms (forward slashes).
*In 2017, he published(f) an extended ‘check-list’ which he feels supports his location theory. This offering is far too long and repetitious. It is clearly a triumph of quantity over quality.*
Schoinos, which means ‘rope’ in Egyptian was an ancient unit of measurement which was the equivalent of 40 stadia but had huge regional variations ranging from 30 to 120 stadia(a). It was widely used throughout the Mediterranean and was adopted by the Greeks from the Egyptians around 2000 BC(d).
Albert Herrmann, quoted by Bramwell [195.117], attempted to make sense of the dimensions of the ditch surrounding the Plain of Atlantis by suggesting that Solon had been misled by an interpreter who converted the Egyptian measurements into Greek ‘podes’ (feet) but erroneously gave the results as ‘stadia’ exaggerating the data by a factor of thirty!
However, for me, Herrmann’s highly speculative theory makes little sense, if the ‘schoinos’ was used by the Greeks since 2oooBC, why convert it at all? Herodotus refers to it at least twice in his Histories (2.6(b) and 2.149(c))
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 Egyptians for calculating time was noted by Eudoxus of Cnidos (410-355 BC) and also by Plutarch, Manetho, Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus.
The Bretons are a cultural grouping located in Brittany in northwest France, where the most outstanding megalithic monuments of Europe are situated. Today, the Bretons consider themselves a separate Celtic people, with a strong nationalist movement(c).
Since the middle of the 19th century a number of commentators right up to the present have labelled the Bretons as Atlantean. These include R. Cedric Leonard(a), who In support of this idea cites both Stephen Oppenheimer and Herodotus, although he does so some reservations.*Hank Harrison wrote Finding Atlantis in which, he supported the idea of a megalithic Atlantis with its centre of power probably located in the Morbihan area of Brittany.*
In the 19th century, Ignatius Donnelly quoted Eugene Bodichon as expressing a similar view[021.389]. Bodichon’s opinion is simply based on the temperament and physical similarities between the Bretons and the Berbers of North Africa. Similarly, Gerry Forster refers to Bodichon’s opinion in his The Lost Continent Rediscovered(b). I do not think that the case is proven, even if the legendary kingdom of Ys, reputedly off the Brittany coast, is brought into the debate.
*(a) http://www.atlantisquest.com/Bretons.html (Offline March 2018)*
Menes, or Min according to Herodotus, is the name given to the first human ruler of Egypt. It is sometimes argued that it is in fact a title and may be a variant of Minos, the ruler of ancient Crete, just as Kaiser, Caesar and Czar have similar meanings. Consequently some claim that Menes should be identified with Narmer, Scorpion or Aha!
James Nienhuis has identified Menes with Mneseus the brother of Autochthon with whom he made up the third set of Poseidon’s twin sons that ruled Atlantis.
Modern research attributes a date of circa 3000 BC for the reign of Menes. Apparently Herodotus (Bk II. 99 & 142) was told by the Egyptian priests that Menes lived around 11,500 years earlier (10,000 BC). This discrepancy of around 7,000 years is comparable with the difference between the date for Atlantis given to Solon by Egyptian priests and the clear Bronze Age setting as recorded by Plato.
It is not unreasonable to speculate that this disparity may be the result of the priests using lunar cycles rather than solar years to calculate time.
Euhemerus (330-260 BC) was a Greek philosopher and was the best known of the classical writers to rationalise mythology as history and who gave his name to this method of rationalising. Comparable views have also been identified in the writings of a number of early authors including. Xenophanes, Herodotus, Hecataeus of Abdera and Ephorus.
Among his contentions was one that identified Zeus as a king who died on Crete(b). Euhemerism particularly saw the ‘gods’ in Greek mythology as glorified manifestations of early kings and cultural heroes from a distant past. Support for this idea has waxed and waned over the centuries, with fewer followers today. An interesting paper(a) by Professor William Harrison on this subject is worth reading.
(a) http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/GreekMyth/Preface.html (offline Feb. 2018)
(b) Zeus Is Dead: Euhemerus and Crete, S. Spyridakis, The Classical Journal, Vol. 63, No. 8, May, 1968, pp. 337-340.
Neith was an ancient Egyptian goddess and patron god of Sais, where Solon is said to have learned about Atlantis. Neith is often identified with the Greek goddess Athena as well as the Berber and Punic goddess Tanith (Tanit, Tanut), although this has been disputed (a). Tanith is said to be derived from the Phoenician lunar goddess and claims have been made that Tanit was also a Hyksos goddess.
The association of Greek with Egyptian deities was originally told to us by Herodotus(b). A similar connection betwen Greek and Hindu gods has also been identified(c).
*(a) http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Mythology/Athena.html (Offline May 2017)*