Iain Stewart (1964- ) is a Scottish geologist and former child actor. Stewart lectured on geology at the University of Plymouth and now is a senior lecturer in Geography and Earth Sciences at Brunel University. In 2007 a newly identified species of ant, Cerapachys iainstewarti, was named after him, when it was discovered during the filming of a TV programme presented by him.
However, he gave up his acting career to study geology and geography and eventually received a PhD. No doubt assisted by his acting experience Dr Stewart has gone on to present a number of science programmes on television. The first of which was Helike: The Real Atlantis (2002), in which he proposed that the submergence of Helike was the inspiration for elements of Plato’s Atlantis story(a).
In 2014, he updated the article providing interesting information regarding the effects of earthquakes in Greek history, concluding with a reiteration of his support for Helike as an important influence on the development of Plato’s story of Atlantis. He returned to the subject again in June 2015(b).
Stewart was a member of the steering committee of the 2008 Atlantis Conference held in Athens.
(b) See: Archive 2571
An earthquake, not a volcanic eruption resulted in the inundation of Atlantis according to Plato’s account. Although, for those who believe that the destruction of ancient Santorini was the inspiration behind Plato’s Atlantis story, it is not difficult to imagine an earthquake accompanying an eruption such as that which occurred on Thera in the 2nd millennium BC, particularly in an area that had been prone to frequent earthquakes over thousands of years.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos at the 2005 Atlantis Conference highlighted(h) the part played by earthquakes in the description of the ancient Athenian Acropolis in the Atlantis narrative, which he saw a part of a 50-year ‘seismic storm’ which ravaged the Eastern Mediterranean around the 12th century BC [629.499].*Later, in 365 AD, a massive earthquake near Crete, killed thousands, caused damage in Alexandria and submerged the Roman city of Neapolis on the east coast of Tunisia, which has only recently been rediscovered(j). On Crete, some land was uplifted by as much as 30 feet.*
However, earthquakes in the region have continued ever since. Dr. Iain Stewart recounts how an earthquake in Greece in the 5th century BC led to the death of 20,000 Spartans(i).
Earthquakes were once thought to be a form of divine retribution, so when an earthquake in 1570, causing death, damage and the alteration of the River Po’s course, ‘infallible’ Pope Pius V declared it to be the consequence of god’s wrath against the Jews!(b)
A PhD Dissertation by Jamie Rae Bluestone investigates early understanding of earthquakes, which inevitably touches on the Atlantis story(a).
A recent paper by Marc-Andre Gutscher discussed the Cadiz subduction zone, which appears to be ‘locked’ and consequently liable to generate very strong earthquakes over long return periods. Gutscher offered evidence of deposits dated to 12000 BC which ‘may correspond to the destructive earthquake and tsunami described by Plato’. However, he recognised that Plato describes a Bronze Age society, while Spartel Island in the Strait of Gibraltar would only have been inhabited by ‘simple fishermen’ unlikely to have merited a mention in the records of the Egyptian priests.
In the Mediterranean the Aegean and Turkey are the most seismically active, followed by Italy (including Sicily)(f) and North Africa from Morocco to Tunisia. There is a European Earthquake Catalogue that graphically illustrates earthquake activity over the past 1,000 years(e). Italy is also home to most of the active volcanoes in the Med.
Ben Davidson, promotes the idea that earthquakes are caused by solar activity (c) and offers what he considers compelling evidence on a YouTube clip(d).
Up-to-date earthquake information is available on the Geofon website(g).
[The words ‘seismology’ and ‘epicentre’ were coined in 1858 by an Irishman, Robert Mallet (1810-1881)]
Achaean is a term that has been applied in a variety a ways over the past 4,000 years to identify different groups and geographical areas. Originally it described the first of the Greek-speaking peoples who arrived on mainland Greece around 2000 BC. Homer also referred to them as Achaioi as well as Argives and Danai (Strabo 8.6.5). Achaioi was probably the Anatolian name for them. Argives refers to the inhabitants of Argos and the Danai were the descendants of the Egyptian Danus who moved to Argos. Homer used Danai as a general term applied to all Greeks. Similarly, it quite possible that Atlantis and the individual members of their alliance had each been known by a number of different names.
The Achaeans were the founders of the city of Mycenae, in the North-Eastern Peloponnese, which gave its name to the Mycenaean civilisation of Late Bronze Age Greece (1700-1200 BC). There is no consensus regarding their origin. There is some agreement that the Hittites knew them as Ahhiyawa. Rodney Castleden expands on this idea in his Mycenaeans. Helike, one of their cities, was destroyed in 373 BC, by inundation following an earthquake in a similar manner to the destruction of Atlantis as described by Plato.Iain Stewart also supports Helike, the former capital of the Achaean League, as the most likely inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis story(b).
Today Achaea is the name of an administrative area of Greece.
Some writers such as Jürgen Spanuth and more recently Felice Vinci have argued strongly in favour of the controversial theory that the Achaeans were a Baltic tribe that migrated south. Iman Wilkens maintains that ‘Achaean’ means ‘watermen’ or ‘Sea People’(a), which has other obvious implications.