An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis


Joining The Dots

Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.

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John Francis Arundell

Hanno, The Voyage of

The Voyage of Hanno, the Carthaginian navigator, was undertaken around 500 BC. The general consensus is that his journey took him through the Strait of Gibraltar and along part of the west coast of Africa. A record, or periplus, of the voyage was inscribed on tablets and displayed in the Temple of Baal at Carthage. Richard Hennig Hannospeculated that the contents of the periplus were copied by the Greek historian, Polybius, after the Romans captured Carthage. It did not surface again until the 10th century when a copy, in Greek, was discovered (Codex Heildelbergensis 398) and was not widely published until the 16th century.

The 1797 English translation of the periplus by Thomas Falconer along with the original Greek text can be downloaded or read online(h).

Edmund Marsden Goldsmid (1849-?) published a translation of A Treatise On Foreign Languages and Unknown Islands[1348] by Peter Albinus. In footnotes on page 39 he describes Hanno’s periplus as ‘apocryphal’. A number of other commentators(c)(d) have also cast doubts on the authenticity of the Hanno text.

Three years after Ignatius Donnelly published Atlantis, Lord Arundell of Wardour published The Secret of Plato’s Atlantis[0648] intended as a rebuttal of Donnelly’s groundbreaking book. The ‘secret’ referred to in the title is that Plato’s Atlantis story is based on the account we have of the Voyage of Hanno.

Nicolai Zhirov speculated that Hanno may have witnessed ‘the destruction of the southern remnants of Atlantis’, based on some of his descriptions.

Rhys Carpenter commented that ”The modern literature about his (Hanno’s) voyage is unexpectedly large. But it is so filled with disagreement that to summarize it with any thoroughness would be to annul its effectiveness, as the variant opinions would cancel each other out”[221.86].

Further discussion of the text and topography encountered by Hanno can be read in a paper[1483] by Duane W. Roller.

What I find interesting is that so much attention was given to Hanno’s voyage as if it was unique and not what you would expect if Atlantic travel was as commonplace at that time, as many ‘alternative’ history writers claim.

However, even more questionable is the description of Hanno sailing off “with a fleet of sixty fifty-oared ships, and a large number of men and women to the number of thirty thousand, and with wheat and other provisions.” The problem with this is that the 50-oared ships would have been penteconters, which had limited room for much more than the oarsmen. If we include the crew, an additional 450 persons per ship would have been impossible, in fact it, is unlikely that even the provisions for 500 hundred people could have been accommodated!

Lionel Casson, the author of The Ancient Mariners[1193] commented that “if the whole expedition had been put aboard sixty penteconters, the ships would have quietly settled on the harbour bottom instead of leaving Carthage: a penteconter barely had room to carry a few days’ provisions for its crew, to say nothing of a load of passengers with all the equipment they needed to start a life in a colony.

The American writer, William H. Russeth, commented(f) on the various interpretations of Hanno’s route, noting that “It is hard for modern scholars to figure out exactly where Hanno traveled, because descriptions changed with each version of the original document and place names change as different cultures exert their influence over the various regions. Even Pliny the Elder, the famous Roman Historian, complained of writers committing errors and adding their own descriptions concerning Hanno’s journey, a bit ironic considering that Romans leveled the temple of Ba’al losing the famous plaque forever.”

George Sarantitis has a more radical interpretation of Hanno’s journey, proposing

Hanno's possible route according to Sarantitis

Hanno’s possible inland route according to Sarantitis

(e) that instead of taking a route along the North African coast and then out into the Atlantic, he proposes that Hanno travelled inland along waterways that no longer exist. He insists that the location of the Pillars of Heracles, as referred to in the narrative, matches the Gulf of Gabes.

The most recent commentary on Hanno’s voyage is on offer from Antonio Usai in his 2014 The Pillars of Hercules in Aristotle’s Ecumene[980]. He also has a controversial view of Hanno’s account, claiming that in the “second part, Hanno makes up everything because he does not want to continue that voyage.” (p.24) However, the main objective of Usai’s essays is to demonstrate that the Pillars of Hercules were originally situated in the Central Mediterranean between eastern Tunisia and its Kerkennah Islands.

A 1912 English translation of the text can be read online(a).

Another Carthaginian voyager, Himilco, is also thought to have travelled northward in the Atlantic and possibly reached Ireland, referred to as ‘isola sacra’. Unfortunately, his account is no longer available(g).

The website offers three articles(i) on the text, history and credibility of the surviving periplus together with a commentary.








*(i) (link broken Jan 2019)  See:*

Arundell, John Francis

John Francis Arundell of Wardour (1831-1906) published The Secret of Plato’s Atlantis[0648] in 1885 as a rebuttal of Ignatius Donnelly’s groundbreaking book of three years earlier. The content of Arundell’s volume is now as dated as Donnelly’s and freely available on the Internet(a).

The ‘secret’ referred to in the title is revealed by Arundell to be that Plato’s Atlantis story is based on the account that we have of the Voyage of Hanno. He devote the second chapter to a discussion of a number of details in both accounts that suggest more than coincidence. I am not aware of any subsequent support for this novel idea.

*Thomas Arundell (1586-1643), 2nd Baron Arundell of Wardour*was apparently responsible for bringing the first two pieces of the Parian Marble to Britain from Paros in 1627 and presented one of them to the University of Oxford forty years later. The second piece was initially used to repair a fireplace in the Arundell home.

Donnelly, Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius Loyola Donnelly (1831-1901), was an Irish-American born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1852. He moved to Minnesota in 1857, where he was elected Lieutenant-Governor when it became a state in 1859, at the age of twenty-eight and was re-elected in 1861. He served as a Congressman from 1863 until 1869 and was a Ignatius-Donnellystate senator from 1874 to 1878. The People’s Party, of which he was a founder, nominated him for Vice-President of the United States. He was a political liberal, being in favour of women’s suffrage and against slavery.

Donnelly was also a journalist and the author of a number of books. In 1882 he published his most famous work[021] on the subject of Atlantis, which is still in print today, although many of the more recent editions have been heavily edited to exclude some of Donnelly’s more outlandish ideas. Bill Lauritzen has remarked that Donnelly’s legal background led him to limit his case for the existence of Atlantis to a discussion of the ‘pros’ while ignoring the cons’.

The public reaction to Donnelly’s book was reflected in the New Orleans ‘Mardi Gras’ of 1883 having had an Atlantis theme.

Jason Colavito has drawn attention to the fact that among others, Donnelly was influenced by the earlier work of G.S.Faber(f).

Donnelly concluded that Atlantis was real and located in the Atlantic. He suggested “the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Hindus, and the Scandinavians were simply the kings, queens, and heroes of Atlantis; and the acts attributed to them in mythology are a confused recollection of real historical events.” Similar ideas have been developed by the late Joseph Robert Jochmans.

Donnelly’s book contains a list of thirteen theses (See: Atlantis: The Antediluvian World), which he then proceeds to ‘prove’, drawing on Plato’s text and the scientific knowledge of this period, not to mention a generous helping of pure conjecture. J.V. Luce remarked that “Donnelly bemuses his readers into a mood of infinite credulity” [0120.29].

*In 2017, Stephen P.Kershaw includes a brief critique of Donnelly’s work in A Brief History of Atlantis[1410] and concludes that Donnelly is unquestionably the most influential writer on Atlantis since Plato. I would argue that even though his ideas are more bizarre than Donnelly’s, Edgar Cayce is probably more quoted today than Donnelly. This is just a reflection of the number of gullible people that are out there. Donnelly’s influence has been greatly diminished over the decades as many of his theses have been undermined by later researchers. Cayce’s influence will only diminish if critical thinking becomes more widespread. In the meanwhile there are a few highly qualified dedicated Atlantis investigators who are slowly closing in on a solution.*

Many have followed his thinking since then and in 1886, Donnelly published a sequel, Ragnarok[022] to his work on Atlantis that dealt with the idea of a cometary impact with the earth. In fact, in 1883 twelve years after the Great Chicago Fire, Donnelly proposed(g) that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was not responsible for the conflagration but instead was the result of the impact of a meteor fragment, with Comet Biela as the prime suspect.

Although he was not the first to make such a suggestion, he was responsible for introducing Velikovskian style Catastrophism to a popular readership over half a century before Velikovsky.

Following the remarkable reception that his books received, Donnelly was elected to membership of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. However, it did not take long before critics emerged. One was John Francis Arundell also known as Lord Arundell of Wardour (1831-1906) who published his criticism in book form[648] in 1885 in which he claimed that Plato’s Atlantis story was based on the account that we have relating to the Voyage of Hanno.It can be read or downloaded online(c).

Donnelly also wrote a 1,000-page work[023] that attempted to prove that Shakespeare had not written all that he has been credited with. Obviously a man with time on his hands, he also published a number of works of fiction under the name of Edmund Boisgilbert MD.

Thirty years ago Marjorie Braymer wrote of Donnelly’s work in the following manner[198.65], “Modern editions of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World are streamlined and heavily revised; whole sections have been scissored out and dropped. The reason is clear:  Donnelly offered many theories as known and established facts that science did not support even then and wholly discredits today.” Some consider aspects of his ideas to be somewhat racist! However, his influence is still pervasive, exemplified by the fact that the first translation of his Atlantis in Sinhala, the principal language of Sri Lanka, was only published in 2014(d).

Donnelly also questioned the authorship of the works attributed to William Shakespeare in The Great Cryptogram[0023]. The Shakespeare debate has raged for two centuries and now the editors of The New Oxford Shakespeare are convinced, on the basis of computer analysis, that Christopher Marlowe was a co-author of several plays credited, until now, solely to Shakespeare(h). Coincidentally, another Atlantologist Comyns Beaumont held similar views, which he published nearly half a century later in The Private Life of the Virgin Queen[1224], considered to be the least controversial of his literary output!

At the end of the 19th century, a Mrs Donnelly, a fortune-teller from San Francisco, adopted the professional name of ‘Madame Atlantis’!

There is a wealth of Internet material relating to Donnelly e.g. (a)(b).

Donnelly’s Atlantis is now also available as a free audio book(e).









Parian Marble

The Parian Chronicle or Marmor Parium is inscribed on a stele made of high quality semi-translucent marble found on the Aegean island of Paros, which was greatly prized throughout the Hellenic world during the 1st millennium BC.

An enhanced view of the Middle section of the Parian Marble.

An enhanced view of the Middle section of the Parian Marble.

Two sections were found on the island in the 17th century by Thomas Arundell (1586-1643), 2nd Baron Arundell of Wardour, an ancestor of the 12th Baron, John Francis Arundell (1831-1906), who wrote a rebuttal[0648]  of Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis theory. A final third section was found on Paros in 1897, silencing claims that the first two were fakes.

As early as 1788, Joseph Robertson (1726-1802) declared the Chronicle to be a modern fake(e)in a lengthy dissertation[1401],  a claim disproved by the discovery of the final piece over a century later. Even before the third fragment was found, Franke Parker published an in-depth study of the inscription in 1859(f).

This important register recounts the history of Greece in chronological sequence from 1581 BC until 264 BC and it is reasonably assumed that the latter date was the year it was written.

The first king of Athens is noted on the stele as the mythical Cecrops commencing 1582 BC. This is important as Cecrops is also mentioned by Plato in the Atlantis texts (Critias 110a). This date is far more realistic than the 9,600 BC told to Solon by the Egyptian priests as the time of Athens foundation. The Parian Chronicle seems to have been given little attention regarding the Atlantis mystery. This lack of a direct reference to the Atlantean war may be explained by a comment in Britannica and cited elsewhere(k) which notes(g) that “the author of the Chronicle has given much attention to the festivals, and to poetry and music; thus he has recorded the dates of the establishment of festivals, of the introduction of various kinds of poetry, the births and deaths of the poets, and their victories in contests of poetical skill. On the other hand, important political and military events are often entirely omitted; thus the return of the Heraclidae, Lycurgus, the wars of Messene, Draco, Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles, the Peloponnesian War and the Thirty Tyrants are not even mentioned.”

Andrea Rotstein in a lengthy series of papers(i) discusses various aspects of the Parian Marble and also comments that “The Parian Marble, as many have noted, may be disappointing as a historical source. People and events that we deem important are missing: Lycurgus, Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles, the Peloponnesian wars, do not appear in the extant text.” (j)

Furthermore, Wikipedia lists pages(h) of wars, battles and sieges involving the Greeks, few of which are mentioned in Parian Marble, although quite a number of Alexander’s exploits are recorded.*Even the critical naval Battle of Salamis with the Persians is ecapsulated on the ‘Marble’ in a mere seven words – “in which battle the Hellenes were victorious”.*

Another name mentioned on the stele and by Plato is that of Deucalion. While there is some debate regarding the exact date of the deluge named after him, all commentators agree that it occurred in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. J.G. Bennett(b) has calculated the date this Flood to around 1478 BC, while Britannica(c) offers 1529 BC. Stavros Papamarinopoulos has developed his own king-list based on other ancient sources, which generally parallels the Parian content(d).

A further item of interest is the date ascribed to the Trojan War, on the stele, as 1218 BC, but again some controversy surrounds this precise date. While there are a number of flawed details in the Parian Chronicle, probably due to the use of defective sources or perhaps transcription errors, the very specificity of the recorded dates strongly suggests that it was produced in order to offer a real historical record and not merely to recount Greek mythology.

The chronicle is far from being comprehensive, particularly regarding the earlier years, when understandably information is more sparse.

I believe that the full implication of the inscriptions for the Atlantis debate has yet to be realised.

An English translation of the Parian Marble is available on the internet(a).



(c) (offline May 2016) ^See: