The Strait of Gibraltar according to Greek mythology was created by Herakles. Neville Chipulina explains that “it seems that the person responsible for the myths about Hercules was Peisander of Rhodes, a 7th century BC Greek epic poet who apparently got the story from an unknown Pisinus of Lindus who almost certainly plagiarised it from somebody else. In other words it’s a pretty old story.”(c)
The Strait is very much a part of many current Atlantis theories. Primarily, it is contended that the region itself held the location of Atlantis. This is based on Plato’s statement that Eumelos, also known as Gadeirus, the twin brother of Atlas the first king of Atlantis gave his name to Gades, known today as Cadiz. Andalusia in Southern Spain has been the focus of attention for over a hundred years. In recent years Georgeos Diaz-Montexano and his rival Jacques Colina- Girard have been investigating the waters of the Strait itself while south of the Strait Jonas Bergman has advanced his theory that Atlantis was located just across the Strait in Morocco.
Although there is general acceptance that the Pillars of Heracles had their final resting place in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar, it must be noted that there have been others candidates at different times with equally valid claims. The location of the ‘Pillars’ referred to by Plato at the time of Atlantis is the subject of continuing debate.
Strato, the philosopher, quoted by Strabo, spoke of a dam separating the Atlantic and the Mediterranean being breached by a cataclysm. This idea was reinforced by comment of Seneca. Furthermore, a number of Arabic writers, including Al-Mas’udi, Al-Biruni and Al-Idrisi, have all concurred with this idea of a Gibraltar land bridge in late prehistory.
A more radical theory is that of Paulino Zamarro who contends that the Strait was in fact closed by a landbridge during the last Ice Age because of the lower sea levels together with silting. When the waters rose and breached the landbridge, he believes that, the flood submerged Atlantis, which he situates in the Aegean. Others support Zamarro’s idea of a Gibraltar Dam amongst whom are Constantin Benetatos and Joseph S. Ellul.
Terry Westerman on his heavily illustrated website surveys impact craters globally. He suggests that “The Strait of Gibraltar was formed by two meteor impacts. The first blasted the round area in the western Mediterranean Sea to form a land bridge between Spain and Morocco.” He maintains that a second impact broke the landbridge around 5.33 million years ago, creating what is called the Zanclean Flood which refilled the then desiccated Mediterranean(d).
A German website(a) presented some of the following data+, apparently recording the dramatic widening of the Strait of Gibraltar between 400 BC and 400 AD. The same list was included in the ‘Strait of Gibraltar’ entry of the German Wikipedia(b) until a few years ago. It has since been dropped.
*Braghine start of 5th century BC – 0.8 km
*Euton 400 BC? – 6.4 km
+Damastes of Sigeum, circa 400 BC. – about 1.3 km
+Pseudo-Skylax, probably fourth Century BC – about 1.3 km
*Turiano Greslio? 300BC – 8.0 km
*+Titus Livius (Livy) 59 BC- 17 AD – 10.5 km
+Strabo 63 BC- 24 AD – from 9.5 to 13.0 km
+Pomponius Mela, 50 AD – about the 15.0 km
+Pliny the Elder, 50 AD – about 15.0 km
+Victor Vicensa (*Vitensa?), 400 AD – about 18 km
I have been unable to verify the earliest dates provided by Braghine and furthermore the German links have removed the relevant data, so I must advise that what is listed above be treated as suspect.
*However, more recently, John Jensen Jnr. has offered a comparable, if shorter, numbers of dates showing the reducing width of the strait the further back you go until 3450 YBP, when he believes that a landbridge there was breached(e).*
Poseidon was one of the twelve Olympians of ancient Greek mythology. He was also the Greek god of the sea who was given the island of Atlantis as his realm. The Romans later knew Poseidon as Neptune. Herodotus (II.50.2) claimed that the Greek gods were imported from Egypt with a few exceptions including Poseidon. Some have suggested that the ancient Egyptian god Sobek was the equivalent of Poseidon, but the connection seems rather tenuous.
*Poseidon is also credited with having been the first to tame horses.* Others, such as Nienhuis, have equated Poseidon with Sidon referred to in Genesis 10:15.
The Phoenician sea god Melqart is frequently seen as the son of Poseidon whereas others, such as Jonas Bergman, consider them to be identical. The Nordic sea god Aegir is also seen as a mirror of Poseidon. In Portugal, Saint Bartholomew is considered a Christianised Poseidon, where statues of him are similar to those of Poseidon including a trident.
The Celtic god of the sea was known as Manannán Mac Lir who is frequently associated with the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.
*When the Greek gods divided the world among themselves, Poseidon received Atlantis as his share. He fell in love with a mortal, Clieto, who bore him five sets of twin boys, of whom Atlas was the first born and primus inter pares. Atlantis was then shared between them.
In December 2017, Anton Mifsud, Malta’s leading Atlantologist, published an intriguing suggestion(a) , when he pointed out that on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Neo-Platonist Michelangelo, something odd can be perceived in the central panel, known as The Creation of Adam. There, we find ‘god’ surrounded by five pairs of flightless ‘cherubs’. This is reminiscent of Poseidon’s five pairs of twin sons. Atlantis. However, Christian iconography invariably shows cherubs with wings, so it begs the question; why this departure from the norm? Mifsud contends that together with other aspects of the fresco, this depiction is closer to Plato’s ‘god’, Poseidon, than that of the Mosaic creator in Genesis!
Lixus is an ancient site on a hilltop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, north of the port of Larache on the Loukkos River between Rabat and Tangier in Morocco. Its topography has led some to favour it as a possible location for Atlantis. Jonas Bergman was a leading exponent of this idea but has recently(a) opted for a site further south between Rabat and Casablanca.*Unsurprisingly, Frank Joseph has also claimed [108.111] an Atlantean connection for Lixus as well as Mogador, another ancient Moroccan port city situated further south.*
It is generally accepted that it was a prehistoric seaport that the Carthaginian occupied around 800 BC, when they built on top of more ancient structures, so that its ruins today show three distinct cultural styles. On top are the most recent Roman remains, underneath which are Carthaginian and below that again a type reminiscent of the pre-Incan masonry in Peru. This lower style incorporates huge massive stones and the peculiar polygonal design found at Sacsahuaman and Andalusia in Spain. The explorer Thor Heyerdahl and the writer R. Cedric Leonard(b) have both remarked upon this feature. The question of how such unusual but similar types of masonry can be found on both sides of the Atlantic instantly leaps to mind.
Understandably, some have interpreted this as evidence of a transatlantic civilisation – Atlantis. If not, what are these strangely similar masonry styles doing on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean?
According to Dr. Gerald S. Hawkins(1928-2003), formerly of the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory, these lower megalithic walls are carefully aligned with the sun, noting that the earlier name for the city was Maqom Shemesh, or “City of the Sun” (Hawkins, 1973).
*(b) http://www.atlantisquest.com/Archeology.html (Offline March 2018)*
Étienne Félix Berlioux (1828-1910) was a 19th century French professor of geography in Lyon. In an 1883 book he placed Atlantis on the Atlantic coast of Morocco between Agadir (a variant of Gades) and Casablanca. According to Berlioux this location was the site of the city of Cerne the capital of the Atlantes referred to by Diodorus Siculus.
In 1907 he presented a series of papers entitled ‘Morocco and the Atlanteans’ for the Academy of Sciences at Lyons. Berlioux also wrote an account of the slave trade in Africa in the 1870’s. Bergman places Atlantis further north near Rabat.
His book on Atlantis, in French, can be read online(a).
Jonas Bergman is a Swedish Atlantologist living in Uppsala, who actively promotes his theory that Plato’s Atlantis was located in Morocco (PAiM). His excellent website(a) concentrates on matching the topography of Morocco with Plato’s description, together with a detailed re-appraisal of Plato’s original text. He presented a paper at the 2005 Atlantis Conference on Melos in which he outlined the evidence for linking Atlantis with the Phoenicians. Bergman contends that while Plato never used the Greek word for continent, epiros, his statement that Atlantis was greater than Asia and Libya combined was a reference to its size rather than its military might. He supports this contention with a quotation from Strabo (Geography 2.3.6) where he does employ the term epiros.
Although he originally favoured the ancient city of Lixus on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, Bergman later modified his views and has now opted for Chellah, a site on the river Bou Regreg near the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
Bergman also presented a paper to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he quoted from fourteen classical authors a “range of parallels between Plato’s primeval Athenians and those of the Heroic tradition. The idea that Plato invented the whole thing seem highly unlikely.”[0750.103]
In December 2016, Bergman published the first of a series of Kindle books with the title of The Foundations of Plato’s Atlantic Tale. In it he focuses on the credibility of Plato’s account and some of the apparent contradictions in the text. This is a short 36-page offering and in my opinion somewhat overpriced.
(a) http://www.paim.net/morocco/ (offline Sept.2016)
Atlantides, in Greek mythology was the collective name given to the seven beautiful daughters of Atlas, the founder of Atlantis. They were also known as Pleiades or Hesperides, after their mother Hesperis. As the Hesperides they were considered the protectors of the Seven Isles of the Blest, which contained the Gardens of Atlas, their father. The Garden of the Hesperides was located, according to Eustatius in the field of Atlas.
Hercules had to locate ‘the golden apples’ in the Garden of the Hesperides. Jonas Bergman has identified the ‘golden apples’ as the oranges of Morocco, with a site near Lixus providing the Garden of the Hesperides. *[The late Michael Hübner who was also an advocate for a Moroccan site for Atlantis proposed that the fruit of the Argan tree found in the Souss-Massa region were the ‘golden apples.]*
If these interpretations are is correct, it implies that Hercules was familiar with apples but not oranges and hence he must have come from a more northerly climate; which raises a series of other questions not pertinent to this work.
The Phoenicians or Canaanites are linguistically regarded as a Semitic people, who among their many achievements are credited with giving us our alphabet (without vowels). They flourished during the 1st and 2nd millennia BC. The late Joseph Robert Jochmans has suggested(c) that similarities between Phoenician names and those of the sons of Poseidon are more than coincidental. The descendants of the Phoenicians are still to be found in great numbers in modern Lebanon as well as elements of the Phoenician language. Contrary to popular belief the Maltese language is more related to Phoenician than Arabic(g). Similarly, in a mountainous and isolated north-east corner of Asia Minor its people still speak Greek in a dialect known as Romeyka(l). Dr Ioanna Sitaridou of Queen’s College, Cambridge explains that ‘Although Romeyka can hardly be described as anything but a Modern Greek dialect, it preserves an impressive number of grammatical traits that add an Ancient Greek flavor to the dialect’s structure – traits that have been completely lost from other Modern Greek varieties.’
*A more radical view of the Phoenicians has been expressed by Professor Josephine Quinn(o) who declared “the Phoenicians never existed as a self-conscious community, let alone a nascent nation.” In a lengthy article she suggests that “‘‘Phoenician’ was just a generic label invented by ancient Greek authors for the Levantine sailors they encountered in their own maritime explorations. Although some of these Greek writers entertain a mild stereotype of these Phoenicians as rather cunning or tricksy, they never use the term as a description of a distinct ethnocultural community.”*
The Phoenicians have been frequently identified as the Atlanteans of Plato’s narrative. James Nienhuis has recently identified Canaanites as Atlanteans(m)! The supporters of a Bronze Age date for the invasion of the Atlanteans see in the Phoenicians the powerful far flung maritime civilisation described by Plato. However, this identification is in conflict with Plato’s statement that Atlantis or its influence extended as far as Tyrrhenia and Libya, whereas the Phoenicians had their original base further east in the region of modern Lebanon and Israel. It also runs counter to Plato’s clear account of the Atlanteans attacking from their bases in the Central Mediterranean (Tim.25b & Crit.114c).
The Phoenicians were never unilaterally at war with Greece and/or Egypt, but their successors, the Carthaginians, whose main military campaigns were directed against the Roman Empire, did clash with the Greeks in Sicily.
It is accepted that the Phoenician commercial empire began with the three cities of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos. They expanded with the establishment of trading settlements along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa usually separated by a day’s rowing – somewhere between 30 to 60 miles.
It is claimed that the Phoenicians together with the Egyptians had an influence on the development of the Minoan culture(e).
Jonas Bergman recently presented a paper to the 2005 Melos Atlantis Conference on the subject of a Phoenician association with the Atlantis story. He outlined how Plato’s description of Atlantis was similar to the western colonies of the Phoenicians.
Some writers such as the German Robert Prutz have advocated the idea that Phoenicians had discovered America, where he also placed Atlantis. However, in spite of the fact that there is widespread support for this concept and the even more extreme claims of Phoenicians in Australia, a Lebanese website (now offline) in the original home of Phoenicia, discounted all such claims for lack of evidence. Nevertheless, attention-seeking Rex Gilroy persists in promoting the idea of Phoenicians in Australia(h).
A paper by Christian C. Karam, who believes that Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic has expanded on the idea of a Phoenician presence in Brazil three thousands years ago(n).
In 1886, the American novelist Ann Eliza Smith (1819-1905) published a fantasy novel(j), Atla, that tells the tale of the discovery of the Atlantis civilization by the Phoenicians.
In 1889, Enrique Onffroy de Thoron proposed that Atlantis had been Phoenician and situated in America. Indeed, claims still persist that the Phoenicians did reach South America(f). However, he was not the first to suggest this as he was preceded by Robertus Comtaeus Nortmannus as early as 1644 and Georg Horn in 1652 . Arguably, the best known exponent of the ‘Phoenicians in America’ school of thought was Bernardo Silva Ramos(i).
Hugh Fox (1932-2011) wrote of the early peoples of the Americas in his well-received Gods of the Cataclysm. The ‘cataclysm’ referred to is the biblical Deluge, in respect of which he follows the ideas of Velikovsky and the christian catastrophist Donald W. Patten (1929-2014), who attributed Noah’s Flood to a close encounter with a massive extraterrestrial body around 2800 BC. Fox explicitly claims that before the Flood, transoceanic travel was commonplace, with the Chinese in America, Indian theology in the Mediterranean and that after the Flood we had the Phoenicians and Odysseus in America.
The late Sabatino Moscati, a renowned linguist and archaeologist, wrote a highly regarded work on the subject of the Phoenicians. Additionally, there is an invaluable website(a) on offer from Salim George Khalaf, a modern Phoenician from Lebanon. This huge site with its 2,000 pages that covers all aspects of Phoenician culture. This same site(b), drawing on the work of Ignatius Donnelly, identifies the kings of Atlantis with the Phoenician pantheon and claims that the gods of the Greeks were also the deified Atlantean kings.
Jacques Hébert, who places Atlantis in the Indian Ocean on the island of Socotra, suggests that the Atlanteans had a colony in the Eastern Mediterranean whose inhabitants developed into the Phoenicians!
(g) http://malta.lebaneseclub.org/ (offline Jan. 2016) see Archive 2852
(h) http://www.mysteriousaustralia.com/pyramid-sequel/chapter16.html (reinstated)
(i) http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernardo_de_Azevedo_da_Silva_Ramos (Portuguese)
The Red, White and Black stone which Plato said had adorned the buildings of its port city, have led Atlantis seekers to eagerly follow up this apparently obvious clue. However, as with so many aspects of the Atlantis story, this particular detail does not provide us with anything like a clear pointer to any specific location.
Jürgen Spanuth relates[015.125] how the ancient Canarians decorated their temple with red, white and black rock, the colours of tufa, pumice and lava. The cliffs of Santorini are also known to display red, white and black rock. These three materials are frequently found in the vicinity of volcanoes(b) and may be considered a valuable clue to the location of Atlantis.*[However, this combination of rock colours is not exclusive to volcanic localities as Jim Allen has demonstrated at Pampa Augallas in the Andes and Peter Daughtrey at his Silves site in Portugal[0893.120].]*
Although Atlantis was destroyed by an earthquake, volcanoes are often located in the same general region such as in the Central Mediterranean which is both seismically and volcanically very active and, in my opinion, the prime candidate as the home of Atlantis. This view is endorsed by Plato himself who twice (Tim.25b & Crit.114c) told us that the territory of the Atlantean alliance stretched from North Africa as far as Tyrrhenia in Italy. I further propose that this was on a north/south axis.
Jim Allen has found the same three rock colours at his Bolivian site and further afield, Ian Wilson points out that red, white and black bricks were used extensively in Çatal Hüyük. Not to be excluded, Diaz-Montexano has produced photos on his website of pre-Roman structures near Gibraltar that incorporate red, white and black blocks in their construction. Jonas Bergman has indicated that similarly coloured stone is to be found in Morocco. Other locations include the Azores, Algeria and Sardinia.
Some(a) have sought to link the red, white and black of the Nazi swastika with Plato’s reference.
Island, Peninsula or Continent? Advocates of a continental rather than island identification for Atlantis have to contend with the fact that Plato never referred to Atlantis as a continent instead he used the Greek words for island, namely ‘nesos’ and ‘neson’. Their line of argument is that these words in addition to ‘island’ or ‘islands’ can also mean “islands of an archipelago” or “peninsula”. Furthermore it is claimed that the ancient Greeks had no precise word for ‘peninsula’.
Gilles le Noan, quoted by Papamarinopoulos[629.558], has offered evidence that there was no differentiation in Greek between ‘island’ and ‘peninsula’ until the time of Herodotus in the 5th century BC. In conversation with Mark Adams[1070.198] he explains that in the sixth century BC, when Solon lived, nesos had five geographic meanings. “One, an island as we know it. Two, a promontory. Three, a peninsula. Four, a coast. Five, a land within a continent, surrounded by lakes, rivers or springs.”
Robert Bittlestone, in his Odysseus Unbound [1402.143] also notes that “nesos usually means an island whereas cheronesos means a peninsula, but Homer could not have used cheronesos when referring to the peninsula of Argostoli for two very good reasons. First, it cannot be fitted into the metre of the epic verse and second, the word hadn’t yet been invented: it doesn’t occur in Greek literature until the 5th century BC.”
Another researcher, Roger Coghill, echoed the views of many when he wrote on an old webpage that “To the Greeks peninsulae were the same as islands, so the Peloponnesian peninsula was “the island of Pelops” and the Chersonnese was to them “the island of Cherson”. Similarly in describing a place found after escaping the Pillars of Hercules, Plato quite normally describes the Lusitanian coast (modern Portugal) as an “island”, reached, he clearly says, after passing Cadiz”.
Johann Saltzman claimed that ‘nesos’ did not mean ‘island’ or ‘peninsula’ but ‘land close to water’. However I would be happier sticking to the respected Liddell & Scott’s interpretation of island or peninsula. If Saltzman is correct, what word did the Greeks use for island?
The Modern Greek word for peninsula is ‘chersonesos’ which is derived from ‘khersos’ (dry) and ‘nesos’ (island) and can be seen as a reasonable description of a peninsula. It is worth noting that the etymology of the English word ‘peninsula’ is from the Latin ’paene’ (almost) and ’insula’ (an island).
Jonas Bergman maintains that the Greek concept of ‘island’ is one of detachment or isolation. He also points out that the original Egyptian word for island can also mean lowland or coastland, because the Egyptians had a different conception of ’island’ to either the ancient Greeks or us. Some commentators have claimed that the Egyptians of Solon’s time described any foreign land as an island.
Eberhard Zangger offers another correction of the Atlantis mystery: If one compares the land- / sea-distribution in Egypt and in the Aegean Sea, it becomes obvious why the Egyptians used at that time the expression “from the islands”. While today the word “island” has a clear meaning, this was not the case at the late Bronze Age. For the Egyptians more or less all strangers came from the islands. As there had been practically no islands in Egypt, the ancient Egyptian language did not have any special character for it. The hieroglyphic used for “island” was also meaning “sandy beach” or “coast” and was generally used for “foreign countries” or “regions on the other side of the Nile”.
A contributor to the Skeptic’s Dictionary(b) has added “I remind you that the Greek definition of “island” paralleled that of “continent.” To the Greeks, Europe was a continent. West Africa was an island, especially since it was cut off from the rest of what we now call “Africa” by a river that ran south from the Atlas mountains and then west to what is now the Western Sahara. This now dry river was explored by Byron Khun de Prorok in the 1920’s.”
Reginald Fessenden wrote: “One Greek term must be mentioned because it has given rise to much confusion. The word ‘Nesos’ is still translated as meaning ‘island’ but it does not mean this at all, except perhaps in late Greek. The Peloponnesus is a peninsula. Arabia was called a “nesos” and so was Mesopotamia”. This ambiguity in the written Greek and Egyptian of that period was highlighted at the 2005 Atlantis Conference by Stavros Papamarinopoulos.
Werner Wickboldt pointed out at the same conference that Adolph Schulten in the 1920’s referred to a number of classical writers who used the term ‘nesos’ in connection with the Nile, Tiber, Indus and Tartessos, all of which possessed deltas with extensive networks of islands.
To confuse matters even further, there have been a number of theories based on the idea that the ‘island’ of Atlantis was in fact land surrounded by rivers rather than the sea. These include Mesopotamia in Argentina proposed by Doug Fisher, the Island of Meroë in Sudan suggested by Thérêse Ghembaza and a large piece of land bound by the Mississippi, Ohio, Potomac rivers offered by Henriette Mertz. However, none of these locations match Plato’s description of Atlantis as a maritime trading nation with a naval fleet of 1200 ships, nor do any of them explain how they controlled the Mediterranean as far a Egypt and Tyrrhenia.
The waters around Plato’s island are indeed muddy!
The Identity of the Atlanteans has produced a range of speculative suggestions nearly as extensive as that of the proposed locations for Plato’s lost island. However, it is highly probable that we already know who the Atlanteans were, but under a different name.
The list below includes some of the more popular suggestions and as such is not necessarily exhaustive. While researchers have proposed particular locations for Atlantis, not all have identified an archaeologically identified culture to go with their chosen location. The problem being that most of the places suggested have endured successive invasions over the millennia by different peoples.
It would seem therefore that the most fruitful approach to solving the problem of identifying the Atlanteans would be to first focus on trying to determine the date of the demise of Atlantis. This should reduce the number of possible candidates, making it easier to identify the Atlanteans.
A final point to consider, is that the historical Atlanteans were a military alliance, and as such may have included more than one or none of those listed here. The mythological Atlanteans, who included the five sets of male twins and their successors would be expected to share a common culture, wheras military coalitions are frequently more disparate.
Basques: William Lewy d’Abartiague, Edward Taylor Fletcher
Maltese: Anton Mifsud, Francis Xavier Aloisio, Kevin Falzon, Bibischok, Joseph Bosco, David Calvert-Orange, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, Albert Nikas, Joseph S. Ellul, Francis Galea, Tammam Kisrawi, Charles Savona-Ventura, Hubert Zeitlmair.
Maya: Robert B. Stacy-Judd, Charles Gates Dawes, Colin Wilson, Adrian Gilbert, L. M. Hosea, Augustus le Plongeon, Teobert Maler, Joachim Rittstieg, Lewis Spence, Edward Herbert Thompson, Jean-Frédérick de Waldeck,
Minoans: K.T. Frost, James Baikie, Walter Leaf, Edwin Balch, Donald A. Mackenzie, Ralph Magoffin, Spyridon Marinatos, Georges Poisson, Wilhelm Brandenstein, A. Galanopoulos, J. G. Bennett, Rhys Carpenter, P.B.S. Andrews, Edward Bacon, Willy Ley, J.V. Luce, James W. Mavor, Henry M. Eichner, Prince Michael of Greece, Nicholas Platon, N.W. Tschoegl, Richard Mooney, Rupert Furneaux, Martin Ebon, Francis Hitching, Charles Pellegrino, Rodney Castleden, Graham Phillips, Jacques Lebeau, Luana Monte, Fredrik Bruins, Gavin Menzies, Lee R. Kerr, Daniel P. Buckley.