Franz Susemihl (1826-1901) was a professor of classical philology at Greifswald University and later became rector there. He was renowned in academic circles for his translations of the works of Plato and Aristotle. His remarks on the Atlantis commentators of his day are as relevant today as over a century ago when he said “The catalogue of statements about Atlantis is a fairly good aid for the study of human madness.” The accuracy of his statement is borne out by the swollen ranks of today’s ‘lunatic fringe’ who claim inspiration from psychics, extraterrestrials or who insist that Atlantis was powered by crystals and possessed flying machines. The publication of such nonsense has continually undermined the credibility of serious Atlantology.
*Susemihl’s German translation of Plato’s Timaeus and Critias is available online.(a)(b). Thorwald C. Franke has also included Susemihl’s translation along with that of Müller, Bury and Jowett and the Greek text of John Burnet, all in a parallel format(c).*
It should be noted that Susemihl was an Atlantis sceptic.
Gerry Forster (1930-2004) was a British anomalist who devoted much of his time to researching the origins of humanity and the planet that we live on. According to any criteria, I would classify him as a prominent member of the ‘lunatic fringe’. He was an advocate for the Hollow Earth theory and proposed that mankind had originated on a planet, Astrida, in what is now the Asteroid Belt. Less controversially, he also wrote a 50-page paper on Atlantis entitled The Lost Continent Rediscovered(a) in which he closely follows the views of Ignatius Donnelly
Doug Yurchey (aka Tray Caladan) has written articles on a variety of subjects from advanced technology in the Bible to Bode’s Law(f). However, his views on Atlantis show a firm drift towards the Lunatic Fringe. He proposes that Atlantis had an electricity grid, based on principles later postulated by Nikola Tesla. He explains that any proof of this was washed away in catastrophic floods. He goes much further with an assertion that our distant ancestors not only had electricity but ‘cloning, space travel, atomic energy, anti-gravity, lasers, etc.’
He also manages to put Yonaguni in the South China Sea instead of the East China Sea.
Yurchey has also attacked Erich von Däniken’s ‘ancient astronaut’ theories, but only because he thinks them unnecessary, as his (Yuchey’s) view of Atlantis being so technologically advanced that it makes the idea of aliens redundant(c).
Evidence is not produced to support any of his wild speculations, many of which are to be found on his website(a).
A cynic might be forgiven for attributing his outlandish views to his unrepentant support for the use of marijuana(b).
2014 found Yurchey with a new name, Tray Caladan. But, although the name is new, he is still spreading the same old fertiliser(e).
Dr Jürgen Spanuth (1907-1998) was born in Austria and studied theology and archaeology at university. He became pastor of Bordelum in Northern Germany. His first book Das Entraselte Atlantis was published in 1953, following excavations near Heligoland. It was later published in English and is now available on the Internet(a). His basic thesis was that following a major catastrophe in the North Sea around 1250 BC, the Mediterranean experienced an invasion of Scandinavians, whom he referred to as the ‘North Sea Peoples’. Part of the physical evidence he produced was the horn-helmeted Sea Peoples depicted at Medinet Habu. Since we are all used to seeing Vikings depicted with horned helmets, many are surprised to find that it is a late 19th century invention(e)(f).
Spanuth’s theory implies that such helmets had been standard army issue in the region for over a millennium. In fact the Vikings used rather plain helmets which they did not manufacture themselves but traded for them from other Germanic peoples on mainland Europe(d). On the other hand, one of the Sea Peoples, the Shardana, generally believed to have come from Sardinia, did use horn-helmets. However, there are aspects of this claim that are the subject of continuing debate, but the suggestion of a North Sea connection has weakened considerably.
Spanuth considered Basileia, the royal island of Atlantis, to have been located near Heligoland. He produced a mass of evidence to support his views but found his book under severe attack by many academics, which, in general, had the support of the public. After being publicly labelled, among other things, a liar, Spanuth was forced to challenge his detractors in the courts. After some six years he was vindicated when ten professors withdrew their plea, admitting that their arguments against the pastor were untenable.Felix R. Paturi has more information[1339.215] on this disgraceful episode, as well as a note of scientists who supported Spanuth.
A study of Spanuth’s references would suggest that he had access to the prehistoric research archives of the Ahnenerbe and has successfully collated and analysed a lot of this extensive material in his books. Vidal-Naquet bluntly labels him a Nazi[580.124], although his publisher, Wolfram Zeller, denied it. *It may be relevant to mention that in the 1930’s, Heinrich Pudor an avowed German anti-Semite also proposed Helgoland as Atlantis, but I have been unable to find any reference to Pudor by Spanuth!*
The German Wikipedia claims that Spanuth was a member of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) from 1933 until 1945. Similar claims that he had been in the SS have also been refuted(c). In 2002, Frank Doenenburg, on his website(b)discussed Spanuth’s politics at length. In my view, all these matters, however unsavoury, risk distracting us today from discussing dispassionately the merits or otherwise of Spanuth’s Atlantis theories.
Spanuth’s second book had a much better reception. His final offering was Die Atlanter(1976), which was also published in English, however this is really just a revised and expanded version of his 1965 book.
Spanuth has still a lot of supporters and is constantly referred to, particularly by German investigators such as Arn Strohmeyer and Gerhard Herm. Felice Vinci, who strongly favours a Northern European origin for Homer’s epic tales, also places Atlantis in a northern context. The Danish writer, Kirsten Bang, published a short book in which she also placed Atlantis in the Wadden Sea where Helgoland is located. She also supports a date of 1300 BC for its destruction.
Another recent supporter of Spanuth’s Atlantis theory is Holger Kalweit who has written a trilogy, the first of which is Irrstern über Atlantis. This initial volume is concerned with the destruction of Atlantis by a comet (Phaeton) in 1222 BC, leaving Helgoland as a remnant. Refugees fled south to the Eastern Mediterranean leaving their cultural imprint on the region. Unfortunately. this huge 700-page book is to be followed by two more in which the author moves on to expand on the subject of ‘lizard people’, which for me has him as a fully paid-up member of the lunatic fringe.
(b) http://www.fdoernenburg.de/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1213 (page closed, July 2017)
Graham Hancock the well-known investigator of prehistoric mysteries has never discussed the Atlantis enigma in depth. In fact, he once remarked on BBC Television that he avoids using the word ‘Atlantis’ in his books because “because most people when they hear the word Atlantis immediately think that they’re dealing with the lunatic fringe”.
Furthermore, he emphasises the potential value of myths as transmitters of historical facts, albeit distorted.
*In his tome on civilisations submerged at the end of the last Ice Age, Fingerprints of the Gods [275.462] he briefly discusses the subject of Atlantis. He accepted that the Atlantic was not harbouring any lost continent, although he was seeking a continental-sized home for his vanished civilisation. Similarly, in an earlier work, The Sign and the Seal [678.319], he also clearly discounted the Atlantic as the home of Atlantis. At this point, he appeared to be considering the Antarctic location proposed by the Flem-Aths.
His book, Underworld  was published in 2002 and was followed by a TV programme, Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age, which was based on it. The latter evoked a highly critical review(s) by N.C. Flemming, who has written widely on maritime matters including sea level changes and sunken cities . Hancock wrote an equally strong response(r) to this.*
Hancock maintains an interesting website(a) that is regularly updated with contributions from a wide range of contributors. His bestselling Fingerprints of the Gods is now available online(b).
The other side of the coin is that Hancock’s evidence supporting his theories has been heavily criticised as flawed(g) and misleadingly presented(h).
Jason Colavito has written(c) a critical review of Hancock’s work and his recent advocacy “for ayahuasca, a South American hallucinogen. Since taking the drug for his 2005 book Supernatural, Hancock has supported the concept that mind-altering substances give their users access to a spirit world where one can commune directly with the ‘gods’.”
In April 2015, Hancock was due to engage in debate Zahi Hawass on the subject of their conflicting views of ancient history. However, when Hawass saw that Hancock included an image of Robert Bauval in his presentation, he refused to continue with the arranged format(d)(t).
In September 2015, Hancock published his latest book, Magicians of the Gods, which worryingly sounds like a von Däniken book title! Already, he is trailing this publication with teasers, such as a claim that he has finally identified the ‘smoking gun’ that demonstrates that a cometary impact destroyed an advanced civilisation in the Antarctic 12,800 years ago(e) Shortly after the initial report was published, Hancock had to correct errors in it(f), the principal one being that the impact site was the North American ice cap NOT Antarctica. An interview with Hancock shortly before the publication of ‘Magicians’(n) is online as is also a review of the book itself(o).
Hancock also climbed aboard the Gobekli Tepe bandwagon, incorporating it along with Noah’s Ark and Atlantis into one narrative(p).
Hancock’s book also engages in scaremongering, with a sales-boosting prediction that an asteroid impact is possible in 2030, when the Earth once again enters the orbit of the remains of Encke’s Comet!
Jason Colavitos’s critical review of ‘Magicians‘ is now online(j). A more favourable evaluation of his book is now available from Dr. Jon Epstein of Greensboro College, who expresses some interesting views on the closed mindedness of many academics(k). Epstein’s review prompted further comments from Colavito(l). Following correspondence between Epstein and Colavito, additional claims of academic conspiracy to block Hancock have emerged.
Hancock recently received the endorsement of the South African Professor of Philosophy, Bert Olivier, which swiftly produced a response from Colavito(q).
Hancock’s next book, America Before, published in April 2019, proposes that North America was inhabited 130,000 years ago and was home to an advanced civilisation which was destroyed by a cometary impact at the end of the Younger Dryas period, around 10,000 BC.
*When asked what he meant by ‘advanced’ Hancock revealed(u) that “I think we’re talking about a civilization – more than 12,000 years ago – which was as advanced as our civilization was, say in the late 18th century or early 19th century. In other words, they could navigate the world, they could explore the world, they could measure the world accurately, they had precise astronomy, they could create beautiful maps that were accurate in terms of latitude and longitude. That kind of level of civilization.” *
(o) See: Archive 2904
Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky(1831-1891) was nothing but another charlatan in a long line of fraudsters who have tried to exploit the story of Atlantis. However, she and her ilk are frequently quoted as ‘authorities’ on the subject. Consequently I felt obliged to give some of her history in order to bring some perspective into her rather dubious credentials.
Blavatsky was born in Ekaterinoslav, now known as Dnepropetrovsk in the Ukraine. She had a colourful life including a stint as a circus bareback rider to being a professional pianist. She was born in the Ukraine and married a Russian military man, who was a provincial governor. After a brief period she left him and embarked on extensive travels in the East, during which she claims to have spent seven years studying in Tibet. Eventually, she ended up in New York and became a co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Theosophy is an occult philosophical religious system allegedly based on ancient Hindu writings. She claimed to have had direct contact with two dead Tibetan Mahatmas. In 1877, Blavatsky published a huge, two-volume book called Isis Unveiled. It contained ONE page on Atlantis in which she presented her views regarding Atlantis. She claimed that the people of Atlantis were the “fourth race” on Earth. She said they were a super-human people who lived long before human beings. According to Blavatsky, the era of Atlantis lasted for eight to ten million years, and the cataclysms that caused its main continental formations to sink happened as much as four to five million years ago. She believed Atlanteans had amazing psychic powers. However, they were corrupted by a great dragon king, Thevetat, and turned into wicked magicians who started a war that destroyed Atlantis.
In 1884, following accusations by the Indian press that she was promoting a deception, the London Society for Psychical Research carried out an investigation and the following year declared that Blavatsky was a fraud.
In her next book, The Secret Doctrine,published after her death, Blavatsky tells much more about her Atlantis. In that book she comments on an ancient text that she claims to have been written in Atlantis. She tells how the survivors of Atlantis settled in Egypt and built the pyramids about 100 thousand years ago. A far cry from the conventionally accepted, though sometimes disputed, date of around 2600 BC for their construction. In 1893, W.E. Coleman made a study(c)(e)of her books and concluded that they were the result of a remarkable act of plagiarism. Isis Unveiledwas calculated to contain at least 2,000 passages copied without credit. A core of around 100 books were used which in turn quoted with references to a further 1,400 works. By the time Secret Doctrinewas being ‘assembled’ Ignatius Donnelly’s first book had been published and was also subjected to Blavatsky’s style of literary cannibalism.
*Coleman concluded his analysis with the following observation; “ There is not a single dogma or tenet in theosophy, nor any detail of moment in the multiplex and complex concatenation of alleged revelations of occult truth in the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and the pretended adepts, the source of which cannot be pointed out in the world’s literature. From first to last, their writings are dominated by a duplex plagiarism, – plagiarism in idea, and plagiarism in language.” *
Theosophy spawned a number of breakaway groups and has inspired quite a number on the lunatic fringe of Atlantis writers. Anthroposophy, a concoction of Rudolf Steiner, was one of these. Blavatsky has done nothing to advance the study of the Atlantis mystery, instead with her deceit; she only muddied the waters further. Since Atlantis had disappeared through flooding, it was possible to write almost anything about it, without any real danger of being definitively refuted. It is rather like libelling the dead; they can’t come back to prove you wrong. To-day Blavatsky is often referred to as “the grandmother of the New Age movement”.
For further information you can view a website(a) devoted to Blavatsky. A further site(b) outlines in some detail the level of plagiarism that she engaged in.
In 2013, Gary Lachman, the musician and occult writer, published a book attempting to rehabilitate Blavatsky and followed up with an article in the June edition of Fortean Times of the same year promoting the book. Jason Colavito has written a review(d) of the FT article. Colavito has also debunked(f) the claim that Blavatsky had discovered the theory of relativity before Einstein, an idea put forward by her grand-nephew Boris de Zirkoff (1902-1981).
The Lunatic Fringe, is a phrase coined by US president Theodore Roosevelt to describe political extremism, since then it has come to mean irrational extremism of any sort. However superficially unkind as the term may seem, it can be justifiably applied to many of the writers on the mystery of Atlantis. The phrase should also be applied to the public who continue to purchase the extensive array of balderdash written on the subject. Most of these writers are just intent on capitalising on the popularity of the subject by getting the gullible to part with their cash in return for fantasy masquerading as fact. Admittedly, there are some authors who appear to actually believe the drivel that they write and who should be pitied rather than condemned. However, the real blame should accrue to the greedy unscrupulous publishers who are ultimately responsible for much of the trash that can be found in bookshops and which led to the efforts of serious Atlantologists being ‘tarred with the same brush’ and unnecessarily subjected to ridicule.
Franz Susemihl (1826-1901) the German classical philologist once remarked that “the catalogue of statements about Atlantis is a fairly good aid for the study of human madness.” Frankly, I think his comments are even more relevant today judging by some of the recent claptrap written about Plato’s island.
This eccentric fringe of Atlantology is somewhat amorphous and difficult to objectively define. Therefore any references under this heading are purely an expression of the personal views of this compiler. Since the aim of this encyclopaedia is primarily to provide information relating to the history of the search for Atlantis, as described in Plato’s Dialogues, it is consequently not appropriate to include any serious mention of such subjects as extraterrestrial Atlanteans, glowing pyramids under the ocean or channelled ‘revelations‘.
Unfortunately, the advent of the Internet has brought additional outlandish Atlantis theories into the public domain(a)(b), a trend that continues unabated.
Also See: Blavatsky, Steiner, Gordon, Cayce, Zink, Nazis, Asher, Ambrose, Judge, McCullough, Planet X and Yurchey .
Erich von Däniken (1935-) is famous for his ancient astronaut theories. As a young man I was very influenced by his writings and it took time to develop my critical faculties to the point where I could discount his ideas as waffle. I now see him as a guru for the lunatic fringe who cynically presents distorted collections of historical artefacts and data for financial gain. A website(a) which deals with his lack of truthfulness and in particular a blog(c) from Jason Colavito are both well worth a read. Colavito has also reviewed the racism expressed by von Däniken(d).
Von Däniken had seldom touched on the Atlantis story until his Odyssey of the Gods published in English in 2000. He concentrated his discussion on the work of fellow Swiss writer, Eberhard Zangger, who identifies Atlantis with Troy. Von Däniken appears ambiguous about the actual existence of Atlantis, although he seems to reluctantly lean towards Zangger’s Trojan theory.
Von Däniken joined the many 2012 opportunists in his 2010 offering Twilight of the Gods. He claims that 2012 will not see the end of the world but in fact the Mayan ‘prophecies’ relate to the return of the ‘gods’ in the form of alien astronauts. I hope Von Däniken meets them and expresses his gratitude for the good living that they have provided him with for nearly half a century.
Jason Colavito offers an extensive 7-part critique of ‘Twilight’. Colavito also featured in Issue 8 of the English magazine Explore History in which it reviews 50 years of ancient aliens a la von Däniken. The article includes a number of references to Colavito’s criticism of Däniken’s theories(f).
*Some of his books are now available as free pdf files(e).*
Edward Alexander (1981- ) is a Norwegian researcher currently living in Argentina. He is endeavouring to promote the idea of a Latin American Atlantis. His thoughts on the subject were available on his American Atlantis Research website (a), but it’s now closed down).
His former website had a number of interesting ideas and focussed on similarities between structures in Egypt and the New World. However, he does not offer any substantial evidence that might identify any particular location as the site of Plato’s Atlantean capital or the date of its demise. He also fails to offer any explanation for an invasion from South America of the most distant part of the Mediterranean or evidence that any indigenous civilisation had a maritime culture capable of such a strange venture. I’m sorry, but Edward Alexander, or Maggador IX-777 as he sometimes calls himself, does not convince me.
Alexander is a conspiracy theorist, and occultist, who claims to have been reincarnated on earth many times, over the past nine thousand years(b) since his distant origins in the Pleiades.
While a belief in a life before birth is just as questionable as belief in a life after death, I will let that pass. However, his Pleiadian ancestry should be dismissed as New Age twaddle.
Since the above was written, Alexander had developed a new website(c) that is now (2019) for sale, which included an image of himself that was eerily reminiscent of Augustus le Plongeon. (See Above)
Although Alexander has apparently offered little new on Atlantis in recent years, this may be a good thing. I should, in fairness, mention that Alexander is also the author of a number of books(d).
(c) http://www.maggador.com/ (offline May 2015)