The Atlas Mountains stretch for over 1,500 miles across the Maghreb of North-West Africa, from Morocco through Algeria to Tunisia. The origin of the name is unclear but seems to be generally accepted as having been named after the Titan. Herodotus states (The Histories, Book IV. 42-43) that the inhabitants of ancient Mauretania (modern Morocco) were known as Atlantes and took their name from the nearby mount Atlas. Jean Gattefosse believed that the Atlas Mountains were also known as the Meros and that a large inland sea bounded by the range had been known as both the Meropic and Atlantic Sea. Furthermore, he contended that Nysa had been a seaport on this inland sea.
Michael Hübner (1966-2013) was a German researcher who presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in Athens, a carefully reasoned argument for placing Atlantis in North-West Africa on the Souss-Massa plain of Morocco. He had gathered and organised a range of geographical details and other clues contained in Plato’s text, which he maintained lead inexorably to Morocco. His paper is now available on the Internet(a) and a fuller exposition of his hypothesis has now been published in book form, in German, as Atlantis?:Ein Indizienbeweis, (Atlantis?: Circumstantial Evidence).
Hübner also published a number of video clips on his website in support of his theory. He begins with a lucid demonstration of a Hierarchical Constraint Satisfaction approach to solving the mystery. These clips offer a body of evidence which are perhaps the most impressive that I have encountered in the course of many years of rsearch. He matches many of the geographical details recorded by Plato as well as clearly showing rocks coloured red, white and black still in use in buildings in the same area. Hübner also shows possible harbour remains close to Cape Ghir (Rhir), not far north from Agadir (Plato’s ‘Gadeiros’). Although there are still some outstanding questions in my mind, I consider Hübner’s hypothesis one of the more original on offer to date.
However, I perceive some flaws in his search criteria definitions, which in my opinion, have led to an erroneous conclusion, although I think it possible that his Moroccan location may have been part of the Atlantean domain. Furthermore, I consider that his conclusions also conflict with some of the geographical clues provided by Plato.
Nevertheless, I am happy to promote Hübner’s website as a ‘must see’ for any serious student of Atlantology and I had looked forward to the publication of his book in English. In the meanwhile a video on YouTube(b) gives a good overview of his theory.
Tragically, Michael Hübner died in December 2013 as a result of a cycling accident. However, he left a valuable contribution to Atlantis studies.
Mark Adams met Hübner shortly before his death, so in March 2015 when Adams’ book, Meet me in Atlantis, was published, the ensuing media attention probably gave Hübner’s theory more publicity than when he was alive!
Although I have always been impressed by Hübner’s methodology, my principal objection to his conclusions is based on the fact that all early empires expanded through the invasion of territory that was contiguous or within easy reach by sea. This was a logical requirement for pre-invasion intelligence gathering and for the invasion itself, but also for effective ongoing administrative control. Agadir in Morocco is 2000 miles from Athens and so does not match Hübner’s very first ‘constraint’, which requires that “Atlantis should be located within a reasonable range from Athens.”
He arbitrarily decided that ‘a reasonable range’ was within a 5,000 km radius based on the fact that the campaigns of Alexander the Great reached a maximum of 4,700 km from Macedonia. However, he seems to have missed the point that Alexander began his attack on the Persian Empire by crossing the Hellespont (Dardanelles), which is less than a mile wide at its narrowest. As is the case with all ancient empires, Alexander expanded his Macedonian empire incrementally, always advancing through various adjacent territories. Alexander’s aim was to conquer the Persian Empire and having done that, he continued with opportunistic expansionism into India. My point being, that ancient land invasions were always aimed at neighbouring territory, then, if further expansion became possible, it was usually undertaken immediately beyond the newly extended borders. Alexander, did not initially set out to conquer India, but, as he experienced victory after victory, his sense of invincibility grew and so he pushed on until the threat of overwhelming odds ahead and opposition within his own army persuaded him to return home.
Similarly, naval invasions are best carried out over the shortest distances for the obvious logistical reasons of supplies and the risk of inclement weather and rough seas. There are many extreme Atlantis location theories, such as America, Antarctica and the Andes, from which it would have idiotic to launch an attack on Athens, in excess of 3,000 years ago, particularly as there were more attractive and easier places to invade, closer to home, rather than Athens, from where up-to-date pre-invasion military intelligence would have been impossible. Hübner’s Agadir location being 3,300 km from Athens is not as ridiculous as the Transatlantic suggestions, but it is still far too great a distance to make it practical. If expansion had been necessary, nearby territory in Africa or Iberia would, in my opinion, have offered far better targets!
*If I’m asked to say what I consider a ‘reasonable striking distance’ for a naval invasion to be, I would hazard a layman’s guess at less than 500 km. When the Romans wiped out Carthage, the used Sicily as a stepping-stone and then had to travel less than 300 km to achieve their goal. But there are many variables to be considered; weather, time of year, terrain and the opposing military, which I think should be left to experts in military history and tactics. However, I must reiterate that 3,300 km is not credible.*
My second criticism of Hübner’s presentation is his claim that Plato described Atlantis as being ‘west’ of Tyrrhenia, which is based on his assumption that Atlantis was situated on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and consequently believed that Atlantean territory extended from there westward until it met Tyrrhenia. In fact what Plato said, twice, was that Atlantis extended as far as Tyrrhenia (Timaeus 25b & Critias 114c), The implication being that Tyrrhenian territory, which was situated in central Italy, was adjacent to part of the Atlantean domain, which, I suggest, was located in southern Italy. This would have left the Greek mainland just over 70 km away across the Strait of Otranto, well within striking distance. I think that it is safer to think of the Atlantean alliance having a north/south axis, from Southern Italy, across the Mediterranean, including Sicily together the Maltese and Pelagian Islands and large sections of the Maghreb, including Tunisia and Algeria.
A graphical demonstration of how HCS works is available on a YouTube clip(d).
(a) http://www.asalas.org (As of March 2016 the website is still live)
Onésime Reclus (1837-1916) was a French geographer(a) who was convinced that Atlantis was located in North-West Africa in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, collectively known as the Maghreb. The Berbers call the Maghreb ‘Tamazgha’, or Land of the Imazighen (plural of Amazigh).
Reclus is credited with coining the word ‘francophone’.
Reclus had a brother, Elisée (1827-1904), who was an anthropologist, an active anarchist and also a believer in the reality of Atlantis.