A Tsunami was probably first described in the 5th century BC by Thucydides when he wrote “in my opinion, the cause of the phenomenon was this: where the earthquake was most violent, the sea receded and was then pushed back with even greater violence, thus bringing about a flood. Such a thing would not have happened without an earthquake” (Peloponnesian War, Book III.89)(b). However, there are also conditions that can produce tsunamis inland, such as occurred around 500 AD inundating Geneva in the Alps(k)(m).
The word ‘tsunami’ first appeared in an English language publication in the September 1896 edition of National Geographic Magazine in which the devastation caused by an earthquake wave in Japan was graphically described.
Recent studies(g) indicate that a similar tsunami saved the Greek town of Nea Poteidaia from a Persian attack in 479 BC. Herodotus in reporting the event attributed the Persian defeat to divine intervention by Poseidon, god of the sea.
A similar event on an even greater scale has been one of the suggestions as the possible cause of the flooding of Atlantis. A 2002 paper(a), by Louisiana State University geologist, Gary Byerly and his team, identified an ancient asteroid impact that generated a tsunami that “swept around the earth several times, inundating everything except the mountains”. The study of ancient tsunamis is at a very early stage of development.
Ivan T. Sanderson in one of his books, Investigating the Unexplained , recounts an 1863 report of a 200-foot high tsunami which sped up the Ganges and Houghli Rivers in India killing tens of thousands of people without ‘snapping-off’ trees. He contrasts this with the tree stumps covering acres around East Creek, New Jersey that have all been broken off at the same height and where he suggested that only a tsunami could have caused such widespread and uniform destruction. In view of the fact that some of these cedar trees had six foot diameter trunks he speculates on the possible size of a tsunami that could bring about such extreme damage.
Perhaps even more relevant to the study of Atlantis is the evidence gathered by Jürgen Spanuth in his chapter on the ‘Natural Catastrophes of the 13th Century’ including an interesting section on tsunamis[015.167].
Marc-André Gutscher of the University of Western Brittany in Plouzané, France, has discovered evidence of ancient tsunami on Spartel Island, an Atlantis candidate, in the Gulf of Cadiz. Georgeos Diaz-Montexano has pointed out that Josephus, the 1st century Jewish historian, seems to describe the devastation caused by its assault on the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal at the time of the Lusitanians and Cantabrians in the 1st millennium BC.
Professor Stefano Tinti of Bologna University visited Sardinia and explained(r) “that until the 1980s no one was aware that tidal waves had occurred in the Mediterranean. But since 2004 scientists have identified 350 events of this type over a 2,500-year period,” and regarding the Sardinian tsunami “So what would have been required in our case?” he then asked. “We’re talking about a huge volume of water, some 500 metres high [the elevation up to which the nuraghi were affected]. Only a comet could do that, if the impact occurred very close to the coast and in a very specific direction,” he asserted. An event of this sort may have occurred near Cagliari, with the resulting wave devastating the plain of Campidano.”
Tinti has also noted(w) that generally speaking, the majority of tsunamis are generated by seismic rather than volcanic activity. Globally, volcanic tsunamis account for only 2% of the total, however, the profusion of volcanoes in Southern Italy has considerably increased this percentage.*Furthermore, according to a recent article on the BBC website “The scale of the tsunami hazard from volcanoes that collapse into the sea has been underestimated.”(x)
More recently, Dhani Irwanto has written of the probable effect of tsunamis on his Indonesian Atlantis(y). Studies of the sedimentary record in a sea-cave in Sumatra have revealed the frequency and strength of tsunamis in the region over a five thousand year span from 5900 BC until 900 BC(u).*
Tsunamis are also associated with destruction on Crete following the eruption of Thera in the 2ndmillennium BC. A TV documentary entitled Sinking Atlantis(i), provided graphic evidence of tsunami damage on Minoan Crete(h).
J.V.Luce cited[120.119] a number a local legends from around the Aegean that may have originated with the tsunami that followed the eruption on Thera.
However, the extent of this damage is strongly contested by W. Sheppard Baird(j) and he proposes instead that it was in fact more likely to have been a pyroclastic surge from the Theran eruption that caused most damage.
A recent report(d) concludes that a large tsunami generated by the volcanic activity of Mt. Etna around 6000 BC produced waves up to 43 feet high that struck the coasts of Greece and Libya. This event would have caused devastation on nearby Malta, where evidence of past tsunamis was published in the journal Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie. The research was carried out over three years by scientists from the University of Portsmouth, led by Dr Malcolm Bray with assistance from colleagues at the Department of Geography at the University of Malta(n). A 1693 earthquake generated the earliest recorded tsunami on Malta and as recent as 1908 Malta was hit by a tsunami that resulted from a catastrophic earthquake in the vicinity of the Strait of Messina(p).
On the Atlantic west coast of Ireland we have a 250 km2 locality, in County Clare, known as the Burren, which consists of limestone denuded of soil cover. Recently, strong evidence was discovered suggesting a 4000 BC tsunami in the region(o). For me the karst landscape of the Burren is reminiscent of areas of Malta.
Plato’s description does not support the idea of a tsunami as the primary cause of Atlantis’ inundation since tsunamis will eventually subside and return to the ocean, whereas Atlantis was still under water years after the event, causing a permanent navigation hazard. John Michael Greer makes a similar point [345.126] in relation to the megatsunami which struck Madagascar 2800 BC. Evidence of other ancient megatsunamis in Hawaii was presented to 2012 meeting of the American Geophysical Union(l). The power of megatsunamis is highlighted in an article the UK’s MailOnline website(t).
Recent excavations at Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula, the location of the original Olympic Games, have pointed to the site having been repeatedly hit by devastating tsunamis during the past 7,000 years(c).
The Bunurong tribe in Australia have a ‘myth’ which explains the creation of Melbourne’s Port Philip Bay. A recent article(e) has linked this to a tsunami which resulted from the impact of Comet Manhuika south-west of New Zealand in the 15th century. A more cautious view of this event is expressed elsewhere(f).
The excellent livescience.com website has an interesting list of ten history-making tsunamis(q), while Wikipedia offers an extensive list of European tsunamis from prehistoric times until the present(s).
A 100-metre-high tsunami, caused by a landslide, one of the highest ever recorded was experienced in a remote area of Greenland in June 2017. Four lives were lost and eleven houses destroyed in the fishing village of Nuugaatsiaq, located on an island about 20 kilometres away(v).
(a) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0823_020823_asteroid.html (link Broken August 2018) See: Archive 2931
(l) http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/3854-hawaii-giant-tsunami-landslides.html (link broken May 2019)
Spartel Island also known as the Majuan Bank, was situated just west of the Strait of Gibraltar and according to Jacques Collina-Girard was the site of Atlantis. There is little doubt that before the last deglaciation Spartel was dry land.
Marc-Andre Gutscher from the University of Brest has added some support to Collina-Girard’s theory based on his interpretation of new bathymetric data and is prepared to debate the viability of human habitation on Spartel around 9600 BC. According to Gutscher a large earthquake hit the island 12,000 years ago. Furthermore, there is also evidence of at least eight subsequent earthquakes, each of which could have resulted in a drop of the seafloor by several metres.
Accordingly Gustcher speculated that Spartel circa 9600 BC could have been 40 metres higher than expected. However, at this early date he would not expect the Bronze Age civilisation described by Plato to have existed on the island and that his sonar investigation did not reveal any suggestion of an extinct civilisation.
Gustcher subsequently withdrew his support for a Spartel Atlantis(a). However, Collina-Girard continues to advocate the idea, expanding on his views in a 2009 book, L’Atlantide retrouvée? Enquête scientifique autour d’un mythe.
Further criticism of Collina-Girard’s theory has been voiced by Alain Moreau(b).
*(b) http://www.mondenouveau.fr/continents-disparus-les-fausses-atlantides-antarctique-ile-du-cap-spartel-partie-4/* (link broken Oct. 2017)
Marc-André Gustier is an American-born geophysicist at the University of Western Brittany. He addressed the 2005 Atlantis Conference on the subject of Spartel Island, now submerged just beyond the Strait of Gibraltar, but above sea level during the last Ice Age. Prof. Jacques Collina-Girard had proposed Spartel as a possible location for Atlantis four years earlier. Gutscher subsequently(a) withdrew his support for a Spartel Atlantis.
Gutscher’s theory was attacked on the grounds that no advanced civilisation existed 12,000 years ago. Although Gutscher retracted his earlier position, Collina-Girard has stubbornly continued to espouse his views, expanding his argument in a 2009 book.
The Bronze Age is the second of the generalised three part division of prehistory into Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. I say generalised because different parts of the world developed bronze technology at different times(g), while some moved straight from Stone to Iron, others had a Copper Age before their Bronze Age. There is now clear evidence that tin-bronze was used at a Vinca site in Serbia as early as 4650 BC(d).
However, the Bronze Age was clearly the literary if not the historical backdrop to Plato’s Atlantis narrative. In Greece this is generally accepted as the 2nd millennium BC. Plato refers to Triremes (developed around 600 BC), Chariots (Mesopotamia around 3000 BC), Horse-racing (first domesticated in Asia around 4500 BC), writing, metallurgy etc., etc. Recently, the date of the end of the Greek Bronze Age has been pushed back by approximately a century to around 1125 BC(f).
The Bronze Age in the Mediterranean region saw two periods of great political turbulence, the first around 2200 BC and the second a millennium later(h).
However, when he twice states that Atlantis was destroyed 9,000 years before Solon’s visit to Egypt, he presents us with a serious problem, as the Bronze Age is incompatible with a 9600 BC date. Which is right or are they both wrong and consequently is the entire story a complete fiction? Alternatively, it is possible that Plato’s story is a combination of more than one story or is Plato’s narrative a combination of fact and fiction.?
Frank Joseph among others has suggested that the enormous quantities of copper mined in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were destined for the bronze manufacturers of Europe(I). He considers this extraction and exportation to have been the work of the Atlanteans. Gavin Menzies attributes the exploitation of the Michigan mines to the Minoans.
In 2018, it was claimed in a new paper(m) that Plutarch may have referred to Greek visits to Canada in the first century AD. The authors who included Greek archaeologist Ioannis Liritzis, do admit that the claim is speculative.
The America Unearthed TV series, presented by Scott Wolter, also examined the idea of Minoans mining in Michigan (S1 E3). Jason Colavito wrote a highly critical review of the episode(j), while an even more extensive critique can be found on the archyfantasies.com website(k).
It is interesting that this mining appears to have ceased around 1200 BC or approximately at the same time that the Bronze Age came to an end in Europe. This idea of the Michigan copper mining being the work of Old World traders is hotly disputed by local archaeologists such as Susan R. Martin(b).
Recent years have seen the discovery of numerous Bronze Age mines in the British Isles and across Europe, including the vast Great Orme Mines in Wales accepted by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest Bronze Age copper mine in the world that were rediscovered again in 1987(a). These Welsh mines are estimated to have been abandoned around 600 BC. Such European mines together with those found in the Near East have naturally led to a questioning of Joseph’s thesis. If copper was so widely available to the Europeans at home, what was the incentive for Atlanteans to mine copper in Michigan and ship it to Europe with the relatively primitive vessels and navigation available at that time?
It is interesting to note that the geophysicist Marc-André Gutscher who had supported Collina-Girard’s contention that Spartel Island near the Strait of Gibraltar had been the possible location of Atlantis, withdrew his support(c) for the idea following the evidence presented at the 2005 Atlantis Conference, which convincingly demonstrated the Bronze Age setting of Plato’s story. Gutscher found this incompatible with the fact that Spartel Island had been submerged about 12,000 years ago.
In spite of Gutscher’s withdrawal of support Collina-Girard continues to promote his theory, having published a book, L’Atlantide retrouvée, in support of it, in 2009.
The other half of bronze production requirements is a supply of tin. In this connection, recent research has show that the eastern Mediterranean is virtually devoid of any sources of tin(e), contrasting sharply with the western basin which had Cassiterite in Sardinia, Spain and Morocco.
(b) See Archive 2547
(e) See: Archive 2100
*(i) See Archive 3645*
Also See: Factor Ten
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.
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)]