M. De Lopateki was an occasional contributor at the end of the 19th century to the now defunct Los Angeles Herald. In an article(a) on January 5th 1896 entitled “True Atlantis” in which he disagreed with details of Ignatius Donnelly’s then recently published, Atlantis. Donnelly proposed the Azores as remnants of Atlantis, while Lopateki argued that the total lack of any traces on the islands of a ‘high culture’ would seem to contradict Donnelly.
However, Lopateki proposed that the civilisations of Mexico and Central America were superior candidates for the title of ‘Atlantis’.
Jean-Louis Bernard (1918-1998) was a French novelist with a passion for the esoteric and ancient history. He is the author of L’Atlantide des géants in which he touches on the Guanches of the Canaries, Bimini, Crete and Mexico.
Earlier he had authored a science fiction dictionary, Les archives de l’insolite, in which, before Richard Firestone, he commented on a catastrophic period in the earth’s prehistory around 10,000 BC and was quoted by Michel-Alain Combes(a).
“A series of catastrophes which took place around the year 9,000 or
10,000 before our era,which affected the whole planet,and about which
Tradition and modern science are in agreement. Let’s list these
cataclysms: in Europe, the end of the last ice age, maybe as a
consequence of the shifting of the pole towards its present position in the
North; in compensation, a drying up of the Sahara was started or
accelerated; probable end of the archipelago of Atlantis; in East Africa,
a sudden sur-elevation of mounds,and disappearance of an interior sea
(at the sources of the Nile) and of an archipelago (Pount) in the Indian
Ocean; possible sur-elevation of the Andes,with disappearance of
archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean (and isolation of the famous Easter
Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651-1725) was a famous Italian ‘adventurer’ who travelled the world using public transport. After his first trip across Europe, he later decided to undertake an around-the-world journey, which took him five years and was recorded in a six-volume work entitled Giro Del Mondo. Volume VI is concerned with Mexico where Careri studied its pyramids that led to his conclusion that the early inhabitants of America and the ancient Egyptians were both descended from inhabitants of Atlantis. A 1700 edition of Volume VI is available online(a).
Guillermo Dupaix (1750-1817/8) was born in the Duchy of Luxembourg and became a captain in the service of the King of Spain made made three Royal expeditions to Mexico in 1805, 1806 & 1807 to study the monuments of that country. He was accompanied by José Luciano Castañeda a professor of drawing and architecture with the National Museum, whose drawings in the expeditions’ reports were considered more valuable than Dupaix’s text.
Dupaix concluded that the monuments at Monte Alban, El Tajin and Palenque had been built by the citizens of Atlantis.
Atl as a constituent part of the name ‘Atlantis’ is frequently associated with the Mexican Nahuatl word for water. However, Antoine Gigal, the Egyptologist, in a 2011 interview(a), has pointed out that ‘atl’ is also the Egyptian word for canal! Her intention was to get off the subject of Atlantis, but she may have inadvertently given additional ammunition to those that claim some cultural links between ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica.
Dustin Kolb is a German researcher who has opted for a Mexican location for Atlantis(a). Somehow or other he arrived at the conclusion that Plato’s description of Atlantis could only have been a reference to America. His then ‘reasoned’ that since the capital of Atlantis was in the middle of Plato’s island, this must have been a reference to Central America! Moving steadily along, he next decided that the concentric rings of the Atlantean capital could only have been an impact crater. He finally settled on the region of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico as the original home of Atlantis.
His idea of Atlantis in Mexico is not original, having been first proposed over a century earlier by Louis de Launay and has Gene Matlock as arguably its best known modern proponent. I was not convinced by Kolb as he failed to explain either why or how an attack could be launched from Mexico across the Atlantic to the eastern Mediterranean. He also fails to explain how a Mexican Atlantis had control of the western Mediterranean without leaving any archaeological evidence to support such a contention. Finally, his explanation that the ‘elephants’ recorded by Plato were probably “bulls and bison” is, in my opinion, pathetic.
Santiago Genovés Tarazaga (1923-2013) was a Spanish anthropologist with a great interest in pre-Columbian Mexico. He was part of the Ra I and Ra II expeditions led by Thor Heyerdahl that crossed the Atlantic in a reed boat at the second attempt. He has written many books and essays on scientific subjects as well as a number of papers of literary criticism. But is probably best known for a joint paper with Romeo Hristov published in 2000 in Ancient Mesoamerica(a) in which they identified a terracotta figurine discovered in 1933 in Mexico as clearly Roman adding to the ever growing body of evidence for probable pre-Columbian trans-Atlantic contacts. The existence of such early oceanic travel is fundamental to a number of Atlantis related theories, particularly those that promote Egypt as a colony of a MesoAmerican Atlantis or where a mid-Atlantic Atlantis is claimed to have provided a stepping-stone between the Old and New Worlds.
Mexcaltitán is a small inhabited island in North West Mexico that is laid out with concentric streets intersected by two perpendicular avenues(a). Some locals compared its layout to that of old maps of Tenochtitlán the legendary capital of the Aztecs, which in turn has been proposed as having a connection with Atlantis. The idea is totally fanciful and does not stand up to the most cursory examination.
(a) http://www.briannissen.com/ (see under texts)
Mesoamerica is the term used to describe a region which includes Mexico and Central America that was home to a number of important pre-Columbian cultures including that of the Mixtec, Toltec and Maya peoples. When news of Columbus’ rediscovery of America got back to Europe it did not take long for theories linking the ‘New World’ with Plato’s Atlantis to develop. While most initial speculation focussed on the idea that America was Atlantis. As time went by, this concept was downgraded to just identifying America as the home of refugees from Atlantis, usually located in the Atlantic.
By the 19th century the similarity between the pyramids of Mesoamerica and those of Egypt began prompting the thought that Egypt may also have been home to Atlantean refugees. However, further comparisons of ancient Indian architecture with that of ancient Central America has led to a set of new theories(a) that generally excludes Atlantis. While Jim Allen has illustrated(c) a number of interesting cultural links between Mesopotamia and Bolivia, Richard Cassaro has published(b) an extensive series of images linking Egypt and Mesoamerica.
Elephants are specifically mentioned by Plato as being indigenous to Atlantis. This must have significance for anyone trying to arrive at a credible location for Atlantis. For example, supporters of the Theran Atlantis School cannot show where such large animals could have lived on the small volcanic island. There are no physical remains, no frescos and no historical references. Rodney Castleden who supports the Minoan Hypothesis admits that “no raw elephant ivory has been found (on Thera) and very little in the way of worked ivory”[225.70]. He later speaks of the importation of ivory into Crete[p.172] having bravely denounced Plato’s description (Critias 115a) of herds of elephants on Atlantis as “false”[p.136].
Similarly, Spanuth’s Heligoland location would have been climatically unsuited to elephants. Spanuth himself admits that the elephant reference “is hard to explain“. Nevertheless, Felice Vinci who champions a Northern European origin for Greek mythology is of the opinion that Plato’s elephant reference may be a lingering memory of the woolly mammoths that inhabited Arctic regions as recently as 1700 BC. In the late 17th century Olof Rudbeck, recognising the problem that Plato’s reference to elephants presented for his Swedish Atlantis, argued that Plato had been speaking figuratively when describing the large voracious animals and had in fact been referring to wolves, the Swedish word for wolf being ‘ulf’, which sounds like the beginning of ‘elephant’!!
Elephants in Western Europe were undoubtedly represented by mammoths, remains of which have been recovered from the North Sea – Doggerland and dated to around 40,000 years ago. Coincidentally, a tool made of mammoth bone, used for making rope, has also been dated to 40,000 years ago(i)(n). Ashley Cowie recently published an interesting book on the history of rope-making. Further information on string, ropes and knots was published in March 2017(o).
Allied to the demise of the Siberian mammoths is the often repeated fib that when the remains were first discovered, their flesh was still fresh enough to eat, has recently been debunked by Jason Colavito(j). He has also unearthed the truth behind that other canard relating to a Siberian mammoth, namely that fresh buttercups were found in its mouth(j).*He has now(q) traced back the earliest reference to the frozen mammoths to George Cuvier in 1822 [1586.11].*
Eckart Kahlhofer, in a forthcoming book advocates a North-West European location for Atlantis, suggests that where Plato referred to elephants he really meant deer! Kahlhofer offers, as a simple explanation for this seemingly daft contention, the fact that the Greek for elephant, elephas, is very similar to the Greek elaphos which means deer. A simple transcription error by a scribe could have caused the mix-up. The elk was the largest species of deer to be found in the northern hemisphere and are still to be found in Scandinavia. The Great Irish Deer which died out around 5500 BC had an antler span of 11ft and a maximum height of 10ft.
Gene Matlock in an attempt to bolster his Mexican location for Atlantis has suggested that Plato’s elephants were in fact the long-snouted tapirs of Meso-America!(c), an idea ‘borrowed’ from Hyde Clarke
While the elephant issue should not be dealt with in isolation it does serve to illustrate the difficulties involved in analysing Plato’s text. Consider the possibility that the early date of 9600 BC for Atlantis is accepted, then the islands that are too small today to accommodate elephants may have been considerably larger and sometimes connected to each other or a mainland during the Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, and consequently capable of supporting pachyderms. In this regard, Sundaland would have been a most suitable candidate. Not only would to-day’s South China Sea’s archipelagos been a single landmass, but there would have been access to the area from the Asian mainland, home today to large numbers of elephants.
Strangely enough even the Andes, considered by some as the home of Atlantis, reveal the fact that during the last Ice Age a species of elephant called Cuvieronius lived there but became extinct around 8000 BC. These animals are to be found carved on the great Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco suggesting that they were common in the region. Supporters of an Atlantis link with Tiahuanaco have highlighted this fact. James Bailey who supports the idea of Atlantis in America believes that Plato’s mention of elephants could be a reference to the American mammoth, generally believed to have died out circa 10,000 BC, although Victor von Hagen, the American explorer, contentiously maintained that they survived as late 2000 BC. A similar idea was presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference by American researcher, Monique Petersen.
The Schoppes, in support of their theory of Atlantis in the Black Sea region, contend(l) that Indian elephants existed there until 800 BC and support this with a reference to the Egyptian pharoah Thutmosis III who killed 120 elephants ‘there’ around 1200 BC, which is a strange claim as Thutmosis did not venture beyond Syria and he died circa 1426 BC!
Elephas Antiquus (Palaeoloxodon), is a dwarf species whose remains have been found throughout the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus. All those found were dated 200,000 BC or earlier! In sharp contrast, Simon Davis, in an article in New Scientist (3 Jan.1985), dated Mediterranean dwarf elephants to as recent as 6000 BC(p). A number of writers, such as Roger Coghill, have tried to use the pygmy elephant as an explanation for Plato’s text (Crit. 114e & 115a) where we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious’. This is not a description of pygmy elephants.
However, Ghar Hasan or Hasan’s Cave on Malta has paleolithic cave paintings that depict elephants, indicating more recent contact with the animals. A small booklet by Dr. Anton Mifsud and Dr. Charles Savona-Ventura describes this cave system.
Nevertheless, if we look again at Plato’s text (Crit.114e & 115a) we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious.’ This is not a description of pygmy elephants and so in all probability is an indication of a North African location or, as some claim, an Asian one! The Atlanteans had control in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt, which would have included what is now modern Tunisia, the home of the last recorded wild elephants in that region!
Readers should be aware that there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(e)(h). In fact the New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(d) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire.
In Elephant Destiny Martin Meredith records that one of the earliest references to the African elephant came from Hanno, the 5th century BC Carthaginian explorer, who related how he came across marshes at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, which “were haunted by elephants and multitudes of other grazing beasts.” Meredith also mentions that stables for as many as 300 elephants were to be found within the city of Carthage itself.
Nevertheless, the species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(f). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare(g). It would seem to me that the North African Elephant, rather than the Asian or African species, would have been more suited to the trek across the Alps. Needless to say, the Atlas Mountains were part of the Atlantean sphere of control (Timaeus 25a-b) and so may be the reason that Plato mentioned them.
The latter half of 2010 saw a new piece of nonsense hit the blogosophere when a claim that the Atlanteans had flying machines made of elephant skins suddenly appeared and before you could say “cut and paste” it was ‘adopted’ by a variety of websites(a)(b). So Dumbo was not the first flying elephant! In fact this daft idea was just a recycling of one of Edgar Cayce’s ‘revelations’ (Reading 364-6)(m).
(a) http://www.articledashboard.com/Article/Speaking-of-Atlantis/1872335 (Offline October 2017)