Pierre Mille (1864-1941) was a noted French journalist. In the 1920’s Mille declared(a) that the argan tree, which grows in Morocco, Madeira and Azores was the last survivor of Plato’s Atlantis. He was an honorary member of Paul le Cour’s Atlantis Association.
Jean-Pierre Pätznick is a French Egyptologist who is due to address a conference in May 2015 with the theme of L’Atlantide et l’Égypte (Atlantis and Egypt). His own paper is entitled Atlantis and the Land of the Pharaohs: Egyptian origin of the myth?
*[ I’m given to understand that Pätznick is influenced by the theories of the late Michael Hübner.]*
Agadir is a city in the South-West of Morocco. It is situated at the Atlantic end of the Sous-Massa-Draa valley which was considered by Michael Hübner to have been the location of Atlantis(a) . The name was identified by him as a variation of Gades, a region of Atlantis, ruled by Gadeiros, the twin brother of Atlas. Keep in mind that Agadir was about 3,300 km away from Athens*and 3,700 kn from the Nile Delta.*Not what you might call ‘easy striking distances’.
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.
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)
German Atlantologists have made a considerable contribution to their subject over the past century. In fact, outside the English speaking world the Germans can arguably claim to have contributed most to scientific Atlantology. I think that there is sufficient material to justify a book on German Atlantology on its own.*[The extent of their influence can be gauged by entering ‘German’ in the Atlantipedia search box.]*
A recent newsletter from Thorwald C. Franke highlighted the work of German researchers, particularly in the early part of the 20th century. Surprisingly, he did not mention more recent German publications including his own(a) valuable contributions. In 2016 Franke published Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis (Critical history of opinions and hypotheses about Plato’s Atlantis), which contains a review of virtually every Atlantis theorist from antiquity until the 20th century. Unfortunately, this 593-page tome is not available in English leaving German readers to be envied for having such a valuable research tool available to them. A summary of his book is available in English(b).
Gades is the Roman name of what is generally accepted as having been located at or near modern Cadiz in southern Spain. In his Critias Plato relates that the twin brother of Atlas, the first ruler of Atlantis, was named Gadeiros although known in Greek as Eumelos. It is assumed that Gadeiros had his realm in the vicinity of Cadiz and had his capital named, Gadeira, after him.
However it has been pointed out that the Phoenicians who, before the time of Plato, possessed a port city in southwest Spain named Gadir meaning ‘enclosure’ or ‘fortress’ and was, over time, corrupted to Cadiz.
Until recently it was generally accepted, based on classical writers including the historian Livy, that the Phoenicians founded Gades around 1100 BC. Writers today such as Mark Woolmer have pointed out [1053.46] that the archaeological evidence suggests a more recent date, perhaps the middle of the 8th century BC.
However, a number of locations with similar sounding names are to be found in the Western Mediterranean region, weakening the certainty normally associated with the more generally accepted identification of Gadeirus’ city with South-West Spain.
Another solution has recently been proposed by Michael Hübner, in which he offers the Souss-Massa plain of Southern Morocco as the location of Atlantis. On the Atlantic coast of the plain is the large town of Agadir, whose name is also probably derived from the word ‘gadir’ which means fort or enclosure in the local Tamazight language. It can also mean ‘sheep fold’, which may tie in with Plato’s use of ‘Eumelos’ as the Greek translation of Gadeiros means ‘rich in sheep’.
Alternative suggestions have been proposed, including one by Andis Kaulins(a), who is inclined to identify the Sicilian island of Egadi, which is opposite Tunis. Should this Egadi be the original Gades it would make sense of two of the suggested alternatives for the location of the Pillars of Heracles, either the Strait of Messina or the Strait of Sicily, where there is a Gadir on the island of Pantelleria(b). It would mean that Egadi would have been outside the Pillars of Heracles from either an Athenian or Egyptian perspective. Albert Nikas has pointed out the existence of a place in Malta called Il Ghadira, which has the largest sandy beach on the island!
Murex is the name of a family of sea snails that led to the Phoenicians controlling the very lucrative trade in purple dyed silk(b). Some have attributed the origin of the name ‘Phoenicia’ to a Greek word meaning ‘purple’.
The dye had been extracted from the Murex snails and the resulting cloth was considered highly desirable to such an extent that in later years the colour was reserved for members of the Roman imperial family. It took 10,000 snails to produce one gram of dye, making it extremely expensive. Unfortunately, the downside is that this purple dye stank badly.
Demand for this exclusive dye persisted for nearly 3,000 years. Purple was also the preserve of cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, equating them with kings, until the 15th century when red was decreed for them, a situation that still pertains.
There is some suggestion that the Phoenicians were not the first to develop this process following the discovery of mounds of Murex shells on Crete dated to the early 2nd millennium BC. It is also claimed that the Italians of the same period also knew of the procedure(g) .
Over a century ago James Baikie noted that “the dyeing of robes with the renowned ‘Tyrian purple,’ must be denied to them and claimed for the Minoans. In 1903, Messrs. Bosanquet and Currelly found on the island of Kouphonisi (Leuke), off the south-east coast of Crete, a bank of the pounded shell of the murex from which the purple dye was obtained, associated with pottery of the Middle Minoan period; and in 1904 they discovered at Palaikastro two similar purple shell deposits, in either case associated with pottery of the same date.”
It is difficult not to see a possible link between murex dye developed by the Phoenicians and the biblical injunction to Jews of the same region to wear blue (tekhelet) tassels (tzitziyots) from the corners of four-cornered garments. Recently, near the caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls a rare 2,000-year-old fragment of cloth was discovered(c) that had been treated with the Murex dye.
Michael Hübner pointed out that that apart from Murex, Northwest Africa and the Canaries were home to the Indigo plant and Orseille lichen, which both can be used to produce blue dyes(h).
Frank Joseph notes that Berber village elders even today wear special dark blue robes when meeting in council. This is seen as an echo of the custom of the kings of Atlantis as recorded by Plato Critias (120b-c).
A similar purple dyeing process was discovered in Central America(a) adding to the suggestion of pre-Colombian contacts between Europe and the Americas. In September 2016, it was announced(e) that “a George Washington University researcher has identified a 6,200-year-old indigo-blue fabric from Huaca, Peru, making it one of the oldest-known cotton textiles in the world and the oldest known textile decorated with indigo blue.” Unfortunately, the source of the dye was not identified. Even today, in Oaxaca, Mexico, shellfish dyeing is still carried on, but using the milky liquid from the purpura patula, a marine mollusk(f), unlike the murex mollusk which is killed in the process of obtaining the ink, the purpura have always been milked alive and left to replenish their dye fluid for harvesting at another time. If there was a dyeing link between the Americas and the Mediterranean. in which direction did it initially travel?
Pliny the Elder noted that Uba, a Numidian king, intended to establish Murex farming on the Hesperides located 12,000 km from Cadiz. This comment has been linked with a mention by Diodorus Siculus regarding a large island know to the Phoenicians outside the Pillars of Heracles. Advocates of an Atlantic location for Atlantis have seized upon these two references, although the linkage is somewhat tenuous.
There is an extensive online article(d) on the history and use of ‘Tyrian Purple’.
*A few years ago the BBC published a short piece(i) on the chemistry behind the Tyrian Purple. In August 2018 they returned to the subject with a more extensive article(j) outlining the mythology and history associated with the dye.*
(h) http://asalas.org/papers/Huebner_Atlantis_Circumstantial_Evidence_full.pdf (18.104.22.168 R120)
Orichalcum is one of the many mysteries in Plato’s Atlantis narrative. It is mentioned five times in the Critias [114e, 116c-d, 119c] as a metal extensively used in Atlantis. I am not aware of any reference to it anywhere else in his writings, a fact that can be advanced as evidence of the veracity of his Atlantis story. Plato took the time to explain to his audience why the kings of Atlantis have Hellenised names. However, he introduces Orichalcum into the story without explanation suggesting that the metal was something known to the listeners. It is therefore natural to expect that metals might play an important part in determining the credibility of any proposed Atlantis location.
According to James Bramwell[195.91], Albert Rivaud demonstrated that the term ‘orichalcum’ was known before Plato and not just invented by him. Similarly, Zhirov notes that both Homer and Hesiod refer to the metal[0458.46], , as does Ibycus, the 6th century BC poet, who compares its appearance to gold suggesting a brasslike alloy. Thomas Taylor (1825) noted that in a fragment from a lost book of Proclus, he seems to refer to orichalcum under the name of migma(c). Wikipedia also adds that “Orichalcum is also mentioned in the Antiquities of the Jews – Book VIII, sect. 88 by Josephus, who stated that the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were made of orichalcum (or a bronze that was like gold in beauty). Pliny the Elder points out that the metal had lost currency due to the mines being exhausted. Pseudo-Aristotle in ‘De mirabilibus auscultationibus’ describes orichalcum as a shining metal obtained during the smelting of copper with the addition of ‘calmia’, a kind of earth formerly found on the shores of the Black Sea, which is attributed to be zinc oxide.”
Orichalcum, or its equivalent Latin Aurichalcum, is usually translated as ‘golden copper’ referring to either its colour or composition (80% copper and 20% zinc) or both. However, Webster’s Dictionary translates it as ‘mountain-copper’ from ‘oros’ meaning mountain and ‘chalchos’ meaning copper.
Sir Desmond Lee described the metal as ‘imaginary’ without explaining away the classical references or the fact that ”In numismatics, orichalcum is the name given to a brass-like alloy of copper and zinc used for the Roman sestertius and dupondius. Very similar in composition to modern brass, it had a golden-yellow color when freshly struck. In coinage, orichalcum’s value was nearly double reddish copper or bronze. Because production cost was similar to copper or bronze, orichalcum’s formulation and production were highly profitable government secrets.”(m)
Modern writers have offered a range of conflicting explanations for both the origin and nature of orichalcum. A sober overview of the subject is provided by the Coin and Bullion Pages website(d).
In 1926 Paul Borchardt recounted Berber traditions that recalled a lost City of Brass. Salah Salim Ali, the Iraqi scholar, points out that a number of medieval Arabic writers referred to an ancient ‘City of Brass’ echoing the Orichalcum covered walls of Plato’s Atlantis.
Ivan Tournier, a regular contributor to the French journal Atlantis proposed that orichalcum was composed of copper and beryllium. Tournier’s conclusion seems to have been influenced by the discovery in 1936 at Assuit in Egypt of a type of scalpel made from such an alloy(e).
An unusual suggestion was made by Michael Hübner who noted that “small pieces of a reddish lime plaster with an addition of mica were discovered close to a rampart” in his chosen Atlantis location of South Morocco. He links this with Plato’s orichalcum, but does so without any great enthusiasm.
Jim Allen, promoter of the Atlantis in Bolivia theory, claims that a natural alloy of gold and copper is unique to the Andes. Tumbaga is the name given by the Spaniards to a non-specific alloy of gold and copper found in South America. However, an alloy of the two that has 15-40% copper, melts at 200 Co degrees less than gold. Dr. Karen Olsen Bruhns, an archaeologist at San Francisco State University wrote in her book, Ancient South America, “Copper and copper alloy objects were routinely gilded or silvered, the original colour apparently not being much valued. The gilded copper objects were often made of an alloy, which came to be very important in all of South and Central American metallurgy: tumbaga. This is a gold-copper alloy which is significantly harder than copper, but which retains its flexibility when hammered. It is thus ideally suited to the formation of elaborate objects made of hammered sheet metal. In addition, it casts well and melts at a lower temperature than copper, always a consideration when fuel sources for a draught were the wind and men’s lungs. The alloy could be made to look like pure gold by treatment of the finished face with an acid solution to dissolve the copper, and then by hammering or polishing to join the gold, giving a uniformly gold surface”.
Enrico Mattievich also believed that orichalcum had been mined in the Peruvian Andes(b).
Jürgen Spanuth tried to equate Orichalch with amber. Paul Dunbavin links Orichalcum with Wales. Robert Ishoy implies a connection between obsidian and Orichalcum, an idea also promoted by Christian & Siegfried Schoppe, while Felice Vinci equates it with platinum.
Albert Slosman thought that there was a connection between Moroccan oricalcita, a copper derivative, and Plato’s orichalcum. Peter Daughtrey has offered [893.82] a solution from a little further north in Portugal where the ancient Kunii people of the region used ori or oro as the word for gold and at that period used calcos for copper.
Thorwald C. Franke has suggested[750.174] that two sulphur compounds, realgar and orpiment whose fiery and sometimes translucent appearance might have been Plato’s orichalcum. His chosen location for Atlantis, Sicily, is a leading source of sulphur and some of its compounds. I doubt this explanation as realgar disintegrates with prolonged exposure to sunlight while it and orpiment, a toxin, could not be described as metals comparable with gold and silver as stated by Plato.
Frank Joseph translates orichalcum as ‘gleaming or superior copper’ rather than the more correct ‘mountain copper’ and then links Plato’s metal with the ancient copper mines of the Upper Great Lakes. Joseph follows Egerton Sykes in associating ‘findrine’, a metal referred to in old Irish epics, with orichalcum. However, findrine was usually described as white bronze unlike the reddish hue of orichalcum.
*Ulf Erlingsson suggested [319.61] that orichalcum was ochre, which is normally yellow, but red when burnt. He seems to have based this on his translation of the text Critias116b. In fact the passage describes the citadel flashing in a fiery manner, but it does not specify a colour!*
Other writers have suggested that orichalcum was bronze, an idea that conflicts with a 9600 BC date for the destruction of Atlantis since the archaeological evidence indicates the earliest use of bronze was around 6000 years later.
Thérêse Ghembaza has kindly drawn my attention to two quotations from Pliny the Elder and Ovid that offer possible explanations for Plato’s orichalcum (see Document 091011). The former refers to a Cypriot copper mixed with gold which gave a fiery colour and called pyropus, while Ovid also refers to a cladding of pyropus. She also mentions auricupride(Cu3Au), an alloy that may be connected with orichalcum.
Zatoz Nondik, a German researcher, has written a book about Plato’s ‘orichalcum’, From 2012 to Oreichalkos, in which he describes, in detail, how the orichalcum may be related to Japanese lacquer and suitable for coating walls as described in the Atlantis(b) narrative!
The fact is that copper and gold mixtures, both natural and manmade, have been found in various parts of the world and have been eagerly seized upon as support for different Atlantis location theories. A third of all gold is produced as a by-product of copper, lead, and zinc production.
It is also recorded that on ancient Crete, in the Aegean, two types of gold were found, one of which was a deep red developed by the addition of copper. Don Ingram suggests that the reddish gold produced in ancient Ireland is what Plato was referring to.
Irrespective of what orichalcum actually was, I think it is obvious that it was more appropriate to the Bronze Age than 9,600 BC. Furthermore, it occurs to me that Plato, who was so careful to explain or Hellenise foreign words so as not to confuse his Athenian audience, appears to assume that orichalcum is not an alien term to his audience.
The result of all of this is that Orichalcum has been advanced to support the location of Atlantis in North and South America, Sundaland, Ireland, Britain and the Aegean. Once again an unintentional lack of clarity in Plato’s text hampers a clear-cut identification of the location of Atlantis.
A fascinating anecdote relating the use of a term similar to ‘orichalcum’ to describe a mixture of copper and gold was used by a metalsmith in Dubai as recently as 2007 and is recounted on the Internet(a) .
The Wikipedia entry(f) for ‘orichalcum’ adds further classical references to this mysterious metal.
2015 began with a report that 47 ingots of ‘orichalcum’ had been found in a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily and dated to around 600 BC(g). What I cannot understand is that since we never knew the exact composition of Plato’s alloy, how can anyone today determine that these recovered ingots are the same metal. Thorwald C. Franke has more scholarly comments on offer(h). Jason Colavito has also applied his debunking talents to the subject(i). In June of the same year, Christos Djonis, in an article(j) on the Ancient Origins website, wrote a sober review of the media coverage of the shipwreck. He also added some interesting background history on the origin of the word ‘orichalcum’.
An analysis revealed(k) that those ingots were composed of 75-80% copper, 15-20% zinc, and traces of nickel, lead and iron, but no proof that this particular alloy was orichalcum. The recovery of a further 39 ingots from the wreck were reported in February 2017 and the excavation of the sunken ship continues.
The most recent explanation for the term comes from Dhani Irwanto who has proposed that orichalcum refers to a form zircon(l) that is plentiful on the Indonesian island of Kilimantan, where he has hypothesised that the Plain of Atlantis was located [1093.110].
(e) Atlantis Research Vol 2. No.6, Feb/Mar 1950, p.86