An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Joining The Dots


Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.


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Persians

Meizon

Meizon is given the sole meaning of  ‘greater’  in the respected Greek Lexicon of Liddell & Scott . Furthermore, in Bury’s translation of sections 20e -26a of Timaeus there are eleven instances of Plato using megas (great) meizon (greater) or megistos (greatest). In all cases great or greatest is employed except just one, 24e, which uses the comparative meizon, which Bury translated as ‘larger’! J.Warren Wells concluded that Bury’s translation in this single instance is inconsistent with his other treatments of the word and it does not fit comfortably with the context[787.85]. This inconsistency is difficult to accept, so although meizon can have a secondary meaning of ‘larger’ it is quite reasonable to assume that the primary meaning of ‘greater’ was intended.

*In 2006, on a now defunct website of his, Wells noted that Greater can mean larger, but this meaning is by no means the only possible meaning here; his overall usage of the word may show he meant greater in some other way.”*

It is also worth considering that Alexander the Great, (Aléxandros ho Mégas) was so called, not because of his physical size, apparently he was short of stature, but because he was a powerful leader. 

The word has entered Atlantis debates in relation to its use in Timaeus 24e ’, where Plato describes Atlantis as ‘greater’ than Libya and Asia together and until recently has been most frequently interpreted to mean greater ‘in size’, an idea that I previously endorsed. However, some researchers have suggested that he intended to mean greater ‘in power’.

Other commentators do not seem to be fully aware that ‘Libya’ and ‘Asia’ had completely different meanings at the time of Plato. ‘Libya’ referred to part or all of North Africa, west of Egypt, while ‘Asia’ was sometimes applied to Lydia, a small kingdom in what is today Turkey. Incidentally, Plato’s  statement also demonstrates that Atlantis could not have existed in either of these territories as ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole.’

A more radical, but less credible, interpretation of Plato’s use of ‘meizon’ came from the historian P.B.S. Andrews, who suggested that the quotation has been the result of a misreading of Solon’s notes. He maintained that the text should be read as ’midway between Libya and Asia’ since in the original Greek there is only a difference on one letter between the words for midway (meson) and larger than (meizon). This suggestion was supported by the classical scholar J.V. Luce and more recently on Marilyn Luongo’s website(a). This interpretation is quite interesting, particularly if the Lydian explanation of ‘Asia’ mentioned above is correct. Viewed from either Athens or Egypt we find that Crete is located ‘midway’ between Lydia and Libya.

In relation to all this , Felice Vinci has explained that ancient mariners measured territory by the length of its coastal perimeter, a method that was in use up to the time of Columbus. This would imply that the island of Atlantis was relatively modest in extent – I would speculate somewhere between the size of Cyprus and Sardinia. An area of such an extent has never been known to have been destroyed by an earthquake.

Until the 21st century, it was thought by many that meizon must have referred to the physical size of Atlantis rather than its military power. However, having read a paper[750.173] delivered by Thorwald C. Franke to the 2008 Atlantis Conference, I was persuaded otherwise.  His explanation is  that “for Egyptians the world of their ‘traditional’ enemies was divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the ‘usual’ enemies, which was the case with the Sea Peoples’ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia put together”.

This is a far more elegant and credible explanation than any reference to physical size, which forced researchers to seek lost continental sized land masses and apparently justified the negativity of sceptics. Furthermore, it reinforces the Egyptian origin of the Atlantis story, demolishing any claim that Plato concocted the whole tale. If it had been invented by Plato he would probably have compared Atlantis to enemy territories nearer to home, such as the Persians.

This interpretation of meizon has now been ‘adopted’ by Frank Joseph in The Destruction of Atlantis[102.82], but without giving any due credit to Franke(b).

(a) http://middle-east.mavericsa.co.za/history.html

*(b) http://lost-origins.com/atlantis-no-lost-continent/ (offline Jan. 2018) See: Archive 2349

(c) https://web.archive.org/web/20070212101539/http://greekatlantis.com/*

Atlantean Navy

The Atlantean Navy consisted of 1,200 ships, according to Plato. Such a fleet would be totally unnecessary unless your potential enemies had a similar force. It is worth noting that that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data. Homer records that the Achaean fleet consisted of  1,186 ships, a number that could be naturally rounded up to 1,200 – a coincidence?

Similarly, Herodotus records that the Persians had a fleet of 1,207 triremes at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). It is a further remarkable coincidence that of all the military statistics recorded by Plato, the only number that is not an exact thousand, relates to the size of the Atlantean fleet. A number that is the rounded value of the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War and the Persian fleet which attacked Athens just 50 years before Plato was born. It is not improbable that 1,200 was used in this isolated instance as a  representation of the ultimate in naval power at that time! A website that reviews the classical sources relating to the Persian fleet in greater detail is available(c).

Since conventional archaeology identifies the Bronze Age Greeks and the Phoenicians in the Eastern Mediterranean as possessors of the earliest navies, the possibility of a naval force of such a great size 9600 BC is considered improbable if not completely impossible. Recent discoveries on Cyprus have provided evidence of primative seafaring in the region as early as 12,000 years ago. However, it appears that occasional travellers from Turkey and Syria who utilised crude stone tools arrived there in rather small boats. We are therefore forced to conclude that Plato’s reference to a powerful navy supporting an extensive merchant fleet is either a heavy embellishment of a real story regarding a prehistoric civilisation or an allusion to an actual Bronze Age thalassocracy.

An interesting series of illustrated articles(a) on ancient ships offers a useful background for the study of the Atlantean Navy.

Plato describes the Atlanteans as using triremes which is quite improbable as they were probably not developed until around the 7th century BC(b). It is more likely that Plato used the term trireme to make his narrative more relevant to his Greek audience.

(a)  http://www.artsales.com/Ancient%20Ships/aTableofContents.htm

(b) http://darkside.hubpages.com/hub/trireme

*[(c) http://www.metrum.org/perwars/perfleet.htm]*

Egypt

Egypt occupies the northeastern corner of Africa. However, the ancient Egyptians considered themselves as Asian (Tim. 24b). In practical terms its territory consisted of a few miles either side of the Nile and its large Delta. In an expansionist period in the 2nd millennium BC, Egypt controlled parts of what are now Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Over its long history, Egypt itself was overrun by a variety of invaders – Hyksos, Kushites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.

Egypt was viewed by the Greeks of Plato’s time as guardians of ancient history and wisdom and consequently was a place of pilgrimage for many of its greatest philosophers, who travelled there to be initiated into the cults of Isis and Osiris. Gustav Parthey (1798-1872), the German antiquarian, researched the education of 40 leading philosophers, writers and politicians of ancient Greece and found that all had studied under Egyptian priests.*Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) suggested that Plato travelled to Heliopolis and was a disciple of the Egyptian priest Sechnuphis. Other classical writers such as Strabo and Plutarch have confirmed this(i).*

In spite of this the Greeks arrogantly referred to all non-Greeks, including the Atlanteans (Crit. 113a) as ‘barbarians’. It is of interest that Athene after whom the Greek capital is named, originated in Egypt where she was worshipped as Neith.

The late Philip Coppens went as far as to suggest(a) that Greece was in fact an Egyptian colony!

Plato’s text seems to infer that the destruction of Atlantis in 9600 BC was contemporary with Egyptian civilisation, raising archaeological questions regarding the earliest date for the establishment of an organised society in Egypt. Unfortunately, there is not a lot to support this contention. The oldest known art in Egypt was discovered in 2007 when petroglyphs estimated to be 15,000 years old. The earliest culture along the Nile, identified by archaeologists is that of what is known as the Badarian dated to around 4500 BC. They produced basic pottery, jewellery and used stone tools although they had some knowledge of metals. The Badarians were followed by the Naqada who led on to what we identify as the spectacular ancient Egyptian civilisation. However, in 2007, rock carvings, similar in style to the Lascaux paintings were discovered near the village of Qurta, 650km south of Cairo. The 160 carvings, spread over 1.5km of rock face, discovered so far, mainly depict wild bulls and have been dated to 13000 BC(h)

September 2013 saw the publication(c)(d) of a more definitive date for the start of the state of Egypt, beginning with the reign of king Aha circa 3100 BC. The evidence indicated that the process of moving from the pre-Dynastic groupings to a form of statehood was more rapid than previous thought. This undermines even more firmly the claims of the Egyptians that their country was founded around 8,600 BC as reported by Plato.

It is not surprising that ancient Egypt has presented us with very many unanswered questions, some of which have been compiled, posted on Wikipedia but subsequently removed(g).

Many writers have remarked how all aspects of ancient Egyptian culture seem to have arrived fully developed, in fact later dynasties did not surpass some of the achievements of the earlier ones. The conclusion of some is that the fully matured civilisation of the early Egyptians was in fact a legacy from elsewhere.

Sanchuniathon refers to the original kings of Egypt calling them ‘Aleteans’. Albert Slosman claims[551] that survivors from Atlantis had migrated to Egypt. The archaeologist, Marcelle Weissen-Szumianska, in a 1965 book, Origines Atlantiques des Anciens Egyptiens [837], maintained that the pre-pharaonic Egyptians originated in Atlantis, which had been situated in Morocco! Others suggest that Egypt was an Atlantean colony. The idea was brought to a ridiculous level by Augustus Le Plongeon who claimed that Egypt was a Mayan colony!

Robert Schoch has controversially dated the construction of the Sphinx to between 7000-5000 BC, while the megalithic structures at Nabta Playa suggest a sophisticated culture in that area around 5000 BC. Even if both these early dates are correct they are still over four and a half millennia short of Plato’s date. These most likely explanation is that Plato’s number of 9,000 years before Solon is incorrect as 9000 is too neat and may have been a siglum used to express a large but uncertain number or is an exaggeration just as today we speak of having ‘a million and one things to do’.

In 1897, a Russian scientist, A.N. Karnozhitsky was probably the earliest commentator to propose a close link between Egypt and Atlantis, placing the Pillars of Heracles near Sais and located Atlantis itself not far from the western mouth of the Nile.

Some years ago, Egypt was again been proposed as the original Atlantis, in a still (Mar. 2017) unpublished book, The Joshua Crossing, by N. R. James. However, 2006 did see a paper presented by Professor Hossam Aboulfotouh of Minia University, Egypt, placed Atlantis in the Nile Delta. The following year R. McQuillen also offered an Egyptian location for Atlantis, placing it at Pharos near Alexandria.

A novel idea has been put forward by Mary Whispering Wind(b), who bravely offers the idea that the Atlantean province of Egypt was in fact, Colchis, situated on the east coast of the Black Sea! She bases her claim on an interpretation of Herodotus (Book II.104/5) who was commenting on circumcision being only practiced by Egyptians, Ethiopians and Colchians, in my mind, stretching what Herodotus said beyond the acceptable.

An even more radical suggestion was made by Reinoud M. de Jong in a 2009 paper(f) where he boldly claimed “that during the whole period of the (Michigan) copper trade, America was part of the Egyptian Empire” and during the Old Kingdom “this huge empire was known as Atlantis”!

One blogger, from California, has gone so far as to suggest that the ‘Egypt’ which Solon visited was on the shores of the Sea of Marmara!(e) 

(a) http://www.philipcoppens.com/egyptgreece.html (offline Mar.2018) See Archive 2136)

(b) http://atlantis-today.com/Atlantis_Atlantis_Code.htm

(c) https://web.archive.org/web/20190116235414/https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspa.2013.0395

*(d)  https://ancientfoods.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/egypt-wasnt-built-in-a-day-but-it-did-rise-quickly/*

 (e) http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=253407&st=45#entry4895373

(f) http://megalithicresearch.blogspot.com/2009/12/copper-trade-with-old-world-poverty.html

(g) http://www.historyandheadlines.com/list-of-unsolved-problems-in-egyptology/

(h) https://news.softpedia.com/news/The-Egyptian-Civilization-10-000-Years-Older-than-Thought-59648.shtml

(i) https://www.vision.org/history-of-ancient-egyptian-city-of-heliopolis-influence-on-modern-culture-41