Floods on a catastrophic scale have been recorded in the mythologies and histories of all ancient civilisations. There are various possible causes for such devastating floods. Undoubtedly, many of these legends originated with the raising of sea levels that followed the de-glaciation at the end of the last Ice Age.
Other floods may have been caused by tsunamis resulting from underwater earthquakes or storegga. Quite recently it was discovered(a) that around 6000 BC a calamitous tsunami was generated in the Mediterranean when Mt. Etna in Sicily sent approximately 6 cubic miles of rock and rubble crashing into the sea. One could be forgiven for speculating that this event may have triggered the flooding of the Black Sea, which is dated to this same period.
Since writing, as we know it, did not develop until long after de-glaciation, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify the date, location or extent of any of the early myths relating to these possible de-glaciation inundations.
Flood Myths are found throughout the world and for centuries were seen as confirmation of the reality and universality of the Biblical Flood of Noah. However, when it was discovered that the Earth had endured a series of Ice Ages and that following each of these, the melting ice caps led to worldwide inundations with a consequent immortalisation of these events through locally developed myths, it led to speculation that Noah’s Flood may have been just a regional but nonetheless a catastrophic event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event.
Nevertheless, megafloods are not necessarily only caused by tsunamis and melting glaciers. “A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months” a catastrophic event that is now generally forgotten. An extensive 2013 article(f) in Scientific American has full details.
China has its own ‘Great Flood’ tradition, which in the August 2016 edition of Science journal had its reality given strong support in a paper(e) by a mainly Chinese team of researchers. They date the event to 1920 BC.
Recent years have seen the above-mentioned flooding of the Black Sea or even more controversially, the flooding of the Mediterranean basins, following the breaching of a suggested landbridge at Gibraltar, proposed as possible sources of the story of Noah in the Bible. These inundations are dated at around 5600 BC and their memory should have survived in the traditions and mythologies of the region. In addition to that, the Persian Gulf is also accepted by many to have been dry during the last Ice Age but also began to flood around 5000 BC. In Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Shelf both suffered post-glacial inundations, while around the same time in the South China Sea the enormous Sunda Shelf suffered extensive flooding.
Plato’s Atlantis story contains a curious reference in Timaeus (23a-c) to a series of floods having apparently occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean. If based on historical fact, on its own, the Biblical Flood or the breach of a land bridge cannot explain this succession of inundations, but suggests that there could be a much more complex story, still to be revealed, that was spread over millennia.
Anastasios Stamou presented a paper[0750.183]to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he reviewed the evidence relating to three floods that befell ancient Greece and alluded to by Plato. Drawing on ancient Greek texts including the Parian Marble, he places these events in chronological order beginning with the flood of Ogyges, then Deucalion’s and finally that of Dardanos.
Stamou accepts that convention wisdom has it that these flood events occurred in the 2nd millennium BC and based his paper on that assumption. However he expressed serious doubts about this dating suggesting a much earlier date for some inundations and promising a future paper dealing with this revision.
*In an August 2017 paper, on the Migration & Diffusion website(g), Stuart L. Harris has put forward his reasons for dating the Flood of Noah to 3161 BC and the Exodus Flood to 1445 BC.*
An extensive and more general collection of Flood myths can be found on the internet(b). A USGS list of the world’s greatest floods, ancient and recent, is available as a pdf file(c). Similarly, a website by Mark Isaak offers an extensive overview of flood myths around the world, although the site does not appear to have been updated for some years(d).
Checklists have been published by a number of authors that compare the features of Plato’s Atlantis with that of their preferred location and that of other writers. While such lists can appear impressive they suffer from a number of defects. First the lists are drawn up arbitrarily(a) and frequently omit headings that may not suit the theory of its compiler, but might support a competing view. Secondly, another excuse for not including particular items is often done on the grounds that they were just modifications by Plato. Finally, since Plato’s text contains various ambiguities and contradictions, some list headings are capable of more than one interpretation, for example, the location of the Pillars of Heracles or the date of Atlantis’ destruction.
Finally, if the Atlantis narrative is accepted as a mixture of detail from more than one source, possibly separated by thousands of years, it is meaningless to include everything in a single list. An example of this might be where the clues to the location of the Atlantean capital might be based on a very ancient source but the description of its architecture may have been inspired by structures from a different location, possibly from Plato’s own experience. In such a case the two will never be discovered together.
In the case of Indonesia, Dos Santos drew up a 32-point checklist(b), which has now been adopted and expanded to 60 points(e) by Dhani Irwanto, who published Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea in 2015.
The Atlantis Conference of 2005 concluded with the drafting of a list of 24 criteria(f), which must be met to qualify as Plato’s lost city. Jim Allen initially expanded this list to 34 points(a) and in December 2010 added a further 16 , bringing his new total up to 50 criteria(d), chosen with an obvious bias towards his own Bolivian theory.
The 2005 conference also led to the drafting of the Atlantis Research Charter, which although not a checklist in the sense that I have used it, does provide a rational set of guidelines for researchers to follow, firmly rejecting pseudoscience, dogmatism and abuse for political or religious ends.
The most recent (2016) checklist from Philip Runggaldier, not unexpectedly, points to his chosen location of the Celtic Shelf rather than Minoan Crete as the location of Atlantis. Not, in my mind, a fair comparison.
*My book, Joining the Dots, as far as I’m aware, raises for the first time in any detail, the obvious prerequisites for a successful invasion. Obviously Invaders require a powerful army, military intelligence (spies) and the ability to keep supply lines as short as possible. The latter demands that military expansionism is directed at neighbouring territories, a fact confirmed by the manner in which all ancient empires developed. However, when it comes to checklists the need for proximity is conveniently ignored as can be seen by its absence from the lists compiled by advocates of some of the more extreme Atlantis locations, such as, Antarctica, America or Indonesia. At least some Plato’s Atlantis identifiers can be linked with most proposed locations, but if they are not within ‘striking distance’ of ancient Athens, they cannot be Atlantis.*
(a) Bolivia – http://www.atlantisbolivia.org/atlantistheories.htm
(b) Indonesia – http://www.atlan.org/articles/checklist/
The Celtic Shelf in the North Atlantic is accepted as having had large areas, now under water, exposed during the last Ice Age when sea levels were far lower than today due to the enormous amounts of water contained in the glaciers that covered vast swathes of northern Europe and America.
A number of investigators have proposed that these exposed lands were home to Atlantis. Stone Age artefacts have been discovered off the coasts of Britain in recent years demonstrating the man lived on a more extensive landmass at the end of the last Ice Age.
Seventy years ago F. Gidon proposed the Celtic Shelf as a location for Atlantis, but as he ascribed a Bronze Age date to the society, the Celtic Shelf would already have been inundated and since Atlantis had mountains, at least their peaks would have remained visible.
A leading advocate of a Celtic Shelf location for Atlantis is the Russian Viatcheslav Koudriavtsev, who for the past ten years has been promoting his view that a site near to the Scilly Isles was the location of Atlantis. Although he has received government permission to carry out explorations in the area it appears that lack of funding has thwarted his plans to attempt to verify his theory.
Dan Crisp has published(a) a discussion on various location theories and concluded that on balance Koudriavtsev was on the right track when he nominated the Celtic Shelf as the most likely location of Atlantis.
In 2016, Philip Runggaldier added his support for locating Atlantis on the Celtic Shelf, explaining its demise at the end of the last Ice Age being the result of a megadeluge that burst through an ice dam containing a glacial lake in the Irish Sea Basin.