Plain of Atlantis
Fundamentalist Atlantology is a term that I use to describe the idea that everything written about Atlantis by Plato, must be taken at face value. In other words when he refers to 9,000 years, this along with all the other numbers he uses in relation to the dimensions of the plain of Atlantis, its structures or its military manpower should be accepted literally! Such an acceptance flies in the face of both common sense and science, particularly in the case of Plato’s dating of Atlantis, while the dimensions he has for the ditch surrounding the plain of Atlantis were deemed incredible (his word) by Plato himself (Crit.118c), he felt obliged out of deference to Solon’s reputation he recorded the details as he received them.
Without wishing to offend anyone, I believe that acceptance, for example, of Plato’s/Solon’s numbers is comparable with the belief of religious fundamentalists who hold that creation’took just six days.
Although it is understandable that researchers have accepted Plato’s details without question, there has been extensive research over the past century into seeking more rational explanations for many of those more difficult passages in the Atlantis narrative which has produced alternative explanations that are compatible with both science and common sense.
While Plato’s 9,000 years were initially, rather glibly dismissed as a transcription error and that hundreds and not thousands had been intended, it has been demonstrated that the ancient Egyptian priesthood used a lunar calendar so that the ‘ýears’ were in fact months, which was noted in the 4th century BC by Eudoxus of Cnidos and repeated by Manetho and Diodorus Siculus. This would reduce the timeline by a factor of twelve. Another explanation was put forward by Rosario Vieni who proposed that the ‘years’ actually referred to seasons of which there are three in the Egyptian solar year. These, as far as I am aware, are the principal alternatives suggested in place of a literal reading of 9,000 years. After all, neither Athens or Egypt was home to anything more than primitive societies 9,000 years before Solon’s visit.
A further example concerns the size of Atlantis, which Plato consistently referred to as an island and never a continent and is described by him as greater than Libya and Asia combined. Irrespective of how extensive in size the Libya and Asia in question were, the Greek word for greater – meizon, actually relates to greater in strength, power or influence not extent. A few years ago Thorwald C. Franke pointed out that the traditional enemies of Egypt came from Libya and Asia, so that to describe the threat from Atlantis as greater than Libya and Asia combined indicates how great the threat from Atlantis was.
The more contentious issue of the actual location of the Pillars of Heracles, I will not go into here, suffice it to say that a number of valid competing arguments have been put forward in favour of locations other than the Strait of Gibraltar. In fact all of them could have been correct at different times, changing their position as the Greek colonists and traders gradually moved westward. Eventually, I believe that at some point in time the term simply became a metaphor for the limits of the world as generally known to the Greeks.
My point is that understandable difficulties exist in the Atlantis texts and that a number of sensible alternative explanations have been put forward, which will be individually tried and tested until a consensus emerges, in the same way that the idea of a geocentric universe was gradually replaced by the simple fact that our little planet revolves around the sun.
The Caspian Sea is not usually associated with the story of Atlantis, but as early as the 19th century Moreau de Jonnès proposed the Sea of Azov as the location of Atlantis and that the Black, Caspian and Aral Seas were just remnants of a large ocean.
While this may sound like a wild idea, one modern researcher, Ronnie Gallagher, has written an important paper(b) supporting the concept (see fig.8). This enlarged inland sea is also thought to have extended as far north as the Arctic.
Fessenden cites Strabo (Book 11:7;43), who recounts a tradition that the Caspian had been connected with the Black Sea by way of the Sea of Azov.
Modern proponents of Atlantis in the Sea of Azov have suggested(a) that at the end of the last Ice Age floods of meltwater poured into the Caspian Sea, which in turn escaped through the Manych-Kerch Gateway(c) into what is now the Sea of Azov, but at that time contained the Plain of Atlantis!
Immediately to the south of the Caspian are the Caucasus Mountains which have also had links with Atlantis proposed.
Michael Jaye is Associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California. He is a confirmed catastrophist focused on cometary impacts. In a lecture to the Geological Society of America in 2011(a) he describes two major events in the earths history that had profound effects on the earth and the life one. The first was a double impact 65 million years ago and generally accepted to have led to the demise of the dinosaurs and the second 460,000 years ago.
In an April 2015 lecture entitled Resolving the Problem of Atlantis he expands on his original ideas(b) introducing a third event 13,000 years ago when another cometary impact brought an enormous amount of water to earth, which linked together previously disconnected seas and oceans.
At this point he introduces Atlantis or more correctly the alleged Google image of Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean that now Jaye claims was the Plain of Atlantis. As I have previously stated, the image in question shows lines that would have been kilometers in width and could not have been streets and so are also too wide to have been the irrigation ditches described by Plato.*The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also debunked the silly Atlantis claims generated by these images(e). However the problem remains, that some people believe what they want to believe not what can be demonstrated.*
Jaye does not accept the explanation for these anomalous lines given by Google, joining conspiracy theorists in the process. I personally think that he should stick to geology and leave the subject of Atlantis to others.
Jaye has also given me a link(c) to a video of one of his lectures. In it, one of his claims is that most of the Earth’s water is the result of a collision with an icy comet around 12,800 years ago. However, the widespread distribution of fossil fish far exceeds the areas occupied by original unconnected bodies of water suggested by Jaye. This is just one of many inaccuracies offered by him. His ideas can be read on Graham Hancock’s website(d) and his 2017 book, The Worldwide Flood .
Jaye has failed to explain how his claim of a relatively recent acquisition by the Earth of most of its water, can account for the recurring Ice Ages that our planet has endured over many millions of years. Ice Age theory is well established, but according to him, the Earth would not have had enough water over that timespan to produce the glaciers that enveloped large areas of the globe, sometimes to a depth of 3 or 4 km, leading to the measurable isostatic rebound we still experience today.
Paolo Macoratti is an Italian architect who is quoted by Sergio Frau, in his highly publicised book, as identifying sites in southern Sardinia as the locations of the plain and city of Atlantis.
Mario Cabriolu, another Frau supporter, has endeavoured(a) to improve on Macoratti’s interpretation.
The link below has maps displaying both views.
Atlanteans vs Roman Technology
The ditch surrounding the Plain of Atlantis was found to be ‘incredible’ by Plato (Crit.118c), it is worth comparing it with one of the most extensive ancient ditch systems still visible to day.
While the length of the ditch is remarkable, but being a stade (600ft) in width and a plethrum (100ft) deep, it amounts to a cross section of an astounding 60,000 sq ft. It brought to my mind the Fossatum Africae, which was a defensive ditch over 600 km long delineating the southern limit of the Roman Empire in what is now Algeria and Tunisia. This feature was rediscovered in 1947 by Jean Baradez, a retired French Air Force pilot and described in great detail in his 1949 book, Fossatum Africae. While the depth and width of the fossatum varies considerably, they are approximately 10ft x 10ft, which would give an average cross section of just 100 sq ft.
This means that the Atlantean ditch described by Plato would have been 600 times greater in cross section than the best produced by the might of the Roman Empire. A rough graphical depiction is given in the paragraph above, where the initial letter ‘W’ represents the cross section of the Roman fossatum, while the entire paragraph represents the presumed dimensions of the perimeter ditch surrounding the plain of Atlantis. Also keep in mind that the effort required to raise earth from a depth of ten feet becomes exponentially greater the deeper you go, so that the manpower required excavating the Atlantean ditch would be many thousands of times greater than that required for the fossatum. No wonder Plato found the dimensions passed to him by Solon ‘incredible’.
The illustration above should convince any reasonable person that Plato’s numerical data, at least in this instance, is greatly exaggerated.
Henri-Paul Eydoux has also written a chapter on this African feature [927.171].
Schoinos, which means ‘rope’ in Egyptian was an ancient unit of measurement which was the equivalent of 40 stadia but had huge regional variations ranging from 30 to 120 stadia(a). It was widely used throughout the Mediterranean and was adopted by the Greeks from the Egyptians around 2000 BC(d).
Albert Herrmann, quoted by Bramwell [195.117], attempted to make sense of the dimensions of the ditch surrounding the Plain of Atlantis by suggesting that Solon had been misled by an interpreter who converted the Egyptian measurements into Greek ‘podes’ (feet) but erroneously gave the results as ‘stadia’ exaggerating the data by a factor of thirty!
However, for me, Herrmann’s highly speculative theory makes little sense, if the ‘schoinos’ was used by the Greeks since 2oooBC, why convert it at all? Herodotus refers to it at least twice in his Histories (2.6(b) and 2.149(c))
Underwater Anomalies claimed as Atlantis have been identified in recent years on Google Earth images. The one that received the most widespread attention was in the Atlantic west of the Canaries. The location in question purports to show a gridlike street system. However, the scale involved would suggest ‘streets’ half a mile wide, which even for Atlanteans would have been rather unlikely. Google updated their data with a technical explanation for the anomaly(b). However, Michael Jaye is unwilling to accept Google’s response and has described the gridlike feature to have been the Plain of Atlantis(f). A comparable site(c) near Puerto Rico has been highlighted by Deb Johnson, which can probably be explained similarly.
A slightly different type of image has been spotted in lakes in the Peruvian Andes(d) as well as Manzanillo Bay in the Dominican Republic(e). These images of shallower waters show a range of rectangular shapes that stop dead where they meet the shore with no continuation on land. Once again I suspect flawed processing of the scanning data.
Apart from the fact that all of the above lack any of the circular features so vividly described by Plato. It is obvious that they cannot all be Atlantis and in all probability none are. No effort has been made to match any of these anomalous images with the topographical details provided by Plato!
(a) http://revoseek.com/technology/upgrade-google-earth-disappears-atlantis/ (offline June 2015)
(c) http://www.atlantismystery.com/Atlantis.jpg (offline)
Paul Dunbavin (1954- ) is a data and business analyst. “His interest for over 35 years has been cross-disciplinary research into prehistory, which he has occasionally published in his books and various articles and papers.”
He is the author of controversial but clearly well researched books relating to the ancient history of Britain. In one of these he identified the Picts of Scotland as being originally from the Baltic. In another he investigated the possible origins of Plato’s story of Atlantis. Using mythological, geological and archaeological sources he concluded that an asteroid or comet collided with the Earth around 3100 BC resulting in the tilting of the Earth’s axis. Dunbavin argued that this impact caused dramatic climate and sea-level changes that led to the submergence of a Neolithic civilisation on a low-lying plain off the coast of Wales. He believed that this destruction was the inspiration for the Atlantis legend. David Furlong claimed to have independently arrived at the same conclusion.
In 2005, Dunbavin published another volume on ancient catastrophes and their possible connection with cometary impacts or near collisions.*In this connection, he briefly refers to the work of George F. Dodwell.
In 2019, Dunbavin expanded his website, which also includes a more extensive review of Dodwell’s work(c). 2019 also saw the publication of his latest book, Towers of Atlantis .*There is more information about this and his other books on his website(a) , which also includes links to other related sites(b) .
Once again, Dunbavin has returned to the subject of the British Isles during the Neolithic period and their possible association with Plato’s story of Atlantis. He draws on the ancient Egyptian concept of a paradisaical afterlife comparable with the Greek ‘Elysian Fields’, both believed to be located in the far west. These notions are seen by Dunbavin to have possible parallels in Plato’s description of the Plain of Atlantis.
The author highlights the value of mythology, which he employs in conjunction with classical writers such as Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus as well as others to lead us to his considered belief that the Irish Sea prior to its eventual inundation after the last Ice Age had been home to the Plain of Atlantis, stretching from the island of Anglesea to the Isle of Man. This book should be read in conjunction with his previous offering, Atlantis of the West. Rather than wild speculation, Dunbavin has again offered evidence, although subjectively interpreted, that offers a coherent hypothesis.
Stan Deyo is American by birth but moved to Australia in the early 1970’s. He is the author of The Vindicator Scrolls in which he opted for Aden (Eden), now part of Yemen, as the site of Atlantis(a). He places the Plain of Atlantis in what is now eastern Saudi Arabia adjacent to a Persian Gulf extending further north(e).*The Persian Gulf itself to have been the original Atlantic!*
In 2014, Deyo chose Tanzania as the location of the Garden of Eden(h). This idea has been echoed elsewhere and more recently on a website dealing with the history of Israel(f) and on a Christian website where the Ngorongoro Crater is specified(g).
Deyo seems to subscribe to his own brand of religious fundamentalism, referring constantly to biblical characters and events. He dates the creation of the world to around 6000 BC and It appears that he believes that India was connected to Africa less than 5,000 years ago!
He also subscribes to the Expanding Earth Hypothesis, with which I am sympathetic. However, when he ventured into the realms of ‘free energy, anti-gravity and extraterrestrial visitors he lost me completely. A lot of research has gone into The Vindicator Scrolls although some readers may find his use of so many mathematical formulae makes much of the content inaccessible.
Some less than complimentary comments regarding Deyo are to be found on the Internet(d).
The Plain of Atlantisis one of the principal features recorded by Plato in great detail. He describes it being “3000 stades in length and at its midpoint 2000 stades in breath from the coast” (Critias 118a, trans. Lee). The shape of the plain is frequently given as ‘rectangular’ or ‘oblong’ and contained an efficient irrigation system that was fed by mountain streams. The fertility of the plain gave the inhabitants two crops annually.
The dimensions given by Plato would translate into 370 x 555 km (230 x 345 miles). However, the late Ulf Richter has recently proposed(a) that the dimensions originally given to Solon by the priests of Sais used the Egyptian ‘khet’(52.4 meters) as the unit of measurement. Possibly Solon recorded the figures without mentioning the units employed. In Ireland today we have just changed over to the metric system but builders still speak and write of using ‘2×4’ lengths of timber without specifying that they are referring to inches. Such notations made at present could be interpreted in the future as 2×4 centimetres. This illustrates how reasonable Richter’s suggestion is. The acceptance of it would give us a more credible 105 x 157 km (65 x 97 miles) as the dimensions of this plain. Richter also maintains that the plain was in fact a river delta, which explains the remarkable fertility of the land.
Jim Allen, who supports an Andean location for Atlantis, offers a strong argument against other principal Atlantis candidates by critically examining the plains included in alternative location theories(c). However, it must be pointed out that Allen had to divide Plato’s imensions for the plain by two in order to shoehorn it into his chosen location.
While I accept that there is evidence that there was flooding on the Altiplano, it took place some thousands of years before the Bronze Age Atlantis described by Plato and certainly long before he wrote “this is why the sea in that area is to this day impassible to navigation, which is hindered by mud just below the surface, the remains of the sunken island.” (Timaeus 25d – Desmond Lee) This not a description that can be applied to anywhere on the Altiplano during the 1st millennium BC. Apart from that, Plato’s account clearly states that Atlantis was submerged and was still so in his own day, making Allen’s critique somewhat redundant.
Diaz-Montexano maintains that Plato never said that the plain was shaped like a rectangle.
The number of different locations that have been proposed for the plain is obviously a reflection of the number of sites suggested for the city of Atlantis. I list the most popular below with the added commented that at best only one can be correct and all may be wrong.
Plain of Atlantis
Mesara Plain on Crete (Braymer)
Central Plain of Ireland (Erlingsson)
Sea of Azov (Flying Eagle & Whispering Wind)
Altiplano of Bolivia (Jim Allen)
Andalusian Plain (Diaz-Montexano)
North Sea (Jean Deruelle)
Plain of Catania, Sicily
Plain of Campidano, Sardinia
Souss-Massa Plain, Morocco (Michael Hübner)
Greenland (Mario Dantas)
Beni Bolivia (David Antelo)
Mesopotamia in Argentina (Doug Fisher)
Black Sea (Werner E. Friedrich)
Plain of Troy (J.D.Brady)
South of England (E.J. deMeester)
Celtic Shelf (Dan Crisp)
Western Plain, Cuba (Andrew Collins)
Portugal (Peter Daughtrey)
Wales (Paul Dunbavin)
Florida (Dennis Brooks)
Atlantic Floor (Michael Jaye)
Baffin Bay, Greenland (Ian Fox)
Pannonian Plain, Hungary+(Ticleanu, Constantin & Nicolescu)
Guadalete River Plain (Karl Jürgen Hepke)
Saudi Arabia (Stan Deyo)
*(a) http://www.atlantis-schoppe.de/richter.pdf (link broken Sept. 2019)*