Bettany Hughes (1968- ) is a well-known historian with a high media profile. She has presented one major TV documentary on the subject of Atlantis, specifically supporting aspects of the Minoan Hypothesis. This was Atlantis: The Evidence (Timewatch BBC TWO, 2010)(a) and more recently she has been trotted out to promote a new drama series Atlantis (BBC 2013).
She wrote a preview of this BBC series, for The Telegraph(b), which together with her earlier documentary still raises questions for me about her competence to deal with this subject at all. In her article she refers to the Atlantis story as a moral fable, ignoring the fact that not only were the ‘wicked’ Atlanteans destroyed, but so also were the ‘good’ Athenians.
She then alludes to Plato’s mention of the use of red, black and white stone in Atlantis. It is well known that this combination is common in volcanic regions and has been noted at a number of proposed Atlantis sites; The Canaries, Bolivia, Morocco, Azores, Sardinia and southern Spain.
Next, Hughes tries to explain away the navigation hazard described by Plato, identifying it as pumice. Plato clearly describes mud shoals as the barrier. This would be fine, except that Plato also tells us that the hazard still existed in his day, a thousand years after the eruption. It is improbable, to say the least that pumice would have lingered for a millennium!
These miserable attempts to link Thera and Atlantis are bad enough, Hughes does not explain how Plato repeatedly refers to the Atlantean invasion coming from their base in the the west (Tim.25b & Crit 114c), while Thera/Crete is north of Egypt and south of Athens. Where were the Pillars of Heracles and where were the Minoan elephants?
I would expect a professional like Hughes to offer a more comprehensive review of ALL the information provided by Plato and not dismiss whatever conflicts with her opinion as “sheer fantasy”. This picking and choosing from Plato’s text is not good enough without any justification for her selectivity.
The Canary Islands are situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco. They were (re)discovered in 1402 by Jean de Béthencourt (1362-1425). He found the fair skinned Guanches living on some of the islands. He described them as cave-dwellers. After overthrowing the local chiefs, de Béthancourt became King of the Canaries under King Henry III of Castile.
*However, there has been widespread acceptance of the idea that the Berbers of North Africa has established the first populations on the islands. Recently (2019) published DNA studies have reinforced this concept, putting the arrival of the Berbers at around 1000 AD(h).*
Pliny the Elder is frequently quoted to provide the etymology of the name, where he claims that it is derived from a species of large dog – canis in Latin – found there in ancient times. This derivation is disputed by the historian and arabist, Paul Lunde, who prefers the idea that the islands were named after an ancient people who lived on the opposite mainland and who now inhabit north-eastern Nigeria and are known today as the Kanuri. Pliny also records that the islands were uninhabited but had ancient ruined buildings when visited by the Carthaginians. Centuries later they were inhabited by a Berber people known as the Guanches who were finally conquered by the Spanish in the 15th century. When sea levels were lower during the last Ice Age, the land area of the islands would have been more extensive and possible claimant as the location of some or part of Plato’s empire of Atlantis.
Frank Joseph noted how the islands conform in many ways to Plato’s description of Atlantis. Natural hot and cold springs are to be found there, as are red, white and black rock, a combination also observed on the Azores. In the past the Canaries have been densely forested and also contain rivers and fertile plains that produce a variety of fruit.
In 1939 the Ahnenerbe, led by theologian turned archaeologist Otto Huth, planned to visit the Canaries to study Guanche mummies as part of their efforts to find the Aryan homeland and locate Atlantis. However, the outbreak of war postponed their trip, but the Spanish dictator, General Franco, at the behest of his Nazi mentors appointed his archaeologist friend Julio Martinez Santa Olalla to carry out investigations on their behalf. A paper(c) by Professor Francisco Gracia Alonso and a recent book by author and journalist Jaime Rubio Rosales explore the whole subject of the Spanish links with the Ahnenerbe.
In the 2nd century AD, the Greek astronomer and geographer Ptolemy suggested that the prime meridian should be located through the Canaries, then known as the Fortunate Islands.
The earliest suggestion of a connection between the Canaries and Atlantis was proposed by Athanasius Kircher in 1664, referring to the Guanches as the last Atlanteans and the islands as the remains of Plato’s lost land.
Ignatius Donnelly, who did so much to kick-start modern interest in Atlantis, considered that the Canaries, Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde Islands were its remnants. However, a newspaper report from 1899(g) refers back to a local cleric and historian, José Viera y Claviejo, who proposed around the beginning of 19th century that the Canaries, the Azores and Madeira were remnants of Atlantis, nearly a century before Donnelly.
Gilbert De Jong is a Dutch landscape designer with an interest in investigating the mysteries of our ancient past. His contention is that Atlantis was located at El Fuerte – in the Canary Islands.
A website dealing with a variety of British and World mysteries(d) has a series of papers on Atlantis and reluctantly considers the Canaries as the most likely location of Plato’s lost land.
Thor Heyerdahl inspected the pyramids at Guimar and was convinced of their ceremonial use in ancient times(b).The late Philip Coppens also wrote an article(e) on these structures. A 2015 article(f) can now be added to this list.
(e) http://www.philipcoppens.com/nap_art12.html (offline March 2018) See Archive 2142)
Gerald Wells is an American researcher who had opted for the western province of El Bayadh in Algeria as the location of Atlantis. He uses geomythology to advance the radical idea that Atlantis was destroyed by a ‘tectonic tilting and continental uplift’ at the end of the Younger Dryas.
In another paper(c), Wells offers further geological evidence that Atlantis did not sink, but only appeared to do so, while it actually rose. If so, I wonder how could such an event create muddy shallows (Timaeus 25d) that existed as a navigation hazard even in Plato’s time.
Wells has offered ten important correlations between Plato’s description and the physical evidence available at his chosen site on the western edge of the Sahara. These include an extensive canal system, red, white and black stone, a complex of meteorite craters (Rings of Atlantis) and hydrothermal springs. Wells further contends that Atlantis was known in pre-dynastic Egypt as Bakhu. However, there is a consensus among other scholars that Bakhu was a mount in the EAST, whereas Wells’ Atlantis/Bakhu is in the WEST. Wells’ ideas were presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in Athens and are now available on the Internet(a).
Now that he has been granted tax-exemption status in the U.S. he is hoping to raise $250,000 to fund an initial two week survey. See his new web address(b).
Wells has now produced a video(d) in support of his theories.
*(a) http://www.Atlantis-bakhu.com (offline June 2017)*