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 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 put forward.
The Caucasus Mountains lie between the the Black and Caspian Seas and contain the highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus (Russia). In ancient times it was the location of a number of kingdoms of whom two were known as Albania and Iberia(d) .
Delisle De Sales was probably the first to suggest the Caucasus as the home of the original Atlantis, with refugees from there establishing Plato’s Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean. However, the greatest proponent of the Caucasus location for Atlantis was R.A. Fessenden who wrote an extensive multi-volume work on the subject early in the 20th century.
More recently, Ronnie Gallagher, an admirer of Fessenden, has studied the Caucasus region, in particular the hydrology of the Caspian Sea(a), where he identified strandlines up to 225 metres above sealevel. In Ajerbaijan he also found cartruts similar to those on Malta as well as stone circles on the Absheron Peninsula(b).
The Amazons of Greek mythology are thought by some to have originated in the Caucasus and as late as 1671, Sir John Chardin reported that a tribe of Amazons existed in Georgia. Interestingly, a 19th century photo shows two armed ladies from Armenia captioned as ‘Amazons of Armenia 1895’.
An added mystery was offered by Alexander Braghine, who recounted that “I was present when a former Russian officer of Georgian origin found himself able to talk with the natives of Vizcaya immediately upon his arrival in Northern Spain: he spoke Georgian, but the Basques understood this language.”[156.187]
Currently, Bruce Fenton has claimed the Caucasus as the home of giants. However, Jason Colavito has demonstrated the unreliability of his claims(c).
I feel that the Caucasus will have a lot more to tell us?
Ronnie Gallagher is an amateur archaeologist with a great interest in the Caucasus region, where he has carried out extensive research. He has written an interesting paper on the effects of the post-glacial flooding of the Caspian Sea and its former connection with the Black Sea as well as with the Arctic Ocean(a).
Gallagher has drawn attention to cart ruts in Azerbaijan(b) similar to, but not as numerous as, those on Malta. He is also an admirer of the work of Reginald Fessenden who placed Atlantis in the Caucasus(c).
His own conclusion regarding the location of Atlantis in the Caucasus region was that it was inundated as a consequence of the creation of a vast ‘flooded Eurasia’ that resulted from the collapse of glacial ice-dams(d).
Gallagher’s paper should be read in conjunction with a 2004 paper(e) from a team of Russian and US scientists that relates to a ‘Giant Siberian Lake’.
(e) http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/lake.html (Jan.2017, no longer available see Archive 2372)
The Cart-Ruts of Malta are one of the many remarkable archaeological features of the archipelago. Unfortunately the local authorities have not done all they could to ensure their preservation. Cart-ruts are also found in other countries but in nothing like the numbers found on Malta.
An article written in 1904(h) describes a visit to the Madeiras where the writer travelled on a sled drawn by oxen, while Alexander Braghine describes how Paul le Cour visited the Azores and noted that the natives there used ‘sledges’ rather than wheeled vehicles and greased the runners to assist movement, similar to the practice on the Madeiras.
Dr. David Trump (1931-2016) who has done much to advance Maltese archaeology published a booklet on the cart-ruts in 2008. Trump nicknamed the complex collection of ruts at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir “Clapham Junction” after the London railway station, where several railway services interchange. A 1998 paper(d) by Joseph Magro Conti and Paul C. Saliba focused on “Clapham Junction” and concluded that the ruts had a clear connection with the transportation of material from adjacent quarries.
A connection between the cart-ruts and Atlantis has been suggested by Anton Mifsud and adopted by the late Axel Hausmann, who both claim that the ruts were the irrigation channels referred to by Plato (Critias 118c-e).
Another prominent archaeologist, Claudia Sagona, has also suggested(f)(j) that the ruts were used for irrigation, although she has not associated them with Plato’s text. While this linkage fits nicely with the theory of Atlantis having been in the region of Malta, it does not stand up to close examination. First of all the cart-ruts follow the natural undulations of the Maltese landscape and so to function as irrigation channels would require water to flow uphill for parts of its journey, Trump has mentioned how some of the ruts can be seen sloping as much as 45°. Secondly, the fact that the ruts are always found in pairs would suggest a degree of unnecessary and wasteful duplication found in no other irrigation system in the world. Because; if the ruts were intended to carry water, for the same labour they could have been cut as a single channel at twice the depth cutting losses through evaporation by half. As well as that, the ground between each pair of tracks could provide an extra acre of arable land for every two miles of length. Furthermore, the multiplicity of tracks at the ‘Clapham Junction’ site is incompatible with an irrigation system. All of which is compounded by the absence of controlling sluicegates anywhere at the remaining 100+ sites, and emphasised by Trump’s observation that “no association of ruts with water sources has been demonstrated.”[870.268] Compounding all that is the fact that no supporter of the cart ruts as Plato’s irrigation channels has attempted to explain how the dimensions of the ruts can be measured in inches while Plato describes canals measured in feet – tens of feet!
By way of comic relief, I thought I should include one theory regarding an explanation(c) for the ruts from Laura Knight-Jadczyk, a noted conspiracy theorist, which I quote in full: “Do I have an idea to propose? Of course I do. I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t. I would like to suggest that these “ruts” look an awful lot like places where lightning has struck, and the electricity has blasted away the dirt and rock as it shoots along some sort of natural earth power grid conductor. The only difference is that the cart ruts are not random. That suggests that there was something present in the ground laid out in a definite grid, which acted as a conductor. Were the cart ruts some sort of networked energy conduction system? Could some sort of element have been placed in the ground by an ancient civilization; something that that conducted power to their homes the way our vulgar power poles and lines criss-cross the landscape? And then, at some point in time, was the earth hit by such a surge of energy from some unknown source that these power “lines” melted the rock in which they were “strung?” Perhaps a surge of some kind of cosmic energy source? Maybe even the Electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion? Maybe it was neither of these, but merely a massive overheating of the surface of the earth so that the conduction element and its insulating covering melted and was swept away?”
One of the more bizarre suggestions has been proposed by Markus Tutsch on the German EFODON website, that the parallel ruts were used in some way to distribute electrical power(q)!!!
*Another comical suggestion is offered by Dr. Cornelius Niels Kopf who has proposed that “The Bronze Ride traces on Malta and Gozo and many other parts of the then populated world, known as cart ruts, were sports facilities, and the area designated as ‘Clapham Junction’ was apparently the ‘stadium’ of Malta.” (r)*
In 2010 the most comprehensive work on the ruts was published by Gordon E. Weston . Weston now has a website(g) where he discusses the ‘ruts’ further and provides additional links. There are also a number of websites devoted to the investigation of these enigmatic features(a). One of them(m) offers a fine collection of images, including the one above, as well as a discussion on the origin, use and questions raised by the Maltese cart ruts.
A study of the ruts by geomorphologists published in Antiquity is a valuable addition to the literature on the subject(b).
Uwe Topper has written an extensive paper on cart-ruts around the Mediterranean and beyond(i). He controversially theorised that that the ruts were created when the limestone on which they were cut was ‘softer’!!!
A short April 2015 video clip demonstrates how even a 20kg quarter-scale slidecar, can with one pass cut a 1mm groove into the soft Maltese limestone, near Sliema. A full scale slidecar would be carrying 320 Kg.
Amateur archaeologists, Ronnie Gallagher and Abbas Islamov, have highlighted the existence of cart-ruts in the Gobustan peninsula of Azerbijan(e), while André Kramer has written an article on the cart-ruts of Mallorca(k).
In 2015, Russian geologist Alexander Koltypin drew much media attention(o) when he claimed that comparable tracks in the Phrygian Valley of Turkey were dated to 14 million years ago and were created by an unknown civilisation. He also implied that the cart ruts of Malta had similar origin! However a quick look at his website(p) revealed him to have travelled well beyond the lunatic fringe.
(f) Oxford Journal of Archaeology (Vol.23, Issue 1, p.45-60)
(g) http://cartrutanswers.com/index.html (offline 15/07/14)
(h) http://www.oldandsold.com/articles09/travel-45.shtml (offline August ’15)
(i) http://www.ilya.it/chrono/pages/gleisedt.htm (german)
Ice Dams were not uncommon following the ending of the last Ice Age. Glacial Lake Missoula in North West America has been estimated to have burst out every fifty years or so over a two thousand year period between 13,000 and 11,000 BC. These events are dealt with in detail by David Alt in his Glacial Lake Missoula. Lake Agassiz was another enormous lake formed by glacial run-off after the last Ice Age and at its maximum extent was larger than any lake existing in the world today. There is evidence that Lake Agassiz like Missoula also breached ice dams from time to time, discharging into the Atlantic. Other large and frequent breaching of ice dams occurred in the Siberian Altai Mountains(c)(d)(e). A USGS report listing the largest of these events is available online(b).
Recent reports(g)(h)(i) claim that around 6200 BC the bursting of an ice dam in Canada released the melt water contents of Lake Agassiz and Lake Ojibway into the North Atlantic that resulted in Greenland being cooled by an average of 7.4ºC and Europe by about 1ºC and raising the global sea level by between one and three metres (3-10 feet).
Equally dramatic was the extent of the flooding in Eurasia following the collapse of north Asian ice dams. Ronnie Gallagher has an interesting article about this on Graham Hancock’s website(a). Gallagher favours a Eurasian location for Atlantis.
*Professor Neil Glasser from Aberystwyth University is the lead author of a report published in 2016 in Scientific Reports, in which the breaching of an ice dam in South America, between 11,000 and 6,000 BC, was on such a scale that it altered the circulation of the Pacific Ocean. Glasser noted(f) that: “This was a massive lake. When it drained, it released around 1150km3 of fresh water from the melting glaciers into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – equivalent to around 600 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. This had a considerable impact on the Pacific Ocean circulation and regional climate at the time.”*
(c) http://www.ica.csic.es/dpts/suelos/hidro/images/chapter_27_phefra.pdf (offline 1/6/15)
(g) Science – Dec. 22, 2000
(h) Proceedingsof the National Academyof Sciences – DOI:10.1073/pnas.0510095103]
(i) Quaternary Science Reviews –vol 25, p 63]
The Deglaciation that occurred at the end of the last Ice Age has attracted a lot of attention from Atlantis seekers because it coincides with Plato’s apparent date for the destruction of Atlantis and provides us with a possible source of the flood that subsequently not only wiped out the Atlanteans but possibly also the Athenians.
The melting of the ice caps gradually caused the ocean levels to rise over a period of thousands of years and at times the retreat of the glaciers was halted and occasionally reversed. Although the melting of the ice was relatively steady, the water produced did not always reach the sea in a steady flow. Instead, it was frequently punctuated by enormous discharges of water particularly where ice dams had retained vast melt water lakes.
In the 1920’s a maverick geologist, J. Harlen Bretz (1882-1981), postulated that a huge ice-age flood had carved the landscape of Eastern Washington state, in just a few days. In spite of acrimonous opposition from the geology establishment of the day, Bretz persevered with his investigations, which eventually led to the identification of Lake Missoula as the probable culprit. Bretz was finally vindicated in 1979 when, in his nineties, he was awarded the prestigious Penrose Medal for his work(f).*There is a beautifully illustrated National Geographic online article that reviews Bretz’s work(i).*
These discharges of huge quantities of water are recognisable as relatively sudden spikes in the rate of sealevel increases and are referred to as Melt Water Pulses WMP).
Lake Missoula in what is today the state of Montana is one of the best studied of these glacial lakes. The regular discharges from Lake Missoula, following ice dam collapses, were responsible for the creation of the dramatic scablands of the North-Western United States. Studies have revealed that between forty and eighty such floods were released from Lake Missoula alone.
However, an alternative to Lake Missoula as the cause of the scablands has been recently proposed(g), namely, the younger-dryas comet impact event. This event was highlighted by Richard Firestone and his colleagues in The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes. My problem with the idea of the comet impact is that it was a single event, whereas the Missoula discharges were numerous.
The power of fast flowing water was recently highlighted by a report published(c) in the journal of America’s National Academy of Sciences, where a study of Iceland’s unpronounceable Jokulsargljufur canyon indicated that this huge feature was created in a matter of days. In Iceland, such glacial outburst floods are known as Jökulhlaups(d).
It has now been estimated by scientists that around 6200 BC the ancient glacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway discharged into the Atlantic Ocean. These lakes were more than twice the size of the Caspian Sea and on their own are estimated to have raised sea levels by up to 4 feet. The freshwater flow is calculated at between 25 and 50 times the flow of the Amazon River and recent studies suggest that this sudden inflow of fresh water brought the Gulf Stream to a halt for more than a hundred years. A 2016 report(e) from CAGE (Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment) suggests that the Gulf Stream was not interrupted during the Ice Age.
Nick Thom has suggested that an even more dramatic consequence of the discharge from Lake Agassiz was the tilting of the Earth’s axis leading to the biblical Deluge and recorded around the world in hundreds of flood myths!
Similar melt water lakes across Northern Europe retained by ice dams produced equally dramatic discharges as the dams periodically broke. One of these occupied what is now the Baltic Sea and was 30 metres above the then ocean level before bursting into the North Sea around 10,000 BC. Less well known is the flooding that took place further east resulting in the creation of a vast inland sea of which the Black and Caspian Seas were just a small part. Ronnie Gallagher has written a revealing paper on the subject(a).
It is worth noting that, although on a smaller scale, two thirds of the thousands of Himalayan glaciers contain glacial lakes, which because of global warming today are growing at risk of bursting with consequent catastrophic results. Apart from the damage to people and structures these discharges will gradually reduce the downstream flow of water to rivers such as the Ganges as the glaciers retreat.
paleoclimatologist, Hartmut Heinrich, who as recently as 1988 published evidence that there had been at least six massive discharges of icebergs from the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last Ice Age. These discharges could have contained millions of cubic kilometres of ice and must have caused substantial sea level rises. This Laurentide Ice Sheet was an enormous mass of ice that stretched from the Arctic through eastern Canada to the northern half of the United States that covered over 5 million square miles. The weight of this ice sheet was so great that it has been calculated that it depressed the earth’s crust by nearly half a mile. A recent paper contends that it was the collapse of this ice sheet, 8000 years ago causing a sea level rise that led to the breaching of a ridge damming the Bosporus and the inundation of the then freshwater Black Sea, which flooded over 73,000 square km of land.
In the southern hemisphere it was discovered a few years ago (Science, Dec.22, 2000) that the River Amazon had experienced a doubling of its outflow between 9800 BC and 9700 BC, probably as a consequence of the melting of Andean glaciers and perhaps increased rainfall during this period. The dates proposed are very close to the 9600 BC date provided by Plato for the submergence of Atlantis.
All these worldwide discharges must have resulted in the inundation of low-lying landmasses, such as the Celtic Shelf or Sundaland, in fits and starts forcing the inhabitants of these regions to regularly migrate to higher ground.
Since it is reasonable to assume that a large percentage of human settlements were then, as now, located along coasts, particularly at river mouths, the consequence for these embryonic cultures must have been catastrophic. It is very easy to see how legends of sunken civilisations probably have a very sound basis in fact. Two books by Graham Hancock and Stephen Oppenheimer have covered this idea in greater detail, lending credibility to the idea of a sunken island such as Atlantis.
However, it can be reasonably argued that the effects of deglaciation are not what Plato described. He spoke of earthquake and a flood that overwhelmed both the Athenians and the Atlanteans. This would more closely match the aftermath of a large seismic or tectonic event that generated enormous tsunamis rather than the gradual rising of sea levels, which even at its most dramatic could never have produced the effect of sinking Atlantis overnight.
However, the waters of tsunamis eventually flow back to the sea, but Plato’s account describes the event resulting in the creation of muddy shallows. To me it sounds more like liquefaction which occurs in soil with particular characteristics when subjected to an earthquake(b), similar to the destruction of the cities of Canopus and Herakleon near Alexandria.
A website that graphically illustrates the process of deglaciation after the last Ice Age is available(h).
(b) http://www.ce.washington.edu/~liquefaction/html/why/why1.html (offline June 2016)