Civilisation Collapse has occurred many times over past millennia in all parts of the world. Joseph A. Tainter defines collapse as “a rapid shift to a lower level of complexity(a) .” Societal disintegration immediately brings to mind the Maya, the Indus Valley and in what are relatively more modern times, the Western Roman Empire.
The causes are usually a combination of factors, such as, climate change, warfare, disease or excessive expansionism. Global catastrophes such as encounters with comets or asteroids are rare, while more local events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis can also be thrown into the mix. These have all been encountered from time to time, but have rarely been blamed for the collapse of a society; recovery from such limited regional events is usually possible.
The Mediterranean has seen its share of all these catastrophic events. A major tsunami on Sardinia, volcanic eruptions in Italy, earthquakes in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Close encounters with extraterrestrial bodies have also been proposed in that region.
Perhaps the best documented civilisation collapse is that which occurred around 1200 BC and affected many societies, particularly in the Middle East(b) . Israel Finkelstein, a leading Israeli archaeologist, has attributed this event to climate change and is of the view that this disruption was global in extent.
Inevitably, Atlantis has been cited as an example of civilisation collapse, particularly supporters of the Minoan Hypothesis, who link the 2nd millennium BC eruptions of Thera with the demise of the Minoans on Crete. Also popular is the idea that Atlantis had been a large island in the Atlantic Ocean destroyed by a cometary impact or the rising sea levels as the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age.
A variety of other theories have associated Atlantis with the collapse of a civilisation. For example, Frank Joseph claims that 40,000 years ago “sudden sea-level rises triggers migration from Mu around. The Pacific motherlanders settle on a large, fertile island about 380 kilometers due west from the Straits of Gibraltar. There, the newcomers merge with the native Cro-Magnon inhabitants, resulting in a new, hybrid culture – Atlantis.”
*(a) http://www.historytoday.com/christopher-chippindale/collapse-complex-societies (link broken June 2018)*
Robert J. Tuttle (1935- ) is an American nuclear engineer and the author of The Fourth Source: Effects of Natural Nuclear Reactors, which is a ground-breaking review of “how the effects of nature’s own nuclear reactors have shaped the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, and the history of life as we know it.”
This large volume (580 pages) challenges many accepted theories, such as glaciation, evolution, and mass extinctions and offers new ideas that will undoubtedly raise eyebrows(a).*The first 25 pages can be downloaded as a free pdf file.*
Surprisingly, Tuttle also tackles the question of Atlantis (p.301) suggesting the possibility that when sea levels were lower, the Balearic Islands in the Western Mediterranean were more extensive and possibly the home of Atlantis. He takes issue with Bury and Lee who refer to the ‘Atlantic Ocean’, which he claims should read as the ‘Sea of Atlantis’ and locates the ‘Pillars of Herakles’ somewhere between Tunisia, Sicily and the toe of Italy.
Charles J. Cazeau & Stuart D. Scott, Jnr were Associate Professors of Geology and Anthropology respectively at Buffalo’s State University of New York. They are the authors of Exploring the Unknown, in which they sceptically examine some of the mysteries that have been most popular with the general public.
Naturally, Atlantis features in this collection with a review of some of the best known theories. However, the authors seemed constrained by Sprague deCamp’s warning that “you cannot change all the details of Plato’s story and still claim to have Plato’s story.” Consequently, they have accepted Plato’s very early date for the demise of Atlantis in spite of the fact that it conflicts with both archaeology and commonsense.
The result is that Caseau & Scott concluded that the Atlantis narrative includes a distorted memory of the global flooding that followed the last Ice Age.*However, they ignore the fact that the retreat of the Ice Age glaciers raised sea levels quite gradually, if erratically, and that Plato’s account of the inundation of Atlantis describes it taking place over a day and a night as a result of earthquakes.*
Dr. Robert F. Schmalz (1929- ), a geologist with Pennsylvania State University, declared his support for a Tunisian-Algerian location for Atlantis, which included northern Tunisia and part of northeastern Algeria. He describes how just northeast of Gabes there is a low sandy plain which separates the Mediterranean from the salty chotts that extend hundreds of miles westward into the Sahara.
In the article in the Montreal Gazette of 26/8/77(a), he cities dramatic changes in sea levels and land elevations as the cause of its destruction. He dates this event to the end of the last Ice Age conforming closely to the prima facie date given by Plato for the time of Atlantis!
His ideas, among others, were reviewed by the geographer Richard B. Cathcart in a 2001 paper(b).
(b) http://www.wdf.org/gspc/virtual2001/pdf/EmancipatoryPaper.pdf (offline July 2015) <see Archive 5079
Vladimir Obruchev (1863-1956) was a prominent Soviet geologist and had a mineral, obruchevite, named in his honour. He was also one of Russia’s first science fiction writers, publishing Plutonia in 1924 and was also a leading authority on the civilisations of the Gobi Desert.
He accepted that Plato’s story of Atlantis was ‘plausible’ and believed that from a geological perspective that the submergence of a large landmass in the Atlantic around 11,000 years ago was possible but probably not at the rapid rate recorded by Plato.
Zhirov informs us[0458.318] that after Obruchev’s death an unfinished paper relating to Atlantis was found which proposed that the submergence of Atlantis was brought about by the rising sea levels caused by the melting of the glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.
Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946) was born Tallinn, Estonia, then part of the Russian Empire.. Like Ivar Lissner he spent some of his early years in Russia before emigrating to Germany. He is considered to have been one of the leading theorists behind many of the extreme policies of the Nazi Party, in particular its racial ideology. He was later tried for war crimes and hanged in 1946.
Rosenberg refers to a master race of ‘Aryan-Nordic-Atlanteans’ in Northern Europe. He added that Atlantis had existed where there had once been exposed land between Iceland and Greenland when sea levels were 100 metres lower.
He expressed much of his warped ideas in a 1930 book The Myth of the Twentieth Century, which has been described by Joscelyn Godwin as “perhaps the dullest book that ever sold a million copies.”In fact the sales of his book were only exceeded by that of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
A secondhand copy of the English translation was recently on offer at Amazon.uk for over £400! However, you can download the text for nothing from the Internet(a) .
Ireland according to James Bramwell[0195.181], was first identified with Atlantis as early as circa 1250 AD in the Speculum Regale (The King’s Mirror)(g) which was written in Norway. Apart from that, Ireland was less controversially was first suggested in the 18th century as a possible location of Atlantis by the English geologist John Whitehurst. The idea lay dormant for over a century until the early part of the 20th century when George H. Cooper suggested that Cork harbour fits Plato’s description of the harbour of Atlantis. Fifty years later an official guidebook claimed that one of the outposts of Atlantis was to be found on the west coast of Galway. As a nation famed for its storytelling we have never let truth stand in the way of a good tale.
The mythical Hy-Brasil was shown west of Ireland on maps as early as 1325 and incredibly, was not removed from naval charts until 1865. The UK’s Daily Star (21/5/16) with typical tabloid accuracy told its readers(f) that Hy-Brasil was off the coast of ‘Britain’!
In 1976, Steiner Books, New York, republished a book under the misleading title of Atlantis in Ireland. One may be excused for viewing this as a blatant case of exploitative opportunistic publishing. The original text was written by Henry O’Brien and published in London (1834) as The Round Towers of Ireland. Apart from being written in the rather turgid English of the period, there is not a single reference to Plato or Atlantis to be found in that volume.
* Diodorus Siculus, in a well-known passage (Bk 1.158), that is claimed by some as a reference to Ireland(h), describes it as ”an island in the ocean over against Gaul, to the north, and not inferior in size to Sicily, the soil of which is so fruitful that they mow there twice in the year.” Some consider this to be reminiscent of the Platonic reference to the two crops a year gathered in Atlantis. However, I am more inclined to think that Diodorus was referring to Britain. Diodorus also mentions the Irish singular temples of ’round form’, however, this seems too early to be a reference to the round towers and more likely to be an allusion to the astronomically aligned mounds such as Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth in Ireland or Stonehenge in Britain!*
In 1923 Conor MacDari, who’s eccentricity was comparable with that of Comyns Beaumont, published Irish Wisdom Preserved in the Bible and Pyramids, which among a litany of bizarre claims, proposed that Atlantis had been located in Ireland.
When Ignatius Donnelly came to the subject of Ireland, he attributed an Atlantean origin to so the various waves of settlers that came to the post-glacial island. He substitutes evidence with assertion and speculation. Donnelly further claimed that the famous round towers of Ireland are proof that the people of Atlantis settled in Ireland.
More recently Ulf Erlingsson, a Swedish geographer, insisted that with a claimed probability
factor of 99.98%, that his interpretation of Plato’s text demonstrates that Ireland was home to Atlantis. The subtitle of the book, Mappingthe Fairy Land, is probably a good guide on how seriously to take this book, particularly as it is by an author who hails from the land of the original Trolls.
In March 2008 it was reported that a Dr. Jac Hummer had mounted an expedition to South America with the intention of discovering the remains of St. Patrick under a pyramid there. But it gets better – he then explains that such a discovery will prove his theory that Ireland is Plato’s lost island of Atlantis!
Irish legend speaks of the Domnu, people of the deep sea from a land that disappeared beneath the waves. However, Ireland is still above the waves and in contrast to Plato’s statement that even in his time the location of Atlantis was marked by impassable shallows. Since sea levels have generally risen only slightly since Plato lived, he cannot have been referring to Ireland.
John Douglas Singer in his slender book, Ireland’s Mysterious Lands and Sunken Cities, has carried out an investigation into the ancient legends of Ireland and their possible connection with Plato’s Atlantis. He points out that Ireland has the greatest number of legends relating to sunken cities and islands. He draws on the works of Egerton Sykes and Lewis Spence among others.
Ireland was also nominated by Thomas Dietrich as an early colony of Atlantis in The Origin of Culture.
Somewhat incongruously, the website of extremist, Dejan Lucic, has an extensive and fully referenced article entitled The Irish Origins of Civilisation(a), including not a few controversial sources such as, Comyns Beaumont, Ralph Ellis and John Gordon.
Around 2010 a father and son team Francis J.Ward & Francis P.Ward seeminglly published their first book The Truth Against the World-Red Phoenix Rising & the Return of the Thunder Gods, in which they express the view that “Atlantis was a global, maritime empire based in Ireland”.(c)
In 2013 Skender Hushi informed the world that Albanian had been the original language of Ireland and Atlantis! Another equally odd claim came from Zoltán Simon who proposed that the ancient Hun Calendar came from Ireland[0549.147]!
Evidence for the earliest humans in Ireland is now dated as 10,500 BC.(d)(e)
(a) http://www.dejanlucic.net/The_Irish_Origins_of_Civilization.html (offline Sept. 2014)