An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Sir Arthur Evans

Minoan Hypothesis

TheMinoan Hypothesis proposes an eastern Mediterranean origin for Plato’s Atlantis centred on the island of Thera and/or Crete. The term ‘Minoan’ was coined by the renowned archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans after the mythic king Minos. (Sir Arthur was the son of another well-known British archaeologist, Sir John Evans).*Evans thought that the Minoans had originated in Northern Egypt and came to Crete as refugees. However, recent genetic studies seem to indicate a European ancestry!*

It is MinoanWorldclaimed(a) that Minoan influence extendedas far as the Iberian Peninsula as early as 3000 BC and is reflected there by what is now known as the Los Millares Culture. Minoan artifacts have also been found in the North Sea, but it is not certain if they were brought there by Minoans themselves or by middlemen. The German ethnologist, Hans Peter Duerr, has a paper on these discoveries on the website(e). He claims that the Minoans reached the British Isles as well as the Frisian Islands where he found artifacts with some Linear A inscriptions near the site of the old trading town of Rungholt, destroyed by a flood in 1362(f).

The Hypothesis had it origin in 1872 when Louis Guillaume Figuier was the first to suggest[296] a link between the Theran explosion and Plato’s Atlantis. The 1883 devastating eruption of Krakatoa inspired Auguste Nicaise,  in an 1885 lecture(c) in Paris, to cite the destruction of Thera as an example of a civilisation being destroyed by a natural catastrophe, but without reference to Atlantis.

The Minoan Hypothesis proposes that the 2nd millennium BC eruption(s) of Thera brought about the destruction of Atlantis. K.T. Frost and James Baikie, in 1909 and 1910 respectively, outlined a case for identifying the Minoans with the Atlanteans, decades before the extent of the Theran eruption was fully appreciated by modern science.

As early as April 1909 media speculation was already linking the discoveries on Crete with Atlantis(h), in spite of Jowett’s highly sceptical opinion.

Supporters of a Minoan Atlantis suggest that when Plato wrote of Atlantis being greater than Libya and Asia he had mistranscribed meson(between)as meizon (greater), which arguably would make sense from an Egyptian perspective as Crete is between Libya and Asia, although it is more difficult to apply this interpretation to Thera which is further north and would be more correctly described as being between Athens and Asia. Thorwald C. Franke has now offered a more rational explanation for this disputed phrase when he pointed out[750.173] that “for Egyptians the world of their ‘traditional’ enemies was divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the ‘usual’ enemies, which was the case with the Sea Peoples’ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia put together”.

It has been ‘received wisdom’ that the Minoans were a peace-loving people, in fact Dr. Barry Molloy of Sheffield University has now shown that the exact opposite was true(d) and that “building on recent developments in the study of warfare in prehistoric societies, Molloy’s research reveals that war was in fact a defining characteristic of the Minoan society, and that warrior identity was one of the dominant expressions of male identity.”

In 1939 Spyridon Marinatos published, in Antiquity, his opinion that the eruption on Thera had led to the demise of the Minoan civilisation. However the editors forbade him to make any reference to Atlantis.

The greatest proponents of the Minoan Hypothesis were arguably A.G. Galanopoulos and Edward Bacon. Others, such as J.V. Luce and James Mavor were impressed by their arguments and even Jacques Cousteau explored the seas around Santorini, while Richard Mooney, the ‘ancient aliens’ writer, thought[0842] that the Minoan theory offered a credible solution to the Atlantis mystery.

Alain Moreau has expressed strong opposition to the Minoan Hypothesis in a rather caustic article(i), probably because it conflicts with his own support for an Atlantic location for Atlantis.

The hypothesis remains one of the most popular ideas with the general public although it conflicts with many elements in Plato’s story. A few examples of which are: where were the Pillars of Heracles? How could Crete/Thera support an army of one million men? Where were the Elephants? There is no evidence that Crete had walled cities such as Plato described. The Minoan ships were relatively light and did not require the huge harbours described in the Atlantis story.

Plato describes the Atlanteans as invading from their western base (Tim.25b & Crit.114c); Crete/Santorini are not west of either Egypt or Athens

Gavin Menzies has now become the standard bearer for the Minoan Hypothesis. In The Lost Empire of Atlantis[780] he argues for a vast Minoan Empire that spread throughout the Mediterranean and even discovered America (p.245). He goes further and claims that they were the exploiters of the vast Michigan copper reserves, which they floated down the Missssippi for processing before exporting it to feed the needs of the Mediterranean Bronze industry.

*Tassos Kafantaris has also linked the Minoans with the exploitation of the Michigan copper, in his paper, Minoan Colonies in America?(k) He claims to expand on the work of Menzies, Mariolakos and Kontaratos. Another Greek Professor, Minas Tsikritsis, also supports the idea of ancient Greek contact with America. However, I think it more likely that the Minoans obtained their copper from Cyprus, whose name, after all, comes from the Greek for copper.* Continue reading

Location Theories

Location Theories regarding Atlantis have identified sites all over the globe as can be seen below. In very general terms the 15th century saw three developments that were to lead to a renewed interest in Atlantis – the discovery of America, the first translation of the complete works of Plato by Ficino and the invention of the printing press. These saw a number of commentators offering their views on the location of Atlantis during the 16th century of which the majority favoured the Americas. Gradually the Americas gave way to an Atlantic location reaching a peak with the publication of Ignatius Donnelly’s famous work. Both the Americas and the Atlantic still have their proponents, although today reasoning rather than speculation is more evident.

Around 1900 Sir Arthur Evans was beginning to uncover the remains of the Minoan civilisation on Crete. Subsequently, in the same manner that the discovery of America led to the identification of the New World with Atlantis, when Evans revealed the glory of the civilisation that had existed on Crete, the early part of the 20th century saw the formulation of the Minoan Hypothesis, which linked Crete with Atlantis. This concept got a dramatic boost with the discovery of the 2nd millennium BC eruption of Thera and the possibility that it inspired aspects of Plato’s Atlantis narrative. This idea is still the most popular after nearly a century of both study and speculation.

Atlantis theories have proliferated but in general are more carefully and scientifically argued today. However, the work and reputation of serious atlantologists is frequently undermined by the ravings of occultists and mystics and their channelled gibberish. It should be obvious that if there was any communication with another plane of existence that by now we would have been told the location of Atlantis, but none has been forthcoming.

Non-specific clues to the location of Atlantis are the fact that most major cities are sited at the mouths of rivers and as the 2010 BBC documentary series How the Earth Made Us demonstrated, so many ancient civilisations developed close to tectonic fault lines because of the range of mineral wealth frequently found adjacent to them. However, fault lines are prone to earthquakes, a feature compatible with Plato’s description of Atlantis’ demise. In addition, the late Ulf Richter reasoned that the plain described by Plato was in fact a river delta. So it is probable that the capital of Atlantis was built on a river delta near a tectonic fault line.

A chronological list of theories and their authors is available here. I recently (2014) counted that a full 40% of those listedsupported an Atlantic location. However, as I demonstrate elsewhere ((5105)) the Atlantic ‘Sea’ referred to by Plato (Timaeus 24e, 25a & Critias 109a, 114a) could not have been the Atlantic Ocean that we know today.

While it may appear that recent years have seen a considerable increase in the number of people publicly expressing their views regarding the location of Atlantis, we must allow for two developments; the expansion of self-publishing and the use of the Internet. Unfortunately, this has led to a greater proliferation of nonsensical ideas about Atlantis alongside the more thoughtful and valuable contributions to the subject.

Crete (L)

Crete was until recently thought to have been first settled around 7000 BC. However, excavations at nine sites in 2008 and 2009 have revealed double-edged hand axes dated to “at least” 130,000 years ago. This discovery has suggested(a) that Stone Age man had developed seafaring abilities.

By general consensus Crete was known as Keftiu to the ancient Egyptians.

Sir Arthur Evans, knighted for his archaeological finds on Crete, excavated at Knossos from 1900-1905 leading to the discovery of the famous ‘palace’ there. Evans saw Knossos as an administrative centre although it had no defensive features, which might be expected. In the 1970’s Hans Georg Wunderlich (1928-1974) following the views of Oswald Spengler, proposed in The Secret of Crete[826] , that the ‘palace’ was in fact a mortuary temple. This idea has more recently been considered by the late Philip Coppens(c).

As early as 1910 the Rev. James Baikie suggested Crete as the location of Atlantis. A year earlier K.T. Frost outlined parallels between Atlantis and the Minoan empire. In the 1920’s Joseph McCabe a former Catholic priest was also comvinced that Crete was the location of Atlantis. More decades were to pass before Dr Angelos Galanopoulos developed the idea further[0263][0264]. There has been doubt that the decline of the Minoan civilisation in the 2nd millennium BC was linked with Theran explosion. Nevertheless, Bacon and Galanopoulos admit that a Minoan explanation for the Atlantis story ‘is correct in all points’ except date, dimensions and location of ‘Pillars’! Many commentators have added reasons to support the Minoan Hypothesis.


Crete3James Mavor records[265] how a stone was discovered on Thera with the name Eumelos inscribed on it in archaic Greek. However, it would be unwise to read too much into a single isolated object.

J. V. Luce lists a number of interesting similarities between Crete and Plato’s description of Atlantis[120].

*Atlantis was the way to other islands. This is an accurate description of Crete as the gateway to the Cyclades and Greece.

*The palace of the Atlantians is on a low hill 50 stadia inland and near to a fertile plain is a good description of Knossos.

*The description of the land fits perfectly with the southern coast of Crete.

*There were bulls hunted without weapons, which is characteristic of Minoan Crete.

*The construction of the buildings matches Knossos.

Rodney Castleden[0225] uses statistics to demonstrate that Minoan Crete was closer to Plato’s description of Atlantis than previously thought.

Marjorie Braymer[198] highlights the fact that the Cretan Mesara Plain is oblong in shape and one tenth of the dimensions of the plain mentioned by Plato. A fact that gains in importance if a tenfold exaggeration of the dimensions by Plato is accepted.

J. G. Bennett has gone further and argued strongly for a linkage of the destruction of Minoan civilisation, with the Flood of Deucalion, the Biblical Exodus and the obliteration of Plato’s Atlantis. Bennett quotes Plato’s Laws (705.15), which speaks of a significant migration from Crete, as evidence for a major catastrophe on the island.

In April 2004 a BBC Timewatch programme looked at a possible link between Crete and Atlantis focussing on evidence of ancient tsunami damage on the island that they linked to the eruption of Thera. This idea has been refuted by W. Shepard Baird who offers a pyroclastic surge as a more credible explanation(b). In 2010 the BBC broadcast another documentary supporting the Minoan Hypothesis, although not very convincingly in the opinion of this compiler.

On the other hand, Peter James points out that there is no connection in Greek mythology between Crete and Atlas. Further objections include the fact that no ancient canals have been found on Crete, the island did not sink and the failure of Plato to simply name Crete as the location of his Atlantis.

Recently Gavin Menzies has, unsuccesfully, in my view, attempted to breathe new life into the Minoan Hypothesis in The Lost Empire of Atlantis.

An even less impressive effort to support a Minoan Atlantis is a slender work  by Lee R. Kerr entitled Griffin Quest – Investigating Atlantis [807], who also published an equally useless sequel, Atlantis of the Minoans and Celts[1104].




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