Sir Arthur Evans
The Minoan 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 claimed(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 Academia.edu 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 German trading town of Rungholt, destroyed by a flood in 1362(f).
The advanced shipbuilding techniques of the Minoans are claimed are claimed to have been unmatched for around 3,500 years until the 1950’s(l).
The Hypothesis had it origin in 1872 when Louis Guillaume Figuier was the first to suggest 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. In 1917, Edwin Balch added further support to the Hypothesis.
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. In 1951, Wilhelm Brandenstein published a Minoan Atlantis theory, echoing many of Frost’s and Marinatos’ ideas, but giving little credit to either.
However, Colin MacDonald, an archaeologist at the British School in Athens, is of the opinion that “Thira’s eruption did not directly affect Knossos. No volcanic-induced earthquake or tsunami struck the palace which, in any case, is 100 meters above sea level.” The Sept. 2019 report(n) in Haaretz suggests it’s very possible the Minoans were taken over by another civilization and may have been attacked by the Mycenaeans, the first people to speak the Greek language and they flourished between 1650 B.C. and 1200 B.C. Archaeologists believe that the Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations gradually merged, with the Mycenaeans becoming dominant, leading to the shift in the language and writing system used in ancient Crete.
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 that the Minoan theory offered a credible solution to the Atlantis mystery. More recently Elias Stergakos has proposed in an overpriced 68-page book, that Atlantis was an alliance of Aegean islands that included the Minoans.
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.In more measured tones, Ronnie Watt has also dismissed a Minoan Atlantis, concluding that “Plato’s Atlantis happened to become like the Minoan civilisation on Theros rather than to be the Minoan civilisation on Theros.”
Further opposition to the Minoan Hypothesis came from R. Cedric Leonard, who has listed 18 objections(q) to the identification of the Minoans with Atlantis, keeping in mind that Leonard is a advocate of Atlantic location for Plato’s Island.
The Minoan 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.
Gavin Menzies has now attempted to become the standard bearer for the Minoan Hypothesis. In The Lost Empire of Atlantis 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 Mississippi for processing before exporting it to feed the needs of the Mediterranean Bronze industry. He also accepts Hans Peter Duerr’s evidence that the Minoans visited Germany regularly [p.207].
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 word for copper.
Frank Joseph has criticised[802.144] the promotion of the Minoan Hypothesis by Greek archaeologists as motivated by nationalism rather than genuine scientific enquiry. This seems to ignore the fact that Nicaise and Figuier were French, Frost, Baikie and Bacon were British, Luce was Irish and Mavor was American. Furthermore, as a former leading American Nazi, I find it ironic that Joseph is now preaching about the shortcomings of nationalism.
While the suggestion of an American connection may seem far-fetched, it would seem mundane when compared with a serious attempt to link the Minoans with the Japanese based on a study(o) of the possible language expressed by the Linear A script.>Gretchen Leonhardt(r) also sought a solution in the East, offering a proto-Japanese origin for the script, a theory refuted by Yurii Mosenkis(s), who promotes Minoan Linear A as proto-Greek. Mosenkis has published a number of papers on the Academia.edu website relating to Linear A(t). However, writing was not the only cultural similarity claimed to link the Minoans and the Japanese offered by Leonhardt.<
Furthermore, Crete has quite clearly not sunk beneath the waves. Henry Eichner commented, most tellingly, that if Plato’s Atlantis was a reference to Crete, why did he not just say so? After all, in regional terms, ‘it was just down the road’. The late Philip Coppens was also strongly opposed to the Minoan Hypothesis.(g)
Excavations on Thera have revealed very few bodies resulting from the 2nd millennium BC eruptions there.The understandable conclusion was that pre-eruption rumblings gave most of the inhabitants time to escape. Later, Therans founded a colony in Cyrene in North Africa, where you would expect that tales of the devastation would have been included in their folklore. However, Eumelos of Cyrene, originally a Theran, opted for the region of Malta as the remnants of Atlantis. How could he have been unaware of the history of his famous homeland?
A 2008 documentary, Sinking Atlantis, looked at the demise of the Minoan civilisation(b). There is also an interesting article from James Thomas, who has published an extensive study of the Bronze Age, with particular reference to the Sea Peoples and the Minoans(j).
More extreme is the theory of L. M. Dumizulu, who offers an afrocentric view of the Atlantis. He claims that Thera was part of Atlantis and that the Minoans were black!(m)
In February 2020, art historian and museum educator, Roger Dell, presented an illustrated lecture on the art and religion of the Minoans titled “How the Matriarchal Minoans Began Western Civilization; And Why They Disappeared,” which offered a new dimension to our understanding of their culture(p).
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 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.
There is a general consensus Crete was known as Keftiu by 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 , 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 convinced that Crete was the location of Atlantis. More decades were to pass before Dr Angelos Galanopoulos developed the idea further. 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.
*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 Atlanteans 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.
Marjorie Braymer 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,*even though it was well-known to the mainland Greeks.*
Recently Gavin Menzies has, unsuccessfully, 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 , who also published an equally useless sequel, Atlantis of the Minoans and Celts.
(c) http://www.philipcoppens.com/crete_dead.html (offline Mar. 2018 see Archive 2133)