Ophir is referred to in the Bible as a source of gold, silver, precious stones and exotic animals. King Solomon was reputed to have received a cargo of such goodies every three years, a detail which points to Ophir being a considerable distance from Israel.
The exact location of Ophir is the subject of continuing controversy. In broad terms the most popular regions suggested are, or have been, India(g) , Africa(f) and the Americas(a) , but they were not the only proposed locations, even Australia and the Solomon Islands were considered. Emilio Spedicato has opted for Tibet, where an ancient goldmine fits the bill, which he outlines in his paper entitled Ophir, It’s Location Unveiled.
There is also a claim that the Batanes Islands off the Northern Philippines held the site of Ophir(b) . Further west, Dhani Irwanto has claimed that Punt was also known as Ophir(d) and was situated on Sumatera (Sumatra) in Indonesia(c) . However, he went further and also located Atlantis in Indonesia in his book, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea . His chosen site is just north of Bawean Island in the Java Sea.
However, Irwanto was not the first to link Atlantis with Ophir, Theodore L. Urban was the author of a paper delivered to the Lancaster County Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1897. In it, he denied that Atlantis had been completely destroyed and argued that the biblical Ophir was in fact Atlantis, suggesting that it had been located in the Americas, which explained the three years that the round trip took(e).
Damien Mackey (1950- ) is an Australian writer who has written extensively on religious and historical matters. In April 2016 he devoted a blog(a) to the subject of Atlantis and its possible historical underpinnings as well as cultural borrowings from Old Testament sources. In this regard he echoes the views of J.D. Brady in comparing Plato’s Atlantis with Tyrus in the Bible’s Book of Ezekiel.
*Additionally, he suggests that Solon could be identified with biblical Solomon!(b)*
Tharros was an ancient city on the west coast of Sardinia. It was apparently founded by the Phoenicians, who built on top of an earlier nuraghic settlement. Tharros was first identified with Tarshish by W.W.Covey-Crump in The Journal of Theological Studies 17 (1916) (p.280-290). William F. Albright supported this view in his Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan.
While there is evidence that the Tarshish of Bible which supplied the silver referred to in Ezekiel (27.12), the majority view is that it was brought from Andalusia. However, Tharros is also a credible alternative as it had important silver mines close at hand highlighted by a town in the region named Argentiera.
Recent isotope analysis demonstrated that Solomon’s silver could have been brought from Spain or Sardinia(a).
Modern researchers, such as Federico Bardanzellu, have also opted for Tharros as Tarshish(b).
Solon (c.630- c.560 BC) was an Athenian archon (chief magistrate). His reputation rested on his legislative, social and monetary reforms, which contributed to an economic recovery and laid the foundation for the later emergence of democracy. Over time he was elevated to something akin to political sainthood, but not without some critics.
Although the story of Atlantis is normally attributed to Plato, the core of the narrative, namely the destruction of a powerful civilisation many thousands of years earlier, through flood, should in fact be credited to Solon, whose ‘notes’ provided the basis for Plato’s work, allegedly based on the content of conversations with Egyptian priests at Sais and Heliopolis. The very detailed descriptions of matters such as the history, topography and fauna of Atlantis are probably later additions by Plato. It is highly unlikely that the Egyptians would have been concerned with the recording of such minutiae relating to their former enemies.
Many commentators doubt that an actual note of Solon’s conversations with the Egyptian priests ever existed, even though in Plato’s Dialogues Critias claims that these were handed down to his relatives. However, here again we encounter a difficulty, in one place Critias [113b] states that he is still in possession of Solon’s notes, in another Timaeus [26a] he declares that he relies on his memory for details of the Atlantis story that his grandfather had told him and which he recited as a child, indicating that he was using two complementary sources.
It seems that it had been Solon’s intention to use the Atlantis story as the basis for an epic poem, apparently intended to rival the work of Homer. According to Plutarch it is possible that fear of failing in his ambition held him back!
The Life of Solon by Plutarch is available on the Internet(a).
*Damien Mackey has made a half-hearted attempt to identify Solon with the biblical Solomon! (b)*