Sprague de Camp
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, Ronnie Gallagher has written an important paper(b) supporting the concept (see fig.8).
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.
Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708) sometimes referred to as “the Father of Botany”, strayed from his chosen field when he suggested that Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic and that following an earthquake in the Mediterranean, the level of that sea rose causing an outflow into the Atlantic that swamped Atlantis. Sprague de Camp states that Tournefort got his idea from the Greek writer Strato of Lampsacus (c. 250 BC), who declared that the Black Sea had joined the Mediterranean when it overflowed into it and in a similar fashion the Mediterranean had joined the Atlantic.
Stel Pavlou (Atlantipedia.com) has traced Tournefort’s comments to the posthumously published Relation d’un voyage du Levant published in sets of two and three volumes. Kessinger has published a facsimile copy of volume 3 and the original French can also be read or downloaded from the Internet(a). An English translation was reportedly published in 1718.
The Chain of Transmissionof Plato’s tale to us today should be borne in mind when applying any interpretation to elements in the text available to us. We have absolutely no idea how many languages had to carry the story before it was inscribed on their ‘registers’ (Jowett) in Sais, assuming that aspect of the story to be true. The Egyptian priests translated this tale from the pillars for Solon, who then related the story to his friend Dropides who passed it on to his son the elder Critias who, at the age of ninety conveys it to his grandson, the younger Critias, aged nine. Critias then conveyed the tale to his nephew Plato. Platothen composed his Timaeus and Critias dialogues, which eventually reached us through a rather circuitous route.
*There are a number of versions of Plato’s family tree, Sprague de Camp records[194.324] three from ancient sources, Diogenes Laërtius, Iamblichus & Proclus, which have small variations. Some sceptics have sought to undermine the credibility of the Atlantis story by highlighting these differences and/or questioning whether the persons recorded by Plato adequately span the years between Solon and Platon. Some of the controversies stem from a number of family members, historical figures of that era and participants in the dialogues who share the same name.On the other hand, I would argue if the Atlantis narrative was just a concoction, I would expect Plato to also have invented a more watertight pedigree.*
Plato’s original writings were essentially lost to Western civilisation but for the efforts of Muslim scholars who preserved them until they eventually emerged in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, after they were brought from Constantinople in the century before its fall. In due course the texts were translated into Latin from those Greek versions, which are now lost.
Wilhelm Brandenstein suggested that Solon had combined two accounts, one from Egypt relating to the Sea Peoples and the other concerned a conflict between Athens and Crete(c). However, this is not convincing as it conflicts with too many other details in Plato’s narrative.
Wikipedia notes that ‘the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages did not have access to the works of Plato – nor the Greek to read them.’ Today there are only seven manuscripts of Plato’s work extant, the earliest of which dates to around 900 AD. It is unfortunate that the earliest versions of Plato’s work available to us are only Latin translations of the original Greek text.
Chalcidius undertook the first translation of Timaeus from Greek to Latin in the 3rd century AD. He translated the first 70% of the text from earlier Greek versions, now lost. The earliest translation of Plato’s complete works into Latin was by Marsilio Ficinoin the late 15th century. Janus Cornarius provided us with a Latin translation from earlier Greek sources, apparently different from those used by Ficino. A comparison of the partial Chalcidius and complete Ficino translations shows considerable divergences. The Ficino Latin text was in turn translated back into Greek at the Aldina Academy in Venice in the 16th century.
In chapter two of his History of Atlantis Lewis Spence has produced a version of the Atlantis texts that is an amalgam of various earlier translations ‘acceptable’ to him.
Diaz-Montexano has written, in his distinctive poor English, a short criticism(a) of the quality of medieval translations of Plato’s Timaeus and Critias that are the basis of the vernacular versions available today.
There are legitimate questions that can be raised regarding the accuracy of the text used by researchers and since some theories relating to Atlantis are often dependant on the precise meaning of particular words, this lack of an original text, leaves some doubt over the persuasiveness of individual hypotheses. It is highly improbable that current texts do not contain a variety of errors when we consider the number of links in the chain of transmission.
Many quotations from Plato’s text will have alphanumeric references, which are derived from the earliest printed edition of Plato’s works by the 16th century French scholar and printer, Henricus Stephanus; these show page numbers and the letters A-E at equal distances down each page. Although they bear no relationship to the natural breaks in the narrative, the majority of editions and translations now include them.
The entirety of Plato’s Dialogues is to be found on many sites on the Internet. However, I can highly recommend the Perseus website(b) where the works of most ancient authors can be found there in both English and their original languages. It has a number of valuable search tools for both the novice and seasoned student of Atlantology.
(a) http://antiquos.com/LA-Atlantida-de-Platon/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=65 (link broken 16/6/14)
*Brazil was arguably (re)discovered by the Pinzon brothers, before Columbus first reached the West Indies according to Steven Sora(g).*
Brazil has had few serious investigators propose it as the location of Atlantis. Although, in 1947 Harold T. Wilkins claimed[0363.97] that Quetzalcoatl was from Atlantean Brazil. Earlier in the 20th century, Col. P.H. Fawcett, the famous explorer, disappeared while searching in the Brazilian rain forest for a ‘lost city’ that he called ‘Z’. A 2009 book by David Grann entitled The Lost City of Z is soon to be the basis for a film. Sprague de Camp listed[0194.329] a George Lynch supporting a Brazilian Atlantis in 1925. In fact, Lynch was a fund-raiser for Fawcett.
However, although there is growing evidence of ancient roads, plazas and bridges in Brazil’s vast tropical forests, further data is needed before we can attempt to fit these structures into any specific culture or chronology.
An article(e) in the August 2017 of Antiquity offers evidence that humans lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago, which is many millennia before the Clovis people arrived in North America.
The possibility of Phoenician contact with Brazil has a number of supporters and a range of websites supports this controversial view(a). One such advocate, Ronald Barney, maintains that they concentrated their influence in the northeastern region of the country citing the work of Ludwig Schwennhagen and Apollinaire Frot(f).
May 2013 saw a flurry of media interest when a Japanese submersible found evidence in the form of granite suggesting of a previously unknown continental mass that sank about 900 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Members of the expedition have played down any attempt to link this discovery with Atlantis(b)(c).
This reminiscent of the reaction in 1931 when two islands were reported to have emerged from the sea off Brazil and within a short time, claims that they were a returning Atlantis were widely quoted(d).
Any suggestion that the land of Hy-Brasil in Irish mythology has any connection with Brazil or Atlantis is just speculation.
Col. Alexander Pavlovitch Braghine (1878-1942) is well known for his book on Atlantis, which he considers to have been the original homeland of many of the tribes of South America. He attributes the destruction of Atlantis to the consequences of at least one close encounter between Earth and Halley’s Comet, during the Holocene period, on 7th June 4015 BC. He maintains that this intrusion upset the orbits of Earth and Venus causing worldwide destruction. Many of Braghine’s catastrophist ideas are to be found in Immanuel Velikovsky’s later books without any reference to him. Braghine on the other hand was quite willing to acknowledge any use by him of other writer’s work. Some have explained Velikovsky’s omission as being the result of perceived racism on the part of Braghine.
Braghine in his The Shadow of Atlantis mentions a tribe of white-skinned ‘Indians’ called Paria in a region of Venezuela called Atlan. He claims that their legends refer to them having an original homeland beyond the ocean that had been destroyed in a terrible cataclysm. However I have been unable to find any other reference to this tribe apart from that of Frank Joseph who locates it in the Apure region between the Orinoco River and its tributary, the Apure. Braghine’s work was also published in French.*A few years earlier Richard O. Marsh published White Indians of Darien  in which he recounted his meeting with ‘white Indians’ in the remote jungles of Panama. However, claims of encounters with white Indians in Amazonia go back as far as the 16th century(a).When I saw some old photos (b) of these ‘white’ children, I was immediately struck by the fact that many were squinting and were suffering from albinism.*
Your compiler found Braghine’s book interesting and informative, although rather dated as it is now seventy years old. I could find no justification for deCamp’s condemnation of Braghine’s work.
Atalanta was a relatively insignificant island that according to Thucydides (II, 32) was “lying off the coast of Opuntian Locris”. The Athenians built a fort there in 431 BC and following an earthquake it suffered an inundation that caused serious loss of life and destruction of property (III, ChapXI par.89). The island is known today as Talandonisi. In this same area, North West of Athens, we have still the town of Atalanti and the Bay of Atalanti.
This report of the flooding of Atalanta is sometimes taken out of context by some supporters of Plato’s Atlantis and presented as a clear reference to it. This superficial interpretation does not stand up to scrutiny in terms of date, location, size, nor importance.
Others, such as Sprague de Camp, maintain that Plato’s Atlantis is pure fiction inspired by the destruction of Atalanta ‘in a single day’ by a flood following an earthquake. However, it would appear foolish to concoct a story such as that of Atlantis and base it on an inconsequential island, located only 50 miles from Athens, with a similar name, destroyed a few years previously and still expect it to be believed as true.
A similar Mycenaean city with a sunken harbour, tentatively named Korphos-Kalamianos on the Saronic Gulf, 60 miles south-west of Athens, has recently been excavated.
*[In 2014 work began on the exploration of another sunken Bronze Age coastal village at Kilada Bay, also in the Argolic Gulf. The team of Swiss and Greek archaeologists returned to the site in 2015, revealing their discoveries in August of that year(a).
Atalanta was also, according to some, the name of the only female among the Argonauts.
Rod C. Macay has worked as a science teacher and is now retired. He is also an artist and writer and lives in Nova Scotia. One of his works, Ancient Atlantic Crossings, deals with the subject of repeated early transatlantic crossings and in which he devotes the first chapter to a discussion on Atlantis. He freely quotes the well regarded sceptic, Sprague de Camp, although the tone of the chapter seems to support the reality of Atlantis. Commenting on the circular fortified settlements or raths of ancient Ireland, he notes that their design is reminiscent of the design of Atlantis’ capital.
Macay’s book can be read or downloaded online(a).