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

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Joining The Dots


Joining The Dots

I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato's own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.


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Syracuse

Sweden

Sweden was claimed to be the location of Atlantis by Olaus (Olaf) Rudbeck in the 17th century. Before him another Swede, Johannes Bureus, expressed similar views. His friend Carl Lundius supported Rudbeck’s theories, but received none of the acclaim.

In the 18th century Carl Friedrich Baër was happy to follow a fashion, which placed Atlantis in the Holy Land. I am not aware of any major Swedish contribution to Atlantology in the 19th century.

The discovery of the Mid Atlantic Ridge led René Malaise and Hans Pettersson to suggest the Azores as remnants of Atlantis, an idea still popular today. Around the same time Gunnar Rudberg proposed that Syracuse in Sicily had inspired some of Plato’s description of Atlantis.

Arvid Högbom advocated the North Sea as the location of Atlantis in 1915, long before Jürgen Spanuth. In the same region Nils Bergquist opted for the Dogger Bank as has Ulf Erlingsson.

More recently, we seem to have come full circle as Bertil Falk has revived some of Rudbeck’s ideas(a) and a short illustrated 2007 paper (updated 2015)(b) by Robert Fritzius also added some additional modern support. However, for something quite different we have Carl Festin promoting a Mediterranean location.

(a) http://www.vof.se/folkvett/ar-1993/nr-4/platons-atlantis-diktning-som-tagits-pa-allvar/ (Swedish)

*(b) http://www.datasync.com/~rsf1/vel/atlantis.htm (offline Feb. 2018)*

Schmeck, Alfred E. (L)

Schmeck bookAlfred E. Schmeck (1934-2003) is a retired German engineer who proposed in a short (80-page) 2003 book[542] that Atlantis was merely an expression of Plato’s conception of a Utopian state. He contended that Syracuse in Sicily provided the geographical inspiration for the story.

Thorwald C. Franke has written a critique(a) of Schmeck’s theory.

(a) http://mysteria3000.de/magazin/schmeck-atlantis-platons-idealstaat/ (German)

Rudberg, Gunnar (L)

Gunnar Rudberg (1880-1954) was a Swedish professor of classical philology at the University of Kristiania. He is one of a number of writers who have identified ancient Syracuse in Sicily as the inspiration for Plato’s city of Atlantis[531]. His paper has been translated for the first time into English by Cecelia Murphy, the project being edited and funded by the German researcher Thorwald C. Franke[881]. The original was published in Swedish nearly a century ago in 1917.

Rudberg begins his work with a review and refutation of the more popular Atlantis theories of his day. As this paper was published less than 40 years after Donnelly’s seminal work, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World[021],  was written, much of the material will appear dated, particularly as many of today’s better known theories were still many years in the future.

Rudberg moves on to outline his own view that Plato, who had first-hand experience of Sicily, “when developing his portrayal of Atlantis, had the Dionysian’s Syracuse in mind” but added “I do not claim that this is an exhaustive explanation”.

In spite of the date of the original monograph, this English translation is a valuable addition, to the Atlantis literature of the early 20th century, in that language.

Franke has reported that the German magazine Focus, published an article on Rudberg’s views(a) in October 2013.

(a) http://www.focus.de/wissen/mensch/gastkolumnen/buelow/santorin-kreta-oder-doch-troja-wo-das-sagenumwobene-atlantis-wirklich-lag_aid_1124302.html  (German)

Concentric Rings

The Concentric Rings or other architectural features extracted by artists from Plato’s description of the capital of Atlantis have concentric circlescontinually fascinated students of the story and many have attempted to link them with similar ancient features found elsewhere in the world as evidence of a widespread culture. Stonehenge, Old Owstrey, Carthage and Syracuse have all been suggested, but such comparisons have never been convincing. Diaz-Montexano has recently published(a) an image of a fragment of pottery found near Seville in Spain that shows concentric circles and insists that it is a symbol of Atlantis. Ulf Erlingsson has made a similar claim regarding some concentric circles carved on a stone basin found at Newgrange in Ireland.

Less well-known are the concentric stone circles that are to be found on the island of Lampedusa in the Strait of Sicily(b).

In 1969 two commercial pilots, Robert Brush and Trigg Adams, photographed a series of large concentric circles in about three feet of water off the coast of Andros in the Bahamas. Estimates of the diameter of the circles range from 100 to 1,000 feet. Apparently, these rings are now covered by sand. It is hard to understand how such a feature in such very shallow water cannot be physically located and inspected. Richard Wingate in his book[0059] estimated the diameter at 1,000 yards. However, the rings described by Wingate were apparently on land, among Andros’ many swamps.

Two papers presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference on Melos describe how an asteroid impact could produce similar concentric rings, which if located close to a coast could be converted easily to a series of canals for seagoing vessels. The authors, Filippos Tsikalas, V.V. Shuvavlov and Stavros Papamarinopoulos gave examples of such multi-ringed concentric morphology resulting from asteroid impacts. Not only does their suggestion provide a rational explanation for the shape of the canals but would also explain the apparent over-engineering of those waterways.

At the same conference the late Ulf Richter presented his idea, which also suggests that the concentric rings around the centre of the Atlantis capital had a natural origin. Richter has proposed that the Atlantis rings were the result of the erosion of an elevated salt dome that had exposed alternating rings of hard and soft rock that could be adapted to provide the waterways described by Plato.

Georgeos Diaz-Montexano has suggested that the ancient city under modern Jaen in Andalusia, Spain had a concentric layout similar to Plato’s description of Atlantis. In August 2016 archaeologists from the University of Tübingen revealed the discovery(i) of a Copper Age, Bell Beaker People site 50km east of Valencina near Seville, where the complex included a series of concentric earthwork circles.

Gilgal refai'm

Perhaps of equal interest is the 5,000- year-old site of Gilgal Refaim, on the Golan Heights, currently occupied by Israel. It is remarkably similar to Plato’s description of the capital of Atlantis and could be easily claimed as a model of that city, perhaps with greater legitimacy than some other suggestions(a).

Jim Allen in his latest book, Atlantis and the Persian Empire[877], devotes a well illustrated chapter to a discussion of a number of ‘circular cities’ that existed in ancient Persia and which some commentators claim were the inspiration for Plato’s description of the city of Atlantis. These include the old city of Firuzabad which was divided into 20 sectors by radial spokes as well as Ecbatana and Susa, both noted by Herodotus to have had concentric walls. Understandably, Allen, who promotes the idea of Atlantis in the Andes, has pointed out that many sites on the Altiplano have hilltops surrounded by concentric walls. However, as he seems to realise that to definitively link any of these locations with Plato’s Atlantis a large dollop of speculation was required.

Rodney Castleden compared the layout of Syracuse in Sicily with Plato’s Atlantis noting that the main city “had seen a revolution in its defensive works, with the building of unparalleled lengths of circuit walls punctuated by numerous bastions and towers, displaying the city-state’s power and wealth. The three major districts of the city, Ortygia, Achradina and Tycha, were surrounded by three separate circuit walls; Ortygia itself had three concentric walls, a double wall around the edge and an inner citadel”.[225.179]

Dale Drinnon has an interesting article(d) on the ‘rondels’ of the central Danubian region, which number about 200. Some of these Neolithic features have a lot in common with Plato’s description of the port city of Atlantis. The ubiquity of circular archaeological structures at that time is now quite clear, but they do not demonstrate any relationship with Atlantis.

The late Marcello Cosci based his Atlantis location on his interpretation aerial images of circular features on Sherbro Island, but as far as I can ascertain this idea has gained little traction.

One of the most remarkable natural examples of concentric features is to be found in modern Mauritania and known as the Richat Structure or Guelb er Richat. It is such a striking example that it is not surprising that some researchers have tried to link it with Atlantis. Robert deMelo and Jose D.C. Hernandez(o) are two advocates along with George S. Alexander & Natalis Rosen who were struck by the similarity of the Richat feature with Plato’s description and decided to investigate on the ground. Instability in the region prevented this until late 2008 when they visited the site, gathering material for a movie. The film was then finalised and published on their then newly established website in 2010(l), where the one hour video in support of their thesis can be freely downloaded(m).

In 2008, George Sarantitis put forward the idea that the Richat Structure was the location of Atlantis, supporting his contention with an intensive reappraisal of the translation of Plato’s text(n). He developed this further in his Greek language 2010 book, The Apocalypse of a Myth[1470] with an English translation currently in preparation.

However, Ulf Richter has pointed out that Richat is too wide (35 km), too elevated (400metres) and too far from the sea (500 km) to be seriously considered as the location of Atlantis.

A dissertation by Oliver D.Smith has suggested(e) the ancient site of Sesklo in Greece as the location of Atlantis, citing its circularity as an important reason for the identification. However, there are no concentric walls, the site is too small and most importantly, it’s not submerged.*Smith later decided that the Atlantis story was a fabrication!(p)*

Brad Yoon has claimed that concentric circles are proof of the existence of Atlantis, an idea totally rejected by Jason Colavito(j).

In March 2015, the UK’s MailOnline published a generously illustrated article(g) concerning a number of sites with unexplained concentric circles in China’s Gobi Desert. The article also notes some Gobi Desertsuperficial similarities with Stonehenge. I will not be surprised if a member of lunatic fringe concocts an Atlantis theory based on these images. (see right)

This obsession with concentricity has now extended to the interpretation of ancient Scandinavian armoury in particular items such as the Herzsprung Shield(c).

In 2011 Shoji Yoshinori offered the suggestion that Stonehenge was a 1/24th scale model of Atlantis(f). He includes a fascinating image in the pdf.

For my part, I wish to question Plato’s description of the layout of Atlantis’ capital city with its vast and perfectly engineered concentric alternating bands of land and sea. This is highly improbable as the layout of cities is invariably determined by the natural topography of the land available to it(h). Plato is describing a city designed by and for a god and his wife and as such his audience would expect it to be perfect and Plato did not let them down. I am therefore suggesting that those passages have been concocted within the parameters of ‘artistic licence’ and should be treated as part of the mythological strand in the narrative, in the same way that we view the ‘reality’ of Clieto’s five sets of male twins or even the physical existence of Poseidon himself.

Furthermore, Plato was a follower of Pythagoras, who taught that nothing exists without a centre, around which it revolves(k). A concept which may have inspired him to include it in his description of Poseidon’s Atlantis.

(a)  http://www.dubroom.org/download/pdf/ebooks/barry_chamish_-_did_biblical_giants_build_the_circle_of_the_refaim.pdf

(b) http://www.megalithic-lampedusa.com/

(c) http://www.parzifal-ev.de/index.php?id=20

*(d) http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.ie/search/label/Rondels (link broken Aug. 2018) See: Archive 3595*

(e) http://academia.edu/3507001/Atlantis_as_Sesklo (now offline)

(f) http://www.pipi.jp/~exa/kodai/kaimei/stonehenge_is_small_atrantis_eng.pdf

(g) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3014736/China-s-Stonehenge-Gobi-Desert-Mysterious-rock-formations-used-worship-sun.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

(h) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150220142611.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ffossils_ruins%2Fancient_civilizations+%28Ancient+Civilizations+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

(i) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160809095145.htm

(j) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/rings-of-power-do-concentric-circles-prove-atlantis-real

(k) http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/EMAT6680Fa06/Hobgood/Pythagoras.html

(l) http://visitingatlantis.com/

(m) http://visitingatlantis.com/Movie.html (not responding Aug. 2017 – see Home Page)

(n) http://platoproject.gr/system-wheels/ http://platoproject.gr/page13.html (offline Nov.2015)

(o) http://blog.world-mysteries.com/science/a-celestial-impact-and-atlantis/ (item 11)

*(p) http://shimajournal.org/issues/v10n2/d.-Smith-Shima-v10n2.pdf*

Architecture of Atlantis (L)

The Architecture of Atlantis is described in such detail, that you can almost feel the ’buzz’ of a large maritime capital. We are left with the feeling that it is either the creation of a skilled writer or the report of an observant eyewitness. Once again, I am inclined to see it as an amalgam of both. Quite possibly the description is based on one of the models that have been suggested by some writers, such as Troy, Syracuse, Carthage or even Athens. In fact, elements from all these can be seen in Plato’s Atlantis.

The canals, bridges, watchtowers, warehouses and the acropolis, as described, would all have been within the experience of Plato or his associates.

H. R. Stahel a professional architect has published a book[560] illustrating the principal features of the city described by Plato.

Mention should be made of the dimensions ascribed by Plato to some of the architectural features of Atlantis, which appear to be exaggerated even for a sophisticated Late Bronze Age city. No matter how wealthy Atlantis may have been, the level of over-engineering suggested by Plato is not credible. However, Ulf Richter has recently provided a rational explanation for the apparently extravagant structures in the city by suggesting that the much shorter Egyptian khet rather than the Greek stade was the unit of measurement originally recorded by Solon.

For the record I should mention that the earliest prehistoric archictecture was reported in 2012(a) after the remains of 20,000 year-old  huts were discovered in Jordan.

(a) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031447

Allegory

An Allegory is the most common description offered by sceptics of Plato’s Atlantis story, eager to deny any historical value in the narrative. Parallels have been drawn with the Persian wars; Plato’s experiences in Syracuse and even more obtusely Alan Alford who proposed that “Atlantis – was an allegory for the myth of the creation of the Universe.”

Rand Flem-Ath quite reasonably argues that the idea of Atlantis as an allegory makes sense only if there is no realistic geographic explanation for Plato’s description of the site of the lost land. Consequently if an interpretation of the story can indicate a credible location and time for the destruction of Atlantis then the allegory theory is considerably weakened.

If the Atlantis mystery is ever finally resolved, I am inclined to think that it will be found that Plato used the prehistoric destruction of a powerful civilisation as a core to his story and wrapped it in the details of events closer to his own time presenting the entire account as a morality tale.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Plato’s ‘ideal state’ of Atlantis is claimed as the inspiration for both Sir Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ and St. Augustine’s ‘City of God’ among many others.

Franke, Thorwald C.

Thorwald C. Franke was born in 1971 in Konstanz in southwest Germany. He studied computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and now works as a software developer. Since 1999 he has been promoting the idea of Atlantis having been located in Sicily. He has written a paper, which makes the case for identifying Atlas with king Italos of the Sicels, who were one of the first tribes to inhabit Sicily, and gave their name to the island.

In October 2010 Franke announced that a part of his theory has weaknesses in it that require further research(f).

He is of the opinion that the war with the Atlanteans was recorded by the Egyptians as the conflict with the Sea Peoples of whom the Sicilians are generally accepted to have been part.

Franke has a well presented website(a), in English and German, where he cogently outlines his views. He has also written a lengthy, 23-page paper on the need for a classification of Atlantis theories . Even though this item is in German, English readers may find it quite interesting using their browser’s translator. Franke has also compiled an extensive list of Atlantis related websites(d) that he expanded further in a new format in October 2011.

His paper for the 2nd Atlantis Conference in Athens in 2008 is available on the Internet(c) in which he expanded on his Sicilian location for Atlantis.

Franke has also published a book, in German[300] that focussed on Herodotus’ contribution to the Atlantis question(p).*In the same paper, he dealt with the true meaning of the phrase in Timaeus 24e which tells us that Atlantis was ‘greater’ (meizon) than Asia and Libya combined, which he clarified as actually referring to their combined power rather than size. However, Franke proposed that the Egyptian word ‘wr’, whose primary meaning is ‘big’ and is sometimes used in a metaphorical  sense, may have influenced the wording of the Greek text

Then in a more recent (2010) book[706] regarding Aristotle and Atlantis, he disputes the generally perceived view that Aristotle did not accept the existence of Atlantis.

He builds his case on an 1816 misinterpretation by a French mathematician, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, of a 1587 commentary on Strabo’s Geographica by Isaac Casaubon. Combined with other evidence he has presented a case which removes the only prominent classical writer alleged to have apparently dismissed the existence of Atlantis. In late 2012 Franke published an English translation with the title of Aristotle and Atlantis[880]. Franke’s views regarding Aristotle have been well received and his book frequently cited, most recently by Dhani Irwanto in his Atlantis:The Lost City is in the Java Sea[1093.110].

Franke has now augmented his book on Aristotle with a YouTube video in English(l) and German(m).

2012 also saw the publication, by Franke, of the first English translation of Gunnar Rudberg’s 1917 monograph Atlantis och Syrakusai, now Atlantis and Syracuse[881]. This is a welcome addition to Atlantis literature in English. Students of the Atlantis mystery owe a debt of gratitude to Herr Franke.

In 2006, Franke published a paper outlining Wilhelm Brandenstein’s contribution to Atlantology which in 2013 he published in English(g).  This was followed by a translation(h) of his overview of the work of Massimo Pallattino, who had adopted some of Brandenstein’s approach to the Atlantis question.

On the 30st of May 2013 Franke announced(i) that his Atlantis Newsletter, which until now was only available in German, in future will also be published in English. Today he discusses the antics of extremist Atlantis sceptics and the abuse of Wikipedia. I encourage everyone to register and congratulate Thorwald on this development.

There is also a video clip available of Franke showing his library of Atlantis related books(e). 2017 has seen Franke produce a number of 30-minute videos, which readers will find informative. They are available in both German and English, (Just Google Plato’s Atlantis – Thorwald C. Franke – YouTube).

Franke has now (July 2013) revamped his website (http://www.atlantis-scout.de/)

More recently, July 2016 saw the publication, in German, of Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis[1255] (Critical history of the hypotheses on Plato’s Atlantis). This tome of nearly 600 pages will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to any serious researcher’s library. There is a promotional video, in German, to go with it(j). Hopefully, an English translation of the book will follow.

*In June 2018, Franke published a YouTube video in English(r) and German(s) highlighting the manner in which Plato’s 9,000 years have been alternatively accepted and then rejected many times over since the time of Plato. Franke proposes that the 9,000 years recorded by Plato was comparable with the accepted age of Egypt in his day, at 11,00 years. However, archaeology has demonstrated that Egypt was only 3,000 years old or less when Plato was alive, suggesting that the 9,000 should be reduced by a comparable amount to arrive at the real time of Atlantis.*

In his Newsletter No.90, Franke has highlighted that a small German right-wing group, Pro Deutschland’, has cited on their website the ‘superior civilisation’ of Atlantis in support of their extremist views.

Franke’s Newsletter No. 103 has now provided us with five parallel versions of the Atlantis texts(n), Two English; Jowett & Bury and Two German; Susemihl & Müller as well as a Greek text from the Scottish classicist John Burnet (1863 – 1928)[1492].

Franke’s Newsletter No.104 offers an overview of the difficulties involved in accepting Plato’s writings too literally(o). He gives particular attention to the 9,000 years claimed to have elapsed between the Atlanean War and Solon’s visit to Egypt.

*In November 2017, Franke published an uncompromising critique(q) of Stephen P. Kershaw’s recent book, A Brief History of Atlantis[1410].*

(a) http://www.thorwalds-internetseiten.de

(c) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_sicily.htm

(d) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlanlinks.htm

(e)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r2yDLEYfjA

(f) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/index_engl.htm

(g) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_brandenstein_engl.htm

(h) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_pallottino_engl.htm

(i) http://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm

(j) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1orj7aqdTo

(k) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_newsl_archive.htm

(l) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWb6IVNWFQ (English)

(m) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDG7a09xkZE (German)

(n) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis-timaeus-critias-synopsis.htm

(o) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis-historical-critical-engl.htm

(p) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/Franke_Herodotus_Atlantis2008_Proceedings.pdf

(q) https://www.atlantis-scout.de/kershaw-brief-history-atlantis-review-engl.htm

*(r) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2RlO_vhk8c

(s) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yb-24rxELnc*