Santiago Genovés Tarazaga (1923-2013) was a Spanish anthropologist with a great interest in pre-Columbian Mexico. He was part of the Ra I and Ra II expeditions led by Thor Heyerdahl that crossed the Atlantic in a reed boat at the second attempt. He has written many books and essays on scientific subjects as well as a number of papers of literary criticism. But is probably best known for a joint paper with Romeo Hristov published in 2000 in Ancient Mesoamerica(a) in which they identified a terracotta figurine discovered in 1933 in Mexico as clearly Roman adding to the ever growing body of evidence for probable pre-Columbian trans-Atlantic contacts. The existence of such early oceanic travel is fundamental to a number of Atlantis related theories, particularly those that promote Egypt as a colony of a MesoAmerican Atlantis or where a mid-Atlantic Atlantis is claimed to have provided a stepping-stone between the Old and New Worlds.
Lixus is an ancient site on a hilltop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, north of the port of Larache on the Loukkos River between Rabat and Tangier in Morocco. Its topography has led some to favour it as a possible location for Atlantis. Jonas Bergman was a leading exponent of this idea but has recently(a) opted for a site further south between Rabat and Casablanca. Unsurprisingly, Frank Joseph has also claimed [108.111] an Atlantean connection for Lixus as well as Mogador, another ancient Moroccan port city situated further south.
It is generally accepted that it was a prehistoric seaport that the Carthaginian occupied around 800 BC, when they built on top of more ancient structures, so that its ruins today show three distinct cultural styles. On top are the most recent Roman remains, underneath which are Carthaginian and below that again a type reminiscent of the pre-Incan masonry in Peru. This lower style incorporates huge massive stones and the peculiar polygonal design found at Sacsahuaman and Andalusia in Spain. The explorer Thor Heyerdahl and the writer R. Cedric Leonard(b) have both remarked upon this feature. The question of how such unusual but similar types of masonry can be found on both sides of the Atlantic instantly leaps to mind.
Understandably, some have interpreted this as evidence of a transatlantic civilisation – Atlantis. If not, what are these strangely similar masonry styles doing on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean?
According to Dr. Gerald S. Hawkins(1928-2003), formerly of the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory, these lower megalithic walls are carefully aligned with the sun, noting that the earlier name for the city was Maqom Shemesh, or “City of the Sun” (Hawkins, 1973).
Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002)was not an advocate for any particular theory regarding Atlantis, except to state that in his view Plato’s text was more supportive of an Atlantic location rather than a Mediterranean one. However, in the same book, Early Man and the Ocean, he lists 53 cultural similarities between civilisations in Mesoamerica and those in the eastern Mediterranean. He did so in order to advance his belief in a diffusionist approach to the study of cultural development. His observations were not the first as parallels between cultures of both sides of the Atlantic were noted as soon as the Spanish invasion of America took place. Years earlier, Ignatius Donnelly,in the first attempt at a more scientific approach to the Atlantis question, drew up similar lists.
The existence of similarities between societies on the two landmasses is unquestionable; that there were ancient contacts between the two is more than probable, but it is not logical to view it as conclusive evidence of a mid-Atlantic location for Atlantis.
Many of Heyerdahl’s ideas came under attack, as outlined in a 2002 Smithsonian article(a).
The Canary Islands are situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco. They were (re)discovered in 1402 by Jean de Béthencourt (1362-1425). He found the fair skinned Guanches living on some of the islands. He described them as cave-dwellers. After overthrowing the local chiefs, de Béthancourt became King of the Canaries under King Henry III of Castile.
However, there has been widespread acceptance of the idea that the Berbers of North Africa has established the first populations on the islands. Recently (2019) published DNA studies have reinforced this concept, putting the arrival of the Berbers at around 1000 AD(h).
Pliny the Elder is frequently quoted to provide the etymology of the name, where he claims that it is derived from a species of large dog – canis in Latin – found there in ancient times. This derivation is disputed by the historian and arabist, Paul Lunde, who prefers the idea that the islands were named after an ancient people who lived on the opposite mainland and who now inhabit north-eastern Nigeria and are known today as the Kanuri. Pliny also records that the islands were uninhabited but had ancient ruined buildings when visited by the Carthaginians. Centuries later they were inhabited by a Berber people known as the Guanches who were finally conquered by the Spanish in the 15th century. When sea levels were lower during the last Ice Age, the land area of the islands would have been more extensive and possible claimant as the location of some or part of Plato’s empire of Atlantis.
Frank Joseph noted how the islands conform in many ways to Plato’s description of Atlantis. Natural hot and cold springs are to be found there, as are red, white and black rock, a combination also observed on the Azores. In the past the Canaries have been densely forested and also contain rivers and fertile plains that produce a variety of fruit.
In 1939 the Ahnenerbe, led by theologian turned archaeologist Otto Huth, planned to visit the Canaries to study Guanche mummies as part of their efforts to find the Aryan homeland and locate Atlantis. However, the outbreak of war postponed their trip, but the Spanish dictator, General Franco, at the behest of his Nazi mentors appointed his archaeologist friend Julio Martinez Santa Olalla to carry out investigations on their behalf. A paper(c) by Professor Francisco Gracia Alonso and a recent book by author and journalist Jaime Rubio Rosales explore the whole subject of the Spanish links with the Ahnenerbe.
In the 2nd century AD, the Greek astronomer and geographer Ptolemy suggested that the prime meridian should be located through the Canaries, then known as the Fortunate Islands.
The earliest suggestion of a connection between the Canaries and Atlantis was proposed by Athanasius Kircher in 1664, referring to the Guanches as the last Atlanteans and the islands as the remains of Plato’s lost land.
Ignatius Donnelly, who did so much to kick-start modern interest in Atlantis, considered that the Canaries, Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde Islands were its remnants. However, a newspaper report from 1899(g) refers back to a local cleric and historian, José Viera y Claviejo, who proposed around the beginning of 19th century that the Canaries, the Azores and Madeira were remnants of Atlantis, nearly a century before Donnelly.
Gilbert De Jong is a Dutch landscape designer with an interest in investigating the mysteries of our ancient past. His contention is that Atlantis was located at El Fuerte – in the Canary Islands.
A website dealing with a variety of British and World mysteries(d) has a series of papers on Atlantis and reluctantly considers the Canaries as the most likely location of Plato’s lost land.
Thor Heyerdahl inspected the pyramids at Guimar and was convinced of their ceremonial use in ancient times(b).The late Philip Coppens also wrote an article(e) on these structures. A 2015 article(f) can now be added to this list.
(e) http://www.philipcoppens.com/nap_art12.html (offline March 2018) See Archive 2142)