Seafaring and Atlantis are inextricably linked. Critias 117d anachronistically refers to the shipyards of Atlantis being full of triremes, which were not developed until the 7th century BC, long after the demise of Atlantis. However, the term ‘trireme’ was probably employed by Plato in order to make his narrative more relevant to his audience. He credits the Atlantean navy of 1200 ships, which seems like a borrowing and rounding of either the Achaean fleet (1186) in Homer’s Iliad or that of the Persian invaders (1207).
Seldom referred to, but perhaps even more interesting is to be found earlier in Critias 113e which reads “for at that time neither ships nor sailing were as yet in existence” in reference to the origins of Atlantis. However, we are given little information to bridge the time up to its development as a major trading entity. It is reasonable to assume a gap of several thousand years.
Recent studies(a) have suggested that primitive seafaring took place in the Mediterranean thousands of years earlier than originally thought and may even have been engaged in by Homo Erectus and Neanderthals in the form of island hopping and coast hugging, the latter continuing into historical times.
Plato’s describes an advanced maritime trading nation with a powerful naval capacity. How much was part of the original story brought from Egypt by Solon or if it was in any way embellished by Plato is unclear. The earliest known trading empire is that of the Minoans which began in the 3rd millennium BC and has led to many identifying them with the Atlanteans. However, there are very many other details in Plato’s narrative that seriously conflict with this hypothesis.
Thalassocracy is a term frequently applied to Atlantis as many readers will know. At its simplest it is applied to nations whose wealth is derived from naval supremacy. Other early thalassocracies were the Minoans and the Phoenicians.
Plato describes the busy shipyards full of triremes and their equipment (Critias 117d). While the use of the word ‘triremes’ may be an anachronism it was probably introduced as the easiest way to impress his audience. However, triremes were warships but Critias 117e refers to the commercial harbour which “was filled with ships and merchants from all quarters”. All this would seem to indicate an important trading nation backed by powerful naval support.
Some commentators have commented on the apparent conflict between Critias 117 with its description of a naval power and Critias 113e which relates that “at that time neither ships nor sailing were as yet in existence”. However, the context makes it quite clear that the 113e refers to the time of the foundation of Atlantis which may have been during the Late Stone Age, while 117 refers to the Bronze Age.
Sea Level Changes. Recent years have seen the production of ever more detailed data relating to sea level changes following the last Ice Age. In 2006 researchers discovered that the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska was created around 9000 BC, a thousand years earlier than previously thought.
Such changes could have had a direct bearing on the Atlantis mystery, particularly if Plato’s assertion that its inundation took place 9600 BC is true, as this would place the event at the end of the last Ice Age and the melting of the glaciers with the consequent raising of level of the oceans. Although we are usually given the impression that this deglaciation progressed steadily it would appear that in reality the process continued at different rates and was at times temporarily reversed.
Recent studies(f) have clearly indicated that aboriginal Australians have preserved memories of the rising sea level at the end of the last Ice Age.
A 2000 report(c) from Dr. Robert Baker and Professor Peter G.Flood from the University of New England in New South Wales, suggests that 4,000 years ago sea levels “may have been up to two metres higher than at present, and that sea levels have risen and fallen like a roller coaster over the last 6,000 years.” I would expect that sealevels two metres higher around 2000 BC would have left archaeological evidence on a global scale. Until that is forthcoming, I would treat this claim with caution.
Estimates of the total change in sea levels vary between 300 and 500 ft. The most recent studies have estimated the rate of sea level rise at an average of one metre per century punctuated by occasional increased rates of 2.5 metres per century(a). To complicate the picture further, many areas in northern latitudes that had been depressed by the weight of the enormous ice sheets of the last Ice Age, rose considerably as a result of isostatic rebound when the glaciers melted.
There is general agreement that the raising of the sea levels had dramatic consequences worldwide. Vast landmasses, such as Sundaland, the Celtic Shelf, and in the Caribbean were totally or partially submerged, leaving many of today’s islands as remnants. Communities that had flourished in these regions during the last Ice Age must have been devastated and naturally led to the generation of myths recalling their former glory. Atlantis is assumed to be one such legend with a firm basis in reality.
Other, more controversial effects have also been proposed, such as the breaching of a landbridge that had existed between Spain and North Africa at Gibraltar and/or a similar isthmus between Sicily and Tunisia. James Bramwell reports that in the 1930’s geologists spoke freely of the breaching of a Gibraltar dam around 15,000 years ago. More recently, writers such as Joseph S. Ellul, Sergio Frau and Paulino Zamarro have convincingly based their Atlantis theories on this concept. The Mediterranean sea level is discussed elsewhere.
Other writers have proposed an asteroidal or cometary impact as the cause of catastrophic flooding, but such inundations would have receded fairly rapidly. In the end we are left with the ending of the last Ice Age as the primary cause of profound changes in the topography of our planet that probably included the submergence of one civilisation that we now refer to as Atlantis.
However, Plato introduces another detail into his Atlantis narrative, namely that following the submergence of Atlantis it created a maritime hazard in the form of shoals. Plato wrote that “wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal of mud which the island created as it settled down.” (Timaeus 25d). The implication of this is that the shoals still existed in either Solon’s or Plato’s lifetime. We must also keep in mind that the draft of ships, such as triremes, at that time was about a metre. The attached chart shows how between 5000BC and the present, the rate of sea level has been relatively slow. Even allowing for any local seismic, tectonic or isostatic activity I would interpret the data to suggest two important facts; first, the flooding of Atlantis could not have taken place before 5000BC and still be a hazard in the first millennium BC and secondly if it occurred after 5000BC Atlantis must be still in shallow water.
Kurt Lambeck has demonstrated from a study of Roman fish pens that the sea level along the Italian coast, 2000 years ago, was 1.35 metres below today’s levels. His investigations also included a study of land elevations along the coast that may have been affected by seismic or tectonic processes and found that they had raised the land by 1.22 metres, indicating that global sea levels had risen by just 13cm over the past two millennia, most of which has occurred over the past century(d)! Lambeck’s conclusions have been severely criticised by Izabol Apulia(e).
Furthermore, if the destruction took place before 5000BC then either Solon or Plato concocted the description of the shoals, which would have no purpose whatsoever!
Sealevel changes in the Gulf of Mexico are discussed in an online pdf file(b). In the same region, there is now claimed to be evidence(g) that sea levels were perhaps lower during the last Ice Age.
(b) http://www.gly.fsu.edu/~donoghue/pdf/donoghue-climatic-change.pdf (offline April 2015)
(c) http://www.abc.net.au/quantum/stories/s112352.htm (offline April 2015)
(e) http://mapmistress.blog.com/timescale/(offline April 2015) See Archive 2566
Frank Joseph (1944- ) or more correctly Francis Joseph Collin, was born in Chicago. His father was Max Simon Cohen, who is said to have spent time in Dachau concentration camp. Incredibly, in the late seventies Frank Joseph was leader of the American Nazi Party.In 1981 Joseph was arrested and convicted of molesting young boys. He was released after serving three of a seven year sentence (a)(b).
Since his release, he has established himself as an author, writing a number of books on Atlantis and Diffusionism[102–108] . He has emphasised at length the enormous quantities of copper mined in ancient times in North America that he maintains were brought to Europe to feed the demand there for bronze making. He maintains that this is clear evidence of trading contacts between the Old and New Worlds in prehistoric times. Among his more unusual claims are that Noah was an Atlantean and that the Trojan War just part of the conflict with the Sea Peoples.
One of Joseph’s early books, Edgar Cayce’s Atlantis and Lemuria, was heavily criticised in some quarters(e)including an accusation of including in the book a ‘heavily retouched’ photo of the underwater Yonaguni site.
In Joseph’s The Destruction of Atlantis he dates that event to 1198 BC quoting such sources as the Ipuwer Papyrus and temple inscriptions at Medinet Habu.
He then claims that eight years later the Atlanteans re-emerged as the Meshwesh, one of the Sea Peoples, attacked Egypt and were defeated by Ramses III . The authoritative D’Amato & Salimbeti have identified the Meshwesh as possibly being a tribe related to the Libyans [1152.8].
The author concurs with others that the catastrophe was triggered by an impact from a comet/asteroid in the region of the Mid Atlantic Ridge. Joseph supports an Atlantis located in the Atlantic of which the Canary Islands and Azores(g) among its remnants. He draws attention to the fact that The Laws by Plato also refers to the ‘Great Deluge’. In the same book Joseph returns to his hobbyhorse of the huge amounts of copper mined in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in prehistoric times. He is convinced that Atlanteans carried out this massive extraction and transported it to the east to feed the emerging Bronze Age. This book is useful for someone coming to the subject for the first time but it contains little that new and is really just a reworking of existing material.
His next offering was promoted as an encyclopaedia of Atlantis related references, yet it omits any mention of many of the leading theories and their promoters, which is not what you would expect from a serious work on the subject. He followed this with Survivors of Atlantis, a sequel to The Destruction of Atlantis, which focuses on four global catastrophes linked to the cyclical return of a comet, which led to the destruction of Atlantis and the subsequent dispersal of its survivors and their influence on the cultures of their adopted homelands. As usual he returns to the mystery of the Michigan copper mines, but covers a wide range of global prehistory speculating on possible links with Atlantis. Unlike its prequel, ‘Survivors’ does not include an index.
For a number of years, Joseph was editor-in-chief of Ancient American magazine(c), owned by Wayne May, a Mormon, whose church has a vested interest in demonstrating the existence of early, advanced pre-Columbian peoples in America. A one-hour lecture given by Joseph in 1997 is available on YouTube(h), in which he outlines a number of very early pre-Columbian contacts between West Africa, particularly Mali and the Americas that led to the giant stone heads being carved by the Olmecs.
In 2008 Joseph published Unearthing Ancient America in which he revisits the pre-Columbian remains of North America. As usual he denounces orthodox archaeologists as a means to bolster his own extreme ideas. For example “Louisiana’s Poverty Point, the ‘oldest city in North America’, is a dead-ringer for Plato’s description of Atlantis…[108.178]”
With his book The Opening of the Ark of the Covenant Joseph moved into slightly different territory, linking the Ark with Atlantis and the Templars. Joseph co-authored this book with Laura Beaudoin who claims to be a descendant of the founder of the Knights Templar in Jerusalem.
Not one to miss an opportunity, the prolific Mr. Joseph then jumped on the 2012 bandwagon with the publication of Atlantis and 2012. As the world did not end, Joseph revised this book and republished it as Atlantis and the Coming Ice Age in 2015. An excerpt is available online(i).
April 2012 saw Joseph editor of Lost Worlds of Ancient America which is an anthology of articles describing various pre-Columbian visitors from both east and west. It also includes a suggestion that the Bahamas had the landmass to match Plato’s description of Atlantis. Jason Colavito, a well known sceptic, has written an extensive and highly critical review(f) of this collection of articles culled from the Ancient American magazine. While the book has little to do with Atlantis, Colavito’s comments cast doubts on Joseph’s credibility as well as that of the other contributors.
Before Atlantis was published by Joseph in 2013, in it he focuses on the ‘aquatic ape theory’(k) and the existence of ‘pre-human cultures’ going back 20 million years. Atlantis plays a minor part in this offering and it is probable that it is only in the title to assist sales! In May 2017, we have a report(l) of pre-human remains dated to 7.2 million years ago being discovered in the Balkans. How Joseph can apply the term ‘culture’ to such primitive creatures is hard to understand.
Joseph then followed ‘Lost Worlds’ with Lost Colonies of Ancient America in 2014, receiving rave reviews on Amazon, while Bradley T. Lepper(j) cites Larry Zimmermann(n), an archaeologist from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who offered a different view in the July/Oct 2015 edition of American Antiquity.
In 2014, Joseph republished Atlantis and Other Lost Worlds as a paperback and a Kindle book. which is just a recycling of some of his earlier material and adds nothing of value. His reliance on speculation rather than evidence has not diminished. While his conjecture is bad enough, his misquoting of Plato is unforgivable. One example is his claim that Atlantis had 14,400 naval personnel, for 1,200 ships, which would mean that each ship had only a crew of just 12! The only ships mentioned by Plato were triremes, which had a crew of 200(m). What Plato actually said (Critias 119a-b) was that in time of war each of the managers of the 60,000 allotments on the plain of Atlantis, had to supply four men for naval duty, which amounts to a total of 240,000 and matches the number of men required for 1200 triremes. This is just one of a number of similar errors in that passage. However, the same book also sets a record for the number of mistakes that Joseph managed to squeeze into a single sentence. At this point, I decided to look back at all my references to Joseph’s work and was shocked to find that he has been consistently guilty of at least sloppy research, if not dishonesty, and for me, must therefore be considered unreliable.
I was recently perusing the Kindle version of Atlantis and Other Lost Worlds and discovered a number of obvious inaccuracies. For example, Joseph refers to a G.R.Corli as a French astronomer, whereas in fact his name was Carli and he was born in Capodistria, formerly Italian, but now part of Slovenia (loc.2511). Joseph claims that Carli believed that a fragment of a comet had hit the Earth, when, in fact, he had only postulated that a close encounter with a comet had occurred.
He added a ‘d’ to Edgerton Sykes name (loc. 2543, 3573) and removed the ‘e’ from that of Arthur C. Clarke (loc.2783).
His section on the Atlantean Army and population(loc.312) is full of numerical errors. He has the whole population of Atlantis at over one million, whereas Plato tells us that on their own, the Atlantean armed forces totalled around a million, including 480,000 foot soldiers, 120,000 horsemen, 160,000 manning the 10,000 heavy chariots and 60,000 light chariots, and 240,000 sailors. From this, Otto Muck extrapolated a total population of between 20 and 40 millions for Atlantis. Joseph proposes that the 1,200 Atlantean ships were serviced and manned by 14,400 men (just twelve each). However, the triremes referred to by Plato, each required a crew of 140 rowers!
Joseph ends the book with a Bibliography, but heads it Biography!
This book was clearly not proof-read and its research slipshod. Unfortunately, this does not appear to have been an isolated example. I therefore decided to review all Atlantipedia entries that referred to Frank Joseph.
Amber is not exclusive to the Baltic and can be found in the Americas, Lebanon, Siberia, Australia and Japan. A highly prized blue amber is to be found in the Dominican Republic. Frank Joseph in an effort to support his speculations regarding mythical Electra claims[0636.109] that the Atlantic islands of the Azores, Madeira and the Canaries are one of the two major sources of amber. This is blatantly untrue, as revealed in a comprehensive website(a) by Susie Ward Aber, a mineralogist at Emporia State University, Kansas. Amber sources worldwide are listed, but nothing in the Atlantic. Mr. Joseph has, once again, some explaining to do.
However, there is also another trend becoming more obvious, which is that there are an increasing number of instances, particularly on the internet, of the Ark of the Covenant being linked to Atlantis. There is, of course, no evidence ever offered to support such speculation. One of the most recent of these is Opening the Ark of the Covenant, co-authored by the inventive Frank Joseph, where he traces the Ark back to Atlantis. There are probably few people that don’t accept that the Ark had been a real artefact, while many doubt the reality of Atlantis. It is possible that by linking the two, the authors hope to achieve credibility transference from one to the other!
In his Atlantis Encyclopedia, Frank Joseph has suggested[104.33] that Atalya or Atalia was, through time, transformed into Italy, adding that Atalia means ‘Land of Atlas’. This entry has been copied on a number of websites. However, the etymology of ‘Italy’ is not clear, but the most common proposal is that “Latin Italia may derive from Oscan víteliú, meaning “[land] of young cattle” (from Latin vitulus “calf”, Umbrian vitlu), via Greek transmission (evidenced in the loss of initial digamma). The bull was a symbol of the southern Italic tribes”. In passing I should mention that Plato tells us that the Atlanteans who controlled southern Italy as far as Tyrrhenia also had a bull cult.
The following excerpt from a paper entitled Atlantis and the Great Pyramid from the July/August 2006 edition of Atlantis Rising magazine. “They (the Egyptians) somehow foresaw some inevitable celestial catastrophe with a potential for extraordinary destructiveness. As the object’s orbit began to noticeably decay, ground-observers concluded that an impact with our planet was unavoidable, and began to prepare for the event by constructing a device that would bolster earth’s ionosphere, thereby deflecting the course of the falling object. The pyramid builders erected their geo-transducer because they understood that the earth was periodically endangered by recurring cycles of celestial bombardments. The Great Pyramid was built to guard against future collisions from outer space.”
The Balearic Islands of the Western Mediterranean were not occupied until around 2200 BC. Although the two larger islands of Majorca and Minorca have many megalithic monuments, principally taulas and talayots, they have not, so far, been part of any Atlantis location theory. The only mention that I can find is the unsubstantiated claim by Frank Joseph[0104.66] that the early settlers were invaders from Atlantis.
Frank Joseph erroneously claims[0108.117] that the only known ‘Cerne’ was Cerne Abbas in England, the site of the famous naked giant carved into the chalk. There is certainly no suggestion of any Amazon invasion there and the physique of the giant was certainly never matched by even the most butch Amazon. There is also the island of Cerne of the west coast of Africa and mentioned in the voyage of Hanno. Furthermore, Cerne is mentioned by Diodorus Siculus (iii.54) and considered by some to be the Tunisian island of Kerkennah. Clearly, there was more than one Cerne known in our ancient past and so, not for the first time, Joseph is blatantly wrong.
Joseph also proposed that copper was the foundation for the wealth of Atlantis. He is convinced that there is evidence of enormous copper mining activities in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula around 1000 BC. He refers to these miners as Atlanteans and maintains that the extracted copper was brought to the Mediterranean, as he claims that there is no trace of it in North America. Joseph offers no real evidence.
Frank Joseph incorrectly claimed in the July/August 2011 issue of Atlantis Rising magazine that DeCamp “formerly a staunch disbeliever in Atlantis, was later convinced it did indeed exist in south-coastal Iberia.” No evidence offered for this wild claim.
Frank Joseph echoed others with the idea that “the Etruscans were themselves nothing more than the late Atlanteans who colonised western Italy, so their surviving material culture offers us a glimpse of Atlantis at is cultural height.”[0636.21] This is an odd claim as Plato twice, unambiguously, placed Tuscany (Tyrhennia) beyond Atlantean control (Tim.25b & Crit.114c).
Evaemon (Euaemon) is the name of one of the fourth pair (with Ampheres) of twins who became the first kings of Atlantis. Frank Joseph identifies Euaemon with the ‘pre-Celtic’ king of Ireland, Eremon! This is somewhat incorrect as the Milesians are generally accepted as having been Celtic, with Eremon being one of eight Milesian brothers who invaded Ireland from Spain and defeated the Tuatha dé Danaan.
I found more of Joseph’s entries relating to Ireland that were, for me, particularly annoying. The first was his entry in his Encyclopedia for ‘crannóg’ where he attempts to link it with a sunken city. Crannógs are small artificial islands built in lakes for defensive purposes. When abandoned they usually became covered in small trees. The word is derived from the Irish word crann that means a tree, while óg means young or small. There are many such crannógs to be found among the numerous lakes of County Leitrim where I live. My second gripe is the entry ‘Tir-nan-Og’, which should in fact be ‘Tir na nÓg’ which means Land of Youth, implying land of perpetual youth. There is no connection with Og or Ogygia. I respectfully suggest that Frank Joseph and anyone else should tread more warily when trying to link similar sounding words from different languages.
Frank Joseph has related speculative ideas claiming that “the early date for New Grange, its circular construction, sophisticated solar orientation and mythic tradition all point to Atlantean origins.” [0636.70] A nonsensical conclusion based on nothing but his fertile imagination
Frank Joseph erroneously claims that Plato could not have been influenced by the Helike disaster, because according to Joseph the Atlantis dialogues were written 25 years before the obliteration of Helike[1074.14], when in fact Plato wrote his last dialogues about 25 years after the demise of Helike.
Lemmings are small rodents that primarily live in northern regions. Early zoologists and the more gullible readers assumed that the creatures have been seen committing mass suicide in an attempt to find their ancient homeland, Atlantis. Unfortunately, Frank Joseph[0102.51], among others, has chosen to perpetuate this canard. It should be obvious that if Atlantis had been destroyed 12,000 years ago, as Joseph claims, the lemmings should have all died out millennia ago due to their alleged destructive homing instinct.
Frank Joseph contends[0636.42] that the Phaistos Disk was ‘a sophisticated astrological chart’ and ‘is an example of Atlantean Bronze Age technology’.
Christopher Volpe records that in 1906, Alexander Strath-Gordon founded the Atlantean Research Society, in East Orange, New Jersey. This date conflicts with the foundation date of 1928 proposed by Frank Joseph. A book published by Strath-Gordon in 1934 confirms the 1906 date on its cover and records him as the founder and life president of the Atlantean Research Society.
In view of the above, it quite reasonable to classify Frank Joseph as unreliable.
(i) See: Archive 2627
The Atlantean Navy consisted of 1,200 ships, according to Plato. Such a fleet would be totally unnecessary unless your potential enemies had a similar force. It is worth noting that that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data. Homer records that the Achaean fleet consisted of 1,186 ships, a number that could be naturally rounded up to 1,200 – a coincidence?
Similarly, Herodotus records that the Persians had a fleet of 1,207 triremes at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). It is a further remarkable coincidence that of all the military statistics recorded by Plato, the only number that is not an exact thousand, relates to the size of the Atlantean fleet. A number that is the rounded value of the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War and the Persian fleet which attacked Athens just 50 years before Plato was born. It is not improbable that 1,200 was used in this isolated instance as a representation of the ultimate in naval power at that time! A website that reviews the classical sources relating to the Persian fleet in greater detail is available(c).
Since conventional archaeology identifies the Bronze Age Greeks and the Phoenicians in the Eastern Mediterranean as possessors of the earliest navies, the possibility of a naval force of such a great size 9600 BC is considered improbable if not completely impossible. Recent discoveries on Cyprus have provided evidence of primative seafaring in the region as early as 12,000 years ago. However, it appears that occasional travellers from Turkey and Syria who utilised crude stone tools arrived there in rather small boats. We are therefore forced to conclude that Plato’s reference to a powerful navy supporting an extensive merchant fleet is either a heavy embellishment of a real story regarding a prehistoric civilisation or an allusion to an actual Bronze Age thalassocracy.
An interesting series of illustrated articles(a) on ancient ships offers a useful background for the study of the Atlantean Navy.
Plato describes the Atlanteans as using triremes which is quite improbable as they were probably not developed until around the 7th century BC(b). It is more likely that Plato used the term trireme to make his narrative more relevant to his Greek audience.
America as the home of Atlantis took off as an idea shortly after its discovery (or perhaps more correctly, rediscovery) by Columbus. Initially, reports sent back to Europe designated America as ‘Paradise’
until its identification as Atlantis quickly took hold. John Dee in the time of Elizabeth I was convinced that the newly discovered Americas were in fact Atlantis, an idea endorsed by Francis Bacon. The first time that America was so named on a map was on the 1507(c) Waldseemüller map, sometimes referred to as “America’s birth certificate.” A rare copy of this map was recently found in Germany(e).
As late as 1700, a map of the world by Edward Wells was published in Oxford that highlights the paucity of information regarding the Americas at that time. However in this instance the accompanying text notes that “this continent with the adjoining islands is generally supposed to have been anciently unknown though there are not wanting some, who will have even the continent itself to be no other than the Insula Atlantis of the ancients.”
For over five centuries a variety of commentators have associated Atlantis with America and many of its ancient cultures together with a range of location theories that stretch from Maine through the Caribbean and Central America to Argentina.
Although most proponents of an American Atlantis, particularly following the continent’s discovery, did not specify a location, but were happy to consider the Americas in their entirety as Plato’s lost land.
Over time attention was more focused on Mesoamerica and the northern region of South America, where the impressive remains of the Maya and Incas led many to consider them to be Atlantean.
North America received minimal attention until the 19th century, when an 1873 newspaper report(i) claimed that there was support from unnamed scientists for locating remnants of Atlantis in the Adirondacks and some of the mountains of Maine! More recently Dennis Brooks has advocated Tampa Bay, Florida, while John Saxer supports Tarpon Springs, also in Florida as Atlantean. To confuse matters further, Mary Sutherland locates Atlantis in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and for good measure suggests that King Solomon’s mines are to be found in the same region!
For example, the discovery of the remains of the remarkable cultures of Mesoamerica generated speculation on the possibility of an Atlantean connection there. This view gained further support with the publication of Ignatius Donnelly’s groundbreaking work on Atlantis.
Some have seen an Atlantic location for Atlantis as a conduit between the culture of ancient Egypt and that of Meso-America(d).
Half a century ago Nicolai Zhirov claimed that Plato had knowledge of America[458.22] indicated by his statement that Atlantis was in a sea with a continent encompassing it. He thought that this was the earliest record of a continent beyond the Atlantic.
However, Plato also said that Atlantis was surrounded ‘on all sides’ by this continent, which is not compatible with the Azores, advocated by Zhirov as the location of Plato’s sunken island. In an effort to strengthen this claim Zhirov also claims that there is evidence that King Sargon of Akkad travelled to America in the middle of the third millennium BC, an idea that has gained little traction.
The idea of Sumerians in America was promoted by A.H. Verrill and his wife Ruth, who claimed that King Sargon travelled to Peru, where he was known as Viracocha. The Verrills support their contention with a range of cultural, linguistic and architectural similarities between the Sumerians and the Peruvians.
More recently, Andrew Collins has promoted the idea of Atlantis in the Caribbean, specifically Cuba. Followers of Edgar Cayce are still expecting the Bahamas to yield evidence of Plato’s island. Gene Matlock supports the idea of a Mexican location with an Indian connection, while Duane McCullough opts for Guatemala. Ivar Zapp and George Erikson have also chosen Central America for investigation. Further south Jim Allen has argued strongly for Atlantis having been located on the Altiplano of Bolivia. A website entitled American Atlantis Research from Edward Alexander , now offline, was rather weak on content and irritatingly referred to the ‘Andies’.
Although much of what has been written about an American location for Atlantis is the result of serious research, it all falls far short of convincing me that the Atlantis of which Plato wrote is to be found there. No evidence has been produced to even hint that any American culture had control of the Mediterranean as far Tyrrhenia in the north and Libya in the south. No remains or carvings of triremes or chariots have been found in the Americas. How could an ancient civilisation from America launch an attack across the Atlantic and at the furthest end of the Mediterranean 9,000 or even 900 years before Solon? An even more important question is, why would they bother? There is no evidence of either motive, means or opportunity for an attack from that direction.
A number of Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis would seem to rule out America as its location.
(a) As mentioned above, the ‘opposite continent’ referred to by Plato (Timaeus 25a) is described as encompassing the sea in which Atlantis lay. America cannot be described as enclosing the Atlantic.
(b) The Greeks only knew of three continents, Europe, Asia and Libya. Armin Wolf, the German historian, when writing about Scheria relates(f) that “Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria (southern Italy) they say they are going to the “continente.” I suggest that Plato used the term in a similar fashion and was quite possibly referring to that same part of Italy which later became known as ‘Magna Graecia’. Robert Fox in The Inner Sea[1168.141] confirms that this long-standing usage of ‘continent’ refers to Italy.
(c) Herodotus described Sardinia as “the biggest island in the world” (Hist.6.2). In fact Sicily is marginally larger but as islands were measured in those days (Felice Vinci) by the length of their coastal perimeter Herodotus was correct. Consequently, it can be argued that since Cuba and Hispaniola are much more extensive than Sardinia, the Greeks had no knowledge of the Caribbean.
(d) Plato makes frequent reference to horses in Atlantis. The city itself had a track for horseracing (Critias 117c). The Atlanteans had thousands of chariots (Critias 119a). The Atlanteans even had horse baths (Critias 117b). All these references make no sense if Plato was describing an American Atlantis as there were no horses there for over 12,000 years, when they died out, until brought back by the Spaniards millennia later. Furthermore, it makes even less sense if you subscribe to the early date (9600 BC) for Atlantis as it is thousands of years before we have any evidence for the domestication of the horse, anywhere.
A recent study of worldwide DNA patterns suggests that “no more than 70 people inhabited North America 14,000 years ago.”(b) But a more important claim has been offered by Professors Jennifer Raff and Deborah Bolnick who have co-authored a paper offering evidence(J) that the genetic data only supports a migration from Siberia to America. This certainly runs counter to any suggestion of transatlantic migration from Europe.
A 2013 book, L’America dimenticata, by Italian physicist and philologist Lucio Russo, claims that the ancient Greeks had knowledge of America and it was gradually forgotten because of mistakes made by Ptolemy including a 15 degree error for the latitude of the Canaries(g).
While there is extensive debate regarding the Americas being visited by ancient Greeks (Minoans), Phoenicians and even Sumerians, there seems little doubt that America had been visited by various other peoples prior to Columbus such as Welsh, Vikings or Irish. The case for the latter is strengthened by a 500-year-old report(h) of a long-established Irish colony in North America called Duhare.
*America as Atlantis and the source of freemasonry knowledge was recently repackaged in a brief article on the Odyssey website(k) quoting Manly P. Hall who in turn cited Plato and Sir Francis Bacon. It then proceeds to speculate on what lessons the story of this original American Atlantis offers the America of today!*
(h) http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.ie/2014/03/490-year-old-spanish-documents-describe.html (link broken August 2018) See: Archive 2843
A Shoal of mud is stated by Plato (Tim.25d) to mark the location of where Atlantis ‘settled’. Plato describes these shallows in the present tense, clearly implying that they were still a maritime hindrance in Plato’s day.
Three of the most popular translations clearly indicate this:
….the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.
…..the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal of mud which the island created as it settled down.”
…..the sea in that area is to this day impassible to navigation, which is hindered by mud just below the surface, the remains of the sunken island.
Since it is probable that Atlantis was destroyed around a thousand years or more before Solon’s Egyptian sojourn, to have continued as a hazard for such a period suggests a location that was little affected by currents or tides. The latter would seem to offer support for a Mediterranean Atlantis as that sea enjoys negligible tidal changes, as can be seen from the chart below. The darkest shade of blue indicates the areas of minimal tidal effect.
If Plato was correct in stating that Atlantis was submerged in a single day and that it was still close to the water’s surface in his own day, its destruction must have taken place a relatively short time before since the slowly rising sea levels would eventually have deepened the waters covering the remains of Atlantis to the point where they would not pose any danger to shipping. The triremes of Plato’s time had an estimated draught of about a metre so that the shallows must have had a depth that was less than that.
The reference to mud shoal resulting from an earthquake brings to mind the possibility of liquefaction. This perhaps what happened to the two submerged ancient cities close to modern Alexandria. Their remains lie nine metres under the surface of the Mediterranean.
Our knowledge of sea level changes over the past two and a half millennia should enable us to roughly estimate all possible locations in the Mediterranean where the depth of water of any submerged remains would have been a metre or less in the time of Plato.
The tidal map above offers two areas west of Athens and Egypt that do appear to be credible location regions, namely, (1) from the Balearic Islands, south to North Africa and (2) , a more credible straddling the Strait of Sicily. This region offers additional features, making it much more compatible with Plato’s account.
By contrast, just over a hundred miles south from that Strait, lies the Gulf of Gabés, which boasts the greatest tidal range (max 8 ft) within the Mediterranean.
The Gulf of Gabes formerly known as Syrtis Minor and the larger Gulf of Sidra to the east previously known as Syrtis Major, were greatly feared by ancient mariners and continue to be very dangerous today because of the shifting sandbanks created by tides in the area.
There are two principal ancient texts that possibly support the gulfs of Syrtis as the location of Plato’s ‘shoal’. The first is from Apollonius of Rhodes who was a 3rd century BC librarian at Alexandria. In his Argonautica (Bk IV ii 1228-1250)(a) he unequivocally speaks of the dangerous shoals in the Gulf of Syrtis. The second source is the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27 13-18) written three centuries later, which describes how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on “Syrtis sands.” However, good fortune was with them and after fourteen days they landed on Malta. The Maltese claim regarding St. Paul is rivalled by that of the Croatian island of Mljet as well Argostoli on the Greek island of Cephalonia. Even more radical is the convincing evidence offered by Kenneth Humphreys to demonstrate that the Pauline story is an invention(b).
Both the Strait of Sicily and the Gulf of Gabes have been included in a number of Atlantis theories. The Strait and the Gulf were seen as part of a larger landmass that included Sicily according to Butavand, Arecchi and Sarantitis who named the Gulf of Gabes as the location of the Pillars of Heracles. Many commentators such as Frau, Rapisarda and Lilliu have designated the Strait of Sicily as the ‘Pillars’, while in the centre of the Strait we have Malta with its own Atlantis claims.
Zhirov[458.25] tried to explain away the ‘shoals’ as just pumice-stone, frequently found in large quantities after volcanic eruptions. However, Plato records an earthquake not an eruption and Zhirov did not explain how the pumice-stone was still a hazard many hundreds of years after the event. Although pumice can float for years, it will eventually sink(c). It was reported that pumice rafts associated with the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa were found floating up to 20 years after that event. Zhirov’s theory does not hold water (no pun intended) apart from which, Atlantis was destroyed as a result of an earthquake. not a volcanic eruption and I think that the shoals described by Plato were more likely to have been created by liquefaction and could have endured for centuries.