The Richat Structure or Guelb er Richat in Mauritania was thought by many to be an impact crater until it was identified as a possible ‘salt dome’(a) . Some of the more enthusiastic supporters of the ‘Electric Universe’ school of thought have sought to identify the feature as the consequence of an electrical discharge.(e)
The concentric circles of which the structure is composed is clearly revealed by satellite imagery. However, these characteristics are not visible when walking across the structure. The consensus today is that the structure is a natural geological feature.
It did not take long before it was being compared to Plato’s description of Atlantis. However, Ulf Richter has pointed out that it is too wide (35 km), too elevated (400 metres) and too far from the sea (500 km) to be seriously considered as the location of Atlantis. Nevertheless, researchers such as Robert deMelo are still prepared consider it a possible location candidate(b) .
50 km west-southwest of Richat is a similar though smaller feature, the Semsiyat Dome, having a diameter of just 5 km.
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(g). His theory has been published in Greek, with an English translation now (2017) imminent.
In 2006 George S. Alexander and Natalis Rosen were struck bythe 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(c).
In 2013 further support for linking Atlantis with Richat came from Jose D.C. Hernandez with a rather convoluted theory in a paper entitled A Celestial Impact and Atlantis(f).
Towards the end of the 2018 media ‘silly season’, the YouTube channel Bright Insight made a pathetic attempt to breathe new life into the Atlantis in Sahara theory. However, it fails on one simple fact; it is not submerged, but for good measure, when Alexander and Rosen investigated the Richat Structure they could not produce a single piece of physical evidence from the 35 km wide site. Where was the bustling port described by Plato. I could go on, but remember, its not called the silly season without reason.
*Early November 2018 saw the British tabloid press give further coverage to Jimmy Bright’s ideas (i)(j). His theories are totally dependent on the destruction of Atlantis having occurred around twelve thousand years ago. He does not explain how an attack was launched from Mauritania on Athens which did not even exist at that time. Bright, like many others, need this very early date to explain why the Richat Structure is not under water today, but was gradually uplifted as a result of tectonic forces in the region. However, Plato clearly states that the submerged Atlantis was still a hazard to shipping in his day, a period when the Structure would have been at its present elevation. As no geologic event has occurred during the two and a half millennia since Plato, which could have raised the Structure from the seabed to an elevation of 400 metres 500 km from the Atlantic, we are obliged to give greater credence to the scientific conclusion that the Richat Structure is a natural feature.*
In Joining the Dots  and in Atlantipedia.ie I have consistently argued that proximity is an essential logistical requirement in order to achieve a successful invasion. This was particularly true in ancient times when all empires expanded through the invasion of neighbouring territories. The Richat Structure is many thousands of kilometers from Athens, so to suggest that an attack was launched from Mauretania on Greece is simply ludicrous.
Not unexpectedly, Jason Colavito has a few thoughts to add on this latest Atlantis in Sahara kerfuffle(h).
(b) http://www.gpofr.com/documents/2012Atlantis.pdf (offline October ’14)
The Plethrum is a Greek measurement of 100 Greek feet in length (101 English feet) as well as 10,000 sq.ft. in area. It and its plural, plethra, is used in four instances in Critias (115d, 116a, 116d and 118c).
It is interesting to note that in one case (118c) Plato found the dimensions of 10,000 stade ditch surrounding the plain of Atlantis as very hard to believe but felt obliged to record it out of deference to the reputation of his source, Solon. The text states that this ditch was dug by hand to a depth of a plethrum and a stade in width.
He was forced to make this suggestion because he recognised that the dimensions for the plain of Atlantis as recorded by Plato must have been exaggerated. However, when it came to the ditch which surrounded the plain he was also contented to accept that the stade width of the ditch was excessive but that the plethrum depth was acceptable because the clay banks would have been continually subject to slippage! Feasible, but for me, not totally convincing.
(a) http://www.black-sea-atlantis.com/richter.pdf (section 7)
Salt Domes are the result of large deposits of salts laid down millions of years ago and subsequently covered by layers of sediment that in time became stratified rock. Over time the deposits push upwards, as they are usually less dense than the overlying rock, creating domes. Erosion of these domes can produce a feature that has the appearance of a series of concentric circles. These domes can be many kilometres in diameter and in Kazakhstan have been numbered at 1,200.
Salt domes have been recently put forward as an explanation for the circular waterways of Atlantis, as described by Plato. Ulf Richter has proposed(a) that if one such dome had originally been overlaid with strata of varying hardness the effects of erosion could have produced a number of concentric depressions that could have been adapted as canals. Richter provides a diagram demonstrating the process and gave the Richat Structure in Mauretania as a good example of the process..
R(ich) McQuillen is an American investigator who has cogently argued for an Egyptian location for Atlantis. He has diligently gathered an impressive array of evidence from classical writers including Hellanicus, Solinus and Aeschylus to support his view and arranged the morass that is Greek mythology to construct a credible timeframe for the Atlantis narrative.
McQuillen places the Pillars of Heracles at Canopus, which was formerly in the Western Nile delta but is now submerged about 6.5km from the coast in the Bay of Aboukir. He is also of the opinion that the Egyptians used lunar ‘years’ rather than solar years bringing the backdrop to the Atlantis story into the 2nd millennium BC. McQuillen locates Atlantis at Pharos, which was near modern Alexandria. His website(a) is well worth a visit.
Extensive underwater excavations have been undertaken in recent years by Franck Goddio and his team with remarkable results(b).
It is also worth noting that the late Ulf Richter reasoned that a river delta was the most likely topographical setting for Atlantis.
Location Theories regarding Atlantis have identified sites all over the globe as can be seen below. In very general terms the 15th century saw three developments that were to lead to a renewed interest in Atlantis – the discovery of America, the first translation of the complete works of Plato by Ficino and the invention of the printing press. These saw a number of commentators offering their views on the location of Atlantis during the 16th century of which the majority favoured the Americas. Gradually the Americas gave way to an Atlantic location reaching a peak with the publication of Ignatius Donnelly’s famous work. Both the Americas and the Atlantic still have their proponents, although today reasoning rather than speculation is more evident.
Around 1900 Sir Arthur Evans was beginning to uncover the remains of the Minoan civilisation on Crete. Subsequently, in the same manner that the discovery of America led to the identification of the New World with Atlantis, when Evans revealed the glory of the civilisation that had existed on Crete, the early part of the 20th century saw the formulation of the Minoan Hypothesis, which linked Crete with Atlantis. This concept got a dramatic boost with the discovery of the 2nd millennium BC eruption of Thera and the possibility that it inspired aspects of Plato’s Atlantis narrative. This idea is still the most popular after nearly a century of both study and speculation.
Atlantis theories have proliferated but in general are more carefully and scientifically argued today. However, the work and reputation of serious atlantologists is frequently undermined by the ravings of occultists and mystics and their channelled gibberish. It should be obvious that if there was any communication with another plane of existence that by now we would have been told the location of Atlantis, but none has been forthcoming.
Non-specific clues to the location of Atlantis are the fact that most major cities are sited at the mouths of rivers and as the 2010 BBC documentary series How the Earth Made Us demonstrated, so many ancient civilisations developed close to tectonic fault lines because of the range of mineral wealth frequently found adjacent to them. However, fault lines are prone to earthquakes, a feature compatible with Plato’s description of Atlantis’ demise. In addition, the late Ulf Richter reasoned that the plain described by Plato was in fact a river delta. So it is probable that the capital of Atlantis was built on a river delta near a tectonic fault line.
A chronological list of theories and their authors is available here. I recently (2014) counted that a full 40% of those listedsupported an Atlantic location. However, as I demonstrate elsewhere ((5105)) the Atlantic ‘Sea’ referred to by Plato (Timaeus 24e, 25a & Critias 109a, 114a) could not have been the Atlantic Ocean that we know today.
While it may appear that recent years have seen a considerable increase in the number of people publicly expressing their views regarding the location of Atlantis, we must allow for two developments; the expansion of self-publishing and the use of the Internet. Unfortunately, this has led to a greater proliferation of nonsensical ideas about Atlantis alongside the more thoughtful and valuable contributions to the subject.
Axel Hausmann (1939-2014) was a German physics professor at the Technical University of Aachen. He had identified a circular underwater feature 20 miles due south of Syracuse in Sicily (36°45’N & 15°18’E) as the possible location of Plato’s city of Atlantis and south of that again existed the plain of Atlantis extending as far as Malta. He contended that Atlantis had an area of influence that stretched from Tunisia to Italy including Malta and Sicily. He erroneously claimed in a paper presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference to be the first to suggest the Central Mediterranean region as a runner in the Atlantis Stakes. However, he does appear to be the first scientist to promote the idea of a late breaching of a Gibraltar Dam leading to the inundation of Atlantis.
He dated the submergence of Atlantis to around 3500 BC, based on the assumption that Plato’s ‘years’ were Egyptian seasons (three per solar year). He perceived the remarkable megalithic temples on Malta & Gozo as the remnants of Atlantis and anticipated similar discoveries on Sicily.
In a paper delivered to the 2005 Atlantis Conference on Milos, Hausmann speculated that the famous cart-ruts of Malta were irrigation channels[629.356], ignoring the fact that they follow the natural undulations of the landscape, unless he thought that these Maltese Atlanteans found a way to make water flow uphill.
Hausmann has also followed the suggestion of the late Ulf Richter who argued that the linear measurements of Atlantis used the Egyptian khet (52m)as the unit of measurement rather than the Greek stade (175m).
Hausmann proposed that the survivors of the catastrophe migrated to Crete, Egypt and Syria where they provided the stimulus for the subsequent civilisations of Egypt, Minoan Crete and Sumer. He specifically identified the Phaistos Disk as possibly having been brought to Crete by Atlantean refugees and also presented a paper on this idea to the 2005 Atlantis Conference. He has written a number of books including a second volume more directly related to Atlantis, Atlantis – Die Versunkene Wiege der Kulturen (Atlantis-The Sunken Cradle of Culture).
The Geographical Dimensions of Atlantis were not fully recorded by Plato, except for a comment that its influence extended as far as Libya and Tyrrhenia. Initially the island of Atlantis was divided among the ten sons of mythical Poseidon and then over time it seems that they acquired other islands as well as some of the nearby continental mainland.
Plato’s descriptions and dimensions relate only to the capital of Atlantis that would appear to have been located on a large island, although this is not absolutely clear. Plato notes that a plain adjacent to the city was 2,000 x 3,000 stadia, (385 x 580 km or 240 x 360 miles). Ulf Richter argued that the unit of measurement employed was in fact the Egyptian khet, which would reduce Plato’s figures by a factor of 3.5, giving us more credible dimensions.
Although these measurements have been disputed as exaggerations resulting from a misinterpretation of the original Egyptian unit of measurement it must be pointed out that Plato also discusses the size of the Atlantean army which indicates a total of around a million men. Such a military force would have to be supported by a civilian population numbering many more millions. Such a figure could not be accommodated on a small island but would require a larger landmass with at least the dimensions recorded by Plato.
To confuse matters further Plato describes Atlantis as being greater (meizon) than Libya and Asia together. This led many Atlantis seekers to search for the remains of a very large island and were forced to assume that it could only have existed in the Atlantic, an idea refuted by modern geology. However, another more credible interpretation is that this refers to the power of Atlantis being greater than Libya and Asia combined.
Thorwald Franke points out that “For Egyptians the world of their “traditional” enemies divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the “usual” enemies of Egypt, which was the case with the Sea Peoples‘ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia put together”. If, what is likely, the statement “more powerful” in the Egyptian original had been expressed by the common word “wr”, then the mistake is explained: “wr” is “big” in its basic meaning, but it is widely used in a metaphorical way.
*I note that in a short article(a) in early 2016 and in The Destruction of Atlantis[102.82], Frank Joseph has now adopted Franke’s explanation. Unsurprisingly, Joseph does not credit Franke as the author of this elegant clarification.
(a) http://lost-origins.com/atlantis-no-lost-continent/ (offline Jan. 2018)*
The Concentric Rings or other architectural features extracted by artists from Plato’s description of the capital of Atlantis have continually 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.
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 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.
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, 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 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)*
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 superficial 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.
*(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)
(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)
The Atlantis Research Charter followed on from the 2005 Atlantis Conference in Melos. Some of the German participants including the late Ulf Richter, Christian & Siegfried Schoppe and Ulrich Hofmann decided to develop some basis for mutual cooperation. Thorwald C. Franke subsequently joined this group and provided the first draft of the Atlantis Research Charter. Unfortunately, the promoters of the Charter never developed beyond an informal association, due to a change in the research interests of some members and the untimely death of Ulf Richter.
The text of this charter is available on the Internet(a). Briefly, the charter aims to have the subject of Atlantis discussed from a scientific perspective as an open issue. The charter firmly rejects pseudoscience, dogmatism and abuse for political or religious ends.
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.
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.