Professor Richard Freund is the latest academic to enter the Atlantis debate. Freund is a rabbi and the director of the Greenberg Centre for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. He is the author of Digging Through the Bible in which he recounts his experiences excavating in the Middle East.
Freund ‘led’ (see below) an expedition of Spanish, American and Canadian scientists in 2009 and 2010 to investigate satellite the images of the Doñana Marshes, showing circular and rectangular features, discovered by Werner Wickboldt in 2003. National Geographic have included the findings of the expedition in a 2011 documentary entitled Finding Atlantis(a).
Another documentary, along with a transcript, which also ‘stars’ Freund, entitled “Atlantis – The Lost City” is available(e). Freund has also inveigled his way in to the 2017 National Geographic documentary, Atlantis Rising.
Frank Joseph, the former leader of the American Nazi Party, probably jealous of the media coverage that Rabbi Freund got, following the 2011 documentary, disputed Freund’s conclusions in an article in the Atlantis Rising magazine Number 88.
Freund believes that these structures discovered at Doñana are related to Atlantis/Tarshish. Freund has pointed out that the large amounts of methane emanating from the site suggests that only a tsunami could have suddenly trapped the large quantities of organic matter required to generate that quantity of methane!
However, a more sober view is presented by by Juan Villarias-Robles, a Spanish anthropologist working with the Spanish team investigating the Doñana site. He recounts(b) how Professor Freund spent less than a week on the site and was not the leader of the Hinojos Project.
*“Richard Freund was a newcomer to our project and appeared to be involved in his own very controversial issue concerning King Solomon’s search for ivory and gold in Tartessos, the well documented settlement in the Donaña area established in the first millennium BC.
He became involved in what we were doing and provided funding for probes through his connections with National Geographic and Associated Producers.
He left and the film company told us the documentary would be finished in April or May. But we did not hear from him and are very surprised it has appeared so soon and makes such fanciful claims.”(b)*
With regard to the features identified by Wickboldt, Villarias-Robles explains that so far anything found has been smaller than anticipated or dated to the Muslim period. He declares that no remains of Tartessos or Atlantis have been found. Equally moderate are the comments of archaeologist Philip Reeder from the University of South Florida, who is also unconvinced that Atlantis has been found(c).
Furthermore, the respected Greek historian Ephorus described Tartessos in his day (4th century BC) as still being a rich source of tin, copper and gold(d). Since he wrote this long after Solon’s visit to Egypt, and even longer since the sinking of Atlantis, it would appear to rule out identifying Atlantis with Tartessos.
Freund also believes that the Phoenicians were descendants of the Atlanteans. No doubt these contentious claims will be explored in greater detail in his book Digging Through History: From Atlantis to the Holocaust.
The Doñana Marshes, a National Park in the valley of the Andalusian Guadalquivir River was linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer. During the 1920’s George Bonsor and Adolph Schulten searched the area for evidence of Tartessos. After that interest in the marshes waned until a few years ago when Werner Wickboldt identified circular and rectangular features in the Park from satellite images, which he claimed a possibly Atlantean.
Richard Freund, a professor from the University of Hartford, claims to have led a team to study the area and has had work included in a March 2011 National Geographic documentary, Finding Atlantis. However, Spanish anthropologist Juan Villarias-Robles who has worked on the site for some years has declared that Freund did not lead the investigations on the site and in fact spent less than a week there. Wickboldt’s images turned out to be either smaller than expected or were from the Muslim period. Evidence for Tartessos or Atlantis has not been found.
(b) http://blogs.courant.com/roger_catlin_tv_eye/2011/03/muddying-up-atlantis.html (offline: June 2016) see Archive 2122
The Stade was an ancient Greek measurement of distance. The origins of the stade are not totally clear. One opinion claims that at first it was the distance covered by a plough before turning. Later it was the length of a foot race in a Greek Stadion (Roman Stadium) or 157 meters. A number of ‘standard’ stadia existed in various city states of ancient Greece ranging from 157 to 211 meters.
*Some commentators have treated the stade as a synonym for the British ‘furlong’ (one eight a mile or 220yards – approximately 201 metres), which was an old Anglo-Saxon measure for a ‘long furrow’.*
Most commentators on Plato’s Atlantis seem to accept a value of 185 metres (607 feet) to the stade. Thorwald C.Franke argues for a value of 176 metres – ” It is confusing: The building called “stadion” had been 185 meters, but the measure “stadion” not. We can conclude that the Athenians once had a shorter building, but decided to build a bigger building in later times. It is the same story for the “stadion” of other cities.” (private correspondence)
Jim Allen who is the leading advocate for a Bolivian location for Atlantis has used a value for the stade that is half the conventionally accepted 185 metres. He bases this on the fact that the ancient South Americans used a base of 20 rather than 10 for counting. He offers an interesting article with impressive images on his website(a) in support of his contention.
Dr. Rainer Kühne, who recently publicised that a site in Andalusia, identified by Werner Wickboldt from satellite photos, suggested that Plato used a stade that was probably 20% longer than what is normally accepted, since the dimensions of the Spanish site are greater than those given in Plato’s text. This idea is not satisfactory as so many other dimensions of the city’s features already suggest over-engineering on a colossal scale. To add a further 20% would be even more ridiculous.
If the dimensions of Atlantis did originate on the pillars in the temple at Sais, the unit of measurement used was probably Egyptian (or Atlantean) and so their exact value must be open to question. The values given by Plato relating to Atlantis have long been ammunition for sceptics. They argue that Plato’s topographical data suggests either a degree of over engineering that was improbable in the Bronze Age or impossible in the Stone Age and must, therefore, be a fantasy.
The late Ulf Richter has recently proposed a simple solution to this problem(b), namely that the unit of measurement originally recorded was the Egyptian Khet. This was equivalent to 52.4 metres or approximately 3.5 times less than the value of the stade. The acceptance of this rational explanation removes one of the great objections to veracity of the Atlantis narrative.
Dr. Rainer Walter Kühne was born in Braunschweig, Germany in 1970 and has a PhD in Physics (Dortmund 2001). He has proposed a modification of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), which predicts a second kind of photon (’magnetic photon’) and a second kind of light (’magnetic photon rays’). He has also offered evidence for the existence of a rotating universe. He lectured in the Institute of Physics at Dortmund University.
Kühne had studied Plato’s Atlantis story and concluded that many of its elements are fictional although based on three historical but unconnected sources. For example, on the basis of Plato’s description of the Acropolis at the time of the ‘Atlantean’ war that it can be dated to around 1200 BC, not 9600 BC. He linked the Atlantean war with the invasion of the ‘Sea Peoples’ recorded by the Egyptians and locates Atlantis in Andalusia in Southern Spain and places its capital in the valley of the Guadalquivir, south of Seville. Satellite photos of this same area have recently revealed rectangular structures surrounded by parts of concentric circles with dimensions similar to Plato’s description of Atlantis. Werner Wickboldt, a teacher, who lives in Braunschweig (Kühne’s birthplace) announced the discovery of these features on January 8th 2003. These structures include a rectangle of size 180 meters x 90 meters (Temple of Poseidon?) and a square of length 180 meters (Temple of Poseidon and Cleito?). Concentric circles surround these two rectangular structures, so that the site closely resembles Plato’s description of the Atlantean capital. However, the dimensions of this location are approximately 20% larger than Plato’s figures, so Kühne has suggested that the unit of measurement used by Plato, the stade, may have been greater than usually accepted.
It was a surprise to many when, in their June 2004 edition, the highly respected journal Antiquity published details of this discovery and Kühne’s interpretation(a).
An outline of Kühne’s theories, in English, is also available on the Internet(c).
(a) http://antiquity.ac.uk/ProjGall/kuhne/ (if offline, see Archive 2081)
Andalusia is the second largest of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. It is situated in the south of the country with Seville as its capital, which was earlier known as Spal when occupied by the Phoenicians.
Andalusia probably takes its name from the Arabic al-andalus – the land of the Vandals. Joaquin Vallvé Bermejo (1929-2011) was a Spanish historian and Arabist, who wrote; “Arabic texts offering the first mentions of the island of Al-Andalus and the sea of al-Andalus become extraordinarily clear if we substitute these expressions with ‘Atlantis’ or ‘Atlantic’.”
Andalusia has been identified by a number of investigators as the home of Atlantis. It appears that the earliest proponents of this idea were José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar and Johannes van Gorp in the 17th century. This view was echoed in the 19th century by the historian Francisco Fernández y Gonzáles and subsequently by his son Juan Fernandez Amador de los Riosin 1919. A decade later Mrs E. M. Whishaw published the results of her extensive investigations in the region, particularly in and around Seville. In 1984, Katherine Folliot endorsed this Andalusian location for Atlantis in her book, Atlantis Revisited.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos has added his authoritative voice to the claim for an Andalusian Atlantis in a 2010 paper(a) delivered to the 12th International Congress of the Geological Society of Greece. He argues that the Andalusian Plain matches the Plain of Atlantis but Plato clearly describes a plain that was 3,000 stadia long and 2,000 stadia wide and even if the unit of measurement was different, the ratio of length to breadth does not match the Andalusian Plain. Furthermore, Plato describes the mountains to the north of the Plain of Atlantis as being “more numerous, higher and more beautiful” than all others. The Sierra Morena to the north of Andalusia does not fit this description. The Sierra Nevada to the south is rather more impressive, but in that region the most magnificent are the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. As well as that Plato clearly states (Critias 118b) that the Plain of Atlantis faced south while the Andalusian Plain faces west!
During the same period, the German, Adolf Schulten who also spent many years excavating in the area, was also convinced that evidence for Atlantis was to be found in Andalusia. He identified Atlantis with the legendary Tartessos.
Dr. Rainer W. Kuhne supports the idea that the invasion of the ‘Sea Peoples’ was linked to the war with Atlantis, recorded by the Egyptians and he locates Atlantis in Andalusiain southern Spain, placing its capital in the valley of the Guadalquivir, south of Seville. In 2003, Werner Wickboldt, a German teacher, declared that he had examined satellite photos of this region and detected structures that very closely resemble those described by Plato in Atlantis. In June 2004, AntiquityVol. 78 No. 300 published an article(b) by Dr. Kuhne highlighting Wickboldt’s interpretation of the satellite photos of the area. This article was widely quoted throughout the world’s press. Their chosen site, the Doñana Marshes were linked with Atlantis over 400 years ago by José Pellicer. Kühne also offers additional information on the background to the excavation(e).
However, excavations on the ground revealed that the features identified by Wickboldt’s were smaller than anticipated and were from the Muslim Period. Local archaeologists have been working on the site for years until renowned self-publicist Richard Freund arrived on the scene, and spent less than a week there, but subsequently ‘allowed’ the media to describe him as leading the excavations.
Although most attention has been focussed on western end of the region, a 2015 theory(d) from Sandra Fernandez places Atlantis in the eastern province of Almeria.
(b) See Archive 3135
Island, Peninsula or Continent? Advocates of a continental rather than island identification for Atlantis have to contend with the fact that Plato never referred to Atlantis as a continent instead he used the Greek words for island, namely ‘nesos’ and ‘neson’. Their line of argument is that these words in addition to ‘island’ or ‘islands’ can also mean “islands of an archipelago” or “peninsula”. Furthermore it is claimed that the ancient Greeks had no precise word for ‘peninsula’.
Gilles le Noan, quoted by Papamarinopoulos[629.558], has offered evidence that there was no differentiation in Greek between ‘island’ and ‘peninsula’ until the time of Herodotus in the 5th century BC. In conversation with Mark Adams[1070.198] he explains that in the sixth century BC, when Solon lived, nesos had five geographic meanings. “One, an island as we know it. Two, a promontory. Three, a peninsula. Four, a coast. Five, a land within a continent, surrounded by lakes, rivers or springs.”
Robert Bittlestone, in his Odysseus Unbound [1402.143] also notes that “nesos usually means an island whereas cheronesos means a peninsula, but Homer could not have used cheronesos when referring to the peninsula of Argostoli for two very good reasons. First, it cannot be fitted into the metre of the epic verse and second, the word hadn’t yet been invented: it doesn’t occur in Greek literature until the 5th century BC.”
Another researcher, Roger Coghill, echoed the views of many when he wrote on an old webpage that “To the Greeks peninsulae were the same as islands, so the Peloponnesian peninsula was “the island of Pelops” and the Chersonnese was to them “the island of Cherson”. Similarly in describing a place found after escaping the Pillars of Hercules, Plato quite normally describes the Lusitanian coast (modern Portugal) as an “island”, reached, he clearly says, after passing Cadiz”.
Johann Saltzman claimed that ‘nesos’ did not mean ‘island’ or ‘peninsula’ but ‘land close to water’. However I would be happier sticking to the respected Liddell & Scott’s interpretation of island or peninsula. If Saltzman is correct, what word did the Greeks use for island?
The Modern Greek word for peninsula is ‘chersonesos’ which is derived from ‘khersos’ (dry) and ‘nesos’ (island) and can be seen as a reasonable description of a peninsula. It is worth noting that the etymology of the English word ‘peninsula’ is from the Latin ’paene’ (almost) and ’insula’ (an island).
Jonas Bergman maintains that the Greek concept of ‘island’ is one of detachment or isolation. He also points out that the original Egyptian word for island can also mean lowland or coastland, because the Egyptians had a different conception of ’island’ to either the ancient Greeks or us. Some commentators have claimed that the Egyptians of Solon’s time described any foreign land as an island.
Eberhard Zangger offers another correction of the Atlantis mystery: If one compares the land- / sea-distribution in Egypt and in the Aegean Sea, it becomes obvious why the Egyptians used at that time the expression “from the islands”. While today the word “island” has a clear meaning, this was not the case at the late Bronze Age. For the Egyptians more or less all strangers came from the islands. As there had been practically no islands in Egypt, the ancient Egyptian language did not have any special character for it. The hieroglyphic used for “island” was also meaning “sandy beach” or “coast” and was generally used for “foreign countries” or “regions on the other side of the Nile”.
A contributor to the Skeptic’s Dictionary(b) has added “I remind you that the Greek definition of “island” paralleled that of “continent.” To the Greeks, Europe was a continent. West Africa was an island, especially since it was cut off from the rest of what we now call “Africa” by a river that ran south from the Atlas mountains and then west to what is now the Western Sahara. This now dry river was explored by Byron Khun de Prorok in the 1920’s.”
Reginald Fessenden wrote: “One Greek term must be mentioned because it has given rise to much confusion. The word ‘Nesos’ is still translated as meaning ‘island’ but it does not mean this at all, except perhaps in late Greek. The Peloponnesus is a peninsula. Arabia was called a “nesos” and so was Mesopotamia”. This ambiguity in the written Greek and Egyptian of that period was highlighted at the 2005 Atlantis Conference by Stavros Papamarinopoulos.
Werner Wickboldt pointed out at the same conference that Adolph Schulten in the 1920’s referred to a number of classical writers who used the term ‘nesos’ in connection with the Nile, Tiber, Indus and Tartessos, all of which possessed deltas with extensive networks of islands.
To confuse matters even further, there have been a number of theories based on the idea that the ‘island’ of Atlantis was in fact land surrounded by rivers rather than the sea. These include Mesopotamia in Argentina proposed by Doug Fisher, the Island of Meroë in Sudan suggested by Thérêse Ghembaza and a large piece of land bound by the Mississippi, Ohio, Potomac rivers offered by Henriette Mertz. However, none of these locations match Plato’s description of Atlantis as a maritime trading nation with a naval fleet of 1200 ships, nor do any of them explain how they controlled the Mediterranean as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia.
The waters around Plato’s island are indeed muddy!
Werner Wickboldt (1943- ) is a teacher and amateur archaeologist, living in Braunschweig, Germany. On January 8, 2003, he gave a lecture on the results of his examination of satellite photos of a region south of Seville, in Parque National Coto de Doñana, he had detected structures that very closely resemble those, which Plato has described on Atlantis. These structures include a rectangle of size 180 x 90 metres (Temple of Poseidon?) and a square of 180 x 180 meters (Temple of Poseidon and Kleito?). Concentric circles, whose sizes are very close to Plato’s description, surround these two rectangular structures. The largest of these has a radius of 2.5 km. Among the suggested explanations for the structures are; a Roman ‘Castro’, a Viking fort or even a dam for salt production, which is an activity still carried today in the locality.
In his lecture, Wickboldt went further and claimed that the Atlanteans should be identified as the Sea Peoples.
Wickboldt’s discovery inspired Rainer Kühne to develop his theory on Atlantis, which was published in Antiquity. Wickboldt and Kühne hold differing views on various aspects of the Atlantis, which were aired in the comments section of an online forum in 2011(b).
Some debate has developed regarding the actual state of this area in Phoenician times.
It would appear that, during the Roman period, sedimentation brought the mouth of the Guadalquivir about 40 km further south to a position near modern Lebrija. However, in the age of the Tartessians, it was only 13 km south of Seville. If correct this would imply that Wickboldt’s structures were under water at the time of Plato’s Atlantis. The only way to resolve this issue would be to excavate on the site, but unfortunately, the location is in a national park and at that time any digging was forbidden. Nevertheless, non-intrusive investigative methods were employed to produce additional evidence that might justify a formal archaeological dig. 2010 saw this work begin at the site, with preliminary results indicating that the area was probably hit by a tsunami or a storm flood in the 3rd millennium BC.
The sedimentation argument is not clear-cut, so that over a period of millennia, when other factors such as seismic activity are brought into the picture, different scenarios are possible. Even if it is not Atlantis or one of its colonies, it would still appear to be a very interesting site, with a story to tell.
José Pellicer de Ossau Salas y Tovar (1602-1679), a Spanish writer, was probably the first in 1673 to identify an Andalusian location for Atlantis, proposing that Tartessos was identical with Atlantis and that it was located on the Guadalquivir River in southern Spain near Seville. He specified the Doñana Marshes, where, coincidentally, Kühne and Wickboldt had identified ground features using satellite images, which they claimed corresponded with Plato’s description of Atlantis.
However, subsequent excavation there showed Wickboldt’s images to be smaller than expected or were from the Muslim period. Evidence for Tartessos or Atlantis has not been found.