Factor Ten is a term I have employed to describe the fact that so many of the numbers in Plato’s Atlantis story, referring to time, physical dimensions and population all appear to be exaggerations, but would be more credible if reduced by a factor of ten. The date of 9600 BC for a war between Atlantis and Athens is not compatible with the Bronze Age description given by Plato, the dimensions of the canals in the city of Atlantis suggest a profligate degree of over-engineering and the size of the Atlantean army, as recorded, is comparable to the numerical strength of today’s USA’s military. On top of that, there is no archaeological evidence to support the idea of Athens having anything more than a Stone Age culture in the 10th millennium BC.
Dr A. G. Galanopoulos, who spent years excavating on Santorini, alsosuggested that all numbers in the thousands in Plato’s text were exaggerated, during translation, by a factor of ten. One can be forgiven for thinking that he was prompted to do this in order to match Atlantis to the timeframe of the Theran eruption, which occurred about 900 years before Solon’s Egyptian trip. However, J. V. Luce and Dorothy Vitaliano have refuted this idea.
A more frequently suggested explanation for the conflict between the 9,000 years given by Plato and the Bronze Age backdrop is that a lunar rather than a solar calendar was utilised by the Egyptian priests which would bring the two elements more into phase. So perhaps ‘Factor Twelve’ might be a more appropriate appellation.
Eudoxus of Cnidos (c.408-355 BC) who also studied astronomy with the priests of Heliopolis in Greece was one of the first to suggest that the Ancient Egyptians used lunar cycles to measure time. The idea was later endorsed by the Egyptian priest Manetho, Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus. Centuries later, Francisco Cervantes de Salazar (1514-1575) in his Crónica de la Nueva España he was a firm supporter of the idea of interpreting Plato’s 9,000 ‘years’ as lunar cycles, echoing the earlier statement of Eudoxus.*A year later Olof Rudbeck proposed the same explanation.*
However, while the substitution of solar years with lunar cycles would give a date for the Atlantean war that is more compatible with conventional archaeology, it still leaves the apparently inflated dimensions and military numbers recorded by Plato, unexplained. Since all of Plato’s numbers, in the Atlantis narrative appear to be overstated by a similar amount it would seem appropriate to invoke the application of Occam’s Razor(c), which leads to an exaggeration by a factor of ten as the most likely explanation!
The use of lunar rather than solar units might explain the unrealistic ages ascribed to biblical characters such as Adam, Methuselah, or Noah although close study does not address all the difficulties. Similar problems exist with the length of the reign of individual Sumerian kings. My belief is that a common explanation will eventually be found to rationalise both sets of anomalies. The answer will probably include the application of the Sumerian use of a numeric base of 60, coupled with lunar, solar and the Egyptian use of three seasonal ‘years’ per solar year. Zoltán Simon has claimed that the ages of the patriarchs were calculated using 90-day ‘years’[0549.7].
A number of suggestions have been put forward to explain how Plato’s exaggerated numbers came to be. Georgeos Diaz-Montexanocontends that it was not any confusion over hieroglyphics that led to the a tenfold exaggeration of numbers but the fact that in the spoken language of the Egyptians 100 and 1000 can be easily confused.
What may be of relevance is the fact that the Cretan scripts known as Linear A and Linear B use similar numbering signs. The number 100 is designated by a circle whereas 1000 is a circle with four nipples known as excrescences at the cardinal points. Both James Mavor and Rodney Castleden have advocated the idea that it was a misreading of these Minoan numerals that led to Plato recording hundreds as ‘thousands’.
Another reason for considering a factor ten error in Plato’s numbers may be drawn from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary, which has been developed over the past three decades at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. It is edited by Professor Janet H. Johnson and is concerned with the ancient Egyptian cursive script in use from circa 650 BC, which is around the time of Solon, until the 5th century AD. Their website reveals that the cursive numerals for hundreds only differ from thousands by having longer tails(b) . I note that Johnson also records “that thousands sometimes had longer tails than expected”(p.23). This offers another credible explanation for how a transcription error could increase numbers by a factor of ten, which would bring Plato’s dates into conformity with other details in his Atlantis story, namely the Bronze Age milieu so clearly described there.
I also note that the Greeks had no zero or decimal point in their number system, making this kind of tenfold mistake quite a credible one(a).
Ireland according to James Bramwell[0195.181], was first identified with Atlantis as early as circa 1250 AD in the Speculum Regale (The King’s Mirror)(g) which was written in Norway. Apart from that, Ireland was less controversially was first suggested in the 18th century as a possible location of Atlantis by the English geologist John Whitehurst. The idea lay dormant for over a century until the early part of the 20th century when George H. Cooper suggested that Cork harbour fits Plato’s description of the harbour of Atlantis. Fifty years later an official guidebook claimed that one of the outposts of Atlantis was to be found on the west coast of Galway. As a nation famed for its storytelling we have never let truth stand in the way of a good tale.
The mythical Hy-Brasil was shown west of Ireland on maps as early as 1325 and incredibly, was not removed from naval charts until 1865. The UK’s Daily Star (21/5/16) with typical tabloid accuracy told its readers(f) that Hy-Brasil was off the coast of ‘Britain’!
In 1976, Steiner Books, New York, republished a book under the misleading title of Atlantis in Ireland. One may be excused for viewing this as a blatant case of exploitative opportunistic publishing. The original text was written by Henry O’Brien and published in London (1834) as The Round Towers of Ireland. Apart from being written in the rather turgid English of the period, there is not a single reference to Plato or Atlantis to be found in that volume.
* Diodorus Siculus, in a well-known passage (Bk 1.158), that is claimed by some as a reference to Ireland(h), describes it as ”an island in the ocean over against Gaul, to the north, and not inferior in size to Sicily, the soil of which is so fruitful that they mow there twice in the year.” Some consider this to be reminiscent of the Platonic reference to the two crops a year gathered in Atlantis. However, I am more inclined to think that Diodorus was referring to Britain. Diodorus also mentions the Irish singular temples of ’round form’, however, this seems too early to be a reference to the round towers and more likely to be an allusion to the astronomically aligned mounds such as Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth in Ireland or Stonehenge in Britain!*
In 1923 Conor MacDari, who’s eccentricity was comparable with that of Comyns Beaumont, published Irish Wisdom Preserved in the Bible and Pyramids, which among a litany of bizarre claims, proposed that Atlantis had been located in Ireland.
When Ignatius Donnelly came to the subject of Ireland, he attributed an Atlantean origin to so the various waves of settlers that came to the post-glacial island. He substitutes evidence with assertion and speculation. Donnelly further claimed that the famous round towers of Ireland are proof that the people of Atlantis settled in Ireland.
More recently Ulf Erlingsson, a Swedish geographer, insisted that with a claimed probability
factor of 99.98%, that his interpretation of Plato’s text demonstrates that Ireland was home to Atlantis. The subtitle of the book, Mappingthe Fairy Land, is probably a good guide on how seriously to take this book, particularly as it is by an author who hails from the land of the original Trolls.
In March 2008 it was reported that a Dr. Jac Hummer had mounted an expedition to South America with the intention of discovering the remains of St. Patrick under a pyramid there. But it gets better – he then explains that such a discovery will prove his theory that Ireland is Plato’s lost island of Atlantis!
Irish legend speaks of the Domnu, people of the deep sea from a land that disappeared beneath the waves. However, Ireland is still above the waves and in contrast to Plato’s statement that even in his time the location of Atlantis was marked by impassable shallows. Since sea levels have generally risen only slightly since Plato lived, he cannot have been referring to Ireland.
John Douglas Singer in his slender book, Ireland’s Mysterious Lands and Sunken Cities, has carried out an investigation into the ancient legends of Ireland and their possible connection with Plato’s Atlantis. He points out that Ireland has the greatest number of legends relating to sunken cities and islands. He draws on the works of Egerton Sykes and Lewis Spence among others.
Ireland was also nominated by Thomas Dietrich as an early colony of Atlantis in The Origin of Culture.
Somewhat incongruously, the website of extremist, Dejan Lucic, has an extensive and fully referenced article entitled The Irish Origins of Civilisation(a), including not a few controversial sources such as, Comyns Beaumont, Ralph Ellis and John Gordon.
Around 2010 a father and son team Francis J.Ward & Francis P.Ward seeminglly published their first book The Truth Against the World-Red Phoenix Rising & the Return of the Thunder Gods, in which they express the view that “Atlantis was a global, maritime empire based in Ireland”.(c)
In 2013 Skender Hushi informed the world that Albanian had been the original language of Ireland and Atlantis! Another equally odd claim came from Zoltán Simon who proposed that the ancient Hun Calendar came from Ireland[0549.147]!
Evidence for the earliest humans in Ireland is now dated as 10,500 BC.(d)(e)
(a) http://www.dejanlucic.net/The_Irish_Origins_of_Civilization.html (offline Sept. 2014)