An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Atlantean-Athenian War (m)

The Atlantean-Athenian War as described by Plato has not been unambiguously identified with any known conflict. A number of attempts have been made to link the Atlantis story with the Persian Wars, but such an idea is totally at variance with both chronology and geography, for example the wars took place decades after Solon’s visit to Egypt and the Atlanteans had invaded from the west, namely, Italy (Tim.25b & Crit.114c).

An equally unlikely scenario has been put forward by Diaz-Montexano, who suggests that the war took place, near Gibraltar, in what we now know as the Atlantic Ocean. His contention is that the Athenians gradually fought the Atlanteans westward across the Mediterranean until a final battle in the Atlantic outside the Strait of Gibraltar. He maintains that this war took place over a number of years and resulted in the gradual emancipation of Atlantean colonies as they advanced towards the Atlantean capital, before its destruction by earthquake.

I find this whole concept rather fanciful for a number of reasons. Diaz-Montexano places this conflict in the 2nd millennium BC, at a time, when the Athenians did not have the naval capability to mount such a sea offensive over 1,500 miles from home and many hundreds of years before the introduction of triremes. There is no documentary evidence or tradition from this era to support such a contention. Plato’s text describes the Athenians defeating the invaders without any suggestion that the war was anything other than defensive. It must also be noted that Plato records (Tim. 25d) that the destruction of Atlantis and Athens occurred “at a later time”, meaning subsequent to the war, suggesting that Atlantis survived the conflict.

In my opinion, the question of the war between Atlantis and Athens has not yet been satisfactorily resolved, just as the war between Atlantis and Egypt is still the subject of debate.