None of the ancient sources, including Plato, describe the drowned civilization as belonging to a continent. Nor do the classic Atlantologists, such as Ignatius Donnelly and Lewis Spence, characterize it as anything more than a large island. Just when and by what means “the lost continent” entered public domain is difficult to determine. Perhaps Helena Blavatski and her fellow Theosophists were the first, proposing a continental Atlantis during the nineteenth century. In any case, the popularity of this notion is important, because it continues to undermine consideration of Atlantis by serious investigators. Oceanographers using ever-more advanced underwater instruments began to put to rest the possibility of a true continent in the Atlantic in the 1950s.
As Caroli points out, “The Atlantic crust is too thin to support even a mini-continental platform.”58 And Francis Hitching of London’s Royal Archaeological Institute reduces the findings of modern geology to a few words: “The steep sides of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, similar to the Rockies or the Alps, make it impossible for a lost continent to have existed there.”59 Plato’s description of Atlantis is usually translated as “larger than Libya and Asia combined.” But the word he uses is mezon, which means “greater,” not “larger.” Did he mean, then, that Atlantis was more powerful than all the kingdoms of Libya and Asia put together, or that it was as geographically as large as the modern equivalent of Turkey combined with coastal North Africa from the Egyptian border to Tunisia?
Even if Atlantis was a landmass of this size, it would still have been far smaller than a continent. True, an island about the area of Portugal did occupy the mid-Atlantic in the past, but it vanished long before Plato or any civilized human being knew about such a place. The Dialogues’ description of Atlantis as “greater” than Libya and Asia was a peculiar choice for a Greek. Caroli believes it represents internal evidence that tends to confirm that the account originated in Egypt after all, just as Plato said it did.
The Egyptians were bounded by traditional enemies in both the east and west. They referred to the various peoples of Libya as the Libbu or the Temehu. The Hittites, Trojans, Assyrians, Israelites, Hyksos, and so forth, who inhabited the Near East from the Sinai through Anatolia, were lumped together as simply “the Asians.” The Egyptians conceived of their foreign opponents in terms of race and population, not as people residing in nations with clearly defined borders. It was natural for an Egyptian to think of Libya and Asia when discussing his enemies. It was not for a Greek. Very probably, this Libyan-Asian analogy that appears in the Dialogues was translated verbatim from the original Egyptian source. If this was so, then further credibility is added to the Atlantis story as handed down by Plato.
It can then be assumed that the original Egyptian version did not imply that Atlantis was geographically larger than the indefinite territories occupied by Libyans and “Asians,” but more powerful than these kingdoms combined. Even if we assume Plato was making geographical comparisons, in his time Libya was a thin strip of territory running along the Mediterranean shores of North Africa between the Algerian and Egyptian borders. “Asia” vaguely comprised the western half of Turkey. Combined, these regions would have resulted in a landmass roughly the size of Spain, but nothing the dimensions of a continent.
Author biography: Frank Joseph has been the editor-in-chief of Ancient American Magazine since its debut in 1993. He is the author of twenty books about prehistory re-published in as many foreign languages, including “The Atlantis Encyclopedia”, “Opening the Ark of the Covenant”, and “Unearthing Ancient America”. Joseph is a frequent guest speaker at various metaphysical and archaeological societies in the U.S. and abroad.
The Destruction of Atlantis by Frank Joseph © 2016 Bear & Company. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.
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