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

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Archive 6142

Plato´s Atlantis was in a River Delta
Ulf Richter
Schwabenheim. Germany
Reading Plato´s two books about Atlantis
and comparing the described facts with
modern knowledge about geology, tectonics,
archaeology and technology gives us new
insights about how Atlantis looked. This is
necessary before we can seek its proper
We know that around the Royal City of
Atlantis lay an absolutely flat and even
plain, irrigated by a widely-branched system
of canals that drain into the sea. This plain
was formed by alluvial land in a large river
delta. To feed such a delta, the area of the
whole country must have been at least 10
times as large as the plain. There must have
been a chain of high sand dunes along the
The  hill  with  the  central  temple  was
formed by tectonic forces during the
uplifting of a salt dome. The 3 circular
ditches were formed bynatural erosion, and
the two springs on the central island brought
water from the distant mountains.
For the irrigation of the fertile alluvial plain
a central organisation was necessary, which
led to the formation of the high culture of
Atlantis, as was the case in most of the
worlds´ other early cultures.
The canals in the alluvial plain were Vshaped. The excavated silt was used to build
dams on both sides to protect the fields
against flooding by the tides and from the
mountains. The reported depth of the canals
shows that Plato´s “stades” must be
translated as Egyptian length units “Khet”
(1 khet = 52,4 m), and so we get realistic
dimensions for the plain (length 157 km,
width 105 km) and the Royal City (diameter
6,6 km). Tables show the dimensions of
Atlantis in comparison with buildings and
canals in ancient and modern times.
Atlantis has been written about for over
2000 years. The main source is: Plato´s
dialogues “ Timaeus” and “Critias”. There
have been many attempts to locate Atlantis,
but no one has really been successful. Here
is a new attempt to describe how Atlantis
must have looked, using Plato´s descriptions
and the knowledge of our times. This
description of Atlantis will be a useful
condition for determining its location.
What do we know from Plato´s
descriptions? (I used Bury´s translation /1/;
the numbers show the references
(Stephanus-Pagination) in Timaeus and
1. The residence of Atlas and his royal
palace was situated not far from the sea on a
hill, low on all sides (Crit.113C), in the
centre of the city, which was laid out in a
circle (Crit.116A).
2.  The  circular  central  island  was
surrounded by 3 rings of water and 2 rings
of land, alternatively (Crit.113D; 115E). The
water rings were used as harbours and had
access to the sea by a canal (Crit.115D)and
by passages connecting the water rings
3.  “The  part  about  the  city  was  all  a
smooth plain”  (Crit.118A),  highly fertile
(Crit.113C), stretching along the sea. Its
width from the sea inland was 1,5 times
smaller than its extension along the sea
4.  The  plain  was  “rectilinear  for  the
most part and elongated” (Crit.118C).
5. The plain was surrounded on all sides
(save towards the ocean) by mountains that
stretched toward the sea (Crit.118A). They
sheltered the plain, which faced South, from
the Northern blasts (Crit.118B).
6. The mountain streams drained into a
ring canal round the whole plain
(Crit.118C), discharging from both sides into
the sea near the city (Crit.118D).
7. There were parallel canals at regular
intervals, as well as connecting canals
throughout the plain (Crit.118E), forming a
canal grid. The canals were used by boats to
carry wood from the mountains to the city.
What  can  we  deduce  from  all  this
Since the canals flow out into the sea
and ships could enter from the sea into the
canal system, the plain could not be far
above sea-level, and was only slightly
inclined from the mountain side to the sea
A   regular,  level  plain,  surrounded  on
all sides by a ring canal and covered by a
grid of smaller canals for irrigation and
draining, can only mean an alluvial plain.
Either it must have been a big lagoon,
which was filled with washed-up matter, or,
most probably, it was the delta of a great
river. When looking at an atlas, one will
find that such large and even plains exist
only in the delta regions of great rivers, and
were formed by sedimentation from these
rivers over thousands or millions of years.
This  idea  is  further  confirmed  by  the
fact that, after Atlantis was flooded, the
resulting mud was a hindrance to ship
traffic (Tim.25D).
A great river – and there is mention of
rivers that flow  from the mountains
(Crit.118D-E)– must be fed from a large
area. One must therefore contradict those
who say that Atlantis was only slightly
larger that the plain itself. If it were an
island, it would have tohave been 10 times
bigger than the plain, if not more.
In an alluvial plain, the soil would have
been very rich and fertile, as it is described
in (Crit.113C).
The  construction  and  upkeep  of  the
canals would be an enormous task, which
Plato has mentioned as being almost
unbelievable (Crit.118C). Managing this
task was probably the reason for the
development of a central organization and
thus the starting point of the state of
Atlantis. At least, that is what we believe
about other early highly-developed cultures
that began in big river oases or deltas in
order to organize of the necessary drainage
and irrigation, e.g. in Mesopotamia, in the
Indus Valley, the great river region of
China, and the Nile Valley. One could
almost surmise that the culture of Atlantis
had its origins in roughly the same time
period as these other archaeologicallystudied high cultures, although I will not
speculate about the time-frame here.
Plato described the plain as a rectangle
(Crit.118C), see Fig.1.  But a perfect
rectangular plain, surrounded by mountain
chains on three sides, exists nowhere on the
globe. It seems that Plato, who never saw
the site himself, imagined from Solon´s
description that the whole plain was a
rectangle, and therefore calculated the
“consequent length” of the circumferential
canal to be 2 x 3000 + 2 x 2000 (for the 4
sides) = 10000 stades (Crit.118D).
Figure 1: The Plain round the Royal City
But in some translations of (Crit.118A)is
not spoken of a “rectangular shape”, as
Bury and Lee write, but of an “oblong
shape” (Jowett) or of an “oblong triangular
shape” (Spanuth). In (Crit 118C)we read
that the plain was “rectilinear for the most
part”, that can mean that only a great part of
the plain was rectangular and enclosed by
the circumferential canal, but not all. And
when Plato says in (Crit.118A)that the plain
measured “3000 stades in length and at its
midpoint 2000 stades in breath from the
coast” (transl. Lee), then this seems to be
the description of the normal Delta form of
the plain, namely 2000 stades wide from the
sea only in the middle, and smaller towards
both ends.
We saw that the whole irrigated plain could
not be much elevated above the sea level.
On the other hand, in (Crit.118A) we read
that “the whole region rose sheer out of the
sea to a great height, but the part about the
city was all a smooth plain, encircling it all
about”. Mountain chains were only on three
sides of the plain, not at the sea side.
On the other hand, if the circular canal
“received the streams which came down
from the mountains, and after circling round
the plain, and coming towards the city on
this side and on that, it discharged them
thereabouts into the sea.” (Crit.118D), this
would mean that the seaside branch of the
canal runs all its length parallel to the
seashore. In the case of a flat seashore it
would be most probable that the water
streams in the canals on both sides of the
plain would discharge immediately when
reaching the sea shore, especially when
seasonal high floods were occurring, and
not bend in an angle of 90 degrees toward
the central water exit near the city.
Only a chain of high sand dunes along
the coast could prevent the described
behaviour of the water streams and lead
them parallel to the coast (Fig1).
We know those dunes from many parts
of the world, for example at the Atlantic
coast of France near Arcachon (dune height
114 m), at the eastern coast of the Baltic
Sea (dune walls 80 m high) or at the eastern
coast of Lake Michigan/USA (Sleeping
Bear Dunes, 120 m high).
The  condition  for  the  formation  of
these high sand dunes is a steady strong
west wind vertical or ina small angle to the
coast. Behind the dune wall is usually a
chain of lagoons, and these lagoons could
have been used by the Atlanteans to
construct their canal along the seaside.
Such a high dune wall, seen from a boat
near the coast, can look as if “the whole
region rose sheer out of the sea”. (Fig.2)
Figure 2: Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
Plato describes in (Crit.113D),  that
Poseidon married Cleito “and to make the
hill whereon she dwelt impregnable he
broke it off all round about, and he made
circular belts of sea and land enclosing one
another alternatively, . . , two being of land
and three of sea, which he carved as it were
out of the midst of the island, and these
belts were at even distances on all sides, so
as to be impassable for man, for at this time
neither ship nor sailing was yet in
It  is  said  clearly  that  these  circular
canals were not made by man, but by a god
or, alternatively, by natural forces, in very
old times.
Which  natural  forces  are  able  to  form
those regular structures?
We come nearer to a solution of this
problem when we lookat satellite photos
of the “Guelb er Richat” in Mauretania :
Figure 3: Satellite photo from “Guelb er
Richat”, Mauretania.
This  link  shows  fascinating  pictures  of
regular circular structures, alternating
between higher and deeper level, the deeper
rings partially filled with water. The height
difference is about 100 m, the diameter of
the structure 35 km. The erosion resistant
higher rings are of quartzite, while the
central circle is of flat layers of limestone
It is clear that, in spite of the obvious
similarity of this structure to Plato´s
description of the Royal City, this cannot
have been Atlantis. The “Guelb er Richat”
is too great, too high above sea level (400
m), and 500 km distant from the sea coast.
But  it  is  possible  that  the  circular
structure of the Royal City of Atlantis was
formed by the same process: first the
uplifting of formerly flat rock layers by
endogenic forces to a dome-like hill,
afterwards the erosion of the softer layers,
so that the circles of the harder layers
remain. (Erosion by water is a work
adequate to a god like Poseidon)
“Salt  Domes”  can  be  found  frequently,
when internal tectonic forces press on salt
layers (which behave plastically under high
pressure), and therefore move upwards
along an existing crack, thus shaping the
overlaying sediment layers to a “dome”
(Fig.4). The erosion of the sediment dome
may be accelerated relative to its
surroundings due to the many cracks
formed during the uplifting and reshaping
3 1
Figure 4: Formation of a salt dome and
subsequent erosion of the previously
reshaped, alternating harder (h)and softer
(s)  sediment layers. By this process the
three circular water canals  (1,2,3)  were
created. On top of water-impermeable
layers = =, ground water from far distant
mountains is led to the “dome”; the cracks
bring it to the surface as springs.
The  “Semsiyat  dome”,  50  km  westsouthwest of “Richat”, is a second similar
ring structure and  has only a 5000 m
diameter, which is nearer to Plato´s figures.
Probably those multi-ring dome structures
are not so rare and canalso be found in
other places on the globe.
But  in  the  case  of  Atlantis,  the
overlaying silt from the deluge may have
hidden the ring structures under the surface
(The antique Greek city of Helike,
destroyed by a great flood in Plato´s times,
was found just recently under a layer of 4 –
15 m of silt /2/). Detection would only be
possible, if it were on land now, by the use
of magnetometer equipment.
“And Poseidon himself set in order with
ease, as a god would, the central island,
bringing up from beneath the earth two
springs of water, the one flowing warm
from its source, the other cold,” (Crit.113E).
These  springs  produced  an  “abundant
volume” of water (Crit.117A-B),supplying
many different baths for men and horses,
watering the sacred grove of Poseidon, and
delivering water also for the people living
on the outer circles of the city.
It is impossible that the springs were fed
only by the rain water obtained on the small
central island of only 5 stades in diameter.
But as described in fig.4, due to the
underground structure of different parallel
rock layers, the ground water can flow over
great distances on a water-impermeable
layer from the mountains enclosing the
plain to the central island on top of the
uplifted dome, surfacing there through
cracks in the overlaying rocks. It is the
same phenomenon as with the “Artesian
Wells” in the desert regions of the Sahara.
Possibly, the warm water comes from a
greater depth.
In  this  way,  the  existence  of  two  great
water springs on the relatively small central
island of Atlantis confirms the above
introduced model for the natural generation
of the circular structure of the Royal City of
The most outstanding characteristics in
Plato´s description of Atlantis are the many
channels distributed round the city and all
over the surrounding plain.
While Poseidon has created the 3 water
rings round the central hill only to provide
protection for Cleito´s home (Crit.113D),
their son Atlas and his heirs connected these
water rings and dug a canal from the
outermost water circle to the nearby sea
coast (Crit.115D-E):
“They bored a channel right through the
outermost circle, .. and thus they made the
entrance to it from the sea like that to a
harbour by opening a mouth large enough
for the greatest ships to sail through.”
The connections are described as
follows: “they opened out a channel leading
from circle to circle, large enough to give
passage to a single trireme, and this they
roofed over above so that the sea-way was
subterranean; for the lips of the landcircles
were raised a sufficient height above the
level of the sea.”
The land circles were not made of earth,
but of rock, as is obvious from the above
mentioned generation model, and also
because Plato states that “the stone they
quarried beneath the central island all
round, and from beneath the outer and inner
circles, some of it being white, some black,
and some red; and while quarrying it they
constructed two inner docks, hollowed out
and roofed over by the native rock.”
If  the  Atlanteans  could  construct
underground docks for their ships, they
could as well make the connections
between the water rings in the form of
tunnels! Plato, who did not see the place
and was not an engineer, imagined that they
dug out an open canal of the whole depth of
the rocky rim (similar to the modern canal
through the “Isthmus of Corinth” in
Greece), and afterwards roofed it again by
bridges to provide a subterranean passage.
This would have been a most illogical
expense of effort. Much quarrying could be
avoided by boring a tunnel for the ships!
Ship  tunnels  were  known  in  antique
times. Near Naples/Italy a ship tunnel can
be visited, 3,8 m wide and of a height
between 4 and 21 m, which connected the
Roman military harbour in the volcanic
“Lago d´Averno” with the sea coast near
Cuma. The ships were not rowed in the
tunnel, but punted or sailed (in the tunnel
there is always a natural wind movement
due to temperature differences between the
Back to the canal between the outermost
water ring and the sea: According to
(Crit.115D), it was “three plethra in breadth,
one plethron in depth,and fifty stades in
length”; it had the same depth as the
circumferential canal round the whole plain
(Crit.118C), which was one stadion wide.
The  length  of  one  Greek  stadion  was
(depending on time and region) between
165 m and 213 m, the most used value
being 185 m. One stadion contains 6
plethra or 600 feet.
These  figures  for  length  and  breadth
may be reasonable, but a canal depth of 1
plethron = 100 feet = 30,8 m seems not
credible. We must remember: the canal had
do be dug into an alluvial plain near the sea.
In the wet soil the canalflanks would have
slipped down continuously.
A canal dug in the soil cannot have
vertical sides. This observation was already
made by the Persian king Xerxes in 480 BC
(described by Herodotus /3/) during the
digging of a canal in northern Greece :
“I will now describe how the canal was
cut. A line was drawn across the isthmus
from Sane and the ground divided into
sections for the men of the various
nationalities to work on. When the trench
reached a certain depth, the laborers at the
bottom carried on with the digging and
passed the soil up to others above them, who
stood on ladders and passed it on to another
lot, still higher up, until it reached the men at
the top, who carried it away and dumped it.
Most of the men engaged in the work made
the cutting the same width at the top as it
was intended to be at the bottom, with the
inevitable result that the sides kept falling in,
and so doubled their labor. Indeed they all
made this mistake except the Phoenicians,
who in this -as in all practical matters- gave
a signal example of their skill. They, in the
section allotted to them, took out a trench
double the width prescribed for the actual
finished canal, and by digging at a slope
gradually contracted it as they got further
down, until at the bottom their section was
the same width as the rest.”
Xerxes´ canal, which was found again
1991-2001 by a British-Greek team with
geophysical survey methods /4/ , was 35 m
wide to let two battle ship pass, but only 4 m
deep. It lies now under a 15 m thick alluvial
For what purpose would the Atlanteans
make their canals so much deeper? Their
ships – triremes or comparable ships with
200 seamen – with a draught of 1 – 2 m,
could very well navigate on canals of 3-4
m depth! (compare the trireme in Fig.5):
Figure 5: Cross Section of a Canal
185 m wide, 30,7 m deep
with one trireme
(5,5 m wide, 4 m high)
The cargo ships in ancient times were not as
big as battle ships. A relatively big cargo
ship from Roman times was recently found
in the Netherlands. It was 25 m long and 2,7
m wide, with a draught of 0,7 m. These
cargo ships used on rivers and canals were
not rowed, but had sails and were also
punted or towed.
Table 1 shows the dimensions of some
ancient and modern canals.
Table 1 Canals  depth width length
m m km
Xerxes-Canal 480BC 4 35 2
Necho-Darius Canal 5,5 45 180
Modern Suez-Canal 12 45/120 160
Panama-Canal 1887 12,8 100 81
Not until 10 years ago, in 1995, was it
possible with modern excavators to make the
Panama-Canal 1,5 m deeper! Each meter
more of depth increases tremendously the
difficulties for the engineers, especially if
the soil is alluvial.
And the Atlanteans are supposed to have
dug canals more than twice as deep as the
modern Panama-Canal? Moreover, the
circumferential canal round the plain, 1850
km long, would have been nearly 23 times
the length of the Panama-Canal!
This is indeed unbelievable, even if the
Atlanteans had our technology instead of the
technology of their age (the time of horsedriven war chariots, of stone-shooters and
slingers) ! Plato was right when he doubted
this information (Crit.118c), but he knew
nothing about the construction of canals and
therefore did not know that the reported
dimensions were not only incredible, but
impossible from a technical point of view.
If we doubt the correctness of Plato´s
information about the dimensions of the
canals, we should have also a look to the
other dimensions cited in the “Critias”.
Table 2 shows a synopsis of all these data
given in stades (column 1), together with
their translation into the metric system ,
using 1 stadion = 185 m (column 2).
If the plain of Atlantis had a size of 555
x 370 km, it would not be possible to
recognize from its centre that it is encircled
by mountain chains, due to their great
The total area of the royal city of
Atlantis (443 would have been so
great that it exceeded that of today´s
London with 303 and 3,2 millions of
inhabitants. Atlantis – a city greater than
today´s London?
The racecourse for horses (185 meters
wide and 10,5 kilometers long) is
extraordinarily large, compared with our
courses for horse races with lengths between
1 and 3,2 kilometers.
The bridges over the canals have an –
unnessecary- breadth of 30,7 m. (The
famous “Carolus Bridge”, built 1375 in
Prague, the then capital of the German
Empire under Carolus IV, to connect the two
parts of the city, is 516 m long and 9,5 m
To come to terms with these incredible
figures, some authors have made different
proposals to divide Plato´s figures by 2
(McCullough /5/) or by 10 (Galanopoulos
and Bacon /6/). Does Plato or Solon have
something mixed up?
We have, indeed, an example that a famous
Greek author gave wrong information by
transforming Egyptian length units into
Greek “stades”. This was Herodotus, the
“father of history” , who gave all distances in
Egypt (in stades) much longer as they are in
reality, while he reported all the distances in
Greece correctly. The usual explanation for
this error is that he has mixed up the
Egyptian units of measurement, obviously
taken from an Egyptian itinerary, before he
transformed them into stades.
A similar error could have taken place
while the Egyptian priest narrated the
Atlantis story to Solon. It is self-evident
that the priest gave all the distances in
Egyptian units of measurement, as they
were written in the ancient texts, and Solon
wrote them down as he heard them for later
transformation into Greek stades. When he
returned to Greece he had no opportunity
for this calculation or forgot it. His heirs
(Dropides, Critias the Elder and Critias the
Younger) found in Solon´s notes only the
figures without the units of measurement
and obviously thought it
Table 2 Dimensions in Atlantis according to Plato´s “Critias”
Stades 1 std. = 185 m 1 std. = 52,4 m
m  m
Diameter Central Island with Royal Palace 5 925 262
Outer Diameter of Inner Water Ring  7 1295 367
“ “ “ Inner Land Ring 11 2035 577
“ “ “ Middle Water Ring 15 2775 786
“ “ “ Outer Land Ring 21 3885 1100
“ “ “ Outer Water Ring 27 4995 1415
Outer City Wall bordering the Sea Diameter  127 24400 6655
Length 400 74000 20960
Canal from Outer Water Ring to the Sea, Length 50 9600 2620
Width 0,5 93  26,2
Depth 0,17 30,8  8,7
Circumferential Canal round the Plain Length 10000 1850000 524000
Width 1 185  52,4
Depth 0,17 30,8  8,7
Parallel Canals across the Plain Width 0,17 30,8 8,7
Distance from Each Other 100 18500 5240
Bridge over Outer Water Ring Length 3 555 157
Width 0,17 30,8  8,7
Race Course on Outer Land Ring Length 57 10545 2987
Width 1 185  52,4
Temple of Poseidon Length 1 185 52.4
Width 0,5 92,5  26,2
Plain Length along the Sea 3000 555000 157200
Width across its Centre 2000 370000 104800
Plain Area 6 Millions 205350 16475
City within the Outer Wall Area 12668 443 35
Allotments in the Plain Area 100 3,42 0,275
must be stades (especially since in their
time, due to the busy trade with the
Greeks, even the Egyptian people were
using Greek stades in addition to their own
units), and Critias passed this (erroneous)
information on to Plato.
I feel that this is a very probable error
in the long chain of tradition between the
Saitic priest and Plato.
Which unit of measurement was
commonly used by the ancient Egyptians?
It was the “Royal Cubit” or “Meh” (0,524
m) and for longer distances the “Khet” =
100 “Royal Cubits”
(1 khet = 52,4 meters = 172 feet) /7/
When we take this “khet” for what
Plato called “stade”, we get much more
probable dimensions for Atlantis than
those mentioned before. (See table 2,
column 3):
a) The size of the level plain is 105 x
157 km (16475, a little smaller than
the Peloponesos-peninsula in Greece).
b) The diameter of the central city of
Atlantis is 6,7 km (The city of Rome in the
late times of the Roman empire (Aurelian
wall) had a diameter of 6 km and about one
million inhabitants).
c) The racecourse for horses is 52 m
wide and 3 kilometers long, like one of the
larger modern racecourses.
d) The canal round the plain is 524 km
long, 52 m wide and 8,7 m deep. (The
forerunner of the Suez canal, built by
pharaoh Necho and king Dareios of Persia
about 500 BC, was 180 km long, 45 m
wide and had a depth of 5.5 m; see
table 1)
e) The bridges over the circular canals
are 8,7 m wide, comparable with the
breadth of medieval bridges.
f) The temple of Poseidon has a size of
26 x 52 m, a very reasonable size
compared with the famous Poseidon
temple in Paestum/Italy (24 x 60 m).
But couldn´t it be the case that with the
introduction of the “Khet”-dimensions
some measures were too small to be
Was it possible that on the canal from
the sea to the harbour with a width of 26,2
m two triremes could meet?
A Greek trireme from classical times
was 37 m long, had an overall beam of 5,5
m and a height of about 4 m /8/. The oars
had a length of 4,2 m, but due to their
oblique position relative to the surface of
the sea, and one third of their length being
inside the ship, the horizontal space needed
for using one oar is only 2,7 m .
Fig.6 ; Oars on a trireme, from /8/
A rowed trireme needed therefore a space
of 2 x 2,7 + 5,5 = 10,9 m. In a canal of
26,2 m width two triremes could easily
pass (see fig.8).
Was the central island at 262 m
diameter big enough to contain all the
reported buildings: temple of Poseidon and
Cleito, Royal Palace (Crit.116C), separate
baths for the kings, for private citizens and
for horses, the guard-house for the most
trustworthy spearmen (Crit.117C) and the
sacred grove of Poseidon (Crit.117B) ?
Fig.7 shows a true to scale sketch of
the central island. It is obvious that all
these cited items could be placed there:
Fig: 7 : Central Island with Poseidon
temple (centre), Royal Palace, barracks of
the guards, baths (circles) and sacred grove
The Acropolis in Athens (120 x 280 m)
has an area of about 30000 sq.m compared
with 54000 sq.m for the central island of
We can conclude that it makes sense to
take Egyptian “Khets” instead of Greek
“Stades” for getting a better interpretation
of the dimensions of Atlantis in Plato´s
As the canals in the plain of Atlantis lead
to the sea, and the sea outside the “Pillars
of Heracles” (Crit.24E) is the Atlantic
Ocean, we must take into consideration the
tides. The average turn of tides
can be 2 – 4 m, and the canals , at least
near the estuary, had to be provided with
dams on both sides. The material to build
the dams could be taken from the
excavated material, and from the crosssection of the canal we can therefore also
calculate the height of these dams.
Fig. 8 : Canal with dams and two
passing Triremes
The triangular cross-section of a canal with
8,7 m depth and 26,2m breadth is 114
sq.m . Each dam has a cross-section of 57
sq.m ; and with a side angle of 45° its
breadth could then be calculated at 12,7 m
and its height 9 m. With a side angle of
30° the breadth of the dams is 15,2 m and
their height 7,5 m.
This dam height would be sufficient
also in the case of a spring tide. When due
to heavy rains in the surrounding
mountains the rivers were in flood, the
height of the canal dams would perhaps not
be enough, but in case of flooding the great
plain could serve as a reservoir to
accomodate the abundance of water. It is
therefore probable that the houses of the
farmers in the plain were situated on
artificial hills (wharfs).
The parallel irrigation canals in the
plain had a width of 8,7 m; their depth is
not mentioned, but could be 2,5 m.
Their cross section would then be 10,9
sq.m . The dams on both sides with 30°
side angles would have a breadth of 6,6 m
and a height of 3,3 m.
“And the mountains which surrounded it
(the plain) were at that time celebrated as
surpassing all that now exist in number,
magnitude and beauty; for they had upon
them many rich villages of country folk,
and streams and lakes and meadows which
furnished ample nutriment to all the
animals both tame and wild, and timber of
various sizes and descriptions, abundantly
sufficient for the needs of all and every
craft.” (Crit.118B).
“They conveyed to the city the timber
from the mountains and transported also on
boats the season´s products ..” (Crit.118E).
“And the number of the men in the
mountains and in the rest of the country
was countless ..” (Crit.119A).
The first citation is normally
interpreted as if the mountains of Atlantis
must have been higher than the highest
mountains now existing. But I wonder how
these Himalaya-like mountains could have
had many villages with much country folk,
forests, meadows, lakes, food supply etc..
The Cuban linguist Diaz-Montexano wrote
that the Greek word “megathos” had not
only the meaning of “height”, but in the
above context can also mean “greatness”
or “extension”, and only this interpretation
makes the whole story logical.
In high mountains like the Himalayas
rich villages with “countless inhabitants”
couldn´t have existed, producing “ample
nutriment for every animal and timber
abundantly sufficient for the needs of
every craft”.
The rich supply of timber would rather
speak for mountains of medium height.
Not only high mountains, but also
highlands are able to shelter the bordering
regions from the Northern blasts
(Crit.118B), as we can see it in the case of
“Rheingau”, one of the warmest regions of
Germany with its famous “Riesling”
vineyards, which lies near Frankfurt
Airport on the Southern slopes of the
wooded Taunus hills (maximal elevation
880 m above sea level),.
It seems that (Crit.118B) means:
the whole mountainous landscape was
praised for its versatility and its rich
settlements and was not surpassed by any
other for its scenic beauty.
Here mining in the mountains is not
mentioned as a source of wealth of the
country folk, but Plato writes about
“metals, to begin with, both the hard kind
and the fusible kind, which are extracted
by mining, and also that kind which is now
known only by name but was more than a
name then, there being mines of it in many
places of the island – I mean orichalcum,
which was the most precious of the metals
then known, except gold.” (Crit.114E).
Mines are mostly situated in
mountainous regions, and the rich deposits
of a metal nearly as precious as gold must
have made the inhabitants of these regions
nearly as important as those living in the
Royal City of Atlantis.
It cannot be ruled out that in greater
distance from the plain there were also
high mountains with perpetual snow on
their peaks. It was already mentioned in
chapter 2  that the catchment area of the
rivers arriving at the plain must have been at
least 10 times as large as the plain itself.
And Plato´s note in (Crit.118E) that  the
Atlanteans “cropped the land twice a year,
making use of the rains from Heaven in the
winter, and the waters that issue from the
earth in summer, by conducting the
streams from the trenches”, suggests, that
the rivers feeding the irrigation canals got
their water in summer from the perpetual
snow of the high mountains.
What about the opinion of some
authors that all the high mountains sunk
completely under sea level during the
destruction of Atlantis, without remainder?
It is disproved by the statement in
(Tim.25D), that “Atlantis in like manner
was swallowed up by the sea and vanished,
wherefore also the ocean at that spot has
now become unpassable and unsearchable,
being blocked up by the shoal mud which
the island created as it settled down”. The
reported “portentous earthquakes and
floods” (Tim.25C), greater than the
Tsunami of Dec.26
, 2004 in Indonesia,
flooded the Royal City together with the
whole plain, leaving behind a shallow sea
region, where the plain had sunken for
some meters. But the mountains could not
sink during a catastrophe like this more
than the same number of meters! They
must still exist today.
Colonization of Atlantis began first on the
hill, “low on all sides”, near the sea coast.
(Crit.113C-D): “Thereon dwelt one of the
natives originally sprung from the earth,
Evenor by name, with his wife Leucippe”
There were two springs, used for
irrigation the fertile soil , “producing out of
the earth all food in plenty” (Crit.113E).
And they led them to the “plantations of
trees such as suited the waters” (Crit.117A).
It is very probable that the first Atlanteans
soon began to cultivate vegetables and
cereals in gardens and fields.
Round the hill stretched the plain,
highly fertile as well (Crit.113C), but
naturally first without any installations for
draining or irrigation. So, when the
population increased, it became necessary
to use also this land for agriculture, by
digging trenches.
This was practically the same situation
as in the beginning of most of the known
high cultures:  People began to build
irrigation canals in suitable places and that
way increased tremendously the
productivity of their agriculture. Because
for this task a well-planned team-work was
necessary, a central authority became
indispersable. In this way, the hereditary
kingdom was settled. Plato indicates this in
(Crit.118C): “Now as a result of natural
forces, together with the labours of many
kings which extended over many ages, the
condition of the plain was this:”
But where did the many people come
from, who were necessary for the first
creation of the sweeping canal system
described by Plato?
When the plain was a river delta (see
chapter 2), and originally marshy for the
most part, not many people could have
dwelt there except some fishermen. But in
the surrounding hills and mountains there
were certainly settlements of men living
there as hunters and gatherers or farmers,
perhaps also as miners.
The king, intending to begin the great
project of the irrigation of the plain, could
have prompted them with the chance of
rich farmland and greater wealth to
participate in this task. Each village in the
highlands could then have a claim to a
certain area in the fertile plain, and the
respective leader ofthe works and the
most hard working participants could
settle on the newly created ground,
together with their families.
This order of events is suggested by
the quote in (Crit.118E-119A):
“As regards their manpower, it was
ordained that each allotment should
furnish one man as leader of all the men in
the plain who were fit to bear arms;
and the size of the allotment was about ten
times ten stades, and the total number of
all the allotments was 60,000; and the
number of the men in the mountains and
in the rest of the country was countless,
according to the report, and according to
their districts and villages they were all
assigned to these allotments under their
This shows clearly that in later times
as well there existed a close connection
between a certain village in the mountains
and a certain allotment on the plain, and
one leader was responsible for both places
and had to recruit 20 warriors alltogether
from these two geographically separate
This means that the supposed 200
people being able tocall up 20 warriors
would not all have to live on the allotment
in the plain having 0,275 (=68
acres) in size. If only half of this
population lived on the allotment in the
plain, and the other half in the mountain
village assigned to it, we get a population
density for the plain of 363 per, the
same as in the Netherlands, a likewise
level country near the sea, famous for its
irrigation system.
It is fascinating how detailed a picture of
Atlantis can be found by thoroughfully
reading the texts in Plato´s “Timaeus” and
“Critias”, considering what they really
could mean, and comparing the results
with well-known examples from our time.
In this way we have acquired a nearly
complete description of the general
geography of Atlantis, which can now be
used to locate the sunken city.
A new and amazing result is that we
have to divide all measures given by Plato
by the factor 3,5, or in other words to
replace the Greek “Stade” in his narration
by the Egyptian “Khet”. All the newly
calculated dimensions are credible and
In a similar way it should be possible
to find out the exact location of the sunken
Atlantis, and the time of the catastrophe
that destroyed it.
/1/ Plato: Timaeus and Critias, transl. by Bury,
R.G., in: Galanopoulos and Bacon: Atlantis
(1969) London, Nelson
/2/ Katsonopoulou, D.and Soter,S.: Discoveries at
ancient Helike (2003)
/3/ Herodotus: History book 7/23
/4/ Bhattacharjee,Y.: Persian Canal Discovery
(2001, Nov.13) New York Times.
/5/ McCullough, Duanne: The Atlantean Glossary:
Stadia Measurement
/6/ Galanopoulos,A. and Bacon, E.: Atlantis
(1969) London, Nelson
/7/ Proot,J. : Measures from Antiquity (1997)
/8/ Lahanas, M.: The Triremes
/9/ Diaz-Montexano, Georgeos: Atlantis entre
Iberia y Afrika (2000) Madrid
Dr .Ulf Richter, Mainzer Str.25, D55270