Ancient Seafaring is a controversial subject owing principally to a dearth of physical evidence. The earliest known boat is the Pesse
Canoe (see right) which was discovered in The Netherlands and thought to be around 10,000 years old. The second oldest boat was also a canoe, found in Malawi and dated to about 8,000 years ago(g). Wikipedia lists all the surviving boats, which shows that until the third millennium BC all that have been found are canoes.
Seafaring and Atlantis are inextricably linked. In Critias 117d Plato anachronistically refers to the shipyards of Atlantis being full of triremes, which were not developed until the 7th century BC, long after the demise of Atlantis. However, the term ‘trireme’ was probably employed by Plato to make his narrative more relevant to his audience. He credits the Atlantean navy with 1200 ships, which for me seems like borrowing and rounding the numbers of either the Achaean fleet of 1186 vessels in Homer’s Iliad or that of the 1207 ships of the later Persian invaders. That ships were used in the war with Athens can be inferred from the fact that Atlantis, or at least its capital, was situated on an island.
Professor Seán McGrail (1928-2021) wrote in his monumental work, Boats of the World “There is no direct evidence for water transport until the Mesolithic even in the most favoured regions, and it is not until the Bronze Age that vessels other than logboats are known” [1949.10]. For those that adhere to a 10th millennium BC date for the Atlantean War with Athens, this lack of naval evidence to support such an early date undermines the idea. An invasion fleet of canoes travelling from beyond the Pillars of Herakles to attack Athens seems rather unlikely!
Apart from the flimsy Solar Boats of the Egyptians, such as the Khufu Boat (see left), the first seagoing vessel listed by Wikipedia does not appear until around 1500 BC.
>Nevertheless, Heather Pringle published an article in 2008 in which she reviewed the suggestion by Jon Erlandson(k), archaeologist at the University of Oregon, that early humans may have travelled the oceans 70,000 years ago(j).<
Seldom referred to, but perhaps even more interesting is to be found earlier in Critias 113e which describes the mythological beginnings of Atlantis and which reads “for at that time neither ships nor sailing were as yet in existence”. However, we are given little information to bridge the time up to its development as a major trading entity. It is reasonable to assume a gap of several thousand years.
Recent studies(a) have suggested that primitive seafaring took place in the Mediterranean thousands of years earlier than originally thought and may even have been engaged in by Homo Erectus and Neanderthals in the form of island hopping and coastal-hugging, the latter continuing into historical times.
Plato describes an advanced maritime trading nation with a powerful naval capacity. How much was part of the original story brought from Egypt by Solon or whether it was in any way embellished by Plato is unclear. The earliest known trading empire is that of the Minoans which began in the 3rd millennium BC and has led to many identifying them with the Atlanteans. However, there are very many other details in Plato’s narrative that seriously conflict with this hypothesis.
The limitations of ancient seafaring raise many questions regarding the navigation supports available to these early sailors(b). Initially, sailing, probably for fishing, would have been confined to daytime travel and keeping within the sight of land. With the development of maritime trade, the demand for improved navigation methods also grew.
In time sailors acquired a familiarity with the night sky that enabled them to use the stars as navigational aids, given clear skies. Gradually, as nighttime travel became more common, the use of beacons and later lighthouses also expanded. The lighthouse at Pharos near Alexandria came to be counted as one of the wonders of the Old World. Similarly, it is thought that the Colossus at Rhodes performed a similar function.
Different navigation skills have been identified in different parts of the world. In the Pacific, the navigational capabilities of the Polynesians are legendary(c).>A November article on the BBC website expanded on this ‘ancient art of wayfindlng’ (i).< The ancient Chinese employed magnetism(e) and in the cloudy North Atlantic, the Vikings used their ‘sunstones’(d).
In their book, Atlantis in America  Ivar Zapp & George Erikson claimed that the stone spheres of Costa Rica had a navigational function [p34] as Zapp discovered that the sightlines of all the stones remaining in their original positions, did point to important ancient sites such as Giza, Stonehenge and Easter Island!
A most imaginative proposal has come from Crichton E.M. Miller who proposed  that the ubiquitous Celtic Cross is an image of an ancient navigational device. He further claims that “This instrument can tell the time, find latitude and longitude, measure the angles of the stars, predict the solstices and equinoxes and measure the precession of the equinoxes. It can also find the ecliptic pole as well as the north and south poles; it can make maps and charts, design pyramids and henges and—used in combination with these sites—can record and predict the cycles of nature and time(f) “. Then for good measure, he proceeded to patent the device.
(f) Atlantis Rising magazine #35 http://pdfarchive.info/index.php?pages/At
The Trojan War, at first sight, may appear to have little to do with the story of Atlantis except that some recent commentators have endeavoured to claim that the war with Atlantis was just a retelling of the Trojan War. The leading proponent of the idea is Eberhard Zangger in his 1992 book The Flood from Heaven  and later in a paper(l) published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology. He also argues that survivors of the War became the Sea Peoples, while Frank Joseph contends that the conflict between the Egyptians and the Sea Peoples was part of the Trojan War [108.11].
In an article on the Atlantisforschung website reviewing Zangger’s theory the following paragraph is offered – “What similarities did the Trojan War and the war between Greece and Atlantis have? In both cases, the individual kingdoms in Greece formed a unified army. According to Homer, Greek ships went to the Trojan War in 1186 – according to Plato, Atlantis ruled over 1200 ships. The contingents and weapons are identical (archer, javelin thrower, discus thrower, chariot, bronze weapon, shield). The decisive battle took place overseas on both occasions. In a long period of siege came plague and betrayal. (There is not a word in Plato about a siege or epidemics and treason, dV) In both cases, Greece won the victory. After the Greek forces withdrew, earthquakes and floods struck Greece.“(t)
Steven Sora asserts that the Atlantean war recorded by Plato is a distortion of the Trojan War and contentiously claims that Troy was located on the Iberian Peninsula rather than the more generally accepted Hissarlik in Turkey. Another radical claim is that Troy had been located in Bosnia-Herzegovina or adjacent Croatia, the former by Roberto Salinas Price in 1985, while more recently the latter is promoted by Vedran Sinožic.
Others have located the War in the North Sea or the Baltic. Of these, Iman Wilkens is arguably the best-known advocate of an English location for Troy since 1990. In 2018, Gerard Janssen added further support for Wilkens’ theory(k).
In Where Troy Once Stood [610.18] Wilkens briefly referred to the earliest doubts expressed regarding the location of the Trojan War, starting in 1790 with J.C. Wernsdorf and followed a few years later in 1804 by M. H. Vosz. Then in 1806, Charles deGrave opted for Western Europe. However, it was probably Théophile Cailleux, a Belgian lawyer, whose detailed study of Homeric geography made the greatest inroads into the conventionally accepted Turkish location for Troy.>Andreas Pääbo, who contends that the Odyssey and the Iliad had been written by two different authors, proposed that the inspiration for much of the Trojan War came from ancient Lycia. His paper proposes“that Homer had been a military official in an invasion in his time of a location, also with a citadel, further south on the coast, at what is now southwest Turkey, which was ancient Lycia. Proof of this lies within the Iliad itself, in the author’s many references to Lycia, and in particular to using an alternative name for Scamander – Xanthos – which is the river in Lycia around which the original Lycian civilization developed. This paper(u) studies the details given in the Iliad with geographical information about the location of ancient Lycia to prove this case.”<
However. controversy has surrounded various aspects of the War since the earliest times. Strabo(a) tells us that Aristotle dismissed the matter of the Achaean wall as an invention, a matter that is treated at length by Classics Professor Timothy W. Boyd(b). In fact, the entire account has been the subject of continual criticism. A more nuanced approach to the reality or otherwise of the ‘War’ is offered by Petros Koutoupis(j).
The reality of the Trojan War as related by Homer has been debated for well over a century. There is a view that much of what he wrote was fictional, but that the ancient Greeks accepted this, but at the same time, they possessed a historical account of the war that varied considerably from Homer’s account(f).
Over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data, which may account for Plato’s Atlantean fleet having 1200 ships which might have been a rounding up of Homer’s 1186 ships in the Achaean fleet and an expression of the ultimate in sea power at that time!
Like so many other early historical events, the Trojan War has also generated its fair share of nutty ideas, such as Hans-Peny Hirmenech’s wild suggestion that the rows of standing stones at Carnac marked the tombs of Atlantean soldiers who fought in the Trojan War! Arthur Louis Joquel II proposed that the War was fought between two groups of refugees from the Gobi desert, while Jacques de Mahieu maintained that refugees from Troy fled to America after the War where they are now identified as the Olmecs! In November 2017, an Italian naval archaeologist, Francesco Tiboni, claimed(h). that the Trojan Horse was in reality a ship. This is blamed on the mistranslation of one word in Homer.
In August 2021 it was claimed that remnants of the Trojan Horse had been found. While excavating at the Hisarlik site of Troy, Turkish archaeologists discovered dozens of planks as well as beams up to 15-metre-long.
“The two archaeologists leading the excavation, Boston University professors Christine Morris and Chris Wilson, say that they have a “high level of confidence” that the structure is indeed linked to the legendary horse. They say that all the tests performed up to now have only confirmed their theory.”(o)
“The carbon dating tests and other analyses have all suggested that the wooden pieces and other artefacts date from the 12th or 11th centuries B.C.,” says Professor Morris. “This matches the dates cited for the Trojan War, by many ancient historians like Eratosthenes or Proclus. The assembly of the work also matches the description made by many sources. I don’t want to sound overconfident, but I’m pretty certain that we found the real thing!”
It was not a complete surprise when a few days later Jason Colavito revealed that the story was just a recycled 2014 hoax, which “seven years later, The Greek Reporter picked up the story from a Greek-language website. From there, the Jerusalem Post and International Business Times, both of which have large sections devoted to lightly rewritten clickbait, repeated the story nearly verbatim without checking the facts.”(p)
Various attempts have been made to determine the exact date of the ten-year war, using astronomical dating relating to eclipses noted by Homer. In the 1920s, astronomers Carl Schoch and Paul Neugebauer put the sack of Troy at close to 1190 BC. According to Eratosthenes, the conflict lasted from 1193 to 1184 BC(m).
An interesting side issue was recorded by Isocrates, who noted that “while they with the combined strength of Hellas found it difficult to take Troy after a siege which lasted ten years, he, on the other hand, in less than as many days, and with a small expedition, easily took the city by storm. After this, he put to death to a man all the princes of the tribes who dwelt along the shores of both continents; and these he could never have destroyed had he not first conquered their armies. When he had done these things, he set up the Pillars of Heracles, as they are called, to be a trophy of victory over the barbarians, a monument to his own valor and the perils he had surmounted, and to mark the bounds of the territory of the Hellenes.” (To Philip. 5.112) This reinforced the idea that there had been more than one location for the Pillars of Herakles(w).
In the 1920s, astronomers Carl Schoch and Paul Neugebauer put the sack of Troy at close to 1190 BC.(q)
In 2008, Constantino Baikouzis and Marcelo O. Magnasco proposed 1178 BC as the date of the eclipse that coincided with the return of Odysseus, ten years after the War(a). Stuart L. Harris published a paper on the Migration & Diffusion website in 2017(g), in which he endorsed the 1190 BC date for the end of the Trojan War.
Nikos Kokkinos, one of Peter James’ co-authors of Centuries of Darkness, published a paper in 2009 questioning the accepted date for the ending of the Trojan War of 1183 BC,(r) put forward by Eratosthenes.
New dating of the end of the Trojan War has been presented by Stavros Papamarinopoulos et al. in a paper(c) now available on the Academia.edu website. Working with astronomical data relating to eclipses in the 2nd millennium BC, they have calculated the ending of the War to have taken place in 1218 BC and Odysseus’ return in 1207 BC.
A 2012 paper by Göran Henriksson also used eclipse data to date that war(v).
What is noteworthy is that virtually all the recent studies of the eclipse data are in agreement that the Trojan War ended near the end of the 13th century BC, which in turn can be linked to archaeological evidence at the Hissarlik site. Perhaps even more important is the 1218 BC date for the Trojan War recorded on the Parian Marble, reinforcing the Papamarinoupolos date.
A 2012 paper by Rodger C. Young & Andrew E. Steinmann added further support for the 1218 BC Trojan War date(s).
Eric Cline has suggested that an earlier date is a possibility, as “scholars are now agreed that even within Homer’s Iliad there are accounts of warriors and events from centuries predating the traditional setting of the Trojan War in 1250 BC” [1005.40].>Cline had previously published The Trojan War: A very Short Introduction , which was enthusiastically reviewed by Petros Koutoupis, who ended with the comment that “It is difficult to believe that such a large amount of detail could be summarized into such a small volume, but Cline is successful in his efforts and provides the reader with a single and concise publication around Homer’s timeless epic.” (x)<
However, an even more radical redating has been strongly advocated by a number of commentators(d)(e) and not without good reason.
(d) Archive 2401
(n) Atlantis, Volume 10 No. 3, March 1957
(p) Newsletter Vol. 19 • Issue 7 • August 15, 2021
Iman Jacob Wilkens (1936- ) was born in the Netherlands but worked in France as an economist until retiring in 1996. In 1990 he threw a cat among the pigeons when he published Where Troy Once Stood which located Troy near Cambridge in England and identified Homer’s Trojan War as an extensive conflict in northwest Europe. He follows the work of Belgian lawyer, Théophile Cailleux, who presented similar ideas at the end of the 19th century just before Schliemann located his Troy in western Turkey, pushing Cailleux’s theories into obscurity until Wilken’s book a century later. The Cambridge location for Troy has recently been endorsed in a book by Bernard Jones .
Wilkens is arguably the best-known proponent of a North Atlantic Troy, which he places in Britain. Another scholar, who argues strongly for Homer’s geographical references being identifiable in the Atlantic, is Gerard Janssen of the University of Leiden, who has published a number of papers on the subject(d).
Felice Vinci also gave Homer’s epic a northern European backdrop locating the action in the Baltic. Like Wilkens, he makes a credible case and explains that an invasion of the Eastern Mediterranean by northern Europeans also brought with them their histories as well as place names that were adopted by local writers, such as Homer.
Wilkens claims that the invaders can be identified as the Sea Peoples and were also known as Achaeans and Pelasgians who settled the Aegean and mainland Greece. This matches Spanuth’s identification of the Sea Peoples recorded by the Egyptians as originating in the North Sea. Spanuth went further and claimed that those North Sea Peoples were in fact the Atlanteans.
Wilkens’ original book had a supporting website(a), as does the 2005 edition (b) as well as a companion DVD. A lecture entitled The Trojan Kings of England is also available online(c).
A review of Wilkens’ book by Emilio Spedicato is available online(e).
Mycenaean is the name given to the culture of ancient Greece (excluding Crete) during the Late Bronze Age (1500–1100 BC). They were also called Achaeans. The controversial writer Felice Vinci maintains that a Northern European tribe was referred to as Achaeans by Homer and that they migrated south and founded the Mycenaean civilisation.
Among the many geographical identifications of Homeric locations in the Baltic by Vinci is his claim that Mycenae was probably located on the same site as Copenhagen and associated Thebes with Stockholm [019.218]. Compare this with Iman Wilkens‘s claim that Mycenae had been situated in northern France [610.121] !
However, it was Martin Persson Nilsson (1874-1967), a Swedish historian, who was an earlier proponent of a Nordic origin for the Mycenaeans. A Northern European location for Mycenae (and Sparta) has also been proposed by John Esse Larsen, who has specified Hareskov in northeast Denmark(d).
However, recent genetic studies suggest that the mainland Mycenaeans and the Cretan Minoans share a common ancestry with Neolithic populations of what are today Turkey and Greece(c).
Stavros Papamarinopoulos claims[750.73] that the Athens described by Plato in the Critias is an accurate description of Mycenaean Athens>and then leaps to the conclusion that because the details of Athens provided by Plato are correct then it must follow that his depiction of Atlantis is equally reliable! For me, this is an unacceptable non sequitur, as Plato lived ln Athens and would have been fully aware of the city’s landmarks and tradition. On the other hand, he had not been to Atlantis, in fact, he was somewhat vague regarding its actual location. Jason Colavito also took issue with Papamarinopoulos’ contention(f).
There is evidence of Mycenaean warriors fighting alongside Egyptian soldiers of the 18th Dynasty(e)!<
Austen Atkinson in his Impact Earth suggested the possibility that the unexplained ending of the Mycenaean civilisation could be explained as a consequence of Earth’s encounter with Phaëton referred to by Plato (Tim.22c-d).
However, there are current studies(a) being made into the possibility that earthquakes were responsible for the demise of the Mycenaeans and the start of the Greek ‘Dark Ages’.
However, the earthquake theory is also under attack(b), with the proposal that either an uprising or invasion was responsible for the demise of Mycenaean Greece.
The Atlantean Navy consisted of 1,200 ships, according to Plato. Such a fleet would be totally unnecessary unless your potential enemies had a similar force. It is worth noting that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data. Homer records that the Achaean fleet consisted of 1,186 ships, a number that could be naturally rounded up to 1,200 – a coincidence?
Similarly, Herodotus records that the Persians had a fleet of 1,207 triremes at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). It is a further remarkable coincidence that of all the military statistics recorded by Plato, the only number that is not an exact thousand, relates to the size of the Atlantean fleet. A number that is the rounded value of the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War and the Persian fleet which attacked Athens just 50 years before Plato was born. It is not improbable that 1,200 was used in this isolated instance as a representation of the ultimate in naval power at that time! A website that reviews the classical sources relating to the Persian fleet in greater detail is available(c).
Since conventional archaeology identifies the Bronze Age Greeks and the Phoenicians in the Eastern Mediterranean as possessors of the earliest navies, the possibility of a naval force of such a great size 9600 BC is considered improbable if not completely impossible. Recent discoveries in Cyprus have provided evidence of primitive seafaring in the region as early as 12,000 years ago. However, it appears that occasional travellers from Turkey and Syria who utilised crude stone tools arrived there in rather small boats. We are therefore forced to conclude that Plato’s reference to a powerful navy supporting an extensive merchant fleet is either a heavy embellishment of a real story regarding a prehistoric civilisation or an allusion to an actual Bronze Age thalassocracy.
An interesting series of illustrated articles(a) on ancient ships offers a useful background for the study of the Atlantean Navy.
Plato describes the Atlanteans as using triremes which is quite improbable as they were probably not developed until around the 7th century BC(b). It is more likely that Plato used the term trireme to make his narrative more relevant to his Greek audience.
Achaean is a term that has been applied in a variety of ways over the past 4,000 years to identify different groups and geographical areas. Originally it described the first of the Greek-speaking peoples who arrived on mainland Greece around 2000 BC. Homer also referred to them as Achaioi as well as Argives and Danai (Strabo 8.6.5). Achaioi was probably the Anatolian name for them. Argives refers to the inhabitants of Argos and the Danai were the descendants of the Egyptian Danus who moved to Argos. Homer used Danai as a general term applied to all Greeks. Similarly, it is quite possible that Atlantis and the individual members of their alliance had each been known by a number of different names.
The Achaeans were the founders of the city of Mycenae, in the North-Eastern Peloponnese, which gave its name to the Mycenaean civilisation of Late Bronze Age Greece (1700-1200 BC). There is no consensus regarding their origin. There is some agreement that the Hittites knew them as Ahhiyawa. Rodney Castleden expands on this idea in his Mycenaeans. Helike, one of their cities, was destroyed in 373 BC, by inundation following an earthquake in a similar manner to the destruction of Atlantis as described by Plato.Iain Stewart also supports Helike, the former capital of the Achaean League, as the most likely inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis story(b).
Today Achaea is the name of an administrative area of Greece.
>Marin, Minella & Schievenin in The Three Ages of Atlantis claim that the Egyptians and the Hittites referred to the Achaeans as the Sea Peoples [972.267]! In common with many, Iman Wilkens maintains that ‘Achaean’ means ‘watermen’ or ‘Sea People’(a), which has other obvious implications. The most popular specific identification is with those that the Egyptians referred to as the Ekwesh.(c)<