The Fauna of Atlantis as described by Plato has done little to pinpoint its location and is clearly a subject for further investigation. However, pinpointing is the wrong word since Atlantis stretched from North Africa as far north as central Italy, so there is probably a wide geographical spread to the fauna noted by Plato.
In Critias he refers to ‘flocks’ (111c) implying sheep and/or goats; bees (111c), elephants (114e); horses (117b); bulls (119d). He also mentions sable clothing (120b) but these were possibly imported.
The most problematic of these is the reference to elephants, a term that could be loosely applied to a number of related species including mastodons, mammoths, the Indian, the African and dwarf elephants. The habitat of the latter diminutive creatures stretched from Siberia as far south as the equator. The remains of dwarf elephants have been found on the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus.
Pygmy elephant is the term applied to some species found today in parts of Asia and Africa. However ‘pygmy’ or ‘dwarf’ elephants could hardly be described as “largest and most voracious” of animals (Critias 115a).
However, there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(b)(e). Atlantis sceptic, Ronald H. Fritze, an Atlantis sceptic, acknowledges[709.25] the existence of elephants in North Africa until the Romans.
The species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(c). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare (d). It would seem to me that the North African Elephant, rather than the Asian or African species, would have been more suited to the trek across the Alps. Needless to say the Atlas Mountains were part of the Atlantean sphere of influence (Timaeus 25a-b).
Eckart Kahlhofer believes that the elephants referred to by Plato were in fact deer, claiming that a scribal error resulted in the Greek word elaphos (deer) being transcribed as elephas (elephant).
R. Cedric Leonard has written an interesting paper(a) on the early domestication of animals and its possible connection with Atlantis.
Patrick Archer is the author of an astoundingly sparse three page website(a). In less than 100 words he controversially offers a North African location for Eden and Ararat as well as an equally contentious explanation for the biblical Deluge, namely that an isthmus had connected the Apennines of Italy with the Atlas Mountains of North Africa and had collapsed and sank. Archer further contends that Atlantis had been located on this isthmus.
It is time for this writer to realise that assertion is no substitute for evidence.
In October 2011, Patrick Archer complained that I had been unfairly critical. A short correspondence ensued, which I have posted as Archive 3923.
>Archer has now expanded into new territory with a claim that he had deciphered the Minoan Linear A script(b). In fact, he has offered an interpretation of just four characters!<
Meropes, according to Ignatius Donnelly, was the name applied by the classical writer Theopompus to the inhabitants of Atlantis. This reference is to be found in the works of Aelian (Bk III, Chap. XVIII) that in fact does not mention Atlantis but refers to a huge distant continent that may in fact, as some speculate, have been an early reference to America.>A Swiss Archaeologist, Emil Forrer (1894-1986), was the first researcher to present a comprehensive, interdisciplinary argument to support this assumption that the land of Meropis, located ‘beyond the Ocean’ was a reference to the American continent(a).<
The Greek historian Strabo wrote (Book VII) of an island with an advanced culture called Meropis and its inhabitants Meropes. He also supported the reality of Plato’s Atlantis story.
Jean Gattefossé contended that the Atlas Mountains of North Africa were also known as the Meros. He believed that these mountains had previously bounded a large inland sea that has been referred to as both the Meropic and Atlantic Sea.
*Frank Joseph has speculated that “Merope was probably the name of an allied kingdom or colony of the Atlantean Empire in coastal North Africa, perhaps, occupying the southern half of present-day Morocco” [104.186].
In 1898, the American novelist, H.H. Buckman (1858-1914), published Merope or The Destruction of Atlantis , which uses a fictional account of the final days of Atlantis as a backdrop to what is classified by some to be an early example of science fiction.*
Meropes is also an ancient name for the inhabitants of the Greek island of Kos.
Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-21 BC) was born in Agyrium, Sicily. He travelled extensively through Europe and Asia gathering information that was to be incorporated in his Bibliotheca Historica, a work of forty books divided into three parts. Unfortunately, only the first five books are extant(a). He quotes extensively from an earlier historian Skytobrachion. Nevertheless in this remnant of his work we find Diodorus making a number of references to Atlantis.
He calls the land bordered by the Atlantic and surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, ‘Atlantis’, which would be modern Morocco. Diodorus tells how a great king there, renowned as an astrologer, called Atlas, named the whole region and the sea after himself. Diodorus writes that following the death of the Titan, Hyperion, the world was divided among the sons of Uranus. Accordingly, Cronus and Atlas were given the regions on the coast of Oceanus (Atlantic). A mountain was called after Atlas and the local inhabitants named Atlantioi.
What is strange here is that according to Greek myth, Atlas is noted as the son of Iapetus, yet Plato has Atlas as the son of Poseidon. This divergence between Diodorus and Plato would seem to indicate that Diodorus was NOT depending on Plato for details of his Atlantis story. Plato did not refer to an astrologer and gives a different lineage for Atlas.
Diodorus claims that the people of Atlantis had no knowledge of the fruits of Ceres the Roman goddess of plant growth. This appears to suggest that the Atlanteans did not have cereals and consequently no bread or brewing! It may be worth noting that American Indians also lacked any knowledge of cereals.
He also writes about the Amazons, a warlike tribe ruled by women, from North Africa, where they lived on an island in ancient Lake Tritonis. He relates how this lake disappeared when earthquakes created a breach to the Mediterranean. This latter point may have particular relevance to atlantologists who identify the Tunisian coastal region as the location of Atlantis.
Diodorus gives details of a war fought by the Amazons against the Atlantioi, which they won. He also relates how the Phoenicians discovered in the Atlantic, an island of great wealth and beauty (Book V) and that this island was found by accident when they were carried by the Atlantic currents to its shores. This could not have been Atlantis as the island was discovered long after it was supposed to have been submerged, leaving just shoals of mud.
Jean-Baptiste Izouard Delisle de Sales (1741-1816) was a French philosopher who ventured into the dangerous waters of speculative atlantology with the idea that Atlantis had been originally situated in the Caucasus. In volume 3 of his multi-volume work, Histoire nouvelle de tous les peuples du monde ou Histoire des homes, he hypothesized that following a catastrophic flood in that region, refugees migrated east and west. Some ended up in the Atlas Mountains from where they got their name. Delisle de Sales believed that the Atlantis of Plato was situated between Italy and Carthage. This view was a consequence of identifying Homer’s Ogygia, the island of Calypso, with Atlantis. He then assumed that Sardinia was a remnant of this island.This led to his identification of the Gulf of Tunis as the location of the Pillars of Heracles. The original French text of Book III, which relates to Atlantis can be read online(a).
Delisle de Sales, writing in the 18th century cited an anonymous source who placed Atlantis in Taprobane, considered at the time to be a reference to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), not Dhani Irwanto’s Indonesian Kilmantan.
Michael Hissmann (1752-1784) who translated the first book of Delisle de Sales’ Histoire into German added his own commentary that supported an Atlantic location for Atlantis.
It is worth noting that Delisle de Sales included Fabre d’Olivet, the occultist, in his social circle.
Cro–Magnon Man, who emerged around 37,000 years ago and disappeared at the end of the Last Ice Age. He is often described as having a dome-shaped cranium and broad forehead and a brain capacity of 1,600 cc, which is greater than modern man. His skull has thick eyebrow projections and a bony protrusion at the back that is characteristic of both Neanderthal man and Homo erectus. Blavatsky(c), Sepehr(d) along with a number of investigators(e) have suggested that they may have been the original Atlanteans. They have pointed to the physical traits listed above together with blood grouping and linguistic similarities to be found in the same regions of Western Europe and North Africa.
Robert John Langdon also claims that “Cro-Magnon/Atlanteans colonised America” based on a study of blood group distribution(b). R. Cedric Leonard is another supporter of the idea of Cro-Magnons in America(h), citing the work of Dennis Stanford & Bruce Bradley . Leonard offered a more complex view of Cro-Magnons on his now-closed website, but excerpts are available elsewhere(j).
Physical anthropology has identified the modern remnants of Cro-Magnon Man in the Berbers and Tuaregs of North Africa, the Basques of Northern Spain together with small population pockets in the Dordogne Valley and Brittany in France. The highest incidence of Rhesus-negative blood in the world is to be found among the Basques. Similar high levels of Rhesus-negative blood are to be found among the inhabitants of the Canaries and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco; areas where Cro-Magnons lived. This fact is seen as evidence for claiming that the Basques are directly descended from Cro-Magnon Man.
On the basis of skull shape, William Howells and Bertil Lundman have supported this view. The regions that were home to Cro-Magnon Man, in Upper Paleolithic times, were comparable with those occupied by their latter-day successors such as the now-extinct Guanches of the Canaries and the Basques.
R. Cedric Leonard is probably the best-known modern proponent of the Atlantean Cro-Magnon idea(f), he refers to the work of Oliviera Martins, who in the 1930s, pointed out that many of the Cro-Magnon people have given themselves distinguishing names with the suffix ’tani’ from the Mauritani of North Africa to the Bretani of Brittany and Britain. Leonard also insists that an analysis of the languages of these groups of people points to a relationship with each other while being quite different from the other languages of Europe or the Near East. He thinks that it is quite possible that these ancient languages date back to the cultures of the Ice Age. Leonard also refers to what he calls “an anomalous Cro-Magnon/Atlantis outpost” in northern Palestine(a).
Alexander Marshack (1918-2004) was an American journalist turned archaeologist, who, in the 1970s, offered evidence that markings on a number of bones from the Upper Paleolithic were used as lunar calendars to mark the passage of time. Similar markings have been identified on the painted walls of the famous Cro-Magnon Lascaux caves in France(g).
At the Paleolithic site at Little Salt Spring in Florida an antler incised with 28 notches was reported in 2011(i). Commenting on this, Caleb Everett has proposed [1776.30] that “In fact the marks suggest that this piece of antler is the oldest known New World artifact used for calendrical purposes.” If confirmed, it will go some way towards vindicating the much-criticised theories of Marshack!
This combination of date, geographical spread, language and physical similarities offers a reasonable basis for postulating the idea of a coherent civilisation along the European and North African Atlantic seaboards and in the Atlantic itself, at the end of the last Ice Age that could be accommodated by one interpretation of Plato’s Atlantis. Lewis Spence was a supporter of this possibility.
The possibility of a Cro-Magnon connection with Atlantis has inspired an American writer, Ernest Warner, to produce a number of novels based on this concept starting with The Cro-Magnon Archipelago: Atlantis Reborn, in 2021.
(a) https://www.atlantisquest.com/Outpost.html (offline March 2018) See Archive 2260
The Atlas Mountains stretch for over 1,500 miles across the Maghreb of North-West Africa, from Morocco through Algeria to Tunisia. The origin of the name is unclear but seems to be generally accepted as having been named after the Titan.
Herodotus states (The Histories, Book IV. 42-43) that the inhabitants of ancient Mauretania (modern Morocco) were known as Atlantes and took their name from the nearby mount Atlas. Jean Gattefosse believed that the Atlas Mountains were also known as the Meros and that a large inland sea bounded by the range had been known as both the Meropic and the Atlantic Sea. Furthermore, he contended that Nysa had been a seaport on this inland sea.
The Maghreb, or parts of it, have been identified as the location of Atlantis by a number of commentators. One of the earliest was Ali Bey El Abbassi, who wrote of the Atlas Mountains being the ancient island of Atlantis when what is now the Sahara held a huge interior sea in the centre of Africa.
Ulrich Hofmann concluded his presentation at the 2005 Atlantis Conference with the comment that “based on Plato’s detailed description it can be concluded that Atlantis was most likely identical with the Maghreb.”[629.377] Furthermore, he has proposed that the Algerian Chott-el-Hodna has a ring structure deserving of investigation.
My contention is that the Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa are the mountains referred to by Plato in Critias 118, where he describes the mountains north of the Plain of Atlantis as being the most numerous, the highest and most beautiful. Certainly, within the Mediterranean region, they are the only ones that could match the superlatives used by Plato. In isolation, the Atlas ranges can justifiably be proposed as the peaks referred to by Plato, but there is much more to justify this identification.
The North African climate was slightly wetter in the 2nd & 3rd centuries BC, later, Algeria, Egypt and particularly Tunisia, became the ‘breadbaskets’ of Rome (b). Even today well-irrigated plains in Tunisia can produce two crops a year, usually planted with the autumnal rains and harvested in the early spring and again planted in the spring and harvested in late summer. The Berbers of Morocco produce two crops a year — cereals in winter and vegetables in summer(a).
There is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(d)(e). The New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(c) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire. These were full-sized animals and not to be confused with the remains of pygmy elephants found on some Mediterranean islands. Plato refers to many herds of elephants, which he describes (Critias 115a) as being ‘the largest and most voracious’ of all the animals of Atlantis.
On top of all that, the only unambiguous geographical clues to the extent of the Atlantean confederation are that it controlled southern Italy as far as Tyrrhenia (Etruria) and northwest Africa as far as Egypt as well as some islands (Tim.25b & Crit.114c). So we have fertile plains with magnificent mountains to the north, inhabited by elephants and controlled by Atlanteans. Q.E.D.
Atlantisforschung noted that the German Atlantis researcher Paul Borchardt, who suspected Atlantis to be in the region of Tunisia, derived the name Ampheres from a Berber tribe called “Am-Phares”: ” They are undoubtedly the Pharusii of Ptolemy (IV, 6, 17) in the Wadi Draa south of the Atlas. Am means people. The name is still very common today. Borchardt thus localizes “, as Ulrich Hofmann, an expert on Borchard’s work, remarks, ‘ the area of ??the Ampheres on the southwestern edge of the Maghreb, in modern-day Morocco, south of the up to 2500m high Atlas Mountains.’(a)
Gulf of Gabés on the eastern coast of Tunisia was formerly known as Syrtis Minor. Today is contains the Tunisian oil reserves and has the distinction of having one of the few significant tidal ranges (max. 8 feet) in the Mediterranean, which exposes extensive sandbanks at low tides(b).
Inland from the Gulf are the salt marshes or chotts that originally constituted an inland sea, possibly Lake Tritonis, connected with the Mediterranean but due to a seismic upheaval a ridge was created separating them from the outer sea. A comparable event was the 2011 Fukushima earthquake which moved the seafloor 16 meters vertically and 50 metres laterally(a).
In the 19th century François Roudaire proposed the cutting of a channel from the Gulf of Gabés to the chotts, recreating the former inland sea(c).
His plan was supported by Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894), who developed the Suez Canal. However, when Roudaire surveyed the chott nearest the sea, Chott el-Djerid, he discovered that it was in fact lying significantly above sea level. This forced him to revise the scale of the plan, which in turn began the erosion of support for the project, which was eventually abandoned.
It is interesting that the idea of creating a vast inland sea in the Sahara has been been raised again(d) in the context of the current climate change, which, if unchecked, will raise sea levels dramatically. The objective of this new inland sea would be to partly offset this sea level rise.
Férréol Butavand was one of the first to locate Atlantis in the Gulf of Gabés. In 1929 Dr. Paul Borchardt, the German geographer, claimed to have located Atlantis between the chotts and the Gulf. Dr. Anton Mifsud has drawn attention to the writings of the Greek author, Palefatus of Paros, who stated (cap. 32) that the Columns of Heracles were located close to the island of Kerkenna at the western end of Syrtis Minor.
Alberto Arecchi has built on the earlier work of Butavand and places Atlantis firmly in the Gulf(e) when sea levels were much lower as a result of an isthmus separating Eastern from Western Mediterranean.
George Sarantitis delivered three papers to the 2008 Atlantis Conference also locating the Pillars of Heracles in the Gulf of Gabés, which led to the ‘Atlantic Sea in modern Tunisia and Algeria, south of the Atlas Mountains and the site of Atlantis.
(d) Emancipatory Oceanic Macro-engineering Richard B. Cathcart (See Archive 5079)