Eclipses were often considered to be portents of disaster, however, we are not concerned with such superstitious ideas. However, some records of ancient eclipses have been sufficiently detailed to enable them to be used as chronological anchors. Stavros Papamarinopoulos has used such records to date the Trojan War(d). A 2012 paper by Göran Henriksson also used eclipse data to date that war(e).
>Andis Kaulins has also written an extensive 2004 paper(f) on the Nebra Sky Disk in which he concluded “that the Nebra Sky Disk records the solar eclipse of April 16, 1699, BC for posterity. This interpretation allows not only for a partial explanation of the Nebra Sky Disk but in fact, explains all of the elements found on the disk in an integrated astronomical context which abides by the rules of the burden of proof.”
The biblical story of Joshua and the sun ‘standing still’ has been identified as a description of an eclipse that has now been dated to October 30, 1207 BC(g) in a paper by David Sedley, who notes that the event “also helps pinpoint reigns of Pharaohs Ramesses and Merneptah“<
Encyclopedia Britannica notes(b) that “well over 1,000 individual eclipse records are extant from various parts of the ancient and medieval world. Most known ancient observations of these phenomena originate from only three countries: China, Babylonia, and Greece. No eclipse records appear to have survived from ancient Egypt or India, for example. Whereas virtually all Babylonian accounts are confined to astronomical treatises, those from China and Greece are found in historical and literary works as well. However, the earliest reliable observation is from Ugarit of a total solar eclipse that happened on March 3, 1223, BCE. The first Assyrian record dates from much later, June 15, 763 BCE. From then on, numerous Babylonian and Chinese observations are preserved.”
On the other hand evidence of eclipse prediction does not go back as far, although in the 1960s when the 56 Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge were interpreted as functioning as an eclipse predictor by astronomers Gerald Hawkins and Sir Fred Hoyle, and by amateur enthusiast C.A. `Peter’ Newham, it brought an outcry from the archaeological community.
In 2015, William S. Downey published a paper with the intriguing title of ‘The Cretan middle bronze age ‘Minoan Kernos’ was designed to predict a total solar eclipse and to facilitate a magnetic compass’(a).
The Phaistos Disk, also from Crete has been described as an eclipse predictor as well(c), but this is just one of the many and widely varied theories.
In my opinion, the object we have with the greatest potential as a predictor is the Antikythera Mechanism, dating to around 200 BC. However, nothing so far can be definitively proven as an eclipse predictor.
Babylonia was one of the great nations of ancient Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq. Its capital, Babylon, was founded towards the end of the third millennium BC(a). For many, it is best known for its frequent mention in the Bible. The region has also produced what is arguably the earliest epic narrative in the form of The Epic of Gilgamesh, who was a semi-mythical king. In it, we have a flood myth, which is accepted by some as an earlier version of Noah’s Deluge account(b).
Babylonian astronomy can be traced back to the fourth millennium BC(c), although some argue that their interest was in astrology rather than what we would call scientific astronomy(d). The idea that the Babylonians had knowledge of precession has also been challenged by Gary David Thompson(h). A similar debate concerns the claim that the Babylonians had used trigonometry more than a thousand years before Hipparchus(e).
Another claim that has produced additional controversy relates to what has been claimed as ‘the oldest map of the world’. This relates to a clay tablet discovered in 1899 and now housed in the British Museum. The claim to be a world map stems from what appears to be a depiction of the ‘ocean’ that at the time was thought to surround the known world. This is similar to the later Greek understanding of the world. According to one interpretation of the tablet, the Babylonians saw themselves at the centre of a world that we would consider now to be regional in extent(j).
Stephen Kershaw, an Atlantis sceptic, noted that “Herodotus’ History includes a memorable description of the city of Babylon, which may have had a considerable influence on Plato’s description of Atlantis in the Critias.” (i).
Dieter Bremer has identified references to Atlantis in various ancient Mesopotamian traditions(g) that, for him, justify his claim that Atlantis was a space station! This daft idea of an Akkadian connection he supports by quotations from the Bible and Homer and also some modern writers. All his ravings are in German only, but MSEdge will translate them automatically.
Any suggested connection between the Babylonians and Atlantis is lacking any real foundation. Thorwald C. Franke summed it up as follows:
Babylon = Atlantis?
The city of Babylon has a many-fold symbolic meaning for the history of humankind: First, as the best-known Mesopotamian city, it is a symbol of the development of urban civilization in the course of the history of humankind. Secondly, from the biblical records, Babylon became a symbol of decadence and arrogance which lead to decay. Because of this symbolism, some identified Babylon with Atlantis.
But similar symbolism should not seduce to an identification. Babylon is not on an island, it is a quadratic, not a circular-shaped city, and the biblical myth of the Tower of Babel has no correspondence with Plato’s Atlantis account. Indeed, Babylon is old enough for Atlantis but the Bible especially refers to the neo-Babylonian empire 626-539 BC.
For adherents of the invention hypothesis, Babylon is considered to be one of the models after which Plato allegedly invented the Atlantis account. But even under this perspective, the similarities are much too vague in order to make reliable statements on the question.”
Cartography is defined by The International Cartographic Association “as the discipline dealing with the conception, production, dissemination and study of maps.” The earliest land maps can be traced back to Babylonia around 1400 BC. In 2017, Evangelos Livieratos, Professor Emeritus of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki Cartography Department, offered evidence that the ancient Greeks were the first to develop a primitive GPS system, using the stars and their relationship with the earth’s surface(g).
O.A.W. Dilkie (1915-1993) was an English classical scholar and the author of a well-regarded paper Greek and Roman Maps . The BBC offered an overview of the development of cartography since the 15th century(k).
The subject entered the Atlantis arena in 1665 with the publication of a speculative map(a) of Atlantis, situated in the Atlantic, by Athanasius Kircher. It was allegedly based on earlier Egyptian maps, but unfortunately, there has been no corroborative evidence to support this contention. Kircher’s map had been used to bolster a variety of location theories – Azores, Russia, Baffin Bay and Greenland, Kircher himself favoured the Azores.
Hy-Brasil was reputed to be an island to the west of Ireland and frequently associated with the story of Atlantis. The Genoese cartographer, Angellino de Dalorto (fl.1339), placed Hy-Brasil on a map as early as 1325. It is further claimed that Dalorto, sometimes known as Angelino Dulcert, also depicted Australia on his 1339 portolan chart(l).
However, on some 15th-century maps, the islands of the Azores appear as Isola de Brazil, or Insulla de Brazil. Apparently, it was not until as late as 1865 that Hy-Brasil was finally removed from official naval charts.
Another feature on ancient that can confuse is the placing of the south at the top of old charts, two examples of which are Kircher’s map of Atlantis and Al-Idrisi’s Tabula Rogeriana. Caroline Williams has an interesting article(e) on the BBC website relating to the history of map orientation.
The unreliability of early maps is highlighted by the manner in which California has been depicted. In the 16th century, the maps of both Mercator and Ortelius correctly show Baja California as a peninsula, but in the following 17th and 18th centuries, it became an island on many charts despite written evidence to the contrary. There is a website dedicated to a study of the ‘island of California’(I), which incongruously ends with a brief reference to Atlantis, placing it in the Atlantic in the Region of Bermuda.
Donald S. Johnson in his well-illustrated Phantom Islands of the Atlantic discusses in detail the history of seven legendary islands. This fascinating book offers every reason to treat the details of early cartography with extreme caution.
Further difficulties with old cartography are the result of early mapmakers having a dread of blank spaces, a view outlined in a recent (Nov. 2017) National Geographic online article(h).
The most widely referred to map in relation to Atlantis as well as advanced ancient civilisations is the Piri Reis chart. This arguably depicts an ice-free Antarctica and has been used to develop the idea that Atlantis had been located there and was destroyed when a sudden pole shift caused the southern icecap to move to its present position. Rose and Rand Flem-Ath are the leading proponents of this idea based on the findings of Charles Hapgood. Other maps such as that of Phillipe Buache, the renowned French geographer, published in 1737, are claimed to show an ice-free Antarctica.
It is claimed by Ivan Petricevic that The Ben Zara Map of 1487 “displays remnants of glaciers in Britain, but also extremely detailed depictions of islands in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Today, these islands still exist, but due to rising water levels, these are now underwater.”(j)
Dale Drinnon had an interesting if speculative, article on ancient maps and their possible relevance to the story of Atlantis(b). Another article in Atlantis Rising magazine (July/August 2014) argues that the quality of medieval navigational charts (portolans) of the Mediterranean exceeded the capabilities of the instruments and knowledge in the region at that time and must have originated elsewhere. However, Roel Nicolai at Holland’s Utrecht University, who expressed these sentiments, was unwilling to nominate Atlantis as the source of the maps(c).
When asked in a recent interview what he meant by ‘advanced civilisation Graham Hancock revealed(u) that “I think we’re talking about a civilization – more than 12,000 years ago – which was as advanced as our civilization was, say in the late 18th century or early 19th century. In other words, they could navigate the world, they could explore the world, they could measure the world accurately, they had precise astronomy, they could create beautiful maps that were accurate in terms of latitude and longitude. That kind of level of civilization.”
Enrique García Barthe is an Argentinian cartographer who has an interesting Spanish/English website(d) dealing with pre-Columbian maps. Although many people have heard of the Piri Reis Map and the controversy surrounding it, García Barthe introduces a lot of new maps that appear to complement Piri Reis.
In 2015, Melissa Brooks used the data in the Atlantipedia chronology of location theories to develop a map(f) showing the distribution and level of support for the various theories on offer.
(b) See: Archive 3591
Hecatæus of Miletus (c. 550-476 BC) was one of the earliest Greek geographers. His view of the ‘world’ was that the then current concept of a landmass with the Mediterranean at its centre, encompassed by Europe and parts of Africa and Asia, all of which are surrounded by the Great Ocean or Okeanos. What is interesting about this model is that it does not show any island opposite the Strait of Gibraltar or even a hint of a ‘continent’ opposite as described by Plato. It should be noted that Hecatæus lived after Solon and also visited the priests of Egypt. As he did not make provision on his map for Atlantis it would suggest that he was not given the story or if he was, he was too sceptical to record it. In fact Hecatæus was inclined to dismiss much of Greek mythology as ‘ridiculous’.
Robin Lane Fox, the English classicist, wrote that the Hecateus located the Pillars of Heracles at Gibraltar[1403.208].
It is of interest that during his visit to Egypt, Hecateus was shown 345 statues by the priests at Thebes that represented as many generations of high priests. It is thought that he was not impressed by this claim. However, this reference has been employed as evidence for the great antiquity of the Egyptians and as firm support for Plato’s date of 9600 BC for the war with Atlantis.
Also worth noting is the fact that many decades later when Herodotus was shown the same collection of statues along with a similar claim of antiquity, the number recorded had dropped to 341!
Peter James has pointed out [047.75] that in the ancient world it was commonplace for nations to claim the greatest antiquity for their homeland, with Egypt, Phrygia and Babylonia being prominent contenders.
The Egyptian God–Kings have been equated with the original ten Kings of Atlantis by R. Cedric Leonard. He points out how Manetho, the Egyptian historian writing in the 2nd century BC, refers to the Egyptian god-kings having reigned “in a foreign land” thousands of years before Plato. Leonard has compared Manetho’s list with that of the Turin Papyrus and discovered a remarkable similarity between the two lists of god-kings. In addition, he points out(a) that the Turin Papyrus records the next series of kings in 9850 BC. It is important to note that both the Turin Papyrus and the writings of Manetho are the subject of some debate regarding their reliability.
Frank Joseph pointed out that ten kings ruled both Sumer and Babylonia before a great Flood, while Genesis refers to ten antediluvian ‘patriarchs’.
Joseph Robert Jochmans identified(b) similar parallels between the recorded dynasties of the ancient Middle East.