Bory de Saint Vincent
Pierre-André Latreille (1762-1833) was an ordained priest as well as the leading entomologist of his day. He was arrested during the French Revolution and was sentenced to death, but was released as a result of the intervention of Bory de Saint Vincent. It appears that Latreille subscribed to the idea that Plato’s war was just a version of the war between the Persians and the Athenians and consequently Atlantis should be sought in Attica of which Athens was the capital.
In his 1819 book.
Georges-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon (1707-1788) was an eminent French naturalist who ruffled a few feathers when he carried out extensive experiments in order to calculate the age of the Earth. He arrived at a figure of 74,832 years that ran counter to the views of many of his mid-18th century contemporaries.
He also commented that the Atlantis story was an “ancient tradition that is not devoid of probability” and proposed that Atlantis had been situated on landmasses that had connected Ireland with the Azores and with America, although his reference to Atlantis is not as specific as it should have been.
In 1749 Buffon speculated in his Histoire et théorie de la terre, that the Mediterranean had been dry until an earthquake allowed the Atlantic to pour in.
John S. Bowman in his The Quest for Atlantis paraphrasing Buffon wrote that “this rush of water washed away Atlantis”(p.108), clearly reflects the ambiguity of Buffon’s words, which were intended to suggest that the inward rush of water into the Mediterranean somehow destroyed Atlantis in the Atlantic!
Buffon also proposed that the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Malta and others were just the mountain tops of the formerly dry Mediterranean. Some have erroneously linked Buffon’s two statements and concluded that Buffon believed that Atlantis had been situated in the Mediterranean. It is understandable, given that Buffon’s statement regarding the breaching of an isthmus at Gibraltar leading to the destruction of Atlantis follows on immediately after the non-specific passage about the Atlantic. Today, it is easier to believe that water gushing into the Mediterranean could destroy a civilisation located there rather than damage land in the Atlantic, where the only effects there might be a lowering of the sea level and expansion of the land area.
However, what is not generally known is that at that time many Europeans who accepted that Atlantis existed in the Atlantic, usually at different locations, attributed its demise to events in the Mediterranean. Tournefort thought Atlantis had been submerged by an outflow of water from the Mediterranean following an earthquake there. Bory de St. Vincent proposed that volcanic events in the Mediterranean drove water out into the Atlantic drowning Atlantis. Combined with Buffon’s theory, the Age of Enlightenment seems to have been the Age of Speculation.
Paul Jordan in The Atlantis Syndrome wrote that “Buffon thought that Atlantis had been flooded when Atlantic waters poured into the Mediterranean”
David Hatcher-Childress extended the boundaries of literary licence when he claimed in his Lost Cities of Atlantis that Buffon “suggested that Atlantis had existed near Sicily when the Mediterranean was dry land (p.178). Hatcher-Childress cited Sprague de Camp’s Lost Continents where that much quoted author wrote that Buffon “thought that Atlantis had been washed away by water flowing in the opposite direction, from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean” (p.86).
Buffon tantalisingly refers(a) to the idea of a dry Mediterranean being supported by the testimony of the elders, mentioning Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. He also notes that at Strait of Gibraltar the geological strata on the opposite coasts of Africa and Spain are the same at comparable levels.
Buffon’s Histoire et théorie de la terre was just the first in a series that eventually became an encyclopedia of 37 volumes collectively entitled Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière.
In 1792 an English translation of the first ten volumes was published by J.S.Barr of London. Volume One (and others) are available as a free ebooks(b).
Baron Jean Baptise Geneviëve Marcellin Bory de Saint Vincent (1778-1846) was a Frenchman with a lifelong fascination with botany and proud owner of a very wide business card. He joined the army where he developed an interest in cartography. His career brought him to the Canaries and other islands of the eastern Atlantic, where his interest in the Guanches prompted him, over two hundred years ago, to write an illustrated work in which he primarily built on the Atlantean references of Diodorus. He clearly identifies the Guanches of the Canary Islands with the Atlanteans and describes the invasion of North Africa by the Atlanteans and Amazons after the submergence of their homeland. Apart from the evidence of Diodorus he has based his conclusions on geological observations, which were that Atlantis had been a large island continent that existed in the Atlantic. He claimed that volcanic activity destroyed most of this island forcing the Atlanteans to invade Europe and eventually to war with the Athenians. Bory believed that the Canaries, Madeiras and Azores are all that are left of this once great continent!
However, in a letter dated 15/11/1822, that recently went on sale, he confessed that his earlier theories were wrong(a).
A Gibraltar Landbridge or Dam is generally accepted to have existed on a number of occasions during the earth’s history. There is a broad consensus among geologists that the last time a totally enclosed and desiccated Mediterranean had its barrier to the Atlantic breached was around 5.3 million years ago. One well-illustrated website(h) attributes this rupture to a meteor impact!
Today, we generally think of the Strait of Gibraltar as the only gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, while in fact there is evidence that millions of years ago the Strait was closed but that there were other access routes between the two bodies of water(n). The Betic Corridor in the north, which later became part of the Spanish Guadalquivir Basin and the Rifian Corridor in the south, in what is now Morocco.
However, a number of experts in different fields (noted by Van Sertima) have opted to suggest a more recent landbridge, perhaps 120,000 years ago, in order to explain some of the faunal migrations from Africa to the Iberian Peninsula. The 18th century writer Georges-Louis Buffon speculated as early as 1749 on the existence of a Gibraltar Dam. Alexander Braghine refers[156.21] to a Bishop Tollerat, a contemporary of Bory de Saint Vincent, claiming that a Gibraltar landbridgen was breached by an earthquake and led to the submergence of Atlantis. Unfortunately, I have been unable to track down Tollerat.
Even popular fiction featured the idea of a Gibraltar landbridge. In 1869, Mark Twain in chapter 7 of Innocents Abroad voiced a then current theory that there had been dry land between Gibraltar and North Africa allowing the passage northward of the so-called ‘Barbary apes’ that live on the ‘Rock’ today.
In 1921, H.G.Wells, in The Outline of History, offered a graphic, although speculative, description of the breaching of the Gibraltar Dam(g). He wrote that “This refilling of the Mediterranean, which by the rough chronology we are employing in this book may have happened somewhen between 30,000 and 10,000 B.C., must have been one of the greatest single events in the pre-history our race.”
Manuel Sánchez de Ocaña was the Spanish Lieuenant General during the 1909 war in Africa. In a rare 1935 book, Accion de España en Africa(a) (Spanish Action in Africa) he refers to the ancient isthmus that linked Spain and North Africa as well as landbridges linking Europe and America on which he believed Atlantis had been situated.
François de Sarre (1947- ) a noted French evolutionary zoologist who has proposed that a landbridge had existed at Gibraltar, which was only destroyed in relatively recent times, possibly in the second millennium BC. In support of his view he quotes Pomponius Mela, Diodorus Siculus and Pliny.*He has also published a paper, in English, supporting his opinion with a spectrum of faunal evidence(k).*
Others have ventured further and proposed that a dam existed within the experience of man and that its last destruction led to the sinking of Atlantis that many claim was located in the Mediterranean. H. S. Bellamy refers to Strato quoted by Strabo, declaring that originally the strait did not exist but that the barrier was broken through in a cataclysm. Bellamy also quotes Seneca describing how Spain was separated from Africa by earthquakes. Neither of these references could have originated without human witnesses.
Alexander Braghine also added to the idea of a relatively recent landbridge when he wrote[156.139] “We possess a whole series of records of the width of these Straits, left by ancient and medieval writers of various centuries. At the beginning of the fifth century B.C. the width was only half a mile, but the writer Euton in 400 B.C., estimated it at 4 miles; Turiano Greslio, in 300 B.C., at 5 miles; and Titus Livius, at the beginning of the Christian Era, at 7 miles. Victor Vitensa, in A.D. 400, gives the width of the Straits as equal to 12 miles, and at present it is 15 miles wide.”
C. M. Hardy subscribed to the view that there had been a dam at Gibraltar that was breached around 4500 BC with such a force that it also led to the destruction of a landbridge between Tunisia and Italy. He believed that remnants of Atlantis will be found in the seas around Greece.
C. S. Rafinesque, the famous naturalist, claimed that there was a Gibraltar landbridge that was destroyed 654 years after Noah’s Flood. These claims are to be found in chapter 14 of Vol II of The American Nations published in 1836. This volume can now be downloaded for free(e). A creationist website(i) links the breaching of the landbridge with Noah’s Deluge, which the author claims not only flooded the Mediterranean but also spilled into the Black Sea, the Red Sea and also the Persian Gulf. (see below)
The standard argument against the landbridge theory is that although the Atlantic was dramatically lower during the last Ice Age it was not sufficient to expose a land bridge between Spain and Africa at Gibraltar. However, it should be noted that the underwater sill between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean would have been much higher than now. When we consider that the breaching of a landbridge at Gibraltar would have caused an incredible flow of water through the breach (hundreds of times the flow of Niagara Falls), scouring its bottom, so that by the time the levels in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean had equalised, the erosion of the sill between them would have been considerable and when viewed today would misleadingly suggest that the Mediterranean had not have been completely cut off from the Atlantic during the last Ice Age. For the future, the consequence of this is that when (not if) the next Ice Age begins the ocean levels will have to drop even lower if the Mediterranean is to be isolated from the Atlantic once again. An example of what a sudden release of large bodies of water can do is visible in the scablands of North America, created by the breaching of the glacial dam retaining Lake Missoula.
The Spanish researcher Paulino Zamarro contends, in his 2000 book, Del Estrecho de Gibraltar a la Atlantida that a Gibraltar dam was created by silting when the Atlantic was very much lower during the last Ice Age and that it lasted until 7,500 years ago when it was breached and destroyed Atlantis, which he locates in the Cyclades, with the island of Melos containing its capital city. Details of his theory can be found on the Internet(d). A larger version of Zamarro’s map is shown below.
Other researchers such as Constantin Benetatos maintain that this idea is supported by comments of ancient writers who suggest that at one time the Mediterranean had no existence. The philosopher Strato supported by Seneca refer to the sundering of such a dam linking Europe and Africa. The same idea was expressed by Diodorus Siculus, who said that Africa and Europe were joined and separated by Heracles. Such ideas could only have arisen if there had been a Gibraltar Dam far more recently than the conventionally accepted 5.3 million years ago. The lowering of the ocean levels at the beginning of the last Ice Age and the exposure of a landbridge or dam between Spain and Morocco would have had the effect of drying out the Mediterranean due to the fact that loss of water through evaporation in the region is greater than the amount of water from rivers that feed into it.
It is worth considering that although the catastrophic breaching of the Bosporus and consequent expansion of the Black Sea is generally accepted as fact, there are no specific legends to support it apart from a reappraisal of the Flood of Noah. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to point out that a lack of local myth or legend relating to a breaching of a Gibraltar Dam is not proof that such an event did not occur. Furthermore, the area around the mouth of the Mediterranean is geologically unstable and could have been subjected to seismic activity that could have breached or even blocked the strait.
Alberto Arecchi agrees(a) with the concept of an historical land bridge at Gibraltar, but places its breach to around 2300 BC. As already intimated, Constantin Benetatos also believes(b) in the existence of the Gibraltar Dam. Joseph S. Ellul the Maltese writer was probable the first modern author to link the breaching of a Gibraltar landbridge with the destruction of Atlantis, which he claims to have been located adjacent to Malta. He identifies this submergence of Atlantis by the waters of the Atlantic with Noah’s Flood. Ellul interprets Genesis 7:11, 8:2, which refers to the “fountains of the great deep” bursting forth, as a reference to the collapse of the Gibraltar Dam. David Hatcher Childress also supports the idea of such a landbridge and has ventured a date of around 9000 BC for its collapse[620.261] and the consequent flooding of a desiccated Mediterranean.
Georgeos Diaz-Montexano, who has been searching for Atlantis off the coast of Spain and Gibraltar, has favourably referred to Zamarro’s silting theory and included the illustration, shown above, from Zamarro’s book on his websites. A further reference to silting can be read on another website(f).
When the Mediterranean eventually filled up, it is highly probable that it was then that the pressure of its waters led to the flooding of the Black Sea. It is reported that there are scouring marks at the entrance to the Black Sea that are very similar to those at Gibraltar. The date of the putative collapse of the Gibraltar Dam would therefore be marginally earlier, while the Mediterranean basins filled, than the accepted date for the breaching of the Bosporus currently calculated to have been around 5600 BC.
Robert Sarmast’s apparently dormant theory of Atlantis submerged off the coast of Cyprus under what is now a mile of water is totally dependent on the existence of a Gibraltar Dam during the last Ice Age and it being subsequently breached when the level of the Atlantic rose or the even more improbable lowering of the seafloor by a mile, as a consequence of seismic/tectonic activity in the region.
On the basis of evidence(c) offered by the quoted classical writers, the fact that sea levels rose hundreds of feet after the last Ice Age and examples of water damage to temples on elevated ground in Malta and nuraghi in Sardinia it is not unreasonable to conclude that a rupturing of a landbridge at Gibraltar within the last ten thousand year was possible if not probable.
The most dramatic suggestion regarding the creation of the Strait of Gibraltar has been offered by Terry Westerman(l), who has proposed that the rupturing of the landbridge was caused by two meteor impacts.
However, all that must be reconciled with the scientific findings of Kenneth Hsu who dated the last opening of the Gibraltar Strait to 5.5 million years ago(m).
(b) See: Archive 2365
The Identity of the Atlanteans has produced a range of speculative suggestions nearly as extensive as that of the proposed locations for Plato’s lost island. However, it is highly probable that we already know who the Atlanteans were, but under a different name.
The list below includes some of the more popular suggestions and as such is not necessarily exhaustive. While researchers have proposed particular locations for Atlantis, not all have identified an archaeologically identified culture to go with their chosen location. The problem being that most of the places suggested have endured successive invasions over the millennia by different peoples.
It would seem therefore that the most fruitful approach to solving the problem of identifying the Atlanteans would be to first focus on trying to determine the date of the demise of Atlantis. This should reduce the number of possible candidates, making it easier to identify the Atlanteans.
A final point to consider, is that the historical Atlanteans were a military alliance, and as such may have included more than one or none of those listed here. The mythological Atlanteans, who included the five sets of male twins and their successors would be expected to share a common culture, wheras military coalitions are frequently more disparate.
Basques: William Lewy d’Abartiague, Edward Taylor Fletcher
Maltese: Anton Mifsud, Francis Xavier Aloisio, Kevin Falzon, Bibischok, Joseph Bosco, David Calvert-Orange, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, Albert Nikas, Joseph S. Ellul, Francis Galea, Tammam Kisrawi, Charles Savona-Ventura, Hubert Zeitlmair.
Maya: Robert B. Stacy-Judd, Charles Gates Dawes, Colin Wilson, Adrian Gilbert, L. M. Hosea, Augustus le Plongeon, Teobert Maler, Joachim Rittstieg, Lewis Spence, Edward Herbert Thompson, Jean-Frédérick de Waldeck,
Minoans: K.T. Frost, James Baikie, Walter Leaf, Edwin Balch, Donald A. Mackenzie, Ralph Magoffin, Spyridon Marinatos, Georges Poisson, Wilhelm Brandenstein, A. Galanopoulos, J. G. Bennett, Rhys Carpenter, P.B.S. Andrews, Edward Bacon, Willy Ley, J.V. Luce, James W. Mavor, Henry M. Eichner, Prince Michael of Greece, Nicholas Platon, N.W. Tschoegl, Richard Mooney, Rupert Furneaux, Martin Ebon, Francis Hitching, Charles Pellegrino, Rodney Castleden, Graham Phillips, Jacques Lebeau, Luana Monte, Fredrik Bruins, Gavin Menzies, Lee R. Kerr, Daniel P. Buckley.