The Sahara Desert and in particular its northern regions have attracted its share of attention from Atlantis investigators. However unlikely it may appear as a possible location for Atlantis it must be kept in mind that the Sahara of prehistory was very different from what we see today. Not only was it wetter at various periods in the past, but also there is clear evidence for the existence of a large inland sea extending across the borders of modern Algeria and Tunisia. This evidence is in the form of the chotts or salt flats in both countries. This proposed sea is considered by some to have been the Lake Tritonis referred to by classical writers. It is suggested that some form of tectonic/seismic activity, common in the region, was responsible for isolating this body of seawater from the Mediterranean and eventually turning it into the salt flats we see today.
An even more extensive inland sea, further south, was proposed by Ali Bey el Abbassi and based on his theory a map was published in 1802 which can be viewed online(c).
More recently, Riaan Booysen has published an illustrated paper on the ancient inland Saharan seas as indicated on the 16th century maps of Mercator and Ortelius(i). King’s College London runs The Sahara Megalakes Project which studies the Megalakes and the Saharan Palaeoclimate record(m).
A 2013 report in New Scientist magazine(d) revealed that 100,000 years ago the Sahara had been home to three large rivers that flowed northward, which probably provided migration routes for our ancestors.
Other studies(h) have shown the previous existence of a huge river system in the Western Sahara, which flowed into the Atlantic on the Mauritanian coast.
An article in the Sept. 2008 edition of National Geographic pointed out that the Saharan climate has been similar for the past 70,000 years except for a period beginning 12,000 years ago when a number of factors combined to alter this fact. A northerly shift by seasonal monsoons brought additional rain to an area the size of contiguous USA. This period of a greener Sahara lasted until around 4,500 years ago.
More recent studies claim that “there’s geologic evidence from ocean sediments that these orbitally-paced Green Sahara events occur as far back as the Miocene epoch (23 million to 5 million years ago), including during periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide was similar to, and possibly higher, than today’s levels. So, a future Green Sahara event is still highly likely in the distant future.”
More recent studies claim that “there’s geologic evidence from ocean sediments that these orbitally-paced Green Sahara events occur as far back as the Miocene epoch (23 million to 5 million years ago), including during periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide was similar to, and possibly higher, than today’s levels. So, a future Green Sahara event is still highly likely in the distant future.” (p)
Henri Lhote contributed an article to the Reader’s Digest’s, The World’s Last Mysteries , regarding the ‘green’ Sahara that existed prior to 2500 BC. An interesting question might be; what happened circa 2500 BC to cause this reversal? Some have suggested a connection between the aridification of the Sahara and the destruction of Atlantis!
More recently, human activity has been blamed as a major contributory factor for the desertification of the Sahara region less than 10,000 years ago.(n)
Related to the above is a recent study of sediments off the west coast of Africa, which resulted in the discovery of what was “primarily a new “beat,” in which the Sahara vacillated between wet and dry climates every 20,000 years, in sync with the region’s monsoon activity and the periodic tilting of the Earth.” (o)
In 1868, it was proposed by D.A. Godron, the French botanist, that the Sahara was the location of Atlantis. In 2003, the non-existent archaeologist Dr.Carla Sage announced that she was hoping to lead an international expedition to the Sahara in search of Atlantis. Her contention was that “Atlantis was the capital of a vast North African empire with ports on the Gulf of Sidra”. This report is now confirmed to have been a hoax! I am indebted to Stel Pavlou for uncovering the origin of this story(e).
The idea of an African Atlantis was highlighted in 2021 with the publication of Atletenu , in which the author, Diego Ratti, identified the Hyksos as Atlanteans with their capital at Avaris in the eastern Nile Delta. At the other end of North Africa, the chotts of Tunisia and Algeria were nominated by Holden Zhang as the location of Atlantis in a YouTube clip(q).
Gary Gilligan, the well-known catastrophist, wrote a thought-provoking article(k) on the origin of the Saharan sands, which he claims are extraterrestrial in origin and expands on the idea in his 2016 book Extraterrestrial Sands .
David Mattingly, an archaeologist at Leicester University has found that an ancient people known as the Garamantes had an extensive civilisation in the Sahara(l). He has evidence of at least three cities and twenty other settlements. The Garamantes reached their peak around 100 BC and then gradually diminished in influence as fossil water supplies reduced until in the 7th century AD they were subjected to Islamic domination. Some researchers such as Frank Joseph have identified the Garamantes as being linked with the Sea Peoples. Bob Idjennaden has published short but informative Kindle books about both the Garamantes  and the Sea Peoples , without a suggestion of any connection between the two.
The discovery of the megalithic structures discovered at Nabta Playa (Nabta Lake) in the Egyptian Sahara has provided evidence for the existence of a sophisticated society in that area around 5000 BC. In the same region, near the Dakhleh Oasis, archaeologists have produced data that supports the idea that pre-Pharaonic Egypt had Desert Origins rather than being an importation from Mesopotamia or elsewhere(a).
Nabta Playa is not unique, in fact the largest megalithic ellipse in the world is to be found at Mzorah, 27 km from Lixus in Morocco(b). It appears that the construction methods employed at both Mezorah and Nabta Playa are both similar to that used in the British Isles. An even more impressive site is Adam’s Calendar in South Africa which has been claimed as 75,000-250,000 years old.
West of Cairo near the border with Libya is the Siwa Oasis, where it has now been demonstrated that “it is in fact home to one of Ancient Egypt’s astounding solar-calendar technologies– the solar equinox alignment between the Timasirayn Temple and the Temple of Amun Oracle in Aghurmi.”(j).
I think we can expect further exciting discoveries in the Sahara leading to a clearer picture of the prehistoric cultures of the region and what connections there are, if any, with Plato’s Atlantis. In the meanwhile in the Eastern Egyptian Desert, Douglas Brewer, a professor of archaeology at the University of Illinois, has discovered over 1,000 examples of rock art, including numerous depictions of boats although the sites, so far undisclosed, are remote from water.
Even more remarkable is the report(e) of March 2015 that a survey of the Messak Settafet escarpment in the central Sahara revealed that there were enough discarded stone tools in the region “to build more than one Great Pyramid for every square kilometre of land on the continent”! Coincidentally, around the same time it was reported that over a thousand stone tools had been found in the Northern Utah Desert(g). What the Utah discovery lacked in quantity was made up for in quality with the finding of the largest known Haskett point spear head, measuring around nine inches in length.
(a) Saudi Aramco World (2006, Vol. 57, No.5 p.2-11)
(d) NewScientist.com, 16 September 2013, https://tinyurl.com/mg9vcoz
(l) See: Archive 3268
Carla Sage, a British archaeologist, announced in November 2003 her support for a North African location for Atlantis, in particular she believed that the Gulf of Sidra (Syrtis Major) in Libya holds the remains of Atlantean ports. She was apparently impressed by ancient accounts that recorded how the Mycenaean, Cretan and Egyptian civilisations all traded with Atlantis. She concluded that this was improbable if Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic(a).
Sage contended that Atlantis had flourished when North Africa had been a very fertile region. However, desertification following a dramatic climate change led to the destruction of Atlantis by sand rather than water as described by Plato. Dr. Sage was reportedly planning a multinational expedition to seek concrete evidence to support her theories.
I have unsuccessfully endeavoured to locate an archaeologist named Carla Sage. The deafening silence in the intervening years has cast doubt on the factual correctness of the original press report, in fact, some are now happy to call it a hoax(b), a view that is not unreasonable. This has now been confirmed, as the Sage story originally appeared in the now defunct and largely fictional US tabloid magazine, Weekly World News, (11/11/2003). It was then picked by many less than diligent websites and took on a life of its own. I am indebted to Stel Pavlou for uncovering the origin of this story(c).
(a) See: Archive 2821
Hoaxes associated with Atlantis are of various types; the most common sort are those perpetrated by writers who write volumes of balderdash about information they claim to have received through psychic channels. The simple fact that so many of these authors contradict each other demonstrates the fictional nature of their offerings. To be extremely kind, I might accept that some of these people are simply self-deluded but to be brutally honest, I believe that the majority of them are simply churning out their rubbish, in collusion with equally opportunistic publishers, in order to separate gullible readers from their cash.
The father of such drivel has to be Edgar Cayce, although I am inclined to think that he personally was in some way one of the self-deluded and did not have any financial motivation. However, it was pure greed or should it be impure greed that ‘inspired’ the vast majority of writers who followed Cayce, building on his foundation of spurious information.
Other types of hoaxers must include Madame Blavatsky, the godmother of occultic garbage, who was declared a fraud in 1884 by the London Society for Psychical Research. Her first book, Isis Unveiled, published in 1877 devotes just one page out of two volumes to Atlantis. Her second book The Secret Doctrine (1888) expands greatly on her ‘knowledge’ of Atlantis. It is worth pointing out that these extended ‘revelations’ were produced only a few years after the success of Ignatius Donnelly’s groundbreaking book in 1882.
A more harmless story, frequently touted in books on Atlantis, is that of the S.S. Jesmond that was reported to have discovered an uncharted island in the Atlantic on which they found artefacts including a sarcophagus complete with occupant. The ‘discovery’ was published in a New Orleans newspaper after the ship arrived there on April 1st, 1882, the same year that Donnelly’s book was published. The newspaper retracted the story later.
Another frequently quoted claim is the alleged discovery of an underwater pyramid by the late Dr. Ray Brown, which does not stand up to the most cursory examination.
In 1970 a book entitled Mu Revealed purported to have evidence which supported Churchward’s claims, but was subsequently revealed as a hoax perpetrated by one Raymond Buckland, writing under the pen-name of Tony Earll, an anagram of ‘not really’.
Blatant commercial frauds have also been perpetrated invoking Atlantis as the ultimate source. One such instance is the sale of replicas of the so-called ‘Atlantis Ring’, an object that is decorated with special geometric symbols and is claimed to emit electromagnetic waves that protect the wearer, give increased psychic abilities, healing powers and bring the owner good luck. It is claimed that the original was found in 1860 in the Valley of the Kings by “well-known French Egyptologist” Marquis d’Agrain who claimed that it came from Atlantis. He is supposed to have bequeathed the ring to another “famous Egyptologist” Arnold de Belizal. An Internet search reveals little about either person apart from this alleged connection with the Atlantis Ring. Two more articles about it are available online(d)(e), unfortunately they include a lot of psychic twaddle. One supplier charges $350 for replica rings(a).
There are so many other Atlantis related claims which stretch credibility beyond breaking point that a book devoted to that subject alone is warranted.
In fact, some years ago the Atlantis Online website had a forum devoted to the subject of Atlantis hoaxes(c). But Atlantis was not the only classical subject that has a hoax associated with it. In 1924, Di Martino, editor of Mouseion, an Italian classics journal, claimed to have discovered all the lost books of Livy(b).
Jason Colavito has written an interesting article(f) on hoaxes, which were more prevalent before WWII.
However, before anyone cries ‘hoax’ or ‘fake’, they should remember the case of the Parian Marble (Parian Chronicle), which was found in two sections on the Greek island of Paros in the 17th century. In 1788, Joseph Robertson (1726-1802) declared the Chronicle to be a ‘modern’ fake in a lengthy dissertation, a claim disproved by the discovery of the final third piece, over a century later.