An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

Latest News

  • Joining The Dots

    Joining The Dots

    I have now published my new book, Joining The Dots, which offers a fresh look at the Atlantis mystery. I have addressed the critical questions of when, where and who, using Plato’s own words, tempered with some critical thinking and a modicum of common sense.Read More »
Search

Recent Updates

Carthage

Pillars of Herakles

Pillars of Heracles, when googled, will offer nearly 100,000 results, with Wikipedia and Britannica usually heading the list.

Wikipedia says “The Pillars of Hercules was the phrase that was applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern Pillar, Calpe Mons, is the Rock of Gibraltar. A corresponding North African peak not being predominant, the identity of the southern Pillar, Abila Mons, has been disputed throughout history, with the two most likely candidates being Monte Hacho in Ceuta and Jebel Musa in Morocco.”

Britannica says “Pillars of Heracles, also called Pillars of Hercules, two promontories at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar. The northern pillar is the Rock of Gibraltar at Gibraltar, and the southern pillar has been identified as one of two peaks: Jebel Moussa (Musa), in Morocco, or Mount Hacho (held by Spain), near the city of Ceuta (the Spanish exclave on the Moroccan coast).”

Although these two popular sources substantially agree with each other, the concurrence is misleading. In fact, various aspects of the Pillars have been the subject of controversy for a very, very long time.

CONFUSION

The Pillars of Heracles (PoH) according to conventional wisdom were always situated somewhere in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar. However, the truth is rather different. The question of the location of the Pillars has led to confusion and controversy for millennia. A flavour of this was contained  in William Smith’s still highly-regarded Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography [1719] of 1854, where it lists many of the locations proposed by ancient authors. One short paragraph in it encapsulates the confusion that has existed in the past and still does, although seldom highlighted, today – ” But when the ancient writers began to investigate the matter more closely, they were greatly divided in opinion as to where the Pillars were to be sought, what they were, and why they were called by the name of Hercules.”(w)

When I began my study of the Pillars, it became obvious very early on that the subject was more complicated than usually presented. Frankly, I never expected to end up as bewildered as I did. First of all, I find that some of the ancient writers have not only referred to two pillars, but even three(x) and four of them.

HERAKLES

That was bad enough, but when I was then confronted with a multiplicity of mythical heroes named Herakles, numbering two (Herodotus)(ap), three (Diodorus), four (Servius), six by Cicero and a prize-winning forty-four by Varro, I was even more perplexed.

John K. Lundwall wrote at length about the multiplicity of Herakles’ in ancient mythologies in his book Mythos & Cosmos [1747] and online(z). William Smith’s Dictionary noted that “Herodotus tells us that the original Heracles hailed from Egypt and says that according to the Egyptian tradition, Heracles was one of twelve deities descended from the original eight gods who created the universe (2.43-5). Diodorus claimed that when Osiris went to accomplish his labors he left the government of Egypt in the hands of this primordial Heracles. Remarkably, Pausanias, Tacitus, and Macrobius all confirm that Heracles hailed from Egypt [1729.401]Lundwall also refers to the Phoenician Herakles – Melqart and its possible influence on the development of the Greek myth. He concluded that ” Heracles was not invented by the Greeks. He was inherited by the Greeks. Half of his labors descend from Mycenaean or Minoan times, implicating a Heracles like figure with a series of labors in the days before Greece was founded. Gilgamesh is a Near Eastern Heracles.”

Apart from the Canaanite Melqart(ak) and the biblical Samson, Herakles was also associated with Briareus or Cronos. Aelian, in his Varia Historia 5.3, noted that “Aristotle affirms that those Pillars which are now called of Hercules, were first called the Pillars of Briareus.”

Herodotus visited a temple of Heracles in Tyre with two pillars, one of gold and the other emerald. According to the priests there, it had stood for two thousand three hundred years or from approximately 2700 BC. Another suggestion has been that the ‘Pillars Heracles’ was a Greek rendering of the Egyptian ‘Pillars of Osiris’.(t)

So not only do we have a number of Heracles but also a variety of names for them.

THE NATURE OF THE PILLARS

My confusion was further compounded by the term stelai used by Plato to describe the Pillars, which is the Greek word for stone or wooden slabs used as boundary or commemorative markers, not a reference to supportive columns. Rhys Carpenter favours the idea that the term when applied to the Strait of Gibraltar was used with the sense of boundary markers, indicating ”the limits of the Inner Sea that, for the Greeks, was the navigable world” [221.156]. It is reasonable to suggest that as the Greeks became more expansionist with their trade and colonisation, new limits were set as they moved incrementally westward along with the appellation of the ‘Pillars of Hercules’.

One advocate of this idea, Thorwald C. Franke maintains that the westward shift of the ‘Pillars’ from the Strait of Messina towards Gibraltar occurred a century before Solon. He expanded on this at the 2008 Atlantis Conference [0750.170] and in his 2006 book on Herodotus [0300].

Further difficulties were provided by early authors describing the Pillars as mountains, statues, islands or promontories! Egerton Sykes was convinced that the Pillars had been two menhirs, 30ft tall that had stood on top of the Rock of Gibraltar(u)! In this regard, it is interesting that Jürgen Spanuth dismissed those who have identified the red and white cliffs of Heligoland as the Pillars of Heracles, decrying the idea as a fallacy [015.100]. He explained that “Natural rock formations were not what was originally meant by the Pillars of Heracles. Those at the Straits of Gibraltar were not, as one so often reads, the rocks to the north and south of the Straits, but two man-made pillars which stood before the temple of Heracles at Gades (present-day Cádiz) about 100 km north of the Straits.” Spanuth also denied that the Straits of Gibraltar were ever closed [p248].

Some of the earliest references to the Pillars of Heracles come from Pindar, who seems to have used the term as a metaphor for the limits of human capabilities,

be it in sport or more usually, geographical boundaries. So as the Greeks gradually extended the range of their maritime capabilities, new boundaries were established and designated as the new Pillars of Heracles .

PHOENICIAN PILLARS

Gades was originally named Gadir (walled city) and is thought to have been founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC and Carthage circa 814 BC, although there are question marks around both dates.(ao)

Strabo wrote; “Concerning the foundation of Gades, the Gaditanians report that a certain oracle commanded the Tyrians to found a colony by the Pillars of Hercules. Those who were sent out for the purpose of exploring, when they had arrived at the strait by Calpe, imagined that the capes which form the strait were the boundaries of the habitable earth, as well as of the expedition of Hercules, and consequently they were what the oracle termed the Pillars. They landed on the inside of the straits, at a place where the city of the Exitani now stands. Here they offered sacrifices, which however not being favourable, they returned. After a time others were sent, who advanced about 1500 stadia beyond the strait, to an island consecrated to Hercules, and lying opposite to Onoba, a city of Iberia: considering that here were the Pillars, they sacrificed to the god, but the sacrifices being again unfavourable, they returned home. In the third voyage they reached Gades, and founded the temple in the eastern part of the island, and the city in the west. (3.5.5.) If this story has any historical basis, the first Phoenician visits to the vicinity of Gibraltar must have taken place before 1100 BC.

Heracles is clearly the Greek counterpart of the Phoenician god Melqart, who was the principal god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Melqart was brought to the most successful Tyrian colony, Carthage and subsequently further west, where at least three temples dedicated to Melqart have been identified in ancient Spain, Gades, Ebusus, and Carthago Nova. Across the Strait in Morocco, the ancient Phoenician city of Lixus also had a temple to Melqart.

Pairs of free standing columns were apparently important in Phoenician temples and are also to be found in Egyptian temples, as well as being part of Solomon’s temple (built by Phoenician craftsmen). Consequently the pillars of Melqart temple in Gades are considered by some to be the origin of the reference to the Pillars of Melqart and later of Heracles (by the Greeks) and Hercules (by the Romans) as applied to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Greek colonisation by individual city-states got under way early in the first millennium BC. This expansion of trade and territory took place gradually during the eighth, seventh and sixth centuries BC. The online Ancient History Encyclopedia website noted that “One of the most important consequences of this process, in broad terms, was that the movement of goods, people, art, and ideas in this period spread the Greek way of life far and wide to Spain, France, Italy, the Adriatic, the Black Sea, and North Africa. In total then, the Greeks established some 500 colonies which involved up to 60,000 Greek citizen colonists, so that by 500 BCE these new territories would eventually account for 40% of all Greeks in the Hellenic World.”(aq)

While the AHE offers an excellent overview of Greek colonisation, a valuable and more detailed study is also available online(ar), namely, The Expansion of the Greek World, Eighth to Sixth Centuries B.C. [1752], edited by Boardman & Hammond.

LOCATION

Classical writers frequently refer to the ‘Pillars’ without being in anyway specific regarding their location. It always seemed to me that when the Greeks began their Mediterranean trade expansion and colonisation outside the Aegean, apart from the Pentapolis of Cyrenaica in the far south and some possible trading posts in Levant, they did so exploiting the northern shores of the Mediterranean. Understandably, they would have taken the shortest route from the Greek mainland to the heel of Italy and later on to Sicily. As this development progressed, new limits were set, and in time, exceeded. I suggest that these limits were each in turn designated the ‘Pillars of Heracles’ as they expanded further. I speculate that Capo Colonna (Cape of the Column) in Calabria(as), in South Italy, may have been one of those early boundaries. Interestingly, 18th century maps display up to five islands near the cape, which are no longer shown on charts(at). This appeared on respected atlases as late as 1860. According to Armin Wolf, these were originally added to maps by Ortelius, inspired by some earlier cartographers and the comments of Pseudo-Skylax and Pliny(au)!

Homer did not use the term Pillars of Heracles, although he does refer to the Pillars of Atlas (Odysseus 1.51-4).

Hecataeus (550-476 BC), according to Oliver D. Smith in a 2019 paper(y), placed the PoH at Mastia, which is thought to be Cartagena in southeastern Spain. This identification if principally based on the early 20th century studies of Adolf Schulten.

Scylax of Caryanda (late 6th & early 5th cent. BC) describes in his Periplus(a), a guide to the Mediterranean, that the Maltese Islands as lying to the east of the Pillars of Heracles. This would place the archipelago east of the Gulf of Gabes, which is compatible with the opinions of Hofmann and Sarantitis.  Anton Mifsud argues that had the Pillars been located at Gibraltar, the islands to the east would have been the Balearics, which was certainly true for the ancient Greeks shore-hugging mariners.

Pindar (518-438 BC) would appear to have considered that the PoH were a metaphor for the limits physical prowess as well established Greek geographical knowledge (Olympian 3.43-45), a boundary that was never static. In 1778, Jean-Silvain Bailly was certain that the Pillars of Hercules  were just “a name that denotes limits or boundaries.” [0926.2.293] More recently Professor Dag Øistein Endsjø, at Norway’s University of Oslo, has endorsed the idea that the ancient Greeks used the ‘Pillars of Heracles’ as a metaphor to express the limits of human endeavour(d) and quotes the classicist, James S. Romm in support(e).

Aristotle (385-322 BC) Aristotle wrote(g) that “outside the pillars of Heracles the sea is shallow owing to the mud, but calm, for it lies in a hollow.” This is not a description of the Atlantic that we know, which is not shallow, calm or lying in a hollow and which he refers to as a ‘sea’ not an ‘ocean’.

Eratosthenes (276-194 BC) was thought by some to been responsible for the fixing of the PoH at Gibraltar. In fact, in the early days of the compilation of Atlantipedia, I wrote that “no writer prior to Eratosthenes had referred to the Pillars of Heracles being located at Gibraltar.” This was wrong and was the result of a combination of hastily quoting Sergio Frau(al) and badly paraphrasing a passage from George Sarantitis’ book – “How, from the times of Ephorus (405 BC), Plato and Aristotle and until Eratosthenes (276 BC) and Strabo (63 BC), did the Pillars ‘migrate’ to Gibraltar?”(m)

Pseudo-Scymnus (c.140 BC) placed the Pillars at Mainake(y) thought to be modern Malaga. However, Spanuth cites from the same source a reference to a ‘Northern Pillar’ in the land of the Frisians, as support for his North Sea Atlantis!

Strabo (64 BC-23 AD), the Greek historian and geographer, noted that “close to the Pillars there are two isles, one of which they call Hera’s Island; moreover, there are some who call also these isles the Pillars.” (Bk.3, Chap.5) The two isles referred to as near the Pillars have never been identified; as there are no islands in the strait at Gibraltar, but there are in the Sea of Marmara near the Bosporus, another location candidate!

He also records that Alexander the Great built an altar and ‘Pillars of Heracles’ at the eastern limit of his Empire.

Pliny the Elder (23/24-79 AD) noted that in Sogdiana in modern Uzbekistan there was reputed to be an altar and ‘Pillars of Heracles’.

Tacitus (55-120 AD), the renowned Latin historian, in his Germania (chap.34), clearly states that it was believed that the Pillars of Hercules were located near the Rhine in the territory of the Frisians. So the Romans either though that the ‘Pillars’ were not situated at Gibraltar or could exist at more than one location at the same time.

My contention is that although there is no doubt that the term ‘Pillars of Herakles’ was eventually applied to the Gibraltar region, it was also applied to a few stops as the Greeks stuttered their way there from the Aegean along the Mediterranean. Ronald H. Fritze, an ardent Atlantis sceptic, noted in his Invented Knowledge [709.23] ” While at various times the geography of the ancient Greeks applied the name of Pillars of Hercules to other locations in the Aegean region, in this case Plato is quite explicit that he means the Pillars of Hercules that are now known as the Straits of Gibraltar.” So if it can accepted that the PoH was applied to a number of locations in the Aegean by the Greeks, why not also to other places as they gradually expanded westward?

MODERN  LOCATION THEORIES

From the 19th century onwards, locations for the Pillars were proposed which stretched the length of the Mediterranean and beyond.

Perhaps the first ‘modern’ writer to propose the Eastern Mediterranean as the location for the ‘Pillars’ was the Russian, Avraam Norov (1795-1869). He considered them to have been shrines, drawing on both Greek and Arabic sources that could be investigated further.

Some also believed that other ‘Pillars of Heracles’ existed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea region. This is possibly because until the 1st millennium BC, the Greeks were, generally speaking, restricted to those areas. It would appear that for the ancient Greeks, the Pillars of Heracles marked straits or promontories at the limits of their known world. These boundaries were extended further and further as their maritime capabilities improved. and probably led to the decline in the usage of the title at former boundaries, eventually leaving us with only the Strait of Gibraltar to carry the name.

In the Late Bronze Age the Bosporus in the east and probably the Strait of Sicily in the west confined the Greeks. It was only shortly before Solon’s trip to Egypt that the Greek colony of Massalia (modern Marseilles) was founded and so, at last, the western limit of the Mediterranean was brought >within easier regular reach of Greek ships, but Massalia was still nearly 2,000 km, by sea, from Gades (Cadiz). Later their furthest trading post was probably at Mainake (Malaga), beyond which was Phoenician territory and it was 100 km from Gibraltar and 200km from Cadiz.<

The idea that geographical designations can radically change their location over time is illustrated by the name (H)esperia, which means ‘evening land’ or as we might say ‘land of the setting sun’, was originally used by Greeks to indicate Italy and later employed by Roman writers as a designation for Spain. It could be argued that the Greek use of this appellation could be an indication that when introduced, they were not too sure what lay beyond Italy! 

Fundamentalist Atlantology, as proclaimed by the ‘prophet’ Ignatius Donnelly in the 19th century, will accept no explanation other than that Plato was referring to ‘Pillars’ near Gibraltar‘. Certainly, it is perfectly clear that Plato may have been referring to the Strait of Gibraltar, but it is also evident that this was not the only location with that designation in ancient times. Consequently, if any of the alternatives mentioned above enable the construction of a new credible Atlantis location hypothesis, then it deserves careful rational consideration.

Even today, the debate continues, highlighted by modern classical scholars, such as Duane W. Roller (1946- ) in Through the Pillars of Herakles [1483.203], in which he states that “The exact location of the Pillars of Herakles was long a matter of dispute. Although they may seem obvious today as the two large mountains at the western end of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar and Jebel Mousa, such was not the case in antiquity, and understanding of the region changed as topographical knowledge increased. At some early date, Homer’s mythical and unlocated Pillars of Atlas (Od. 1.51-4) became associated with the wanderer Herakles, but as the western end of the Mediterranean became better understood in the latter seventh century BC, uncertainty increased rather than decreased. Herodotus, who mentioned the Pillars several times, placed them east of Gadeira and Tartessos (4.8, 152), which could mean anywhere in the 50-kilometer-long strait (the modern Strait of Gibraltar) that runs east to the opening of the Mediterranean, through rugged topography with several promontories that could be identified as the Pillars, although especially prominent are Gibraltar and Jebel Mousa (the Kalpe and Abilyx of Strabo) at the eastern end. The early prominence of Gadeira caused some (such as Pindar) to place them in that area, or at points east thereof, such as Tarifa or Cape Trafalgar: the sources seem uncertain as to whether height or prominence was the defining criterion.”

A number of alternative locations have been identified as being referred to in ancient times as the Pillars of Heracles. Robert Schoch [0454.87] writes “This distinctive name, taken from the most powerful hero of Greek mythology, was given to a number of ancient sites known in modern times by quite different appellations. The Greeks, however, used the name Pillars of Heracles to mark other sites besides Gibraltar, some outside the Mediterranean – namely, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and the Strait of Kerch dividing the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov – and even more inside – specifically, the Strait of Bonafaccio between Corsica and Sardinia, the Strait of Messina between mainland Italy and Sicily, the Greek Peleponnese, the mountainous coast of Tunisia, and the Nile Delta.”

Even Nikolai Zhirov, a proponent of an Atlantic Atlantis, accepted that they were other locations considered to have been designated Pillars of Herakles, both within and beyond Gibraltar, as shown on a map of half a century ago in his well-regarded book [458.86]. He lists, Gibraltar, Gulf of Gabes, Kerch Strait , the Moroccan coast, the Nile Delta and the Peleponnese, but like Schoch, fails to provide references.

We also find that Arthur C. Clarke suggested that there was evidence that the early Greeks did not originally refer to the Strait of Gibraltar as the Pillars of Heracles. Clarke also failed to cite his sources, but expressed a personal preference for the Strait of Messina.  

WITHIN THE MEDITERRANEAN

I shall begin my review of PoH locations at the eastern end of the Mediterranean in Lebanon

?TYRE

J. P. Rambling has placed the ‘Pillars’ on Insula Herculis, now a small sunken island immediately south of Phoenician Tyre(k).

BOSPORUS

Eberhard Zangger [0483] cited the work of Servius(aa) in which he wrote (“Columnas Herculis legimus et in Ponto et in Hispania”) translated by Zangger as “through the Columns of Herakles we go within the Black Sea as well as in Spain”.

A German site(ab) by Willy Dorn offers a comparable translation – “Durch die Säulen des Herakles fahren wir im Schwarzen Meer wie auch in Spanien”) “We drive through the pillars of Heracles in the Black Sea as well as in Spain”

Similarly, a Spanish author, Paulino Zamarro, wrote(ac)(“pues sabemos de Columnas de Hércules tanto en el Ponto como en Hispania”) which translates as “for we know of Columns of Hercules both in the Ponto and hispania”.

Nicolae Densusianu offered “according to what we read, the Pillars of Hercules exist both in the Pontos region, and also in Hispania.”(ad)

The Stockton University website(ae), which similarly offers “We read of pillars of Hercules both in the Black Sea and in Spain”

Whichever translation is used, it clearly indicates that at least two locations were called the ‘Pillars of Heracles’.

Werner E. Friedrich has also argued [695] in favour of Pillars at the Bosporus, citing Euctemon of Athens (c.440 BC) who described the Pillars as two islands near the entrance to the strait having characteristics comparable to Prince’s Islands in the Sea of Marmara. Friedrich quotes Ephorus identifying two islands as the Pillars, just as Strabo did (see above), although there are no islands in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Christian & Siegfried Schoppe, in support of their Black Sea location for Atlantis, maintain that the Pillars were situated at the Bosporus and not Gibraltar. They contend “the maintained misinterpretation results from the fact that Herakles went to Iberia. At late Hellenistic and at Roman times Iberia was Spain. However, this leads to inconsistencies: After putting up the Pillars (supposed at Gibraltar) Herakles put together a fleet to go to Iberia – he was still there!”  This makes no sense, however as the Schoppes pointed out that in the distant past ‘Iberia’ related to the land of an ethnic group to the east of the Black Sea.

DANUBE

Moving eastward and inland from the Black Sea we have a strong case presented for the Danube as the home of its own Pillars.The Danubewas known to the ancient Greeks as the Istros as well as Okeanos Potamos. The lower reaches of the river have ancient and deep-rooted cultural links with Hercules that are still very obvious today.

In Romania,  just north of Orsova on a tributary of the Daube lies B?ile Herculane, sometimes called Hercules’ City, which has seen human habitation since the Paleolithic era. There is a legend that a weary Hercules stopped in the valley to bathe and rest. During the Roman occupation,  the local Herculaneum Spa was known all over the Empire.

Pindar confirms the visit of Hercules to the Danube (Istrus)(ag).

Even as early as the 1st century BC, local coinage displayed images of Hercules(af).

Just over a century ago, Nicolae Densusianu finished his monumental work Ancient Dacia(ah), which included fifteen pages(j) of the most comprehensive and fully referenced defence of any PoH location proposed, namely, the Iron Gates gorge on the Danube in ancient Dacia – modern Romania.

Densusianu’s offering has been reinforced recently by Antonije Shkokljev & Slave Nikolovski–Katin who have recorded [1742]  a version of the ‘Labours of Hercules’ that took place in the land of the Hyperboreans and its Danube River(ai). Other more recent writers have also specified the Iron Gates as the location of the PoH.

A paper presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference by Ticleanu, Constantin & Nicolescu [0750.375] has the ‘Pillars’ at the Iron Gates, but place Atlantis a little further west on what is now the Pannonian Plain. Similarly, an anonymous commentator, ‘Sherlock’, referencing Pindar (Olympian 3) also places the Pillars at the confluence of the Seva and Danube rivers near today’s Belgrade(s)

AEGEAN

Back in the Mediterranean, Capes Maleas and Matapan (Tainaron) in thePeloponnese are the two most southerly points of mainland Greece. They have been proposed by Galanopoulos & Bacon [0263] as the Pillars of Heracles, when the early Greeks were initially confined to the Aegean Sea and the two promontories were the western limits of their maritime knowledge at that time. They argue that it is possible that the ‘Pillars of Hercules’ are not the Straits of Gibraltar?

“This has been the subject of some interesting conjectures. Nearly all the labours of Hercules were performed in the Peloponnese. The last and hardest of those which Eurytheus imposed on the hero was to descend to Hades and bring back its three-headed dog guardian, Cerberus. According to the most general version Hercules entered Hades through the abyss at Cape Taenarun (the modern Cape Matapan), the western cape of the Gulf of Laconia. The eastern cape of this gulf is Cape Maleas, a dangerous promontory, notorious for its rough seas.

Pausanias records that on either side of this windswept promontory were temples, that on the west dedicated to Poseidon, that on the east to Apollo. It is perhaps therefore not extravagant to suggest that the Pillars of Hercules referred to are the promontories of Taenarum and Maleas; and it is perhaps significant that the twin brother of Atlas was allotted the extremity of Atlantis closest to the Pillars of Hercules. The relevant passage in the Critias (114A-B) states:

And the name of his younger twin-brother, who had for his portion the extremity of the island near the pillars of Hercules up to the part of the country now called Gadeira after the name of that region, was Eumelus in Greek, but in the native tongue Gadeirus — which fact may have given its title to the country.’

Since the region had been named after the second son of Poseidon, whose Greek name was Eumelus, its Greek title must likewise have been Eumelus, a name which brings to mind the most westerly of the Cyclades, Melos, which is in fact not far from the notorious Cape Maleas. The name Eumelus was in use in the Cyclades; and the ancient inscription (‘Eumelus an excellent danger’) was found on a rock on the island of Thera.

In general, it can be argued from a number of points in Plato’s narrative that placing ‘the Pillars of Hercules’ at the south of the Peloponnese makes sense, while identifying them with the Straits of Gibraltar does not [p.97].”

Both James Mavor and Rodney Castleden defend this view, which continues to have some support(p).

Paulino Zamarro has mapped 13 locations(f) identified as Pillars by classical authors and expands on this further in his book [0024]. He identified Pori, a rocky islet north of the Greek island of Antikythera, as the location of the Pillars.

EGYPT

In spite of all this, two writers, R. McQuillen and Hossam Aboulfotouh, have independently suggested the vicinity of Canopus situated in the west of the Nile Delta as the location of the ‘Pillars’. Luana Monte, a supporter of the Minoan Hypothesis has also proposed [0485] a location at the mouth of the Nile Delta where the recently rediscovered sunken city of Herakleoin was situated. This identification appears to have been made in order to keep the Minoan Empire west of the ‘Pillars’.

STRAIT of OTRANTO

Moving on, we find that Alessio Toscano has suggested that the Pillars were situated at the Strait of Otranto and that Plato’s ‘Atlantic’ was in fact the Adriatic Sea!

The STRAIT of MESSINA is a strong contender as a location of the PoH in the Central Mediterranean. For years I have struggled with the idea that the Atlanteans had attacked from beyond Pillars located at Gibraltar since Plato tells us that they already had control of northern Africa and southern Italy along with a number of islands. To me this could only make sense if the Pillars were situated east of Gibraltar.

I recently recalled that Thorwald C. Franke had arrived at the same conclusion in a paper delivered to the 2008 Atlantis Conference held in Athens [750], where he noted that “On the one hand Atlantis is said to have ruled in Italy and Northern Africa before it invaded the region ‘within the straits’. On the other hand Atlantis wanted to subdue ‘at a blow…..the whole region within the straits.’ How could Atlantis subdue ‘at a blow’ the ‘whole’ region ‘within the straits’ after Atlantis already had conquered the whole western Mediterranean sea”

“This is easily explained if we localise the Atlantis straits at the straits of Messina and consider the sea ‘within the straits’ to be the eastern Mediterranean sea only.”

Some commentators had suggested the Strait of Sicily, but I find it strange that what we call today the Strait of Sicily is 90 miles wide. Now the definition of ‘strait’ is a narrow passage of water connecting two large bodies of water. How 90 miles can be described as ‘narrow’ eludes me. Is it possible that we are dealing with a case of mistaken identity and that the ‘Strait of Sicily’, when referred to in ancient times, was in fact the Strait of Messina, which is narrow? Keeping in mind that Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD)  in his On the Eternity of the World(aj) wrote “Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy?” So. understandably, the Strait of Messina is a ‘prime suspect’.

On the other hand the Strait of Messina was one of the locations known as the site of the ‘Pillars’ and considering that mariners at that time preferred to stay close to the coast, I would opt for the Strait of Messina rather than the more frequently proposed Strait of Sicily. In a 1959 article(r) entitled Atlantis – A New Theory, Arthur R. Weir investigates the story of Scylla & Charybdis and is happy to accept that is refers to features in the Strait of Messina. In commenting on the Pillars he notes it is “quite clear that while to a Roman of the time of Julius Caesar the ‘Pillars of Heracles’ meant the Straits of Gibraltar, to a Greek of

 six centuries or more earlier they meant the Straits of Messina, and this immediately suggests a very different location for Atlantis.” Weir goes on to suggest a location, south of Sardinia and east of the Balearics.

?SICILY

Federico Bardanzellu locates the Pillars on the island of Motya off the west coast of Sicily(h), a view that is hotly disputed. This would suggest that Atlantis was located west of there, which would bring you to Sardinia – 200 miles away. However, the Pillars were described as being close to Atlantis, which makes this suggestion improbable.

Sergio Frau in his book, Le Colonne d’Ercole: Un’inchiesta [0302] , insists that the Pillars were in fact located in the Strait of Sicily. He sees this location as according with the writings of Homer and Hesiod. He discusses in detail the reference by Herodotus to an island to the west of the Pillars, suggesting that the word ocean had a different meaning than to-day and pointing out that elsewhere Herodotus refers to Sardinia as the largest island in the world. Following this lead Frau concluded that Atlantis was in fact located in Sardinia.

MALTA

As Felice Vinci mentioned earlier, according to Aristotle, the Pillars of Heracles were also known by the earlier name of ‘Pillars of Briareus’ (Aelian Var.Hist.5.3). Plutarch places Briareus near Ogygia, from which we can assume that the Pillars of Heracles are close to Ogygia [019.270]. Since Malta is identified by some as Ogygia, it is not unreasonable, to conclude that the Pillars were probably in the region of the Maltese Islands.

Anton Mifsud has now revised his opinion regarding the Pillars and in a December 2017 illustrated article(o) he identified the Maltese promontory of Ras ir-Raheb near Rabat, with its two enormous limestone columns as the Pillars of Herakles. This headland had originally been topped by a Temple of Herakles, confirmed by archaeologist, Professor Nicholas Vella. A 2020 article about the Minoans offered additional support for this location(v).

STRAIT OF SICILY

Robert J. Tuttle, is the author of The Fourth Source [1148], in which he touched on the subject of Atlantis, takes issue with the translations of Plato’s text by Bury and Lee, who refer to the ‘Atlantic Ocean’, which he claims should read as the ‘Sea of Atlantis’ and locates the ‘Pillars of Herakles’ somewhere between Tunisia, Sicily and the ‘toe of Italy’.

Rosario Vieni has suggested that the Symplegades, at the Bosporus, encountered by Homer’s Argonauts were precursors of the Pillars of Heracles, although Vieni settled on the Strait of Sicily as their location [1177], before Sergio Frau adopted the same location. However, there is little doubt that during the last two centuries BC ‘the Pillars’ referred almost exclusively to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Delisle de Sales placed the ‘Pillars’ not too far away at the Gulf of Tunis, the gateway to Carthage.

GULF OF GABES

As mentioned above Scylax of Caryanda described in his Periplus(a) that the Maltese Islands lay to the east of the Pillars of Heracles, which would place the archipelago east of the Gulf of Gabes. Antonio Usai, in a critique of Frau’s book Usai opted for the Pillars having been between the east coast of Tunisia and the islands of Kerkennah in the Gulf of Gabes  [0980]. George Sarantitis presented a paper to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he also argued that the Pillars had been situated in the Gulf of Gabes [750.403]. He cites Strabo among others to highlight the multiplicity of locations that have been attributed to Pillars in ancient times.

Ulrich Hofmann combines the Periplus of Scylax with the writings of Herodotus to build a credible argument for placing Atlantis in North Africa in Lake Tritonis, now occupied by the chotts of modern Algeria and Tunisia. Consequently, Hofmann places the Pillars at the Gulf of Gabés. Hofmann also argues that the Pillars were part of Atlantis rather than separate from it.

GIBRALTAR

There is no doubt that the region of Gibraltar was considered, at least by the Greeks, to be home to the Pillars from the middle of the first millennium BC. However, although sought by Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, they were never found. I contend that they were metaphorical not physical.<

BEYOND GIBRALTAR

 A more distant location was proposed by Chechelnitsky who placed the ‘Pillars’ at the Bering Strait between the Chukchi and Seward peninsulas in Russia and the USA respectively.

Arguably the most unusual suggestion this year has come Marco Goti in his book, The Island of Plato [1430] in which he identified the ‘Pillars’ in the Atlantic, being the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland in the west and their counterpart in Scotland’s Isle of Staffa in the east! However, this idea is not original, having been first mooted nearly seventy years ago by W.C. Beaumont(n).

Olof Rudbeck‘s chosen location was further east in the Baltic at the Øresund Strait between Sweden and Denmark.

Ogygia has also been identified with one of the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic by Felice Vinci [019.3], who then proposed that the Pillars of Heracles had also been located in that archipelago. John Larsen has made similar suggestions.

Exotic locations such as Chott-el-Jerid in Tunisia, Bab-el-Mandeb(b) at the mouth of the Red Sea, the Strait of Hormuz(i) at the entrance to the Persian Gulf and even the Palk Strait between Sri Lanka and India have all been suggested at some stage as the ‘Pillars’.

George H. Cooper offered [0236] an even more outrageous solution when he wrote that the megaliths of Stonehenge in England were the original Pillars of Heracles.

In 2018, David L. Hildebrandt published Atlantis–The Awakening [1602], in which he has endeavoured to do just that with a mass of material that he claims supports the idea of Atlantis in Britain and Stonehenge as the remnants of the Temple of Poseidon. He suggests that the five trilithons represent the five sets of male twins, an idea voiced by Jürgen Spanuth and more recently by Dieter Braasch.

The late Arysio dos Santos [0320] claimed that “there was only one real pair of pillars: the ones that flank Sunda Strait in Indonesia”, in keeping with his Indonesian location for Atlantis. However, he does offer a map showing [p.130] nine sites designated by ancient authorities (but without references) as having been locations of ‘Pillars’, reinforcing the idea that the term was not exclusively applied to just one site. Santos’ map was based on the work of José Imbelloni.

ATLANTIS AND THE PILLARS OF HERACLES

The assumed location of the Pillars of Heracles, at the time of Solon, often plays a critical part in the formulation of the many  Atlantis theories on offer today. Even the authors of theories that have placed Plato’s island civilisation in such diverse locations as Antarctica, the North Sea or the South China Sea, have felt obliged to include an explanation for the nature and location of the ’Pillars’ within the framework of their particular hypothesis.   

There is one location clue in Plato’s text (Tim.24e) that is often overlooked, namely, that the island of Atlantis was situated close to the Pillars of Heracles. Although it can be argued that Plato’s island was immediately before or beyond the Pillars, the text seems to clearly imply proximity. This was pointed out by W.K.C. Guthrie in volume V of A History of Greek Philosophy [0946.245] and independently endorsed by Joseph Warren Wells in The Book on Atlantis [0783].

Sometimes, in ancient Greek literature, this phrase PoH refers to the strait between Sicily and the southern tip of Italy (a place which the Greeks did know well, having established colonies in Sicily and Southern Italy). An indication of the level of confusion that existed in early geography and cartography is the fact that some ancient maps & texts mark the Mediterranean region west of the Strait of Sicily as ‘the Atlantic Ocean’ and even state that Tyrrhenia is in the ‘Atlantic’!

Finally, my own conclusion regarding the location of the ‘Pillars’ is that a careful reading of Plato’s text shows clearly that they were located in the Central region of the Mediterranean. I base this view on Critias 108 which states that the Atlantean war was between those that lived outside the Pillars of Heracles and those that lived within them and (ii) Critias 114 which declares that Atlantis held sway over the Western Mediterranean as far as Tyrrhenia in the north and up to the borders of Egypt in the south. Consequently, we can assume that west of Tyrrhenia and of Egypt were beyond the Pillars of Heracles. Depending on the exact location of the ancient borders of Tyrrhenia and Egypt, the Pillars were probably situated somewhere in the vicinity of the Strait of Sicily.

This interpretation opens up the possibility of Malta, Sicily or even Sardinia as prime candidates for the location of Atlantis, with the ‘Pillars’ probably being at the Strait of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy. My principal reason being that a strait is defined as “a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water.” The Strait of Sicily is 145 km wide and cannot be realistically considered a strait. Similarly, it can be argued that at 13 km in width, the Strait of Gibraltar cannot be described as ‘narrow’! On the other hand the Strait of Messina, which at its narrowest is 3.1 km wide, fits the bill perfectly. Andis Kaulins is similarly inclined to favour the Central Mediterranean, also with the Strait of Messina as his prime candidate(q).

What is clear from all of the above is that the term Pillars of Heracles was, without doubt, applied to a variety of locations but Plato’s reference might relate to Gibraltar although equally strong if not stronger cases can be made for other sites at earlier dates. It is also plausible that at some point it also became a metaphor for any geographical limit.

CONCLUSION

Leaving aside the multiplicity of Herakles’ noted above, it is clear that the Herakles associated with Pillars was a mythological figure and when taken together with the fact that the ancient writers could not agree on the exact location or the nature of the Pillars and combined with the failure of both the Phoenicians and later the Romans to find the, it is reasonable to conclude that there were no physical Pillars of Herakles at Gibraltar.

It should be obvious that if the ancient mariners, Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans, despite centuries of searching, were unable to definitively identify the location of the Pillars, making my suggestion, that they were not physical but metaphorical, more credible.

Furthermore, the Gibraltar region together with all the other locations proposed for the Pillars of Herakles, none are known to have possessed the stelai described by Plato.

The PoH are described by Plato in terms implying proximity to Atlantis. He also described Atlantis as being beyond the Pillars of Herakles or westward of them. Furthermore, without any ambiguity, Plato identified central Mediterranean territory in southern Italy and northern Africa together with a number of the many islands there, as the Atlantean domain. Consequently, we must look to somewhere not too far east of those lands for the location of the Pillars. My personal choice is the Strait of Messina, one of the proposed landmarks named as the Pillars on their journey westward in step with the expansion of Greek trade and colonisation.

As explained elsewhere,  ancient empires or alliances only expanded by invading contiguous territory or attacking by sea, land that is within ‘easy reach’. From Gibraltar to Athens is over 2,500 km, which would make an attack over that distance totally irrational, whereas an invasion launched from southern Italy across the Strait of Otranto to mainland Greece is quite credible.

TRIVIA

Apart from any connection with Atlantis, it has been suggested that the vertical lines in the US dollar $ign (and by extension on the Bitcoin logo) represent the Pillars of Heracles!(l)

A more ‘out of this world’ suggestion(c) is that the ‘Pillars’ were in fact two bright stars in the western sky at the end of the last Age of Libra around 12,500 BC.

(a) http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/archaeology/people/shipley/pseudo-skylax

(b) http://www.grahamhancock.com/underworld/DrSunilAtlantis.php

(c) http://dailygrail.com/blogs/Charles-Pope/2011/8/Atlantis-Above-and-Below-Part-3

(d) https://web.archive.org/web/20020603011136/http://www.gunnzone.org:80/constructs/endsjo.htm

(e) http://books.google.ie/books/about/The_Edges_of_the_Earth_in_Ancient_Though.html?id=UOTxOcI_YJgCHYPERLINK “http://books.google.ie/books/about/The_Edges_of_the_Earth_in_Ancient_Though.html?id=UOTxOcI_YJgC&redir_esc=y”&HYPERLINK “http://books.google.ie/books/about/The_Edges_of_the_Earth_in_Ancient_Though.html?id=UOTxOcI_YJgC&redir_esc=y”redir_esc=y

(f) http://www.atlantidaegeo.com/c_hercules.html

(g) .ii.html”http://classics.mit.edu?Aristotle/meteorology.2.ii.html

(h) https://web.archive.org/web/20200403114225/http://www.museodeidolmen.it/popomare.html

(i) https://web.archive.org/web/20200220020342/http://www.middle-east.mavericsa.co.za/history.html  (over half way down page)

(j) https://shebtiw.wordpress.com/the-sea/the-pillars-of-hercules/

(k) http://redefiningatlantis.blogspot.ie/search/label/Heracles

(l) http://www.pravda-tv.com/2016/07/atlantis-die-dollar-note-und-die-saeulen-des-herakles/

(m) http://gibraltar-intro.blogspot.ie/2015/10/bc-pillars-of-hercules-if-ordinary.html

(n) https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/library/pamphlets/Is%20Britain%20the%20Lost%20Atlantis.pdf

(o) https://www.academia.edu/35505631/THE_PILLARS_OF_HERCULES_MYTH_OR_REALITY?auto=download&campaign=weekly_digest

(p) https://stillcurrent.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/atlantis-maybe-not-so-lost/

(q) https://web.archive.org/web/20200130221548/http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi60.htm 

(r) https://drive.google.com/file/d/10JTH401O_ew1fs8uhXR9C5IjNDvqnmft/view  Science Fantasy #35 1969

(s) https://sherlockfindsatlantis.wordpress.com/

(t) (Atlantean) Research, Vol 1 No.2, July/August , 1948

(u) Atlantis, Vol.29, No.2, March 76.

(v) https://www.argophilia.com/news/was-the-end-of-the-minoans-the-will-of-the-gods/227053/ (near end of page)

(w) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0064:entry=herculis-columnae-geo 

(x) http://dlib.nyu.edu/awdl/isaw/isaw-papers/5/

(y) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334683935_In_Search_of_the_Pillars_of_Heracles

(z) http://cosmosandlogos.com/?p=732

(aa) Servius on Vergil’s Aeneid 11.262.1

(ab) https://willydorn.de/galerie/kunstdrucke/drucke-atlantis/informationen-zu-atlantis/

(ac) http://atlantidaegeo.com/c_hercules.html

(ad) PREHISTORIC DACIA by Nicolae Densu?ianu (Full English Translation) : Nicolae Densu?ianu : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive 3.16 – 10

(ae) https://www.stockton.edu/hellenic-studies/documents/chs-summaries/culley94.pdf

(af) http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/celtic/danube/i.html

(ag) Pindar, Olympian 3.25

(ah) PREHISTORIC DACIA by Nicolae Densu?ianu (Full English Translation) : Nicolae Densu?ianu : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive 3.16 – 01

(ai) https://www.academia.edu/30587794/_Cradle_of_the_Aegean_Culture_by_Antonije_Shkokljev_and_Slave_Nikolovski_Katin?email_work_card=view-paper (Chap. 16)

(aj) https://web.archive.org/web/20200726123301/http:/www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book35.html, v139

(ak) https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Anabasis_of_Alexander/Book_II/Chapter_XVI

(al) https://www.chasingtheunexpected.com/sardinia-land-of-mystery-part-2-atlantis-lost-civilization/

(am) Plato’s Atlantis (Decoding the most famous myth) English translation of ‘The Apocalypse of a Myth’, 2017

(an) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius_Aelianus#Varia_Historia

(ao) https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/199203/pillars.of.hercules.sea.of.darkness.htm  {4748}

(ap) II, 42.44 {4747}

(aq) https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Colonization/

(ar) https://www.academia.edu/28508777/The_Cambridge_Ancient_History_3rd_Edition_volume_03_part_3_The_Expansion_of_the_Greek_World

(as) https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/capo-colonna

(at) https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/734438651719489108/

(au) See: Note 5 Armin Wolf’s Wayback Machine (archive.org)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Greek Colonisation

Greek Colonisation is something of misnomer on two counts. First of all is the fact that there was no unified Greek state until the time of Alexander the Great. Instead the territory was fragmented into a number of competing city- states (poleis) that formed shifting alliances to meet the exigencies of the day.

Secondly, the term ‘colonisation’ did not mean the same then as it does today. Individual city states had their own expansion ambitions, which were generally concerned with trade rather than territory. It seems that most of the colonies began as trading posts, known as emporia(a), some developing into towns, others grew into urban centres and even established colonies of their own.

In the first millennium BC, some of the Greek city-states gradually expanded their influence(c) eastward into Asia Minor and the Black Sea and westward along the northern coast of the Mediterranean, eventually founding Massalia (modern Marseilles), which established emporia in eastern Spain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

>Some writers, such as Henriette Mertz, have proposed that the ancient Greeks travelled as far as America and that Homer’s story of Odysseus was a retelling of such a voyage. More recently, Minas Tsikritsis has claimed that the Greeks had contact with North America, at least as far back as 86 AD!(d) Some time later he expanded on the idea in a paper published on the Researchgate website(e). Manolis Koutlis went further in his book, In the Shadow: The Greek Colonies of North America and the Atlantic 1500 BC -1500 AD [1617].

Even more extreme is the odd claim by Lonko Kilapan that ancient Greeks colonists settled in Chile and whose descendants are known now as Mapuche and earlier as Araucans or Araucanians(f) . Michael Issigonis has championed the idea of early Greeks in South America and elsewhere on the Academia.edu website(g)(h).<

The Phoenicians had their own city-states such a Tyre, Sidon and Byblos. They established ‘colonies along north Africa, and Spain. They competed with the Greeks, particularly in the central Mediterranean, where at one point they shared Sicily. Settlers from Tyre founded Carthage, which in turn became more powerful than and independent of its parent city and became more belligerent, eventually engaging in a series of wars with Rome, which it lost.

There is much more relevant information to be found on the excellent Ancient History Encyclopedia website(b) .

(a) https://www.academia.edu/1505105/The_origins_of_Greek_colonisation_and_Greek_polis_some_observations

(b) https://www.ancient.eu/edu/

(c) https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Colonization/

>(d) https://canada.greekreporter.com/2012/04/21/researcher-claims-ancient-greeks-made-it-to-america-before-columbus/

(e) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321319687/download

(f) https://www.heliodromion.gr/palaio/e_araoukanoi.htm

(g) https://www.academia.edu/9066795/Did_the_Mapuche_of_Chile_travel_from_Homeric_Age_Greece

(h) https://www.academia.edu/32921347/ANCIENT_GREEKS_TRAVELLED_WORLDWIDE<

Tanit

Tanit  was a Carthaginian and Phoenician goddess. Immanuel Velikovsky claimed that the name of modern Tunis, near the site of Carthage, is a cognate of Tanit. She was also adopted by the Berbers and claims have been made that Tanit was also a Hyksos goddess.

The Egyptian city of Sais where Solon first learned of Atlantis had it principal temple dedicated to the goddess Neith, whom the Egyptian priests identified with Athene. In turn, Neith is also associated with the Libyan goddess Tanit.

The whole matter of the relevance of Saïs to the Atlantis story has been challenged by the theory(a) that Saïs and Tanis, named after Tanit, were in fact the same location. A starting point is the fact that the current village of Sa el Hagar adjacent to the ruins of Saïs has a counterpart at Tanis where there is a village called San el Hagar. Drawing on the writings of Strabo, Herodotus and the Bible some have concluded that the two cities were one. Velikovsky also proposed this idea in his Ramses II and His Time[0832.209], noting that “Tanis is mentioned in Scriptures as the capital of Egypt when. according to both the conventional plan and this reconstruction, Saïs was the capital.”

The island of Es Vedra off the west coast of Ibiza, the third largest of the Balearics, has had a number of imaginative myths, old and new, associated with it, including one that it is supposed to be the birthplace of Tanit!

(a)  https://h2g2.com/forums/A148907/conversation/view/F19585/T7572591/page/1/

Heupel, DuWayne

DuWayne Heupel is the author of Atlantis in Context[1230] in which he concludes that the Atlantis story was an invention by Plato to promote his concept of an ideal form of government and “demonstrate the dangers of national hubris.” However, it would seem to fail as a morality tale when Plato also included the demise of the ‘righteous’ Athenians in his narrative. This is compounded by his reference to another ideal city, Magnesia, in Laws. Why did he need to create two model cities?

Nevertheless, Heupel includes a lot of historical background to Athens and the people referred to by Plato, although by his own admission, he does engage in some speculative conclusions. He also claim that elements in Plato’s story were possibly inspired by real places, like Carthage, Atalanta and Thera and real events such as the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. What I find strange about that is that the places listed by Heupel are not mentioned at all by Plato, but locations, such as Tyrrhenia and Libya, which are included in the text, are apparently not considered to be relevant by Heupel. It seems clear that Heupel accepts that there are actual historical underpinnings to the Atlantis story, but in my opinion has chosen the wrong ones.

The late Anthony N. Kontaratos, listed twenty-two direct and indirect instances, in Timaeus and Critias, where Plato has asserted the truthfulness of the Atlantis story. As far as I’m aware, there is nothing comparable with this anywhere else in Plato’s writings. This alone should persuade listeners/readers that at least Plato believed he was transmitting a true story. However, Plato did have some reservations regarding details in Solon’s narrative, as expressed in Critias 118c-d. If Plato had invented the whole story, it is highly unlikely that he would create exaggerations in an invented tale and then draw attention to them, unless, of course, he was engaging in a double bluff! For my part, I believe that this is highly improbable and that his reluctance to blindly accept all that was transmitted to him was outweighed by the trustworthiness of Solon, his source. Solon was held in such high regard by the people of Athens that for a writer to invoke his name as an informant, without good reason, would be committing literary suicide. This would be similar to unjustifiably quoting George Washington or Nelson Mandela. It is equally improbable that Plato would invoke the names of his family in support of a hoax.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that Plato, in good faith, wrote down the story of Atlantis as recorded by Solon. Unfortunately, trust in Solon is not enough to explain away the difficulties in the narrative, including the very item that raised the initial doubts in Plato’s own mind.

For my part, I believe that the balance of probabilities favours the acceptance of the reality of Atlantis and is clearly worthy of continuing research.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Crops a Year

Two Crops a year is one of the characteristics of Atlantean agriculture according to Plato (Critias 118e).

The North African climate was slightly wetter at the time of Hannibal (2nd & 3rd cent. BC), later, Algeria, Egypt and particularly Tunisia, were the ‘breadbasket’ of Rome(b) and may also have been so for the Atlanteans who earlier had control from North Africa to Tyrrhenia! 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).

*It is worth noting that Mago, the Carthaginian author of a 28-book work on the agricultural practices of North Africa. had his books brought to Rome after the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, where they were translated from Punic into Latin and Greek and were widely quoted. It is clear that Mago’s work was a reflection of a highly developed agricultural society in that region, a description that could also be applied to Plato’s Atlantis!*

Although two crops are possible annually in other parts of the world, I must emphasise that North Africa is the only part of the Atlantean territory referred to by Plato (Timaeus 25b) that was so productive and continued to be so until the Romans, who depended on it along with Egypt to feed Rome.

(a) https://www.britannica.com/place/Atlas-Mountains

(b) https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Tunisia

Hanno, The Voyage of

The Voyage of Hanno, the Carthaginian navigator, was undertaken around 500 BC. The general consensus is that his journey took him through the Strait of Gibraltar and along part of the west coast of Africa. A record, or periplus, of the voyage was inscribed on tablets and displayed in the Temple of Baal at Carthage. Richard Hennig Hannospeculated that the contents of the periplus were copied by the Greek historian, Polybius, after the Romans captured Carthage. It did not surface again until the 10th century when a copy, in Greek, was discovered (Codex Heildelbergensis 398) and was not widely published until the 16th century.

The 1797 English translation of the periplus by Thomas Falconer along with the original Greek text can be downloaded or read online(h).

Edmund Marsden Goldsmid (1849-?) published a translation of A Treatise On Foreign Languages and Unknown Islands[1348] by Peter Albinus. In footnotes on page 39 he describes Hanno’s periplus as ‘apocryphal’. A number of other commentators(c)(d) have also cast doubts on the authenticity of the Hanno text.

Three years after Ignatius Donnelly published Atlantis, Lord Arundell of Wardour published The Secret of Plato’s Atlantis[0648] intended as a rebuttal of Donnelly’s groundbreaking book. The ‘secret’ referred to in the title is that Plato’s Atlantis story is based on the account we have of the Voyage of Hanno.

Nicolai Zhirov speculated that Hanno may have witnessed ‘the destruction of the southern remnants of Atlantis’, based on some of his descriptions.

Rhys Carpenter commented that ”The modern literature about his (Hanno’s) voyage is unexpectedly large. But it is so filled with disagreement that to summarize it with any thoroughness would be to annul its effectiveness, as the variant opinions would cancel each other out”[221.86].

Further discussion of the text and topography encountered by Hanno can be read in a paper[1483] by Duane W. Roller.

What I find interesting is that so much attention was given to Hanno’s voyage as if it was unique and not what you would expect if Atlantic travel was as commonplace at that time, as many ‘alternative’ history writers claim.

However, even more questionable is the description of Hanno sailing off “with a fleet of sixty fifty-oared ships, and a large number of men and women to the number of thirty thousand, and with wheat and other provisions.” The problem with this is that the 50-oared ships would have been penteconters, which had limited room for much more than the oarsmen. If we include the crew, an additional 450 persons per ship would have been impossible, in fact it, is unlikely that even the provisions for 500 hundred people could have been accommodated!

Lionel Casson, the author of The Ancient Mariners[1193] commented that “if the whole expedition had been put aboard sixty penteconters, the ships would have quietly settled on the harbour bottom instead of leaving Carthage: a penteconter barely had room to carry a few days’ provisions for its crew, to say nothing of a load of passengers with all the equipment they needed to start a life in a colony.

The American writer, William H. Russeth, commented(f) on the various interpretations of Hanno’s route, noting that “It is hard for modern scholars to figure out exactly where Hanno traveled, because descriptions changed with each version of the original document and place names change as different cultures exert their influence over the various regions. Even Pliny the Elder, the famous Roman Historian, complained of writers committing errors and adding their own descriptions concerning Hanno’s journey, a bit ironic considering that Romans levelled the temple of Ba’al losing the famous plaque forever.”

George Sarantitis has a more radical interpretation of Hanno’s journey, proposing

Hanno's possible route according to Sarantitis

Hanno’s possible inland route according to Sarantitis

(e) that instead of taking a route along the North African coast and then out into the Atlantic, he proposes that Hanno travelled inland along waterways that no longer exist. He insists that the location of the Pillars of Heracles, as referred to in the narrative, matches the Gulf of Gabes [1470].

The most recent commentary on Hanno’s voyage is on offer from Antonio Usai in his 2014 book, The Pillars of Hercules in Aristotle’s Ecumene[980]. He also has a controversial view of Hanno’s account, claiming that in the “second part, Hanno makes up everything because he does not want to continue that voyage.” (p.24) However, the main objective of Usai’s essays is to demonstrate that the Pillars of Hercules were originally situated in the Central Mediterranean between eastern Tunisia and its Kerkennah Islands.

A 1912 English translation of the text can be read online(a),>as well as a modern English translation by Jason Colavito(k).<

Another Carthaginian voyager, Himilco, is also thought to have travelled northward in the Atlantic and possibly reached Ireland, referred to as ‘isola sacra’. Unfortunately, his account is no longer available(g).

The livius.org website offers three articles(i) on the text, history and credibility of the surviving periplus together with a commentary.

(a) https://web.archive.org/web/20040615213109/https://www.jate.u-szeged.hu/~gnovak/f99htHanno.htm

(c) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanno_the_Navigator

(d) https://annoyzview.wordpress.com/2012/04/

(e) https://platoproject.gr/voyage-hanno-Carthaginian/

(f) https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/5295414-ancient-navigator-finds-gorilla-of-his-dreams

(g) https://gatesofnineveh.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/high-north-carthaginian-exploration-of-ireland/

(h) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qbMBAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR3&lpg=PR3&dq=Hanno+THomas+Falconer&source=bl&ots=jNnOy0QPyI&sig=xWps907X_R-1Q4kHMGaHI55Ckgs&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiSysGPsLvMAhXpF5oKHRFvDCEQ6AEIMjAE#v=onepage&q=Hanno%20THomas%20Falconer&f=false

(i)  See: https://web.archive.org/web/20180323080221/https://www.livius.org/articles/person/hanno-1-the-navigator/

>

(j) BSMQgoYSQYFJ90bRJIhQ&hl=mt&ei=–tuSfNEIaqnAOo_NjHBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=&ved=CBgQ https://archive.org/details/cu31924031441847 

(k) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/periplus-of-hanno.html#:~:text=The%20Periplus%20of%20Hanno%20the%20Carthaginian%20is%20an,to%20the%20sixth%20century%20before%20the%20Christian%20era.<

Aucler, Paul

Paul Aucler (1865-1915) was a French archaeologist who published a reconstruction of ancient Carthage in 1899. The layout he presented has been commented on for its similarity with Plato’s description of the capital city of Atlantis.

Robert Stacy-Judd, a prominent diffusionist, was one such commentator, who was not suggesting that Carthage was the location of Atlantis, but when a similar layout was to be found at Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and elsewhere, it, according to him, seemed to imply a common source of inspiration – Atlantis!

Elephants

Elephants are specifically mentioned by Plato as being indigenous to Atlantis. This must have significance for anyone trying to arrive at a credible location for Atlantis. For example, supporters of the Theran Atlantis School cannot show where such large animals could have lived on the small volcanic island. There are no physical remains, no frescos and no historical references. Rodney Castleden who supports the Minoan Hypothesis admits that “no raw elephant ivory has been found (on Thera) and very little in the way of worked ivory”[225.70]. He later speaks of the importation of ivory into Crete[p.172] having bravely denounced Plato’s description (Critias 115a) of herds of elephants on Atlantis as “false”[p.136].

Similarly, Spanuth’s Heligoland location would have been climatically unsuited to elephants. Spanuth himself admits that the elephant reference “is hard to explain“. Nevertheless, Felice Vinci who champions a Northern European origin for Greek mythology is of the opinion that Plato’s elephant reference may be a lingering memory of the woolly mammoths that inhabited Arctic regions as recently as 2500-2000 BC(t)(u).  In the late 17th century Olof Rudbeck, recognising the problem that Plato’s reference to elephants presented for his Swedish Atlantis, argued that Plato had been speaking figuratively when describing the large voracious animals and had in fact been referring to wolves, the Swedish word for wolf being ‘ulf’, which sounds like the beginning of ‘elephant’!!

Elephants in Western Europe were undoubtedly represented by mammoths, remains of which have been recovered from the North Sea – Doggerland and dated to around 40,000 years ago. Coincidentally, a tool made of mammoth bone, used for making rope, has also been dated to 40,000 years ago(i)(n). This discovery(s) by Nicholas Conard from the University of Tubingen was made shortly before Ashley Cowie published his interesting book[1454] on the history of rope-making. Further information on string, ropes and knots was published in March 2017(o). This ingenuity of our very distant ancestors, so often underestimated, is slowly being revealed by modern archaeology. In 2000, in the Czech Republic, it was discovered that woven cloth was being produced on looms 27,000 years ago(v). A few years later a team from Harvard’s Peabody Museum reported the discovery of fibers that ‘were spun, twisted or knotted’ and dated to at least 34,000 years ago(x). 2020 saw evidence emerge which suggested that even as far back as 41,000 – 52,000 years ago the Neanderthals had mastered the making of cords(w).>Later the same year, further evidence was offered that string making may have begun even earlier(y).<

Allied to the demise of the Siberian mammoths is the often repeated fib that when the remains were first discovered, their flesh was still fresh enough to eat, has recently been debunked by Jason Colavito(j). He has also unearthed the truth behind that other canard relating to a Siberian mammoth, namely that fresh buttercups were found in its mouth(j). He has now(q) traced back the earliest reference to the frozen mammoths to George Cuvier in 1822 [1586.11].

Eckart Kahlhofer, in a forthcoming book[715] advocates a North-West European location for Atlantis, suggests that where Plato referred to elephants he really meant deer! Kahlhofer offers, as a simple explanation for this seemingly daft contention, the fact that the Greek for elephant, elephas, is very similar to the Greek elaphos which means deer. A simple transcription error by a scribe could have caused the mix-up. The elk was the largest species of deer to be found in the northern hemisphere and are still to be found in Scandinavia. The Great Irish Deer which died out around 5500 BC had an antler span of 11ft and a maximum height of 10ft. 

Gene Matlock in an attempt to bolster his Mexican location for Atlantis has suggested that Plato’s elephants were in fact the long-snouted tapirs of Meso-America!(c), an idea ‘borrowed’ from Hyde Clarke 

While the elephant issue should not be dealt with in isolation it does serve to illustrate the difficulties involved in analysing Plato’s text. Consider the possibility that the early date of 9600 BC for Atlantis is accepted, then the islands that are too small today to accommodate elephants may have been considerably larger and sometimes connected to each other or a mainland during the Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, and consequently capable of supporting pachyderms. In this regard, Sundaland would have been a most suitable candidate. Not only would to-day’s South China Sea’s archipelagos been a single landmass, but there would have been access to the area from the Asian mainland, home today to large numbers of elephants.

Strangely enough, even the Andes, considered by some as the home of Atlantis, reveal the fact that during the last Ice Age a species of elephant called Cuvieronius lived there but became extinct around 8000 BC. These animals are to be found carved on the great Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco suggesting that they were common in the region. Supporters of an Atlantis link with Tiahuanaco have highlighted this fact.

James Bailey who supports[149][150] the idea of Atlantis in America believes that Plato’s mention of elephants could be a reference to the American mammoth, generally believed to have died out circa 10,000 BC, although Victor von Hagen, the American explorer, contentiously maintained that they survived as late 2000 BC. A similar idea was presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference by American researcher, Monique Petersen.

The Schoppes, in support of their theory of Atlantis in the Black Sea region, contend(l) that Indian elephants existed there until 800 BC and support this with a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmosis III who killed 120 elephants ‘there’ around 1200 BC, which is a strange claim as Thutmosis did not venture beyond Syria and he died circa 1426 BC!

Elephas Antiquus (Palaeoloxodon), is a dwarf species whose remains have been found throughout the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus. All those found were dated 200,000 BC or earlier! In sharp contrast, Simon Davis, in an article in New Scientist (3 Jan.1985), dated Mediterranean dwarf elephants to as recent as 6000 BC(p). A number of writers, such as Roger Coghill, have tried to use the pygmy elephant as an explanation for Plato’s text (Crit. 114e & 115a) where we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious’. This is not a description of pygmy elephants.

However, Ghar Hasan or Hasan’s Cave in southeast Malta has paleolithic cave paintings that depict elephants, indicating more recent contact with the animals. Whether these represented full-sized or the pygmy variety is unclear. A small booklet[214] by Dr. Anton Mifsud and Dr. Charles Savona-Ventura describes this cave system.

In Dossier Malta – Neanderthal [1587] Mifsud has drawn attention to another cavern, not far away, formerly known as Ghar Dulam, now Ghar Dalam, where thousands of dwarf elephant bones were discovered. Dulam means ‘small elephant’ in Arabic. This is one of the mainstays of his ‘Atlantis in Malta’ theory. Whether these diminutive creatures justify Plato’s description that they were the “largest and most voracious” of animals (Crit.115a) is clearly debatable. For me this is not a description of pygmy elephants and so in all probability is an indication of a North African location or, as some claim, an Asian one!

The Atlanteans had control in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt, which would have included what is now modern Tunisia, the home of the last recorded wild elephants in that region!

Readers should be aware that there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(e)(h). In fact the New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(d) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire.

In Elephant Destiny[1301] Martin Meredith records that one of the earliest references to the African elephant came from Hanno, the 5th century BC Carthaginian explorer, who related how he came across marshes at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, which “were haunted by elephants and multitudes of other grazing beasts.” Meredith also mentions that stables for as many as 300 elephants were to be found within the city of Carthage itself.

Nevertheless,  the species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(f). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare(g). 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 control (Timaeus 25a-b) and so may be the reason that Plato mentioned them. It is also reported that during the reign of the Ptolemies in Egypt (323 BC-30 BC), they imported war elephants from Eritrea in East Africa(r).

The latter half of 2010 saw a new piece of nonsense hit the blogosophere when a claim that the Atlanteans had flying machines made of elephant skins suddenly appeared and before you could say “cut and paste” it was ‘adopted’ by a variety of websites(a)(b). So Dumbo was not the first flying elephant! In fact this daft idea was just a recycling of one of Edgar Cayce’s ‘revelations’ (Reading 364-6)(m).

(a) https://www.articledashboard.com/Article/Speaking-of-Atlantis/1872335  (Offline October 2017)

(b) https://www.saching.com/Articles/Historical-Proof-of-Atlantis-2888.html

(c) https://viewzone.com/atlantis22.html

(d) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=yoa0FqP-rWUC&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=elephants+in+Tunisia&source=bl&ots=t-VBIs13N4&sig=4WMoiqmnEfbmL4eZlvTbK9NWrRQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZWzqVL3aNeLY7AbtuYHQAQ&ved=0CCAQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=elephants%20in%20Tunisia&f=false

(e) https://interesting-africa-facts.com/Africa-Landforms/Atlas-Mountains-Facts.html

(f) https://www.nytimes.com/1984/09/18/science/the-mystery-of-hannibal-s-elephants.html

(g) https://nabataea.net/elephants.html

(h) https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/08/137456/5-animals-that-once-roamed-morocco-but-no-longer-exist/

(i) https://www.seeker.com/how-rope-was-made-40000-years-ago-1943454415.html

(j) https://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/dining-on-frozen-mammoth-steaks-the-evolution-of-a-strange-rumor

(k) https://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/flash-frozen-mammoths-and-their-buttercups-yet-another-case-of-repetition-and-recycling-of-bad-data

(l) https://web.archive.org/web/20190830053312/https://www.black-sea-atlantis.com/black-sea-atlantis/

(m) https://phantho.de/files/html/reading__364-6.htm

(n) https://www.q-mag.org/40000-years-of-rope-making.html

(o) https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-long-knotty-world-spanning-story-of-string/

(p) https://books.google.ie/books?id=Bjd6S9fEDE4C&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq=%22simon+davis%22+pygmy+elephants&source=bl&ots=BReKfMY2gS&sig=AWTfZYjRx55PVqzUIRLk-hrzmPo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-96Oak-naAhWRON8KHYTKCEgQ6AEITzAL#v=onepage&q=%22simon%20davis%22%20pygmy%20elephants&f=false

(q) https://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/the-claim-of-flash-frozen-mammoths-is-older-than-i-thought

(r) https://www.livescience.com/64407-ancient-egypt-fortress-war-elephants.html

(s) https://www.seeker.com/how-rope-was-made-40000-years-ago-1943454415.html

(t) https://www.dailygrail.com/2013/12/did-you-know-woolly-mammoths-still-walked-the-earth-when-the-pyramids-were-built/

(u) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrangel_Island#Flora_and_fauna

(v) https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/790569.stm

(w) https://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=828400733

(x) https://web.archive.org/web/20090930011321/https://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=529173

>(y) https://www.insidewalessport.co.uk/120000-calendar-year-outdated-necklace-tells-of-the-origin-of-string/<

Pallottino, Massimo (L)

Massimo Pallottino (1909-1995) was an Italian archaeologist and professor PALLOTTINOof Etruscan Studies at Rome’s University La Sapienza. In 1952 he expressed his views[222] on Atlantis, which were somewhat ambiguous and that its reality was still an open question. He believed that Atlantis was a combination of a number of traditions. He felt that the war with Atlantis may have included an echo of the invasion of the Sea Peoples and that the design of Plato’s city was based on Plato’s knowledge of Carthage.

Thorwald C. Franke considers the views of Pallottino to be an elaboration of those of Wilhelm Brandenstein(a). In May 2013, Franke published an English translation(b)  of his overview of Pallottino’s approach to the Atlantis question.

(a) www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_pallottino.htm

(b)  https://www.atlantis-scout.de/atlantis_pallottino_engl.htm

Usai, Antonio

Antonio Usai (1957- ) was born in Assemini, 12 km northwest of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Having a passion for ancient  UsaiAntoniohistory, he has written a number of papers(a) locating the Pillars of Heracles within the Mediterranean. An English translation of The Pillars of Hercules in Aristotle’s Ecumene is now available on the excellent Academia.edu website as well as a 67-page booklet[0980]. Included in his work is a critique(b) of Sergio Frau’s book[302].

Usai followed a reading of Frau’s book with a study of the works of Herodotus, Aristotle, Polybius and Strabo among others. He was drawn to the story of Hanno’s voyage, where Hanno is described as leaving Carthage, turning east, then passing through the ‘Pillars’ and following the coast south towards Syrtis Minor, which is described as being on their right.>However, the previous passage tells us that he first turned west, which is all rather confusing!<

According to Usai, this would only make sense if the Pillars had been situated between the east coast of Tunisia and the islands of Kerkennah. Furthermore, Usai contends that part of Hanno’s report of his voyage was a hoax!

Finally, after devoting most of his essays to identifying the original Pillars at Kerkennah,>in my opinion he weakened his credibility when he concluded his work by identifying Greenland as the location of Atlantis, contradicting Plato’s text, in which the Pillars are described as close to Atlantis.

For some reason, Usai incorrectly describes Greenland as being surrounded by a continent. It is not; to the west is a large Canadian island, there is nothing to the north, east or south and the nearest continental territory is 500 km away to the southwest.

Additionally, he must explain why or how the few people living on Greenland would attack Athens so many thousands of kilometers away.<

A number of translations of the Periplus (Sea Voyage Guide) of Hanno are available on the internet(c)(d).

(a) https://www.archeomedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Le_colonne_dErcole_nellecumene_di_Aristotele.pdf  (Italian)

https://www.academia.edu/6910165/The_Pillars_of_Hercules_in_Aristotles_Ecumene (English)

(b) See: https://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-2352/

(c) https://archive.org/details/cu31924031441847  (Schoff translation)

(d) http://www.jasoncolavito.com/periplus-of-hanno.html  (Colavito translation)