Charles A. Rogers
Syrtis was the name given by the Romans to two gulfs off the North African coast; Syrtis Major which is now known as the Gulf of Sidra off Libya and Syrtis Minor, known today as the Gulf of Gabes in Tunisian waters. They are both shallow sandy gulfs that have been feared from ancient times by mariners. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27.13-18) it is described how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on ‘Syrtis sands.’
The earliest modern reference to these gulfs that I can find in connection with Atlantis was by Nicolas Fréret in the 18th century when he proposed that Atlantis may have been situated in Syrtis Major. Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse expressed a similar view around the same time. Since then there has been little support for the idea until recent times when Winfried Huf designated Syrtis Major as one of his five divisions of the Atlantean Empire.
However, the region around the Gulf of Gabes has been more persistently associated with aspects of the Atlantis story. Inland from Gabes are the chotts, which were at one time connected to the Mediterranean and considered to have been part of the legendary Lake Tritonis, sometimes suggested as the actual location of Atlantis.
In the Gulf itself, Apollonius of Rhodes placed the Pillars of Herakles(a) , while Anton Mifsud has drawn attention to the writings of the Greek author, Palefatus of Paros, who stated (c. 32) that the Columns of Heracles were located close to the island of Kerkennah at the western end of Syrtis Minor. Lucanus, the Latin poet, located the Strait of Heracles in Syrtis Minor. Mifsud has pointed out that this reference has been omitted from modern translations of Lucanus’ work!
Férréol Butavand was one of the first modern commentators to locate Atlantis in the Gulf of Gabés. In 1929 Dr. Paul Borchardt, the German geographer, claimed to have located Atlantis between the chotts and the Gulf, while more recently Alberto Arecchi placed Atlantis in the Gulf when sea levels were lower(b) . George Sarantitis places the ‘Pillars’ near Gabes and Atlantis itself inland, further west in Mauritania, south of the Atlas Mountains. Antonio Usai also places the ‘Pillars’ in the Gulf of Gabes.
In 2018, Charles A. Rogers published a paper(c) on the academia.edu website in which he identified Tunisia as Atlantis with it capital located at the mouth of the Triton River on the Gulf of Gabes. He favours Plato’s 9.000 ‘years’ to have been lunar cycles, bringing the destruction of Atlantis into the middle of the second millennium BC and coinciding with the eruption of Thera which created a tsunami that ran across the Mediterranean destroying the city with the run-up and its subsequent backwash. This partly agrees with my conclusions in Joining the Dots!
(a) Argonautica Book IV ii 1230
Tunisia has now offered evidence of human activity dated to nearly 100,000 years ago(d) at a site near Tozeur, in the southwest of the country, where the Chotts are today.
Alfred Merlin (1876-1965) was head of the Tunisian Antiquities Administration from 1905 to 1920. In 1907 the discovery of ancient artefacts of the old Tunisian port of Mahdia was initially thought by Merlin to be relics from Atlantis. However, following some investigation, the matter seemed to fade from Merlin’s field of interest and apparently never wrote anything on the subject(n).
Tunisia was proposed in the 1920s, by Albert Herrmann, as holding the location of Plato’s Atlantis, at a dried-up saltwater lake known today as Chott el Djerid and was, according to Herrmann, previously called Lake Tritonis. Around this same period Dr. Paul Borchardt, a German geologist, also favoured a site near the Gulf of Gabés, off Tunisia, as the location of Atlantis. He informed us that Shott el Jerid had also been known locally as Bahr Atala or Sea of Atlas.
Hong-Quan Zhang has a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics and lectures at Tulsa University. He is a recent supporter of Atlantis being located in the chotts of Tunisia and Algeria(l). He offers his interpretation of excerpts from the ancient Pyramid Texts in support of his contention(m).
More recently, Alberto Arecchi developed a theory that places Atlantis off the present Tunisian coast with a large inland sea, today’s Chotts, which he identifies as the original ‘Atlantic Sea’, straddling what is now the Tunisian-Algerian border. Arecchi claims that this was nearly entirely emptied into the Mediterranean as a result of seismic or tectonic activity in the distant past.
In 2018, Charles A. Rogers published a paper(f) on the academia.edu website in which he identified Tunisia as Atlantis with its capital located at the mouth of the Triton River on the Gulf of Gabes. He favours Plato’s 9.000 ‘years’ to have been lunar cycles, bringing the destruction of Atlantis into the middle of the second millennium BC and coinciding with the eruption of Thera which created a tsunami that ran across the Mediterranean destroying the city with the run-up and its subsequent backwash. This partly agrees with my conclusions in Joining the Dots!
There is clear evidence(b) that Tunisia had been home to the last wild elephants in the Mediterranean region until the demise of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, North Africa and Tunisia in particular have been considered the breadbasket of imperial Rome supplying much of its wheat and olive oil. In particular the Majardah (Medjerda) River valley has remained to this day the richest grain-producing region of Tunisia(i). Roman Carthage became the second city of the Western Empire. Although the climate has deteriorated somewhat since then, it is still possible to produce two crops a year in the low-lying irrigated plains of Tunisia. Furthermore, around the mountains of northwest Africa, there is an abundance of trees including Aleppo pine forests that cover over 10,000 km2 (h). All these details echo Plato’s description of Atlantis and justify the consideration of Tunisia as being at least part of the Atlantean confederation.
It is worth noting that Mago, was the Carthaginian author of a 28-volume work on the agricultural practices of North Africa. After the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, his books were brought to Rome, where they were translated from Punic into Latin and Greek and were widely quoted thereafter. Unfortunately, the original texts did not survive, so today we only have a few fragments quoted by later writers. Clearly, 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!
In 2017, the sunken city of Neapolis was located off the coast of Nabeul, southeast of Tunis. This city was reportedly submerged by a tsunami ”on July 21 in 365 AD that badly damaged Alexandria in Egypt and the Greek island of Crete, as recorded by historian Ammianus Marcellinus.(e)(g)” However, water from a tsunami eventually drains back into the sea, but the demise of Neapolis might be better explained by liquefaction, in the same way, that Herakleion(j), near Alexandria, was destroyed, possibly by the same event. Neapolis and Herakleion are around 1,900 km apart, which suggests an astounding seismic event if both were destroyed at the same time!(e)
In addition to all that, in winter the northern coast of Tunisia is assailed with cold winds from the north bringing snow to the Kroumirie Mountains in the northwest(c).
Interestingly, in summer 2014, a completely new lake was discovered at Gafsa, just north of Shott el Jerid and quickly became a tourist attraction(a), but its existence was rather short-lived.
In November 2021, Aleksa Vu?kovi? published an article on the Ancient Origins website reviewing the current evidence for a Tunisian location for Plato’s Atlantis. Unfortunately, nothing new is offered that you cannot find here(k)!
To be clear, I consider parts of Tunisia to have been an important element in the Atlantean alliance, which according to Plato, also included southern Italy along with some of the Mediterranean islands (Tim.25a-b).
(b) New Scientist. 7 February, 1985 *
Albert Herrmann (1886-1945) was Professor of Geography at Berlin University. He was very interested in oriental geography and is perhaps best known for his 1935, Historical and Commercial Atlas of China, which was widely used
His other passion was Atlantis, so between 1927 and 1931 he declared support for Borchardt’s northwest Africa location theory in a number of publications. In 1938 he used is influence to mount a large exhibition in Berlin about Atlantis(a).
He agreed that a large dried-up saltwater lake in Tunisia called Shott el Djerid was originally Lake Tritonis and was known during Solon’s time as the ‘Atlantic Sea’ and further claimed that it had been the location of Atlantis; a theory supported by a number of investigators. In more recent times, Charles A. Rogers is one such advocate of this identification(b).
Herrmann suggested that it was the result of an upheaval of the land, which extended a land barrier between the Shott and the sea. He locates the Pillars of Heracles where this barrier was created. Anton Mifsud has pointed out that the 1st century BC writer Apollonius Rhodius located the Strait of Heracles in ancient Syrtis Minor, now the Gulf of Gabés, apparently supporting Herrmann’s contention. At one point, Herrmann cited as Atlantis, the village of Rhelissa, near the mouth of the old River Tritonis, which flowed into the Gulf of Gabes.
Herrmann disagreed with Plato’s 9,000 years and proposed that he had instead been referring to the 13th or 14th century BC.
Finally, Herrmann, in an effort to match this location with the Platonic narrative, felt obliged to reduce its dimensions by a factor of thirty. He claimed that the priest or interpreter at Sais had erred in the conversion of the Egyptian ‘schoinos’ into Greek stadia. The schoinos was adopted by the Greeks, where it must be noted that it, as well as the Geek stadion, had variable regional values; the number of schoeni per stadion varied between 30 and 120.
In a later book, Herrmann shifted his view from his original stance suggesting that Tunisia had been just a colony under the influence of a culture originating in Friesland, later to become famous as the source of the Oera Linda Book (c). It is not impossible that the introduction of a Northern European slant to his theories was the consequence of political pressure in Germany at the time, typified by Borchardt being imprisoned because of his Jewish background. Vidal-Naquet describes Herrmann as ‘an avowed Nazi’ [580.121] so pressure may not have been necessary. (a) >His revised conclusions appear to mirror the views of fellow nazi Hermann Wirth.<
Halley’s Comet is named after Edmond Halley (1656-1742) who correctly predicted its periodicity and that it would return after his death in 1759. Bill Arnett has advised that “The average period of Halley’s orbit is 76 years but you cannot calculate the dates of its reappearances by simply subtracting multiples of 76 years from 1986. The gravitational pull of the major planets alters the orbital period from revolution to revolution. Nongravitational effects (such as the reaction from gasses boiled off during its passage near the Sun) also play an important, but smaller, role in altering the orbit. Between the years 239 BC and 1986 AD the orbital period has varied from 76.0 years (in 1986) to 79.3 years (in 451 and 1066).“(q)
In 1694 Halley proposed(f) that Noah’s Flood had been caused by a cometary impact, a suggestion for which he was censured by the Royal Society. However, he was rather off the mark when he was the first to propose a ‘hollow Earth’ in 1692(c).
Although the comet’s average orbital period is 76 years, it has been as high as 79.3 years. The nucleus of Halley’s Comet is approximately 5x5x10 miles but has a very low density. The earliest observation of the comet was noted in 240 BC by the Chinese, although there is now a suggestion of 466 BC being the earliest reference in ancient Greek records(e). It has also been famously recorded on the Bayeux Tapestry, mentioned in the Talmud and frequently associated with the Star of Bethlehem(h).
A more recent suggestion has been that a fragment of HC hit the Earth in 536 AD lowering temperatures globally causing drought, famine and disease(g).
Polish Professor Kamienski considered the biblical mention of ‘an angel with a sword’ (1Chron 21.16) to be a reference to Halley’s appearance around 1010 BC. However, Kamienski dated another close encounter with Halley’s Comet, which led to the destruction of Atlantis, to circa 9550 BC. In a similar fashion, the historian Donald V. Etz in 1986(b) argued that Isaiah 14.12-15 was possibly inspired by the appearance of the same comet.
In 1956, Kamienski then entered the contentious matter of the date of the Trojan War, which he proposed had ended circa 1165 BC and suggested that it may have coincided with the appearance of Halley’s Comet!(o)
Halley’s Comet, in fact, comets generally, were considered to be harbingers of doom, as their appearance seemed to eerily coincide with various disasters, both natural and military.
In 1456, Pope Calixtus III excommunicated the comet as an agent of Satan. This appears to have been theologically unsound as the comet was never a member of the Church in the first place. Amazingly, comets have continued to reappear, obviously concurrent with a least one of the daily earthbound calamities that is our lot.
The French astronomer Nicolas Camille Flammarion predicted that the appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1910 would fill the earth’s atmosphere with toxic gas and kill all life on earth! Obviously, nothing catastrophic happened then nor on its next visit in 1986.
Another suggested date for Halley’s Comet leading to the demise of Atlantis is 1628 BC put forward by David Wiseman, a Bible teacher(d).
Jean Silvain Bailly was the first to compute the orbit of the comet and coincidentally also wrote on the subject of Atlantis at the end of the 18th century.
Col. Braghine theorised that Atlantis was destroyed as a result of a close encounter of the Earth with Halley’s Comet and similarly the Polish Professor Kamienski suggested that a large chunk of Halley’s Comet fell into the Gulf of Mexico in 9542 BC. Kamienski has also written very technical paper(a) on the 2320 BC appearance of the comet. The American astronomer Jack Hills, an asteroid specialist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory holds similar views to Kamienski.
>The earliest claimed sighting of Halley’s Comet appears to have come from Dr Manish Pandit, who has proposed that it was seen as early as 3067 BC(p).<
Halley’s Comet has also been blamed for the disappearance of the Pannonian Lake, another proposed Atlantis location.
Jürgen Spanuth thought that Phaëton was a fragment of Halley’s Comet. Two other followers of Spanuth, Günter Bischoff and Walter Stender have written extensive papers, in German, on a meteorite impact with Northern Europe around 1220 BC, which they also identified as Phaëton(j)(n). The same interpretation has been applied specifically to Lake Chiemgau in S.E. Bavaria and is expanded on in papers by Barbara Rappenglück among many others(k)(l)(m).
In a 2018 paper(i), Charles A Rogers associates Phaëton with Halley’s Comet, dating the close encounter to 1404 BC. He goes further, linking the ‘pillar of light’ in Exodus with both Halley’s Comet and the eruption of Thera. He then proceeds to connect this event(s) with the destruction of Atlantis on the Gulf of Gabes at the mouth of the River Triton!
Clube & Napier in The Cosmic Winter suggested that the Biblical Exodus story contains the earliest reference to Halley’s Comet. The controversial Jeffrey Goodman also links a number of Biblical events with cometary encounters in The Comets of God .
For trivia lovers, I note that both the birth (1835) and death (1910) of the writer Mark Twain coincided with appearances of Halley’s Comet!
(d) See Archive 3339
(o) Atlantis, Volume 10 No. 3, March 1957