The Seven Cities of Antilia are legendary cities reputed to have existed on the island of Antilia situated somewhere in the Atlantic. Medieval cartographers show Antilia (with a variety of spellings) at different locations in that ocean. Belief in its existence was firmly established by the time of Christopher Columbus. His son, Ferdinand, wrote of the many attempts to find it.
In the early 20th century geographer, W. H. Babcock, identified Cuba as Antilia, while later in 2000, Andrew Collins, in his Gateway to Atlantis devoted two chapters to the subject of the Seven Cities and also concluded that Cuba was its most likely location and by extension was also the home of Atlantis.
Asahel Davis (1791- ) a former chaplain of the Senate of New York, in 1839, delivered a lecture, Antiquities of America, in which he offered a strong defence for a Scandinavian, or as he calls them ‘Northmen’, discovery of America five hundred years before Columbus.
When speaking of Atlantic landbridges he stated that “I’m inclined to believe that the land that united the now two continents, was the Atlantis, spoken of by Plato, Homer and Hesiod – Plato saw an account of this land which disappeared, in the hieroglyphics of Egypt.” [p.11].
At least twelve editions of his paper have been published.(a)
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) is the name usually associated with the ‘discovery’ of America in the late 15th century. However, there appears to be a number of questions now being raised about the discoverer’s identity. Manuel Rosa seems to be leading the charge with his 2016 book, Columbus: The Untold Story. In a more recent article Rosa succinctly claimed that “Historians mixed up the noble navigator Colón with the peasant weaver Colombo, giving the wool-weaver the glory that did not belong to him.” The article describes a convoluted but fascinating story of forgery, mistaken identity and misinformation that is well documented and deserves a read(d).
Columbus is not known to have made any specific statements regarding Atlantis, but some commentators have suggested that he was not only aware of Plato’s story but had consulted charts, such as Toscanelli’s(a), that depicted a mid-Atlantic island. De Gomara was insistent that Columbus had read Plato’s Timaeus and Critias, while the historian, Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566), claimed that Plato’s story inspired Columbus to embark on his voyages of discovery!
It is claimed that two of Columbus’ ships were built by Basques and that a quarter of their crews were Basque(b).
The Flem-Aths in their Atlantis Beneath the Ice, which is a 2012 revised version of When the Sky Fell, begin the book with a reference to a memorandum sent by Charles Hapgood to President Eisenhower. In it Hapgood sought the president’s assistance in locating a map used by Columbus, which he believed to still exist in Spanish archives. This map(c) was apparently one of a number used by Piri to produce his famed Piri Reis Map, which allegedly depicts an ice-free Antarctica. The Columbus map was not found.
Francisco López de Gómara (1510-1566) was born in Seville and later retired there in 1557 where it is believed he also died. He was an ordained priest and in 1540 he became private and domestic chaplain to Hernando Cortez. He wrote a number of historical works including a general history of the Indies. Prince Philip, later Philip II of Spain, banned all his works in 1553. The relevant chapter in Hispania Victrix, in which he expressed his views on Atlantis is available in English online(a), as is the original Spanish text(b).
Gómara, following the Spanish invasion of America, was probably the first, in 1553, to suggest that the newly discovered continent was either Atlantis itself or the land beyond it. He cited Plato to support the proposition that the Native Americans were survivors of Atlantis. This was an idea that was adopted by many of his contemporaries.
Gómara was certain that Christopher Columbus had read Plato’s Timaeus and Critias suggesting that they gave added impetus to his westward voyage of discovery.
Amazons is the name used by classical writers(k) to identify two matriarchal nations living near the Black Sea and in ancient Libya, but at apparently different periods. An extensive website on the subject associates the Amazons with three locations; Lake Tritonis(j) , the Greek island of Lemnos(i) and the River Thermodon, now known as Terme Çay, in northern Turkey(h).
Accounts relating to these remote times are understandably vague but one tale describes the Libyan Amazons as waging war against the Atlanteans, a race who lived in a prosperous country with great cities.
Attention has been drawn to the fact that the Berbers, also known as Amazigh in North-West Africa have a matriarchal culture. The possibility of an etymological connection between Amazon and Amazigh was suggested by Guy C. Rothery (1863-1940) in his 1910 book, The Amazons , and recently endorsed by Emmet Sweeney in his Atlantis: The Evidence of Science. In 1912, Florence Mary Bennett published Religious Cults Associated with the Amazons, which has been republished in recent years.
Another matriarchal society in the same region has also been suggested for the Maltese Islands(h).
Sir John Chardin (1643-1713) a French-born traveller and merchant reported that a tribe of Amazons still existed in the Caucasus in the 17th century(d).
Although the idea may be seen as fanciful, recent archaeological discoveries have provided evidence of female warriors in ancient times in parts of the former Soviet Union. The archaeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball has written of her investigations into the subject. Peter James offers a solution to the existence of two locations for the Amazons. He believes that the original Black Sea location is correct and that the transference of the story to North Africa was the result of the ‘libyanising’ intent of Dionysus of Miletus, who was later quoted by Diodorus Siculus in his account(f) of the Amazons.
. James offers this explanation as part of a larger relocation of mythologies to more westerly locations. Other interesting views of the Amazon mystery can be found on a number of websites(a)(b).
Lewis Spence advanced the imaginative view [259.49] that the Amazons were not women at all, but men whose appearance was considered effeminate by some commentators. A more rational explanation on offer is that the males of some peoples had little facial hair or shaved (such as the Hittites) and were possibly described by their more hirsute enemies as ‘women’.
The popular idea that the Amazons were single-breasted, man-hating warriors has recently been comprehensively debunked by Adrienne Mayor in her latest book, The Amazons .
>Even more eyebrow-raising is the suggestion that Amazon warriors existed in South America based on 16th century reports and modern research(c). Columbus, in a 1493 letter to Luis de Sant’angel, refers to an island named Matininó, which was inhabited only by women(m), armed with bows and arrows. Hernán Cortés also filed a similar report.<
The Smithsonian magazine published a useful overview(e) of the history of the Amazon story in the April 2004 edition and in September 2011 revealed the story of the little-known female warriors of Benin (formerly Dahomey), numbered in their thousands, who were active during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The BBC published an article in August 2018 on their history and their modern day descendants(l) .
The Piri Reis Map (1513)(c) was a world map drawn on gazelle skin of which only the left-hand side still exists. It was a composite of detail gleaned from a large collection of maps,including one drawn by Christopher Columbus(i), that were collected by Piri Ibn Haji Mehmed (1465/70–1553), an admiral or ‘reis’ in the Ottoman navy. It was discovered in 1929 in the Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul by Gustav Deissmann. In 1956 a Turkish naval officer presented the map to the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office. From there, it was first fully investigated by Captain Arlington H. Mallery, who had spent years studying ancient maps. He is now better remembered as a controversial amateur archaeologist. Mallery concluded that the map accurately depicted an ice-free Antarctica.
This map has become one of the controversial elements in the theory of an Antarctic Atlantis so strongly promoted by Rose and Rand Flem-Ath. They followed the views of Charles Hapgood, who, having studied a range of ancient maps, were convinced that they showed parts of Antarctica as ice-free. However, the principal argument against this idea is that the removal of the massive Antarctic ice cap would have had two effects:
(i) The consequent isostatic rebound would have altered the coastline dramatically and unpredictably.
(ii) The melting of the icecap would have raised sea levels, producing further changes to the coastline of the exposed continent.
However, Jason Colavito has pointed out(h) that “as scholars have known for decades, the segment of the map identified by Hapgood as “Antarctica” was in fact the southern part of South America, bent to fit the shape of the skin on which it was drawn.”!
Nevertheless, the late Robert Argod supported the antiquity of the original maps upon which the Piri Reis Maps and other medieval charts were based and he also supported the idea of an inhabited ice-free Antarctica.
A view contrary to the Flem-Aths can be found in a recent book by Gregory McIntosh. Professor Steve Dutch of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay offers a paper(b) debunking the value of the Piri Reis map, which should be read to get a more balanced view of the controversy. Paul V.Heinrich has also added a highly critical paper with many references(a).
Professor Steven Earle uses an assignment entitled ‘Project Atlantis‘(g) for his geology students in order to hone their critical thinking, which focuses on the Flem-Ath’s preferred variant of Pole Shift Theory known as Crustal Displacement.
What the Piri Reis Map has done for Antarctica, the Nicolo Zeno Map of 1380 has done for Greenland which appears to show a deglaciated landmass. Features, hidden by ice but confirmed by modern seismic soundings, are shown. However, controversy has dogged the Nicolo Zeno Map as much as the Piri Reis chart.
Phillipe Buache the renowned French geographer also published a map of ice-free Antarctica in 1737, long before its recorded discovery and centuries before seismic surveys revealed the topography of the sub-glacial landmass. The source of the data for this map is so far unexplained.
In 2004, Jean-Pierre Lacroix & Robert Bywater presented a paper(d) to the International Piri Reis Symposium in which they made the radical claim that the western part of the Piri Reis map was a depiction of the outline of east and southeast Asia, rather than the Caribbean.
The ancient-origins website(e) has several papers relating to the Piri Reis Map.
The most recent studies(f) include a map showing the effects of just a partial retreat of the ice sheet, showing exposed coastlines, during the Pliocene era, which again indicates an outline of the landmass at variance with the Piri Reis Map.
>A 2021 study(j) of the Map urges caution when interpreting its details.<
The Size of Atlantis has been the subject of controversy for many years. Debate has centred on the comparative of the Greek adjective Meizon used in Timaeus 24e where it was generally translated as ‘larger’ suggesting that Atlantis was larger than Libya and Asia combined.
The meaning of ‘Asia’ at different times in the distant past quite clearly had a variety of connotations. Edward Gibbon, who wrote a monumental work on the Roman Empire, stated that when the ancient Greek and Latin writers referred to ’Asia’ they meant Turkey. Another historian, Michael Grant, is of the opinion that ‘Asia’ could have been applied to the ancient kingdom of Lydia, which only occupied a small region of Eastern Turkey. Similarly, ‘Libya’ was sometimes applied to a relatively small narrow strip of coastal land to the west of the Nile Delta and more often to the entire Mediterranean coast of Africa except Egypt.
Perhaps the most interesting contribution to this debate has been from Felice Vinci who recently wrote in his book, The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales, that ancient seafarers measured territory by its coastal perimeter rather than by its area, as we do today. He refers to this coastal measurement method being still in use by Christopher Columbus. Acceptance of this contention would require a total review of the ‘Atlantis greater in size than Asia and Libya together’ controversy. In this regard is worth noting that Herodotus (Bk IV.45) refers to Europe being in length “equal to Asia and Libya combined” – eerily like Plato’s phrase, but endorsing Vinci’s contention. In a similar vein, Strabo (Bk Chap 4.1) recounts how Pytheas reported that the coast-line of Britain was more than forty thousand stadia (4,590 miles).
The application of Vinci’s coastal measurement to the combination of Asia and Libya could have suggested a relatively modest land area somewhere between that of Cyprus and Sardinia.
Irrespective of the size of Atlantis, if it was greater in any sense, it cannot have been located in either Libya or Asia, because according to the old mathematical axiom ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole’.
However, many researchers felt the need to seek a larger landmass in view of Plato’s description of the plain of Atlantis having dimensions of 2,000 x 3,000 stades (230 x 345 miles) which combined with sheltering mountains to the north implies quite an extensive total area for the island and would be far greater than an earthquake could destroy.
A more radical explanation for Plato’s description comes from the historian P.B.S. Andrews, who has suggested that the quotation has been the result of a misreading of Solon’s notes. He maintains that the text should be read as ’midway between Libya and Asia’ since in the original Greek there is only a difference on one letter between the words for midway (meson) and larger than (meizon). This suggestion was supported by the classical scholar J.V. Luce. This interpretation is quite interesting, particularly if the Lydian explanation of ‘Asia’ mentioned above is correct. Viewed from either Athens or Egypt we find that Crete is located ‘midway’ between Lydia and Libya.
If we return to the Greek meizon and refer to the respected Greek Lexicon of Liddell & Scott we find meizon is given the sole meaning of ‘greater’. Furthermore, in Bury’s translation of sections 20e -26a of Timaeus there eleven instances of Plato using megas (great) meizon (greater) or megistos (greatest). In all cases great or greatest is employed except just one, 24e, which uses the comparative meizon, which Bury translated as ‘larger’! J.Warren Wells concluded that Bury’s translation in this single instance is inconsistent with his other treatments of the word and additionally does not fit comfortably with the context[0783.85].
>Charles D. Pfund has suggested that where Atlantis is compared with Libya and Asia combined it is a actually a “reference to the overall population and number of large cities found on Atlantis and in its commonwealth, compared to most of the known world of Solon’s time”! [1754.145]<
This inconsistency is difficult to accept, so although meizon can have a secondary meaning of ‘larger’ it is quite reasonable to assume that the primary meaning of ‘greater’ was intended.
However, in a paper[750.173] delivered by Thorwald C. Franke to the 2008 Atlantis Conference he persuasively argued that “for Egyptians the world of their ‘traditional’ enemies divided in two: To the west there were the Libyans, to the east there were the Asians. If an Egyptian scribe wanted to say, that an enemy was more dangerous than the ‘usual’ opponents, which was the case with the Sea Peoples’ invasion, then he would have most probably said, that this enemy was “more powerful than Libya and Asia together.”
I find this a far more elegant and credible explanation than any reference to physical size which forced researchers to seek lost continental sized land masses. Furthermore it reinforces the Egyptian origin of the Atlantis story, demolishing any claim that Plato concocted the whole tale. If it had been invented by Plato he would probably have compared Atlantis to enemy territories nearer to home, such as the Persians.
However, although this explanation may seem to remove the need to look for a very large landmass, it still leaves the unrealistic dimensions of 2,000 x 3,000 stades of the cultivated plain of Atlantis. However as I will explain elsewhere all of Plato’s numbers in excess of 1,000, with a single exception, should be treated as approximations and then divided by 10.