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

Diodorus Siculus

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!

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.

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 reach of Greek ships. Their furthest trading post was probably at Mainake, beyond which was Phoenician territory and 100 kilometres to Gades.

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

The 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 http://www.ine-notebooks.org/index.php/te/article/viewPDFInterstitial/119/175

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

Angelo, Continenza

Continenza Angelo, was an Italian researcher, who, writing in Sykes’ Atlantean Research magazine in the middle of the 2oth century encapsulated the support of classical authors for the reality of Atlantis in the following terms;

“Hesiod spoke of Atlantis, as did Euripides, Diodorus Siculus and Seneca; Pliny says memories of Atlantis occur in the Labours of Hercules; Virgil comments on the Atlantean culture in the Georgies; Herodotus mentions it frequently; Pherecydes says ‘The people who lived near Mount Atlas said that they were descended from those who had accompanied Hercules on his travels.'” (a)

(a) https://www.theflatearthsociety.org/library/pamphlets/Atlantean%20Research%20(Vol.%202%20No.%205%20December%201949%20January%201950).pdf

Fundamentalist Atlantology

Fundamentalist Atlantology is a term that I use to describe the idea that everything written about Atlantis by Plato, must be taken at face value. In other words when he refers to 9,000 years, this along with all the other numbers he uses in relation to the dimensions of the plain of Atlantis, its structures or its military manpower should be accepted literally! Such an acceptance flies in the face of both common sense and science, particularly in the case of Plato’s dating of Atlantis, while the dimensions he has for the ditch surrounding the plain of Atlantis were deemed incredible (his word) by Plato himself (Crit.118c), he felt obliged out of deference to Solon’s reputation he recorded the details as he received them.

Without wishing to offend anyone, I believe that acceptance, for example, of Plato’s/Solon’s numbers is comparable with the belief of religious fundamentalists who hold that creation’took just six days.

Although it is understandable that researchers have accepted Plato’s details without question, there has been extensive research over the past century into seeking more rational explanations for many of those more difficult passages in the Atlantis narrative which has produced alternative explanations that are compatible with both science and common sense.

While Plato’s 9,000 years were initially, rather glibly dismissed as a transcription error and that hundreds and not thousands had been intended, it has been demonstrated that the ancient Egyptian priesthood used a lunar calendar so that the ‘ýears’ were in fact months, which was noted in the 4th century BC by Eudoxus of Cnidos and repeated by Manetho and Diodorus Siculus. This would reduce the timeline by a factor of twelve. Another explanation was put forward by Rosario Vieni who proposed that the ‘years’ actually referred to seasons of which there are three in the Egyptian solar year. These, as far as I am aware, are the principal alternatives suggested in place of a literal reading of 9,000 years. After all, neither Athens or Egypt was home to anything more than primitive societies 9,000 years before Solon’s visit.

A further example concerns the size of Atlantis, which Plato consistently referred to as an island and never a continent and is described by him as greater than Libya and Asia combined. Irrespective of how extensive in size the Libya and Asia in question were, the Greek word for greater – meizon, actually relates to greater in strength, power or influence not extent. A few years ago Thorwald C. Franke pointed out that the traditional enemies of Egypt came from Libya and Asia, so that to describe the threat from Atlantis as greater than Libya and Asia combined indicates how great the threat from Atlantis was.

The more contentious issue of the actual location of the Pillars of Heracles, I will not go into here, suffice it to say that a number of valid competing arguments have been put forward in favour of locations other than the Strait of Gibraltar. In fact all of them could have been correct at different times, changing their position as the Greek colonists and traders gradually moved westward. Eventually, I believe that at some point in time the term simply became a metaphor for the limits of the world as generally known to the Greeks.

My point is that understandable difficulties exist in the Atlantis texts and that a number of sensible alternative explanations have been put forward, which will be individually tried and tested until a consensus emerges, in the same way that the idea of a geocentric universe was gradually replaced by the simple fact that our little planet revolves around the sun.

Egyptian Calendar, The

The Egyptian Calendar is central to the debate regarding the date of the Alantean war. At first sight it appears that Plato dated that event to 9,000 years prior to Solon’s visit to Egypt. However, since such a date conflicts with both archaeology and common sense, commentators have striven to reconcile the differences. Either the number is exaggerated, the unit of measurement is wrong, or both require revision. I’m inclined towards the latter.

The ancient Egyptians had three types of ‘years’, solar, lunar or seasonal(a). The first was based on the heliacal rising(b) of the star Sirius, the second was a count of the annual lunar cycles and the last was the number of seasons of which there were three in the Egyptian year. The lunar cycles or months were the means by which the Egyptian priesthood calculated the passage of time and since Solon received the story of Atlantis from Egyptian priests it is assumed by many that the 9,000 ‘years’ were in fact months. Apart from modern authorities, the use of lunar cycles by the Egyptians for calculating time was noted by Eudoxus of Cnidos (410- 355 BC) and also by Plutarch, Manetho, Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus.

Zhirov noted[458.375] that the lunar calendar was re-introduced into Egypt by the Arabs in 641 AD.

Some others, such as Radek Brychta and Rosario Vieni, have proposed that the number of seasons were used in a similar manner. Even more extreme was the contention of André de Paniagua who claimed that the date of Atlantis was recorded in Sothic cycles of 1,460 solar years each, which would push its time back 13 million years!

Nevertheless, there are many who still maintain that Plato’s 9,000 should be taken literally, even though neither Egypt nor Athens existed as structured societies at such an early date!

*(a) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_calendar*

(b) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliacal_rising

Late Bronze Age Collapse (L)

Late Bronze Age Collapse of civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the second half of the 2nd millennium BC has been variously attributed to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and severe climate change. It is extremely unlikely that all these occurred around the same time through coincidence. Unfortunately, it is not clear to what extent these events were interrelated. As I see it, political upheavals do not lead to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or drought and so can be safely viewed as an effect rather than a cause. Similarly, climate change is just as unlikely to have caused eruptions or seismic activity and so can also be classified as an effect. Consequently, we are left with earthquakes and volcanoes as the prime suspects for the catastrophic turmoil that took place in the Middle East between the 15th and 12th centuries BC. Nevertheless, August 2013 saw further evidence published which blamed climate change for demise of civilisations in the region.

Robert Drews[865] dismisses any suggestion that Greece suffered a critical drought around 1200 BC, citing the absence of any supporting reference by Homer or Hesiod as evidence. He proposes that “the transition from chariot to infantry warfare as the primary cause of the Great Kingdoms’ downfall.”

Diodorus Siculus describes a great seismic upheaval in 1250 BC which caused radical topographical changes from the Gulf of Gabes to the Atlantic. (181.16)

This extended period of chaos began around 1450 BC when the eruptions on Thera took place. These caused the well-documented devastation in the region including the ending of the Minoan civilisation and probably the Exodus of the Bible and the Plagues of Egypt as well. According to the Parian Marble, the Flood of Deucalion probably took place around the same time.

Professor Stavros Papamarinopoulos has written of the ‘seismic storm’ that beset the Eastern Mediterranean between 1225 and 1175 BC(a). Similar ideas have been expressed by Amos Nur & Eric H.Cline(b)(c). The invasion of the Sea Peoples recorded by the Egyptians, and parts of Plato’s Atlantis story all appear to have taken place around this period. Plato refers to a spring on the Athenian acropolis (Crit.112d) that was destroyed during an earthquake. Rainer Kühne notes that this spring only existed for about 25 years but was rediscovered by the Swedish archaeologist, Oscar Broneer, who excavated there from 1959 to 1967. The destruction of the spring and barracks, by an earthquake, was confirmed as having occurring at the end of the 12th century BC.

(a) https://www.2009-q-conf-kandersteg.grazian-archive.com/platoandtheseism/papamarinopoulos-newversionof2009.pdf

(b) https://academia.edu/355163/2001_Nur_and_Cline_Archaeology_Odyssey_Earthquake_Storms_article

(this is a shorter version of (c) below)

(c) https://www.academia.edu/19524810/Poseidons_Horses_Plate_Tectonics_and_Earthquake_Storms_in_the_Late_Bronze_Age_Aegean_and_Eastern_Mediterranean?auto=view&campaign=weekly_digest

Seasons

Seasons are sub-divisions of the year usually based on changes in ecology, weather or hours of daylight. The number of seasons varies between two (Polar) and six (India).  My native Ireland has been described by cynics as now having only three seasons, as recent weather changes seem to have removed summer from our calendar.

The Egyptian year is divided into three seasons as they also did in the Indus civilisation. In an effort to make Plato’s 9,000 years more credible, commentators as early Giovanni Carli in the 18th century and Rafinesque in the 19th have suggested that Plato’s years were in fact ‘seasons’. The idea has gained further traction in more recent years with support from Axel Hausmann and Radek Brychta and most recently Rosario Vieni. Both Hausmann and Vieni presented papers to the 2005 Atlantis Conference, where Hausmann proposed that the ‘years’ be treated as seasons and so concluded that the demise of Atlantis took place in 3522 BC[629.359]. However, at the same conference Vieni presented his paper entitled “11,500 years ago…..” [629.337], obviously at that stage accepting Plato’s 9,000 years at face value. Three years later, he presented a paper to the 2008 Atlantis Conference which he entitled “About 5600 years ago….” [750.347], in which he had changed his understanding of Plato’s ‘years’ to be now seasons. While his intellectual honesty is to be applauded, I must point out that because a person changes their opinion, there is no guarantee that their second choice is any more correct than the first.

I am not convinced by the ‘seasons’ explanation, as it just seems to be a rather feeble attempt to explain away Plato’s 9,000 being a reference to solar years. Supporters of this ‘seasons’ explanation appear to be forced to look for an alternative to a literal 9,000 years as that figure conflicts dramatically with the Bronze Age setting of the Atlantis narrative and runs counter to the archaeological evidence for dating the foundation of both Athens and the Egyptian civilisation.

The more popular alternative suggestion of treating the ‘years’ as lunar cycles makes much more sense, as it brings the Atlantis story into the end of the Greek Bronze Age. It also matches the time of the destruction of the spring on the Acropolis (Crit.112d) and conforms to details on the Parian Marble. But perhaps most important of all is that the use of lunar cycles by the Egyptian priesthood for calculating time was noted by Eudoxus of Cnidos (410-355 BC) and also by Plutarch, Manetho, Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus.

A third proposal, by Galanopoulos & Bacon[263], was that Plato’s large numbers were inflated by a factor of ten, but they never offered a satisfactory explanation for how this happened.

Sea of Kronos

The Sea of Kronos (Cronos), according to modern researchers such as Alan Alford and Frank Joseph as well as Immanuel Velikovsky, is a name frequently applied to the Atlantic Ocean by ancient writers. Velikovsky cites Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria and Aristotle in support of this contention(a). If Plato believed that Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic why did he not simply say that it was situated in the Okeanos or the Sea of Kronos?

The 1624 Argonautica Map by Abraham Ortelius has the Adriatic Sea designated as ‘Cronivm Mare’. Eratosthenes in his Map of the Oecumene referred to the frozen Cronian Sea as being seven days north of Britain. Diodorus Siculus (Bk.III 61.3) describes Kronos as lord of Sicily, Libya and Italy!

Until it can be shown otherwise, I am inclined to think that Plato did not know precisely where Atlantis had been located but used the term ‘beyond the Pillars of Herakles’ as indicative of a place outside the ambit of what was then current Greek maritime knowledge!

(a) https://www.varchive.org/lec/valais/satflood.htm

Timaeus (Dialogue)

Timaeus is the title of one of the two Dialogues of Plato, named after one of the participants. In it we encounter the first clear reference to Atlantis. The dialogue is usually seen as a continuation of The Republic.  The first Latin translation of Timaeus comes from Cicero in the first century BC(b), but unfortunately from the point of view of Atlantology, he only translated 27d-47b, just missing the Atlantis passages. One of the most influential Latin translations came from Chalcidius in the 4th century AD. However, it fell to the 15th century Marsilio Ficino to produce the first translation of Plato’s complete works(c).

Some claim that Timaeus is the only character used by Plato that does not appear to have actually existed in ancient Greece. However, it is more generally accepted that the Timaeus in the Dialogues was based on a real astronomer and mathematician known as Timaeus of Locri, who was a Pythagorean philosopher who formed his own Pythagorean School in Locri in Southern Italy when the School in Croton was forced to close. Timaeus is said to have been around 70 at the time that the Dialogues were written.

Timaeus of Taormina who was born about 20 years before Plato died is not the Timaeus referred to in the dialogue of the same name. This Timaeus was a noted historian who among others was heavily relied on by Diodorus Siculus.

Also at issue is the actual authorship of Timaeus, because Hermippus of Smyrna (3rd cent. BC) claimed that Plato copied his text from the philosopher Philolaus. This suggestion has been debated into modern times(a).

(a) https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philolaus/

*(b) See: https://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-2559/

(c) See: https://atlantipedia.ie/samples/archive-2560/*

North Africa

North Africa has received considerable attention as a possible location for Atlantis since the beginning of the 19th century. Gattefosse and Butavand are names associated with early 20th century North African theorists. They, along with Borchardt, Herrmann and others have proposed locations as far west as Lixus on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, on through Tunisia and Libya and even as far east as the Nile delta.

One of the earliest writers was Ali Bey El Abbassi who discussed Atlantis and an ancient inland sea in the Sahara. The concept of such an inland sea, usually linked with Lake Tritonis, has persisted with the Chotts of Tunisia and Algeria as prime suspects. There is acceptance that a seismic/tectonic convulsion in the vicinity of the Gulf of Gabés cut off this inland sea from the Mediterranean. Diodorus Siculus records this event in his third book dating it to around 1250 BC. If such an event did not occur, how do we explain the salt laden chotts? However, proving a connection with Atlantis is another matter.

Whether this particular geological upheaval was related to the episode that destroyed parts of ancient Malta is questionable as the Maltese event was one of massive subsidence.

It should be kept in mind that Plato described the southern part of the Atlantean confederation as occupying North Africa as far eastward as Egypt (Tim.25b & Crit.114c). This of course conflicts with the idea of the Atlanteans invading from beyond ‘Pillars of Heracles’ situated at Gibraltar since they apparently already controlled at least part of the Western Mediterranean as far as Italy and Egypt.

*One of the principal arguments against Atlantis being located in North Africa is that Plato clearly referred to Atlantis as an island. However, as Papamarinopoulos has pointed out that regarding the Greek word for island, ‘nesos’ “a literary differentiation between ‘island’ and ‘peninsula’ did not exist in alphabetic Greek before Herodotus’ in the 5th century BC. Similarly, there was not any distinction between a coast and an island in Egyptian writing systems, up to the 5th century BC.” In conversation with Mark Adams[1070.198] Papamarinopoulos explains that in the sixth century BC, when Solon lived, nesos had five geographic meanings. “One, an island as we know it. Two, a promontory. Three, a peninsula. Four, a coast. Five, a land within a continent, surrounded by lakes, rivers or springs.”

Personally, from the context, I am quite happy to accept that the principal city of the Atlantean alliance existed on an island as we understand the word. This was probably north of Tunisia, where a number of possible candidates exist. However, it may be unwise to rule out a North African city just yet!

Another argument put forward that appears to exclude at least part of North Africa is that Plato, according to many translations, he refers to Atlantis as ‘greater’ than ‘Libya’ and ‘Asiacombined, using the Greek word, ‘meizon‘, which had a primary meaning of ‘more powerful’ not greater in size. Atlantis could not have been situated in either Libya or Asia because ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole’. However, if Plato was referring to military might rather than geographical extent, as seems quite likely, North Africa may indeed have been part of the Atlantean alliance, particularly as Plato describes the control of Atlantis in the Mediterranean as far Tyrrhenia and Egypt.*

 

Graves, Robert

Robert GravesRobert von Ranke Graves (1895-1985), the renowned poet and mythologist, placed Atlantis[342] in the region of modern Tunisia and Libya. He first did this in a 1953 article(c) that followed the writings of Diodorus Siculus. He firmly believed that the salts marshes of North Africa were the remnants of Lake Tritonis where Atlantis had existed prior to a destructive catastrophe that led to the dispersal of its survivors in various directions. However, Jean Deruelle[278] claims that Graves was the first, if briefly(b),to suggest the Dogger Bank as the location of Atlantis.*It seems that he quickly abandoned this idea on the grounds of distance(d).*

Further confusion is added by an entry in Wikipedia that claims(a) that Graves argued that Atlantis was the Island of Pharos off the western coast of the Nile Delta, that is, before Alexander the Great connected the island to mainland Egypt by building a causeway.

In The Greek Myths, Graves considered the likelihood that the Atlantis story was comprised of a number of components from different legends. It may be relevant to include Graves’ definition of myths, which was “whatever religious or heroic legends are so foreign to a student’s experience that he cannot believe them to be true.”

(a) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Location_hypotheses_of_Atlantis

(b) https://www.q-mag.org/the-great-plain-of-atlantis-was-it-in-doggerland.html

(c) The Atlantic Monthly, October 1953, (pp.71-74)

*(d) https://www.q-mag.org/the-great-plain-of-atlantis-was-it-in-doggerland.html*