The Deluge or Noah’s Flood are the commonly used terms when referring to the biblical flood of Genesis. It might perhaps be more accurate to use the plural, as there is evidence of several large-scale catastrophic inundations within the human memory. The Noachian deluge has been the subject of continuous debate: was it real or pure fantasy, was it local, regional or global and is the Ark to be found on Mt. Ararat.
The Flood of Noah is an echo of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, which in turn has a resonance with the deluge story of Manu in Indian mythology. If all three relate to the same event it would be of great interest to discover if there was a shared origin.
Noah is the hero of the Deluge story in Genesis. He was also an accomplished shipbuilder and viticulturist. According to some he was also an Atlantean! Cosmas Indicopleustes a 6th century AD theologian and geographer from Alexandria wrote of Atlantis as a large island in the western ocean. He also added a twist to the tale by recording an ancient tradition that Noah had resided on Atlantis! More recently, Frank Joseph [108.85] has endorsed this daft idea.
Interestingly, so many of the deluge stories include a scenario where the ’hero’ is warned of the impending doom. To me, this would make sense that where a landbridge was threatened by gradually rising waters on one side, simple observation would have provided adequate time to warn those at risk on the other side.
Another identification, by Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., is that Noah is Nereus in Greek mythology and widely depicted in Greek art(c). Confusingly, it has also been suggested(a) that Enoch, usually accepted as the grandfather of Noah, were the same person.
According to Plato, Atlantis was destroyed by the gods as a punishment for their wickedness, while the same reason is given in the Bible for the obliteration of Noah’s people. Coincidentally, both Atlantis and Noah’s homeland, which was probably located in Mesopotamia, were destroyed by water leading to the not unreasonable suggestion that the two stories are related.
While the biblical account of the Deluge does not stand up to detailed scrutiny(j), the global ubiquity of Flood stories is seldom adequately explained. Some possibilities that occur to me are related to the ending of the last Ice Age, which had watery consequences around the world. While the rising sea level took place in fits and starts, there were more dramatic events during this period such as the huge meltwater lake discharges and Heinrich Events that occurred across North America and Eurasia. The effect in the southern hemisphere was less spectacular. Survivors would have been forced to migrate in all directions, bringing their account of these floods with them. Another explanation, but in my view, a more likely cause of global floods would have been a close encounter with a large extraterrestrial body, an idea promoted by various researchers such as Emilio Spedicato.
Apart from the story of the actual flood, global or otherwise, the detailed biblical account of the building of the Ark along with the gathering of the animals and the voyage itself does not hold water (sorry)(y). Some decades ago, Roger A. Moore offered a forensic study of the account, which, is still impressive(x).
In March 2019, a paper by Roger M. Pearlman put forward another radical idea, namely, that Göbekli Tepe had been founded by Noah (Noach) and his sons(u).
A more light-hearted look at the story of Noah is also worth a read(n).
Every aspect of Noah’s Deluge story in the Bible has been a source of controversy for centuries. From the nature and cause of the Flood itself, as well as the building of the Ark and its final resting place and of course the date of the event.
Some years ago, Pastor Bertrand L. Comparet (1901-1983), a staunch racist(w), denied that the Flood of Noah had been a global event(v).
2018 began with matters hitting rock-bottom when an English language newspaper offered the following headline(l) “Turkish academic claims Prophet Noah used a cell phone to call his son before the flood.” Unsurprisingly, Jason Colavito has covered this story with an interesting blog(m).
Plato’s Atlantis story contains a curious reference in Timaeus (23a-c) to a series of floods that occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean(ah) since the Atlantean war, namely, those of Ogyges, Deucalion and Dardanus. If based on historical fact, on its own, the Biblical Flood or the breach of a landbridge cannot explain this succession of inundations but suggests that there could be a much more complex story, still to be revealed, which was spread over millennia.
Anastasios Stamou presented a paper [750.183] to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he reviewed the evidence relating to three floods that befell ancient Greece and alluded to by Plato. Drawing on ancient Greek texts including the Parian Marble, he places these events in chronological order beginning with the flood of Ogyges, then Deucalion’s and finally that of Dardanos.
Stamou accepts that conventional wisdom has it that these flood events occurred in the 2nd millennium BC and based his paper on that assumption. However, he expressed serious doubts about this dating suggesting a much earlier date for some inundations and promising a future paper dealing with this revision.
Stephen Oppenheimer mentions  three sudden ice-melts, 14,000, 11,500 and 8,000 years ago that would have had a global effect. It should be considered that the second date is close to Plato’s apparent date for the destruction of Atlantis.
Since writing, as we know it, did not develop until long after de-glaciation, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify the date, location or extent of any of the early myths relating to these possible de-glaciation inundations.
Similarly, Gérard Gertoux places the Deluge circa 3200 BC in a lengthy paper(z), in which he also controversially touches on subjects such as radiocarbon dating, the age of the patriarchs, the Ice Ages, evolution and more.
China has its own ‘Great Flood’ tradition, which in the August 2016 edition of Science journal had its reality given strong support in a paper(bi) by a mainly Chinese team of researchers, who date the event to 1920 BC.
Recent years have seen the above-mentioned flooding of the Black Sea or even more controversially, the flooding of the desiccated Mediterranean basins, following the breaching of a suggested landbridge at Gibraltar, proposed as possible sources of the story of Noah in the Bible. These inundations are dated to around 5600 BC and their memory should have survived in the traditions and mythologies of the region. In addition to that, the Persian Gulf is also accepted by many to have been dry during the last Ice Age but also began to flood around 5000 BC. In Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Shelf both suffered post-glacial inundations, while around the same time in the South China Sea the enormous Sunda Shelf suffered extensive flooding.
On a more controversial level, Donald Patten and Samuel Windsor presented evidence  for a series of close encounters between Mars and the Earth during the 1st millennium BC. David Rohl, the Egyptologist, dates Noah’s Flood at 3114 BC  and links it with the climatic consequences of a major catastrophe in the Aleutian Islands.
Alexander and Edith Tollman linked the Noachian Deluge with the consequences of a cometary impact in 7552 BC. On the other hand, G.F. Dodwell the Australian astronomer, after studying ancient gnomons, concluded that it was a worldwide catastrophe in 2345 BC that altered the Earth’s tilt, leading to the Deluge. This is comparable with the 1696 claim by William Whiston that the earth had an encounter with a comet in 2346 BC, which caused the Flood of Noah. Emilio Spedicato advocates 3161 BC as the date of the biblical Deluge(ac), which has also been endorsed by Stuart L. Harris(ad).
When Ryan & Pitman(ae) published their 1997 theory that around 5600 BC, the Black Sea had been flooded by water from the Aegean breaching the Bosporus, it did not take long before it was speculated that the event was reflected in the story of Noah’s Deluge. With little delay, strong objections to the idea were raised by many others(af).
T.R.Holme has an interesting article(ax) on the flooding of the Black Sea and the migration from the region that resulted. He also links that event with the work of the late Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994).
Nick Thom, an engineering lecturer at Nottingham University has written The Great Flood  which gives an overview of many Flood myths, but more importantly, he identifies the emptying of glacial Lake Agassiz around 6250 BC as the mechanism which caused a tilting of the Earth, which in turn generated a global deluge remembered by the survivors in myth and later recorded in scriptures. This is also fully outlined in a lengthy entitled, A Re-interpretation of the 8.2ky BP Event(ag). Also relevant to our subject is his claim that the flow of water was from the Black Sea into the Aegean rather than the other way around!
Jeffrey Goodman, the controversial author of Psychic Archeology , maintains that “Noah’s Flood was, in reality, a tsunami caused by a comet” and supports this contention with a retranslation of Genesis 7:11 (ar).
Kirk Kirchev in a recent (April 2018) two-part article(bb) “offers a unifying scientific hypothesis that connects diverse ancient flood myths with mainstream scientific fact.” and concluded that “If my calculations and assumptions are correct, an object of around 900 km in diameter passing the earth at an altitude of less than 1000 kilometres (621.37 miles) (of average, rocky density) would be large and heavy enough to create a strong localized tidal uplift in the oceans beneath its flight path (approximately 50 times the current tidal amplitude). That is large enough to destroy most of humankind, and a large portion of the fauna, but small enough to not cause a major extinction event or to disturb earth’s orbital path and rotation.”
>A variation on the Moon capture idea was recently offered by the German researcher, Aloys Eiling, in a lengthy illustrated paper(as) on the Graham Hancock website. The additional element is his claim that in the process of capturing the moon, its arrival generated the biblical Deluge and was recent enough to be witnessed by Homo Sapiens and remembered in their mythologies!<
Nevertheless, there is one rather disturbing element to be found alongside some of the flood myths, namely that the deluge event was concurrent with the sun seemingly standing still and in some cases, it is recorded that the Moon also appeared to stop(o)(av)! One explanation on offer is that it is a reference to an eclipse(aw). This might be acceptable if it was compatible with other myths from different parts of the world, which does not appear to be the case. Furthermore, it does not explain the association of the stopping of the sun with the global deluge. A very close encounter between the Earth and another large celestial body might.
As I see it, we are left with the two popular explanations for the global flood myths, either a close encounter with an extraterrestrial body that created a megatsunami that was on such a scale that it swept around the globe, perhaps many times before dissipating or the melting of the Ice Age glaciers produced the cyclical bursting of ice-dams and landbridges and the inundation of vast areas of low-lying land. I’m inclined to believe that the balance of probabilities favours the latter explanation, although I find it difficult to accept that gradual deglaciation would or could have generated floods that ‘covered mountains’ (Gen. vii.19)!
Other floods may have been caused by tsunamis resulting from underwater earthquakes and/or storegga. Quite recently it was discovered(bh) that around 6000 BC, a calamitous tsunami was generated in the Mediterranean when Mt. Etna in Sicily sent approximately 6 cubic miles of rock and rubble crashing into the sea. One could be forgiven for speculating that this event may have triggered the flooding of the Black Sea, which is dated to this same period.
An interesting overview of traditional as well as modern thinking regarding the possible historical reality behind the Deluge of Genesis is presented(ai) by Robert Squillace on the New York University website.
On January 1st 2010 it was revealed(b) that a 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet which, unlike the biblical record, describes an ark made of reeds, 70 metres in width and round in shape(aj)(ak). This would have been recorded a thousand years before the Genesis story was written down. Understandably, this has caused the knickers of some fundamentalist Christians to become seriously twisted! The discovery has now been expanded on by a cuneiform specialist at the British Museum, Irving Finkel, in The Ark before Noah . Jason Colavito offers an interesting review of the book(d).
Even more radical is the result of a high-tech study of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which suggest that Noah’s Ark was pyramidal in shape(al)! Commenting on this report, Jason Colavito has pointed out that the concept of a pyramid-shaped ark is not new(am).
There is an unexpectedly large number of books written over the last century on the subject of Noah’s Ark that is listed on a specialist website(e). One such offering, resurrected by Jason Colavito(f), provides some comic relief with the claim in 1922 by C. E. Getsinger, who wrote that Noah’s Ark was the Great Pyramid!(g) Even earlier, John Taylor (1781-1864) claimed  that Noah had built the Great Pyramid! Nevertheless, a recently deciphered fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls has suggested that the Ark was shaped like a pyramid!(h)(i)
Barry Warmkessel also entered the fray with the suggestion that aliens had been involved in the design and construction of the Ark(r)! Nevertheless, that idea certainly competes with the suggestion of Xavier Séguin that the ‘Ark’ of Noah had been an Earth satellite(aa)!
Even more radical is the claim by Hebrew scholar Richard Seary that the Ark never actually existed, but that conventionally accepted understanding of the Genesis text is the result of some incorrect translations(aq). One example is that there is no such material as gopher-wood and that the word ‘gofer’ means lava!
A life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark was due to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Holland in the summer of 2016(an). It was built over four years by a carpenter, Johan Huibers, completing it in 2012. It is 410 feet long, 95 feet wide and 75 feet tall. It weighs 2,500 tons and is said to hold more than 5,000 people at any one time. However, there is no provision for live animals! The replica was sold to Aad Peters, a Dutch artist, who in 2019 brought it to Ipswich in Britain. Unfortunately, it has been impounded by the authorities there as it lacks the appropriate paperwork to permit it to leave. There are also serious concerns regarding its seaworthiness and is also clocking up port fees of £500 a day(ao)(ap).
UBIQUITY OF FLOOD MYTHS
Flood myths are found throughout the world and for centuries were seen as confirmation of the reality and universality of the Biblical Flood of Noah. However, when it was discovered that the Earth had endured a series of Ice Ages and that following each of these, the melting ice caps led to worldwide inundations with consequent immortalisation of these events through locally developed myths, it led to speculation that Noah’s Flood may have been just a regional but a catastrophic event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event.
>The competing concepts of global deluge versus local inundations are discussed in a brief paper(bc) from L.James Gibson, who concluded that “these local floods do not explain important features of the biblical flood.”<
Nevertheless, megafloods are not necessarily only caused by tsunamis and melting glaciers. “A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months” a catastrophic event that is now generally forgotten. An extensive 2013 article(bd) in Scientific American has full details.
These ancient flood stories are to be found to contain content with a remarkable similarity of detail. It is worth pointing out that none of these legends ever recount the ‘hero’ of their particular tale returning to his former home. One simple explanation for this might be that the original homelands no longer existed. This would not normally be the case if the floods in question were tidal, storm-driven or even giant tsunamis. However, if the inundations were the result of rising sea levels, resulting from the melting of Ice Age glaciers, we could expect two principal effects. The first would have been the gradual submergence of all low-lying flood plains that are now identified as continental shelves. Two of the best known of these would be the Sunda Shelf (Sundaland) and the area stretching from the west coast of mainland Europe across the North Sea encompassing the British Isles and into the Atlantic beyond Ireland. The second effect would have been the dramatic inundation of valleys and basins protected by low landbridges or dams. Again, we have examples, some debatable, such as, the Baltic, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and perhaps the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Japan.
An extensive and more general collection of Flood myths can be found on the internet(be). A USGS list of the world’s greatest floods, ancient and recent, is available as a pdf file(bf). Similarly, a website by Mark Isaak offers an extensive overview of flood myths around the world, although the site does not appear to have been updated for some years(bg).
Despite the existence of these huge collections of worldwide flood myths(ay) there appears to be one glaring omission, from all such databases, namely a contribution from Egypt who inexplicably has no such deluge tradition apart from the predictable annual flooding of the Nile. However, there is the Egyptian story of Hathor/Sekhmet(az)(ba) who flooded the land with blood, which some may interpret as a mythological code for water!
The flooding of all these worldwide locations would have occurred quite slowly over an extended period following the last Ice Age, possibly providing the basis for the widespread existence of these flood myths. However, it could not explain the biblical claim that the flood covered mountains.
Many Atlantologists have sought to link the Deluge with the inundation of Atlantis. Egerton Sykes was a keen supporter of the idea. Joseph S. Ellul has interpreted the biblical story to support the idea of a landbridge at Gibraltar, which eventually collapsed when the waters of the Atlantic rose after the last Ice Age. Ellul maintains that Genesis 7:11 ‘All the springs of the Great Deep broke through’ is a reference to the percolation of the Atlantic waters, through the Gibraltar dam, that eventually led to its collapse as the sea level rose or was shattered by seismic or tectonic movements. I find it hard to accept this, because the pressure that is exerted by the Atlantic, would have rapidly changed any such seepage into a major breach and the subsequent collapse of the dam. Gerhard F. Hasel, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology offers a more conventional interpretation of “the fountains of the great deep” in a paper with the same name(ab).
Nevertheless, 2017 finished with renewed interest in Noah’s Ark being generated by media reports(k) of statements emanating from The Geoscience Research Institute, which is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which claims that a 2010 expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey, carbon-dated timbers found there to 4,800 years ago.
A sceptical 2019 article has looked critically at many aspects of the story of the Ark, including the most commonly offered Turkish site as the resting place of the Ark – “One of the most famous supposedly-Noah’s-ark sites is the admittedly very boat-looking Durupinar site in the Mount Tendurek area in Turkey. According to Atlas Obscura, the site was exposed in the late 1940s after a series of earthquakes and storms.”(an)
The late David Allen Deal was another investigator to propose the Ararat region as the landing place of the Ark, with Mt. Judi as the specific location(o). A more recent article supports his ideas(p). The precise location of the biblical Ararat is a matter of continuing and intense debate(q).
The UK’s Daily Mail added that talking after the initial claims in 2010, Mike Pitt, a British archaeologist, said the evangelical explorers had yet to produce compelling evidence. He said: ‘If there had been a flood capable of lifting a huge ship 2.5 miles [4km] up the side of a mountain 4,800 years ago, I think there would be substantial geological evidence for this flood around the world. And there isn’t.’
>In his 2020 book, Apocalypse , Dr Sean Welsh agreed that Noah’s Ark finally rested on Mt. Ararat, but took everyone by surprise by claiming that it was not Ararat in Turkey but Ararat mountain on Crimea’s Kerch Peninsula! Welsh does not explain where Shinar was in relation to his Ararat. Conventional wisdom locates it in southern Mesopotamia, placing them around 2,500 km apart.<
However, a more valuable offering was a paper(ab) delivered in 2008 to the Sixth International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, PA by Anne Habermehl. She finished her contribution, Review of the Search for Noah’s Ark, with the following conclusions;
“(1) It would appear that the Ark cannot have landed on Mount Ararat, because scientists have shown that this mountain did not exist until some time after the Flood had ended. (Also, the area that Mount Ararat occupies was probably not yet included in Urartu at that time.)
(2) In light of historical and geographical considerations, Mount Cudi near Cizre, Turkey, is the most likely place where the Ark landed.
(3) It seems doubtful that anyone has actually seen the Ark anywhere in modern times. The alleged sightings all seem to evaporate on careful examination.
(4) It is unlikely that very much of the Ark exists today; it is probable that over the millennia it has decayed, and various scavengers have taken most of it away.
(5) Because of 14C dating problems, it may not be possible to prove that any given samples are or are not the right age to have come from the Ark.
(6) More archaeological work needs to be done if we are ever to reasonably prove the Ark’s landing spot anywhere.
(7) It is probable that no matter what is found in any location, there are those who will remain unconvinced.
(8) Interest in finding the Ark is unabated, and the Ark search will go on.
At the end of the day, we have to face the reality that it may be difficult, or even impossible, ever to prove where the Ark landed. This author would have liked to end on an optimistic note for the soon recovery of a largely intact, proven Ark, but this seems unlikely; and this paper therefore ends, in the words of T. S. Eliot (1925): “Not with a bang but a whimper.”
(g) The Thomson Review, Thomson, Illinois, July 19th, 1922 – p.3,
(r) Archive 3514
(aq) Fortean Times, April 2014, p.55
* See Atlantis Vol.6, Nos.1,2&3, May, July & September 1953
The Central Mediterranean is a very geologically unstable region containing as it does all of Europe’s land-based active volcanoes(a), regular seismic(b) activity with the attendant risk of tsunamis. It is now estimated that a devastating tsunami will hit the Mediterranean every 100 years(c). While the Aegean region experiences the greatest number of earthquakes, the Central Mediterranean, particularly around Sicily is also prone to regular tremors.
The idea that Atlantis was situated in this region is advocated by a number of researchers, including Alberto Arecchi, Férréol Butavand, Anton Mifsud, Axel Hausmann, as well as this compiler. Plato unambiguously referred to only two places as Atlantean territory (Crit.114c & Tim 25b) North Africa and Southern Italy as far as Tyrrhenia (Tuscany) plus a number of unspecified islands.
The area between Southern Italy and Tunisia has had a great number of sites proposed for the Pillars of Herakles, while possible locations for Gades are on offer with a number places still known today by cognates of that name.
Plato clearly includes continental territory as part of the Atlantean domain as well as a number of important islands. Within a relatively small geographical area, you have two continents, Africa and Europe represented by Tunisia and Italy respectively, as well as the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Malta together with a number of smaller archipelagos, matching Plato’s description exactly. The later Carthaginian Empire also occupied much of the same territory apart from eastern Sicily and southern Italy which by then was controlled by the Greeks and known as Magna Graecia.
For me, the clincher is that within that region we have the only place in the entire Mediterranean to have been home to elephants up to Roman times – Northwest Africa.
(b) The Europeam Mediterranean Seismic Centre – EMSC, records all activity in the region.
(c) Tsunami Alarm System – A3M Tsunami Alarm System (tsunami-alarm-system.com) (German & English)
Civilisation Collapse has occurred many times over past millennia in all parts of the world. The American anthropologist, Joseph A. Tainter defines collapse as “a rapid shift to a lower level of complexity(a) .” Societal disintegration immediately brings to mind the Maya, the Indus Valley and in what are relatively more modern times, the Western Roman Empire.
The causes are usually a combination of factors, such as, climate change, warfare, disease or excessive expansionism. Global catastrophes such as encounters with comets or asteroids are rare, while more local events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis can also be thrown into the mix. These have all been encountered from time to time, but have rarely been blamed for the collapse of a society; recovery from such limited regional events is usually possible.
The Mediterranean has seen its share of all these catastrophic events. A major tsunami on Sardinia, volcanic eruptions in Italy, earthquakes in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Close encounters with extraterrestrial bodies have also been proposed in that region.
Perhaps the best documented civilisation collapse is that which occurred around 1200 BC and affected many societies, particularly in the Middle East(b) . Israel Finkelstein, a leading Israeli archaeologist, has attributed this event to climate change and is of the view that this disruption was global in extent.
Inevitably, Atlantis has been cited as an example of civilisation collapse, particularly supporters of the Minoan Hypothesis, who link the 2nd millennium BC eruptions of Thera with the demise of the Minoans on Crete. Also popular is the idea that Atlantis had been a large island in the Atlantic Ocean destroyed by a cometary impact or the rising sea levels as the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age.
A variety of other theories have associated Atlantis with the collapse of a civilisation. For example, Frank Joseph claims that 40,000 years ago “sudden sea-level rises triggers migration from Mu around. The Pacific motherlanders settle on a large, fertile island about 380 kilometers due west from the Straits of Gibraltar. There, the newcomers merge with the native Cro-Magnon inhabitants, resulting in a new, hybrid culture – Atlantis.”
Raffaele Bendandi (1893-1979) was an Italian clockmaker with an intense interest in earthquakes and planetary alignments. This led to a lifetime of earthquake prediction with a remarkable level of success.
In 1940 it was reported(a) that Bendandi claimed that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic and had been destroyed by an earthquake in the autumn of 9008 BC.
In 2013, Paola Pescerelli Lagorio published (in Italian) Raffaele Bendandi, in which he reviews the life and work of Bendandi.
Katherine Fordham Neer is an American writer, editor and researcher. She appears to accept the existence of Atlantis having published a brief paper(a) with the odd title of Shocker: 9 Reasons Atlantis May Have Been Real, which simply recounts the existence of natural catastrophic events such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. Disappointingly, Neer offers nothing to support the existence of Plato’s Atlantis exemplified by number 8 of her ‘reasons’ entitled ‘The Ocean is Really, Really Big’!
Survivors of the Atlantean destruction are a reasonable expectation given the extent of its influence as described by Plato. The fact that its rulers only met every few years suggests a geographical spread that must have left some, if not most, of the confederation intact, irrespective of the location of the earthquake’s epicentre. Some writers have proposed that survivors migrated to an extensive range of locations such as Egypt, the Middle East and the Americas, but offer little to substantiate their claims apart from the widely dispersed flood myths that are most likely to have arisen following the melting of glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.
*All the suggestions put forward are either pure speculation, invention or allegedly derived from some psychic source. W. Scott-Eliot claimed  that refugees from an Atlantic Atlantis fled westward to Mexico and became the Toltecs and eastward and built Stonehenge ln Britain! While other European cultures have also had Atlantean roots attributed to them, the most frequently named are the great civilisations of Central and South America – Aztec, Mayan and Incan. Posnansky went as far as to suggest that Tiwanaku in the Andes was built by Nordic refugees from Atlantis! Proof, however, is lacking in all cases.*
Thera is an ancient name for today’s Aegean archipelago of Santorini, which are the remains of a volcanic island.
Only two of the islands are inhabited, the main island, Santorini and Therasia, which had been joined before the 16th century BC eruption. Recent excavations have revealed a pre-eruption settlement on Therasia(x).
Although it exhibited low-level activity in 1939-41 and 1950-51, it was in 1926 when it last erupted violently, destroying many hundreds of buildings in less than a minute. Eruptions of similarity intensity occurred in 1650, 1707 and 1866. Although Thera is thought to have violently erupted around 54,000 & 18,500 BC, it was not until the middle of the sixteenth century BC that it provided what was probably the most powerful and destructive volcanic explosion in the Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. Although the exact date of this event is still the subject of some controversy, the most recent evidence(a) indicates a date around 1613 BC ±13years, while archaeologists are more supportive of a date circa 1500 BC.
Professor Floyd McCoy of the University of Hawaii has written and broadcast extensively on the matter of the Late Bronze Age eruption of Thera, including a paper delivered to the 2005 Atlantis Conference. In it, he noted that “New finds of tephra – ash and pumice – both on land and on the seafloor indicate a far larger eruption than previously assumed, suggesting a volume of at least 100 km3 of tephra (bulk volume) ejected, perhaps more. Such a volume ranks the eruption on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) at 7.0, equivalent or larger than the 1815 eruption of Tambora (‘the year without a summer’), ten times larger than the eruption of Krakatau in 1883, and approximately 100 times that of Mt. St. Helens in 1980.”[629.311]
The 1500 BC date was supported by David A. Warburton who edited the Acts of the Minoan Eruption Chronology Workshop in 2007(af). The workshop provided a good overview of the Theran eruption dating debates, Warburton’s comments are to be found in the Epilogue.
There was a series of eruptions that ended with a final enormous explosion that has been linked to the ending of the Minoan civilisation on Crete, the Plagues of Egypt and agricultural failures throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. For a geologist’s view of the island’s dramatic history, Walter Friedrich’s bookis hard to beat. His book supports a 1640 BC date for the eruption although he has subsequently revised this to 1613 BC. Sturt W. Manning supports a 1628 BC date and Mike Baillie has offered dendrochronological evidence for a 1628 BC eruption date at the 2011 Quantavolution conference in Athens(j). This converges with McCoy’s date above. However, the dating of the eruption continues to be controversial as this December 2012 link(i)demonstrates. At the heart of the problem is that acceptance of an early 17th century BC date for the event conflicts with established Egyptian chronology. While the exact year of the eruption continues to be debated, there is now scientific evidence that it occurred in early summer(s).
A 2014 paper published in Antiquity by Paolo Cherubini would appear to confirm the 16th century BC as the date of the catastrophic eruption ruling out an earlier date as untenable(o). In the same year, the University of Birmingham published a report(u) that supported the 1625 BC date. The earlier Antiquity paper prompted a response by a group, led by Sturt Manning later in 2014(y).
In August 2018, an interdisciplinary group led by dendrochronologist Charlotte L. Pearson published a paper(ab)(ad), which concluded that the eruption of Thera took place in the 16th century BC. This conclusion was the result of using a combination of ‘dendro’ along with high-resolution radiocarbon dating methods. In April 2020, a new report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explained how a new study of “the wood of an ancient grove of juniper trees, which suggested that the volcano blew its top around the year 1560 B.C.”(ae)
October 2018 saw further evidence for an early 16th century BC date for the eruption emerge after the radiocarbon dating of some olive wood found on Therasia, one of the Santorini group(z). The same month saw the publication of a paper on the ResearchGate(aa) website date the event to 1727-1600 BC!
After the eruption, we learn from Herodotus that Thera was resettled in the thirteenth century BC by the Phoenicians and around a century later by the Dorians(am)*.
The doctoral thesis of Dr David Sewell explores the cultural effects of the Theran eruption and can be read online(h).
Many centuries later the volcanic ash deposited by the Theran eruption was used in huge quantities to manufacture cement for the construction of the Suez Canal. It was during the mining of this material that workmen encountered large stone blocks under the layers of pumice, indicating buildings of great age.
It is claimed by many that a garbled Egyptian description of this devastating event was the basis for the story of the destruction of Atlantis. Louis Figuier was the first, in 1872, to publicly link the demise of Atlantis with the explosion on Thera. Opponents of this theory counter it by pointing out that Plato describes the inundation of an island much larger than Santorini or Crete, located in the Atlantic following an earthquake, not a volcanic eruption many thousands of years earlier. Various attempts have been made to reconcile this Minoan Hypothesis and its obvious inconsistencies with Plato’s text. They are discussed separately under
It was announced at the end of February 2010 that the BBC was about to air a dramatisation of the Theran disaster as well as a documentary on the eruption as its influence on the development of Plato’s story of Atlantis. June 2010 saw the historian, Bettany Hughes, front a disappointing BBC Timewatch Special, which also promoted the idea of the eruption on Thera as the inspiration for Plato’s story of Atlantis. The material introduced as evidence was highly selective and, for me, unconvincing. A few parallels between Thera and Plato’s description were trotted out, while the more numerous differences were ignored!
Alain Moreau has written a highly critical review(v) of the idea that the island of Thera/Santorini had been home to Atlantis.
Dr Dora Constantinidis who studied under Prof. Christos Doumas delivered a lecture in Melbourne on May 29th 2014 with the inviting title of Unravelling the Atlantis Myth at Akrotiri. However, the primary purpose of the talk was not to advance our knowledge of Atlantis but to encourage the sale of Bronze Age inspired merchandise(p). Nevertheless, in late 2020, one commentator did speculate that Akrotiri may originally have been Atlantis!(aj)
It is noteworthy that “Unlike Pompeii, no human remains have been found at Akrotiri, and only one gold object was found on the site, suggesting that the Minoans performed an orderly evacuation before the eruption, and they had time to take their valuables before they fled.”(ak)
Another twist on the Thera explosion is offered by Andis Kaulins who suggests that there is a connection between that event and the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah(g), while Riaan Booysen has linked two separate Theran eruptions with two Exodus events in the Bible(k), offering as evidence, the existence of two distinct Theran ash fallout areas, caused by different wind directions at the time of the events.
Initially, it was thought that the collapse of the Theran caldera generated very destructive tsunamis, but new studies have concluded(w) that instead of that it was the violent entry of pyroclastic flows into the sea that triggered the tsunamis.>Dale Dominey-Howes has published a paper suggesting that some claims relating to tsunamis generated by the Theran eruption(s) are exaggerations.<
A further possible consequence of the Theran eruption(s) was proposed after the discovery of the Nebra Sky Disk(n), which was buried about 3,600 years ago. This is suggested to have resulted from the volcanic ash generated by the eruption blotting out the sun for up to 25 years. It is thought that the Disk had been used to synchronise the lunar and solar calendars(l) and when this was no longer possible the Disk was buried as some form of offering. A contrary view is offered elsewhere on the Internet(m), as well as further controversy(t) led by Peter Schauer from the University of Regensburg.
Andis Kaulins has also written an extensive paper on the Nebra Sky Disk. A 2014 update(r) on the Disk was posted by Claudia Bracholdt.
2020 brought further debate with the claim, in a lengthy paper, that the date of the Disk should be brought forward to the 1st millennium BC(ag). This was followed by a shorter but vehement rebuttal(ah)(al).
In December 2020, the Discovery Channel aired a new documentary, which attempted to revive the Minoan Hypothesis, placing Atlantis on today’s Santorini. This recycled claim adds little that is new and has been taken up by several media outlets(ai), repeating an old error which claims that Plato said that Atlantis was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, when in fact he clearly states that it was the result of an earthquake.
Paul Dunbavin in Prehistory Papers  discusses the Minoan Hypothesis and the extent to which it is inconsistent with the details provided by Plato. Despite the support from some academics for the idea that the story of Atlantis is linked to the Theran eruption, Dunbavin reiterates that “whenever you find a conflict between the opinion of a modern expert and that given in an ancient text then you should always prefer the source closest to the events.” [p160]
An extensive bibliography of books and articles on the subject of Thera can be found on the Internet(b).
(h) See: Archive 2199
(i) See: Archive 2200
(ac) Archive 3919
Iain Stewart (1964- ) is a Scottish geologist and former child actor. Stewart lectured on geology at the University of Plymouth and now is a senior lecturer in Geography and Earth Sciences at Brunel University. In 2007 a newly identified species of ant, Cerapachys iainstewarti, was named after him, when it was discovered during the filming of a TV programme presented by him.
However, he gave up his acting career to study geology and geography and eventually received a PhD. No doubt assisted by his acting experience Dr Stewart has gone on to present a number of science programmes on television. The first of which was Helike: The Real Atlantis (2002), in which he proposed that the submergence of Helike was the inspiration for elements of Plato’s Atlantis story(a).
In 2014, he updated the article providing interesting information regarding the effects of earthquakes in Greek history, concluding with a reiteration of his support for Helike as an important influence on the development of Plato’s story of Atlantis. He returned to the subject again in June 2015(b).
Stewart was a member of the steering committee of the 2008 Atlantis Conference held in Athens.
(b) See: Archive 2571
Mycenaean is the name given to the culture of ancient Greece (excluding Crete) during the Late Bronze Age (1500–1100 BC). They were also called Achaeans. The controversial writer Felice Vinci maintains that a Northern European tribe was referred to as Achaeans by Homer and that they migrated south and founded the Mycenaean civilisation. However, it was Martin Persson Nilsson (1874-1967), a Swedish historian, who was an earlier proponent of a Nordic origin for the Mycenaeans.
However, recent genetic studies suggest that the mainland Mycenaeans and the Cretan Minoans share a common ancestry with Neolithic populations of what are today Turkey and Greece(c).
Austen Atkinson in his Impact Earth suggested the possibility that the unexplained ending of the Mycenaean civilisation could be explained as a consequence of Earth’s encounter with Phaëton referred to by Plato (Tim.22c-d).
However, there are current studies(a) being made into the possibility that earthquakes were responsible for the demise of the Mycenaeans and the start of the Greek ‘Dark Ages’.
However, the earthquake theory is also under attack(b), with the proposal that either an uprising or invasion was responsible for the demise of the Mycenaean Greece.
The Red, White and Black stone which Plato said had adorned the buildings of its port city, have led Atlantis seekers to eagerly follow up this apparently obvious clue. However, as with so many aspects of the Atlantis story, this particular detail does not provide us with anything like a clear pointer to any specific location.
Jürgen Spanuth relates[015.125] how the ancient Canarians decorated their temple with red, white and black rock, the colours of tufa, pumice and lava. The cliffs of Santorini are also known to display red, white and black rock. These three materials are frequently found in the vicinity of volcanoes(b) and may be considered a valuable clue to the location of Atlantis. However, this combination of rock colours is not exclusive to volcanic localities as Jim Allen has demonstrated at Pampa Augallas in the Andes and Peter Daughtrey at his Silves site in Portugal[0893.120].
Although Atlantis was destroyed by an earthquake, volcanoes are often located in the same general region such as in the Central Mediterranean which is both seismically and volcanically very active and, in my opinion, the prime candidate as the home of Atlantis. This view is endorsed by Plato himself who twice (Tim.25b & Crit.114c) told us that the territory of the Atlantean alliance stretched from North Africa as far as Tyrrhenia in Italy. I further propose that this was on a north/south axis.
Jim Allen has found the same three rock colours at his Bolivian site and further afield, Ian Wilson points out that red, white and black bricks were used extensively in Çatal Hüyük. Not to be excluded, Diaz-Montexano has produced photos on his website of pre-Roman structures near Gibraltar that incorporate red, white and black blocks in their construction. Jonas Bergman has indicated that similarly coloured stone is to be found in Morocco. Other locations include the Azores, Algeria and Sardinia.
Andrew Jones, a professor of archaeology, has noted that the builders of Carn Ban, one of the ‘Clyde Cairns’ on Scotland’s Isle of Arran employed red white and black stones in its design – pure coincidence I’m sure! Robert Hensey in his book on Newgrange [1766.39] refers to Jones and the growing interest in the use of colour in ancient monuments.
Some(a) have sought to link the red, white and black of the Nazi swastika with Plato’s reference.