flora and fauna
John Thomas Short (1850-1883) was the American author of The North Americans of Antiquity written two years before Donnelly’s ground-breaking publication. He draws on some of the same material as Donnelly, such as the similarity of flora and fauna on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the then newly discovered Mid-Atlantic Ridge and concluded (chap.XI) that Atlantis had been located on the MAR.
Charles Savona–Ventura is a specialist obstetrician-gynaecologist with a strong interest in the Natural Sciences, particularly Geology, Herpetology and Mammology. His interests also include Medical Epidemiology, and Medical History.
Dr. Savona-Ventura was one of the co-authors of Malta: Echoes of Plato’s Island. He has also collaborated with his colleague Anton Mifsud on a number of other books and articles relating to ancient Malta. They have commented on unusual ancient skulls that have been found in the prehistoric temples of the island that Andrew Collins(a) has linked with similar skulls dating from pre-dynastic Egypt.
Dr. Savona has his own website(b) that includes much regarding his medical interests. Rather oddly, in 2010, he independently published a fourteen-page booklet, In Search of Atlantis , which like ‘Echoes’ supported Malta as Atlantis. He also contends that Malta had in earlier times been part of a much larger landmass and supports this idea with the fact that the Maltese and Pelagian islands share species of flora and fauna not found on Sicily or the Italian mainland. This would appear to be reinforced by a map of Ptolemy printed in Ulm in 1482 which shows a large island southeast of Sicily.
The Flora and Fauna of Atlantis is mentioned by Plato in Critias;
“Besides all this, the earth bore freely all the aromatic substances it bears today, roots, herbs, bushes and gums exuded by flowers or fruit. There were cultivated crops, cereals which provide our staple diet. And pulse (to use its generic name) which we need in addition to feed us; there were the fruits of trees, hard to store but providing the drink and food and oil which gives us pleasure and relaxation and which we serve after supper as a welcome refreshment to the weary when appetite is satisfied – all these were produced by that sacred island, then still beneath the sun, in wonderful quality and profusion.” (115a-b)
The lack of sufficient detail in the extract from Critias has led to a variety of interpretations. Jürgen Spanuth in support of his North Sea location for Atlantis has claimed[015.68] that during the Bronze Age the snow line in that region was higher than at any other time since the last Ice Age at 1,900 metres. He claims that as a result, grapes and wheat were cultivated there during that period.
The existence of the same species plants and animals on both sides of the Atlantic has been noted for some time, so when the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) was discovered in the 19th century and subsequently combined with the realisation that sea levels had dropped during the last Ice Age, it was thought that a stepping-stone/s, if not an actual landbridge, between the continents had been identified. This idea was popular with many geologists and botanists at the beginning of the 20th century, such R.F. Scharff and H.E. Forrest, both of whom also saw the MAR as the location of Atlantis, an idea that still persists today. Emmet Sweeney is a modern writer who also sees the earlier exposed MAR as an explanation for the shared transatlantic biota and is happy to identify the Azores as the last remnants of Atlantis.
Andrew Collins has attempted to squeeze a reference to coconuts out of this text to support his Caribbean location for Atlantis. However, coconuts were not introduced into that region until colonial times(c). Ivar Zapp & George Erikson, driven by similar motivations had made the same claim earlier. My reading of the text is that Plato is describing food with which he is personally familiar.
Mary Settegast points out that around 7300 BC there is evidence of crop rotation including cereals at the Tell Aswad site in Syria.
The olive tree thrives best in the regions with a Mediterranean climate. Olive trees are mainly found between 25° and 45° N. latitude and, as for France, only in the Mediterranean area.
Ignatius Donnelly devoted Chapter VI(a) of his Atlantis tome to a review of the Atlantean flora and fauna. The print media at the start of the 20th century kept the general public aware of these theories(b).