Jason and the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece is recorded by Apollonius of Rhodes in his epic poem Argonautica. Although there are variants of some of the details in versions recounted by other authors, many researchers have felt that there was a kernel of truth in the story. Tim Severin was one of them and was inspired to retrace the voyage of the Argo in a replica of the ship, which led to the publication of The Jason Voyage. Decades later Dr Marcus Vaxevanopoulos of the Geology Department of the University of Thessaloniki in Greece expressed his belief that there is some reality behind the story of Jason and the Argonauts(a).
Although this has no direct bearing on the Atlantis story, when you combine these euhemeristic ideas along with Schliemann’s discovery of Troy after viewing Homer’s Iliad in a similar manner, it is understandable that many have sought the truth underlying Plato’s Atlantis narrative.
The Swastika is a symbol that is said to have a 12,000-year-old history(I) and is occasionally suggested as having an Atlantean link. This is highly improbable as modern research has suggested that it was more likely to have originally represented an ancient cometary display in the sky(c), explaining the ubiquity of the symbol around the world. Fernando Coimbra wrote a paper(h)on this subject in 2011.
In 1896, the Smithsonian Institution published an extensive paper by Thomas Wilson (1832-1902), a curator at the U.S. National Museum, demonstrating the global spread of the swastika symbol.
Another site demonstrates the widespread use of the swastika and its variants in commercial iconography(d). In April 2014, a well illustrated report(k) revealed that a 7,000-year-old piece of pottery with a swastika on it was discovered in Bulgaria.
I recall that my native Dublin had a firm, founded in 1912 by a Mr. Brittain, called the Swastika Laundry, which had their vans liveried in bright red with a white swastika on a black background. The business lasted into the 1960’s.
James Churchward claimed that the swastika was a symbol of his invented civilisation, Mu, while Robert Stacy-Judd speculated[607.243] that it had originated in Atlantis. Others have attempted(e) to link the swastika and its presentation in red, white and black to be in some way connected with Plato’s reference to the colours of the rocks found in Atlantis.>In a 1959 article in Sykes’ Atlantis magazine by Arthur Louis Joquel II declared(o) that the swastika had been the symbol of Atlantis! No evidence was offered.<
Leaving conjecture aside it can be demonstrated that the swastika was an ancient Hindu symbol and also used in the Indus Valley civilisation(b).
While Heinrich Schliemann was excavating Troy at Hissarlik, he discovered many hundreds of swastikas throughout the site and was responsible for bringing what had been, until then, a benign symbol back to Germany, where it was later hijacked by the Nazis and came to represent oppression(n).
The long honourable history of the swastika should not be erased because of its abuse at the hands of the Nazis. The residents of Swastika in Ontario, have for decades steadfastly refused to change the name of their community, which has been in use since 1907. Jacques Gossart wrote a book on the history of the swastika and in Denys Eissart’s now inactive website, L’épopée atlante (The Atlantis Epic) he devoted a page to a discussion on the subject(a). More recently Richard Cassaro has published two articles(f)(g) highlighting the extensive use of the swastika. The articles are well illustrated including some fascinating images. He also attempts, unsuccessfully in my view, to suggest a link between swastika and Atlantis. A Reclaim the Swastika website(j) is campaigning for the promotion of the swastika as a spiritual symbol as it had been in the past.
A number of large swastika shaped features have been spotted from the air(m).
(j) https://reclaimtheswastika.com/ (offline March 2018)
>(o) Atlantis, Vol.12, No.3, March/April 1959.<
William(Will) James Durant (1885-1981) was a renowned American philosopher and historian. In 1968 Will and his wife Ariel won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. He is probably best known for his eleven volume work The Story of Civilisation published over a forty-year period, which is now available as a series of pdf files(b). There is also a website devoted to his work(a).
In the first volume of The Story of Civilisation Durant claimed that Heinrich Schliemann “believed that Atlantis had served as a mediating link between the cultures of Europe and Yucatan, and that Egyptian civilization had been brought from Atlantis.” However, I would suggest that this statement be treated with caution as it may have stemmed from the Paul Schliemann hoax perpetrated just a few decades earlier
Homer (c. 8th cent. BC) is generally accepted as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, regarded as the two greatest epic poems of ancient Greece. A recent study of the Greek used by Homer has enabled scientists from the University of Reading to confirm that the language used is compatible with that used in the 8th century BC, in fact dating it to around 762 BC(i).
It should also be noted that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings(s). George Edwin Howes (1865-1942), an American classicist, produced a dissertation on Homeric quotations in Plato and Aristotle.
Almost nothing is known of his life. He has been variously described as mad, blind and even mythical. Andrew Dalby, the English linguist, has gone so far as to claim that the author of the two famed epics was in fact a woman! While in 1897 Samuel Butler, the novelist, was even more specific when he proposed that Homer was a Sicilian woman(j).
For centuries it was assumed that the content of these Homeric poems was the product of his imagination, just as the historical reality of Homer himself has been questioned. In 1795, F.A. Wolf, a German academic declared that ‘Homer’ was in fact a collective name applied to various poets whose works were finally combined into their present form in the 6th century BC. Wolf’s ideas sparked furious argument among Greek scholars that still resonates today. Now (2015), historian, Adam Nicholson has claimed that the author ‘Homer’ should not be thought of as a person but instead as a ‘culture’(o).
The identification of the site at Hissarlik in modern Turkey as Troy by Heinrich Schliemann led to a complete re-appraisal of Homer’s work and, of course, further controversy. Homer’s Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and it has been suggested that in fact he had compressed three or more Trojan wars into one narrative. What is not generally known is that there are also ancient non-Homeric accounts of the Trojan War(q).
Kenneth Wood and his wife Florence have built on the research of his mother-in-law, the late Edna Leigh, and produced, Homer’s Secret Iliad, a book that attempts to prove that the Iliad was written as an aide memoire for a wide range of astronomical data.
Allied to, but not directly comparable with, is the astronomical information identified in the Bible by the likes of E. W. Maunder (1851-1928).
Guy Gervis has adopted some of their work and specifies a date of around 2300 BC for the events described in the Iliad and Odyssey, based on an analysis of this astronomical data(n). Harald A.T. Reiche held similar views which followed some of the ideas expressed in Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana & Dechend who were colleagues of Reiche at M.I.T. They also claimed that “myths were vehicles for memorising and transmitting certain kinds of astronomical and cosmological information.”
Much has been written about the historicity of Homer’s epic accounts, including a good overview on Wikipedia(ab). Many have concluded that Homer did use real events, even if they were frequently dressed in mythological clothing compatible with the literary conventions of his day. I consider Plato to have treated the story of Atlantis in a similar manner.
A recent study of solar eclipses recorded in Odyssey using data from NASA has apparently confirmed that Odysseus returned to Ithaca on 25th of October 1207 BC(r).
Scholars have generally supported the idea that Homer’s works have a Mediterranean backdrop with regular attempts to reconcile his geography with modern locations, such as the claim in 2005 by Robert Brittlestone, a British investigator to have located the site of Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus, on the Greek island of Cephalonia. This popular idea should be put alongside the views of Zlatko Mandzuka who maintains that all the locations mentioned in the Odyssey can be identified in the Adriatic.
Nevertheless, there has been a growing body of opinion that insists that this Mediterranean identification is impossible. A range of alternative regions has been proposed(f) as the setting for the epics, which extend from Portugal as far northward as the Baltic.
In his Odyssey (VII: 80), Homer wrote about the island of Scheria in the western sea. His description of the island has been compared with Plato’s description of Atlantis and has led to the theory that they refer to the same place. There is little doubt that both the detailed geography and climatic descriptions given by Homer cannot be easily reconciled with that of the Mediterranean. Consequently, the Odyssey has had many interpretations, ranging from Tim Severin’s conclusion that it refers entirely to the Eastern Mediterranean to Iman Wilkens’ book, Where Troy Once Stood, that has the voyage include the west coast of Africa, then across to the West Indies and following the Gulf Stream returns to Troy which he locates in Britain. Location is not a problem exclusive to the writings of Plato. Wilkins views are a reflection of similar ideas expressed by Théophile Cailleux in the 19th century. Gilbert Pillot has also argued for voyages of Ulysses having taken him into the North Atlantic. In 1973, Ernst Gideon (? – 1975) wrote in a similar vein in Homerus Zanger der Kelten, reprinted later as Troje Lag in Engelan.
An interesting overview of the various attempts to transfer the Odyssey from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe is available(w). Damien Mackey has also endorsed the idea of a Northern European backdrop to Homer’s Odyssey(aa).
Another researcher who places all of Odysseus’ travels in the eastern Atlantic is Gerard. W.J. Janssen of Leiden University on the academia.edu website(v).
E.J. de Meester also argued(ac) for the British Isles as the location of many of Homer’s references. It struck me as quite remarkable that the level of debate regarding the date, source and geographical details of Homer’s works is rather similar to the controversy surrounding Plato’s Atlantis in Timaeus and Critias. The late Edo Nyland was another researcher who had also opted for a Scottish backdrop to the Odyssey and had recently published his views.
Felice Vinci also supports a Northern European background to the Iliad and Odyssey. However, in Vinci’s case, Scandinavia, and in particular the Baltic Sea, is identified as the location for the adventures in Homer’s classic. An English language synopsis of his book is available on the Internet. The persuasiveness of Vinci’s argument has recently renewed interest in the idea of a Baltic Atlantis. The assumption being that if Troy could be located in the Baltic, so might Atlantis. Vinci’s views are comparable with those of J. Rendel Harris expressed in a lecture delivered in 1924(p) in which he claims that “we are entitled to take Homer and his Odysseus out of the Mediterranean or the Black Sea, and to allow them excursions into Northern latitudes.”
However, a scathing review of Vinci’s book can be found on the Internet(d) and in issue 216 (2006) of Fortean Times written by Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs.
Further support for a Northern European Troy has come from the historian Edward Furlong, a former naval navigation officer, who has advocated for over twenty years that the journey of Odysseus went as far north as Norway. His particular views are outlined on the Internet(c) .
Other writers, such as the late Henrietta Mertz [0396/7], , have suggested that Homer’s epic refers to a trip to North America. Professor Enrico Mattievich Kucich of Lima University is also certain that the ancient Greeks discovered America America. However revolutionary this idea may seem it shows how this particular subject is growing and would probably justify a reference book of its own.
The idea of an Atlantic backdrop to the Homeric epics will not go away. The Dutch researcher, N.R. De Graaf, continues to write extensively on his Homeros Explorations website(x) regarding many of the specifics in Homer’s accounts.
In 1973, James Bailey proposed in his well-received The God-Kings and the Titans that the Odysseus recorded a trans-Atlantic trip. Evidence exists for large-scale mining in the Americas as early of the 5th millennium BC. Bailey maintained that the Europeans imported enormous quantities of copper and tin from Central and South America to feed the demands of the Old World Bronze Age, an idea that was later heavily promoted by Frank Joseph and in great, if overly speculative, detail by Reinoud de Jong(y).
Finally, the Atlantis connection with this entry is that if, as now appears to be at least a possibility, Homer’s Odyssey was about a journey to the North Sea then the possibility of a North Sea setting for the Atlantis story is somewhat reinforced.
A recent book by Steven Sora has developed the Atlantic notion further with the suggestion that not only was Troy located outside the Strait of Gibraltar but that both Homer’s Trojan war and Plato’s Atlantean war are two versions of the same war with the understandable distortions and embellishments that can occur with a narrative, probably involving some degree of oral transmission and then written down hundreds of years after the events concerned.
Ukraine is soon to be added to the growing list of alternative locations for the setting of Homer’s epics with the publication of Homer, The Immanent Biography, a book by A.I. Zolotukhin(g). He claims that Homer was born in Alibant (Mykolayiv, Ukraine) on September 14, 657 BC(t). He follows the views of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) who believed that most of Odysseus’s travels took place in the Black Sea rather than the Mediterranean. Additionally, he locates Atlantis in the western Crimean area of Evpatoria(l). His 60-page book is available on his website(m).
An interesting paper(e) by the German historian, Armin Wolf, relates how his research over 40 years unearthed 80 theories on the geography of the Odyssey, of which around 30 were accompanied by maps. One of the earliest maps of the travels of Odysseus was produced by Abraham Ortelius in 1597(u) , in which the adventures of Odysseus all take place within the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, arguably reflecting the maritime limits of Greek experience at the time of Homer or his sources! Another website(z) by Jonathan S. Burgess, Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto offers further information on this, including some informative bibliographical material.
In 2009, Wolf published, Homers Reise: Auf den Spuren des Odysseus a German language book that expands on the subject, also locating all the travels of Odysseus within Central and Eastern Mediterranean.
Wolf’s ideas were enthusiastically adopted by Wolfgang Geisthövel in his Homer’s Mediterranean, who also concurs with the opinion of J.V. Luce , who proposed that Homer was “describing fictional events against authentic backgrounds.” This would be comparable to a James Bond movie, which has an invented storyline set in actual exotic locations around the world.
Perhaps the most radical suggestion has come from the Italian writer, Michele Manher, who has proposed(h) that Homer’s Iliad originated in India where elements of it can be identified in the Mahabharata!
In August 2015, a fifteen hour reading of the Iliad was performed in London.
(k) https://web.archive.org/web/20180320072706/https://www.nwepexplore.com (see ‘n’)
Iman Jacob Wilkens (1936- ) was born in the Netherlands but worked in France as an economist until retiring in 1996. In 1990 he threw a cat among the pigeons when he published Where Troy Once Stood which located Troy near Cambridge in England and identified Homer’s Trojan War as an extensive conflict in north-west Europe. He follows the work of Belgian lawyer, Théophile Cailleux, who presented similar ideas at the end of the 19th century just before Schliemann located his Troy in western Turkey, pushing Cailleux’s theories into obscurity until Wilken’s book a century later.
Felice Vinci also gave Homer’s epic a northern European backdrop locating the action in the Baltic. Like Wilkens he makes a credible case and explains that an invasion of the Eastern Mediterranean by northern Europeans also brought with them their histories as well as place names that were adapted by local writers, such as Homer
Wilkens claims that the invaders can be identified as the Sea Peoples and were also known as Achaeans and Pelasgians who settled the Aegean and mainland Greece. This matches Spanuth’s identification of the Sea Peoples recorded by the Egyptians as originating in the North Sea. Spanuth went further and claimed that those North Sea Peoples were in fact the Atlanteans.
Wilkens original book had a supporting website(a), while the 2005 edition is also supported by a website(b) as well as a companion DVD. A lecture entitled The Trojan Kings of England is also available online(c).
Jacob Bryant (1715-1804) was an English antiquarian and mythologist,*who completely denied that the Homeric Trojan War had any historical value. This infuriated the Romantic poet Lord George Byron, who denounced Bryant as a ‘blackguard’. All this took place decades before Schliemann began excavating at Hissarlik.
Although Bryant denied the reality of Troy, he was content to declare that the ‘Atlantians’ were descended from Ham, one of Noah’s sons and that they settled in Phrygia (part of modern Turkey) and Mauritania (North-West Africa). These comments can be found in one of his best known works, New System Or an Analysis of Ancient Mythology (1774 ed. Vol.1 p.387), which can now be read online.
The Strait of Messina is, at its narrowest point, just 2 miles wide. A number of classical writers refer to a time when Sicily was still connected to Italy. In fact legend has it that Heracles was responsible for their separation. However, Cyprian Broodbank has pointed out in his monumental work, The Making of the Middle Sea, that “Today, the Messina strait dividing it (Sicily) from peninsular Italy is a minimum of 3 km (2 miles) wide and 72 metres (235 ft) in depth at its shallowest point. On the face of it, therefore, Sicily and mainland Italy should have fused under full glacial conditions. Yet this spot lies on a plate boundary and has already risen several metres over the last 150 years for which accurate measurements exist. Add a 127,000-71,000-year-old beach now elevated 90m (300ft) above the sea near the strait and we might start to wonder whether Sicily was ever solidly attached to the other land.”[1127.91] Nevertheless, he does suggest that early man possibly had stepping-stones in the form of islets and shallows between the two landmasses.
The Strait of Messina had a reputation in antiquity for having dangerous currents, which are thought to be the inspiration for Homer‘s sea monsters, Scylla and Charybdis. Heinrich Schliemann supported this identification. The currents there are still very dangerous, but nevertheless the strait is a busy waterway with both commercial and pleasure craft, indicating that the conditions there can be mastered. The hazards were situated at the northern end of the Strait, where today there is a town appropriately called Scilla on the Calabrian side.
The strait is sometimes offered as an earlier site for the Pillars of Heracles prior to the Western Mediterranean becoming more frequently navigated by the ancient Greeks, at which time the term was transferred to the Strait of Gibraltar. Winfried Huf is a keen supporter of ‘Pillars’ having been located at Messina.*A constituent part of the Western Mediterranean was the Tyrrhenian Sea, which, for the Greeks, would have been most easily accessed through the Strait of Messina.*
The earliest westward expansion of the Greeks was understandably to what became known as Magna Graecia in Sicily and southern Italy. The Phoenician expansion was along the north African coast eventually establishing Carthage at the Strait of Sicily. The ships available at that time were not designed for the open sea, but were usually kept within sight of land. I am inclined to think that the early Greeks would have had the Strait of Messina as the location of their Pillars of Heracles leading to the little known Western Mediterranean (or Tyrrhenian Sea), apparently referred to by some as the ‘Atlantic Sea’, whereas the Strait of Sicily might have led to conflict with the Phoenicians!
Support for the idea of the Western Mediterranean being the ‘Sea of Atlantis’ with the ‘Pillars’ at the Strait of Messina is presented on a French forum(a), which offers the map below.
Paul Schliemann was the self-declared grandson of Heinrich Schliemann the discoverer of Troy. He was at the centre of an early Atlantis hoax in 1912 when he declared in a New York newspaper article that he had inherited, from his grandfather, artefacts made in Atlantis. He claimed to have ancient documents describing the destruction of Mu and insisted that the Azores were a remnant of Atlantis. Neither the artefacts nor Paul Schliemann ever materialised, in fact, an investigation revealed that Heinrich did not have a grandson named Paul.
Additionally, he claimed to have arrived at the solution of the Atlantis mystery after studying the Mayan Troano Codex in the British Museum. Unfortunately, the Troano Codex was housed in a museum in Madrid where it still resides. A further mistake by Paul was to claim that his grandfather referred to the Lion Gate at Mycenae on Crete, when in fact it was situated on mainland Greece. These errors were compounded by his reference to Atlantean coins which is completely anachronistic as coinage only came into use in Lydia around the time of Solon.
Heinrich Schliemann’s collaborator, William Dörpfeld, testified that although Schliemann had occasionally referred to Atlantis, he was unaware that he had made any serious study of the subject or had written anything about it.
Furthermore, Heinrich actively sought publicity and it would have been completely out of character for him not to have claimed the glory for himself of having discovered Atlantis.
In spite of all of this, the story was widely quoted and is still accepted as reliable by some writers. The full story is now available on the Internet(a).
I recently discovered an article(b) in The Mail of Adelaide in South Australia of February 28th 1925, which in turn was quoting an unnamed San Francisco source, purporting to be based on an interview with Paul Schliemann, ‘son’ of the late Heinrich promoting a forthcoming book on his search for Atlantis. Clearly this was an attempt to extend the 1912 hoax, but apparently was not spotted by The Mail, considering the amount of space that they allocated to the article as well as the accompanying images.
Egerton Sykes wrote an extensive article about Paul Schliemann’s claims, adding further questions that needed to be answered(c).>In 1966, Sykes wrote that Paul had died during World War I, and that his widow later married Panagis Tsaldaris, who became Prime Minister of Greece(d). Nevertheless, as late as 1974, Sykes was still accepting Schliemann’s 1912 claims as credible(e).<
Also see: Chevalier Pino
(c) Atlantis, Vol.4, No.5, January 1952 &> Atlantis, Vol.11, No.2, January 1958
(d) Atlantis, Vol.19, No.4, July/August, 1966
(e) Atlantis, Vol.27, No.4, July/August, 1974<
Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) and Sir Arthur Evans famed as the discoverers of Troy and Knossos respectively are sometimes claimed to have believed in the existence of Atlantis. John Michell quotes [0704.200] the following from Schliemann; “I have come to the conclusion that Atlantis was not only a great territory between America and the west coast of Africa, but the cradle of all our civilisation as well.” This extract is from a letter that was allegedly given to his grandson, Paul Schliemann. However, the letter in question was just part of a larger hoax perpetrated in 1912.
Although Schliemann is credited with the discovery of Troy at Hissarlik in Turkey, he was not the first to suggest the site, in fact nearly a century earlier, ironically, in the year that Schliemann was born, Charles Maclaren (1782-1866), a Scot, also claimed that Hissarlik was the location of Troy in a work entitled, A Dissertation on the Topography of the Plain of Troy. Others have cast doubt on the specific site identified by Schliemann. The principal objection was that the city he had located was too small to match the historical descriptions of Troy. The same might be said of many of the sites proposed as Plato’s Atlantis.
*Schliemann also discovered many hundreds of swastikas throughout the Hissarlik site and is credited with bringing that symbol back to Germany where it was later hijacked by the Nazis and came to represent evil oppression.(a)
Scheria is the name of a Phaeacian island mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey and identified by some, including Ignatius Donnelly, as Atlantis. Scheria has been noted as only second to Atlantis for the array locations ascribed to it. For example, Heinrich Schliemann, as well as many ancient and modern commentators, considered Scheria to have been Corfu. Others, such as Felice Vinci suggest Norway, while Iman Wilkens offers the Canaries.
Armin Wolf (1935- ), the German historian, suggests(b) Calabria in Southern Italy was Scheria and even more controversially that the Phaeacians were in fact Phoenicians!
Wolf also claims[669.326] that although the country of the Phaeacians is in some translations called an island, the original Greek text never calls it ‘island’ just Scheria, which, Wolf informs us, etymologically means ‘continent’ – perfectly fitting Calabria. Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria they say they are going to the ‘continente’. Wolf puts Scheria in the vicinity of Catanzaro, the capital of Calabria. It has been suggested to me in private correspondence(d) that the etymology of Catanzaro is strongly indicative of a Phoenician influence! Catanzaro is also known as ‘the city of the two seas’, having the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the east. It is Wolf’s contention that it was across this isthmus that Odysseus travelled[p.327].
A further mystery is that, according to Dr. Ernst Assmann quoted by Edwin Bjorkman, “both the vessel of Odysseus, as pictured in Greek art, and the term applied to it, are of Phoenician origin.”
Daniel Fleck(a) lists ten similarities between Scheria and Atlantis. Jürgen Spanuth quoted and added to an even more extensive list of comparisons between the two compiled by R. Hennig. Rainer W. Kühne has also written a paper(c) on the similarities.Walter Leaf perceived a connection between the two and wrote accordingly. Edwin Björkman went further and wrote a book that linked Tartessos, Scheria and Atlantis. More recently, Roger Coghill stressed the similarity of Homer’s Scheria to Plato’s Atlantis in The Message of Atlantis . Ernle Bradford notes that the name Scheria itself is thought by some to be derived from the Phoenician word ‘schera’, which means marketplace, which is not incompatible with Plato’s description of Atlantis as a hive of commercial activity [1011.204] .
Michael MacRae in his Sun Boat: The Odyssey Deciphered also thinks that Scheria could be identified with Atlantis and as such was probably situated at the western end of the Gulf of Cadiz near Portugal’s Cape Vincent. A number of 20th century researchers such as Sykes and Mertz have places the travels of Odysseus in the Atlantic. More recently, Gerard Janssen has followed this school of thought and as part of his theories identifies Scheria as the island of Lanzarote in the Canaries (e).
However, Ernle Bradford, who retraced the voyage of Odysseus, voiced his view that Corfu was the land of the Phaeacians and noted that “the voice of antiquity is almost as unanimous about Scheria being Corfu as it is about the Messina Strait being the home of Scylla and Charybdis.”
(a) See: Archive 2087
(d) Private correspondence Jan. 2016