Heinz-Günther Nesselrath (1957- ) is a German professor of classical philology. He has studied Plato’s Atlantis story and concluded that it is purely an invention and should be treated as a morality tale. Although an Atlantis sceptic, he is also considered fair-minded. A review of his book can be read online(b).
Nesselrath has also published a German translation of and commentary on Plato’s Critias, as well as a paper (in Italian) on the Pillars of Herakles.
In his Newsletter 118(a) of July 2018, Thorwald C. Franke revealed that Nesselrath had provided some qualified support for Franke’s thesis which contradicts the long-held view that Aristotle had denied the existence of Plato’s Atlantis. Nesselrath goes further and “adds a brand new suggestion who could have been the true author of the invention assertion in Strabo 2.3.6: He suggests Eratosthenes, the famous geographer, mathematician, and author of poems, as a good candidate to be the true author. The reasons given for this are Eratosthenes’ geographical knowledge, his poetry, and his skepticism towards e.g. Homer’s Odyssee.”
In April 2020, Nesselrath published a critique(c) of my book, Joining the Dots. This he expanded for publication on the Academia.edu website with the combative title of How Not to Join the Dots. I found it strange that a person of Professor Nesselrath’s academic stature should bother to criticise the retirement project of an old pensioner. Unless there was something in it that was perceived as threatening his scepticism!
I published a response to Nesselrath’s first review in March 2021. Within days he offered a further, somewhat repetitious attack, on my book(d). Shortly after that, Thorwald C. Franke offered some critical comments on Nesselrath’s response in his newsletter No.157(e). Newsletter No.158 followed a day later in which Franke reviewed a lecture, previously unknown to him, given by Nesselrath, in Bologna, a few years ago(f) during which he apparently misrepresented Franke’s Atlantis theories. Shortly afterwards Nesselrath issued a rather intemperate reply to Franke’s criticisms(g). A further document(h) from Franke detailed his continuing annoyance with what he perceives as ‘a breach of trust’ on the part of Nesselrath.
Having read Nesselrath’s latest response to my response, I have decided to bring this matter to a conclusion, as he has merely repackaged his previous comments and is now becoming tedious.
He also seems to be unhappy that non-academics have intruded on to his territory. His repeated references to my admitted lack of an education in the Classics seemed to imply that I should not concern myself with such matters.
I began my book by declaring that it was my intention to demonstrate that the balance of probabilities strongly favoured the historical reality of Atlantis, nothing more. It appears that something in that book appeared to jeopardise the Professor’s intransigent views, It is unfortunate that he seems to suffer from terminal scepticism, allowing no room for any error on his part.
At its simplest, Nesselrath sees the Atlantis story as just a Platonic invention; I don’t.
He cannot accept that Socrates in the dialogues is only a mouthpiece of Plato’s; I do.
As long as those two fundamentals divide us, there is no room for any further comment.
Hopefully, I will have time to publish a revised edition of Joining the Dots, before donning my wooden overcoat.
>In the meantime, although we disagree on the location of Atlantis, Matt Chinn has published a generally favourable review of my book in a YouTube video(i).
In April 2023, Thorwald C. Franke issued his Newsletter No. 212(n), with the following introduction;
“Professor Heinz-Günther Nesselrath has once again written and published two PDF articles(j)(k) to defend his Atlantis scepticism against the arguments brought up by me. One is directed against my internet article about “The Dark Side of Atlantis Scepticism” from 2021, based on my book about the reception history of Plato’s Atlantis story from 2016/2021. The other one makes the attempt to undermine especially the literary arguments of Wilhelm Brandenstein, which I cultivated and will cultivate even more in my next publication.”
Franke responded with two papers(l)(m) that should be read in their entirety.<
The Indus Valley civilisation is dated to 2600-1900 BC (preceded by the Mehrgarh People) is now referred to as the Harappan civilisation. To date, over a thousand settlements and five cities have been identified, but only 10% have been excavated(v).
The origins of the Indus people has been debated for some time, but a DNA study of four skeletons discovered, some years ago, at Rakhigarhi, in India, may offer some clues. However, three years later (2017) the results have still not been made public(z)(aa)! A September 2019 report in Live Science highlighted the fact that gathering usable DNA from the Indus Valley is extremely difficult as the climate there degrades it rapidly. Attempts to extract DNA from 61 individuals in the cemetery in Rakhigarhi were successful in only one instance. Unfortunately, only limited information was gleaned from this study, namely that “about two-thirds to three-fourths of the ancestry of all modern South Asians come from a population group related to that of this Indus Valley individual.” according to Vagheesh Narasimhan, one of the authors of the report.
In recent years, the Indus region has received several nominations as the source of the Atlantis story. Dr Ashok Malhotra has identified the submergence of the city of Dwarka as the inspiration for the story, which was then brought to Sumeria and later Egypt before transmission to Greece.
A 2014 blogger offered similar ideas with a paper(n) entitled ‘Atlantis was Indus Valley plateau?’ but then proceeds to describe Indonesia as the hyperdiffusionist source for the great civilisations “such as those of the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Cretans and the Mesopotamians. These also included the Jews, the Phoenicians, and the Aryans, driven away from their ancestral lands in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.”
In Thorwald C. Franke’s Newsletter No.119 he draws attention to a review by Professor Heinz-Günther Nesselrath of a new over-priced book by Erika Daniels-Qasim. Although the book is published in German, Nesselrath’s highly critical review is in English(ac), Nesselrath reveals that this is just another useless attempt to link Plato’s Atlantis with the Indus Valley civilisation. Franke describes it as a ‘sad book’.
Although the ‘ancient alien’ idea has nothing to back it up, the claim that a very ancient nuclear war destroyed the Indus civilisation has had some support(ad). However, Jason Colavito has also debunked the story of the ‘radioactive skeleton’ there(ab).>A decade ago (2013) Dale Drinnon also published a blog refuting the ancient atomic war claims(aj).<
In 2012, the Spanish researcher, José Angel Hernández, proposed that the Tarshish of the Bible was to be found on the coastal region of the Indus Valley, but that Tartessos was a colony of the Indus city of Lhotal and had been situated on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar! He also compared the bull cult of Plato’s Atlantis with that of the Indus civilisation(f)(g).
The central Indus city of Mohenjo-Daro was only rediscovered in 1922(m) and a curious more recent discovery there, was that 10% of artefacts found there related to play! Clusters of game pieces suggested the use of communal social centres. Unrelated, but perhaps more relevant to our study is the fact that there is a dearth of weaponry fortifications or evidence of warfare in the Indus culture(d), which is in sharp contrast to the belligerent Atlantean society described by Plato. More details of the city and the Indus culture can be read on the Italian larazzodeltempo.it website(ag)(ah).
A frequently referred to anomaly at Mohenjo-Daro is evidence of vitrification and radioactivity that some have attributed to atomic warfare or attacks by ancient aliens(af). A more balanced view(k)(l) can be found online. A 2015 article on this subject is also worth a look(o). Jason Colavito has unearthed(ab) the origin of this claim, tracing it back to the 1960s and an unreliable Russian writer, Alexander Gorbovsky, compounded by later distortions by ‘fringe investigators.
A 2012 conference on Harappan archaeology saw the origins of that culture pushed back to the 7th millennium BC, contemporary with that of Sumer(j). The same conference saw linguistic connections between the two cultures under discussion. However, despite numerous attempts over the past century the Indus Valley script remains undeciphered(p), although there are regular claims of successful decipherment, 2007(q), 2009(r), 2011(s), 2013(t), to date totalling nearly 100, somewhat reminiscent of the constant flow of Atlantis theories. Now linguists are turning to computer technology to finally solve the problem(x).
A radical theory regarding Mohenjo-Daro has been proposed by an Indian researcher, Jeyakumar Ramasami, in which he claims that the city was a necropolis and not a metropolis. His book on the subject can be downloaded as a free Word file(e). A similar theory was proposed by Hans Georg Wunderlich regarding the Minoan ‘palace’ of Knossos on Crete.
A comprehensive website(a) with many photos and diagrams relating to the Indus Valley civilisation is available. A related article by Patrick Chouinard is also of interest(b).
A recent discovery off the Konkan Coast in the State of Maharashtra in western India has revealed a remarkable structure that is based on sea-level changes that may be 8,000 years old(c). A wall 24 km long, 2.7 metres high and 2.5 metres in width was discovered in just three metres of water. Speculation has centred on the possibility of it being evidence of a completely unknown civilisation that could pre-date that of the Indus Valley. A second site, thought to be pre-Harappan, located in Rakhigarhi village in Haryana’s Hisar district, over 200 km from Chandigarh, is now under investigation.
A 2008 article(i) adds further information about the Indus Valley, which includes a reference to the Neolithic site at Mehrgarh a precursor to the Indus civilisation and dated to 7000 BC, a date that has now been pushed back to 8000 BC according to a paper published(u) in the May 25th, 2016 edition of Nature.
A recent paper(w) has revealed how the Indus people coped with the consequences of climate change when their civilisation was at its height around 2500-1900 BC. Another paper suggests that the demise of the Indus Valley civilisation was the result of climate change caused by changing monsoon patterns. The author, Nishant Malik, assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Mathematical Sciences, used mathematical modelling to support his claim(ae).
Until now it was thought that many of the Indus settlements had been dependent on a major Himalayan river, the Ghaggar-Hakra, now dried up. However, recent studies(y) indicate that this river changed course over 8,000 years ago suggesting that “when the Indus people settled the area, there was only an abandoned large river valley occupied by seasonal monsoon river flow instead of a large Himalayan river.” So it seems that, unlike the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations the Indus people did not require a substantial permanent river!
>Joanna Gillan published an article giving a potted history of Mohenjo Daro and including a critical review of those, including David Davenport, who have tried to prove that the site was the location of an ancient atomic war. Supporters of this idea have pointed to quotations from the Mahabharata in support of this idea. However, Gillan revealed that “Rather than being entirely fictitious, the passage is composed of a merging together of various unrelated passages scattered throughout the 200,000-verse epic, some of which are also questionable English translations of a questionable French translation of the original Sanskrit. When viewed in their original context, they are a little less convincing”(ak).<
Another article on the Ancient Origins website, also by Gillan, in January 2022 reviews the history of Mohenjo Daro and unfortunately highlights that “Although it has survived for five millennia, Mohenjo Daro now faces imminent destruction. While the intense heat of the Indus Valley, monsoon rains, and salt from the underground water table is having damaging effects on the treasured site, it is the visitors that flock in their thousands to the site that are the biggest threat. Adding to the problem is a lack of funding, public indifference, and government neglect. The government even approved a festival being held at the site back in 2014, where tents, lights and stages were hammered into the walls of the delicate ruins.
Mohenjo Daro is already in an incredibly fragile condition. It is estimated that at its current rate of degradation, the World Heritage-listed site could be gone within 20 years(ai).
(j) Archive 2329
(k) Mohenjo Daro – The Thunderbolts Project™ (archive.org) (new link)
(l) See: Archive 3516
(n) See: Archive 3617
(q) https://www.hindunet.org/hvk/articles/0207/56.html (offline Nov. 2016)
Thorwald C. Franke was born in 1971 in Konstanz in southwest Germany. He studied computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and now works as a software developer. Since 1999 he has been promoting the idea of Atlantis having been located in Sicily. He has written a paper, which makes the case for identifying Atlas with king Italos of the Sicels, who was one of the first tribes to inhabit Sicily and gave their name to the island.
In October 2010, Franke announced that a part of his theory has some elements in it that require further research(f).
He believes that the war with the Atlanteans was recorded by the Egyptians as the conflict with the Sea Peoples of whom the Sicilians are generally accepted to have been part.
Franke has a well-presented website(a), in English and German, where he cogently outlines his views. He has also written a lengthy, 23-page paper on the need for a classification of Atlantis theories. Even though this item is in German, English readers may find it quite interesting using their browser’s translator. Franke has also compiled an extensive list of Atlantis-related websites(d) that he expanded further in a new format in October 2011.
His paper for the 2nd Atlantis Conference in Athens in 2008 is available on the Internet(c) in which he expanded on his Sicilian location for Atlantis.
Franke has also published a book, in German that focussed on Herodotus’ contribution to the Atlantis question(p). In the same paper, he dealt with the true meaning of the word ‘meizon‘ in Timaeus 24e which tells us that Atlantis was ‘greater’ than Asia and Libya combined, which he clarified as actually referring to their combined power rather than size. However, Franke proposed that the Egyptian word ‘wr’, whose primary meaning is ‘big’ and is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense, may have influenced the wording of the Greek text
Then in a more recent (2010) book regarding Aristotle and Atlantis, he disputes the generally perceived view that Aristotle did not accept the existence of Atlantis. He builds his case on an 1816 misinterpretation by a French mathematician, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre, of a 1587 commentary on Strabo’s Geographica by Isaac Casaubon. Combined with other evidence he has presented a case that removes the only prominent classical writer alleged to have dismissed the existence of Atlantis. In late 2012 Franke published an English translation with the title of Aristotle and Atlantis. Franke’s views regarding Aristotle have been well received and his book is frequently cited, most recently by Dhani Irwanto in his Atlantis: The Lost City is in the Java Sea[1093.110].
Franke has now augmented his book on Aristotle with a YouTube video in English(l) and German(m). This important book can now be read on the Researchgate website.(ae)
2012 also saw the publication, by Franke, of the first English translation of Gunnar Rudberg’s 1917 monograph Atlantis och Syrakusai, now Atlantis and Syracuse. This is a welcome addition to Atlantis literature in English. Students of the Atlantis mystery owe a debt of gratitude to Herr Franke.
In 2006, Franke published a paper outlining Wilhelm Brandenstein’s contribution to Atlantology which in 2013 he published in English(g). This was followed by a translation(h) of his overview of the work of Massimo Pallattino, who had adopted some of Brandenstein’s approaches to the Atlantis question.
On the 30th of May 2013, Franke announced(i) that his Atlantis Newsletter, which until now was only available in German, in future will also be published in English. Today he discusses the antics of extremist Atlantis sceptics and the abuse of Wikipedia. I encourage everyone to register and congratulate Thorwald on this development.
There is also a video clip available of Franke showing his library of Atlantis-related books(e). 2017 has seen Franke produce a number of 30-minute videos, which readers will find informative. They are available in both German and English, (Just Google Plato’s Atlantis – Thorwald C. Franke – YouTube).
Franke has now (July 2013) revamped his website (https://www.atlantis-scout.de/)
More recently, July 2016 saw the publication, in German, of Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis (Critical history of the hypotheses on Plato’s Atlantis). This tome of nearly 600 pages will undoubtedly be a valuable addition to any serious researcher’s library. There is a promotional video, in German, to go with it(j). Hopefully, an English translation of the book will follow. However, Franke does provide an English summary of the book(af). In June 2021, Franke announced the publication of the second edition of this remarkable book, but again, in German only. It is now in two volumes, totalling over 800 pages, which include hundreds of new references(y). Two publications in one week is a record to be proud of.
In June 2018, Franke published a YouTube video in English(r) and German(s) highlighting how Plato’s 9,000 years have been alternatively accepted and then rejected many times over since the time of Plato. Franke proposes that the 9,000 years recorded by Plato were comparable with the accepted age of Egypt in his day, at 11,00 years. However, archaeology has demonstrated that Egypt was only 3,000 years old or less when Plato was alive, suggesting that the 9,000 should be reduced by a comparable amount to arrive at the real-time of Atlantis.
In his Newsletter No.90, Franke has highlighted that a small German right-wing group, ‘Pro Deutschland’, has cited on their website the ‘superior civilisation’ of Atlantis in support of their extremist views.
Franke’s Newsletter No. 103 has now provided us with five parallel versions of the Atlantis texts(n), Two English; Jowett & Bury and Two German; Susemihl & Müller as well as a Greek text from the Scottish classicist John Burnet (1863 – 1928).
Franke’s Newsletter No.104 offers an overview of the difficulties involved in accepting Plato’s writings too literally(o). He gives particular attention to the 9,000 years claimed to have elapsed between the Atlantean War and Solon’s visit to Egypt.
Franke has now published two new videos(t), in both German and English, in which he reviews a number of Atlantis-related books, both supportive and sceptical. He does so in his usual balanced manner and also exhorts students of Atlantology to learn German to have access to important works only available in that language.
The difficulty of independent researchers getting their work published in academic journals was highlighted by Franke some time ago(a). However, he has had some academic recognition(a) and has modified his view on the function of the academic press vis-á-vis independent writers(a).
In June 2021, Franke announced the publication of his latest book(x). Platonische Mythen (Platonic Myths), currently in German only. In May 2022 a favourable review, also in German, of Franke’s book was published on the atlantisforschung.de website(ag). I have archived an English translation in atlantipedia.ie(ah).
The following month, Franke published Newsletter No.175 in which he accuses the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR) of scientific bias and inconsistency(z). The full Newsletter should be read but in particular his conclusions below.
“Let us sum up what we have: BMCR claims to accept no self-published books, but it did review such a book [mine-AO’C]. BMCR claims that it accepts only peer-reviewed books, but besides the question, of what this exactly means, they do indeed review books that were not peer-reviewed. BMCR claims to accept translations but did not accept the translation of Gunnar Rudberg [Franke’s]. BMCR claims to review bad Atlantis books of a certain intelligence in order to debunk them, but at the same time, they avoided a review of a bad book by an Atlantis sceptical Oxford scholar. They claim to treat every author with respect but failed to do so in my case, and not only once. And the same scholar who admits that his scientific view was impacted (!) by one of my books writes BMCR reviews about other Atlantis books, but my books are not reviewed. Long story short: BMCR acts in an arbitrary way and damages its credibility. They screwed up everything that can be screwed up. And it was not me who lead them up the garden path. They did that all by themselves.”
In Franke’s Newsletter No.158 published in early 2021, he reviewed a lecture, previously unknown to him, given by Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, in Bologna, a few years ago(aa) during which he apparently misrepresented Franke’s Atlantis theories. Shortly afterward Nesselrath issued a rather intemperate reply to Franke’s criticisms.(ab) A further document(ac) from Franke detailed his continuing annoyance with what he perceives as ‘a breach of trust’ on the part of Nesselrath. Now in August 2021, Nesselrath has reignited matters again with a further assault on Franke’s views(ad), many of which I share. In a further postscript dated 20.08.21(ab) Franke fired off a few more salvos. I think it’s time for an armistice?
However, in April 2023, Franke issued his Newsletter No. 212(ao), with the following introduction;
“Professor Heinz-Günther Nesselrath has once again written and published two PDF articles(ak)(al) to defend his Atlantis scepticism against the arguments brought up by me. One is directed against my internet article “The Dark Side of Atlantis Scepticism” from 2021, based on my book about the reception history of Plato’s Atlantis story from 2016/2021. The other one makes the attempt to undermine especially the literary arguments of Wilhelm Brandenstein, which I cultivated and will cultivate even more in my next publication.”
Franke responded with two papers(am)(an) that should be read in their entirety.
Franke’s Newsletter #193 reviews an interview with sceptic Flint Dibble(ai). He followed that in July 2022 (#194) with a critique of an article ‘Not Exactly Atlantis’ by Professor Carolina López-Ruiz that Franke identifies as over-dependent on the arguments of promoters of the ‘invention hypothesis’ particularly those of Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Diskin Clay. Franke then proceeded to offer a list of her many errors(aj).
(l) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWb6IVNWFQ (English)
(m) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDG7a09xkZE (German)
(aa) Review of: Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, News from Atlantis? 2017. (atlantis-scout.de) (See first half)
(ab) Review of: Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, News from Atlantis? 2017. (atlantis-scout.de) (See last half)