Reader’s Digest published The World’s Last Mysteries in 1977. The very first article, written by May Veber, was about Atlantis. She reviews the leading Atlantis theories of nearly four decades ago; Azores, Bimini and in greater detail, Minoan Thera. One of her final comments was that “even the impressive body of scientific evidence which supports the Santorini explanation has been challenged. There is a volume of scholarship building up in favour of Heligoland as the site of Atlantis.” This was two years before Spanuth‘s Atlantis of the North was published in English!
Elephants are specifically mentioned by Plato as being indigenous to Atlantis. This must have significance for anyone trying to arrive at a credible location for Atlantis. For example, supporters of the Theran Atlantis School cannot show where such large animals could have lived on the small volcanic island. There are no physical remains, no frescos and no historical references. Rodney Castleden who supports the Minoan Hypothesis admits that “no raw elephant ivory has been found (on Thera) and very little in the way of worked ivory”[225.70]. He later speaks of the importation of ivory into Crete[p.172] having bravely denounced Plato’s description (Critias 115a) of herds of elephants on Atlantis as “false”[p.136].
Similarly, Spanuth’s Heligoland location would have been climatically unsuited to elephants. Spanuth himself admits that the elephant reference “is hard to explain“. Nevertheless, Felice Vinci who champions a Northern European origin for Greek mythology is of the opinion that Plato’s elephant reference may be a lingering memory of the woolly mammoths that inhabited Arctic regions as recently as 2500-2000 BC(t)(u). In the late 17th century Olof Rudbeck, recognising the problem that Plato’s reference to elephants presented for his Swedish Atlantis, argued that Plato had been speaking figuratively when describing the large voracious animals and had in fact been referring to wolves, the Swedish word for wolf being ‘ulf’, which sounds like the beginning of ‘elephant’!!
Elephants in Western Europe were undoubtedly represented by mammoths, remains of which have been recovered from the North Sea – Doggerland and dated to around 40,000 years ago. Coincidentally, a tool made of mammoth bone, used for making rope, has also been dated to 40,000 years ago(i)(n). This discovery(s) by Nicholas Conard from the University of Tubingen was made shortly before Ashley Cowie published his interesting book on the history of rope-making. Further information on string, ropes and knots was published in March 2017(o). This ingenuity of our very distant ancestors, so often underestimated, is slowly being revealed by modern archaeology. In 2000, in the Czech Republic, it was discovered that woven cloth was being produced on looms 27,000 years ago(v). A few years later a team from Harvard’s Peabody Museum reported the discovery of fibers that ‘were spun, twisted or knotted’ and dated to at least 34,000 years ago(x). 2020 saw evidence emerge which suggested that even as far back as 41,000 – 52,000 years ago the Neanderthals had mastered the making of cords(w).>Later the same year, further evidence was offered that string making may have begun even earlier(y).<
Allied to the demise of the Siberian mammoths is the often repeated fib that when the remains were first discovered, their flesh was still fresh enough to eat, has recently been debunked by Jason Colavito(j). He has also unearthed the truth behind that other canard relating to a Siberian mammoth, namely that fresh buttercups were found in its mouth(j). He has now(q) traced back the earliest reference to the frozen mammoths to George Cuvier in 1822 [1586.11].
Eckart Kahlhofer, in a forthcoming book advocates a North-West European location for Atlantis, suggests that where Plato referred to elephants he really meant deer! Kahlhofer offers, as a simple explanation for this seemingly daft contention, the fact that the Greek for elephant, elephas, is very similar to the Greek elaphos which means deer. A simple transcription error by a scribe could have caused the mix-up. The elk was the largest species of deer to be found in the northern hemisphere and are still to be found in Scandinavia. The Great Irish Deer which died out around 5500 BC had an antler span of 11ft and a maximum height of 10ft.
Gene Matlock in an attempt to bolster his Mexican location for Atlantis has suggested that Plato’s elephants were in fact the long-snouted tapirs of Meso-America!(c), an idea ‘borrowed’ from Hyde Clarke
While the elephant issue should not be dealt with in isolation it does serve to illustrate the difficulties involved in analysing Plato’s text. Consider the possibility that the early date of 9600 BC for Atlantis is accepted, then the islands that are too small today to accommodate elephants may have been considerably larger and sometimes connected to each other or a mainland during the Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, and consequently capable of supporting pachyderms. In this regard, Sundaland would have been a most suitable candidate. Not only would to-day’s South China Sea’s archipelagos been a single landmass, but there would have been access to the area from the Asian mainland, home today to large numbers of elephants.
Strangely enough, even the Andes, considered by some as the home of Atlantis, reveal the fact that during the last Ice Age a species of elephant called Cuvieronius lived there but became extinct around 8000 BC. These animals are to be found carved on the great Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco suggesting that they were common in the region. Supporters of an Atlantis link with Tiahuanaco have highlighted this fact.
James Bailey who supports the idea of Atlantis in America believes that Plato’s mention of elephants could be a reference to the American mammoth, generally believed to have died out circa 10,000 BC, although Victor von Hagen, the American explorer, contentiously maintained that they survived as late 2000 BC. A similar idea was presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference by American researcher, Monique Petersen.
The Schoppes, in support of their theory of Atlantis in the Black Sea region, contend(l) that Indian elephants existed there until 800 BC and support this with a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmosis III who killed 120 elephants ‘there’ around 1200 BC, which is a strange claim as Thutmosis did not venture beyond Syria and he died circa 1426 BC!
Elephas Antiquus (Palaeoloxodon), is a dwarf species whose remains have been found throughout the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus. All those found were dated 200,000 BC or earlier! In sharp contrast, Simon Davis, in an article in New Scientist (3 Jan.1985), dated Mediterranean dwarf elephants to as recent as 6000 BC(p). A number of writers, such as Roger Coghill, have tried to use the pygmy elephant as an explanation for Plato’s text (Crit. 114e & 115a) where we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious’. This is not a description of pygmy elephants.
However, Ghar Hasan or Hasan’s Cave in southeast Malta has paleolithic cave paintings that depict elephants, indicating more recent contact with the animals. Whether these represented full-sized or the pygmy variety is unclear. A small booklet by Dr. Anton Mifsud and Dr. Charles Savona-Ventura describes this cave system.
In Dossier Malta – Neanderthal  Mifsud has drawn attention to another cavern, not far away, formerly known as Ghar Dulam, now Ghar Dalam, where thousands of dwarf elephant bones were discovered. Dulam means ‘small elephant’ in Arabic. This is one of the mainstays of his ‘Atlantis in Malta’ theory. Whether these diminutive creatures justify Plato’s description that they were the “largest and most voracious” of animals (Crit.115a) is clearly debatable. For me this is not a description of pygmy elephants and so in all probability is an indication of a North African location or, as some claim, an Asian one!
The Atlanteans had control in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt, which would have included what is now modern Tunisia, the home of the last recorded wild elephants in that region!
Readers should be aware that there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(e)(h). In fact the New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(d) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire.
In Elephant Destiny Martin Meredith records that one of the earliest references to the African elephant came from Hanno, the 5th century BC Carthaginian explorer, who related how he came across marshes at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, which “were haunted by elephants and multitudes of other grazing beasts.” Meredith also mentions that stables for as many as 300 elephants were to be found within the city of Carthage itself.
Nevertheless, the species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(f). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare(g). It would seem to me that the North African Elephant, rather than the Asian or African species, would have been more suited to the trek across the Alps. Needless to say, the Atlas Mountains were part of the Atlantean sphere of control (Timaeus 25a-b) and so may be the reason that Plato mentioned them. It is also reported that during the reign of the Ptolemies in Egypt (323 BC-30 BC), they imported war elephants from Eritrea in East Africa(r).
The latter half of 2010 saw a new piece of nonsense hit the blogosophere when a claim that the Atlanteans had flying machines made of elephant skins suddenly appeared and before you could say “cut and paste” it was ‘adopted’ by a variety of websites(a)(b). So Dumbo was not the first flying elephant! In fact this daft idea was just a recycling of one of Edgar Cayce’s ‘revelations’ (Reading 364-6)(m).
(a) https://www.articledashboard.com/Article/Speaking-of-Atlantis/1872335 (Offline October 2017)
Dr Jürgen Spanuth (1907-1998) was born in Austria and studied theology and archaeology at university. He became pastor of Bordelum in Northern Germany. His first book Das Entraselte Atlantis was published in 1953, following excavations near Heligoland. It was later published in English and is now available to read on the Internet(a). His basic thesis was that following a major catastrophe in the North Sea around 1250 BC, the Mediterranean experienced an invasion of Scandinavians, whom he referred to as the ‘North Sea Peoples’. Part of the physical evidence he produced was the horn-helmeted Sea Peoples depicted at Medinet Habu. Since we are all used to seeing Vikings depicted with horned helmets, many are surprised to find that it is a late 19th-century invention(e)(f).
Spanuth’s theory implies that such helmets had been a standard army issue in the region for over a millennium. In fact the Vikings used rather plain helmets which they did not manufacture themselves but traded for them from other Germanic peoples on mainland Europe(d). On the other hand, one of the Sea Peoples, the Shardana, generally believed to have come from Sardinia, did use horn-helmets. However, there are aspects of this claim that are the subject of continuing debate, but the suggestion of a North Sea connection has weakened considerably.
Spanuth considered Basileia, the royal island of Atlantis, to have been located near Heligoland. He produced a mass of evidence to support his views but found his book under severe attack by many academics, which, in general, had the support of the public. After being publicly labelled, among other things, a liar, Spanuth was forced to challenge his detractors in the courts. After some six years, he was vindicated when ten professors withdrew their plea, admitting that their arguments against the pastor were untenable. Felix R. Paturi has more information[1339.215] on this disgraceful episode, as well as a note of scientists who supported Spanuth.
A study of Spanuth’s references would suggest that he had access to the prehistoric research archives of the Ahnenerbe and has successfully collated and analysed a lot of this extensive material in his books. Vidal-Naquet bluntly labels him a Nazi[580.124], although his publisher, Wolfram Zeller, denied it. It may be relevant to mention that in the 1930s, Heinrich Pudor an avowed German anti-Semite also proposed Helgoland as Atlantis, but I have been unable to find any reference to Pudor by Spanuth!
The German Wikipedia claims that Spanuth was a member of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) from 1933 until 1945. Similar claims that he had been in the SS have also been refuted(c). In 2002, Frank Doenenburg, on his website(b)discussed Spanuth’s politics at length. In my view, all these matters, however unsavoury, risk distracting us today from discussing dispassionately the merits or otherwise of Spanuth’s Atlantis theories.
Spanuth’s second book had a much better reception. His final offering was Die Atlanter(1976), which was also published in English, however, this is really just a revised and expanded version of his 1965 book.
Spanuth has still a lot of supporters and is constantly referred to, particularly by German investigators such as Arn Strohmeyer and Gerhard Herm. Felice Vinci, who strongly favours a Northern European origin for Homer’s epic tales, also places Atlantis in a northern context. The Danish writer, Kirsten Bang, published a short book in which she also placed Atlantis in the Wadden Sea where Helgoland is located. She also supports a date of 1300 BC for its destruction.
Another recent supporter of Spanuth’s Atlantis theory is Holger Kalweit who has written a trilogy, the first of which is Irrstern über Atlantis. This initial volume is concerned with the destruction of Atlantis by a comet (Phaeton) in 1222 BC, leaving Helgoland as a remnant. Refugees fled south to the Eastern Mediterranean leaving their cultural imprint on the region. Unfortunately. this huge 700-page book is to be followed by two more in which the author moves on to expand on the subject of ‘lizard people’, which for me has him as a fully paid-up member of the lunatic fringe.
(b) https://www.fdoernenburg.de/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1213 (page closed, July 2017)
The North Sea has been advocated by a variety of writers as the original site of Atlantis. Jürgen Spanuth specified his native Heligoland as its location in his well-researched work, Atlantis of the North. >However, Spanuth was not the first to make this suggestion as Heinrich Pudor, had advocated Helgoland as Atlantis in the 1930’s , but was unreferenced by Spanuth.<
Georg Lohle in his book on world history identifies a location between England and Denmark that was inundated about 2000 BC. He also makes extensive use of the Oera Linda Book. His German language website(a) has a wide range of photos and diagrams. Lohle daringly resurrects the old idea of the Earth being hollow and then combines it with another controversial concept, namely that it is still expanding(b).
In the middle of the 20th century we find Robert Graves and Rachel Carson were probably the first to suggest the Dogger Bank as the location of Atlantis. More recently Jean Deruelle(e), Sylvain Tristan(c) and Guy Gervis(d) have all opted for a location near the Dogger Bank, now more popularly known as Doggerland.
The most recent challenger for the Atlantis title is located in the vicinity of Rockall, an uninhabited islet north west of Ireland.
(d) See: Archive 3606
Walter Winston Baucum (1938-2012) was a retired American teacher with a passion for ancient history. He is probably best known for his book The History and Future of Israelite America, which promotes the idea of America having been settled in pre-Columbian times by some of the lost tribes of Israel. He also wrote a number of articles on the same subject(a)(b).
He believed that Britain and the other nations of Europe are also descendants of these ‘lost tribes’. These ideas have been around for a couple of centuries and are usually supported by Christian groups. Baucum however was a member of the United Hebrew Congregation.
More recently he has ventured into the realms of Atlantology publishing his Bronze Age Atlantis,>which is a large-format, wide-ranging book with an Introduction by Yair Davidy. <In it, he follows some of the ideas of Jürgen Spanuth who placed Atlantis in the North Sea and identified the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt as the ‘North Sea Peoples’. Baucum introduced a number of hard-to-accept ideas such as the Picts of Scotland and the Irish leprechauns (little people) were Minoan!
He concluded that Atlantis was basically “a seafaring, metal-gathering empire”, while with regard to the location of Atlantis, the capital city, he echoed Spanuth and opted for the vicinity of Heligoland, where sandbanks existed to the east as late as the 17th century (p.297). >However, he also generously included the Americas as part of ancient Atlantis [p.263]!<
Phaëton in Greek mythology was the son of Helios the Greek sun god. Phaëton was also the name given to a comet that impacted or had a close encounter with the Earth in the 13th century BC. The Egyptians knew this comet as Sekhmet. Ancient inscriptions record that some of the consequences of this dramatic encounter were the drying up of the Nile and the desertification of Libya.
Michel-Alain Combes has noted(j) that Phaëton has also been associated “with Anat in Syria, the star of Baal in Canaan (Palestine and Phenicia), Absinthe, The star of the Apocalypse) among the Hebrews, Surt in the countries of the north.”
A 2012 paper by Peter James and M.A, van der Sluijs entitled ”Silver’: A Hurrian Phaethon’ (l) concluded that “there is an attractive pattern of correspondences between the well-known Greek myth of Phaethon and the Hurrian myth of Silver.” Silver was a character in Hurrian mythology, also know as Ushu.
Interestingly, Plato records in Timaeus how Phaëton caused immense devastation, but does not link it directly with the destruction of Atlantis but the context implies an event that was in the distant past, considerably earlier than Solon. Some ancient authorities, such as Eusebius and Isidore of Seville, have associated Phaëton with the time of Moses.
The poet Goethe considered the story of Phaëton to have had a real astronomical origin.
Franz Xavier Kugler was a Jesuit priest who spent over thirty years studying ancient astronomical texts written in cuneiform. In 1927, he published a paper in which he concluded that an asteroidal impact in the Mediterranean inspired the story of Phaëton.
More recently, Bob Kobres has written a number of articles on the subject of Phaëton having a cometary origin(k). Some of these papers can be found on the Internet(a). Kobres dates this Phaëton event to around 1200 BC.
Stavros Papamarinopoulos from the University of Patras in Greece presented a paper to the 2005 Atlantis Conference held on Melos in which he linked Plato’s Phaëton with an encounter between the earth and cometary fragments around 1200 BC.
Emilio Spedicato has opted for 1447 BC as the likely date of the Phaëton explosion. He describes this as a super-Tunguska event, which exploded over southern Denmark(m). He further contends that the after-effects gave assistance to the Israelite Exodus from Egypt.
Spedicato’s identification is comparable with Jürgen Spanuth’s idea that Phaëton was a fragment of Halley’s Comet. Two other followers of Spanuth, Günter Bischoff and Walter Stender have written extensive papers, in German, on a meterorite impact with Northern Europe around 1220 BC, which they identifies as Phaëton(c). The same interpretation has been applied specifically to Lake Chiemgau in S.E. Bavaria and is expanded on in papers by Barbara Rappenglück among many others.(d)(f)
Clube & Napier  have proposed a slightly later date of 1369 BC for the encounter with Phaëton.
Dale Drinnon has argued(g) against any connection between Phaeton and the destruction of Atlantis saying “There are two different kinds of catastrophes being described and distinguished from one another and the Phaethon event is categorically differentiated from the Destruction of Atlantis in the Atlantis dialogues of Plato. There is no good reason to equate the two and certainly no textual justification for doing so.”
Amanda Laoupi offers an extensive article on the history of the Phaëton myth and its interpretation in both ancient and modern times.
Phaëton was also the name given by Johann Gottlieb Radlof (1775-1829) to a planet which he believed disintegrated after a collision with a comet, within human memory, resulting in the asteroid belt.
(g) See Archive 3605
(k) See: Archive 3365.