James A. Sauer
The Garden of Eden, like Atlantis, has excited the imagination of many over the centuries. Its location has been the subject of what was sometimes wild speculation that offered a range of locations compared with the variety of sites proposed for Atlantis.
The traditional belief was that the ‘Garden’ had been situated in Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris as noted in the Bible. Athanasius Kircher, who is better known to many for his speculative map of Atlantis located in the Atlantic Ocean also produced a plan of the Garden of Eden in what is now southern Iraq. David J. Gibson (1904-1966) arrived at a similar conclusion placing ‘Eden’ just south of Baghdad in his book, The Land of Eden Located, now available online(t).
More recently, Robert McRoberts in an article about the rivers of Eden included a map by Arianna Ravenswood, who placed Eden northwest of Babylon in what is now the Iraqi Province of Diyala(u).
Within the same region is a submerged location at the head of the Persian Gulf promoted by Juris Zarins (1945- ).(w) In his theory, the Bible’s Gihon River would correspond with the Karun River in Iran, and the Pishon River would match the Wadi Batin river system that had drained the now dry, but once quite fertile central part of the Arabian Peninsula. His suggestion about the Pishon River is supported by James A. Sauer (1945–1999) formerly of the American Center of Oriental Research although strongly criticized by the archaeological community(x).
The conventional idea has been enhanced in the opinion of some by the discoveries of the German archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt, who believed that his excavations at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey have unearthed artefacts dating to 8000 BC when the people there changed from hunting and gathering to agriculture. This region also contains Ur and Harran, mentioned in the Old Testament and as Göblekli Tepe is located between the Tigris and Euphrates and is within view of the Taurus Mountains, it conforms remarkably to the topographical description of Eden in the Bible. Tom Knox speculated on this in an article on the UK’s Daily Mail Online(aa).
Christopher Columbus believed that the source of the Orinoco River, in what is now known as Venezuela had been the location of Eden. Antonio de León Pinelo (1590-1660) was a Spanish chronicler who spent some years in South America and was also convinced that the Garden of Eden had been situated between the great rivers of South America(k)!
The imaginative Augustus Le Plongeon claimed the Yucatan as the location of the ‘Garden’(s).
General Gordon of Khartoum fame was so impressed by the island of Preslin in Seychelles that he declared it to be the Garden of Eden and its famed Coco de Mer and breadfruit plants to be the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good and Evil. Science writer, Karl Shuker, has written an extensive article, Forbidden Fruit, for the January 2016 edition of Fortean Times, in which he gives the background to Gordon’s obsession and his inability to garner any serious support for it.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was reported(r) that G. F. Becker (1847-1919) a geologist with the USGS nominated Luzon in the Philippines as the site of the biblical ‘Garden’, while Sven Hedin (1865-1952) a much-decorated Swedish geographer chose Janaidar a mythical city in Central Asia.
George H. Cooper, the American writer, identified Salisbury Plain[0236.111] as the Garden of Eden along with its Wiltshire river system matching the Euphrates and Tigris in the Genesis story. W. Comyns Beaumont chose Britain’s Glastonbury as the site of the original Garden.
In the middle of the last century, a Baptist preacher, Elvy E. Callaway, announced that the Garden had been located in the vicinity of Bristol, Florida(j).
David Rohl has studied the matter in great detail and located the ‘Garden’ in the northern Iranian province of East Azerbaijan near the city of Tabriz(ad)(aj)*. Rohl’s reasoning is worthy of study and perhaps a comparison with the views of Emilio Spedicato, who offers his explanation for placing Eden in Pakistan’s Hunza Valley in two papers on the Internet(b)(y). Rohl was partly inspired by the work of Reginald A. Walker[1388/9]
Andrew Collins claims that the original Mesopotamian name for Eden was Kharsag, a view echoed by the late Christian O’Brien(q). O’Brien’s nephew, Edmund Marriage, identifies the Bekka Valley in Lebanon as the location of Eden of Genesis. A new Lebanese location site is the subject of a website and forum(h)(i). An excerpt from O’Brien’s book, relating to Eden, can be read online(v).
The Sabbah brothers, Roger and Messod, controversially place Eden in Egypt and offer a range of evidence to support this contention. Ralph Ellis has also opted for Egypt in his book, Eden in Egypt and claims that Adam and Eve were in reality, Akhenaton and Nefertiti! Ellis also supports his theory with two online papers providing excerpts from his books(o)(p).
A Christian website, logoschristian.org, used to also claim that Eden had been located in the eastern Nile Delta, specifically named Al Mansura. In 1933, John G.Jackson wrote a paper advocating an African origin for the legend of the Garden of Eden. Jackson’s extreme Afrocentric views may have coloured his view of this subject!
Further to the west is the Tunisian town of Oudna, which has been nominated as Eden by one Patrick Archer on his somewhat sparse website(d).
Another African location was put forward by Georg Hinzpeter over half a century ago when he suggested that the Ethiopian plateau had been the home of Adam & Eve before their eviction(z).
Stephen E. Franklin has also opted for an African location for the Garden of Eden, placing it south of the Ahaggar Mountains near the Wadi Tafanasset in southern Algeria.(ah) He also claims that Mt. Tahat, the highest peak in the Ahaggars, was, according to Franklin, the original Atlas mountain referred to by Herodotus as the home of the Atlantes (sometimes Atarantes(ai)). Sprague De Camp noted [194.191] that Paul Borchardt also identified the ancient Mt. Atlas with the Ahaggar Mountains rather than the Atlas Mountains of the Maghreb! I should add that this identification of Mt. Atlas remains moot.
>In 2014, Stan Deyo chose Tanzania as the location of the Garden of Eden(h). Paulo Riven has also supported the region as the site of the ‘Garden’(ak). This idea has been echoed elsewhere and more recently on a website dealing with the history of Israel(f) and on a Christian website where the Ngorongoro Crater is specified(g).<
What may appear just as implausible to many is the claim by Felice Vinci, that the Eden story was imported from northern Europe, specifically from Finnish Lappland(af). Even more incredible is the assertion by the likes of William C. Chappell that the Garden of Eden was situated in the United States. His Mormon inspired views are available as a free eBook(c) on the Internet. Interestingly, Jackson County, Missouri was the location of Eden revealed by Joseph Smith(ac). the founder of Mormonism and well-known collector of wives.
A more ‘commercial’ suggestion has come from Dennis Brooks who suggested that Tarpon Springs, Florida, was originally the location of the Garden of Eden and that Tampa Bay contained the port of Atlantis.
The Urantia Book promotes the idea of two Edens, one near Cyprus and a second further east! In 2003, Robert Sarmast compiled a list of similarities between Plato’s account of Atlantis and the description of the Garden of Eden in the Urantia Book(l).
In his 2004 book Finding Atlantis he claimed one of the Edens, noted in The Urantia Book, along with Atlantis had been situated near Cyprus, now in waters a mile deep! Two expeditions were organised to verify his claims, but nothing conclusive was found. Although very little has been heard from Sarmast in recent years, in 2018, Robert S. Bates attempted to breathe new life into Sarmast’s ideas that the Mediterranean region around Cyprus had been home to both Atlantis and the Garden of Eden(ae).
Stephen Oppenheimer has pointed out that Genesis 2:8 reads that “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden”. He argues (p.409) that this supports the idea of a ‘paradise’ in the Sundaland region. However, Oppenheimer does not equate Eden with Atlantis.
As Monty Python used to say “now for something completely different” – The North Pole. This suggestion has come from Gene Matlock who advocated that ‘Eden was the North Pole’ in a paper of the same name(ab).
The Garden of Eden has been suggested by some as another name for Atlantis, representing as it does a mythical time of peace and abundance. However, Eden is never spoken of in the terms of military might and commercial success attributed to Atlantis. One of the better-known proponents of this idea of an Atlantean Eden was the late Professor Arysio dos Santos(a) who was convinced that it was located in the South China Sea before the ending of the last Ice Age submerged large areas of Sundaland. Confusingly, he referred to Eden as ‘Lemurian Atlantis’, but added that “This Lemurian Atlantis of ours should not be confused with the purely fanciful counterparts of the Theosophists and other such followers of Mme. Blavatsky. Their ‘Lemuria’ is a hypothetical sunken continent of the mid-Pacific region, one which never existed at all.
Shortly before his death in 2005, Santos published his theories, expanding on material that he had made available on the Internet for some years. Frank Joseph also claims that the Garden of Eden was located on the lost island of ‘Lemuria’ located in the Pacific.
Bill Hanson, who has authored a number of books on ancient ‘mysteries’, has recently written a work that links the Garden of Eden with Atlantis. He identifies five similarities between the two accounts:
- Both prehistoric locations are regarded as ‘lost paradises’
- The four rivers of Eden are reflected in the four waterways of Poseidon the island capital of Atlantis.
- Atlantis started with ten kings and the Bible speaks of ten patriarchs.
- Zeus destroyed Atlantis because mortals and gods mated, whereas the Bible records the mating of the ‘sons of God’ and human females.
- Atlantis was flooded just as the Age of the Patriarchs ended with the flood of Noah.
The late Joseph Robert Jochmans identified(g) Atlantis with Eden in a comprehensive article on his website. John Nichols also wrote a long article(e) identifying Atlantis with the Garden of Eden and placing it on the Celtic Shelf about a hundred miles off the coast of France due west of Brest.
In 2022, a writer, hiding behind the nom de plume of ‘gserpent’, produced a lengthy article blending Atlantis, Eden and Lemuria into one heap of literary manure(ag).
Currently. the sadly benighted Iraq is trying to lure tourists to spend their holidays in ‘the Garden of Eden’(m)!
(g) See: Archive 3602
(h) See: Archive 3182
(k) See: Archive 2999
(l) See: Archive 3603
(z) Atlantis, Vol.17, No. 2/3, April 1964, p.27