Hoaxes associated with Atlantis are of various types; the most common sort are those perpetrated by writers who write volumes of balderdash about information they claim to have received through psychic channels. The simple fact that so many of these authors contradict each other demonstrates the fictional nature of their offerings. To be extremely kind, I might accept that some of these people are simply self-deluded but to be brutally honest, I believe that the majority of them are simply churning out their rubbish, in collusion with equally opportunistic publishers, in order to separate gullible readers from their cash.
The father of such drivel has to be Edgar Cayce, although I am inclined to think that he personally was in some way one of the self-deluded and did not have any financial motivation. However, it was pure greed or should it be impure greed that ‘inspired’ the vast majority of writers who followed Cayce, building on his foundation of spurious information.
Other types of hoaxers must include Madame Blavatsky, the godmother of occultic garbage, who was declared a fraud in 1884 by the London Society for Psychical Research. Her first book, Isis Unveiled, published in 1877 devotes just one page out of two volumes to Atlantis. Her second book The Secret Doctrine (1888) expands greatly on her ‘knowledge’ of Atlantis. It is worth pointing out that these extended ‘revelations’ were produced only a few years after the success of Ignatius Donnelly’s groundbreaking book in 1882.
A more harmless story, frequently touted in books on Atlantis, is that of the S.S. Jesmond that was reported to have discovered an uncharted island in the Atlantic on which they found artefacts including a sarcophagus complete with occupant. The ‘discovery’ was published in a New Orleans newspaper after the ship arrived there on April 1st, 1882, the same year that Donnelly’s book was published. The newspaper retracted the story later.
Another frequently quoted claim is the alleged discovery of an underwater pyramid by the late Dr. Ray Brown, which does not stand up to the most cursory examination.
In 1970 a book entitled Mu Revealed purported to have evidence which supported Churchward’s claims, but was subsequently revealed as a hoax perpetrated by one Raymond Buckland, writing under the pen-name of Tony Earll, an anagram of ‘not really’.
Blatant commercial frauds have also been perpetrated invoking Atlantis as the ultimate source. One such instance is the sale of replicas of the so-called ‘Atlantis Ring’, an object that is decorated with special geometric symbols and is claimed to emit electromagnetic waves that protect the wearer, give increased psychic abilities, healing powers and bring the owner good luck. It is claimed that the original was found in 1860 in the Valley of the Kings by “well-known French Egyptologist” Marquis d’Agrain who claimed that it came from Atlantis. He is supposed to have bequeathed the ring to another “famous Egyptologist” Arnold de Belizal. An Internet search reveals little about either person apart from this alleged connection with the Atlantis Ring. Two more articles about it are available online(d)(e), unfortunately they include a lot of psychic twaddle. One supplier charges $350 for replica rings(a).
There are so many other Atlantis related claims which stretch credibility beyond breaking point that a book devoted to that subject alone is warranted.
In fact, some years ago the Atlantis Online website had a forum devoted to the subject of Atlantis hoaxes(c). But Atlantis was not the only classical subject that has a hoax associated with it. In 1924, Di Martino, editor of Mouseion, an Italian classics journal, claimed to have discovered all the lost books of Livy(b).
Jason Colavito has written an interesting article(f) on hoaxes, which were more prevalent before WWII.
However, before anyone cries ‘hoax’ or ‘fake’, they should remember the case of the Parian Marble (Parian Chronicle), which was found in two sections on the Greek island of Paros in the 17th century. In 1788, Joseph Robertson (1726-1802) declared the Chronicle to be a ‘modern’ fake in a lengthy dissertation, a claim disproved by the discovery of the final third piece, over a century later.
The Parian Chronicle or Marmor Parium is inscribed on a stele made of high quality semi-translucent marble found on the Aegean island of Paros, which was greatly prized throughout the Hellenic world during the 1st millennium BC.
Two sections were found on the island in the 17th century by Thomas Arundell (1586-1643), 2nd Baron Arundell of Wardour, an ancestor of the 12th Baron, John Francis Arundell (1831-1906), who wrote a rebuttal of Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis theory. A final third section was found on Paros in 1897, silencing claims that the first two were fakes.
As early as 1788, Joseph Robertson (1726-1802) declared the Chronicle to be a modern fake(e) in a lengthy dissertation, a claim disproved by the discovery of the final piece over a century later. Even before the third fragment was found, Franke Parker published an in-depth study of the inscription in 1859(f).
This important register recounts the history of Greece in chronological sequence from 1581 BC until 264 BC and it is reasonably assumed that the latter date was the year it was written.
The first king of Athens is noted on the stele as the mythical Cecrops commencing 1582 BC. This is important as Cecrops is also mentioned by Plato in the Atlantis texts (Critias 110a). This date is far more realistic than the 9,600 BC told to Solon by the Egyptian priests as the time of Athens foundation. The Parian Chronicle seems to have been given little attention regarding the Atlantis mystery. This lack of a direct reference to the Atlantean war may be explained by a comment in Britannica and cited elsewhere(k) which notes(g) that “the author of the Chronicle has given much attention to the festivals, and to poetry and music; thus he has recorded the dates of the establishment of festivals, of the introduction of various kinds of poetry, the births and deaths of the poets, and their victories in contests of poetical skill. On the other hand, important political and military events are often entirely omitted; thus the return of the Heraclidae, Lycurgus, the wars of Messene, Draco, Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles, the Peloponnesian War and the Thirty Tyrants are not even mentioned.”
Andrea Rotstein in a lengthy series of papers(i) discusses various aspects of the Parian Marble and also comments that “The Parian Marble, as many have noted, may be disappointing as a historical source. People and events that we deem important are missing: Lycurgus, Solon, Cleisthenes, Pericles, the Peloponnesian wars, do not appear in the extant text.” (j)
Furthermore, Wikipedia lists pages(h) of wars, battles and sieges involving the Greeks, few of which are mentioned in Parian Marble, although quite a number of Alexander’s exploits are recorded. Even the critical naval Battle of Salamis with the Persians is encapsulated on the ‘Marble’ in a mere seven words – “in which battle the Hellenes were victorious”.
Another name mentioned on the stele and by Plato is that of Deucalion. While there is some debate regarding the exact date of the deluge named after him, all commentators agree that it occurred in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. J.G. Bennett(b) has calculated the date this Flood to around 1478 BC, while Britannica(c) offers 1529 BC. Stavros Papamarinopoulos has developed his own king-list based on other ancient sources, which generally parallels the Parian content(d).
A further item of interest is the date ascribed to the Trojan War, on the stele, as 1218 BC, but again some controversy surrounds this precise date. While there are a number of flawed details in the Parian Chronicle, probably due to the use of defective sources or perhaps transcription errors, the very specificity of the recorded dates strongly suggests that it was produced in order to offer a real historical record and not merely to recount Greek mythology.
The chronicle is far from being comprehensive, particularly regarding the earlier years, when understandably information is more sparse.
I believe that the full implication of the inscriptions for the Atlantis debate has yet to be realised.
An English translation of the Parian Marble is available on the internet(a).