Iceland has occasionally entered the Atlantis debates. Jean Silvain Bailly and more recently Gilbert Pillot have identified Iceland with Ogygia. Some have linked the island with Thule or Hyperborea, while others see it as a remnant of a transatlantic landbridge. Harry Dale Huffman has similar ideas but believes that the landbridge also held Atlantis.
A recent commentator, Johan Nygren, also consider Iceland to have been home to Atlantis(a) (b) , but, confusingly later decided that South America was Atlantis(c) .
>Another recent advocate for an Icelandic location is June Austin in a lengthy blog, which wanders all over the place, including the claim that a disproportionately large number of Icelandic people have psychic abilities(d). Sadly, she offers nothing but speculation to support her theory.<
Landbridges, in the distant past, are believed to have played a critical part in early human migration. Similarly, landbridges, both real and speculative are important components in many Atlantis theories. There is no doubt that the ending of the last Ice Age and the consequent rising sea levels led to the creation of islands where continuous land has previously existed. The separation of Ireland and Britain from each other and from mainland Europe is just one example, the latter leading to a number of writers identifying ‘Doggerland‘, which lay between Britain and Denmark as the home of Atlantis.
The two most discussed landbridges were at the Bering Strait, where it is thought that it provided the gateway for humans to enter the Americas from Asia and an Atlantic landbridge, >which was proposed as early as the 17th century<and later by John B. Newman in 1849 [488.8], who wrote that “in former times an island of enormous dimensions, named Atlantis, stretched from the north-western coast of Africa across the Atlantic ocean and that over this continental tract both man and beast migrated westward.“
The Atlantic landbridge idea became quite popular by the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries and even as late as the 1970s when espoused by Rene Malaise(a), but is now completely abandoned. Although there was only one suggestion that the Bering Strait was in any way connected with Plato’s Atlantis, several commentators identified an Atlantic landbridge as the ideal location for Plato’s Atlantis, particularly as he placed it in the Atlantic Sea. However, this should not be confused with the Atlantic Ocean, a word that had an entirely different meaning for the Greeks.
The idea was initially put forward in order to explain the floral and faunal similarities shared by the Old World and the New World of the Americas. The hypothetical Atlantic landbridges>or a series of steppingstone islands.<also offered possible routes for the peopling of the Americas by Europeans and/or Africans. It was not long before the discovery of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge(b) seemed to confirm this idea. Then it was suggested that Atlantis existed on this landbridge, which was destroyed by rising sea levels after the last Ice Age, leaving just the Azores, Madeira and a few other islands as remnants.
A number of landbridges have been proposed for the Mediterranean and linked to a variety of Atlantis theories, the most notable being proposed for the straits of Gibraltar, Sicily, Messina and>Bonafacio. Although it is evident that landbridges existed at most of these locations, to associate them with any particular Atlantis theory requires that the date of their existence is compatible with Plato’s narrative.<
(a) Atlantis, Vol.27, No.1, Jan-Feb 1974.
The Bering Strait between Asia and America has been a source of ongoing controversy regarding the peopling of America.
James Howell (1594-1666) relates how even in the 17th century the existence of the strait, then known as the Anian, was disputed, although at the same time there was also a theory that the nomadic Scythians had originally crossed over the Strait from America.
By the end of the 18th century the importance of the Strait had been recognised, when Paul Felix Cabrera wrote “That most troublesome of all the difficulties hitherto started by authors respecting the passage of animals to America, particularly of the ferocious kinds at enmity with man, even retaining in full force the plausible reasons so ingeniously urged, if not entirely removed, is nearly surmounted by the discovery and examination of Anian or Behring’s straits’ which are of no greater breadth than thirteen leagues from shore to shore, and where, by means of the ice, the two continents of Asia and America are connected; this would afford a practical route not only for animals but men, from whom it is possible to suppose that those who inhabit the most northerly countries from the straits as far as Hudson’s and Baffin’s Bays, and from the Frozen Sea to California, New Mexico, and Canada to the southward, are descended.” (s)
In certain circumstances, it is still possible to walk across the Bering Strait. “A 2.5-mile stretch divides Russia’s Big Diomede island from Alaska’s Little Diomede island. In the winter, the water separating the two islands freezes, allowing you to trek from one destination to the other.”(n) Wikipedia notes that “numerous successful crossings without the use of a boat have also been recorded since at least the early 20th century.” (o)
There is little doubt that at some point in prehistory a landbridge linked the two continents.
Although it is frequently claimed that the Hadji Ahmed Map of 1559 shows a landbridge between the two continents, it only appears to be so because of the way the map is drawn.
A recent paper(a) by Heather Pringle and Krista Langlois offers evidence that the link was more than just an isthmus, but was in fact a vast area of land, Beringia, the size of Australia and that it provided a crossing point, for humans and animals earlier and for longer than previously believed (See map above right).
After crossing the Strait there were two southward routes, one along the coast and the other via what is known as the Ice-Free Corridor Route which ran between two vast ice sheets, the Laurentide to the east and the Cordilleran to the west(c). According to a 2018 report(i), the coastal route which followed deglaciation “was physically and environmentally viable for early human migration to the Americas.” Another report in 2018 claims that the earliest settlers in America were island-hopping sea-farers from Asia(j)(k).
However, there is now compelling evidence that people reached South America before the existence of the northern ice-free corridor, suggesting the alternative coastal migration route, which, so far, has little evidence to support it. This recent report is the result of excavations at the Huaca Prieta ceremonial mound, 600 Km north of the Peruvian capital, Lima. Human activity there has now been dated to around 15,000 years ago(e). Further evidence has now emerged(p) that the peopling of America was not carried out by a single group, but by immigrants from different geographical areas.
Professor Jody Hey of Rutgers University published in 2011 the results of his North American DNA studies, which confirmed the arrival of the first migrants from Asia around 14,000 years ago in a group of not more than 70 people(r).
Pre-Columbian contact between Asia and Alaska was confirmed by a report(b) from Purdue University in September 2016. Artifacts were discovered in a house dated between 700 and 900 years old. The bronze items were identified as having been smelted in Asia, while a leather strap was radio carbon-dated to between 500 and 800 years old.
Another 2016 report(d) added genetic evidence for the Beringia migration route, when the remains of two infants, dated to around 10,000 years ago were discovered at the Upward Sun River site in Alaska.
>Further supportive evidence of the use of the Beringia landbridge was uncovered at Alaska’s Swan Point site where human occupation has been dated as far back as 14,000 years ago. “Another notable aspect of Swan Point is the role it has played in understanding the prehistoric migration of peoples into the Americas. A type of stone tool, the microblade, which was unearthed at the site, has been found to resemble those used by the Dyuktai people, who lived in Siberia around the same period. This shows that people crossed from Siberia to Alaska on the Beringia land bridge.”(t)<
The ‘received wisdom’ regarding the origins of the Clovis people was that they had crossed into the Americas from Asia via the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago. This has been challenged in a book by two archaeologists, Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley, who claim “that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Supplying archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, the book dismantles the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago.” In 2014, Stephen Oppenheimer endorsed the work of Stanford and Bradley(h). Coincidentally, an article(m) in the August 2017 edition of Antiquity offers evidence that humans lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago, which is many millennia before the Clovis people arrived in North America.
A sceptical view of their work should also be read(f). Furthermore, in 2016 the Solutrean Hypothesis also appears to have been contradicted by recent genetic studies(g).
Late August 2019 saw the dating controversy surrounding the arrival of the First Americans re-ignited with a study that pushes the date back to over 16,000 years ago(l). This is based on archaeological discoveries at Cooper’s Ferry in Idaho. This earlier date suggests that the ice-free corridor would not have been available to these people, but are more likely to have used the coastal route from Asia via the Bering Strait. A secondary matter raised by these finds is that “Based on their analysis of the stone tools from Cooper’s Ferry, the researchers suggest that they are most similar to artifacts of the same general period found on the other side of the Pacific. Specifically, they appear to share many traits with tools produced on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido 13,000-16,000 years ago!”
The idea that the Clovis people were the first Americans is gradually losing support as the evidence found at Cooper’s Ferry and other sites indicate otherwise. A recent paper on the National Geographic website supports such a revised view(q).
The only direct connection of the Bering Strait with Atlantis has been suggested by Albert. M. Chelchelnitsky, who proposed that Atlantis had been situated in Alaska and placed the Pillars of Herakles in the Strait itself.
John Wallis (1616-1703) was an English mathematician who is credited with the introduction of the symbol for infinity used today. It is also known that he took the story of Atlantis literally. Dr Renaud Morieux tells us[1262.42] that Wallis believed that over time the narrative became distorted but he concluded that the story of the sinking of Atlantis related to the destruction of the landbridge between Britain and France, isolating England, which was Atlantis(a) !
Tirrenide is the name given to a large landmass that was supposedly submerged off the west coast of Italy, which subsequently gave its name to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The name was first proposed by C.J. Forsyth Major in 1882.
Some commentators, such as Pier Paolo Cavallin and Evelino Leonardi, have tried to link the story with Atlantis. Von Klaproth speculated that it had been a vast island that filled most of the Western Mediterranean. Others suggest the vicinity of Calabria or part of a landbridge between Italy and North Africa.
Constantino Cattoi expressed some odd views involving an extension of Atlantis reaching into the Mediterranean as far as Italy and added that just offshore from Ansedonia, 70 miles north of Rome may have been the location of the Atlantean capital!
Cattoi also announced that he had located three of the cities of Tirrenide between Porto Santo Stefano and Isola del Giglio, but he died without being able to find funding for the underwater exploration that would have proved his hypothesis(b).
A more recent view of Tirrenide at the end of the last Ice Age is available online(a).
(a) See: Archive 2510
>(c) https://www.centrosardegna.net/sardegna_atlantide.htm (Italian) (link broken April 2020)<
Gabriel de Mortillet (1821-1898) was a French anthropologist, so it was probably inevitable that his interest in prehistory led to a comment on Atlantis, which he duly did in a paper in the reports of the Anthropological Society of Paris in 1897, in which he discussed Atlantis in the context of Atlantic landbridges. He totally discounted the Azores as the remains of an inhabited continent in the distant past. The original text as well as a rather poor English machine translation of de Mortillet’s paper is available online(a).
(a) See: Archive 3221
Clement Reid (1853-1916) was a British geologist and paleobiologist, whose great uncle was Michael Faraday. His studies in the North Sea led him to suggest the existence of a land bridge between Britain and mainland Europe that included the Dogger Bank. In 1913 he published Submerged Forests which included a speculative map of this land bridge that conforms closely to what we now call ‘Doggerland’, one of the many suggested sites for Atlantis, although Reid did not subscribe to this idea. His book can now be read online(a).
Carl Festin (1957- ) is a Swedish researcher who was prompted by questions from his children to investigate the history of civilisation. His studies led him to conclude that the hundreds of worldwide flood myths involved a catastrophe that involved the biblical story of Noah* and Plato’s tale of Atlantis.
In a PowerPoint presentation provocatively entitled Noah, Refugee from Atlantis Festin outlines a new Atlantis theory. He first suggests that a ridge of sediment built up in the vicinity of Gibraltar gradually cutting off the Mediterranean from the Atlantic when sea levels were much lower during the last Ice Age. This similar in some ways with the theory of Paulino Zamarro.
Festin posits an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Crete, called Basileia, which dominated land around what we now call the Ionian Sea. This nation was known as Atlantis.
He identifies the mountains of what is now Crete and Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) in Libya as the Pillars of Heracles. These are shown on a new map(b). Other maps(c) show his proposed Atlantean capital, Poseidopolis and are sometimes oriented east-west.
Around 3,500 BC the Gibraltar ridge broke due to the pressure of the rising ocean levels following the melting of the ice. The influx of cold water into the Western Mediterranean Basin created extensive anti-cyclonic rainfall over Basileia (40 days and nights!). The Western and Eastern Mediterranean Basins were separated by a landbridge at the Strait of Sicily which now broke, inundating the eastern basin. Festin claims that the millions of tons of additional water created earthquakes in seismically fragile central Mediterranean, destroying Basileia. Survivors included Noah who headed eastward. Others reached both North and South America.
Festin is now organising a five day cruise in the Mediterranean, which will include a dive in a small submersible to the Atlantean capital Poseidopolis on the submerged island of Basileia lying between Crete and Cyrenaica in Libya. The adventure can be watched on board the ship on large screens, while for the really enthusiastic, there are 8/10 spaces available in the submarine. He currently estimates the basic cost to be €2,000 and €100,000 for each of the 8/10 submariners(d). I think comment is unnecessary!
His theories are published in Swedish as Flykting från Atlantis (Refugees from Atlantis)(a).
The Strait of Gibraltar according to Greek mythology was created by Herakles. Neville Chipulina explains that “it seems that the person responsible for the myths about Hercules was Peisander of Rhodes, a 7th century BC Greek epic poet who apparently got the story from an unknown Pisinus of Lindus who almost certainly plagiarised it from somebody else. In other words, it’s a pretty old story.”(c)
The Strait is very much a part of many current Atlantis theories. Primarily, it is contended that the region itself held the location of Atlantis. This is based on Plato’s statement that Eumelos, also known as Gadeirus, the twin brother of Atlas the first king of Atlantis gave his name to Gades, known today as Cadiz. Andalusia in Southern Spain has been the focus of attention for over a hundred years. In recent years Georgeos Diaz-Montexano and his rival Jacques Colina- Girard have been investigating the waters of the Strait itself while south of the Strait Jonas Bergman has advanced his theory that Atlantis was located just across the Strait in Morocco.
Although there is general acceptance that the Pillars of Heracles had their final resting place in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar, it must be noted that there have been other candidates at different times with equally valid claims. The location of the ‘Pillars’ referred to by Plato at the time of Atlantis is the subject of continuing debate.
Strato, the philosopher, quoted by Strabo, spoke of a dam separating the Atlantic and the Mediterranean being breached by a cataclysm. This idea was reinforced by comments of Seneca. Furthermore, a number of Arabic writers, including Al-Mas’udi, Al-Biruni and Al-Idrisi, have all concurred with this idea of a Gibraltar land bridge in late prehistory.
A more radical theory is that of Paulino Zamarro who contends that the Strait was in fact closed by a landbridge during the last Ice Age because of the lower sea levels together with silting. When the waters rose and breached the landbridge, he believes that the flood submerged Atlantis, which he situates in the Aegean. Others support Zamarro’s idea of a Gibraltar Dam amongst whom are Constantin Benetatos and Joseph S. Ellul.
Terry Westerman on his heavily illustrated website surveys impact craters globally. He suggests that “The Strait of Gibraltar was formed by two meteor impacts. The first blasted the round area in the western Mediterranean Sea to form a land bridge between Spain and Morocco.” He maintains that a second impact broke the landbridge around 5.33 million years ago, creating what is called the Zanclean Flood which refilled the then desiccated Mediterranean(d).
A German-language website(a) presented some of the following data+, apparently recording the dramatic widening of the Strait of Gibraltar between 400 BC and 400 AD. The same list was included in the ‘Strait of Gibraltar’ entry of the German Wikipedia(b) until a few years ago. It has since been removed.
+Damastes of Sigeum, circa 400 BC. – about 1.3 km
+Pseudo-Skylax, probably fourth Century BC – about 1.3 km
*Turiano Greslio? 300BC – 8.0 km
+Strabo 63 BC- 24 AD – from 9.5 to 13.0 km
+Pomponius Mela , 50 AD – about the 15.0 km
+Pliny the Elder, 50 AD – about 15.0 km
*+Victor Vicensa (*Vitensa?), 400 AD – about 18 km
The above figures suggest that in the latter half of the first millennium BC, the Strait of Gibraltar was gradually widened. Nevertheless, until the methods used and all the data on offer have been verified, the idea must be treated with great caution.
My list had originally included Euctemon, the 5th century BC Athenian astronomer, however, Werner E. Friedrich notes that Euctemon was referring to the Sea of Marmara near the entrance to the Black Sea [0695.38].
However, more recently, John Jensen Jnr. has offered a comparable, if shorter, number of dates showing the reducing width of the strait the further back you go, from which he extrapolated that around 3450 YBP, when he believes that a landbridge there was breached(e).
Georgeos Diaz-Montexano has also referred to the descriptions by ancient writers of the Strait of Gibraltar indicating a width of around two kilometres. Unfortunately, he does not cite references(f). He also is sympathetic to the existence of an earlier landbridge at Gibraltar.
James Lewis Thomas Chalmers Spence (1874-1955) attended Edinburgh University, after which he began a career in journalism that included a stint as sub-editor of The Scotsman. His book publishing began in 1908 with the first English translation of the sacred Mayan book Popul Vuh, followed by A Dictionary of Mythology, so eventually, he had over forty works to his name. He was a keen Scottish Nationalist and stood for parliament in 1929. He was a founder member of the political movement that later evolved into today’s Scottish National Party (SNP).
Among his literary output, which included mythology, occultism and poetry, were five books relating to Atlantis[256,258,259,260 262]. In 1932 he was editor of the Atlantis Quarterly magazine. He corresponded with Percy Fawcett and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, advising the latter on the subject of Atlantis preceding the writing of The Maracot Deep and recently republished as Atlantis – Discovering the Lost City , another example of cynical publishing!
Spence at one point became the Chosen Chief of British Druidism and there is a claim that he was a member of at least one continental Rosicrucian organisation, although this report may be the result of confusion with H. Spencer Lewis, an American Rosicrucian. In 1941 he wrote about the occult and the war, then raging in Europe. In that book he argued that the war was the result of a satanic conspiracy centred in Munich and the Baltic States. The following year he wrote of his view that Atlantis had been destroyed as a form of divine retribution and that Europe was in danger of a similar fate.
His books were very popular with the general public but scorned by the scientific establishment, whom Spence mockingly referred to as “The Tape Measure School”. In truth his theories relating to Atlantis were highly speculative and often based on rather tenuous links. Spence believed that Atlantis was situated in the Atlantic and linked by a land bridge with the Yucatan Peninsula and that after the destruction of Atlantis, 13,000 years ago, the Atlantean refugees fled across this landbridge and are now recognised as the ancient Maya. A recent website(d) supports the idea of a landbridge from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula.
In The Problem of Atlantis[258.205] Spence quoted a report that allegedly came from the Western Union Telegraph Company, which claimed that while searching in the Atlantic for a lost cable in 1923 that when taking soundings at the exact same spot where it had been laid twenty-five years before they found that the ocean bed had risen nearly two and a quarter miles. The account was quoted widely; however, not long afterwards, Robert B. Stacy-Judd made direct enquiries of his own to Western Union and the U.S. Navy, who denied knowledge of any such report[607.47]! It would be interesting to know the source of this ‘fake news’.
Spence’s The History of Atlantis can now be downloaded or read online(c). In this book Spence offers his own composite translation of the Atlantis texts based on the English and French translations of Jowett, Archer-Hind, Jolibois and Negris.
A 2005 edition of the book from Barnes & Noble has an introduction by Professor Trevor Palmer.
It appears that among others, Spence’s work inspired the backdrop to a number of works by the pulp fiction writer, Robert E. Howard(e), who is perhaps best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian.