Italy seems to have an uncertain etymology; Thucydides claims that Italos, the Sicilian king gave his name to Italy, while more recently Emilio Spedicato(h) considers that ”the best derivation we believe to be the one proposed by the Italian nuclear engineer Felice Vinci (1998), in his monograph claiming a Baltic setting for the Homeric epic: he derives Italia from the rare Greek word aithalia, meaning the smoking one.” This is thought to be a reference to Italy’s many volcanoes.
Italy today is comprised of territory south of the Alps on mainland Europe including a very large boot-shaped peninsula, plus Sicily, Sardinia and some smaller island groups, which along with the French island of Corsica virtually enclose the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The earliest proposal that Italy could be linked with Atlantis came from Angelo Mazzoldi in 1840 when he claimed that before Etruria, Italy had been home to Atlantis and dated its demise to 1986 BC. Mazzoldi expressed a form of hyperdiffusion that had his Italian Atlantis as the mother-culture which seeded the great civilisations of the eastern Mediterranean region(b).
Some of Mazzoldi’s views regarding ancient Italy were expanded on by later scholars such Camillo Ravioli, Ciro Nispi-Landi, Evelino Leonardi, Costantine Cattoi, Guido DiNardo and Giuseppe Brex. Ravioli sought to associate the Maltese island of Gozo with his proposed Atlantis in Italy.
The Italian region of Lazio, which includes Rome, has had a number of very ancient structures proposed as Atlantean; Monte Circeo (Leonardi), Arpino(a) (Cassaro). Another aspect of Italian prehistory is the story of Tirrenide, which was described as a westward extension of the Italian landmass into the Tyrhennian Sea during the last Ice Age, with a land bridge to a conjoined Sardinia and Corsica.. At the same time, there were land links to Sicily and Malta, which were all destroyed as deglaciation took place and sea levels rose.
It is surprising that so few researchers have commented on Italy’s part in Plato’s Atlantis narrative considering that he twice, without any ambiguity, informs us that the Atlantean domain extended as far as Tyrrhenia (modern Tuscany).
Crit.114c. So all these, themselves and their descendants dwelt for many generations bearing rule over many other islands throughout the sea, and holding sway besides, as was previously stated, over the Mediterranean peoples as far as Egypt and Tuscany. Tim.25a/b. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvellous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent; and, moreover, of the lands here within the Straits they ruled over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tuscany. (Bury)
The quotation from Timaeus is most interesting because of its reference to a ‘continent’. Some have understandably but incorrectly claimed that this is a reference to America or Antarctica, when quite clearly it refers to southern Italy as part of the continent of Europe. Moreover, Herodotus is quite clear (4.42) that the ancient Greeks knew of only three continents, Europe, Asia and Libya.
Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD) in his On the Eternity of the World(g) wrote “Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy?” (v.139). The name ‘Italy’ was normally used in ancient times to describe the southern part of the peninsula(e). Some commentators think that Philo was quoting Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor. This would push the custom of referring to Italy as a ‘continent’ back near to the time of Plato. More recently, Armin Wolf, the German historian, when writing about Scheria relates(f) that “Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria (southern Italy) they say they are going to the ‘continente’.” This continuing usage is further confirmed by a current travel site(d) and by author, Robert Fox[1168.141]. I suggest that Plato used the term in a similar fashion and can be seen as offering the most rational explanation for the use of the word ‘continent’ in Timaeus 25a.
When you consider that close to Italy are located the large islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, as well as smaller archipelagos such as the Egadi, Lipari and Maltese groups, the idea of Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean can be seen as highly compatible with Plato’s description.
If we accept that Plato stated unambiguously that the domain of Atlantis included at least part of southern Italy and also declared that Atlantis attacked from beyond the Pillars of Heracles, then this appellation could not be applied at that time to any location in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar but must have been further east, probably not too far from Atlantean Italy. This matches earlier alternative locations recorded by classical writers who placed the ‘Pillars’ at the straits of Messina or Sicily. I personally favour Messina, unless there is stronger evidence that some of the islands in or near the Strait of Sicily such as the Maltese or Pelagian Islands or Pantelleria were home to the ‘Pillars’.
(c) Archive 2946
The Tyrrhenian Sea was clearly an important part of the Atlantean domain. Plato clearly states that Atlantis controlled Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Critias 114c), which implies that they dominated the southern half of the Italian peninsula. The Sea is surrounded by the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the Lipari Islands as well as continental Europe in the form of the Italian mainland. Not only does it contain islands with an adjacent continent (see Timaeus 24e). It is also accessed through the straits of Messina and Sicily, both of which have been identified as locations for the Pillars of Heracles before Eratosthenes applied that appellation to the region of Gibraltar.
Timaeus 24e-25a as translated by Bury reads “there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travellers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean (pontos=sea). For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean (pelagos=sea), and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent.” Similarly, Lee and Jowett have misleadingly translated both pontos and pelagos as ‘ocean’, while the earliest English translation by Thomas Taylor correctly renders them as ‘sea’. Modern translators such as Joseph Warren Wells and a Greek commentator George Sarantitis are both quite happy to agree with Taylor’s translation. However, Peter Kalkavage translates pontos as ‘sea’ but pelagos as ‘ocean’!
For me, there is a very strong case to be made for identifying the Tyrrhenian Sea as the ‘sea’ referred to by Plato in the passage quoted above. However, it was probably F.Butavand, in 1925, who first proposed the Tyrrhenian as the sea described by Plato in his La Veritable Histoire de L’Atlantide .
Pushing the boat out a little further, I note that Rome is situated in Central Italy and by tradition was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus!
A 1700 map of the Tyrrhenian Sea is available online.
‘Tyrrhenia’ is sometimes used as a geological term to describe a sunken landmass in the Western Mediterranean Basin(b)(c).
Volcanoes at their most explosive have played an important part in the mythologies and histories of humans.
A recent Irish Times article (10/2/22) observed “Despite the small number of volcanoes here, European culture has been deeply influenced by volcanic activity. In ancient Greek mythology, volcanoes were where the Olympian gods had imprisoned their rivals, the Titans. When the Romans adopted the Greek religion, Mount Etna became the home of Vulcan, the god of fire and blacksmiths, who worked his forges underneath the mountain.”(u)
Volcanism is not part of the Atlantis story as related by Plato. His narrative clearly attributes the destruction of Atlantis and the Athenians to flooding and earthquake. Admittedly, flooding can be the result of some volcanic activity, but in the absence of any evidence to support this view in the case of Atlantis, the idea is only supposition. While most accept that Atlantis was named after its first king, Atlas, Frank Joseph’s fertile imagination suggests that ‘the island of Atlantis was named after its chief mountain, a dormant volcano’. For those that place Atlantis in the Atlantic the idea of volcanic or seismic activity as the cause of the flooding of Atlantis AND Athens is hard pressed to suggest a location for this activity that would explain two catastrophes two thousand miles or more apart.
However, the red, white and black stone that Plato may be related to volcanic eruptions that produce rocks of tufa (red), pumice (white) and lava (black). Pumice has been found at various locations in Egypt(v) and identified as originating not only from Thera but also from eruptions on the Greek islands of Nisyros and Giali as well as the Italian Lipari Islands(o). Pumice has a chemical fingerprint which enables its source to be identified(t).
Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Sanders are the authors of Volcanoes in Human History which supports the idea that the eruption of Thera was a factor in the development of the Atlantis story and also suggests a link with the Flood of Deucalion.
Nevertheless, a recent book by William Lauritzen, The Invention of God, makes a convincing case for accepting volcanic activity as the inspiration behind some of the imagery of ancient mythologies and most major religions. A recent article(i) on the BBC website expanded on this further. Lauritzen also suggests that the pyramids were meant to represent volcanoes.
The most active volcanic region of Europe is to be found in Italy, where Etna and Stromboli have been continuously erupting for thousands of years(b). There is a report that a 6000 BC extreme eruption of Etna resulted in a tsunami 130 feet in height which swept the Mediterranean(c). However, the most devastating prehistoric volcanic eruption discovered so far seems to have been in Siberia 252 million years, which may have led to the most extensive mass extinction of life on earth(e). This is now rivalled by Tamu Massif in the Pacific mentioned below.
The cataclysmic volcanic eruption of Thera in the second millennium BC has had a strong level of support as the cause of Atlantis’ collapse, a view endorsed by recent television documentaries and an IMAX film. The Greek volcanologist, George Vougioukalakis, whose research is featured in the aforementioned film, is convinced that the eruption of Santorini offers the most rational explanation for the truth behind Plato’s story(a). However, he dissents from the recently expressed view that pumice found on the Northern Sinai Peninsula was transported there by a tsunami generated by the eruption of Thera and prefers to believe their transportation there was by normal sea currents.
Apart from Santorini, Jim Allen had initially proposed the Andean village of Quillacas, which lies on top of a volcano, as the site of Atlantis, but later found that the nearby site of Pampa Aullagas had a greater correspondence with the description of Atlantis. More recently Richard W. Welch has suggested the eruption of a supervolcano in the Atlantic as the cause of Atlantis’ demise. And so the idea of the volcanic destruction of Atlantis still has some support!
Since January 2011, Santorini has shown some signs of a volcanic reawakening(d).
In September 2013 studies revealed(f) what may be the location of the largest volcano ever to have erupted on our planet. It would have been the size of the British Isles and situated underwater in the northwest Pacific and known as Tamu Massif. It would have rivalled the Olympus Mons on Mars, but fortunately, has been dormant for 140 million years.
March 2014 saw a post on Dale Drinnon’s website(g) take the linkage between Atlantis and a volcano rather further with the suggestion that “the capital city of Atlantis in Plato’s description was built in the caldera of an extinct volcano and that many of the features of the description are volcanic in origin. The “Poseidon’ temple is the pyramidal volcanic neck, an erosional feature that stood out like a conical mound some hundreds of feet in diameter and possibly some hundreds of feet high on the outside. there was a tunnel bored through this aligned East and West, to allow the sunlight in at the beginning and the end of the day for certain rituals.”
In December 2014 a report from Princeton University revealed that a massive series of volcanic eruptions 66 million years ago can be aligned with the extinction of the dinosaurs and should be included as part of the cause of that extinction along with the Yucatan meteorite impact(h). However, in February 2021, a report from Harvard proposed that the Yucatan impactor was a comet rather than an asteroid or meteor(s).
In 2009, it was reported(q) that another example of contemporaneous meteorite impact and flood volcanism was identified in Belarus.
The Laki volcano in Iceland erupted in 1783, killing 9,000 local people but more dramatically causing the Nile Valley population to be cut by a sixth, according to a study published by scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. “The study is the first to conclusively establish the linkage between high-latitude eruptions and the water supply in North Africa”(j).
A 2015 report(k) suggests that a series of North American volcanic eruptions in 536 AD had such a detrimental effect on the climate of Europe that contributed to the demise of the Roman Empire.
Furthermore, there is now evidence(m) that the eruption of El Chicon volcano in Southern Mexico around 540 AD led to the disruption of the Maya civilisation. Can there be a connection between these two events? In 2020, it was reported that the massive Tierra Blanca Joven eruption of the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador had been accurately dated to within a year or two of 431 AD, which also devastated Maya communities within an eighty-kilometre radius(r).
However, David Keys in his book, Catastrophe, has proposed that a massive eruption of Krakatoa around 535 AD caused disruption on a global scale. Matthew Toohey from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, has suggested the possibility of a double event involving both El Chicon and Krakatoa!
Recently the longest (1,200 miles) continental volcano chain was identified in Australia(l).
The BBC reported(n) in 2016 that “Deep-sea volcanoes are so remote until recently we did not even know they existed” and although “We do not see them erupt, yet more than half of the Earth’s crust can be attributed to their dramatic explosions” and “In fact, the mid-ocean ridges form the largest volcanic systems on Earth. But as they are largely hidden from sight, they have long remained elusive.”
In July 2017, the BBC offered an interesting article on the potential ongoing threat from supervolcanoes around our globe(p) and the inevitability of a future eruption.
Russian Atlantology was quite unknown to the general reader in the West until the fall of communism. This was mainly due to a combination of the strictures of the communist regime and the language barrier. A recent submission to Wikipedia on the subject of Russian Atlantology was rejected but can be read here(i).
It is accepted that Russian Atlantology began in the 18th century with brief references in a number of technical and poetic works. However, it was not until the 19th century that Avraam Norov attempted the first serious scientific attempt to locate Atlantis. Following a study of Greek and Arabic sources, Norov was convinced that Plato’s lost civilisation had been situated in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Later in the same century, a new element was introduced to the subject with the ‘revelations’ of Elena Blavatsky and the creation of Theosophy. To this day her esoteric waffle is quoted and accepted unthinkingly by many otherwise rational beings. The renowned Russian novelist Alexei Tolstoy devoted an episode in his novel Aelita to the subject of Atlantis.
In 1912, Vladimir Bogachev, a noted geologist published a short work on the geology of Atlantis entitled Atlantida. Bogachev lectured at the University of Dorpat in Estonia and is often labelled ‘the father of Russian Atlantology’. A few years later, the poet and historian, Valery Bryusov, wrote of Atlantis flourishing at the end of the last Ice Age. In 1923 the geographer, Boris Bobrynin, identified the Guanches of the Canaries as the descendants of the Atlanteans.
The doyen of Russian atlantologists in the latter half of the 20th century was undoubtedly Nikolai Zhirov whose studies over many years were published in English in 1970 and again in 2001. It is a work of great erudition although it is a little dated as most of the material was originally published in Russian in the 1950s. Zhirov uncompromisingly determined to promote the Atlantic as the original location of Atlantis. He wrote a short overview of Russian Atlantology for Egerton Sykes‘ Atlantis journal in 1959(j).
More recently Viatcheslav Koudriavtsev published his thesis regarding the location of Atlantis on the Internet(a). He is convinced that it was located on the Celtic Shelf near the Scilly Isles. Vladimir Pakhomov is another supporter of the ‘Atlantis in the Atlantic’ school of thought and also promotes his views on the Internet(b).
In 1994 Vlaceslav Jurikov proposed that Atlantis had been located near the Lipari Islands and its refugees fled to Ukraine resulting in the modern symbol of Ukraine being the trident of Poseidon. Coincidentally, the Ukrainian connection has also received support from non-Russians, the exotic-sounding Flying Eagle and Whispering Wind(c) and the Schoppes(d).
The late Alexander Voronin was the president of the Russian Society for Studying the Problem of Atlantis [ROIPA], which has held three congresses on the subject. At the last congress, Alexander Gorodnitsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke controversially of the existence of highly advanced civilisations in the distant past. Voronin was also the chief editor of Atlantis: Problems, Searches, Hypotheses.
Konstantin Dukarev has written a review of scientific Atlantology with particular reference to Russian studies(e). Although the paper is in Russian it translates well, but without paragraphs, making it more difficult to read.
A hyperdiffusionist view of Russia as the world’s mother culture, employing a level of hyperbole not endured since the days of Stalin, can be now read(f) online for your added enjoyment.
There are aspects of modern Russian nationalism that seem to employ some of the rhetoric of the Nazi regime as well as their ideas of an Arctic homeland and even more worryingly, anti-Semitism(g). The linkage of Atlantis with this Arctic homeland was highlighted a few years ago on the Pravda website(h).
(g) See: Archive 2415
(i) See: Archive 3918
(j) Atlantis Vol.13 No.1 Dec 1959
The Lipari or Aeolian Islands are located northeast of Sicily. The archipelago includes the continually active volcano of Stromboli. It was another of the islands, named Vulcano after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, which gave us the word ‘volcano’.
It appears that the claim by Jurikov may have been a hoax according to a report on the atlantisforshung.de website!(c)
Further information regarding the extent of this archipelago from the time of the Last Glacial Maximum is available on the mapmistress website(b).
Vlaceslav Jurikov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences announced in 1994 that Atlantis had been located near the Lipari or Aeolian Islands off the northern coast of Sicily. He specified a point 15km from Cape Peloro at a depth of about 500 feet. This region is also favoured by Winfried Huf as the centre of the Atlantean sphere of influence.
He questions Plato’s report that Atlantis was submerged in a day and a night, suggesting instead that it was a much slower process allowing its inhabitants time to emigrate.
>In 2015, the Atantisforschung.de website reported that evidence had emerged suggesting that Jurikov had never been a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and that the whole Lipari claim was just an invention(a)!
Winfried Huf is from the southern Tyrol. He contends that the centre of Atlantis lay in the region of the Lipari Islands north east of Sicily. He maintains that the Atlantean Empire was divided into five principal sectors; The Lipari Islands, mainland Italy, Malta, Syrtis Major and Fezzan in south-east Libya. Huf identified the nearby Strait of Messina as the location of the Pillars of Heracles.
Huf has accepted Plato’s 9,000 ‘years’ as being literally solar years rather than the competing and more credible theory of them being a reference to lunar cycles. He traces evidence of Atlantis in Homer, the Persephone myth, Genesis and the Norse Eddas.
Huf’s views are available on the Internet(a), although in German, they can be read in English with a good translator. Huf has written a similar paper(b) about Homer’s Odyssey.
Aeolian Islands see Lipari Islands.
Obsidian is a glassy rock produced as a consequence of rhyolitic volcanic eruptions and is usually dark blue. It was highly prized during the Stone Age when it was found to produce good sharp edges, suitable for tools and weapons when fractured. Michael Grant remarked ”it is the first traded substance of which there are material remains”.
Recent excavations in Northern Israel have revealed the use of obsidian tools over six thousand years ago(e). The nearest source of obsidian was Anatolia, so these pre-Canaanite people must have had trade links that extended at least that far.
It is interesting to read that obsidian was also considered valuable in North America around 7000 BC, when obsidian artifacts were discovered at an underwater site in Lake Huron, using material that had been brought from central Oregon 2,000 miles away(h).
In 2011 it was reported(b) that a new technique, which permitted the dating of obsidian, revealed that the Greek island of Melos saw the mining of obsidian as early as 15,000 years ago and its exportation throughout the Aegean and beyond, which also is evidence of extensive marine travel at that early date. However, 13,000 BC saw sea levels much lower than at present, as the Ice Age glaciation was still in place. This would have led to greater land exposure in the Aegean with shorter distances between islands, which were easily crossed with relatively primitive boats.
Massimo Rapisarda has noted that the only obsidian west of the Aegean in the Mediterranean, is to be found in the Central region on the islands of Lipari, Palmarola, Pantelleria and Sardinia(g) . A graduate thesis(f) by Barbara A. Vargo, explores in great detail the characteristics, history and distribution of Pantellerian obsidian.
Robert Ishoy who advocates a Sardinian location for Atlantis suggested(a) that obsidian, “commonly used on ancient Sardinia” was the mysterious orichalcum referred to by Plato. On the other hand. Christian and Siegfried Schoppe, who support a Black Sea location also identify obsidian as orichalcum. This is quite improbable, as obsidian would not easily lend itself to being used as a wall cladding. This idea is even more impractical than Jürgen Spanuth’s proposal that orichalcum was a reference to amber. Apart from that orichalcum was described by Plato (Critias 116b-d) as a metal not rock.
Dr Ellery Frahm at the University of Sheffield has now developed a method whereby a piece of obsidian can be traced, not only to a particular volcano but to a specific quarry at the volcano(c).
In September 2013 Frahm revealed(d) that a new technique had been developed that permits the sourcing of obsidian artefacts in just 10 seconds.
>In 2017 Robert H. Tykot published a very detailed paper on the sourcing and distribution of obsidian in the Central Mediterranean.(i)<