Alfonso d’Ascanio is a Spanish legal expert with a long-standing interest in Plato’s Atlantis. He is the author of El naufrago del Julán , which is a novel that explores the history of the Canaries and the origins of its Guanche inhabitants. His grandfather published a book in 1922 which investigates the geology of the Canaries. His father, also Alfonso d’Ascanio, was also preparing to finish a book in the late 1950’s(a), which was intended to demonstrate that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic, where its remnants are now the Macaronesian groups of islands (Canaries, Azores, Madeira & Cape Verde). D’Ascanio snr also contributed to Egerton Sykes‘ Atlantis magazine.
(a) Atlantis, Vol.12, No.1, Nov/Dec 1958
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.
Pierre Mille (1864-1941) was a noted French journalist. In the 1920’s Mille declared(a) that the argan tree, which grows in Morocco, Madeira and Azores was the last survivor of Plato’s Atlantis. He was an honorary member of Paul le Cour’s Atlantis Association.
José Viera y Clavijo (1731-1813) was a Catholic priest and considered to be one of the most outstanding Canarians of his day, who proposed in 1772/3 in a four-volume work on the history of the Canaries that the archipelago together with the Azores and Madeira were remnants of Atlantis, more than a century before Ignatius Donnelly advocated similar ideas.
Voltaire (1694-1778) was the nom de plume of François-Marie Arouet, who was a prominent French philosopher and a prolific writer on a wide range of subjects with an estimated output of more than 2,000 books and pamphlets and 20,000 letters.
However, it appears that Voltaire was somewhat sceptical about the existence of Atlantis remarking in Essai sur le moeurs that “ if it were true that such a part of the world ever existed. Most likely it was none other than the island of Madeira.”
Anyone researching Atlantis might be advised to remember Voltaire’s aphorism which states that while “doubt is not a pleasant mental state, certainty is an absurd one.”
João de Almeida (1873-1953) was a Portuguese military officer who held the final rank of General. In 1901 he wrote his undergraduate thesis on the subject of Atlantis, which he published in 1931 as O Espírito da Raça Portuguesa na sua Expansão Além-Mar(a), where he identified the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores, Madeiras and Canaries as the remnants of Atlantis. He included two hypothetical maps showing Atlantis as a very large landmass extending westward from mainland of Europe and North Africa and incorporating those three archipelagos as well as the British Isles.
Francisco Luís Pereira de Sousa (1870-1931) was born in Funchal, the capital of the mid-Atlantic Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. He was a geologist by profession and is well known for his 1914 study of the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755. He speculated(a) that this tragic event might have been the last ‘gasp’ of a sunken Atlantis. He also suggested that Atlantis had originally occupied most of the Atlantic, linking Africa, Europe and America. He considered the Canaries and his native Madeira to be present-day remnants of Plato’s island.
Bodie Hodge is a Christian fundamentalist writer with The Museum of Creation in Kentucky and its propaganda wing Answers in Genesis(a). In March 2010 he raised a few eyebrows when he ventured to discuss the existence of Plato’s Atlantis and its compatibility with the Bible(b). He concluded that if it had existed, it had been located in the Atlantic with its remnants being the Azores, Madeira or the Canaries. He also calculated its demise to have occurred between 1818 BC and 600 BC.
A rather harsh review of Hodge’s output is to be found on the RationalWiki website(c).
The Cart-Ruts of Malta is one of the many remarkable archaeological features of the archipelago. Unfortunately, the local authorities have not done all they could to ensure their preservation. Cart-ruts are also found in other countries but with nothing like the numbers found on Malta.
An article written in 1904(h) describes a visit to the Madeiras where the writer travelled on a sled drawn by oxen, while Alexander Braghine describes how Paul le Cour visited the Azores and noted that the natives there used ‘sledges’ rather than wheeled vehicles and greased the runners to assist movement, similar to the practice on the Madeiras. A more recent paper(s) by Félix Rodrigues of Azores University discusses in detail cartruts found on Terceira Island in the Azores. Other papers(w)(x) on the Academia.edu website discuss ‘ruts’ on Lanzarote in the Canaries.
An image (3rd down) on a 2021 posting(af), appears to show where axles have worn into a raised stone wall at one side of a rut, which would seem to end the ‘sledge versus wheel’ controversy.
Another feature of the ruts is the inexplicable manner in which they will suddenly disappear at cliff-edges! Furthermore, ruts are also found disappearing into the sea on one side of a bay and then reappear on the opposite side. Over a century ago Emanuel Magri reported that there were cart-ruts on the tiny island of Filfla, which lies 5km off the south coast of mainland Malta, suggesting the disappearance of a very large tract of land between the two.
The melitamegalithic website has linked the altered orientation of Malta’s temples with the geological disruption indicated by the cart-ruts(ae) noting that “While the geology of the Maltese islands indicates unmistakably major events of a cataclysmic nature, these give little hint as to what took place, and when. What is definitely obvious is that the geologic events are evident from man-made artefacts. Those artefacts point to the kind of event, and the time when it occurred. In geological time they are quite recent.”
“The earliest reference to cart-ruts was made by Gian Francesco Abela (1582–1655) in 1647  who suggested that they were used to transport stones from quarries to the sea for exportation to Africa during the Arab rule in Malta.”(z)
Dr David Trump (1931-2016) who has done much to advance Maltese archaeology, published a booklet on the cart-ruts in 2008. Trump nicknamed the complex collection of ruts at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir “Clapham Junction” after the London railway station, where several railway services interchange. A 1998 paper(d) by Joseph Magro Conti and Paul C. Saliba focused on “Clapham Junction” and concluded that the ruts had a clear connection with the transportation of material from adjacent quarries.
A connection between the cart-ruts and Atlantis has been suggested by Anton Mifsud and adopted by the late Axel Hausmann, who both claim that the ruts were the irrigation channels referred to by Plato (Critias 118c-e).
Another prominent archaeologist, Claudia Sagona, has also suggested(f)(j) that the ruts were used for irrigation, although she has not associated them with Plato’s text. While this linkage fits nicely with the theory of Atlantis having been in the region of Malta, it does not stand up to close examination.
First of all the cart-ruts follow the natural undulations of the Maltese landscape and so to function as irrigation channels would require water to flow uphill for parts of its journey, Trump has mentioned how some of the ruts can be seen sloping as much as 45°. Roman aqueducts, like the one in Malta’s Rabat(ac)(ad), seldom used a gradient greater than half of one per cent.
Secondly, the fact that the ruts are always found in pairs would suggest a degree of unnecessary and wasteful duplication found in no other irrigation system in the world. Because; if the ruts were intended to carry water, for the same labour they could have been cut as a single channel at twice the depth cutting losses through evaporation by half.
As well as that, the ground between each pair of tracks could provide an extra acre of arable land for every two miles of length. Furthermore, the multiplicity of tracks at the ‘Clapham Junction’ site is incompatible with an irrigation system.
All of which is compounded by the absence of controlling sluicegates anywhere at the remaining 100+ sites, and emphasised by Trump’s observation that “no association of ruts with water sources has been demonstrated.”[870.268]
I refer below to several countries where comparable cart ruts have also been found. I am not aware of even one instance where any of these have been suggested as having an irrigation function.
Compounding all that is the fact that no supporter of the cart ruts as Plato’s irrigation channels has attempted to explain how the dimensions of the ruts can be measured in inches while Plato describes canals measured in feet – tens of feet!
Joseph S. Ellul in his book Malta’s Prediluvian Culture  expressed some controversial unconventional views(t) regarding the cart-ruts, including his assertion that the ruts were created by tools or machinery and were formed during the Stone Age before the biblical Deluge!
Graham Hancock refers to the cart ruts several of times in Underworld , where he commented that “It is certain, too, that they were not simply worn away in the tough limestone by the passage of cart-wheels over periods of centuries, as many have wrongly theorized; on the contrary, there is no proof whatsoever that cart-wheels ever ran in these ruts – which were initially carved out of the bedrock with the use of tools.” [p.331] His claim that the ruts were hand-carved is disputed and Gordon E. Weston in his excellent book [754.172] debunks the idea.
Philip Coppens wrote a paper on the ruts, offering an overview of the controversies relating to their use and date(aa).
By way of comic relief, I thought I should include one theory regarding an explanation(c) for the ruts from Laura Knight-Jadczyk, a noted conspiracy theorist, which I quote in full: “Do I have an idea to propose? Of course I do. I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t. I would like to suggest that these “ruts” look an awful lot like places where lightning has struck, and the electricity has blasted away the dirt and rock as it shoots along some sort of natural earth power grid conductor. The only difference is that the cart ruts are not random. That suggests that there was something present in the ground laid out in a definite grid, which acted as a conductor. Were the cart ruts some sort of networked energy conduction system? Could some sort of element have been placed in the ground by an ancient civilization; something that conducted power to their homes the way our vulgar power poles and lines criss-cross the landscape? And then, at some point in time, was the earth hit by such a surge of energy from some unknown source that these power “lines” melted the rock in which they were “strung?” Perhaps a surge of some kind of cosmic energy source? Maybe even the Electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion? Maybe it was neither of these, but merely a massive overheating of the surface of the earth so that the conduction element and its insulating covering melted and was swept away?”
One of the more bizarre suggestions has been proposed by Markus Tutsch on the German EFODON website, that the parallel ruts were used in some way to distribute electrical power(q)!!!
Another comical suggestion is offered by Dr Cornelius Niels Kopf who has proposed that “The Bronze Age traces on Malta and Gozo and many other parts of the then populated world, known as cart ruts, were sports facilities, and the area designated as ‘Clapham Junction’ was apparently the ‘stadium’ of Malta.” (r)
In 2010, the most comprehensive work on the ruts, that I’m aware of, was published by Gordon E. Weston. Weston now has a website(g) where he discusses the ‘ruts’ further and provides additional links. Weston also published Clapham Junction: 3000 Years of Maltese Heritage, in 2015 .
There are also several websites devoted to the investigation of these enigmatic features(a). One of them(m) offers a fine collection of images, including the one above, as well as a discussion on the origin, use, and questions raised by the Maltese cart ruts.
A study of the ruts by geomorphologists published in Antiquity is a valuable addition to the literature on the subject(b). The authors highlight the fact that the relatively soft Maltese limestone erodes quite easily, particularly when wet, explaining the depth of the ruts.
Uwe Topper has written an extensive paper on cart-ruts around the Mediterranean and beyond(i). He controversially theorised that the ruts were created when the limestone on which they were cut was ‘softer’!!!
A short April 2015 video clip(l) demonstrates how even a 20kg quarter-scale slidecar, can with one pass cut a 1mm groove into the soft Maltese limestone, near Sliema. A full-scale slidecar would be carrying 320 Kg.
Amateur archaeologists, Ronnie Gallagher and Abbas Islamov have highlighted the existence of cart-ruts in the Gobustan peninsula of Azerbijan(e), while André Kramer has written an article on the cart-ruts of Mallorca(k).
Evidence exists for cart ruts in other countries in Europe, such as Switzerland, and much further afield including South America(u). The same site makes two interesting points, (1) since the earliest carts probably lacked brakes, the repeated use of the ruts gave some small degree of control, and (2) without any obvious passing points the ruts seem to indicate that they were limited to one-way traffic.
In 2015, Russian geologist Alexander Koltypin drew much media attention(o) when he claimed that comparable tracks in the Phrygian Valley of Turkey were dated to 14 million years ago and were created by an unknown civilisation. He also implied that the cart ruts of Malta had a similar origin! However, a quick look at his website(p) revealed him to have travelled well beyond the lunatic fringe.
I find it interesting that much more investigation of the Maltese cart ruts has been carried out by foreigners than by natives of the islands. A recent example is the inventory of ruts recently published by Monika I. Trinkler, a Swiss photographer, who has listed 717 pairs on Malta and 43 on Gozo Dec. 2020). Her interest in the Maltese ruts has now expanded into the identification of ruts throughout Central Europe(v).
Unfortunately, the date and function of the ruts are still sources of intense debate, particularly in Malta itself. In 2017, Anthony Bonanno published The Archaeology of Malta and Gozo  in which he argued for a Roman rather than a prehistoric date for the cart ruts. This runs counter to the opinion of many, particularly that of the late David Trump. In 2019, Anton Mifsud published a rebuttal of Bonanno’s claims in a fully illustrated book entitled David’s Ruts  as a tribute to the work carried out by David Trump on Malta.
In August 2021, it was announced that some of Malta’s cart ruts were to be covered over by a new airport roundabout(ab)! Comment is unnecessary.
(f) Oxford Journal of Archaeology (Vol.23, Issue 1, p.45-60)
(g) https://cartrutanswers.com/index.html (offline 15/07/14)
(i) http://www.ilya.it/chrono/pages/gleisedt.htm (german)
(n) Archive 3036