Maria Teresa Giannotta
Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy and after Sicily is the second largest island in the Mediterranean. Before the end of the last Ice Age, Sardinia had been joined to the European mainland because of the lower sea levels, which provided an easy access route for early settlers. Recent genetic studies revealed that “an exceptionally high proportion of the population is seemingly descended from people who have occupied it since the Neolithic and Bronze Age, between 8,000 and 2,000 years ago.”(al) Known to the Greeks as ‘Hyknusa’, during its long history, Phoenicians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans have all left their mark on Sardinia. Before that, the megalith builders(j) were active in Sardinia and Corsica. A comprehensive history of Sardinia from the time of Atlantis is available online, in Italian and English(m). There is a tradition that Sardinia got its name from Sardus, son of Hercules(aa).
Sardinia’s important position in the ancient world was suggested by Mark McMenamin, a geologist at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, who announced in Numismatist Magazine in November 1996(ar), that he believed that the Carthaginians produced gold coins, between 350 and 320 BC, depicting small maps of the Mediterranean world with India to the east and America to the west(e). When computer enhancement was applied to the images on some of those coins, he was amazed to note how the strange markings on them resembled maps made by Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer and geographer, who lived around 500 years later. The maps show what appears to emphasise the Mediterranean region, with Sardinia as a dot in the centre. The north coast of Africa appears at the bottom with Europe at the top, above the Phoenician homeland and India. The Strait of Gibraltar lies to the west; after that is the landmass of America. Some sceptics have been convinced of the correctness of McMenamin’s interpretation after seeing the enlarged images.
However, in 2000, McMenamin was obliged to confirm that the coins in question were fakes(as) as revealed in his book, Phoenicians, Fakes and Barry Fell .
It has been suggested(p) that the ancient city (2000-1400 BC) of Nora, just south of today’s Pula, was thriving long before the arrival of the Phoenicians in the 8th cent. BC. It appears that contact between Sardinia and its trading partners suddenly ceased around 1400 BC, until the arrival of the Phoenicians. Phoenician inscriptions, one dated to the 11th century BC, were been found at Nora(q) in 1773. These inscriptions refer to Pygmalian, King of Tyre and to a battle between Sardinians and Phoenicians at Tarshish!
It has been postulated that the Shardana, one of the Sea Peoples of the 2nd millennium BC, gave their name to Sardinia and were probably the builders of the hundreds of Nuraghi there. Leonardo Melis, a native Sardinian, has studied and written at length on the subject. David Rohl, the archaeologist and advocate of revising generally accepted ancient chronologies, has argued that the Shardana were in fact originally from Sardis in ancient Anatolia and that they migrated westward to Sardinia following the collapse of the Hittite Empire.
Angelo Paratico also proposed a connection between the Lydian capital Sardis and Sardinia in a lecture delivered in Hong Kong in 2004(an). Wikipedia includes the following information “According to Timaeus, one of Plato’s dialogues, Sardinia and its people as well, the “Sardonioi” or “Sardianoi”, might have been named after “Sardò”, a legendary woman from Sardis, capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia.”(ao)
Apart from the enigmatic remains of the Nuraghic period, Sardinia has presented archaeologists with a greater mystery in the form of a structure at Monte d’Accoddi that closely resembles a Mesopotamian ziggurat. The earliest parts of the monument have been dated to circa 3000 BC – the same period during which comparable step pyramids were being built in Mesopotamia. Leonardo Melis has speculated that the name of the site, Accoddi, may be connected to the Akkadian civilisation. Step pyramids are also found in Sicily(c) and additionally the Le Barnenez cairn(ad) (4500-4700 BC), in Brittany, has a superficial resemblance to some of the Western Mediterranean ‘pyramids’.
The ancient-wisdom.com website, in a well-illustrated article, has drawn attention to the fact that the nuraghi, while very numerous are not the only distinct form of megalithic monuments on the island, but there are two others known as ‘Tombes Gigantes’ (Giants Tombs) and ‘Domus de Janas’ (Spirit Homes).(ap)
Statue menhirs are also found on adjacent Corsica.
The end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries saw Antoine Court de Géblin and Delisle de Sales suggesting Sardinia as a remnant of Atlantis. However, the first person in more recent times to promote a Sardinian Atlantis was Paolo Valente Poddighe, who did so in 1982, but, it was 2006 before he published a book supporting this claim.
It was nearly another twenty years before Robert Paul Ishoy was the first to have a website(a) that promoted Sardinia as the site of Atlantis. His contention is that Atlantis was a powerful state based in Sardinia that controlled most of the western Mediterranean and was at its peak between 2000 BC and 1400 BC. Ishoy further contends that the Keftiu, Atlantean and Nuraghi cultures were all one. He contends that they made attempts to conquer the principal civilisations of the eastern Mediterranean including the Minoans, Athenians and Egyptians. During one of these attacks, the Athenians with the unexpected support of floods and earthquakes defeated the Atlanteans. Ishoy has been planning an expedition to Sardinia to seek further evidence in support of his thesis.
In 2002, the Italian journalist, Sergio Frau, published a book, in Italian, which firmly located Atlantis just south of Sardinia, where it is now covered by water(ah). He argued that the Pillars of Heracles were at one time located as a boundary marker at the Strait of Sicily and later moved to Gibraltar as the Greek awareness of the western Mediterranean developed through expanded trade. Frau attributes this change of location to the geographer Eratosthenes who flourished more than a century after Plato. Understandably, his theory has been greeted with the usual hail of criticism but was given support by UNESCO when it organised a symposium on the theory in Paris in 2005 followed by an exhibition in Rome the following year.
In the interest of balance, Thorwald C. Franke’s critique(n) of Frau’s work is required reading, as well as a 21-point refutation of his book signed by 71 Sardinian historians, geologists and archaeologists(w). However, others such as Silvio Diego Novo have followed Frau’s lead(aq), while Aldo Bonincontro has also nominated Sardinia as Atlantis, which he did in a 2007 article, but without any reference to Frau!
It is obvious that there is considerable local support for the idea of a Sardinian Atlantis, but for some, this seems to be often linked with the independence movement on the island.
In June 2015 Frau together with a number of Italian scientists joined him when he visited Sardinia(x). They included historian Mario Lombardo; archaeologist Maria Teresa Giannotta; Claudio Giardino, a specialist in ancient metallurgy; cartographer Andrea Cantile; archivist Massimo Faraglia; and Stefano Tinti, a geophysicist and expert on tidal waves. Their objective was to study the evidence of a huge tsunami inundating the southern part of the island in ancient times.
A report in The Guardian (15/8/15) noted(y) that “Professor Tinti explained that until the 1980s no one was aware that tidal waves had occurred in the Mediterranean. But since 2004 scientists have identified 350 events of this type over a 2,500-year period,” and regarding the Sardinian tsunami “So what would have been required in our case?” he then asked. “We’re talking about a huge volume of water, some 500 metres high [the elevation up to which the nuraghi were affected]. Only a comet could do that if the impact occurred very close to the coast and in a very specific direction,” he asserted. An event of this sort may have occurred near Cagliari, with the resulting wave devastating the plain of Campidano.”
Afterwards, Frau’s claim was given further attention(u) when an exhibition in the museum in Sardara, focused on that catastrophe which hit the island around 1175 BC. This cataclysm mainly affected the southern portion of Sardinia covering it with a layer of mud. A geophysicist, Stefano Tinti, claims that the most likely cause of such an incursion would be an enormous tidal wave resulting from the impact of a comet in the Mediterranean. It was not surprising that Jason Colavito debunked(v) any linkage of Sardinia with Atlantis as well as the claim of a cometary impact, but avoided offering any explanation for the layer of mud.
A French website offers an interesting titbit regarding the extent of the mud, noting that “A nuraghe was discovered not far from the Sardinian town of Barumini.Les archéologues ont mis 14 ans pour ôter les 12 mètres de boue qui recouvraient ce monument. The archaeologists took 14 years to remove the 12 meters of mud that covered this monument”.
An alternative view of Sardinia and its nuraghi was offered(z) by Brian Cairns on the Thunderbolts website, where he claimed that the nuraghi were constructed to offer protection from cosmic electrical strikes. In his conclusion, he states that “while the evidence above is circumstantial, it seems that Sardinia had a very active electric environment.”
The late Vittorio Castellani who had advocated locating Atlantis in the British Isles was so impressed by Frau’s book that he changed his mind and supported the idea of a Sardinian Atlantis. Another keen supporter of Frau is Mario Tozzi who has also suggested that if Sardinia was Atlantis that the mysterious Etruscans may have been Sardinians(r)(s). Further support has come from Mario Cabriolu and architect Paolo Macoratti, who identifies the Plain of Campidano with the Plain of Atlantis and locates the Atlantean capital further south in the Gulf of Cagliari, illustrated on a map on the sardolog.com site(t).
As Sardinia is still very much above water, it might seem an unlikely choice as the location of Atlantis. However, if it is accepted that the Pillars of Heracles were in fact situated in the Strait of Sicily, there are a number of features on Sardinia that would support the theories of Ishoy and Frau. There is evidence that the large plain of Campidano was inundated, from the south, by a tsunami, following an earthquake, in the Central Mediterranean in the 2ndmillennium BC. Professor Mauro Perra has argued against this(o) using extensive stratigraphic evidence. However, this tsunami also covered Punic and Roman remains indicating a much later date.
Furthermore, there are mountains protecting the plain from cold northern winds and rich mineral deposits are also found in the locality. Sardinia was well-known in ancient times as a source of silver as well as copper, iron and lead(af). There is also some evidence that a small but important quantity of tin was available on the island according to Stephen L. Dyson and Robert J. Rowland Jnr., in their recent history of Sardinia. The excellent phoenicia.org website comments that Sardinia can scarcely have been occupied by the Phoenicians for anything but its metals. The southern and south-western parts of the island, where they made their settlements, were rich in copper and lead; and the position of the cities seems to indicate the intention to appropriate these metals.
In 2010, Giuseppe Mura published a book of nearly 600 pages, in which he identifies the Gulf of Cagliari as the location of the Pillars of Heracles that previously led to a channel which gave access to the Plain of Campidano, which he claims(g)(h) was the Plain of Atlantis described by Plato.
Furthermore, another young Sardinian has recently pointed out that colours associated by Plato with Atlantis, namely red, white and black, are found naturally on the island as well as excavated buildings of the Nuraghic period being painted in red and black stripes. The Sardinian regional flag also uses these colours.
We can expect that the future will see further development of the Sardinian Theory, which shows more promise than many of the other suggested locations.
For those interested in reading more about the history of Sardinia from its prehistory until the present should visit Claudio de Tisi’s website(i) (In Italian and English). It includes a review of Sergio Frau’s book on Atlantis. In 2011, travel writer Angela Corrias wrote a two-part article)(ab)(ac), which also includes a review of Frau’s theory.
There would appear to be growing support from local researchers on the island for a Sardinian Atlantis. One of the more recent is Giorgio Valdés who equates Sardinia with Tartessos and Atlantis. This idea of Sardinia and Tartessos being identical goes back to the middle of the 20th century when Wikipedia(k) tells us “that W.F. Albright (1941) and F.M. Cross (1972) suggested Tarshish was Sardinia because of the discovery of the ‘Nora Stone’ or ‘Nora Fragment’.” An extensive article(l) on the Nora Stele, in Italian, was written in January 2014, based on a translation by Jose Stromboni.
In August 2016, Frau’s theory received a further spurt of publicity with an interview in Sputnik News, which was followed a few days later by the announcement that National Geographic was planning a documentary, co-produced by James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, based on Robert Ishoy’s Atlantis in Sardinia theory(ae).
However, Diaz-Montexano is also certain that the documentary will focus on his theory(ai). In the end, both theories were featured in what turned out to be a disappointing documentary.
In late 2016, Nicola Betti, Luciano Melis & Alessandro Mugria published Il mare addosso. L’isola che fu Atlantide e poi divenne Sardegna  in which they add their support to the idea of Atlantis in Sardinia. They believe “with reasonable certainty that a large area of south-west Sardinia was hit by a swarm of iron meteorites in a period between 11,000 and 9000 BC,” which would have caused a catastrophic mega-tsunami.(am)
Pier Paolo Saba, another Sardinian, suggests in his book Atlantide , that following a catastrophe around 10,000 BC Atlantis was destroyed and survivors were dispersed to the Americas, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. One group settled in Saba’s native Sardinia, where they became the Shardana and were responsible for the building of the thousands of nuraghi found throughout the island and were part of the Sea Peoples who attacked Egypt(au)(av).
>In July 2021 I was sent a number of images that purported to show anomalous underwater images in the Central Mediterranean northeast of Malta. At first sight, they appeared to show extensive manmade features. However, further investigation by the person who sent them to me eventually discovered that the images were the consequence of the flawed computer interpretation of sonar data. In December 2021 Luigi Usai produced the same flawed imagery as evidence that he had discovered a lost submerged civilisation!
So that there is no misunderstanding let me state that I have advocated a Central Mediterranean location for Atlantis for some years. If Sardinia holds that location, I am more than happy to congratulate Usai and Frau. But, I am not convinced by satellite imagery that has so often been proven to be flawed.<
I must include here a mention of the website of Pierluigi Montalbano where he and various guest authors have written many interesting articles about Sardinia and its Nuraghic past as well as Atlantis. The site is well worth a browse and as it has Google Translate built-in it is accessible to all(aw).
(b) See Archive 2139)
(c) See: Archive 2650
(w) https://www.colonnedercole.it/spip/spip.php?article67 (Italian)
(ab) See Archive 2898
(ae) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20190331144818/https://www.myheraldreview.com/free_access/national-geographic-calls-on-sierra-vista-researcher-about-atlantis/article_c3685cf8-7229-11e6-9512-b390b32f6ba7.html
(aq) See: Archive 2353 (Italian)