Meltwater Pulses (MWP) is the term used to describe accelerated discharges of meltwater at different periods during the deglaciation that occurred as the last Ice Age ended. Each such event, which probably last hundreds of years have been given designations such as 1A, 1A0, 1B 1C and 1D.
MWP1a saw sea levels rise between 50 and 80 feet over a 500-year period around 13,000 BC and seems to be the least disputed of the postglacial discharges. A 2017 paper(a) has provided further data relating to this time, in particular the collapse of the European ice sheet.
MWP1b is of particular interest to the study of Atlantis as it coincides with Plato’s date of circa 9,600 BC for the Atlantean attack on eastern Mediterranean. However, this creates one major problem, namely that Athens and Egypt did not exist as structured societies at such an early date! In order to explain this coincidence Massimo Rapisarda has speculated that in writing the Atlantis tale, Plato had incorporated an ancient myth “linked to the memory of that ancient cataclysm,” which occurred at the end of the last Ice Age.
>Rapisarda also notes that the beginning and ending of the Younger Dryas period coincide with MWP1a and MWP1b respectively!(b)<
The last Pulse, MWP1c, took place around 6000 BC and should have left some evidence in historical records. Recently P.P. Flambas suggested that either MWP1b or MWP1c may have led to inundations known to the Greeks as the Flood of Ogyges.
Malta is a small densely populated archipelago, strategically situated in the Central Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia. There is a claim that early Maltese were Phoenicians who came from Lebanon around 3000 BC(i). However, they do not appear to have been the first, as temple building on the islands began centuries earlier and before that, there is evidence to show a Neanderthal presence there (See below). It was not until the 1st millennium BC that there was a formal occupation of Malta by the more militant successors of the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians and many centuries later the Knights Templar.
Nowadays, Malta has a highly recognisable national flag adorned with an eight-pointed cross, now universally accepted as Maltese. However, this symbol has a long history and greater geographical spread than generally realised. Gary A. David has written an informative paper(af) on the Maltese Cross and its variants as found around the world. He pointed out its use in the Americas by the ancient Olmecs and has laid great emphasis on its place in the inherited culture of the Hopi Indians.
An unexpected reference to this national symbol can be found in the writings [1848.71] of Maurice Chatelain, an ancient astronaut theorist, who claimed that within a 450-mile radius of the Aegean island of Delos there were 13 mystical sites, which when connected by straight lines formed a perfect Maltese Cross(ah)!
It is claimed by some that the name ‘Malta’ is derived from the Phoenician word ‘Maleth’, meaning refuge. However, the name is more generally accepted to be taken from the Greek word for honey meli and was later known to the Romans as Melita, the Latin equivalent. Malta was renowned in ancient times for the quality of its honey, which may explain why the light-fingered, 1st century BC Roman governor, Verres, stole 400 amphorae of it (about 2800 gallons) over three years.
Malta, for most Christians, is where St. Paul was shipwrecked on his way to Rome, but even this is disputed by the inhabitants of Mljet in the Adriatic, who make an identical claim.
Today, Malta is a stepping-stone between North Africa and Europe. At the time of the last Ice Age it was probably joined to Sicily but whether it was also joined to North Africa is a matter for debate. This possibility depends on the extent to which the level of the Mediterranean was lowered by the growth of the Ice Age glaciers and whether that lowering was exacerbated by the existence of a land bridge between Southern Spain and Morocco. Vittorio Castellani offers a possible map of the enlarged Sicily extending to include the Maltese Islands, leaving a narrow strait between an expanded Malta and the coast of Tunisia. Dr Anton Mifsud has researched ancient maps of the Central Mediterranean region and demonstrated that the early cartographers knew the Maltese archipelago as having a much larger area than at present. G.N. Godwin expressed similar views regarding an earlier enlarged Maltese landmass in his Guide to the Maltese Islands .
The Greek text describes Atlantis as being ‘pro’ in front of or before the Pillars of Heracles rather than ‘meta’ beyond them, which would fit a description of Malta being in front of (east of) Pillars if as suggested, they were located at the Strait of Sicily.
Commenting on this preposition, J. Warren Wells points out that “Plato uses ‘pro’ seven times in Timaeus and twice in Critias. In eight of these cases, it is used in relation to ‘time before’ rather than ‘place before.’It is used only one time in relation to place or position. That single occurrence is where he refers to the island of Atlantis being before (pro) the straits at the Pillars of Heracles.” He concluded that at the very least, close proximity is implied.
W.K.C. Guthrie in A History of Greek Philosophy (Vol.5, p245) comments similarly – “’ before the entrance’ I take to mean that it was at no great distance, but the volcanic Azores have a better geographical claim to be the remains of Atlantis than any spot within the Mediterranean.”
Guthrie recognised that Plato was describing the island of Atlantis as being near the Pillars of Heracles, but based on the assumption that the Pillars were situated at Gibraltar, he was forced to opt for the Azores as the location of Atlantis, even though that at a distance of 1,100 miles they cannot in any way be described as being “at no great distance” from the ‘Pillars’. Consideration of other know locations, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, that was also, at different times, designated as the Pillars of Heracles, show several islands, including Malta, close to each nominated site.
Malta is home to some of the earliest and most spectacular megalithic monuments in Europe, with some finely carved art, particularly of spirals as can be seen in Michael Ridley’s book. Unfortunately, many more have been lost, Lenie Reedijk in her recent book, Sirius – the Star of the Maltese Temples , lists 100 megalithic sites on Malta & Gozo, of which two-thirds have been lost [p.14/15]. She also contends that the temple building in Malta was spread over a much longer period than generally accepted, beginning as early as 9150 BC and lasting until 4250 BC.
Many attempts have been made to link the orientation of the temples with various astronomical bodies. A limited study by John Cox proposed a connection with moonrise (t). Mario Vassallo favours an association with the winter solstice sunrise(u). Klaus Albrecht also identifies  the winter solstice sunrise as his preferred orientation(v). Reedijk offers a far more radical explanation for the alignment of all the temples, namely that they were directed at Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky at that time. However, precession slowly broke that alignment. Reedijk noted that “a star whose rising and setting point was aligned with a temple axis of a given monument at a given time will have moved out of its line of sight in the course of several centuries. When this happened the need would have been felt to build another monument with a slightly different orientation of its main axis, in order to be in line with the star again.”
What I do not understand is why, according to Reedjik, the Maltese temple builders continued to build their re-aligned monuments for over five millennia without simply modifying existing temples rather than engaging in the immense work involved in starting from scratch after every failure of orientation.
Tore Lomsdalen has an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. He is now studying for his PhD in archaeology at the University of Malta. He has published several papers on the orientation of the Maltese temples some with a particular focus on Mnajdra(am)(an).
In September 2021 a Canadian researcher, Irene Friesen Wolfstone published a paper(ao) in which she “hypothesizes an Afrocentric origin for the astronomical knowledge that informed the megalithic temple builders of Malta.” and explaining that “using a cosmological epistemology, I hypothesize the cosmological principles that were expressed in the astronomical and matricentric design of Mnajdra.”
Carmelo Raymond Sant is a retired engineer and the author of two books [1701/2] concerning the Maltese temples and their function as calendars, which are supported by a fully illustrated website(y). His intense study of the temples and the evidence that over time their orientation changed, led him to conclude that within human experience some form of tectonic rotation south of Sicily has taken place. To quote Sant “two main anomalies became evident in the megalithic calendar. The first obvious one was related to alignment. Unknown geological events had taken place, which contradict the established view on plate tectonics (see micro-plate rotations). The second concerns Earth dynamics. The evidence in the design hint strongly to abrupt changes in the Earth axial tilt, in contradiction to established thinking.“(z)
Malta is home to some of the earliest and most spectacular megalithic monuments in Europe. Dr Mifsud has pointed out that the size and number of these ancient monuments are greater than an island of Malta’s present extent could be expected to produce. This view when combined with the mysterious ‘cart-ruts’ that run straight off cliffs, and then reappear on the opposite side of a bay or across open sea, all point to Malta having been a much larger landmass within the experience of man, namely, not earlier than 5000 BC. The cartruts.com website shows(d) the possible shoreline of Malta at 5000 BC and 8000 BC. The same site has a page on ‘torba’ an alleged prehistoric Maltese cement. The tiny island of Filfla three miles off the south coast of Malta had cart ruts visible on it before it was used for target practice by the British military(g). The clear implication was that it had been connected to the main island while it was inhabited. Furthermore, three miles offshore from Sliema on the north side of Malta submerged ruins of what is thought to be a temple (now named ‘Gebel Gol-Bahar’)(h) were discovered in 1999.
I expect that further discoveries will be made, but as it is, there is sufficient evidence to prove that when it was initially settled and certainly as late as some of the Temple Period, the archipelago had been considerably greater in extent than today. A short history of Filfla is worth a read(o).
An underwater study (2013) of the seafloor between Malta and Sicily revealed that the archipelago had been connected to Sicily by a 40 km wide land bridge, now submerged by rising sea levels following the last Ice Age(w).
In 2010, a former co-author of Mifsud’s, Charles Savona-Ventura, rather strangely, independently published a fourteen-page booklet, In Search of Atlantis, in which he reiterated his support for Malta as Atlantis!
In 2014, it was reported(k) in the Times of Malta that a huge underwater canyon, previously unknown, with an extent eight times the size of the Maltese Islands, had been discovered in an area known as the Malta Escarpment. It was also found that the canyon had been active recently, highlighting the geological instability in the region. (The link below includes a short video clip).
In 1923, R. M. Gattefossé commented  that many of Malta’s ancient monuments were “Atlantean” in character, although he believed that Atlantis had been located in the Atlantic. Dr Mifsud attributes the earliest linking of Malta with Atlantis to the 16th-century writer, Bibischok. However, it was over three hundred years before the suggestion was made again, when in 1854, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, the renowned Maltese architect, proposed that the Maltese Islands were remnants of Atlantis. In 1910 the celebrated Maltese botanist, John Borg offered the opinion that Atlantis had been situated on the submerged land between Malta and North Africa .
D. H. Childress reports that in 1922, the archaeologist, Joseph Bosco also supported this idea. Three-quarters of a century passed before the idea of a Maltese connection with Atlantis was again revived, in particular by the publication of two books, one by Anton Mifsud and the other Francis Galea, in English and Maltese respectively. Both of these books are the result of extensive investigation and have inspired others to continue their study. Graham Hancock was prompted to visit the island and gained material there for his popular book on ancient flooded cities.
Mifsud is widely accepted as Malta’s leading atlantologist and was the principal author of Malta, Echoes of Plato’s Island, in which a very strong case was made for considering Malta as Atlantis. In 2017, he published Island of the Gods (available on the academia.edu website), which strengthened his Atlantis theories with complementary material. As can be seen from the bibliography here, Mifsud has written several books and papers concerning the history and prehistory of this strategically situated island and the endless procession of traders and occupiers – Neanderthals, Megalith Builders, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans.
Another contributor to the study and literature of the island’s prehistoric origins that should be mentioned is the late Joseph S. Ellul. He was a Maltese teacher and the author of a paper, Malta’s Prediluvian Culture…, that links the submergence of some of Malta’s monuments with Noah’s Flood, which he identified with the controversial idea of the breaching of a land bridge between Spain and Morocco.
While most researchers have focused on the extraordinary number of ancient monuments on the small archipelago, it might be worth considering what is not found on the islands, namely, anything to do with military action. There are no obvious defensive structures and no depiction of warriors or their weaponry. Everything seems to indicate a peaceful society, perhaps, as I and others have already speculated, it was originally a place of pilgrimage(m)(n) or some form of sanctuary!
Hubert Zeitlmair, a retired German real estate investor, is fascinated by the Megalithic remains on Malta, but unfortunately, he ascribes their existence to the intervention of alien visitors a la Zechariah Sitchin. He has outlined his views in a book, written in German with an English version promised in the future. Zeitlmair expands on a number of his outlandish claims on his website(f), UFOs, Nibiru as well as “the Atlantean ‘Cold Fire Fusion’ Power house in Malta that still generates Non-lethal High-Frequency Active Auroral Energy.” Similar waffle has been published in the first two books of a trilogy by Francis Xavier Aloisio, who claims that the Maltese temples “are a Reservoir of Consciousness, so we need to start to look at the structures in a very different way. They were ‘charge compressors’, ‘energy generators’ and ‘power houses.’ In a word, they were ‘energy centres’ for planet Earth.”
Quite recently, Aloisio’s wife, Christine, also joined the ‘lunatic fringe’ and published The Crystal City of Atlantis , which she claims is under Malta. The promotional blurb tells us how “The reader is taken through a remarkable chronicle of how they found Ashua.ra.ta.ra, the Crystal City of Atlantis and met the High Priest who shares with the author his wisdom and describes their Inner Earth Kingdom. The High Priest also reveals how he and his fellow Atlanteans fled there, after the last devastating flood of Atlantis.” For good measure, the author reveals that Lemuria had been situated in California in ancient times!
Anton Mifsud has noted that “Without the use of metal, the ancient Maltese were erecting the first domed structures of the world; these sanctuaries were also being built in accordance with an anti-seismic blueprint, and, amongst other designs, most if not all of these temples incorporated highly advanced acoustics that is still retained in the ‘closed’ surviving framework at the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum”(ab) Glenn Kreisberg, is an American researcher, who has investigated archaeoacoustics and has visited the Hypogeum and carried out experiments there(ac).
In 2020, it was announced that acoustic engineers from the University of Salford had demonstrated that Stonehenge had acoustic qualities that allowed “any sounds produced inside the temple would have been much less audible to anybody outside the circle, despite the monument almost certainly not having a roof.
The findings, therefore, suggest that any sounds generated by activities carried out inside the circle were not intended to be shared with the wider community. This reinforces theories suggesting that the potential religious activities conducted inside Stonehenge were reserved for an elite of practitioners, rather than for a wider communal congregation.”(ad)(ae)
Casey Terry notes[1542.36] that Pavel Smutny, a Czech researcher, who is an ardent promoter of the idea of ancient advanced technology, has gone further and proposed that the Maltese temple complexes “were used probably as generators of high-frequency acoustic waves. The purpose was (maybe) to arrange a communication channel between various islands”!(ag) A similar claim regarding the Maltese temples as acoustic communication centres is to be found in a paper written by Glenn Kreisberg (ab).
Another site(aj) noted that “There is no denying that a sophisticated school of architectural knowledge was already in place a thousand years before the Egyptians started building pyramids. (The same people who created Hal Saflieni also engineered a complete solar calendar in one of their above-ground megalithic structures, with solstice and equinox sunrise alignments that still function today.)”
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum has produced a mystery, a controversy and an accusation of conspiracy. When it was excavated several longheaded skulls were found. However, since the middle of the 20th century, most of these skulls have quietly vanished. Fortunately, Dr Anton Mifsud has not let the matter rest and tracked down some of these and in a detailed publication(ak) has explained: “that they have been intentionally hidden from the general public for various reasons, political, national and cultural for over a century.” Mifsud has now published the fourth(ap) in a series of books on these long-headed skulls and, no doubt to the disappointment of some, concluded that “the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum skulls are alien, alien to the norm, but not alien as in extra-terrestrial.” Part three has already been published(ak) and parts one and two are in preparation.
The most recent and more rational support for a Maltese location has come from Albert Nikas, a computer engineer, who submitted a paper(b) to the 2008 Atlantis Conference. Sunday, November 19th 2017 saw the publication of an article(l) by Nikas in Malta’s Sunday Independent, in which he describes his recent visit to many temples in the archipelago. He goes on to claim that he has located the ruins of an ancient city, just offshore, which he believes to have been the capital of Atlantis, not far from Valletta, the modern capital.
Massimo Rapisarda submitted another paper to the same conference suggesting that Atlantis had been located in Sicily in the vicinity of the seaport of Marsala. That conference also heard Axel Hausmann identify a region that included part of North Africa and the area between Libya and Sicily as the home of Atlantis.
Alberto Arecchi, who also advocates a Central Mediterranean Atlantis noted that “We can identify in this system the “Heracles’ columns” of the ancient mythology (one of the two “columns” appears identifiable with the island of Malta).” (s)
I do not know what future investigations will reveal, but I am certain that they will demonstrate that Malta had a more important part to play in the Atlantis story than is generally accepted today. The megalithic heritage of Malta predates that of Egypt by a millennium, considerably enhancing its candidacy as the location of Atlantis. A wonderful panoramic view of some of the temples can be seen on the Internet(c).
The second largest of the Maltese archipelago, Gozo, is claimed by some to have been Ogygia the home of the mythical Calypso. Today, there is a cave overlooking Gozo’s Ramla Bay which, by tradition, is thought to be “the one where the beautiful nymph Calypso keeps Odysseus as a “prisoner of love” for seven years.” (x)
Gozo also claims to have the oldest free-standing temples in the world known as Ggantija. In the early 19th century a Danish-German artist painted a number of watercolours of the Ggantija area that “show stones and reliefs that have since been destroyed” (ai).
Many websites discuss the prehistory of Malta(a). One well-illustrated site(e) concentrates on the evidence of catastrophic events affecting the landscape of the archipelago in the distant past. A newspaper report of June 2016(j) pushes back the prehistory of Malta by 30,000 years with the claim that Neanderthals may have lived on the island, assuming that it was an island then! In 2016, Mifsud published Dossier Malta – Neanderthal  in which he outlines the evidence for the existence of Neanderthal Man on Malta.
Malta also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the town of Marsaxlokk appropriately, but not uniquely, called Atlantis.
On Sunday, January 13th 2019. the UK’s Sunday Express delighted its readers with TWO Atlantis stories(q)(r). The online edition of the paper offered a video clip of the Maltese island of Filfla, while the commentator told us that Plato had said that a devastating earthquake had destroyed Atlantis it was finished off by an eruption. This is factually incorrect as Plato never mentioned an eruption. Then, as if that was not enough, the same edition of the same newspaper has another story by the same ‘reporter’, with an ‘Atlantis Discovered’ headline claims that the remains of an ancient 8,000 year-old city, home to ‘tens of thousands’ of people, had been discovered in the North Sea, in a huge region sometimes referred to as Doggerland. The reporter cites Dr Richard Bates in support of this account. Unfortunately, the 2012 comments by Dr Bates never mentioned ‘a city’, only a vast area occupied by ‘tens of thousands’ of people, presumably early farmers(p). These two accounts are a sad reflection on the quality of media reporting today.
I cannot leave this subject without mentioning Julian Cope’s The Megalithic European , described as “the most extensive study of European megalithic sites to date.” This beautifully illustrated book offers information on 300 sites, including Malta, visited by the author, some of which were new to me.
(u) ‘The Location of the Maltese Neolithic Temple Sites’, Sunday Times, 26 August 2007, pp. 44–46.
Pharos in the Nile Delta has been suggested by R. McQuillen as the location of Atlantis. It should be noted that the cities of Canopus and Herakleion in the same area were submerged, apparently due to liquefaction(h), following an earthquake between 731 and 743 BC. If something similar occurred to Atlantis situated at Pharos it might explain the shoals of mud reported by Plato and may even have been the reason for the erection of the famous lighthouse there, completed around 280 BC.
This lighthouse at Pharos took 20 years to build and is reported to have been as much as 450 feet in height, topped with a statue of Poseidon (or Zeus). It is claimed that there was also a furnace on top which, according to Robert Temple , suggested that some form of mirror reflected light out to sea. There is evidence from writers as early as Homer that nocturnal sea travel was commonplace in ancient times(d), so some system of beacons to assist this, would have been a natural development.
In a study of ancient lighthouses (pharology) by Ken Trethewey(a), he indicates that there were probably precursors to the Alexandrian edifice, but that there is no archaeological evidence to support this contention. One suggestion is that altars, temples and latterly Christian churches frequently situated at the end of promontories may have functioned initially as navigational aids, keeping in mind that early Mediterranean seafarers preferred coastal hugging to open sea travel. I would think it strange if such locations were not used for beacons.
A book review by Terrance M.P. Duggan draws attention to the use of the word ‘pharos’ as far back as Homer’s time, centuries before the Alexandrine structure was built(c). Duggan has also noted in an extensive study of ancient beacons(d) how “sailing at night was practiced in antiquity, first by the Phoenicians” and that “later, sailing at night is mentioned repeatedly by Homer in the Odyssey.” It must be obvious that such regular nocturnal travel could not have been achieved without the availability of some system of warning beacons.
Duggan also notes the use of false beacons such as in the story of “Palamedes’s father, the King of Naupilus or Euboea, then lit a series of false beacons leading to the shipwreck off Euboea of much of the Achaean fleet returning from the Trojan War, using false maritime navigational beacons to serve as a wrecker’s device, and with the use of these false navigational beacons quite clearly indicating the presence at this date of considerable numbers of genuine navigational beacons along coastlines to provide an expected navigational guide for ships sailing through the night.“
What I also found interesting was another quote by Duggan of a passage from Al-Mas’udi, circa 947 AD – “At the point where the Mediterranean Sea joins the Atlantic Ocean there is a lighthouse of stone and copper (bronze), built by the giant Hercules (probably to be associated with the location of the Phoenician Temple of Melkart-Herakles on the North African side). It is covered with inscriptions and statues whose hand gestures proclaim to those coming from the Mediterranean who wish to enter the Atlantic Ocean, ‘There is no way beyond me’” This is a clear association of Heracles with a lighthouse and raises the question of whether this was a more widespread occurrence, which seems possible.
At the other end of the Mediterranean, the Colossus of Rhodes is also thought by some(g) to have functioned as a lighthouse, but at the very least was a daytime navigational marker, Heracles was also worshipped on the island as the founder of its first settlement.
The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the centre of the town of A Coruña, Galicia, in north-western Spain.>There is also a claim that a Roman lighthouse existed at Akko (Acre), now in northern Israel, is discussed elsewhere and supported by numismatic and archaeological evidence(i).<
Massimo Rapisarda & Marcello Ranieri have now published a paper(f) pointing to possible land-based navigational aids, most likely, Phoenician, at the Sicilian promontory of Capo Gallo. They also refer to “the renowned Phoenician ability to navigate at night.”
Trethewey, a leading pharologist, published Ancient Lighthouses  in 2018. Furthermore, he has also published a series of eight lengthy papers on pharology on the academia.edu website(e).
Another paper by Marco Vigano also investigates the subject of proto-lighthouses(b), furthermore, a book review by Terrance M.P. Duggan draws attention to the use of the word ‘pharos’ as far back as Homer’s time, centuries before the Alexandrine structure was built(c). Duggan has also written a paper on The Missing Navigational Markers(d).
A recent book, The Electric Mirror on the Pharos Lighthouse, edited by Larry Brian Radka, argues spiritedly for the use of electricity at Pharos!
Pantelleria was formed by ancient volcanic action, but even as recently as 1891 there was a submarine eruption off its NW coast. This ancient vulcanism created large deposits of highly-prized obsidian on the island. Because of its importance for tool making, it was traded extensively in the Central Mediterranean from the Neolithic period onwards(g).
This conclusion is probably based on the existence of a location on the northeast coast of the island called Gadir. However, it must be kept in mind that Gadira or variants of it are frequently found in the Mediterranean region, usually at the site of former Phoenician settlements. However, north of Pantelleria are the Egadi Islands(c), another name evocative of Plato’s Gades.
Gades has been associated with Erytheia in the story of the Trials of Hercules, so if the Map Mistress website is correct in locating Erytheia(d) between Pantelleria and the Egadi Islands, it would confine all the ‘Trials’ in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, consequently, locating the Pillars of Heracles somewhere in the latter region.
More recently, some authors have identified the Straits of Sicily as being the location of the Pillars of Heracles referred to by Plato in his tale of Atlantis. A land bridge between Sicily and Tunisia, including Pantelleria, has also been suggested, but this is unlikely according to bathymetric data.
A fortified Neolithic village has been unearthed on its west coast and ancient structures, known as ‘sesi’, similar to the nuraghi of Sardinia, are to be seen in the southeast.>One in particular, known as the Grande Sese, is a 5,000-year-old six metre high mausoleum, containing twelve ‘cells’. “The civilization who built this and another sese nearby are believed to have settled on the island after arriving from Northern Africa.”(h)<
In 2005, jewellery in the style of the Egyptian Second Intermediate Period (1700-1550 BC) was discovered on the island. This would add to the opinion that Pantelleria was a major trading and cultural crossroads in ancient times.
Massimo Rapisarda has commented that “a good candidate to host a primordial civilization might have been the archipelago then existing in the Strait of Sicily, a natural maritime link between Tunisia and Italy, prized by the presence of an obsidian source at Pantelleria.”(f)
In August 2015, it was claimed(b) that a manufactured stone column was found on the Pantelleria Vecchia Bank, just north of the island of Pantelleria, in 40 metres of water. It is claimed that the area was an archipelago, if not actually connected to Sicily, before the last Ice Age ended around 7350 BC. The monolith was dated using shells extracted from it. It took no time before the discovery was linked by a number of sites with Plato’s Atlantis. While I believe that the area was part of the Atlantean domain, I am more inclined to date its expansionist intentions to a much later period, such as the 2nd millennium BC.
Dating Atlantis is one of the most contentious difficulties faced by Atlantology. The critical problem is to identify the time of the Atlantean War and that of the later destruction of Atlantis itself; two events possibly separated by a period not recorded by Plato. This entry is primarily concerned with the date of the war. However, it should be pointed out that Plato also reveals that the Atlantis story has a very long history before the war, back to a time when ships and sailing did not yet exist (Crit.113e), so it is understandable when Plato filled the historical gap with mythological characters, namely five sets of twins sired by Poseidon. Of course, Poseidon being a sea god did not require a boat to get to the island of Atlantis! Plato also informs us that the twins and their descendants lived on the island for ‘many generations’ and extended their rule over many other islands in the sea (Crit.114c).
There are roughly three schools of thought regarding this important detail. The first group persist in accepting at face value Plato’s reference to a period of 9,000 solar years having elapsed since the War with Atlantis up to the time of Solon’s visit around 550 BC. The second group are convinced that the 9,000 refers to periods other than solar years, such as lunar cycles or seasons. The third group seeks to identify the time of Atlantis by linking it to other known historical events.
While these groups offered some level of evidence, however flimsy, to support their claims, some individuals have placed Atlantis up to millions of years in the past based on nothing more than their fertile imaginations or delusions. Arguably the best known was Edgar Cayce, but purveyors of such daft ideas are still lurking among us!(m)
[1.0] 9550 BC is factually correct
This view has a slowly dwindling number of supporters among serious investigators.>Massimo Rapisarda is one such promoter, who has offered his reasons for accepting this early date(p).<To support this early date proponents usually cite a wide range of evidence to suggest the existence of advanced cultures in the 10th millennium BC. Matters such as an earlier than conventionally accepted date for the Sphinx, early proto-alphabets a la Glozel or the apparently anomalous structures such as the Lixus foundations or the controversial Baalbek megaliths have all been recruited to support an early date for Atlantis, many, if not all, have their dates hotly disputed. Apart from the contentious dates, there is NOTHING to definitively link any of them with Plato’s Atlantis.
In common with most nations, the Egyptians competitively promoted the great antiquity of their own origins. Herodotus reports that while in Egypt he was told of a succession of kings extending over 17,000 years. The priests of Memphis told him firmly that 341 kings and a similar number of high priests had until then, ruled their country. (Herodotus, Book II, 142). Even an average reign of 20 years would give a total of nearly 7000 years whereas a more improbable 26-year average would be required to span the necessary 9000 years.
It is therefore obvious that the 17,000 years related to Herodotus is not credible raising a question regarding the trustworthiness of the 9000 years told to Solon.
In The Laws Plato refers to Egyptian art going back 10,000 years, seemingly, indicating consistency in his belief in the great antiquity of civilisation and fully compatible with his date for Atlantis. However, I have discovered that in Plato’s time ‘ten thousand’ was frequently used simply to express a large but indefinite number.
A Bible study site tells us that “The use of definite numerical expressions in an indefinite sense, that is, as round numbers, which is met with in many languages, seems to have been very prevalent in Western Asia from early times to the present day.”(h)
The acceptance of Plato’s 9,000 years as literally correct defies both commonsense and the archaeological evidence, which demonstrates that neither Athens nor a structured Egypt existed at such an early period.>The onus is on those, who accept the prima facie date of 9,600 BC, to explain how Atlantis attacked a non-existent Athens or Egypt.<
>In a 2021 article(h) about 10,000 BC Thorwald C. Franke offered the following opinion; “Many scientists seem to live quite comfortably with Graham Hancock and similar authors speculating about 10,000 BC, because these hypotheses are so nonsensical that they do not interfere with real science. Sometimes you have the impression that many scientists even prefer such misleading popular errors over more informed hypotheses because they would make the audience ask more serious questions and then the questions could not be dismissed so easily anymore. But this is only an impression. In truth, scientists shy away from the effort to overcome these popular errors. It is much easier to stay silent and to ignore them.”<
>Alexandros Angelis wrote(q) of how he is “always suspicious of coincidence. Whenever I hear this word, an alarm sets off in my head. In my book ‘Our Unknown Ancient Past: Thoughts and Reflections on the Unexplained Mysteries of Prehistory’ I state that it cannot be a coincidence that Plato’s date of Atlantis’ destruction (9.600 BC) is spot on, coinciding with the abrupt end of the Younger Dryas (9.600 BC).”<
>When this compiler first encountered this coincidence I was also suspicious. However, as I investigated further I realised that all of Plato’s numbers seemed to be inflated by what was arguably a common factor – another coincidence? I have devoted an entire chapter in Joining the Dots to this problem.<
>Angelis considers the ‘rapid’ gradual melting of the ice at the end of the Younger Dryas as the cause of Atlantis’ submergence, which might have been true except that Plato tells us that the catastrophe took place over a day and a night and that the event was triggered by an earthquake. He seems unaware that isostatic rebound is a very slow process of readjustment involving centuries and sometimes thousands of years and even when glaciers melt rapidly, sea levels, because of their vastness, rise slowly.<
[2.0] 9000 refers to units of time other than solar years
Advocates of this view, understandably point out, that the Atlantis described in such detail by Plato belongs to the Bronze Age and could not have existed at an earlier date. It is worth noting that the technology is coincidental with the most advanced known to Plato and his audience. For those who argue that mankind has been destroyed on one or more occasions and has had to start again from scratch, it is not credible that if this was the case, that the culture and technology described by Plato as existing in 9500 BC is precisely what he would have experienced himself. There is nothing in the Atlantis texts to connect it with a pre-Bronze Age society, nor is there anything to suggest any technology or cultural advance beyond that of the 4th century BC. Plato’s tale tells of the existence of at least three major nations before the destruction of Atlantis: Egypt, Athens and Atlantis itself. There is no archaeological evidence to indicate anything other than Neolithic cultures existing in Egypt or Athens around 9500 BC. The currently accepted date for the beginning of Egyptian civilisation is circa 3100 BC and also for the existence of a primitive culture around Athens at about the same time. This would parallel the time of the western European megalithic builders.
It is noteworthy that researchers who support a 9,600 BC date for the war between Atlantis and Athens cannot explain how this took place millennia before there was any structured society in Greece.
It may be worth noting the comments of Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman who have argued for a 7thcentury BC date for the final draft of the Exodus narrative rather than during the 2nd millennium BC as suggested by the text. “In much the same way that European illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages depicted Jerusalem as a European city with turrets and battlements to heighten its direct impact on contemporary readers” (p68). Similarly, it is possible that Plato added architectural and technological details of his day to a more ancient tale of a lost civilisation to make a more powerful impression on his audience.
According to Bury’s translation, Plato mentions (Crit. 119e) that iron was used for utensils and weapons in Atlantis and so forcing us to look to a date later than 2000 BC for its destruction. Olaf Rudbeck drew attention to this reference around 1700.
Diaz-Montexano claims that the ‘9000 years’ in Critias has been mistranslated. He refers to the earliest versions of Critias that are available and insists that the texts permit a translation of either ‘9 times in a 1000 years’ or ‘1009’, the first being the more rational! Frank Joseph has also used this 1009 number, quoting private correspondence from Kenneth Caroli, in his 2015 regurgitation of Atlantis and 2012. Diaz-Montexano has also drawn attention to the commentary on Timaeus by Proclus, writing in the 5th century AD, where he treats Plato’s use of 9000 as having symbolic rather than literal meaning. It should also be kept in mind that many cultures, ancient and modern use specific numbers to indicate indefinite values(e).>In a more recent paper Diaz-Montexano concluded that “we can place their military and colonizing expansion towards the end of 3.500 BC, at the earliest, and the end of their civilization (with Atlantis sinking) between 2.700 and 1.700 BC.”(o)<
[2.2] In June 2017, a forum on the Historum.com website included the following possible explanation for the Atlantean dates:
“ The date 8000 is given as a fraction of 8 since the Greeks commonly used fractional notation. Plato wrote in 400 BC and Solon obtained the account in 570 BC.
No Egyptian Annals ever went back 9000 or even 8000 years. The furthest back the Egyptian annals went at the time of Herodotus was to 3050 BC to the reign of Menes the first Pharaoh who Herodotus knew about. Therefore it is obvious that the number of years has been given as a fraction which was extremely common in Greek numerology.
Thus the war between Atlantis and Athens occurred in 9000/8 + 570 = 1695 BC (+/-63 years) which is pretty close to the date of the war between the Titans and the Gods c.1685-1675 BC. The entire story of Atlantis runs concurrent to the time of the Thera Eruption. You even have 10 kings ruling the land equivalent to the 12 Titans.”
The bible too denotes years as fractions, i.e. seasons, equinoxes/solstices etc. That is why you have biblical patriarchs that lived 800 and 900 years old. The ages to Noah are all counted in Lunar months.”(i)
While I’m aware that the Egyptians also had a different way of dealing with fractions, I really cannot fully understand the suggestion made above.
[2.3] 900, not 9000 years
To address these apparent conflicts, some have suggested that the stated 9000 years, which allegedly elapsed since the catastrophe, are the result of incorrect transcription by someone along what is a very long chain of transmission and that hundreds have somehow been confused with thousands and that the correct figure should be 900 years. Another suggestion is that the Egyptian hieroglyphics for ‘hundred’ and ‘thousand’ are easily confused. This explanation does not hold water, as there is little room for confusion between these hieroglyphics as illustrated below. This idea has been adopted by Don Ingram and incorporated into his own hypothesis.
However, 900 years earlier than Solon would place the conflict with the Atlanteans during the XVIIIth Dynasty and would have been well recorded. More recently Diaz-Montexano put forward the idea that the Egyptian words for ‘100’ and ‘1000’ when spoken sounded similar leading to Solon’s error. This idea has now been taken up by James Nienhuis and in greater detail by R. McQuillen(a).
Another explanation offered by James W. Mavor Jnr. is that the original Egyptian story emanated from Crete where it may have been written in either the Linear A or Linear B script where the symbols for 100 and 1000 are quite similar. In both scripts, the symbol for 100 is a circle whereas the symbol for 1000 is a circle with four equally spaced small spikes or excrescences projecting outward.
Nevertheless, the most potent argument against the ‘factor ten’ solution is that if the priests did not intend to suggest that Egypt was founded 8000 years before Solon’s visit but had meant 800 years, it would place the establishment of Egypt at around 1450 BC, which is clearly at variance with undisputed archaeological evidence. However, I contend that they were referring to the establishment of Sais as a centre of importance, not the foundation of the entire nation of Egypt.
[2.4] 9000 months not years
As early as 1572 Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa suggested the application of lunar ‘years’ rather than solar years to Plato’s figures. Augustin Zárate expressed the same view in 1577, quoting Eudoxus in support of it.
Then there are others, such as Émile Mir Chaouat and Jürgen Hepke who subscribe to the view that the 9000 ‘years’ recorded by Plato referred to months rather than solar years, as the early Egyptians extensively used a lunar calendar and continued to use it throughout their long history, particularly for determining the dates of religious festivals and since Solon received the Atlantis story from Egyptian priests it would be understandable if they used lunar ‘years’ in their conversations. Eudoxus of Cnidos (c.400 BC- c. 350 BC), mathematician and astronomer, who spent a year in Egypt, declared, “The Egyptians reckon a month as a year”. Diodorus Siculus (1st cent. BC) echoes this statement. (see Richard A. Parker) and Manetho (3rd cent.BC) (Aegyptiaca[1373.40])
Olof Rudbeck also proposed that Plato misunderstood the Greek priesthood’s use of lunar cycles rather than solar years to calculate time. This in turn led him to date the Atlantean War to 1350 BC.
This use of months rather than years would give us a total of just 750 years before Solon’s visit and so would place the Atlantis catastrophe around 1300 BC, nearly coinciding with the eruption of Thera and the collapse of the Minoan civilisation.
A similar explanation has been offered by J.Q. Jacobs to rationalise the incredible time spans found in ancient Indian literature, who suggested that numbers referred to days rather than years(b).
[2.5] 5,000 not 9,000 years
A claim was made on Graham Hancock’s website in 2008(c) that Plato did not write 9,000 but instead wrote 5,000, but that the characters for both were quite similar leading to the misunderstanding. This claim was originally made by Livezeanu Mihai. However, my reading of Greek numerals makes this improbable as 9,000 requires five characters ( one for 5,000 and one for each of the other four thousand), while 5,000 needs just the one.
Adrian Bucurescu claims that Plato originally said 5,000, not 9,000 years had elapsed between the Atlantean war and Solon’s visit to Egypt. He bases this claim on the fact that the works of the Greek philosophers were preserved in Arabic translations after the fall of Constantinople and that their numbers ‘5’ and ‘9’ were sufficiently similar to have led to a transcription error!(b) This is difficult to accept as the Arabic character for nine is rather like our ‘9’, while the Arabic five is like our zero!
[3.1] Sometime after 9500 BC.
Jonas Bergman correctly points out that according to the story related by the priests of Sais to Solon, the Egyptian civilisation was founded 1000 years after Athens was first established in 9600 BC. Although this probably just refers to the founding of the city of Sais rather than the early Egyptian state.
Plato describes the original division of the earth between the gods of old, Poseidon got Atlantis and Athena got Greece. The implication is that both were founded at the same time, namely in 9600 BC. Realistically, the 9000-year time span is better treated as an introductory literary cliché such as ‘once upon a time’ or the Irish ‘fado, fado’ (long, long ago). Plato’s text describes the building of Atlantis and informs us that no man could get to the island ‘for ships and voyages were not yet’. Since Atlantis had twelve hundred warships at the time of the conflict with Athens, the war could not have taken place in 9600 BC. The development of seafaring and shipbuilding would have taken considerable time. Bergman concludes that the war with Atlantis took place long after 9600 BC.
Another date was proposed by Otto Muck  in 1976 when he maintained that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic and was destroyed by an asteroidal impact in 8498 BC and proposed that the same event also created the Carolina Bays!
[3.2] Peter James as quoted in Francis Hitching’s The World Atlas of Mysteries[307.138] is reported to have accepted the orthodox date of 3100 BC as the start of Egyptian civilisation and considering the priest’s statement that the events outlined took place one thousand years before the creation of Egypt and so added only 500 years to compensate for nationalistic exaggeration and has concluded that 3600 BC is a more realistic date for the destruction of Atlantis.
[3.3] Early in the 20th century, the German scholar Adolf Schulten and the classicist H. Diller from Kiel, both advocated an even more radical date of around 500 BC, having identified the narrative of Plato as paralleling much of the Persian wars (500-449 BC) with the Greeks. This however would be after Solon’s trip to Egypt and have made little sense of Plato’s reference to him.
[3.4] 4015 BC is the precise date offered by Col. Alexander Braghine who credits the destruction of Atlantis to a close encounter with Halley’s Comet on the 7th June in that year. This is close to the date favoured by de Grazia.
[3.5] 3590-1850 BC has been suggested by the Czech writer Radek Brychta who has developed an ingenious idea based on the fact that the Egyptians who were so dependent on the Nile, divided their year into three seasons related to their river, the flooding, the blossom and the harvest periods. Brychta points out that counting time by seasons rather than solar years was common in the Indus civilisation that occupied part of modern Pakistan. Even today Pakistan has three seasons, cool, hot and wet. Brychta contends that the 9000 ‘years’ related to Solon were in fact seasons and should be read by us as 3000 years which when added to the date of Solon’s Egyptian visit would give an outside date of 3590 BC. If Brychta is correct this 9000 year/season corruption could easily have occurred during the transmission and translation of the story during its journey from the Indus to the Nile valley.
[3.6] 3100 BC as a date for the destruction of Atlantis has been proposed by several investigators including, David Furlong, Timo Niroma, and Duncan Steel. Hossam Aboulfotouh has proposed a similar 3070 BC as the date of Atlantis’ demise(f).
[3.7] 2200 BC is the proposed date put forward by Dr Anton Mifsud for the end of Atlantis, located in the vicinity of his native Malta. He arrived at this conclusion after studying the comments of Eumelos of Cyrene who dated the catastrophe to the reign of King Ninus of Assyria. Around the same time, in Egypt, unusually low Nile floods led to the collapse of centralised government and generations of political turmoil(f). According to some commentators(g), the Los Millares culture in Iberia also ended around the same time.
[3.8] 1200 BC is a date favoured by investigators such as Frank Joseph, Eberhard Zangger and Steven Sora. It is dependent on the acceptance of Plato’s 9000 ‘years’ being lunar rather than solar. It is worth noting that this date has also been linked to the suggested close encounter with the Phaëton comet and its destructive effects globally.
[3.9] Stelios Pavlou has taken a different approach, basing his conclusion on a close analysis of the Egyptian King Lists with particular reference to that of Manetho. Pavlou’s paper is well(l) worth studying. In the end, he contends that the time of Atlantis was in or around 4532 BC.
[4.0] More than one Atlantis!
It is not unreasonable to consider Plato’s Atlantis narrative as a literary amalgam of two or more historically based stories or myths. One possibility is that the Egyptian priests related to Solon the tale of the inundation of a powerful and advanced culture in the dim and distant past. Such an event did occur, worldwide, when the Ice Age glaciers melted, resulting, for example, in the eastern Atlantic, the flooding of the North Sea, the Celtic Shelf and dramatically reducing in size the Canaries and the Azores and creating the British Isles. The entire world was affected by this event so that there were also major inundations in the West Indies and the South China Sea. However, events off the coasts of Europe and Africa would be more likely to become part of folklore on this side of the Atlantic.
[5.0] My preference is to treat the use of 9000 by Solon/Plato as an expression of a large but indefinite number or an exaggeration by a factor of ten. At the beginning of my research, I strongly favoured the former, but as I proceeded to investigate other aspects of Plato’s Atlantis story, I realised that virtually all other large numbers used by him also appeared to be inflated by a comparable amount. In seeking a solution to this I found myself drawn to Occam’s Razor, which states that where there are competing theories, the simpler is to be preferred.
It is worth noting that the Egyptian hieratic numerals also stopped with the highest value, expressed by a single character, being 9000. However, having studied the matter more closely I am reluctantly drawn to the ‘factor ten’ theory. This I have written about at some length in Joining the Dots.
The 1st millennium BC saw the introduction and gradual development of new writing and numerical systems by the Greeks. Some claim that the Greeks borrowed the Egyptian numbers(k).
At an early stage, 9000 was the highest number expressed by a single character in Greek, which in time came to be used to denote a large but uncertain value. As the needs of commerce and science demanded ever higher numbers a new character ‘M’ for myriad with a value of 10,000 was introduced. It also was used to indicate a large indefinite number, a practice that continues to this very day. Greek numerical notation was still being developed during Plato’s life.
Today, we use similar expressions such as ‘I have a million things to do’ with no intention of being taken literally, but simply to indicate ‘many’(e). Unfortunately this interpretation of 9,000 does little to pinpoint the date of the Atlantean war, but it is not unreasonable to attribute a value to it of something above 1,000 and possibly a multiple of it.
However, having said that, I am also attracted to the ’factor ten’ theory after a study of other numbers in the Atlantis narrative which all seem to be consistently exaggerated by a similar amount, which seems to be a factor of ten!
Andrew Collins in his Gateway to Atlantis[072.52] wrote “a gross inconsistency has crept into the account, for although Critias affirms that Athens’ aggressor came from ‘without’ the Pillars of Hercules, the actual war is here said to have taken place ‘nine thousand years’ before the date of the dialogue, c.421 BC. This implies a date in the region of 9421 BC, which is not what was stated in the Timaeus. Here 9000 years is the time that has elapsed between the foundation of Athens and Solon’s visit to Sais c. 570 BC. Since Egypt was said to have been founded a full thousand years later, and the ‘aggressor’ rose against both Athens and Egypt, it provides a date post 8570 BC. These widely differing dates leave us with a glaring anomaly that defies explanation. The only obvious solution is to accuse Plato of a certain amount of sloppiness when compiling the text.”
Collins’ suggestion of ‘sloppiness’ is made somewhat redundant if my suggestion that Plato was using 9,000 as a large but indefinite idiomatic value, could be substantiated.
The late Ulf Richter was quite unwilling to accept Plato’s 9,000 years as reliable after a close study of the relevant texts.
Others have produced evidence to suggest that this period in the Earth’s history saw one or more major catastrophic events that may or may not have been interconnected; (i) a collision or near-miss with an extraterrestrial body, (ii) a pole shift, (iii) the melting of the glaciers of the last Ice Age and the consequent raising of sea levels worldwide. This rise provides a credible mechanism that could account for the ’sinking’ of Atlantis.
Mary Settegast, an archaeological researcher, has defended the early date for Atlantis with a remarkable book that delves extensively into Mediterranean and Middle Eastern prehistory and mythologies.
Massimo Rapisarda is an Italian physicist from Catania in Sicily, who has opted for the as the location of the Pillars of Heracles and that Atlantis itself was Sicily with its capital situated in the vicinity of Marsala on the western end of Sicily. This city is located on the site of Lilybaeum, the main Carthaginian stronghold on the island.
Rapisarda is somewhat sceptical regarding the details of Plato’s story, but accepts that it might have been compatible with an existence in the Central Mediterranean at the end of the last Ice Age. (see his map)
He had a website(a) with a section on Atlantis to which he originally had added an English translation. The link now brings you to an archived copy of the original text.
In 2015, Rapisarda published a paper entitled A Scientific Approach to Plato’s Atlantis. This extensive document is an illustrated and fully referenced product in which he offers a wealth of evidence to support a literal acceptance of Plato’s early date for Atlantis. The paper, in English, can be freely downloaded(b).
>Rapisarda published a further paper, in English, in 2019, with the inviting title of Atlantis: A Grain of Truth Behind the Fiction? (c)<
The Egadi Islands are located off the west coast of Sicily and were the location for a naval battle in 241 BC that resulted in the defeat of the Carthaginians by the Romans which brought an end to the First Punic War.
At the height of the last Ice Age, the islands were connected by a landbridge to the Sicilian mainland, because of the lower sea level(c). They have been suggested by Andis Kaulins(a) as the location of the kingdom of Gadirus, who was the twin brother of Atlas, the first king of Atlantis. Until recently, it was generally accepted that the realm of Gadirus had been situated in the vicinity of modern Cadiz, known in ancient times as Gades. This idea was enhanced by its proximity to the Strait of Gibraltar, deemed by many to be the site of the Pillars of Heracles.
However, there has been growing support for the idea of the Pillars, referred to by Solon/Plato, being situated in the Central Mediterranean, at either the Strait of Messina or the Strait of Sicily, the latter supported by Andis Kaulins, who goes further and suggests a link between Tartessos and ancient Carthage across the Strait in Tunisia.
More recently, Albert Nikas has argued cogently(b) for placing the Pillars of Heracles in the vicinity of the Egadi Islands and identifying them with Plato’s Gades and then concluded that Malta had been ‘the island in front of the Pillars’ and was Atlantis.
>Ernle Bradford made one passing reference to Atlantis in Ulysses Found [1011.57] which may be of interest to supporters of a Central Mediterranean Atlantis. When discussing the Egadi Islands off the west coast of Sicily he describes Levanzo, the smallest of the group as being “once joined to Sicily, and the island was surrounded by a large fertile plain. Levanzo, in fact, was joined to more than Sicily. Between this western corner of the Sicilian coast and the Cape Bon peninsula in Tunisia there once lay rich and fertile valleys-perhaps, who knows, long lost Atlantis?” This would seem to be close to the views of Alberto Arecchi and others.<
If the name of the Egadi Islands is more than just evocative of Plato’s Gades and since Gades has also been associated with Erytheia in the story of the ‘Trials of Hercules’, then if Izabol Apulia’s Map Mistress website is correct in locating Erytheia(d) between Pantelleria and the Egadi Islands it would confine all the ‘Trials’ in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, consequently, locating the Pillars of Heracles somewhere in that region.
Opposite the Egadi Islands on the mainland of Sicily is the port of Marsala, which has also been identified, by Massimo Rapisarda, as another possible location for Atlantis.
A Shoal of mud is stated by Plato (Tim.25d) to mark the location of where Atlantis ‘settled’. Plato describes these shallows in the present tense, clearly implying that they were still a maritime hindrance in Plato’s day.
Three of the most popular translations clearly indicate this:
….the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.
…..the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal of mud which the island created as it settled down.”
…..the sea in that area is to this day impassible to navigation, which is hindered by mud just below the surface, the remains of the sunken island.
Since it is probable that Atlantis was destroyed around a thousand years or more before Solon’s Egyptian sojourn, to have continued as a hazard for such a period suggests a location that was little affected by currents or tides. The latter would seem to offer support for a Mediterranean Atlantis as that sea enjoys negligible tidal changes, as can be seen from the chart below. The darkest shade of blue indicates the areas of minimal tidal effect.
If Plato was correct in stating that Atlantis was submerged in a single day and that it was still close to the water’s surface in his own day, its destruction must have taken place a relatively short time before since the slowly rising sea levels would eventually have deepened the waters covering the remains of Atlantis to the point where they would not pose any danger to shipping. The triremes of Plato’s time had an estimated draught of about a metre so that the shallows must have had a depth that was less than that.
The reference to mud shoal resulting from an earthquake brings to mind the possibility of liquefaction. This perhaps what happened to the two submerged ancient cities close to modern Alexandria. Their remains lie nine metres under the surface of the Mediterranean.
Our knowledge of sea level changes over the past two and a half millennia should enable us to roughly estimate all possible locations in the Mediterranean where the depth of water of any submerged remains would have been a metre or less in the time of Plato.
The tidal map above offers two areas west of Athens and Egypt that do appear to be credible location regions, namely, (1) from the Balearic Islands, south to North Africa and (2) , a more credible straddling the Strait of Sicily. This region offers additional features, making it much more compatible with Plato’s account.
By contrast, just over a hundred miles south from that Strait, lies the Gulf of Gabés, which boasts the greatest tidal range (max 8 ft) within the Mediterranean.
The Gulf of Gabes formerly known as Syrtis Minor and the larger Gulf of Sidra to the east, previously known as Syrtis Major, were greatly feared by ancient mariners and continue to be very dangerous today because of the shifting sandbanks created by tides in the area.
There are two principal ancient texts that possibly support the gulfs of Syrtis as the location of Plato’s ‘shoal’. The first is from Apollonius of Rhodes who was a 3rd century BC librarian at Alexandria. In his Argonautica (Bk IV ii 1228-1250)(a) he unequivocally speaks of the dangerous shoals in the Gulf of Syrtis. The second source is the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27 13-18) written three centuries later, which describes how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on “Syrtis sands.” However, good fortune was with them and after fourteen days they landed on Malta. The Maltese claim regarding St. Paul is rivalled by that of the Croatian island of Mljet as well Argostoli on the Greek island of Cephalonia. Even more radical is the convincing evidence offered by Kenneth Humphreys to demonstrate that the Pauline story is an invention(b).
Both the Strait of Sicily and the Gulf of Gabes have been included in a number of Atlantis theories. The Strait and the Gulf were seen as part of a larger landmass that included Sicily according to Butavand, Arecchi and Sarantitis who named the Gulf of Gabes as the location of the Pillars of Heracles. Many commentators such as Frau, Rapisarda and Lilliu have designated the Strait of Sicily as the ‘Pillars’, while in the centre of the Strait we have Malta with its own Atlantis claims.
Zhirov[458.25] tried to explain away the ‘shoals’ as just pumice-stone, frequently found in large quantities after volcanic eruptions. However, Plato records an earthquake not an eruption and Zhirov did not explain how the pumice-stone was still a hazard many hundreds of years after the event. Although pumice can float for years, it will eventually sink(c). It was reported that pumice rafts associated with the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa were found floating up to 20 years after that event. Zhirov’s theory does not hold water (no pun intended) apart from which, Atlantis was destroyed as a result of an earthquake. not a volcanic eruption and I think that the shoals described by Plato were more likely to have been created by liquefaction and could not have endured for centuries.
Nevertheless, a lengthy 2020 paper(d) by Ulrich Johann offers additional information about pumice and in a surprising conclusion proposes that it was pumice rafts that inspired Plato’s reference to shoals!
>Andrew Collins in an effort to justify his Cuban location for Atlantis needed to find Plato’s ‘shoals of mud’ in the Atlantic and for me in what seems to have been in an act of desperation he decided that the Sargasso Sea fitted the bill [072.42]. However, he does not explain how anyone can mistake seaweed for mud!<
(d) (99+) (PDF) Resurrection of Atlantis Minoica: A new localization of the Akrotiri (Santorini, Greece) West House room 5 frescos in view of current geological findings. Part 2 | Ulrich Johann – Academia.edu