Elephants are specifically mentioned by Plato as being indigenous to Atlantis. This must have significance for anyone trying to arrive at a credible location for Atlantis. For example, supporters of the Theran Atlantis School cannot show where such large animals could have lived on the small volcanic island. There are no physical remains, no frescos and no historical references. Rodney Castleden who supports the Minoan Hypothesis admits that “no raw elephant ivory has been found (on Thera) and very little in the way of worked ivory”[225.70]. He later speaks of the importation of ivory into Crete[p.172] having bravely denounced Plato’s description (Critias 115a) of herds of elephants on Atlantis as “false”[p.136].
Similarly, Spanuth’s Heligoland location would have been climatically unsuited to elephants. Spanuth himself admits that the elephant reference “is hard to explain“. Nevertheless, Felice Vinci who champions a Northern European origin for Greek mythology believes that Plato’s elephant reference may be a lingering memory of the woolly mammoths that inhabited Arctic regions as recently as 2500-2000 BC(t)(u). In the late 17th century Olof Rudbeck, recognising the problem that Plato’s reference to elephants presented for his Swedish Atlantis, argued that Plato had been speaking figuratively when describing the large voracious animals and had actually been referring to wolves, the Swedish word for wolf being ‘ulf’, which sounds like the beginning of ‘elephant’!!
Elephants in Western Europe were undoubtedly represented by mammoths, remains of which have been recovered from the North Sea – Doggerland and dated to around 40,000 years ago. Coincidentally, a tool made of mammoth bone, used for making rope, has also been dated to 40,000 years ago(i)(n). This discovery(s) by Nicholas Conard from the University of Tubingen was made shortly before Ashley Cowie published his interesting book on the history of rope-making. Further information on string, ropes and knots was published in March 2017(o). This ingenuity of our very distant ancestors, so often underestimated, is slowly being revealed by modern archaeology. In 2000, in the Czech Republic, it was discovered that woven cloth was being produced on looms 27,000 years ago(v). A few years later a team from Harvard’s Peabody Museum reported the discovery of fibres that ‘were spun, twisted or knotted’ and dated to at least 34,000 years ago(x). 2020 saw evidence emerge which suggested that even as far back as 41,000 – 52,000 years ago the Neanderthals had mastered the making of cords(w). Later the same year, further evidence was offered that string making may have begun even earlier(y).
Allied to the demise of the Siberian mammoths is the often-repeated fib that when the remains were first discovered, their flesh was still fresh enough to eat, which has recently been debunked by Jason Colavito(j). He has also unearthed the truth behind that other canard relating to a Siberian mammoth, namely that fresh buttercups were found in its mouth(j). He has now(q) traced back the earliest reference to the frozen mammoths to George Cuvier in 1822 [1586.11].
Eckart Kahlhofer, in a forthcoming book advocates a North-West European location for Atlantis, suggests that where Plato referred to elephants he actually meant deer! Kahlhofer offers, as a simple explanation for this seemingly daft contention, the fact that the Greek for elephant, elephas, is very similar to the Greek elaphos which means deer. He claims that a simple transcription error by a scribe could have caused the mix-up.
The elk was the largest species of deer to be found in the northern hemisphere and are still to be found in Scandinavia. The Great Irish Deer which died out around 5500 BC had an antler span of 11ft and a maximum height of 10ft, though usually less. The tallest African elephant ever recorded was 13 feet at the shoulder, which would appear to give the elephant the edge over the deer heightwise. Furthermore, It is worth pointing out, again, that Plato described his elephants as the ‘largest and most voracious’ animal, so when we realise that an adult elephant eats 250-300 lbs a day, while a moose manages on 40-60 lbs, there seems to be no contest.
Gene Matlock in an attempt to bolster his Mexican location for Atlantis has suggested that Plato’s elephants were in reality the long-snouted tapirs of Meso-America!(c), an idea ‘borrowed’ from Hyde Clarke
While the elephant issue should not be dealt with in isolation it does serve to illustrate the difficulties involved in analysing Plato’s text. Consider the possibility that the early date of 9600 BC for Atlantis is accepted, then the islands that are too small today to accommodate elephants may have been considerably larger and sometimes connected to each other or a mainland during the Ice Age, when sea levels were lower, and consequently capable of supporting pachyderms. In this regard, Sundaland would have been the most suitable candidate. Not only would today’s South China Sea’s archipelagos been a single landmass, but there would have been access to the region from the Asian mainland, home today to large numbers of elephants.
Strangely enough, even the Andes, considered by some as the home of Atlantis, reveal the fact that during the last Ice Age a species of elephant called Cuvieronius lived there but became extinct around 8000 BC. These animals are to be found carved on the great Gateway of the Sun in Tiahuanaco suggesting that they were common in the region. Supporters of an Atlantis link with Tiahuanaco have highlighted this fact.
James Bailey who supports the idea of Atlantis in America believes that Plato’s mention of elephants could be a reference to the American mammoth, generally believed to have died out circa 10,000 BC, although Victor von Hagen, the American explorer, contentiously maintained that they survived as late 2000 BC. A similar idea was presented to the 2005 Atlantis Conference by the American researcher, Monique Petersen.
The Schoppes, in support of their theory of Atlantis in the Black Sea region, contend(l) that Indian elephants existed there until 800 BC and support this with a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmosis III who killed 120 elephants ‘there’ around 1200 BC, which is a strange claim as Thutmosis did not venture beyond Syria and he died circa 1426 BC!
Elephas Antiquus (Palaeoloxodon), is a dwarf species whose remains have been found throughout the islands of the Mediterranean from Sardinia to Cyprus. All those found were dated 200,000 BC or earlier! In sharp contrast, Simon Davis, in an article in New Scientist (3 Jan.1985), dated Mediterranean dwarf elephants to as recent as 6000 BC(p). Some writers, such as Roger Coghill, have tried to use the pygmy elephant as an explanation for Plato’s text (Crit. 114e & 115a) where we find that he describes the elephants as being ‘of its nature the largest and most voracious’. This is not a description of pygmy elephants.
Victoria Louise Herridge is a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. She has published a lengthy paper in two parts(z)(aa) offering an in-depth technical study of dwarf elephant species found on Mediterranean islands.
However, Ghar Hasan or Hasan’s Cave in southeast Malta has palaeolithic cave paintings that depict elephants, indicating more recent contact with the animals. Whether these represented full-sized or the pygmy variety is unclear. A small booklet by Dr. Anton Mifsud and Dr. Charles Savona-Ventura describes this cave system.
In Dossier Malta – Neanderthal  Mifsud has drawn attention to another cavern, not far away, formerly known as Ghar Dulam, now Ghar Dalam, where thousands of dwarf elephant bones were discovered. Dulam means ‘small elephant’ in Arabic. This is one of the mainstays of his ‘Atlantis in Malta’ theory. Whether these diminutive creatures justify Plato’s description that they were the “largest and most voracious” of animals (Crit.115a) is clearly debatable. For me, this is not a description of pygmy elephants and so in all probability is an indication of a North African location or, as some claim, an Asian one!
The Atlanteans had control in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt, which would have included what is now modern Tunisia, the home of the last recorded wild elephants in that region!
Readers should be aware that there is general acceptance that the North African Elephant inhabited the Atlas Mountains until they became extinct in Roman times(e)(h). The New Scientist magazine of 7th February 1985(d) outlined the evidence that Tunisia had native elephants until at least the end of the Roman Empire.
In Elephant Destiny Martin Meredith records that one of the earliest references to the African elephant came from Hanno, the 5th century BC Carthaginian explorer, who related how he came across marshes at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, which “were haunted by elephants and multitudes of other grazing beasts.” Meredith also mentions that stables for as many as 300 elephants were to be found within the city of Carthage itself.
Nevertheless, the species of elephant used by Hannibal has been a source of debate for years(f). The Numidians of North Africa (202 BC–46 BC) also used local elephants in warfare(g). It would seem to me that the North African Elephant, rather than the Asian or African species, would have been more suited to the trek across the Alps. Needless to say, the Atlas Mountains were part of the Atlantean sphere of control (Timaeus 25a-b) and so may be the reason that Plato mentioned them. It is also reported that during the reign of the Ptolemies in Egypt (323 BC-30 BC), they imported war elephants from Eritrea in East Africa(r).
The latter half of 2010 saw a new piece of nonsense hit the blogosophere when a claim that the Atlanteans had flying machines made of elephant skins suddenly appeared and before you could say “cut and paste” it was ‘adopted’ by a variety of websites(a)(b). So Dumbo was not the first flying elephant! In fact this daft idea was just a recycling of one of Edgar Cayce’s ‘revelations’ (Reading 364-6)(m).
(a) https://www.articledashboard.com/Article/Speaking-of-Atlantis/1872335 (Offline October 2017)
Eberhard Zangger was born in Switzerland in 1958. He is a geoarchaeologist who has written a number of books and articles on ancient civilisation. He is the leading proponent of the controversial idea that Troy and Atlantis are the same. In 1989, he initially advanced the idea while working for Cambridge University. Shortly afterwards his views were published in English as The Flood From Heaven.
It seems rather odd to me that Zangger ended this book with eight counter-arguments and shortcomings relating to his thesis. Whether this was an expression of open-mindedness or doubt, I shall leave others to decide.
He followed that a decade later with a second book that in part returns to the subject. In The Future of the Past Zangger matches a range of features in the Atlantis narrative with the available description of Troy. He then describes how he applied an objective statistical analysis system known as a ‘Monte-Carlo Method’, to these matching details, as well as those of other popular theories, and found that his theory, which situates Atlantis at Troy, scored the highest probability rating as its location. While I do not doubt the neutrality of the system’s results, I would have some misgivings regarding the objectivity of the data entered, a view supported by Zangger himself. For example, if Zangger has entered the location of the Pillars of Heracles as the Dardanelles and ignores the Straits of Messina and Gibraltar, then the results must be considered biased. Consequently, I would suggest that the exercise be repeated by a number of disinterested mathematicians and then collate their results.
*Zangger claims that Plato’s Atlantis narrative is a distorted recollection of the Trojan War, including the earthquake and sudden flooding of Mycenaean Tiryns around 1200 BC morphing into the demise of Atlantis(k). However, the Tiryns inundation is just one of a number of other flooded Greek cities, such as Helike or Atalanta that are also claimed as the inspiration for Plato’s flooded Atlantis.*
Zangger points out that the library of books and articles relating to Atlantis all stem from two excerpts from Plato’s Dialogues that amount to no more than 6,000 words, many of which he claims to be mistranslated.
There is a scholarly critique of Zangger’s work by Edmund F. Bloedow to be found on the Internet(a).
Zangger has also entered the debates surrounding the Sea Peoples. He contends that their movements were unrelated to climate change as suggested by some. His views on the subject have been contested(d).
Zangger together with archaeologist Serdal Mutlu have investigated the little known ancient Luwian civilisation of Anatolia. They believe “that Trojans and many of the people who sided with the Trojans in the Trojan War were Luwians.” They also claim that remains of Troy has even lower levels still unexcavated(b). A website devoted to the subject is available(c).
Zangger has now expanded further on the subject with the publication The Luwian Civilisation, which bears the subtitle of The Missing Link in the Aegean Bronze Age. In the book [p.20] he makes the interesting point that “Sea Peoples with feather crowns bear the name Tekker, which is reminiscent of ‘Teucer’, a term commonly used for the Trojans after 1200 BCE.”
In May 2016, Zangger, President of Luwian Studies, introduced the results of recent investigation of the Luwian speaking peoples, who now appear to have been an alliance of small independent states in Turkey, west of the Hittite Empire.
Zangger also adds a video clip(e) in which he compares a history of the Trojan War by the 13th century Italian writer, Guido de Columnis, with Homer’s account. Some aspects of Guido’s description of the city of Troy are evocative of Plato’s description of Atlantis (f).
Zangger’s proposed ancient conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean was reported in New Scientist (i) and dubbed ‘World War Zero’, a soundbite that attracted wider media attention(j).
(d) See: Archive 2681
The Sahara Desert and in particular its northern regions have attracted its share of attention from Atlantis investigators. However unlikely it may appear as a possible location for Atlantis it must be kept in mind that the Sahara of prehistory was very different from what we see today. Not only was it wetter at various periods in the past, but also there is clear evidence for the existence of a large inland sea extending across the borders of modern Algeria and Tunisia. This evidence is in the form of the chotts or salt flats in both countries. This proposed sea is considered by some to have been the Lake Tritonis referred to by classical writers. It is suggested that some form of tectonic/seismic activity, common in the region, was responsible for isolating this body of seawater from the Mediterranean and eventually turning it into the salt flats we see today.
An even more extensive inland sea, further south, was proposed by Ali Bey el Abbassi and based on his theory a map was published in 1802 which can be viewed online(c).
More recently, Riaan Booysen has published an illustrated paper on the ancient inland Saharan seas as indicated on the 16th century maps of Mercator and Ortelius(i). King’s College London runs The Sahara Megalakes Project which studies the Megalakes and the Saharan Palaeoclimate record(m).
A 2013 report in New Scientist magazine(d) revealed that 100,000 years ago the Sahara had been home to three large rivers that flowed northward, which probably provided migration routes for our ancestors.
Other studies(h) have shown the previous existence of a huge river system in the Western Sahara, which flowed into the Atlantic on the Mauritanian coast.
An article in the Sept. 2008 edition of National Geographic pointed out that the Saharan climate has been similar for the past 70,000 years except for a period beginning 12,000 years ago when a number of factors combined to alter this fact. A northerly shift by seasonal monsoons brought additional rain to an area the size of contiguous USA. This period of a greener Sahara lasted until around 4,500 years ago.
More recent studies claim that “there’s geologic evidence from ocean sediments that these orbitally-paced Green Sahara events occur as far back as the Miocene epoch (23 million to 5 million years ago), including during periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide was similar to, and possibly higher, than today’s levels. So, a future Green Sahara event is still highly likely in the distant future.”
More recent studies claim that “there’s geologic evidence from ocean sediments that these orbitally-paced Green Sahara events occur as far back as the Miocene epoch (23 million to 5 million years ago), including during periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide was similar to, and possibly higher, than today’s levels. So, a future Green Sahara event is still highly likely in the distant future.” (p)
Henri Lhote contributed an article to the Reader’s Digest’s, The World’s Last Mysteries , regarding the ‘green’ Sahara that existed prior to 2500 BC. An interesting question might be; what happened circa 2500 BC to cause this reversal? Some have suggested a connection between the aridification of the Sahara and the destruction of Atlantis!
More recently, human activity has been blamed as a major contributory factor for the desertification of the Sahara region less than 10,000 years ago.(n)
Related to the above is a recent study of sediments off the west coast of Africa, which resulted in the discovery of what was “primarily a new “beat,” in which the Sahara vacillated between wet and dry climates every 20,000 years, in sync with the region’s monsoon activity and the periodic tilting of the Earth.” (o)
In 1868, it was proposed by D.A. Godron, the French botanist, that the Sahara was the location of Atlantis. In 2003, the non-existent archaeologist Dr.Carla Sage announced that she was hoping to lead an international expedition to the Sahara in search of Atlantis. Her contention was that “Atlantis was the capital of a vast North African empire with ports on the Gulf of Sidra”. This report is now confirmed to have been a hoax! I am indebted to Stel Pavlou for uncovering the origin of this story(e).
The idea of an African Atlantis was highlighted in 2021 with the publication of Atletenu , in which the author, Diego Ratti, identified the Hyksos as Atlanteans with their capital at Avaris in the eastern Nile Delta. At the other end of North Africa, the chotts of Tunisia and Algeria were nominated by Holden Zhang as the location of Atlantis in a YouTube clip(q).
Gary Gilligan, the well-known catastrophist, wrote a thought-provoking article(k) on the origin of the Saharan sands, which he claims are extraterrestrial in origin and expands on the idea in his 2016 book Extraterrestrial Sands .
David Mattingly, an archaeologist at Leicester University has found that an ancient people known as the Garamantes had an extensive civilisation in the Sahara(l). He has evidence of at least three cities and twenty other settlements. The Garamantes reached their peak around 100 BC and then gradually diminished in influence as fossil water supplies reduced until in the 7th century AD they were subjected to Islamic domination. Some researchers such as Frank Joseph have identified the Garamantes as being linked with the Sea Peoples. Bob Idjennaden has published short but informative Kindle books about both the Garamantes  and the Sea Peoples , without a suggestion of any connection between the two.
The discovery of the megalithic structures discovered at Nabta Playa (Nabta Lake) in the Egyptian Sahara has provided evidence for the existence of a sophisticated society in that area around 5000 BC. In the same region, near the Dakhleh Oasis, archaeologists have produced data that supports the idea that pre-Pharaonic Egypt had Desert Origins rather than being an importation from Mesopotamia or elsewhere(a).
Nabta Playa is not unique, in fact the largest megalithic ellipse in the world is to be found at Mzorah, 27 km from Lixus in Morocco(b). It appears that the construction methods employed at both Mezorah and Nabta Playa are both similar to that used in the British Isles. An even more impressive site is Adam’s Calendar in South Africa which has been claimed as 75,000-250,000 years old.
West of Cairo near the border with Libya is the Siwa Oasis, where it has now been demonstrated that “it is in fact home to one of Ancient Egypt’s astounding solar-calendar technologies– the solar equinox alignment between the Timasirayn Temple and the Temple of Amun Oracle in Aghurmi.”(j).
I think we can expect further exciting discoveries in the Sahara leading to a clearer picture of the prehistoric cultures of the region and what connections there are, if any, with Plato’s Atlantis. In the meanwhile in the Eastern Egyptian Desert, Douglas Brewer, a professor of archaeology at the University of Illinois, has discovered over 1,000 examples of rock art, including numerous depictions of boats although the sites, so far undisclosed, are remote from water.
Even more remarkable is the report(e) of March 2015 that a survey of the Messak Settafet escarpment in the central Sahara revealed that there were enough discarded stone tools in the region “to build more than one Great Pyramid for every square kilometre of land on the continent”! Coincidentally, around the same time it was reported that over a thousand stone tools had been found in the Northern Utah Desert(g). What the Utah discovery lacked in quantity was made up for in quality with the finding of the largest known Haskett point spear head, measuring around nine inches in length.
(a) Saudi Aramco World (2006, Vol. 57, No.5 p.2-11)
(d) NewScientist.com, 16 September 2013, https://tinyurl.com/mg9vcoz
(l) See: Archive 3268