Ophir is referred to in the Bible as a source of gold, silver, precious stones and exotic animals. King Solomon was reputed to have received a cargo of such goodies every three years, a detail which points to Ophir being a considerable distance from Israel.
The exact location of Ophir is the subject of continuing controversy. In broad terms the most popular regions suggested are, or have been, India(g) , Africa(f) and the Americas(a) , but they were not the only proposed locations, even Australia and the Solomon Islands were considered. Emilio Spedicato has opted for Tibet, where an ancient goldmine fits the bill, which he outlines in his paper entitled Ophir, It’s Location Unveiled.
There is also a claim that the Batanes Islands off the Northern Philippines held the site of Ophir(b) . Further west, Dhani Irwanto has claimed that Punt was also known as Ophir(d) and was situated on Sumatera (Sumatra) in Indonesia(c) . However, he went further and also located Atlantis in Indonesia in his book, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea . His chosen site is just north of Bawean Island in the Java Sea.
However, Irwanto was not the first to link Atlantis with Ophir, Theodore L. Urban was the author of a paper delivered to the Lancaster County Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1897. In it, he denied that Atlantis had been completely destroyed and argued that the biblical Ophir was in fact Atlantis, suggesting that it had been located in the Americas, which explained the three years that the round trip took(e).
The Red Sea, also known as the Erythraean Sea lies between Egypt and Sudan in Africa and Saudi Arabia and Yemen in Asia. At the southern end lies the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, considered by a few researchers as the location of the Pillars of Herakles.
The ‘Red’ is often attributed to the seasonal blooming of a red-coloured bacterium. Some academics think that the cardinal points were ascribed colours, ‘red’ being south! Emilio Spedicato, in his paper(a) on the location of the biblical Ophir, points out that pumice which is normal volcanic ejecta turns blood-red when mixed with seawater. Immediately to the south is the East Africa Rift, home to dozens of volcanoes, which when erupting may have had pumice dust blown towards the Red Sea!
*[Coincidentally, the presumed cradle of humanity is situated not too far from the Rift volcanoes and has drawn serious claims(b) that they may have had a part to play in the evolution of hominids!]*
Italy seems to have an uncertain etymology; Thucydides claims that Italos, the Sicilian king gave his name to Italy, while more recently Emilio Spedicato(h) considers that ”the best derivation we believe to be the one proposed by the Italian nuclear engineer Felice Vinci (1998), in his monograph claiming a Baltic setting for the Homeric epic: he derives Italia from the rare Greek word aithalia, meaning the smoking one.” This is thought to be a reference to Italy’s many volcanoes.
Italy today is comprised of territory south of the Alps on mainland Europe including a very large boot-shaped peninsula, plus Sicily, Sardinia and some smaller island groups, which along with the French island of Corsica virtually enclose the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The earliest proposal that Italy could be linked with Atlantis came from Angelo Mazzoldi in 1840 when he claimed that before Etruria, Italy had been home to Atlantis and dated its demise to 1986 BC. Mazzoldi expressed a form of hyperdiffusion that had his Italian Atlantis as the mother-culture which seeded the great civilisations of the eastern Mediterranean region(b).
Some of Mazzoldi’s views regarding ancient Italy were expanded on by later scholars such Camillo Ravioli, Ciro Nispi-Landi, Evelino Leonardi, Costantine Cattoi, Guido DiNardo and Giuseppe Brex. Ravioli sought to associate the Maltese island of Gozo with his proposed Atlantis in Italy.
The Italian region of Lazio, which includes Rome, has had a number of very ancient structures proposed as Atlantean; Monte Circeo (Leonardi), Arpino(a) (Cassaro). Another aspect of Italian prehistory is the story of Tirrenide, which was described as a westward extension of the Italian landmass into the Tyrhennian Sea during the last Ice Age, with a land bridge to a conjoined Sardinia and Corsica.. At the same time there were land links to Sicily and Malta, which were all destroyed as deglaciation took place and sea levels rose.
It is surprising that so few researchers have commented on Italy’s part in Plato’s Atlantis narrative considering that he twice, without any ambiguity, informs us that the Atlantean domain extended as far as Tyrrhenia (modern Tuscany).
Crit.114c. So all these, themselves and their descendants, dwelt for many generations bearing rule over many other islands throughout the sea, and holding sway besides, as was previously stated, over the Mediterranean peoples as far as Egypt and Tuscany. Tim.25a/b. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvellous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent; and, moreover, of the lands here within the Straits they ruled over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tuscany. (Bury)
The quotation from Timaeus is most interesting because of its reference to a ‘continent’. Some have understandably but incorrectly claimed that this is a reference to America or Antarctica, when quite clearly it refers to southern Italy as part of the continent of Europe. Moreover, Herodotus is quite clear (4.42) that the ancient Greeks knew of only three continents, Europe, Asia and Libya.
Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD) in his On the Eternity of the World(g) wrote “Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy?” (v.139). The name ‘Italy’ was normally used in ancient times to describe the southern part of the peninsula(e). Some commentators think that Philo was quoting Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor. This would push the custom of referring to Italy as a ‘continent’ back near to the time of Plato. More recently, Armin Wolf, the German historian, when writing about Scheria relates(f) that “Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria (southern Italy) they say they are going to the ‘continente’.” This continuing usage is further confirmed by a current travel site(d) and by author, Robert Fox[1168.141]. I suggest that Plato used the term in a similar fashion and can be seen as offering the most rational explanation for the use of the word ‘continent’ in Timaeus 25a.
When you consider that close to Italy are located the large islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, as well as smaller archipelagos such as the Egadi, Lipari and Maltese groups, the idea of Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean can be seen as highly compatible with Plato’s description.
If we accept that Plato stated unambiguously that the domain of Atlantis included at least part of southern Italy and also declared that Atlantis attacked from beyond the Pillars of Heracles, then this appellation could not be applied at that time to any location in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar, but must have been further east, probably not too far from Atlantean Italy. This matches earlier alternative locations recorded by classical writers who placed the ‘Pillars’ at the straits of Messina or Sicily. I personally favour Messina, unless there is stronger evidence that some of the islands in or near the Strait of Sicily such as the Maltese or Pelagian Islands or Pantelleria were home to the ‘Pillars’.
(c) Archive 2946
Theodore L. Urban was the author of a paper(a) delivered to the Lancaster County Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1897. In it he stated that “I not only advocate the Platonic theory of the island of Atlantis but claim that it had a veritable existence.” He then proceeded to deny that it had been completely destroyed and argued that the biblical Ophir was Atlantis, suggesting that it had been located in the Americas, which explained the three years that the round trip took.
*A few years ago Emilio Spedicato linked Ophir with an ancient gold mine in Tibet(b)!*
Punt is the name given to a land with which the ancient Egyptians traded. The leading theory is that it was located to the southeast of Egypt, roughly occupying what is now called ‘the Horn of Africa, although there is also a popular view that it was situated on the Arabian Peninsula. Others suggest that a combination of parts of both regions might be nearer the truth. An article of November 2016 elaborates on the claim for this identification(e).
Along with the many luxury goods that Punt supplied to Egypt were baboons, so it was interesting to read in 2020 that “a new study tracing the geographic origins of Egyptian mummified baboons finds that they were sourced from an area that includes the modern-day countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Dijbouti, Somalia, and Yemen, providing new insight into Punt’s location.”(i). The investigation centred on the strontium levels found in the ancient remains.
In 2013, a short book by Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, placed Punt in the same region, namely, in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. A favourable and well illustrated review(f) of Awale’s book is worth a read. The worldhistory.org website has pointed out that the name of the Puntland State of Somalia may preserve a memory of the original mythical Punt(h).
Frank Joseph in his Atlantis Encyclopedia[0104.37] claims that “the Lands of Punt (are) often associated with the islands of Atlantis.” Joseph expands on this in an Atlantis Rising article(a) where he refers to an ancient Egyptian story of “The Shipwrecked Sailor” in which the ‘Serpent King’ is identified as master of the island of Punt, which again Joseph claims to be Atlantis.
More recently, a small number commentators have identified Punt/Atlantis with Indonesia(b)(c). Dhani Irwanto, who is a leading advocate of an Indonesian Atlantis published in November, 2015 an extensive article online(d) in which he specifically names the Indonesian island of Sumatera (Sumatra) as the land of Punt. He has now expanded this into a book, Land of Punt: In Search of the Divine Land of the Egyptians . Irwanto goes further and also identifies the mysterious land of Ophir in the Bible as Punt.
(a) See: Archive 2790
Dhani Irwanto (1962- ) is an Indonesian hydraulic engineer, who is the latest proponent of the Sundaland location for Atlantis, in his April 2015 book, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea. A review of his book online(a), shows quite clearly that the author has made a serious effort to match Plato’s narrative with his chosen location for Atlantis, namely off the southern coast of the island of Kalimantan in the Java Sea. Irwanto also uses his professional expertise to analyse Plato’s many references to the waterways of the Atlantean capital and it extensive plain. The review also includes a number of maps and video clips used to support Irwanto’s views.
Irwanto has also adopted(c) the 32-point checklist of dos Santos and expanded it to 60 points.(d)
Irwanto also claims that the biblical Garden of Eden and the legendary island of Taprobane were situated on the island of Kilimantan. In an extensive online(b) article in November 2015, he identified the Indonesian island of Sumatra as the land of Punt, >which he thinks was also known as the Ophir referred to in the Old Testament (1 Kings 9.26 & 10.11).<
In June 2017, Irwanto published an illustrated paper(e) on Aurea Chersonesus, referred to by Ptolemy in his 2nd century Geographia . Irwanto has matched details in Ptolemy’s description with a place in western Sumatra called Tanjungemas renowned for its gold mines in the ancient times.
Sundaland is the name of a large biogeographical region of South East Asia, a large portion of which had been above sea level during the last Ice Age and later inundated as the glaciers retreated. The term was apparently first used in 1949 by R.W. van Bemmelen (1868-1941) and later by other authorities.
It is worth noting that it is now generally accepted that South East Asia was probably the entry point of modern humans from Africa. Human traces have been found in Papua New Guinea that have been dated to around 40,000 BC.
Some authors have specifically claimed a clear link between Sundaland and Plato’s Atlantis. The Sunda Sub-Oceanic Plain is large enough to match Plato’s description of Atlantis. Its topography, climate, flora and fauna together with aspects of local mythologies, all permit a convincing case to be made to support this idea.
C.W. Leadbeater (1854-1934) who was a prominent theosophist was perhaps the first to suggest a link between Atlantis and Indonesia in his book, The Occult History of Java  , which is now available online(f).
Other investigators have written on the prehistory of the region of whom the best known is probably Stephen Oppenheimer who firmly locates the Garden of Eden in this region, although he makes little reference to Atlantis. More recently, Robert Schoch, in collaboration with Robert Aquinas McNally, wrote a book in which they suggest that pyramid building may have had its origins in a civilisation that flourished on parts of Sundaland that are now submerged.
The first book to specifically identify Sundaland with Atlantis was written by Zia Abbas. However, prior to its publication the Internet offered at least two sites that discussed in detail the case for Atlantis in South East Asia. William Lauritzen(a) and the late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos(b) developed extensive websites. Lauritzen has also written an e-book that is available from his site, while Santos developed his views on an Asian Atlantis in another recent book. Dr Sunil Prasannan has an interesting essay on Graham Hancock’s website(c). A more esoteric site(d) also offers support for the Sundaland theory.
An Indonesian researcher, Panji R. Hadinoto, has published on his website(e) a 32 point checklist purporting to ‘prove’ that Atlantis was located on Sundaland. Unfortunately, this checklist is not original but copied from the work of Professor dos Santos.
April 2015 saw further support for an Indonesian Atlantis with the publication of a book by hydraulic engineer, Dhani Irwanto, who endeavours to identify features of the lost city with details in Plato’s account with a site in the Java Sea off the coast of the island of Kilmantan. He has now published a YouTube video in support of his theory(h).
In 2019, Irwanto published two new books, the first, Sundaland: Tracing the Cradle of Civilisations , in which he offers a compelling case for considering emigrants from a submerging Sundaland as bringers of embryonic civilisation to other lands, where it flourished and developed local variants. It crossed my mind that Irwanto’s contention might explain the origins of the likes of the Sumerian civilisation, among others, which have never been satisfactorily settled!
The second book, Land of Punt , is another interesting offering in which the author suggests that Punt and the biblical Ophir can be equated with Atlantis, located in Sundaland. However, this idea conflicts with a growing consensus(k) that places Punt in the region Horn of Africa or across the Red Sea in Arabia.
A 2016 series of graphics shows the gradual inundation of Sundaland from 18,000 BC onwards(g).
Thorwald C. Franke has drawn attention(j) to a recent controversy in Malaya where historian Zaharah Sulaiman has claimed that the Malay set of mtDNA is 63,000 years old, dating back to a time long before the submergence of Sundaland. It seems that Sulaiman had built her claim on some of Oppenheimer’s writings. This veiled suggestion of some sort of racial superiority, through antiquity, was disputed locally.(i)