David Winder is the author of Mysterien der Bronzezeit (Mysteries of the Bronze Age) . He is in some agreement with the Atlantis theories of Paul Borchardt, Albert Herrmann and Ulrich Hofmann, who all placed Atlantis in the northwest region of Africa. However, Winder’s views are somewhat tainted by an over-dependence on the possibly dubious Oera Linda Book.
The atlantisforschung.de website offers a critical review of Winder’s book that ends up looking into the murky waters of racism. Atlantisforschung ends up describing Winder’s offering as ‘Just Disgusting’!(a)
>However, I note that Winder was subsequently invited to write a paper for Atlantisforschung, outlining his theories! Regarding the location of Atlantis, he insists that “It should now be clear to everyone that this can only be the Chott el Djerid(b).<
(b) Atlantis: Vom Mythos zur Realität – Atlantisforschung.de (German) *
Siegfried Passarge (1866-1958) was a German professor of geography, who had Paul Borchardt as one of his students. When Borchardt proposed that Atlantis had been situated in the chotts of northeast Africa, Passarge investigated the theory but was not completely convinced. mainly because he was unable to identify the cause of the rupture between the chotts and the Gulf of Gabes. Despite this, he was not prepared to completely exclude the possibility that an ancient civilisation had existed in southern Tunisia
Passarge was a rabid anti-semite and was among the signatories of “the commitment of the professors at German universities and colleges to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi state”(a). It would appear unlikely that Passarge was aware of Borchardt’s Jewish ancestry!
Syrtis was the name given by the Romans to two gulfs off the North African coast; Syrtis Major which is now known as the Gulf of Sidra off Libya and Syrtis Minor, known today as the Gulf of Gabes in Tunisian waters. They are both shallow sandy gulfs that have been feared from ancient times by mariners. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27.13-18) it is described how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on ‘Syrtis sands.’
The earliest modern reference to these gulfs that I can find in connection with Atlantis was by Nicolas Fréret in the 18th century when he proposed that Atlantis may have been situated in Syrtis Major. Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse expressed a similar view around the same time. Since then there has been little support for the idea until recent times when Winfried Huf designated Syrtis Major as one of his five divisions of the Atlantean Empire.
However, the region around the Gulf of Gabes has been more persistently associated with aspects of the Atlantis story. Inland from Gabes are the chotts, which were at one time connected to the Mediterranean and considered to have been part of the legendary Lake Tritonis, sometimes suggested as the actual location of Atlantis.
In the Gulf itself, Apollonius of Rhodes placed the Pillars of Herakles(a) , while Anton Mifsud has drawn attention to the writings of the Greek author, Palefatus of Paros, who stated (c. 32) that the Columns of Heracles were located close to the island of Kerkennah at the western end of Syrtis Minor. Lucanus, the Latin poet, located the Strait of Heracles in Syrtis Minor. Mifsud has pointed out that this reference has been omitted from modern translations of Lucanus’ work!
Férréol Butavand was one of the first modern commentators to locate Atlantis in the Gulf of Gabés. In 1929 Dr. Paul Borchardt, the German geographer, claimed to have located Atlantis between the chotts and the Gulf, while more recently Alberto Arecchi placed Atlantis in the Gulf when sea levels were lower(b) . George Sarantitis places the ‘Pillars’ near Gabes and Atlantis itself inland, further west in Mauritania, south of the Atlas Mountains. Antonio Usai also places the ‘Pillars’ in the Gulf of Gabes.
In 2018, Charles A. Rogers published a paper(c) on the academia.edu website in which he identified Tunisia as Atlantis with it capital located at the mouth of the Triton River on the Gulf of Gabes. He favours Plato’s 9.000 ‘years’ to have been lunar cycles, bringing the destruction of Atlantis into the middle of the second millennium BC and coinciding with the eruption of Thera which created a tsunami that ran across the Mediterranean destroying the city with the run-up and its subsequent backwash. This partly agrees with my conclusions in Joining the Dots!
(a) Argonautica Book IV ii 1230
Tunisia has now offered evidence of human activity dated to nearly 100,000 years ago(d) at a site near Tozeur, in the southwest of the country, where the chotts are today.
Tunisia was proposed in the 1920s, by Albert Herrmann, as holding the location of Plato’s Atlantis, at a dried-up saltwater lake known today as Chott el Djerid and was, according to Herrmann, previously called Lake Tritonis. Around this same period Dr. Paul Borchardt, a German geologist, also favoured a site near the Gulf of Gabés, off Tunisia, as the location of Atlantis. He informed us that Shott el Jerid had also been known locally as Bahr Atala or Sea of Atlas.
>Hong-Quan Zhang has a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics and lectures at Tulsa University. He is a recent supporter of Atlantis being located in the chotts of Tunisia and Algeria.(l) He offers his interpretation of excerpts from the ancient Pyramid Texts in support of his contention.(m) <
More recently, Alberto Arecchi developed a theory that places Atlantis off the present Tunisian coast with a large inland sea, today’s chotts, which he identifies as the original ‘Atlantic Sea’, straddling what is now the Tunisian Algerian border. Arecchi claims that this was nearly entirely emptied into the Mediterranean as a result of seismic or tectonic activity in the distant past.
In 2018, Charles A. Rogers published a paper(f) on the academia.edu website in which he identified Tunisia as Atlantis with its capital located at the mouth of the Triton River on the Gulf of Gabes. He favours Plato’s 9.000 ‘years’ to have been lunar cycles, bringing the destruction of Atlantis into the middle of the second millennium BC and coinciding with the eruption of Thera which created a tsunami that ran across the Mediterranean destroying the city with the run-up and its subsequent backwash. This partly agrees with my conclusions in Joining the Dots!
There is clear evidence(b) that Tunisia had been home to the last wild elephants in the Mediterranean region until the demise of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, North Africa and Tunisia in particular have been considered the breadbasket of imperial Rome supplying much of its wheat and olive oil. In particular the Majardah (Medjerda) River valley has remained to this day the richest grain-producing region of Tunisia(i). Roman Carthage became the second city of the western empire. Although the climate has deteriorated somewhat since then, it is still possible to produce two crops a year in low-lying irrigated plains of Tunisia. Furthermore, around the mountains of northwest Africa, there is an abundance of trees including Aleppo pine forests that cover over 10,000 km2 (h). All these details echo Plato’s description of Atlantis and justify consideration of Tunisia as being at least part of the Atlantean confederation.
It is worth noting that Mago, was the Carthaginian author of a 28-volume work on the agricultural practices of North Africa. After the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, his books were brought to Rome, where they were translated from Punic into Latin and Greek and were widely quoted thereafter. Unfortunately, the original texts did not survive, so today we only have a few fragments quoted by later writers. Clearly, Mago’s work was a reflection of a highly developed agricultural society in that region, a description that could also be applied to Plato’s Atlantis!
In 2017, the sunken city of Neapolis was located off the coast of Nabeul, southeast of Tunis. This city was reportedly submerged by a tsunami ”on July 21 in 365 AD that badly damaged Alexandria in Egypt and the Greek island of Crete, as recorded by historian Ammianus Marcellinus.(e)(g)” However, water from a tsunami eventually drains back into the sea, but the demise of Neapolis might be better explained by liquefaction, in the same way, that Herakleion(j), near Alexandria, was destroyed, possibly by the same event. Neapolis and Herakleion are around 1,900 km apart, which suggests an astounding seismic event if both were destroyed at the same time!(e)
In addition to all that, in winter the northern coast of Tunisia is assailed with cold winds from the north bringing snow to the Kroumirie Mountains in the northwest(c).
Interestingly, in summer 2014, a completely new lake was discovered at Gafsa, just north of Shott el Jerid and quickly became a tourist attraction(a), but its existence was rather short-lived.
In November 2021, Aleksa Vu?kovi? published an article on the Ancient Origins website reviewing the current evidence for a Tunisian location for Plato’s Atlantis. Unfortunately, nothing new is offered that you cannot find here(k)!
To be clear, I consider parts of Tunisia to have been an important element in the Atlantean alliance, which according to Plato, also included southern Italy along with some of the Mediterranean islands (Tim.25a-b).
North Africa has received considerable attention as a possible location for Atlantis since the beginning of the 19th century. Gattefosse and Butavand are names associated with early 20th-century North African theorists. They, along with Borchardt, Herrmann and others have proposed locations as far west as Lixus on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, on through Tunisia and Libya and even as far east as the Nile delta.
One of the earliest writers was Ali Bey El Abbassi who discussed Atlantis and an ancient inland sea in the Sahara. The concept of such an inland sea, usually linked with Lake Tritonis, has persisted with the Chotts of Tunisia and Algeria as prime suspects. There is an acceptance that a seismic/tectonic convulsion in the vicinity of the Gulf of Gabés cut off this inland sea from the Mediterranean. Diodorus Siculus records this event in his third book dating it to around 1250 BC. If such an event did not occur, how do we explain the salt-laden chotts? However, proving a connection with Atlantis is another matter.
Whether this particular geological upheaval was related to the episode that destroyed parts of ancient Malta is questionable as the Maltese event was one of massive subsidence.
It should be kept in mind that Plato described the southern part of the Atlantean confederation as occupying North Africa as far eastward as Egypt (Tim.25b & Crit.114c).
>The exact extent of Egyptian-controlled territory in Libya at the time of Atlantis is unclear. We do know that “In the mid-13th century, Marmarica was dominated by an Egyptian fortress chain stretching along the coast as far west as the area around Marsa Matruh; by the early 12th century, Egypt claimed overlordship of Cyrenaican tribes as well. At one point a ruler chosen by Egypt was set up (briefly!) over the combined tribes of Meshwesh, Libu, and Soped.”(b) Another site(a) suggests that Egyptian control stretched nearly as far as Syrtis Major, which itself has been proposed by some as the location of Atlantis.<
All this, of course, conflicts with the idea of the Atlanteans invading from beyond ‘Pillars of Heracles’ situated at Gibraltar since they apparently already controlled at least part of the Western Mediterranean as far as Italy and Egypt.
One of the principal arguments against Atlantis being located in North Africa is that Plato clearly referred to Atlantis as an island. However, as Papamarinopoulos has pointed out that regarding the Greek word for island, ‘nesos’ “a literary differentiation between ‘island’ and ‘peninsula’ did not exist in alphabetic Greek before Herodotus’ in the 5th century BC. Similarly, there was not any distinction between the coast and an island in Egyptian writing systems, up to the 5th century BC.” In conversation with Mark Adams[1070.198], Papamarinopoulos explains that in the sixth century BC, when Solon lived, ‘nesos’ had five geographic meanings. “One, an island as we know it. Two, a promontory. Three, a peninsula. Four, a coast. Five, land within a continent, surrounded by lakes, rivers or springs.”
Personally, from the context, I am quite happy to accept that the principal city of the Atlantean alliance existed on an island as we understand the word. This was probably north of Tunisia, where a number of possible candidates exist. However, it may be unwise to rule out a North African city just yet!
Another argument put forward that appears to exclude at least part of North Africa is that Plato, according to many translations, he refers to Atlantis as ‘greater’ than ‘Libya’ and ‘Asia‘ combined, using the Greek word, ‘meizon‘, which had a primary meaning of ‘more powerful’ not greater in size. Atlantis could not have been situated in either Libya or Asia because ‘a part cannot be greater than the whole’. However, if Plato was referring to military might rather than geographical extent, as seems quite likely, North Africa may indeed have been part of the Atlantean alliance, particularly as Plato describes the control of Atlantis in the Mediterranean as far as Tyrrhenia and Egypt.
(a) https://starshinetours.com/first-signs-of-weakening/ (Link broken) *
Albert Herrmann (1886-1945) was Professor of Geography at Berlin University. He was very interested in oriental geography and is perhaps best known for his 1935, Historical and Commercial Atlas of China, which was widely used
His other passion was Atlantis, so between 1927 and 1931 he declared support for Borchardt’s northwest Africa location theory in a number of publications. In 1938 he used is influence to mount a large exhibition in Berlin about Atlantis(a).
He agreed that a large dried-up saltwater lake in Tunisia called Shott el Djerid was originally Lake Tritonis and was known during Solon’s time as the ‘Atlantic Sea’ and further claimed that it had been the location of Atlantis; a theory supported by a number of investigators. In more recent times, Charles A. Rogers is one such advocate of this identification(b).
Herrmann suggested that it was the result of an upheaval of the land, which extended a land barrier between the Shott and the sea. He locates the Pillars of Heracles where this barrier was created. Anton Mifsud has pointed out that the 1st century BC writer Apollonius Rhodius located the Strait of Heracles in ancient Syrtis Minor, now the Gulf of Gabés, apparently supporting Herrmann’s contention. At one point, Herrmann cited as Atlantis, the village of Rhelissa, near the mouth of the old River Tritonis, which flowed into the Gulf of Gabes.
Herrmann disagreed with Plato’s 9,000 years and proposed that he had instead been referring to the 13th or 14th century BC.
Finally, Herrmann, in an effort to match this location with the Platonic narrative, felt obliged to reduce its dimensions by a factor of thirty. He claimed that the priest or interpreter at Sais had erred in the conversion of the Egyptian ‘schoinos’ into Greek stadia. The schoinos was adopted by the Greeks, where it must be noted that it, as well as the Geek stadion, had variable regional values; the number of schoeni per stadion varied between 30 and 120.
In a later book, Herrmann shifted his view from his original stance suggesting that Tunisia had been just a colony under the influence of a culture originating in Friesland, later to become famous as the source of the Oera Linda Book (c). It is not impossible that the introduction of a Northern European slant to his theories was the consequence of political pressure in Germany at the time, typified by Borchardt being imprisoned because of his Jewish background. Vidal-Naquet describes Herrmann as ‘an avowed Nazi’ [580.121] so pressure may not have been necessary. (a) >His revised conclusions appear to mirror the views of fellow nazi Hermann Wirth.<
Chott el Jerid is one of a series of ancient salt lakes (sometimes spelt shott or shat) in Tunisia that stretches from the Gulf of Gabés westward into Algeria, south of the Atlas Mountains. It is the second-largest salt lake in the world after Salt Lake in Utah. It is maintained that ancient Lake Tritonis was located in this region and possibly incorporated Chott el Jerid and at some point may even have extended as far as an enlarged Lake Chad.
These chotts are not, strictly speaking, lakes at all today. They are flat depressed areas, which for most of the year are areas of dried mud covered with a thick skin of salt,>suggesting an earlier connection with the Mediterranean.<
>The principal chotts are Chott el Djerid, Chott ech Chergui, Chott Melrhir, Chott el Fejej and Chott el Hodna.<
The largest, the Chott el Jerid, is just a few feet below the level of the Mediterranean, according to Wikipedia. However, François Roudaire, a 19th-century French geographer, surveyed the chott and reported that the entire salt lake was 15 metres above the level of the Mediterranean. This fact was confirmed by Edward Dumergue in his 1883 booklet, The Chotts of Tunis.>In the same publication [p.5] he mentions Roudaire “showing how these chotts could be formed into one great inland sea, extending from near Biskra and Chegga in Algeria, through Tunis, to the Gulf of Gabes, about 300 miles in length and about 60 in breadth, forming a new gulf into the Mediterranean, with an area somewhat greater than the Irish Sea.”<
It is worth noting that Diodorus Siculus records that around 1250 BC catastrophic seismic activity across North-West Africa from the Gulf of Gabés to the Atlantic radically changed the topography of the region. Some investigators see this event as being responsible for the cutting-off of these inland seas from the Mediterranean creating today’s salt lakes. This idea is not as fanciful as it might seem at first sight when you consider the geological instability of the Central Mediterranean region. A well-known example is to be found at the Macellum of Pozzuoli near Naples which has been rising and falling over the past two millennia, due to movements in the volcanic caldera on which it sits.
Wintertime can produce up to a metre of water in these chotts, which by liquefying the mud makes them perfectly impassable. There is a clear suggestion that these chotts represent an inland sea that was once connected to the Mediterranean. It is believed that seismic activity in the area cut this connection. All around these salt lakes there are numerous springs, rushing from the sandy hillocks. Virtually all these springs are very near boiling point. The town of Gabés is close to a grand oasis, which is maintained by water from a stream emptying itself into the sea at Gabés after a short run.
More than one writer has placed Atlantis in this region. Paul Borchardt and Albert Hermann in the early 1920s and more recently Alberto Arecchi have advocated this idea. Borchardt reported that the local name of Chott el Jerid was Bahr Atala or Sea of Atlas.
Arecchi concurs with this explanation and is convinced that the inland sea was the original ‘Atlantic Ocean’. He quotes the Book of Jubilees to support this contention(a).
>In 2021, Hong-Quan Zhang also placed Atlantis firmly within what is now the northwest region of Africa, specifically identifying the capital’s location at the eastern end of Chott el Jerid in modern Tunisia(e).<
A contributor to a June 2012 forum(b) provided a link(c) to an interesting satellite image, as well as the following list of fifteen points favouring the chotts as a location for Atlantis:
1) Atlantis did not sink to “the bottom of the ocean” instead it became a “muddy shoal only several feet below the water surface”
2) It’s to the West of both Egypt and Greece
3) The Chotts used to be a large “mega-lake” and you can use a sea-level map to simulate how large this lake used-to be
4) That mega-lake is very likely to be the mythical “Lake Tritonis” that the Greeks ascribed to this area
5) Herodotus spoke of Tritonis in relation to peoples near mount Atlas who referred to themselves as Atlanteans
6) There are Carthaginian coins from this area with Elephants (and older petroglyphs with Elephants and diverse fauna)
7) One phase of the local art was highly similar to the Minoan\Sea Peoples influence
8) The local Deity is syncretically equal to Neith (who was deemed syncretically equal to Athena by Egypt in the tale)
9) Another local Deity is syncretically equal to Poseidon
10) The tale of the Amazons is corroborated genetically from Tuscany to Corfu to this Region (the Amazons fought the Atlanteans)
11) The Berbers often claim to have a heritage from Atlantis (not a big deal, so does half the Mediterranean and South America… etc)
12) Several ancient sources claim that this “mega-lake” emptied via a geological cataclysm. The event precedes the Sea Peoples epoch.
13) The name ‘Gabes’ is arguably linguistically closer to ‘Gades’ than Cadiz (Spain).
14) Gafsa (Caspa) was legendarily the home of the Libyan Herakles and resided between two mountains
15) It’s closer proximity to Egypt and Greece make it more plausible as a Bronze Age power than Gibraltar where it would be essentially like living on the moon in that age. (In no order).
Dr Paul Theodor Borchardt (1886-1957) at the very least could never have claimed to have lived a dull life. He came from a Jewish family but adopted Theosophy, publishing a commentary on Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled while still in his early twenties. He joined the German army and served in the Middle East during the First World War, working as a pilot and spy. After that war, he explored Tunisia, which led to his contribution to Atlantology.
>Borchardt studied under Professor Siegfried Passarge and when Borchard later proposed that the chotts of northwest Africa held the remains of Plato’s Atlantis, Passarge investigated the claim and expressed some reservations. Passarge was a rabid anti-Semite, but at that time does not appear to have been aware of Borchardt’s ancestry.<
Later, in 1929 he became a professor of military geography in Munich, but, his Jewish background led to his dismissal in 1933 and later in 1938 was sent to the Dachau concentration camp. Intervention by a relative led to his release and emigration to Britain in 1939. MI5 were impressed by his wartime exploits and his anti-Nazi outlook.
However, Borchardt travelled to the United States and quite incredibly was recruited as a German spy by the infamous Kurt Frederick Ludwig who was already under surveillance by the authorities. When the so-called Joe K spy ring was broken up Borchardt was sentenced to 20 years in prison, narrowly avoiding the death penalty. Once again through the influence of friends he got an early release and a pension.
Letters relating to his wartime activities can be read online(c)(d).
Borchardt was convinced that Atlantis had been located in North Africa(a). He particularly favoured an area between the Chott el Jerid and the Gulf of Gabés, off Tunisia. James Bramwell notes[195.115] that Borchardt recorded the location as Ham Mam and that he had deduced that the salt lake, Chott Hammeina, was once called the “Lake of the Atlantes”, formerly known as Lake Tritonis. El Hamma (Al Hammah) is a town 30km west of Gabès.>Sprague de Camp noted [194.191] that Borchardt identified ancient Mt. Atlas with the Ahaggar Mountains rather than the Atlas range in the Maghreb!<
The topography of the region together with the ruins of an ancient city near Gabés that Borchardt discovered along with traces of irrigation canals, as well as a huge concentric feature, convinced Borchardt that he had identified Plato’s Atlantis. He believed that the Pillars of Hercules were not the mountains on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar but instead were actual pillars in a temple of Hercules in the at the Gulf of Gabés near the entrance to the chotts.
It may be worth mentioning that the Maltese archipelago, just north of Tunisia, also had an ancient temple dedicated to Hercules.
Borchardt differentiated between the island of Atlantis and the location of the citadel of Poseidon. He identified similarities between Berber tribal names and the ten kings of Atlantis e.g. Plato refers to the founder of the royal house of Atlantis as Euenor, which is claimed to be echoed in the name of Uenur, the mythical father of all the Berbers.
A 1928 newspaper report(b) is also worth a look.
Atlantisforschung noted that the German Atlantis researcher Paul Borchardt, who suspected Atlantis to be in the region of Tunisia, derived the name Ampheres from a Berber tribe called “Am-Phares”: ” They are undoubtedly the Pharusii of Ptolemy (IV, 6, 17) in the Wadi Draa south of the Atlas. Am means people. The name is still very common today. Borchardt thus localizes “, as Ulrich Hofmann, an expert on Borchard’s work, remarks, ‘ the area of ??the Ampheres on the southwestern edge of the Maghreb, in modern-day Morocco, south of the up to 2500m high Atlas Mountains.’(a)
Gulf of Gabés on the eastern coast of Tunisia was formerly known as Syrtis Minor. Today is contains the Tunisian oil reserves and has the distinction of having one of the few significant tidal ranges (max. 8 feet) in the Mediterranean, which exposes extensive sandbanks at low tides(b).
Inland from the Gulf are the salt marshes or chotts that originally constituted an inland sea, possibly Lake Tritonis, connected with the Mediterranean but due to a seismic upheaval a ridge was created separating them from the outer sea. A comparable event was the 2011 Fukushima earthquake which moved the seafloor 16 meters vertically and 50 metres laterally(a).
In the 19th century François Roudaire proposed the cutting of a channel from the Gulf of Gabés to the chotts, recreating the former inland sea(c).
His plan was supported by Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805-1894), who developed the Suez Canal. However, when Roudaire surveyed the chott nearest the sea, Chott el-Djerid, he discovered that it was in fact lying significantly above sea level. This forced him to revise the scale of the plan, which in turn began the erosion of support for the project, which was eventually abandoned.
It is interesting that the idea of creating a vast inland sea in the Sahara has been been raised again(d) in the context of the current climate change, which, if unchecked, will raise sea levels dramatically. The objective of this new inland sea would be to partly offset this sea level rise.
Férréol Butavand was one of the first to locate Atlantis in the Gulf of Gabés. In 1929 Dr. Paul Borchardt, the German geographer, claimed to have located Atlantis between the chotts and the Gulf. Dr. Anton Mifsud has drawn attention to the writings of the Greek author, Palefatus of Paros, who stated (cap. 32) that the Columns of Heracles were located close to the island of Kerkenna at the western end of Syrtis Minor.
Alberto Arecchi has built on the earlier work of Butavand and places Atlantis firmly in the Gulf(e) when sea levels were much lower as a result of an isthmus separating Eastern from Western Mediterranean.
George Sarantitis delivered three papers to the 2008 Atlantis Conference also locating the Pillars of Heracles in the Gulf of Gabés, which led to the ‘Atlantic Sea in modern Tunisia and Algeria, south of the Atlas Mountains and the site of Atlantis.
(d) Emancipatory Oceanic Macro-engineering Richard B. Cathcart (See Archive 5079)