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
Malta: Echoes of Plato’s Island  by Anton Mifsud, Simon Mifsud, Chris Agius Sultana and Charles Savona-Ventura is a large format, well illustrated and referenced, if somewhat slender book. There are valuable notes, many of which could have been included in the main body of text. Unfortunately, it lacks a comprehensive index, but it is an important addition to the literature on Plato’s Atlantis narrative.
The book presents, in a very rational manner, the case for considering the Maltese islands as remnants of Atlantis. The authors highlight a wealth of evidence for the islands being far more extensive in area in the distant past but within the experience of man. For example, the surface of Malta today is totally incapable of generating the volume of water that was required to scour out the islands extensive valleys. This anomaly was first commented on as early as 1791 by the French geologist, Déodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801).
Mifsud et al. discuss the archaeology and geology of the region and the compatibility of the existing topography with Plato’s description. Classical sources are liberally quoted in support of their theory. It is generally accepted that the archipelago was once fully connected and considerably extended southwards. Claudius Ptolemy writing in the 2nd century AD records this southern extension of the islands as being enjoyed by human inhabitants and its existence orally transmitted into historical times. Ptolemy gives co-ordinates for the latitude of the temple of Hercules ten minutes (10’) south of the present landmass or about 11 miles.
The book introduces to the Atlantis debate, the concept of biogeographical indexing, which is designed to indicate the probability of an island being colonised based on its size and distance from a mainland. *Mifsud draws on the work of Mark Patton  and that of MacArthur & Jones  for the relevant biogeographical data.*
On this basis the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, one of the Pelagie Islands, which lie between Malta and the North African mainland, have the lowest biogeographical indices in the Mediterranean. However, both Lampedusa and Pantelleria were occupied as early as the 6th millennium BC, suggesting that they were probably, at that point in time, greater in size or even part of a single more extensive landmass that included the Maltese archipelago.
*A further biogeographical element in Mifsud’s theory, of a much larger Maltese landmass, is the distribution of the podarcis filfolensis wall lizard, which is only found on the Maltese and Pelagie islands.[p.26-27]*
Mifsud and his collaborators proposed a date of 2200 BC for the destruction of this lost kingdom. They point out that this date coincides with the collapse of a number of civilisations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Their suggested date conflicts with that of their fellow Maltese writer, the late Joseph S. Ellul, who considered the destruction of Atlantis to be a consequence of the Biblical Deluge which he placed many thousands of years earlier.
Charles Savona-Ventura is a medical colleague of Dr. Anton Mifsud, with whom he has collaborated on a number of articles and books[210–214] regarding Maltese prehistory.
Simon Mifsud is also a medical practitioner, being registrar in paediatrics at Gozo General Hospital and was co-author with Anton Mifsud of another book on prehistoric Malta.
Chris Agius Sultana was a professional artistic designer with an interest in underwater exploration and is credited with generating the interest that led to this book. Sadly, he died in 2007.
This book is now available to read or download online(a).
Also See: Los Millares
Michael Hübner (1966-2013) was a German researcher who presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in Athens, a carefully reasoned argument for placing Atlantis in North-West Africa on the Souss-Massa plain of Morocco. He has gathered and organised a range of geographical details and other clues contained in Plato’s text,which he maintained lead inexorably to Morocco. His paper is now available on the internet(a) and a fuller exposition of his hypothesis has now been published, in German, as Atlantis?:Ein Indizienbeweis , (Atlantis?:Circumstantial Evidence).
Hübner also published a number of video clips on his website in support of his theory. He begins with a lucid demonstration of a Hierarchical Constraint Satisfaction (HCS) approach to solving the mystery. These clips offer a body of evidence which are perhaps the most impressive that I have encountered in the course of many years of research. He matches many of the geographical details recorded by Plato as well as clearly showing rocks coloured red, white and black still in use in buildings in the same area. Hübner also shows possible harbour remains close to Cape Ghir (Rhir), not far north from Agadir (Plato’s ‘Gadeiros’). Although there are still some outstanding questions in my mind, I consider Hübner’s hypothesis one of the more original on offer to date.
However, I perceive some flaws in his search criteria definitions, which in my opinion, have led to an erroneous conclusion, although I think it possible that his Moroccan location may have been partof the Atlantean domain. Furthermore, I consider that his conclusions also conflict with some of the geographical clues provided by Plato.
Nevertheless, I am happy to promote Hübner’s website as a ‘must see’ for any serious student of Atlantology and I had looked forward to the publication of his book in English. In the meanwhile a video on YouTube(b) gives a good overview of his theory.
The 2011 Atlantis Conference saw Hübner present additional evidence(c) in which he translated his HCS method into a series of mathematical formulae.
Tragically, Michael Hübner died in December 2013 as a result of a cycling accident. He left a valuable contribution to Atlantis studies. Mark Adams met Hübner shortly before his death, so in March 2015 when Adams’ book, Meet me in Atlantis, was published, the ensuing media attention probably gave Hübner’s theory more publicity than when he was alive!
Although, I have always been impressed by Hübner’s methodology, my principal objection to his conclusions is based on the fact that all early empires expanded through the invasion of territory that was contiguous or within easy reach by sea. This was a logical requirement for pre-invasion intelligence gathering and for the invasion itself, but also for effective ongoing administrative control. Agadir in Morocco is around 3300 km (2000 miles), by sea, from Athens and so does not match Hübner’s very first ‘constraint’, which requires that “Atlantis should be located within a reasonable range from Athens.” He arbitrarily decided that ‘a reasonable range’ was within a 5,000 km radius based on the fact that the campaigns of Alexander the Great reached a maximum of 4,700 km from Macedonia. However, he seems to have missed the point that Alexander began his attack on the Persian Empire by crossing the Hellespont (Dardanelles), which is less than a mile wide at its narrowest. As is the case with all ancient empires, Alexander expanded his Macedonian empire incrementally, always advancing through various adjacent territories. Alexander’s aim was to conquer the Persian Empire and having done that, he continued with his opportunistic expansionism into India. My point being, that ancient land invasions were always aimed at neighbouring territory, then, if further expansion became possible, it was usually undertaken immediately beyond the newly extended borders. Alexander, did not initially set out to conquer India, but, as he experienced victory after victory, his sense of invincibility grew and so he pushed on until the threat of overwhelming odds ahead and opposition within his own army persuaded him to return home.
Similarly, naval invasions are best carried out over the shortest distances for the obvious logistical reasons of supplies and the risk of inclement weather and rough seas. There are many extreme Atlantis location theories, such as America, Antarctica and the Andes, from which it would have idiotic to launch an attack on Athens, over 3,000 years ago, particularly as there were more attractive and easier places to invade, closer to home, rather than Athens, from where up-to-date pre-invasion military intelligence would have been impossible. Hübner’s Agadir location being 3,300 km from Athens is not as ridiculous as the Transatlantic suggestions, but it is still far too great a distance to make it practical. If expansion had been necessary, nearby territory in Africa or Iberia would, in my opinion, have offered far better targets!
If I’m asked to say what I consider a ‘reasonable striking distance’ for a naval invasion to be, I would hazard a layman’s guess at less than 500 km. When the Romans wiped out Carthage, the used Sicily as a stepping-stone and then had to travel less than 300 km to achieve their goal. But there are many variables to be considered; weather, time of year, terrain and the opposing military, which I think should be left to experts in military history and tactics. However, I must reiterate that 3,300 km is not credible.
My second criticism of Hübner’s presentation is his claim that Plato described Atlantis as being ‘west’ of Tyrrhenia, which is based on his assumption that Atlantis was situated on the Atlantic coast of Morocco and consequently believed that Atlantean territory extended from there eastward until it met Tyrrhenia.
In fact, what Plato said, twice, was that Atlantis extended as far as Tyrrhenia (Timaeus 25b &Critias 114c), The implication being that Tyrrhenian territory, which was situated in central Italy, was adjacent to part of the Atlantean domain, which, I suggest, was located in southern Italy. This would have left the Greek mainland just over 70 km away across the Strait of Otranto, well within striking distance. I think that it is safer to think of the Atlantean alliance having a north/south axis, from Southern Italy, across the Mediterranean, including Sicily together the Maltese and Pelagie Islands and large sections of the Maghreb, including Tunisia and Algeria.
In late 2018, the well-known TV presenter, Andrew Gough, who had previously supported the Minoan Hypothesis, posted a lengthy article on his website(e) endorsing Hübner’s theory.
A graphical demonstration of how HCS works is available on a YouTube clip(d).