Pillars of Herakles
Ancient Seafaring is a controversial subject owing principally to a dearth of physical evidence. The earliest known boat is the Pesse
Canoe (see right) which was discovered in The Netherlands and thought to be around 10,000 years old. The second oldest boat was also a canoe, found in Malawi and dated to about 8,000 years ago(g). Wikipedia lists all the surviving boats, which shows that until the third millennium BC all that have been found are canoes.
Seafaring and Atlantis are inextricably linked. In Critias 117d Plato anachronistically refers to the shipyards of Atlantis being full of triremes, which were not developed until the 7th century BC, long after the demise of Atlantis. However, the term ‘trireme’ was probably employed by Plato to make his narrative more relevant to his audience. He credits the Atlantean navy with 1200 ships, which for me seems like borrowing and rounding the numbers of either the Achaean fleet of 1186 vessels in Homer’s Iliad or that of the 1207 ships of the later Persian invaders. That ships were used in the war with Athens can be inferred from the fact that Atlantis, or at least its capital, was situated on an island.
Professor Seán McGrail (1928-2021) wrote in his monumental work, Boats of the World “There is no direct evidence for water transport until the Mesolithic even in the most favoured regions, and it is not until the Bronze Age that vessels other than logboats are known” [1949.10]. For those that adhere to a 10th millennium BC date for the Atlantean War with Athens, this lack of naval evidence to support such an early date undermines the idea. An invasion fleet of canoes travelling from beyond the Pillars of Herakles to attack Athens seems rather unlikely!
Apart from the flimsy Solar Boats of the Egyptians, such as the Khufu Boat (see left), the first seagoing vessel listed by Wikipedia does not appear until around 1500 BC.
Seldom referred to, but perhaps even more interesting is to be found earlier in Critias 113e which describes the mythological beginnings of Atlantis and reads “for at that time neither ships nor sailing were as yet in existence”. However, we are given little information to bridge the time up to its development as a major trading entity. It is reasonable to assume a gap of several thousand years.
Recent studies(a) have suggested that primitive seafaring took place in the Mediterranean thousands of years earlier than originally thought and may even have been engaged in by Homo Erectus and Neanderthals in the form of island hopping and coastal-hugging, the latter continuing into historical times.
Plato describes an advanced maritime trading nation with a powerful naval capacity. How much was part of the original story brought from Egypt by Solon or whether it was in any way embellished by Plato is unclear. The earliest known trading empire is that of the Minoans which began in the 3rd millennium BC and has led to many identifying them with the Atlanteans. However, there are very many other details in Plato’s narrative that seriously conflict with this hypothesis.
The limitations of ancient seafaring raise many questions regarding the navigation supports available to these early sailors(b). Initially, sailing, probably for fishing, would have been confined to daytime travel and keeping within the sight of land. With the development of maritime trade, the demand for improved navigation methods also grew.
In time sailors acquired a familiarity with the night sky that enabled them to use the stars as navigational aids, given clear skies. Gradually, as nighttime travel became more common, the use of beacons and later lighthouses also expanded. The lighthouse at Pharos near Alexandria came to be counted as one of the wonders of the Old World. Similarly, it is thought that the Colossus at Rhodes performed a similar function.
Different navigation skills have been identified in different parts of the world. In the Pacific, the navigational capabilities of the Polynesians are legendary(c). The ancient Chinese employed magnetism(e) and in the cloudy North Atlantic, the Vikings used their ‘sunstones’(d).
In their book, Atlantis in America  Ivar Zapp & George Erikson claimed that the stone spheres of Costa Rica had a navigational function [p34] as Zapp discovered that the sightlines of all the stones remaining in their original positions, did point to important ancient sites such as Giza, Stonehenge and Easter Island!
A most imaginative proposal has come from Crichton E.M. Miller who proposed  that the ubiquitous Celtic Cross is an image of an ancient navigational device. He further claims that “This instrument can tell the time, find latitude and longitude, measure the angles of the stars, predict the solstices and equinoxes and measure the precession of the equinoxes. It can also find the ecliptic pole as well as the north and south poles; it can make maps and charts, design pyramids and henges and—used in combination with these sites—can record and predict the cycles of nature and time(f) “. Then for good measure, he proceeded to patent the device.
(f) Atlantis Rising magazine #35 http://pdfarchive.info/index.php?pages/At
?The Bosporus or Bosphorus is described by Wikipedia as “a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the continental boundary between Asia and Europe, and divides Turkey by separating Anatolia from Thrace. It is the world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation. The Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, and by the Kerch Strait, the Sea of Azov.”
Arysio dos Santos in his book Atlantis [320.186] noted that “The Bosphorus was considered to be the site of the ‘Pillars of Hercules’ even before the name of these famous features was transplanted to the region of Gibraltar, where it remains stuck down to the present time. In reality, bosporus or bosphorus (or bosporos or bosphoros, rather, the Greek words from which the Latin name derives) means ‘cattle passage, oxford’ precisely because Hercules was said to have crossed there with the cattle he rustled from Geryon, in Erytheia.”
The Symplegades or ‘Clashing Rocks’, situated at the Bosporus, are known in Greek mythology as one of the challenges encountered by Jason and the Argonauts. Pindar describes Jason’s journey to the ‘Inhospitable Sea’ (Black Sea) via the Clashing Rocks [1787.61].
Rosario Vieni has suggested that the Symplegades, were precursors of the Pillars of Heracles, John Lundwall in Mythos and Cosmos [1747.305-6] also suggests a linkage between the Symplegades and the Pillars of Herakles!(a)
>According to Atlantisforschung Christine Pellech suggested that the Symplegades was a reference to the Strait of Magellan at the southern tip of South America(b)!<
(a) https://www.quora.com/Where-are-the-pillars-of-Hercules (just over halfway down the page)
Veljko Milkovic is a Serbian inventor from Novi Sad. For the past twenty years, he has been claiming that Atlantis is now at the bottom of the Danube, “more precisely, between Novi Sad, at the foot of the Petrovaradin fortress and Srem.”
To support his claim “Milkovic also collected a large amount of evidence from the bottom of the Danube. During the low water level, numerous stone artifacts with holes, various inscriptions and markings emerged, which are obviously not carved by hand, but perfectly precisely – with a laser.”
His theory is developed in his 2020 book Panonska Atlantida (Pannonian Atlantis)  with some brief notes on the internet(c). He places the Pillars of Herakles at the Iron Gates Gorge on the Danube as have several other commentators. Milkovic places Atlantis itself on the Pannonian Plain, a region where mammoth remains have been found explaining Plato’s reference to elephants.
The same report (a)(b) notes that a team of scientists from the Geological Institute in Bucharest, Romania, are investigating the Deliblato Sands in Serbia in connection with Atlantis.
Timothy Wyatt delivered a paper to the 2005 Atlantis Conference on Melos entitled Constraints on the Search for Atlantis [629.59]. He notes that “if the myth contains germs of real events, and is neither pure fiction nor political propaganda, then any naturalistic interpretation of them is almost bound to hinge on catastrophic geological or astronomical events, and we can ask questions about when and where.”
Wyatt recognises that Plato’s Atlantis date of 9,000 years is unrealistic and understands why the inundation of Atlantis ‘in a day and a night’ has forced researchers to propose the eruption of Thera (Santorini) in the 2nd millennium BC as a possible cause. This rapid flooding also raises questions of when catastrophic floods capable of sinking Atlantis occurred At least three have been identified and of them, Wyatt sees Ryan & Pitman‘s Black Sea Deluge as the most likely candidate.
In reviewing the where problem he accepts that the flooded Atlantis must lie in relatively shallow waters, which throws up a number of possibilities with many in the east, which he rules out because of remoteness. If the constraint of the Pillars of Hercules located at Gibraltar is accepted, the Mediterranean is also excluded, and Wyatt believes we are then forced to look at the Celtic Shelf.
Wyatt’s idea of identifying constraints and building your theory around them was taken further by the late Michael Hübner and developed into an elegant theory. Unfortunately, I perceived a small flaw in his presentation, which, for me, unravelled his entire theory and led me to write Joining the Dots, in which I think most of the constraints identified by Wyatt and Hübner have been more adequately addressed.
Xavier Séguin (1949- ) is the French author of the Eden Saga website(a). We have encountered Séguin in Atlantipedia in relation to a number of subjects. Some of his ideas are, in my opinion, simply daft. For example, he suggests that megalithic dolmens and menhirs can generate vril energy, which can be used to expedite the maturing of wine(b)!
The most exotic suggestion regarding the Etruscans comes from Séguin, who has claimed that they share a common ancestry with the Yoruba of West Africa, as both originated in Atlantis(c), a concept ‘borrowed’ from Leo Frobenius. He also offered a most extreme theory regarding the Olmecs with the claim that they were astronauts. This idea was expressed(d) by Séguin, quoting US astronaut Gordon Cooper !
However, I considered Séguin to be totally unreliable when I found that he also quoted a fictional character, Professor Mortimer, from a work by the renowned writer, Edgar P. Jacobs, as supposedly uttered by a real scientist(e), in relation to the Pillars of Heracles.
Thomas James was the 18th century author of The History of the Herculean Straits, in which he offered support for the idea of Atlantis in America [1739.1.216].
Neville Chipulina, a Gibraltarian, concluded his blog on the Pillars(a) with a quote from James’ 1771 book, who said – “The reader will observe by the great disagreement of authors, the almost impossibility of absolutely vouching for the truth of any fact. ” In 1854, Wm. Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography  summed up this uncertainty regarding the Pillars of Herakles by noting that when the ancient writers began to investigate the matter more closely, they were greatly divided in opinion as to where the Pillars were to be sought, what they were, and why they were called by the name of Hercules.
Jonathan Northcote is a South African legal practitioner and the author of 16.484ºW 58.521ºN Atlantis, Found? in which he applies his professional forensic skills to the question of Atlantis. Although initially brought to the subject by Otto Muck’s book, he found aspects of Muck’s ideas unacceptable and began an investigation of his own that led him to conclude that the region of Rockall in the North Atlantic is the most likely candidate as the location of Atlantis,
There is no doubting the quality of Northcote’s research, particularly relating to the geology and underwater topography of the Rockall region, which is fully referenced. However I cannot agree with his treatment of a number of critical items in Plato’s text. These relate to words and phrases such as, continent, Pillars of Heracles, Atlantic, greater than Libya and Asia combined and elephants.
*In 2018, Stuart L. Harris, citing Northcote’s work, published four papers (a-d) on the academia.edu website endorsing the Rockall Plateau as the location of Atlantis. Harris adopts some of Emilio Spedicato’s theories and attributes the destruction of Atlantis to a catastrophic encounter with Nibiru in 9577 BC.*
In January 2019, Northcote revised his book with additional material and published this second edition with the title of Atlantis, Found? An investigation into ancient accounts, bathymetry and climatology . I am currently working my way through this latest offering and hope to review it in the near future.
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.
>Pliny the Elder refers to ‘Pillars’ at the end of the Red Sea and then, without pause, inexplicably mentions, Mauritania, Mt. Atlas and Cerne and shortly afterwards to an island known as Atlantis!(c)<
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!
The Bering Strait between Asia and America has been a source of ongoing controversy regarding the peopling of America.
James Howell (1594-1666) relates how even in the 17th century the existence of the strait, then known as the Anian, was disputed, although at the same time there was also a theory that the nomadic Scythians had originally crossed over the Strait from America.
>A 2022 report of “A new study that reconstructs the history of sea level at the Bering Strait shows that the Bering Land Bridge connecting Asia to North America did not emerge until around 35,700 years ago, less than 10,000 years before the height of the last ice age (known as the Last Glacial Maximum).”(x)<
By the end of the 18th century, the importance of the Strait had been recognised, when Paul Felix Cabrera wrote “That most troublesome of all the difficulties hitherto started by authors respecting the passage of animals to America, particularly of the ferocious kinds at enmity with man, even retaining in full force the plausible reasons so ingeniously urged, if not entirely removed, is nearly surmounted by the discovery and examination of Anian or Behring’s straits’ which are of no greater breadth than thirteen leagues from shore to shore, and where, by means of the ice, the two continents of Asia and America are connected; this would afford a practical route not only for animals but men, from whom it is possible to suppose that those who inhabit the most northerly countries from the straits as far as Hudson’s and Baffin’s Bays, and from the Frozen Sea to California, New Mexico, and Canada to the southward, are descended.” (s)
In certain circumstances, it is still possible to walk across the Bering Strait. “A 2.5-mile stretch divides Russia’s Big Diomede island from Alaska’s Little Diomede island. In the winter, the water separating the two islands freezes, allowing you to trek from one destination to the other.”(n) Wikipedia notes that “numerous successful crossings without the use of a boat have also been recorded since at least the early 20th century.” (o)
There is little doubt that at some point in prehistory a landbridge linked the two continents.
Although it is frequently claimed that the Hadji Ahmed Map of 1559 shows a landbridge between the two continents, it only appears to be so because of the way the map is drawn.
A recent paper(a) by Heather Pringle and Krista Langlois offers evidence that the link was more than just an isthmus, but was in fact a vast area of land, Beringia, the size of Australia, and that it provided a crossing point, for humans and animals earlier and for longer than previously believed (See map above right).
After crossing the Strait there were two southward routes, one along the coast and the other via what is known as the Ice-Free Corridor Route which ran between two vast ice sheets, the Laurentide to the east and the Cordilleran to the west(c). According to a 2018 report(i), the coastal route which followed deglaciation “was physically and environmentally viable for early human migration to the Americas.” Another report in 2018 claims that the earliest settlers in America were island-hopping seafarers from Asia(j)(k).
However, there is now compelling evidence that people reached South America before the existence of the northern ice-free corridor, suggesting the alternative coastal migration route, which, so far, has little evidence to support it. This recent report is the result of excavations at the Huaca Prieta ceremonial mound, 600 Km north of the Peruvian capital, Lima. Human activity there has now been dated to around 15,000 years ago(e). Further evidence has now emerged(p) that the peopling of America was not carried out by a single group, but by immigrants from different geographical areas.
Professor Jody Hey of Rutgers University published in 2011 the results of his North American DNA studies, which confirmed the arrival of the first migrants from Asia around 14,000 years ago in a group of not more than 70 people(r).
Pre-Columbian contact between Asia and Alaska was confirmed by a report(b) from Purdue University in September 2016. artefacts were discovered in a house dated between 700 and 900 years old. The bronze items were identified as having been smelted in Asia, while a leather strap was radiocarbon-dated to between 500 and 800 years old.
Another 2016 report(d) added genetic evidence for the Beringia migration route, when the remains of two infants, dated to around 10,000 years ago were discovered at the Upward Sun River site in Alaska.
Further supportive evidence of the use of the Beringia landbridge was uncovered at Alaska’s Swan Point site where human occupation has been dated as far back as 14,000 years ago. “Another notable aspect of Swan Point is the role it has played in understanding the prehistoric migration of peoples into the Americas. A type of stone tool, the microblade, which was unearthed at the site, has been found to resemble those used by the Dyuktai people, who lived in Siberia around the same period. This shows that people crossed from Siberia to Alaska on the Beringia land bridge.”(t)
The ‘received wisdom’ regarding the origins of the Clovis people was that they had crossed into the Americas from Asia via the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago. This has been challenged in a book by two archaeologists, Dennis J. Stanford and Bruce A. Bradley, who claim “that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Supplying archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, the book dismantles the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of the Solutrean people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago.” In 2014, Stephen Oppenheimer endorsed the work of Stanford and Bradley(h). Coincidentally, an article(m) in the August 2017 edition of Antiquity offers evidence that humans lived in Brazil more than 20,000 years ago, which is many millennia before the Clovis people arrived in North America.
A sceptical view of their work should also be read(f). Furthermore, in 2016 the Solutrean Hypothesis also appears to have been contradicted by recent genetic studies(g).
Late August 2019 saw the dating controversy surrounding the arrival of the First Americans re-ignited with a study that pushes the date back to over 16,000 years ago(l). This is based on archaeological discoveries at Cooper’s Ferry in Idaho. This earlier date suggests that the ice-free corridor would not have been available to these people, but are more likely to have used the coastal route from Asia via the Bering Strait. A secondary matter raised by these finds is that “Based on their analysis of the stone tools from Cooper’s Ferry, the researchers suggest that they are most similar to artifacts of the same general period found on the other side of the Pacific. Specifically, they appear to share many traits with tools produced on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido 13,000-16,000 years ago!”
The idea that the Clovis people were the first Americans is gradually losing support as the evidence found at Cooper’s Ferry and other sites indicates otherwise. A recent paper on the National Geographic website supports such a revised view(q).
Itztli Ehecatl published a two-part paper(u)(v) on the Atlantisforschung website denouncing the Bering Strait theory with the complaint that “Although some archaeologists have good intentions, most do not want to consider that Native Americans preserved an ancient history in their oral traditions. The unwillingness to reach a compromise between archaeological and indigenous knowledge is a tragedy that the discipline should work hard to overcome, otherwise, archeology will perpetually rely on flawed data.”
Michael Collins, a Texas State University archaeologist, is one of a number of academics who question whether the Bering Strait was the route used by the First Americans. Although the theory has been generally accepted for at least a century, support is weakening in the face of mounting evidence. An article in the journal Archaeology(w) (Aug.10, 2014) reports on Collins’ evidence up to that date.
It was depressing to read that ” the few scholars who dared challenge the Clovis lace theory on the basis of solid evidence were furiously ostracized and their careers destroyed. In 1951 Dr. Thomas Lee, working at the National Museum of Canada, identified a site in Sheguiandah, Canada. When the site was analyzed it was dated between 30,000 and 100,000 BP. Because his work conflicted with accepted Clovis doctrine, the museum he had worked for fired him, and his records of the finds were mysteriously stolen. Lee explained that both Canadian and American scholars blacklisted him and enforced an eight-year professional ban on him.” This period also saw the academic arrogance that Velikovsky had to endure in the USA.
The only direct connection of the Bering Strait with Atlantis has been suggested by Albert. M. Chelchelnitsky, who proposed that Atlantis had been situated in Alaska and placed the Pillars of Herakles in the Strait itself.