The Flora and Fauna of Atlantis is mentioned by Plato in Critias;
“Besides all this, the earth bore freely all the aromatic substances it bears today, roots, herbs, bushes and gums exuded by flowers or fruit. There were cultivated crops, cereals which provide our staple diet. And pulse (to use its generic name) which we need in addition to feed us; there were the fruits of trees, hard to store but providing the drink and food and oil which gives us pleasure and relaxation and which we serve after supper as a welcome refreshment to the weary when appetite is satisfied – all these were produced by that sacred island, then still beneath the sun, in wonderful quality and profusion.” (115a-b)
James Bramwell noted how Leo Frobenius was convinced that his chosen Atlantis location of Yorubaland in Nigeria was reinforced by Plato’s description of the flora of his disappeared island [0195.119].
The lack of sufficient detail in the extract from Critias has led to a variety of interpretations. Jürgen Spanuth in support of his North Sea location for Atlantis has claimed [015.68] that during the Bronze Age the snow line in that region was higher than at any other time since the last Ice Age at 1,900 metres. He claims that as a result, grapes and wheat were cultivated there during that period.
The existence of the same species of plants and animals on both sides of the Atlantic has been noted for some time, so when the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) was discovered in the 19th century and subsequently combined with the realisation that sea levels had dropped during the last Ice Age, it was thought that a stepping-stone/s, if not an actual landbridge, between the continents had been identified. This idea was popular with many geologists and botanists at the beginning of the 20th century, such R.F. Scharff and H.E. Forrest, both of whom also saw the MAR as the location of Atlantis, an idea that still persists today. Emmet Sweeney is a modern writer who also sees the earlier exposed MAR as an explanation for the shared transatlantic biota and is happy to identify the Azores as the last remnants of Atlantis.
Andrew Collins has attempted to squeeze a reference to coconuts out of this text to support his Caribbean location for Atlantis. However, coconuts were not introduced into that region until colonial times(c). Ivar Zapp & George Erikson, driven by similar motivations had made the same claim earlier. My reading of the text is that Plato is describing food with which he is personally familiar.
Mary Settegast points out that around 7300 BC there is evidence of crop rotation including cereals at the Tell Aswad site in Syria.
The olive tree thrives best in regions with a Mediterranean climate. Olive trees are mainly found between 25° and 45° N. latitude, while in France, they are only found in its southern Mediterranean region.
Ignatius Donnelly devoted Chapter VI(a) of his Atlantis tome to a review of the Atlantean flora and fauna. The print media at the start of the 20th century kept the general public aware of these theories(b).
>Those that believe that Plato’s Atlantis narrative was just an invention to promote Plato’s political philosophy cannot explain the level of detail that is provided relating to the flora and fauna of Atlantis. In Plato’s dialogue Laws, Magnesia, another ideal city-state, which was an invention, had no such embellishment included. For me, the minutiae of the plants and animals noted by Plato in Critias is not what you would expect in a philosophical or political dissertation, but is more in keeping with a factual report.<
The Aegean Sea is located in the eastern Mediterranean, bounded by the Greek mainland in the north and west, Turkey in the east and extending to Crete in the south. In 1899, R.F. Scharff claimed that it was commonly accepted that the Aegean had been dry land until after the appearance of man(c). Zhirov wrote of this landmass being referred to as ‘Aegeida’ before it subsided to form the Aegean Sea [0458.96], but he doubted that it occurred before ‘thinking man’ arrived there.
The importance of the Aegean to the ancient Greeks is highlighted by Plato, when he described their relationship as one where the Greeks “are like frogs around a pond.” (Phaedo 109a-b)
However, it has been noted(i) that the Homeric poems (and the works attributed to Hesiod) studiously avoid any reference to the Aegean Sea, an avoidance that appears all the more striking when juxtaposed with the fact that there are other named seas in the poems.
A 280-page overview of the Aegean civilisations from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic period(f) is worth a look.
It can be reasonably argued that initially, the Greeks had little knowledge of the world beyond the Aegean, which might explain why Plato did not seem to know the exact identity of the Atlanteans. In this regard, a quote from an AtlantisOnline forum seems relevant – “There is evidence, moreover, that the Greeks were restricted by the Phoenicians to the Aegean Sea for a period of many centuries from 1200 BC onwards, and Naval Historians attribute this to the availability exclusively to the Phoenicians of two elements in ship construction, namely long straight cedar timbers (compared to short sinuous olive timbers available to the Greeks) and Bronze for fixings, claddings and battering rams, which were used in battle to perforate hulls, sinking the enemy.”(e)
Many researchers have suggested the Aegean as a possible location for Atlantis with Thera and Crete as the leading contenders. In fact, it is Thera, with its dramatic volcanic eruption, in the middle of the second millennium BC that still manages to command considerable support after nearly one hundred years since it was first mooted. Its advocates view it as the most likely source of inspiration for Plato’s tale, in spite of the fact that it conflicts with many of the details described by him.
One regular blogger, ‘mapmistress’, proposed (2010) that the Pillars of Heracles were situated at Rhodes with Atlantis situated north of the island in the Aegean. This suggestion is based on the claim that all English translations of Timaeus 24e are ‘botched’ and that the original does not say “larger than Libya and Asia together” but instead should read “north of Libya and west of Asia”! In fact, she goes further with the claim that the very word ‘Atlantis’ was invented by Benjamin Jowett!(d)
Three Italian linguists, Facchetti, Negri, and Notti, presented a paper to the Atlantis conference on Melos outlining their reasons for supporting an Aegean backdrop to the Atlantis story. Another paper was presented by four members of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research which demonstrates how three-quarters of the Cyclades Plateau was submerged between 16000 BC and 6000 BC as the sea levels rose after the last Ice Age. Kurt Lambeck and Anthony Purcell also presented a paper along similar lines.
Paulino Zamarro has offered a very radical theory, outlined in his book , which claims that Atlantis was located in the Aegean, with its capital on Melos, at a time when sea levels were lower and the islands more extensive in area, with some of them joined together. He postulates an isthmus or land bridge between Gibraltar and Morocco, which he believes was breached around 5500 BC. An idea supported by Strato and Seneca. He contends that this breach not only flooded the Aegean but also was also responsible for the subsequent inundation of the Black Sea, which until then was a smaller freshwater lake.
Diamantis Pastras, a Greek-Australian confectioner presented to the Atlantis Conference in 2005 [0629.295] his theory that Atlantis had been situated in the Aegean Cyclades along with nearby Astipalea in the Dodecanese, which he maintains constituted a single larger landmass 3,500 years ago.
Recent studies have revealed(b) the extent of very early seafaring in the Aegean can be pushed back to around 10,000 BC with evidence of obsidian trading at that period. However, the lower sea level at that time would have meant that the Aegean islands would have been much larger with shorter distances, if any, between them, so it may be unwise to read too much into the obsidian evidence.
A 2018 article pushes back Mediterranean seagoing even further(h). Consider how this evidence may relate to Plato’s comment that when Atlantis was established “at that time neither ships nor sailing were as yet in existence” (Crit.113e).>However, December 2022 brought a claim of even earlier seafaring in the Aegean, possibly as far back as 450,000 years ago, according to a team from the University of Patras in Greece led by George Ferentinos(n).<
In 1998 William Ryan and Walter Pitman published their evidence for the enlargement of the Black Sea with seawater. The book received widespread attention that led to a subsequent expedition to the area by Robert Ballard, the famous discoverer of the Titanic.
However, Zamarro’s ideas have received very little notice, probably because he has only been published in Spanish. His theory regarding the silting and closure of the mouth of the Mediterranean deserves further consideration, as its confirmation would have a profound effect on the course of future studies of the prehistory of the region and in particular Atlantology.
C.C.M. Hardy was a regular contributor to Sykes‘ Atlantis journal, in which he suggested that remnants of Atlantis would be found in the seas around Greece. Hans-Henning Klein favours the island of Samothrace in the northern Aegean as the home of Atlantis(l).
A half-hearted attempt to link the Greek island of Thasos with Atlantis is to be found on the German de.pluspedia.org website(j).
A recent recruit to the ‘Atlantis in the Aegean’ camp is Christos A, Djonis with his theory that Atlantis lay in the Aegean Sea, to the north of Thera, which itself contained the capital city of the Atlantean confederation. He makes no reference to Zamarro, who proposed a similar location fifteen years ago and consequently, considers Djonis’ work as a form of plagiarism! Apart from that, my gripe is that Djonis wastes over half his book discussing UFOs and ancient astronauts. Another proponent of a Theran Atlantis is Elias Stergakos, who also published his short book on the Minoan Hypothesis in 2014.
In the same year, the Italian architect Costa Kyrki published a paper entitled Lost Atlantis in which he proposed that the sunken Atlantis was situated between the island of Samos and Miletus on mainland Turkey(k).
J.P. Rambling on his Redefining Atlantis website(g) has now added his support to the concept of an Aegean Atlantis, situated on a large landmass, now mostly submerged, and which included what is now Santorini.
It is worth noting that Jürgen Spanuth In defending his North Sea location for Atlantis scornfully denounced the possibility of an Aegean Atlantis in Atlantis of the North [015.247]. “Neither Thera nor Crete lie in the ‘Atlantic sea’ but in the sea of Crete, which is clearly referred to in Crit.111a and is obviously not the Atlantic sea of Tim.24. Neither island lies at the mouth of a great river; neither was ‘swallowed up by the sea and vanished’ (Tim.25d): the Aegean never became ‘impassable to navigation’ (ibid.) Solon and Plato could never have said of the Aegean that passage there was hindered by ‘impenetrable mud’ (Crit.108e) for both had sailed through it – their contemporaries would have laughed at them if they had made such an absurd assertion.” Spanuth failed to highlight that Plato referred to the shoal of mud in the present tense indicating that it was still a hazard in his day!
What I cannot understand is that if Atlantis had existed in the Aegean, why did Plato not simply say so?
>The Atlantisforschung website offers a selection of articles dealing with many aspects of the Aegean and its possible connection with Atlantis(m).<
(d) https://pseudoastro.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/planet-x-and-2012-the-pole-shift-geographic-spin-axis-explained-and-debunked/ (about half way down page)
Herbert Edward Forrest was a Welsh naturalist, who endeavoured to convince his readers that a landbridge had existed across the North Atlantic within the memory of humans and that it had been the location of Atlantis. His book includes a speculative map showing Atlantis at the time of the last Ice Age.
Others, in the early part of the 20th century, supported this suggestion; such as Dr. R. F. Scharff although the idea was strongly opposed by the likes of William Diller Matthew(1871-1930), professor of palaeontology at the University of California(a). Eventually, this ill-founded idea of an Atlantic landbridge during the Holocene Era sank from view and has no serious support today.
>However, an interesting review of Forrest’s book was published in 2015 by Ferdinand Speidel on the Atlantisforschung website in German. I have added a Google Translation below(b).<
Donald Alexander Mackenzie (1873-1936) was a renowned mythologist of the early 20th century who referred to Atlantis on a number of occasions. He seemed to be inclined to place Plato’s island in the Atlantic and saw the submergence of land around the British Isles at the end of the last Ice Age as the most likely explanation[459.90].
In his Myths and Traditions of the South Sea Islands,he dismisses the idea of a lost Pacific continent as existing only “in the imaginations of writers untrained in scientific method.”[1030.5]