Josiah Priest (1788-1851) was a well-known American non-fiction writer of the early 19th century. Much of what he wrote is considered pseudo-scientific. Today he is probably best known for his racism and particularly his fundamentalist use of the Bible to justify slavery.
In his 1835 book American Antiquities he refers a number of times to ‘Atalantis’, a spelling variant frequently used at that time. Apart from Plato, Priest also believed that Euclid (fl. c.300 BC) referred to Atlantis when he spoke of the catastrophic separation of Sicily from Italy, Euboea from Boetia “and a number of other islands from the continent of Europe.” Priest clearly considered Atlantis to have been a large island in the Atlantic that provided a stepping-stone to the Americas.
American Antiquities is now available as a free ebook(a).
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a follower of Madame Blavatsky and rose to become head of the German Theosophists. However, in 1913, he developed his own brand of Theosophy, which he called Anthroposophy. This movement was based on the idea that the human intellect has the ability to contact spirit worlds. He designed and built a temple, the Goetheanum, for his burgeoning movement. The Goetheanum was burned down by people assumed to have been Nazis.
Steiner, who was born in Austria, was a keen supporter of the pan-German cause and consorted with known racists, although he was not overtly racist himself. However, Waldorf schools initially founded by Steiner in the 1920’s are still operating today in the United States and Europe and are still dogged by accusations of racism(b). A colouring book designed for young Waldorf pupils, based on Steiner’s writings, can be viewed online(a). It includes Atlantean flying machines and power sources. His strange cosmology included a flat Earth and his medical advice was equally weird(d).
Steiner, with the aid of ‘spirit guides’, has offered some bizarre descriptions of Atlantis, which he claimed gradually sank in the Atlantic in 7227 BC.
A large amount of Steiner’s work is now available in the pdf format(c).
*(a) https://www.openwaldorf.com/atlantis.pdf (offline Feb.2018)*
Leo Frobenius (1873-1938), was a German ethnologist and a leading authority on prehistoric art. He travelled extensively in West Africa and published many books on the cultures of the region. He placed Atlantis in the Yoruba region of Nigeria. Frobenius believed that the Etruscans had an Atlantean culture and were responsible for the establishment of Benin around 1300 BC and that it was a city in this region that had been described by Plato.
*Jason Colavito has drawn attention to the racism displayed by Frobenius, an example of which is when he declared that the Atlantean civilisation of Yorubaland had been white(d). A report of his 1912 expedition was published and is now available online.*
He reported on his discoveries to the German Kaiser, who showed great interest in his work.
Five expeditions gave him enough information to publish a twelve-volume work entitled Atlantis. During his work there Frobenius wrote to friends complaining that local English officials had confiscated many of his finds(c).
In 1910 he published, in German, Atop the Rubble of Classical Atlantis that filled three large volumes. Much of his work is currently being translated into English and French.
Another site(a) reviewing Frobenius’ work also claims that he linked the ancient Yoruba kingdom with that of the Etruscans and suggests a common Atlantean ancestry. The same site backs a central Atlantic location for Atlantis, citing as ‘evidence’ the 18th century Bauche map(b).
Erich von Däniken (1935-) is famous for his ancient astronaut theories.>However, others, such as W. Raymond Drake preceded him. Similarly,George Hunt Williamson (1926-1986), who also wrote of alien visitors, was irked by Däniken being referred to as “the father of the ‘ancient astronaut’ theory”(g).<
As a young man, I was influenced by Däniken’s writings and it took time to develop my critical faculties to the point where I could discount his ideas as ‘pure waffle’. I now see him as a guru for the lunatic fringe who cynically presents distorted collections of historical artefacts and data for financial gain. A website(a) which deals with his lack of truthfulness and in particular a blog(c) from Jason Colavito are both well worth a read. Colavito has also reviewed the racism expressed by von Däniken(d).
Von Däniken had seldom touched on the Atlantis story until his Odyssey of the Gods published in English in 2000. He concentrated his discussion on the work of fellow Swiss writer, Eberhard Zangger, who identifies Atlantis with Troy. Von Däniken appears ambiguous about the actual existence of Atlantis, although he seems to reluctantly lean towards Zangger’s Trojan theory.
Von Däniken joined the many 2012 opportunists in his 2010 offering Twilight of the Gods. He claims that 2012 will not see the end of the world but in fact, the Mayan ‘prophecies’ relate to the return of the ‘gods’ in the form of alien astronauts. I hope Von Däniken meets them and expresses his gratitude for the good living that they have provided him with for nearly half a century.
Jason Colavito offers an extensive 7-part critique of ‘Twilight’. Colavito is also featured in Issue 8 of the English magazine Explore History in which it reviews 50 years of ancient aliens a la von Däniken. The article includes a number of references to Colavito’s criticism of Däniken’s theories(f).
E.C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles offers a highly critical review of von Däniken’s astronomical knowledge [1842.247]. However, in a balanced conclusion, Krupp candidly wrote “it would be very difficult to prove that ancient astronauts did not visit the earth. But evidence for their having been here is not convincing.”
Some of Daniken’s books are now available as free pdf files(e).