William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) was a renowned English Egyptologist, who developed improved archaeological methods, some of which are still employed today.*One of his first publications was in 1883, entitled The Pyramids and Temples 0f Gizeh.*
Jason Colavito has drawn attention(a) to a short article written by Flinders Petrie in Ancient Egypt, September 1924, in which he finds value in the work of Reginald Fessenden, who was an advocate of Atlantis in the Caucasus. However, I note that he makes no explicit comment on Fessenden’s Atlantis theory. Petrie was interested in the evidence that strongly suggested that people from the Caucasus region had an influence on the development of the ancient Egyptian culture, noting again a couple of year s later “It appears, then, that the cultural connections of the earliest Egyptians, as well as the physical descriptions in their mythology, point to the Caucasus region. When, further, we find there the names of the principal places of the mythology in their relative positions, it gives strong grounds for regarding that region as the homeland of the earliest civilization of the Egyptians”. (Ancient Egypt, June 1926) (b) .
Dr. Margaret Murray (1863-1963), who worked with Petrie, was also sympathetic to this view. More recently, Ronnie Gallagher has taken up this cause and has gone further by suggesting the possibility that not only were migrants from the Caucasus responsible for kick-starting the development of Egyptian culture, but that people from the same region had a similar influence on the early inhabitants of Sumeria and the Indus Valley.
The Caspian Sea is not usually associated with the story of Atlantis, but as early as the 19th century Moreau de Jonnès proposed the Sea of Azov as the location of Atlantis and that the Black, Caspian and Aral Seas were just remnants of a large ocean.
While this may sound like a wild idea, one modern researcher, Ronnie Gallagher, has written an important paper(b) supporting the concept (see fig.8). This enlarged inland sea is also thought to have extended as far north as the Arctic.
In the 1950’s, Sprague De Camp wrote[0194.88] of compliant scientists in Stalinist Russia claiming that Atlantis had existed on land now covered by the Caspian Sea.
Fessenden cites Strabo (Book 11:7;43), who recounts a tradition that the Caspian had been connected with the Black Sea by way of the Sea of Azov.
Modern proponents of Atlantis in the Sea of Azov have suggested(a) that at the end of the last Ice Age floods of meltwater poured into the Caspian Sea, which in turn escaped through the Manych-Kerch Gateway(c) into what is now the Sea of Azov, but at that time contained the Plain of Atlantis!
Immediately to the south of the Caspian are the Caucasus Mountains which have also had links with Atlantis proposed.
The Caucasus Mountains lie between the Black and Caspian Seas and contain the highest mountain in Europe, Mount Elbrus (Russia). In ancient times it was the location of a number of kingdoms of whom two were known as Albania and Iberia(d) .
Delisle De Sales was probably the first to suggest the Caucasus as the home of the original Atlantis, with refugees from there establishing Plato’s Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean. However, the greatest proponent of the Caucasus location for Atlantis was R.A. Fessenden who wrote an extensive multi-volume work on the subject early in the 20th century.
More recently, Ronnie Gallagher, an admirer of Fessenden, has studied the Caucasus region, in particular the hydrology of the Caspian Sea(a), where he identified strandlines up to 225 metres above sealevel. In Ajerbaijan, he also found cartruts similar to those on Malta as well as stone circles on the Absheron Peninsula(b).
The Amazons of Greek mythology are thought by some to have originated in the Caucasus and as late as 1671, Sir John Chardin reported that a tribe of Amazons existed in Georgia. Interestingly, a 19th century photo shows two armed ladies from Armenia captioned as ‘Amazons of Armenia 1895’.
An added mystery was offered by Alexander Braghine, who recounted that “I was present when a former Russian officer of Georgian origin found himself able to talk with the natives of Vizcaya immediately upon his arrival in Northern Spain: he spoke Georgian, but the Basques understood this language.”[156.187]
Currently, Bruce Fenton has claimed the Caucasus as the home of giants. However, Jason Colavito has demonstrated the unreliability of his claims(c).
I feel that the Caucasus will have a lot more to tell us?
Ronnie Gallagher is a retired environmental manager and an amateur archaeologist with a great interest in the Caucasus region, where he has carried out extensive research. He has written an interesting paper on the effects of the post-glacial flooding of the Caspian Sea and its former physical connection with the Black Sea as well as with the Arctic Ocean(a).
Gallagher has also drawn attention to cart ruts in Azerbaijan(b) similar to, but not as numerous as, those on Malta. He is also an admirer of the work of Reginald Fessenden who placed Atlantis in the Caucasus(c) and proposed that migrants from that region were responsible for kick-starting what we know as the Egyptian civilisation. The renowned Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray were sympathetic to this view, as is Gallagher(d).
>Gallagher expanded on his view that migrants from the Caucasus had settled in Egypt, suggesting that they brought with them memories of their homeland and one of its best-known landmarks – Mount Barmak in modern Azerbaijan and used its outline to inspire the Great Sphinx at Giza(g)!!! In another paper, he expands on anthropomorphic images in Azerbaijan(l).<
His own conclusion regarding the location of Atlantis in the Caucasus region was that it was inundated as a consequence of the creation of a vast ‘flooded Eurasia’ that resulted from the collapse of glacial ice-dams(d)(h)(m), comparable with the Lake Missoula Floods in America.
Gallagher’s paper should be read in conjunction with a 2004 paper(e) from a team of Russian and US scientists that relates to a ‘Giant Siberian Lake’.
>Related to this is a recent study that has shown that 12 million years ago the same vast region was home to the Earth’s largest-ever lake, which the authors have called Paratethys(i). In fact, it is claimed that its history begins even further back at 34 million years ago and at its greatest extent stretched from Germany to China!(j)<
Gallagher’s studies in Azerbaijan continue, where he has identified an extensive number of strandlines in the region resulting from ancient catastrophic flooding.
>His presentation to the Second International Conference on the Aral Sea Problems in 2019 in St. Petersburg is available online in a lengthy and extensively illustrated pdf file(k).<
He has now published a number of extended abstracts of recent papers on the academia.edu website(g). He concluded one(f) with the following: “However, the thorny problem of what might have caused the Gilazi strandlines and the inferred worldwide flood can only be speculated on and will be controversial.
Perhaps open-minded discussion on the theories, such as the reality of the diverted Russian Rivers, an enlarged Ponto Caspian and the ingress of marine waters into the Eurasian continental interior might begin to reveal a different pre-history and provide support for a world-wide flood.”
(e) See Archive 2372)
(k) Strandlines on Azerbaijan’s Mud Volcanoes and coastal interior: New evidence of a catastrophic marine flood impacting the Ponto Caspian and Aral Sea regions with its implications to natural sciences and humankind (zin.ru)
The Cart-Ruts of Malta is one of the many remarkable archaeological features of the archipelago. Unfortunately, the local authorities have not done all they could to ensure their preservation. Cart-ruts are also found in other countries but in nothing like the numbers found on Malta.
An article written in 1904(h) describes a visit to the Madeiras where the writer travelled on a sled drawn by oxen, while Alexander Braghine describes how Paul le Cour visited the Azores and noted that the natives there used ‘sledges’ rather than wheeled vehicles and greased the runners to assist movement, similar to the practice on the Madeiras. A more recent paper(s) by Félix Rodrigues of Azores University discusses in detail cartruts found on Terceira Island in the Azores. Other papers(w)(x) on the Academia.edu website discuss ‘ruts’ on Lanzarote in the Canaries.
“The earliest reference to cart-ruts was made by Gian Francesco Abela (1582–1655) in 1647  who suggested that they were used to transport stones from quarries to the sea for exportation to Africa during the Arab rule in Malta.”(z)
Dr David Trump (1931-2016) who has done much to advance Maltese archaeology, published a booklet on the cart-ruts in 2008. Trump nicknamed the complex collection of ruts at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir “Clapham Junction” after the London railway station, where several railway services interchange. A 1998 paper(d) by Joseph Magro Conti and Paul C. Saliba focused on “Clapham Junction” and concluded that the ruts had a clear connection with the transportation of material from adjacent quarries.
A connection between the cart-ruts and Atlantis has been suggested by Anton Mifsud and adopted by the late Axel Hausmann, who both claim that the ruts were the irrigation channels referred to by Plato (Critias 118c-e).
Another prominent archaeologist, Claudia Sagona, has also suggested(f)(j) that the ruts were used for irrigation, although she has not associated them with Plato’s text. While this linkage fits nicely with the theory of Atlantis having been in the region of Malta, it does not stand up to close examination.
First of all the cart-ruts follow the natural undulations of the Maltese landscape and so to function as irrigation channels would require water to flow uphill for parts of its journey, Trump has mentioned how some of the ruts can be seen sloping as much as 45°. Roman aqueducts seldom used a gradient greater than half of one per cent.
Secondly, the fact that the ruts are always found in pairs would suggest a degree of unnecessary and wasteful duplication found in no other irrigation system in the world. Because; if the ruts were intended to carry water, for the same labour they could have been cut as a single channel at twice the depth cutting losses through evaporation by half.
As well as that, the ground between each pair of tracks could provide an extra acre of arable land for every two miles of length. Furthermore, the multiplicity of tracks at the ‘Clapham Junction’ site is incompatible with an irrigation system.
All of which is compounded by the absence of controlling sluicegates anywhere at the remaining 100+ sites, and emphasised by Trump’s observation that “no association of ruts with water sources has been demonstrated.”[870.268]
I refer below to a number of countries where comparable cart ruts have also been found. I am not aware of even one instance where any of these have been suggested as having an irrigation function.
Compounding all that is the fact that no supporter of the cart ruts as Plato’s irrigation channels has attempted to explain how the dimensions of the ruts can be measured in inches while Plato describes canals measured in feet – tens of feet!
Joseph S. Ellul in his book Malta’s Prediluvian Culture  expressed some controversial unconventional views(t) regarding the cart-ruts, including his assertion that the ruts were created by tools or machinery and were formed during the Stone Age before the biblical Deluge!
Graham Hancock refers to the cart ruts a number of times in Underworld , where he commented that “It is certain, too, that they were not simply worn away in the tough limestone by the passage of cart-wheels over periods of centuries, as many have wrongly theorized; on the contrary, there is no proof whatsoever that cart-wheels ever ran in these ruts – which were initially carved out of the bedrock with the use of tools.” [p.331] His claim that the ruts were hand-carved is disputed and Gordon E. Weston in his excellent book [754.172] debunks the idea.
Philip Coppens wrote a paper on the ruts, offering an overview of the controversies relating to their use and date(aa).
By way of comic relief, I thought I should include one theory regarding an explanation(c) for the ruts from Laura Knight-Jadczyk, a noted conspiracy theorist, which I quote in full: “Do I have an idea to propose? Of course I do. I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t. I would like to suggest that these “ruts” look an awful lot like places where lightning has struck, and the electricity has blasted away the dirt and rock as it shoots along some sort of natural earth power grid conductor. The only difference is that the cart ruts are not random. That suggests that there was something present in the ground laid out in a definite grid, which acted as a conductor. Were the cart ruts some sort of networked energy conduction system? Could some sort of element have been placed in the ground by an ancient civilization; something that conducted power to their homes the way our vulgar power poles and lines criss-cross the landscape? And then, at some point in time, was the earth hit by such a surge of energy from some unknown source that these power “lines” melted the rock in which they were “strung?” Perhaps a surge of some kind of cosmic energy source? Maybe even the Electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion? Maybe it was neither of these, but merely a massive overheating of the surface of the earth so that the conduction element and its insulating covering melted and was swept away?”
One of the more bizarre suggestions has been proposed by Markus Tutsch on the German EFODON website, that the parallel ruts were used in some way to distribute electrical power(q)!!!
Another comical suggestion is offered by Dr Cornelius Niels Kopf who has proposed that “The Bronze Age traces on Malta and Gozo and many other parts of the then populated world, known as cart ruts, were sports facilities, and the area designated as ‘Clapham Junction’ was apparently the ‘stadium’ of Malta.” (r)
In 2010, the most comprehensive work on the ruts was published by Gordon E. Weston. Weston now has a website(g) where he discusses the ‘ruts’ further and provides additional links. Weston also published Clapham Junction: 3000 Years of Maltese Heritage, in 2015 .
There are also a number of websites devoted to the investigation of these enigmatic features(a). One of them(m) offers a fine collection of images, including the one above, as well as a discussion on the origin, use, and questions raised by the Maltese cart ruts.
A study of the ruts by geomorphologists published in Antiquity is a valuable addition to the literature on the subject(b). The authors highlight the fact that the relatively soft Maltese limestone erodes quite easily, particularly when wet, explaining the depth of the ruts.
Uwe Topper has written an extensive paper on cart-ruts around the Mediterranean and beyond(i). He controversially theorised that the ruts were created when the limestone on which they were cut was ‘softer’!!!
A short April 2015 video clip(l) demonstrates how even a 20kg quarter-scale slidecar, can with one pass cut a 1mm groove into the soft Maltese limestone, near Sliema. A full-scale slidecar would be carrying 320 Kg.
Amateur archaeologists, Ronnie Gallagher and Abbas Islamov have highlighted the existence of cart-ruts in the Gobustan peninsula of Azerbijan(e), while André Kramer has written an article on the cart-ruts of Mallorca(k).
Evidence exists for cart ruts in other countries in Europe, such as Switzerland, and much further afield including South America(u). The same site makes two interesting points, (1) since the earliest carts probably lacked brakes, the repeated use of the ruts gave some small degree of control, and (2) without any obvious passing points the ruts seem to indicate that they were limited to one-way traffic.
In 2015, Russian geologist Alexander Koltypin drew much media attention(o) when he claimed that comparable tracks in the Phrygian Valley of Turkey were dated to 14 million years ago and were created by an unknown civilisation. He also implied that the cart ruts of Malta had a similar origin! However, a quick look at his website(p) revealed him to have travelled well beyond the lunatic fringe.
I find it interesting that much more investigation of the Maltese cart ruts has been carried out by foreigners than by natives of the islands. A recent example is the inventory of ruts recently published by Monika I. Trinkler, a Swiss photographer. She has listed 652 pairs on Malta and 42 on Gozo. Her interest in the Maltese ruts has now expanded into the identification of ruts throughout Central Europe(v).
Unfortunately, the date and function of the ruts are still sources of intense debate, particularly in Malta itself. In 2017, Anthony Bonanno published The Archaeology of Malta and Gozo  in which he argued for a Roman rather than a prehistoric date for the cart ruts. This runs counter to the opinion of many, particularly that of the late David Trump. In 2019, Anton Mifsud published a rebuttal of Bonanno’s claims in a fully illustrated book entitled David’s Ruts  as a tribute to the work carried out by David Trump on Malta.
(f) Oxford Journal of Archaeology (Vol.23, Issue 1, p.45-60)
(g) https://cartrutanswers.com/index.html (offline 15/07/14)
(i) http://www.ilya.it/chrono/pages/gleisedt.htm (german)
>(n) Archive 3036<
Sumeria was unknown until the middle of the 19th century. With the discovery and the decipherment of the Sumerian cuneiform tablets the sophistication of their culture prompted the idea that Sumer had been ‘the cradle of civilisation.’ Subsequent discoveries, such as the those in the Indus Valley and more recently Göbekli Tepe have now somewhat diluted that idea.
The origin of the Sumerians is still something of a mystery as is their language which seems to be an ‘isolate’, unrelated to any known language group. Ronnie Gallagher has suggested that migrants from the Caucasus had provided the impetus that led to the development of the Sumerian civilisation. Gallagher’s theory is supported by Jerald Jack Starr on his Sumerian Shakespeare website, who emphatically attributes a Caucasian origin to the Sumerians(l).
Emilio Spedicato has controversially suggested that the Sumerians came from the Tibetan region!(m)>Equally provocative were the views of Catherine Acholonu-Olumba, who as the author of Eden in Sumer on the Niger , claimed that her book, “provides multidisciplinary evidence of the actual geographical location in West Africa of the Garden of Eden, Atlantis and the original homeland of the Sumerian people before their migration to the “Middle East”. By translating hitherto unknown pre-cuneiform inscriptions of the Sumerians, Catherine Acholonu and Sidney Davis have uncovered thousands of years of Africa’s lost pre-history and evidences of the West African origins of the earliest Pharaohs and Kings of Egypt and Sumer such as Menes and Sargon the Great.”(p)<
Sumeria has now been proposed as a possible source of the Atlantis story. Dr. Ashok Malhotra, a professor of Engineering, has suggested(a) that that ‘the likelihood of the Atlantis stories being of Sumerian origin is strengthened by the fact that the submergence of ancient cities was a strong part of the Sumerian mythology. It dominates their historical tradition. The destruction of the ancient city as a result of sin was also part of their beliefs.’ Malhotra then proposes that these Sumerian stories reflected actual flooding events in the Indus Valley region that were brought first to Sumeria and then were later transferred to Egypt and from thence via Solon to Plato to us.
George Michanowsky went much further and claimed that the Sumerians had known Atlantis under the name of NI-DUK-KI, known today as Dilmun[282.66]. The renowned Henry Rawlinson interpreted this name to mean ‘blessed hill’ or ‘blessed isle’. While Michanowsky’s suggestion is highly speculative, if correct, it would be the earliest known reference to Atlantis.
The Sumerian king list(e) from Larsa records eight kings (some versions note ten) before the Deluge, which may have been reflected, in a distorted fashion, in the ten patriarchs of Genesis and/or the ten kings of Atlantis! Another suggested link is with the eight generations between Adam and Noah recorded in Genesis chapter 5.
John Sassoon would seem to support Malhotra’s thesis in his book, which proposes a Sumerian origin for the Jews with possible earlier links with the Indus valley. He is not concerned with Atlantis, just the ancestry of the Jewish people of whom Abraham was born in Sumeria around 2000-1800 BC. Sassoon’s views offer a possible transmission route for Eastern traditions and myths to have reached Egypt and subsequently through Solon to Athens.
More recently, Dr. Willem McLoud, a South African researcher, commented that “we have good reason to think that Atlantis was not located beyond the pillars of Heracles in the Atlantic Ocean, as is so often propagated, but that it was actually none other than the ancient land of Sumer itself.” Mcloud is primarily concerned with the Sumerians and Akkadians, which he will expand on in a forthcoming book(n).
In 2001, a book by Radek Brychta was published in the Czech Republic in which he also advocates a Sumerian connection. He identifies Atlantis with the legendary Dilmun of Sumerian legend and locates it on the Indus civilisation island of Dholavira. Excerpts from this fascinating book are available on the Internet and worth a read.
However, the most extreme claims came from Zechariah Sitchin who proposed that the Sumerians had been ‘influenced’ by ancient astronauts from the planet Nibiru, which information is to be found in their cuneiform tablets if Sitchin’s translation is to be believed. Similar daft ideas(g) have been put forward by Hermann Burgard but so far have only been foisted on a German-reading public.
As if that was not bad enough, we now (Oct 2016) have the Iraqi Transport Minister claiming, among other matters, that the Sumerians launched spaceships 8,000 years ago(h)!
Jim Allen, the leading advocate of ‘Atlantis in the Andes’ has also claimed(b) a Sumerian connection with South America citing Ruth & Alpheus Hyatt Verrill, who include in their book[838.293] three pages of Sumerian words compared with the language of ancient Peru as well as other cultural aspects there. They also believed that Sargon (2369-2314 BC) was known in Peru as the deity Viracocha! Their fanciful idea stems from an account of Sargon sailing to the west and spending three years there! Zhirov supported this claim[458.23] describing it as ”a seemingly semi-fantastic theory”. My reason for considering this claim to be nonsensical, is simply that Sargon was continually engaged in expanding his empire and constantly dealing with rebellions in the various city states that he ruled over. The idea that he took three years out to visit America, 14,000 km away, is in no way credible.
Nevertheless, the idea of Sargon in South America persists with James Bailey repeating it in Sailing to Paradise[0150.66] and more recently by the Afrocentrist, Clyde Winters in an article on the Ancient Origins website(f) in which he quotes Bailey and the Verrills as supporting Lake Titicaca as the Lake Manu of Sumerian tradition. A further article(j) on the same website begins with the forceful claim that “it is becoming increasingly clear that the Sumerians had established a colony in South America called Kuga-Ki.” The paper is based on a series of questionable artifacts, the Fuente Magna Bowl, the Crespi Collection and the Pokoyia monument!
The Fuente Magna Bowl is frequently offered as evidence of a pre-Columbian link with the Sumerians(c), although its provenance is unclear and there are suggestions of a hoax. A sceptical view of the ‘Bowl’ by Carl Feagans(k) is available.
The very existence of Sumerians has recently been attacked in an appendix to The Three Ages of Atlantis by Marin, Minella & Schievenin. They maintain that the Sumerian ‘language’ “could be an artificial construct created by Akkadian priests” to be used for liturgical purposes. These ideas were first expressed at the end of the 19th century by the respected Orientalist, Joseph Halévy. Andi Zeneli has expressed comparable ideas(d) regarding the Sumerian language.
Uwe Topper’s son Ilya has also put forward the idea that the Sumerians did not exist(o). His paper is in Spanish and was influenced by the work of Gunnar Heinsohn, another chronology revisionist.
Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, (1866-1932), was a remarkable Canadian who, at the age of 24, had been head chemist to Thomas Edison. He was Professor of postgraduate Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, Western University of Pittsburgh and Engineering Commissioner, Ontario Power Commission. While there he took on the challenge of wireless communication and he made his first radio voice ‘broadcast’ on Christmas Eve, 1906, at a time when Marconi was still signalling in Morse code. In fact, his first voice transmission was on December 23rd 1900 which was heard one mile away.
Fessenden investigated an ancient civilisation in the Caucasus and identified it as Atlantis. The famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie was interested in his work, which revealed evidence that people from the Caucasus had an influence on the development of ancient Egyptian culture(b). Dr Margaret Murray (1863-1963), who worked with Petrie, was also sympathetic to this view. More recently, Ronnie Gallagher has taken up this cause(c) and has gone further by suggesting the possibility that not only were migrants from the Caucasus responsible for kick-starting the development of Egyptian culture but that people from the same region had a similar influence on the early inhabitants of Sumeria and the Indus Valley.
>Fessenden approached the Smithsonian seeking help with organising an expedition to Russia to search for evidence in support of his theories. Their response of March 1924 is available online(e).<
Fessenden was also the author of The Deluged Civilisation of the Caucasus Isthmus published in three parts between 1923 and 1933 and now available on the Internet(a). In this extensive work, he discusses an alternative interpretation to the geography of early Greek myths and its consequences for Plato’s story of Atlantis.
In 1940, Fessenden’s widow, Helen, just a year before her own death, completed Reginald’s unfinished autobiography . In Chapter 28, his support for Atlantis being situated in the Caucasus is reiterated.
Jason Colavito has written a short critique of Fessenden’s work(d).
Ice Dams were not uncommon following the ending of the last Ice Age. Glacial Lake Missoula in North West America has been estimated to have burst out every fifty years or so over a two thousand year period between 13,000 and 11,000 BC. These events are dealt with in detail by David Alt in his Glacial Lake Missoula. Lake Agassiz was another enormous lake formed by glacial run-off after the last Ice Age and at its maximum extent was larger than any lake existing in the world today. There is evidence that Lake Agassiz like Missoula also breached ice dams from time to time, discharging into the Atlantic. Other large and frequent breaching of ice dams occurred in the Siberian Altai Mountains(d)(e). A USGS report listing the largest of these events is available online(b).
Recent reports(g)(h)(i) claim that around 6200 BC the bursting of an ice dam in Canada released the melt water contents of Lake Agassiz and Lake Ojibway into the North Atlantic that resulted in Greenland being cooled by an average of 7.4ºC and Europe by about 1ºC and raising the global sea level by between one and three metres (3-10 feet).
Equally dramatic was the extent of the flooding in Eurasia following the collapse of north Asian ice dams. Ronnie Gallagher has an interesting article about this on Graham Hancock’s website(a). Gallagher favours a Eurasian location for Atlantis. Even today the retreating glaciers in the Himalayas have created lakes that threaten a number a Nepalese villages. Similar conditions exist in Peru where some years ago a flood from glacial Lake Palcacocha killed an estimated 5,000 people(j).>In 2004, another ice dam attached to the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina also collapsed, watched by applauding tourists(k).<
Professor Neil Glasser from Aberystwyth University is the lead author of a report published in 2016 in Scientific Reports, in which the breaching of an ice dam in South America, between 11,000 and 6,000 BC, was on such a scale that it altered the circulation of the Pacific Ocean. Glasser noted(f) that: “This was a massive lake. When it drained, it released around 1150km3 of fresh water from the melting glaciers into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – equivalent to around 600 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. This had a considerable impact on the Pacific Ocean circulation and regional climate at the time.”
(g) Science – Dec. 22, 2000
(h) Proceedingsof the National Academyof Sciences – DOI:10.1073/pnas.0510095103]
(i) Quaternary Science Reviews –vol 25, p 63]
(j) National Geographic, December 2019, p.138
The Deglaciation that occurred at the end of the last Ice Age has attracted a lot of attention from Atlantis seekers because it coincides with Plato’s apparent date for the destruction of Atlantis and provides us with a possible source of the flood that subsequently not only wiped out the Atlanteans but possibly also the Athenians. However, meltwater from deglaciation causes global sea levels to rise very, very, slowly and so is extremely unlikely to have caused the destruction of the Atlanteans or Athenians as described by Plato.
The melting of the ice caps gradually caused the ocean levels to rise over a period of thousands of years and at times the retreat of the glaciers was halted and occasionally reversed. Although the melting of the ice was relatively steady, the water produced did not always reach the sea in a steady flow. Instead, it was frequently punctuated by enormous discharges of water particularly where ice dams had retained vast melt water lakes.
In the 1920’s a maverick geologist, J Harlen Bretz (1882-1981), postulated that a huge ice-age flood had carved the landscape of Eastern Washington state, in just a few days. In spite of acrimonious opposition from the geology establishment of the day, Bretz persevered with his investigations, which eventually led to the identification of Lake Missoula as the probable culprit. Bretz was finally vindicated in 1979 when, in his nineties, he was awarded the prestigious Penrose Medal for his work(f). There is a beautifully illustrated National Geographic online article that reviews Bretz’s work(i).
These discharges of huge quantities of water are recognisable as relatively sudden spikes in the rate of sea level increases and are referred to as Melt Water Pulses WMP).
Lake Missoula in what is today the state of Montana is one of the best studied of these glacial lakes. The regular discharges from Lake Missoula, following ice dam collapses, were responsible for the creation of the dramatic Scablands of the North-Western United States. Studies have revealed that between forty and eighty such floods were released from Lake Missoula alone.
However, an alternative to Lake Missoula as the cause of the scablands has been recently proposed(g), namely, the younger-dryas comet impact event. This event was highlighted by Richard Firestone and his colleagues in The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes. My problem with the idea of the comet impact is that it was a single event, whereas the Missoula discharges were according to some authorities quite numerous!
The power of fast flowing water was recently highlighted by a report published(c) in the journal of America’s National Academy of Sciences, where a study of Iceland’s unpronounceable Jokulsargljufur canyon indicated that this huge feature was created in a matter of days. In Iceland, such glacial outburst floods are known as Jökulhlaups(d).
It has now been estimated by scientists that around 6200 BC the ancient glacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway discharged into the Atlantic Ocean. These lakes were more than twice the size of the Caspian Sea and on their own are estimated to have raised sea levels by up to 4 feet. The freshwater flow is calculated at between 25 and 50 times the flow of the Amazon River and recent studies suggest that this sudden inflow of fresh water brought the Gulf Stream to a halt for more than a hundred years. A 2016 report(e) from CAGE (Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment) suggests that the Gulf Stream was not interrupted during the Ice Age.
*Graham Hancock, in his Magicians of the Gods , reviews, at length, the theories of J Harlen Bretz and after a shared field trip and lengthy discussions with Randall Carlson, concluded that Bretz had probably only revealed part of the Scablands story. Hancock has pointed out that Bretz was unaware of the cometary impact identified by Richard Firestone et al., which coincided with the start of the Younger Dryas period 12,800 years ago. This impact theory continues to amass confirmatory data, but opposition has not abated yet. The cometary impact, the creation of the Scablands and the start of the Younger Dryas cooling period all seem to coincide temporally to a degree that strongly suggests an interconnection.*
Nick Thom has suggested that an even more dramatic consequence of the discharge from Lake Agassiz was the tilting of the Earth’s axis leading to the biblical Deluge and recorded around the world in hundreds of flood myths!
Similar melt water lakes across Northern Europe retained by ice dams produced equally dramatic discharges as the dams periodically broke. One of these occupied what is now the Baltic Sea and was 30 metres above the then ocean level before bursting into the North Sea around 10,000 BC. Less well known is the flooding that took place further east resulting in the creation of a vast inland sea of which the Black and Caspian Seas were just a small part. Ronnie Gallagher has written a revealing paper on the subject(a).
It is worth noting that, although on a smaller scale, two thirds of the thousands of Himalayan glaciers contain glacial lakes, which because of global warming today are growing at risk of bursting with consequent catastrophic results. As these glaciers retreat, apart from the damage to people and property the discharges will gradually reduce the downstream flow of water to rivers such as the Ganges.
paleoclimatologist, Hartmut Heinrich, who as recently as 1988 published evidence that there had been at least six massive discharges of icebergs from the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last Ice Age. These discharges could have contained millions of cubic kilometres of ice and must have caused substantial sea level rises. This Laurentide Ice Sheet was an enormous mass of ice that stretched from the Arctic through eastern Canada to the northern half of the United States that covered over 5 million square miles. The weight of this ice sheet was so great that it has been calculated that it depressed the earth’s crust by nearly half a mile. A recent paper contends that it was the collapse of this ice sheet, 8000 years ago causing a sea level rise that led to the breaching of a ridge damming the Bosporus and the inundation of the then freshwater Black Sea, which flooded over 73,000 square km of land.
In the southern hemisphere it was discovered a few years ago (Science, Dec.22, 2000) that the River Amazon had experienced a doubling of its outflow between 9800 BC and 9700 BC, probably as a consequence of the melting of Andean glaciers and perhaps increased rainfall during this period. The dates proposed are very close to the 9600 BC date provided by Plato for the submergence of Atlantis.
All these worldwide discharges must have resulted in the inundation of low-lying landmasses, such as the Celtic Shelf or Sundaland, in fits and starts forcing the inhabitants of these regions to regularly migrate to higher ground.
Since it is reasonable to assume that a large percentage of human settlements were then, as now, located along coasts, particularly at river mouths, the consequence for these embryonic cultures must have been catastrophic. It is very easy to see how legends of sunken civilisations probably have a very sound basis in fact. Two books by Graham Hancock and Stephen Oppenheimer have covered this idea in greater detail, lending credibility to the idea of a sunken island such as Atlantis.
However, it can be reasonably argued that the effects of deglaciation are not what Plato described. He spoke of earthquake and a flood that overwhelmed both the Athenians and the Atlanteans. This would more closely match the aftermath of a large seismic or tectonic event that generated enormous tsunamis rather than the gradual rising of sea levels, which even at its most dramatic could never have produced the effect of sinking Atlantis overnight.
However, the waters of tsunamis eventually flow back to the sea, but Plato’s account describes the event resulting in the creation of muddy shallows. To me it sounds more like liquefaction which occurs in soil with particular characteristics when subjected to an earthquake(b), similar to the destruction of the cities of Canopus and Herakleion near Alexandria.
A website that graphically illustrates the process of deglaciation after the last Ice Age is available(h).