An A-Z Guide To The Search For Plato's Atlantis

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Sargasso Sea

Selwyn-Brown, Arthur

Arthur Selwyn-Brown was a physician and an author, best known for The Physician Throughout the Ages. In 1925, Dr. Brown wrote an article in the New York Herald, which was relayed around the world(a) in which he supported the Sargasso-Atlantis theory, an idea that had gained some support at the time.

(a) https://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/185182972?searchTerm=Atlantis discovered&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

Mijatovich, Chedomille

Chedomille Mijatovich (1842-1932) was a Serbian politician, economist and historian. He was one of the first in modern times to suggest that the Sargasso Sea may have been the maritime hazard described by Plato as a ‘shoal of mud’, which resulted from the submergence of Atlantis. This idea was conveyed to and recorded by Hyde Clarke(a).

(a) https://www.forgottenbooks.org/readbook/Transactions_of_the_Royal_Historical_Society_v3_1000379094#21 (p.14)

Honorius Augustodunensis

Honorius Augustodunensis (fl.1107-1140) was a popular German  theologian and a prolific writer. The Catholic Encyclopaedia quotes the view that Honorius was one of the most mysterious personages in all the medieval period. In what is arguably his best known work, Imago Mundi(c), he expressed the view that Atlantis had been an island in the Atlantic (35. Sardinia). He wrote that that the ‘curdled sea’, assumed by Andrew Collins to be a reference to the Sargasso Sea[0072.91], “adjoins the Hesperides and covers the site of lost Atlantis, which lay west from Gibraltar.”

His Imago Mundi contained a world map, which has become known as The Sawley Map(b).

Sawley Map

The Sawley Map

(a) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20171219025200/https://blog.metmuseum.org/penandparchment/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/sawley_map_with_overlay.jpg

(b) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20180324045356/https://cartographic-images.net/Cartographic_Images/215_The_Sawley_Map.html

*(c) https://12koerbe.de/arche/imago.htm

 

 

Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea is a region of the North Atlantic surrounded by ocean currents. Its limits are roughly 70-40° W and 25-35° N. It has a number of remarkable features, (i) it is very salty, (ii) it contains masses of seaweed of the genus ‘Sargassum’, giving the region Sargassoits name, and (iii) it is the place where the European eel migrates to, in order lay their eggs. The spawning habits of the European eel are indeed a mystery!

>Wikipedia notes(b) that “The Sargasso Sea may have been known to earlier mariners, as a poem by the late 4th-century author Rufus Festus Avienus describes a portion of the Atlantic as being covered with seaweed, citing a now-lost account by the 5th-century BC Carthaginian Himilco the Navigator.” This early reference is used by supporters of the idea of the possibility of very early visits by Phoenicians or Greeks to America.<

Chedomille Mijatovich, the Serbian politician, was probably one of the first to associate the Sargasso Sea with Plato’s ‘shoal of mud’ in a letter to Hyde Clarke.

In 2000, Andrew Collins in an effort to justify his Cuban location for Atlantis needed to find Plato’s ‘shoals of mud’ in the Atlantic and for me, in what seems to have been an act of desperation he decided that the Sargasso Sea fitted the bill [072.42]. However, he does not explain how anyone can mistake seaweed for mud!

In 1925, Dr A. Selwyn Brown wrote an article in the New York Herald, which was relayed around the world(a) in which he supported the Sargasso Atlantis theory. Around the same period the American naturalist, William Beebe, following an intensive study of the Sargasso was also reported(b) to have subscribed to the idea of the Sargasso as the location of Atlantis.

It is obvious that the Sargasso Sea is centred to the west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and not over it as implied by some writers, particularly those who want to link it with an Atlantis situated on the MAR. Clearly, Plato’s account of the aftermath of the sinking of Atlantis describes impassable waters due to mud, not seaweed. Contrary to popular belief the Sargasso Sea is not a hindrance to navigation.

(a) https://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/185182972?searchTerm=Atlantis discovered&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

(b) https://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/118446581?searchTerm=Atlantis discovered&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc

(c) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_Phoenician_discovery_of_the_Americas *

Cerne

Cerne was an island mentioned in the Pseudo-Scylax as being twelve days sail from the Pillars of Heracles. It adds that parts beyond the isle of Cerne are no longer navigable because of shoals, mud and seaweed. Although some have seen this as a reference to the Sargasso Sea, mud and shoals are not characteristics of the Sargasso, which is a mile or more deep.

Diodorus Siculus (iii.54) wrote of the Amazons fighting the Atlantoi in the city of Cerne. Some commentators have identified Cerne with the islands of Kerkenna off the east coast of Tunisia, where on the other hand Egerton Sykes linked the Cerne referred to in Pseudo-Scylax with Lixus on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

Frank Joseph erroneously claims[108.117] that the only known ‘Cerne’ was Cerne Abbas in England, the site of the famous naked giant carved into the chalk. There is certainly no suggestion of any Amazon invasion there and the physique of the giant was certainly never matched by even the most butch Amazons. Not for the first time, Joseph is blatantly wrong. As in the case of so many other places mentioned in connection with Atlantis story there were a number of ancient towns named Cerne. The most famous such reference is in the record of Hanno’s voyage(b), generally accepted to be along the Atlantic coast of Morocco, where south of Lixus, he settled  and named an island Cerne(a).

*(a) https://www.ancient.eu/article/913/hanno-carthaginian-explorer/*

(b) http://www.metrum.org/mapping/hanno.htm

Eel Enigma

The Eel Enigma was first noted by the Danish biologist Johannes Schmidt (1877-1933) at the beginning of the 20th century. The American eel spawns in the western part of the Sargasso Sea and their European relatives in the eastern sector. When the larvae hatch, the Europeans eels are carried on the Gulf Stream towards Europe; a trip that takes about three years. The survivors of this long journey split up when they reach the shores of Europe. The males remain at sea and the females swim up the rivers and remain there for two years. They then rejoin the males and return together to the Sargasso where they mate, after a short journey of only one hundred and forty days.

A number of investigators, such as Otto Muck, have cited this mystery of nature as the result of the eels ’remembering’ a former landmass in the middle of the Atlantic. These writers have equated this landmass with Atlantis. However, a landmass is not what the eels require but the protective cover provided by the seaweed of the Sargasso while mating. I find it hard to accept this eel theory, although many find it credible. Perhaps millions of years ago before the tectonic plates had separated the European and American continents as far as they are today, the eels had originally only a short distance to travel. Over the ages the journey became longer until it is now close to the physical limitations of the creatures.

A similar observation was made by Henry Eichner who pointed out the existence of shellfish in the Sargasso who are normally found in shallow waters along shorelines. Eichner suggested that this adaptation by the shellfish may be evidence for the existence of an earlier shoreline now lost through inundation!

Equally intriguing but unconnected to any Atlantis claim is the migratory path of monarch butterflies(a).

(a) https://io9.com/butterflies-remember-a-mountain-that-hasnt-existed-for-509321799

Shoals of Mud

A Shoal of mud is stated by Plato (Tim.25d) to mark the location of where Atlantis ‘settled’. Plato describes these shallows in the present tense, clearly implying that they were still a maritime hindrance in Plato’s day.

Three of the most popular translations clearly indicate this:

Jowett

….the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.

Bury

…..the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal of mud which the island created as it settled down.”

Lee

…..the sea in that area is to this day impassible to navigation, which is hindered by mud just below the surface, the remains of the sunken island.

Since it is probable that Atlantis was destroyed around a thousand years or more before Solon’s Egyptian sojourn, to have continued as a hazard for such a period suggests a location that was little affected by currents or tides. The latter would seem to offer support for a Mediterranean Atlantis as that sea enjoys negligible tidal changes, as can be seen from the chart below. The darkest shade of blue indicates the areas of minimal tidal effect.

med_tidesIf Plato was correct in stating that Atlantis was submerged in a single day and that it was still close to the water’s surface in his own day, its destruction must have taken place a relatively short time before since the slowly rising sea levels would eventually have deepened the waters covering the remains of Atlantis to the point where they would not pose any danger to shipping. The triremes of Plato’s time had an estimated draught of about a metre so that the shallows must have had a depth that was less than that.

The reference to mud shoals resulting from an earthquake brings to mind the possibility of liquefaction. This is perhaps what happened to the two submerged ancient cities close to modern Alexandria. Their remains lie nine metres under the surface of the Mediterranean.

Post-Glacial_Sea_LevelOur knowledge of sea-level changes over the past two and a half millennia should enable us to roughly estimate all possible locations in the Mediterranean where the depth of water of any submerged remains would have been a metre or less in the time of Plato.

The tidal map above offers two areas west of Athens and Egypt that do appear to be credible location regions, namely, (1) from the Balearic Islands, south to North Africa and (2), a more credible straddling the Strait of Sicily. This region offers additional features, making it much more compatible with Plato’s account.

By contrast, just over a hundred miles south of that Strait, lies the Gulf of Gabés, which boasts the greatest tidal range (max 8 ft) within the Mediterranean.

The Gulf of Gabes formerly known as Syrtis Minor and the larger Gulf of Sidra to the east, previously known as Syrtis Major, was greatly feared by ancient mariners and continue to be very dangerous today because of the shifting sandbanks created by tides in the area.

There are two principal ancient texts that possibly support the gulfs of Syrtis as the location of Plato’s ‘shoal’. The first is from Apollonius of Rhodes who was a 3rd century BC librarian at Alexandria. In his Argonautica (Bk IV ii 1228-1250)(a) he unequivocally speaks of the dangerous shoals in the Gulf of Syrtis. The second source is the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27 13-18) written three centuries later, which describes how St. Paul on his way to Rome was blown off course and feared that they would run aground on “Syrtis sands.” However, good fortune was with them and after fourteen days they landed on Malta. The Maltese claim regarding St. Paul is rivalled by that of the Croatian island of Mljet as well Argostoli on the Greek island of Cephalonia. Even more radical is the convincing evidence offered by Kenneth Humphreys to demonstrate that the Pauline story is an invention(b).

Both the Strait of Sicily and the Gulf of Gabes have been included in a number of Atlantis theories. The Strait and the Gulf were seen as part of a larger landmass that included Sicily according to Butavand, Arecchi and Sarantitis who named the Gulf of Gabes as the location of the Pillars of Heracles. Many commentators such as Frau, Rapisarda and Lilliu have designated the Strait of Sicily as the ‘Pillars’, while in the centre of the Strait we have Malta with its own Atlantis claims.

Zhirov[458.25] tried to explain away the ‘shoals’ as just pumice-stone, frequently found in large quantities after volcanic eruptions. However, Plato records an earthquake, not an eruption and Zhirov did not explain how the pumice-stone was still a hazard many hundreds of years after the event. Although pumice can float for years, it will eventually sink(c). It was reported that pumice rafts associated with the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa were found floating up to 20 years after that event. Zhirov’s theory does not hold water (no pun intended) apart from which, Atlantis was destroyed as a result of an earthquake. not a volcanic eruption and I think that the shoals described by Plato were more likely to have been created by liquefaction and could not have endured for centuries.

Nevertheless, a lengthy 2020 paper(d) by Ulrich Johann offers additional information about pumice and in a surprising conclusion proposes that it was pumice rafts that inspired Plato’s reference to shoals!

>Andrew Collins in an effort to justify his Cuban location for Atlantis needed to find Plato’s ‘shoals of mud’ in the Atlantic and for me, in what seems to have been an act of desperation he decided that the Sargasso Sea fitted the bill [072.42]. However, he does not explain how anyone can mistake seaweed for mud!<

(a)  https://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/argo/argo53.htm

(b) https://www.jesusneverexisted.com/shipwreck.html

(c) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170523144110.htm

(d) (99+) (PDF) Resurrection of Atlantis Minoica: A new localization of the Akrotiri (Santorini, Greece) West House room 5 frescos in view of current geological findings. Part 2 | Ulrich Johann – Academia.edu