Charles A. Rogers is the author of a fully illustrated paper(a) in which he locates the city of Atlantis on the Tunisian River Triton, which led from Chott el Jerid (formerly Lake Tritonis?) to the Gulf of Gabes. He dates the demise of Atlantis to 1404 BC based on a possible connection with a close encounter with Phäeton, which in turn he identifies as what was later to be known as Halley’s Comet. He also combines all this with the eruption of Thera that generated a tsunami, which ran across the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Gabes and destroyed the city of Atlantis and in Egypt wiped out the Pharoah and his men during the biblical Exodus. There seems to be too many coincidences required here.
With regard to the location of Atlantis, the satellite imagery used by Rogers is, in my view, not very convincing and although I am sympathetic to the existence of Atlantis in that region, I think only investigation on the ground will offer real evidence.
Civilisation Collapse has occurred many times over past millennia in all parts of the world. The American anthropologist, Joseph A. Tainter defines collapse as “a rapid shift to a lower level of complexity(a) .” Societal disintegration immediately brings to mind the Maya, the Indus Valley and in what are relatively more modern times, the Western Roman Empire.
The causes are usually a combination of factors, such as, climate change, warfare, disease or excessive expansionism. Global catastrophes such as encounters with comets or asteroids are rare, while more local events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis can also be thrown into the mix. These have all been encountered from time to time, but have rarely been blamed for the collapse of a society; recovery from such limited regional events is usually possible.
The Mediterranean has seen its share of all these catastrophic events. A major tsunami on Sardinia, volcanic eruptions in Italy, earthquakes in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Close encounters with extraterrestrial bodies have also been proposed in that region.
Perhaps the best documented civilisation collapse is that which occurred around 1200 BC and affected many societies, particularly in the Middle East(b) . Israel Finkelstein, a leading Israeli archaeologist, has attributed this event to climate change and is of the view that this disruption was global in extent.
Inevitably, Atlantis has been cited as an example of civilisation collapse, particularly supporters of the Minoan Hypothesis, who link the 2nd millennium BC eruptions of Thera with the demise of the Minoans on Crete. Also popular is the idea that Atlantis had been a large island in the Atlantic Ocean destroyed by a cometary impact or the rising sea levels as the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age.
A variety of other theories have associated Atlantis with the collapse of a civilisation. For example, Frank Joseph claims that 40,000 years ago “sudden sea-level rises triggers migration from Mu around. The Pacific motherlanders settle on a large, fertile island about 380 kilometers due west from the Straits of Gibraltar. There, the newcomers merge with the native Cro-Magnon inhabitants, resulting in a new, hybrid culture – Atlantis.”
Alex Pellejero is a Spanish commentator on ancient mysteries, so it is no surprise that he offered his views on Atlantis. Nearly three years ago, he published a spirited defence of the Minoan Hypothesis, although admitting that not every detail of Plato’s account can be explained by the hypothesis.(a)
Bill McGuire(a) is Emeritus Professor of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at University College London and is Britain’s leading volcanologist. In his 1999 book, Apocalypse McGuire refers to the 2nd millennium eruption of Thera as “probably the source of the Atlantis legend recounted by Plato.”[p.127]
Alan Baker (1964- ) is an English author with a mixed output of both non-fiction as well as some fiction. His chief interest would appear to be historical mysteries, which led to the publication of The Enigmas of History. This book touches on a number of subjects covered on this site; Noah‘s Deluge, Stonhenge, Amazons and, of course, Atlantis. He briefly discusses a few of the more popular theories; Bimini, Thera, and the Atlantic, but arrives at no firm conclusion, although he appears sympathetic to its existence. In his Destination Earth he delves into the disappearance of Percy Fawcett and the mysteries relating to South America.
DuWayne Heupel is the author of Atlantis in Context in which he concludes that the Atlantis story was an invention by Plato to promote his concept of an ideal form of government and “demonstrate the dangers of national hubris.” However, it would seem to fail as a morality tale when Plato also included the demise of the ‘righteous’ Athenians in his narrative. This is compounded by his reference to another ideal city, Magnesia, in Laws. Why did he need to create two model cities?
Nevertheless, Heupel includes a lot of historical background to Athens and the people referred to by Plato, although by his own admission, he does engage in some speculative conclusions. He also claim that elements in Plato’s story were possibly inspired by real places, like Carthage, Atalanta and Thera and real events such as the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. What I find strange about that is that the places listed by Heupel are not mentioned at all by Plato, but locations, such as Tyrrhenia and Libya, which are included in the text, are apparently not considered to be relevant by Heupel. It seems clear that Heupel accepts that there are actual historical underpinnings to the Atlantis story, but in my opinion has chosen the wrong ones.
The late Anthony N. Kontaratos, listed twenty-two direct and indirect instances, in Timaeus and Critias, where Plato has asserted the truthfulness of the Atlantis story. As far as I’m aware, there is nothing comparable with this anywhere else in Plato’s writings. This alone should persuade listeners/readers that at least Plato believed he was transmitting a true story. However, Plato did have some reservations regarding details in Solon’s narrative, as expressed in Critias 118c-d. If Plato had invented the whole story, it is highly unlikely that he would create exaggerations in an invented tale and then draw attention to them, unless, of course, he was engaging in a double bluff! For my part, I believe that this is highly improbable and that his reluctance to blindly accept all that was transmitted to him was outweighed by the trustworthiness of Solon, his source. Solon was held in such high regard by the people of Athens that for a writer to invoke his name as an informant, without good reason, would be committing literary suicide. This would be similar to unjustifiably quoting George Washington or Nelson Mandela. It is equally improbable that Plato would invoke the names of his family in support of a hoax.
Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that Plato, in good faith, wrote down the story of Atlantis as recorded by Solon. Unfortunately, trust in Solon is not enough to explain away the difficulties in the narrative, including the very item that raised the initial doubts in Plato’s own mind.
For my part, I believe that the balance of probabilities favours the acceptance of the reality of Atlantis and is clearly worthy of continuing research.
Ron Current is an American blogger with a passion for travel, history and photography. Beginning in March 2016 he has written a number of pieces(a) on Atlantis and has concluded that Thera (Santorini) and its 2nd millennium BC eruption was at least part of the inspiration behind Plato’s narrative.
He echoes the views of Galanopoulos & Bacon regarding the location of the Pillars of Heracles saying “There are two landmasses in the world of these ancient Greeks that were also called the Pillars of Heracles in that period. These are the two southward pointing headlands on each side of the Gulf of Laconia on Greece’s Peloponnese.” These would have been Capes Matapan and Maleas. This, of course, contradicts Plato’s clear statement that Atlantis attacked from the west, not the south.*In fact what Plato said was that the invasion came from the Atlantic Sea (pelagos). Although there is some disagreement about the location of this Atlantic Sea, all candidates proposed so far are west of both Athens and Egypt.*
Martin Pepper is an American geologist who is intent on demonstrating that Santorini was the site of Atlantis, claiming to have new supportive evidence. He had his ideas revealed in a History Channel programme, Atlantis Found, first aired on October 19th 2015(a) as part of their How the Earth Works series.
I found it interesting that the advertising blurb for the show never once mentions Plato!
Unsurprising, Jason Colavito, an Atlantis sceptic, offers a scathing critique of the two-hour show (b). However, the German website, Atlantisforschung, criticises(c) the selective manner in which Pepper chose excerpts from Plato, carefully ignoring details that might conflict with Santorini being Atlantis.
>For my part, I cannot accept the Santorini/Thera theory without a convincing explanation for where, in the 2nd millennium BC, the Atlantean military of over a million men, plus an even larger civilian population actually lived, not to mention the elephants. Then there is also a small matter of the Plain of Atlantis 370x550km (230×345 miles); where was that? Finally, for good measure we are missing “the mountains which surrounded it (that) were at that time celebrated as surpassing all that now exist in number, magnitude and beauty.” (Critias.118b). I think Pepper should try again or better still, forget Atlantis altogether!<
André Capart (1914-1991) was a former head of the Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Sciences and has also directed oceanographic research for NATO. Professor Capart and his anthropologist wife Denise (1918-2011) believed that the Atlanteans originally came from Libya and invaded the Aegean setting up their colonial capital on Thera(a). Capart and his wife were planning an expedition to Santorini in the late 1980’s, but it appears that no report of their findings has been published.
In 1986 the Caparts published L’ homme et les déluges which deals with the recurring cycles of ice ages, changing sea levels and the associated floods. They linked Noah’s Flood with the Black Sea(b) over a decade before Ryan & Pitman published their better known book, Noah’s Flood.?