The Bronze Age is the second of the generalised three part division of prehistory into Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. I say generalised because different parts of the world developed bronze technology at different times(g), while some moved straight from Stone to Iron, others had a Copper Age before their Bronze Age. There is now clear evidence that tin-bronze was used at a Vinca site in Serbia as early as 4650 BC(d).
>There is now evidence that Bronze itself was used as an early form of currency, according to a recent study(r). by Maikel H. G. Kuijpers and Catalin N. Popa of Leiden University, Netherlands, who concluded that “The euros of Prehistory came in the form of bronze rings, ribs and axes. These Early Bronze Age artefacts were standardized in shape and weight and used as an early form of money.”<
However, the Bronze Age was clearly the literary if not the historical backdrop to Plato’s Atlantis narrative. In Greece this is generally accepted as the 2nd millennium BC. Plato refers to Triremes (developed around 600 BC), Chariots (Mesopotamia around 3000 BC), Horse-racing (first domesticated in Asia around 4500 BC), writing, metallurgy etc., etc. Recently, the date of the end of the Greek Bronze Age has been pushed back by approximately a century to around 1125 BC(f).
The Bronze Age in the Mediterranean region saw two periods of great political turbulence, the first around 2200 BC and the second a millennium later(h) and generally known as the Bronze Age Collapse(q).
However, when Plato twice states that Atlantis was destroyed 9,000 years before Solon’s visit to Egypt, he presents us with a serious problem, as the Bronze Age is incompatible with a 9600 BC date. Which is right or are they both wrong and consequently is the entire story a complete fiction? Alternatively, it is possible that Plato’s story is a combination of more than one story or is Plato’s narrative a combination of fact and fiction.?
In general terms, although there was copper in North America and tin in South America, it seems that they were not brought together in any meaningful way to give America a Bronze Age comparable with Europe or Asia(n).
Frank Joseph, among others, has suggested that the enormous quantities of copper mined in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were destined for the bronze manufacturers of Europe(I). He considers this extraction and exportation to have been the work of the Atlanteans. Gavin Menzies attributes the exploitation of the Michigan mines to the Minoans.
In 2018, it was claimed in a new paper(m) that Plutarch may have referred to Greek visits to Canada in the first century AD. The authors who included Greek archaeologist Ioannis Liritzis, do admit that the claim is speculative.
The America Unearthed TV series, presented by Scott Wolter, also examined the idea of Minoans mining in Michigan (S1 E3). Jason Colavito wrote a highly critical review of the episode(j), while an even more extensive critique can be found on the archyfantasies.com website(k).
It is interesting that this mining appears to have ceased around 1200 BC or approximately at the same time that the Bronze Age came to an end in Europe. This idea of the Michigan copper mining being the work of Old World traders is hotly disputed by local archaeologists such as Susan R. Martin(b).
Recent years have seen the discovery of numerous Bronze Age mines in the British Isles and across Europe, including the vast Great Orme Mines in Wales accepted by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest Bronze Age copper mine in the world that were rediscovered again in 1987(a), a view reinforced, more recently, with research, by scientists from the University of Liverpool(o)(p). When you consider the output of these copper mines and the huge amount of tin produced in Cornwall, it is clear that Britain made a major contribution to the development of the European Bronze Age. These Welsh mines are estimated to have been abandoned around 600 BC.
Such European mines together with those found in the Near East have naturally led to a questioning of Joseph’s thesis. If copper was so widely available to the Europeans at home, what was the incentive for Atlanteans to mine copper in Michigan and ship it to Europe with the relatively primitive vessels and navigation available at that time?
It is interesting to note that the geophysicist Marc-André Gutscher who had supported Collina-Girard’s contention that Spartel Island near the Strait of Gibraltar had been the possible location of Atlantis, withdrew his support(c) for the idea following the evidence presented at the 2005 Atlantis Conference, which convincingly demonstrated the Bronze Age setting of Plato’s story. Gutscher found this incompatible with the fact that Spartel Island had been submerged about 12,000 years ago.
In spite of Gutscher’s withdrawal of support Collina-Girard continues to promote his theory, having published a book, L’Atlantide retrouvée, in support of it, in 2009.
The other half of bronze production requirements is a supply of tin. In this connection, recent research has show that the eastern Mediterranean is virtually devoid of any sources of tin(e), contrasting sharply with the western basin which had Cassiterite in Sardinia, Spain and Morocco.
(b) See Archive 2547
(e) See: Archive 2100
(i) See Archive 3645
Also See: Factor Ten
Copper was obviously a vital commodity for the Bronze Age Atlantis described by Plato. The source of this copper has led to frequent speculation among Atlantologists. Frank Joseph proposed that copper was the foundation for the wealth of Atlantis. He is convinced that there is evidence of enormous copper mining activities in the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula around 1000 BC. He refers to these miners as Atlanteans and maintains that the extracted copper was brought to the Mediterranean, claiming that there is no trace of it in North America!
Joseph’s wild claim runs counter to the evidence offered by one of the leading mining engineers of his day, T.A. Rickard (1864-1953)(m). In 1934, Rickard published an extensive paper in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland entitled The Use of Native Copper by the Indigenes of North America (n). Rickard notes how early European colonists observed the native Americans using copper for tools and ornaments. A more recent entry(o) in Wikipedia offers further details reinforcing Rickard’s contention.>Similarly, a March 2021 article in Archaeology offers evidence that native Americans were producing artefacts from copper as early as the 7th millennium BC and were probably the world’s first coppersmiths(r).<
In another article in Atlantis Rising magazine Joseph proposed that the exploitation of the Michigan copper began in the sixth millennium BC with the arrival of the Red Paint People from Europe!(i)
J.S. Wakefield has written an extensive article(j) linking the Michigan mines with Poverty Point in Louisiana, where, he contends that, the copper was cast into oxhide ingots. In the same article he identified the Sea Peoples as the Atlanteans and their allies. In another paper(q) he presents a case for identifying the copper oxhide ingots discovered in the Late Bronze Age Uluburun shipwreck found of Turkey as originating in Michigan. He bases his claim on the unusual 99.5% purity of these copper ingots, which he claims is only to be found in the Great Lakes mines. Wakefield is co-author with Reinoud de Jonge of Rocks & Rows: Sailing Routes Across the Atlantic and the Copper Trade .
Roger Jewell has written an important book on this same historical mystery but dates the early mining to 2500 BC and estimates the quantity of copper mined at 20 million pounds. Jewell offers a range of evidence that point to Minoan traders, an idea taken up recently by Gavin Menzies, who quotes estimates of between three and five hundred million pounds, while others have suggested as much as 1.5 billion pounds have been extracted. These wild speculations have been derided by commentators such as Jason Colavito(b).
Dale Drinnon has an extensive entry on the Michigan copper mines on his wide-ranging website(c). Philip Coppens also wrote a speculative article on the possible part that Michigan’s copper plated in global trade around 3000 BC(g).
The America Unearthed TV series, presented by Scott Wolter, also examined the idea of Minoans mining in Michigan (S1 E3). Jason Colavito wrote a highly critical review of the episode(k), while an even more extensive critique can be found on the Archyfantasies.com website(l).
It is claimed that the local Indians have folk-memories of the mines being worked by ‘light-skinned’ men, suggesting a possible European or Mediterranean connection. Frank Joseph implies that these natives had little interest in copper although one of the cultures in the Great Lakes region were known as the Old Copper Indian because of their extensive use of copper for weapons, tools and ornaments(h). Furthermore as early as 1585 British settlers on Roanoke Island noted that the indigenous people there put a high value on copper.
A more conventional analysis of the Michigan copper mining mystery is presented by local archaeologists. They point out that the views of commentators such as Frank Joseph are very generous with speculation but somewhat mean with evidence. Dr. Susan R. Martin of Michigan Technological University has published a point by point refutation(a) of the many wild claims that have been made about the Michigan mines in The Michigan Archaeologist [41 (2-3) p119-138. June-September 1995].
Even more extreme was the suggestion made by Reinoud M. de Jonge in a 2009 paper(e) where he boldly claimed “that during the whole period of the (Michigan) copper trade, America was part of the Egyptian Empire” and during the Old Kingdom “this huge empire was known as Atlantis”! De Jonge expanded on this in a 2012 paper, justifying his claims with an incredibly detailed interpretation of the Phaistos Disk, which appears to be highly speculative(p).
In the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, taking its name from copper, provided much of that metal, which enabled the development of the Bronze Age there. In the central and Western Mediterranean ancient copper mines have been identified in Iberia, Morocco and Sardinia as well as sources of tin. However, an 1982 paper(f) claimed that Laurion in Attica, Greece was equally as important as Cyprus as a source of Bronze Age copper.
The earliest known metal mine in the British Isles was on Ross Island , near Killarney in Ireland. Copper was mined there from 2400 BC until 1900 BC(d) and the site is thought to have been the principal source of the metal for the two islands at that time.
Supporters of an earlier date for Atlantis can point to evidence of worked metal around 9000 BC discovered in Anatolia, Turkey. More recently there were metal beads discovered in Bulgaria tentatively dated to 6000 BC.
(a) See Archive 2547
(c) See: Archive 3597
(g) See Archive 2724
(i) See Archive 3389
Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy and after Sicily is the second largest island in the Mediterranean. Before the end of the last Ice Age, Sardinia had been joined to the European mainland because of the lower sea levels, which provided an easy access route for early settlers. Recent genetic studies revealed “an exceptionally high proportion of the population is seemingly descended from people who have occupied it since the Neolithic and Bronze Age, between 8,000 and 2,000 years ago.”(al) Known to the Greeks as ‘Hyknusa’, during its long history, Phoenicians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans have all left their mark on Sardinia. Before that, the megalith builders(j) were active on Sardinia and Corsica. A comprehensive history of Sardinia from the time of Atlantis is available online, in Italian and English(m). There is a tradition that Sardinia got its name from Sardus, son of Hercules(aa).
Sardinia’s important position in the ancient world was suggested by Mark McMenamin, a geologist at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, who announced in Numismatist Magazine in November 1996(ar), that he believed that the Carthaginians produced gold coins, between 350 and 320 BC, depicting small maps of the Mediterranean world with India to the east and America to the west(e). When computer enhancement was applied to the images on some of those coins, he was amazed to note how the strange markings on them resembled maps made by Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer and geographer, who lived around 500 years later. The maps show what appears to emphasise the Mediterranean region, with Sardinia as a dot in the centre. The north coast of Africa appears at the bottom with Europe at the top, above the Phoenician homeland and India. The Strait of Gibraltar lies to the west; after that is the landmass of America. Some sceptics have been convinced of the correctness of McMenamin’s interpretation after seeing the enlarged images.
However, in 2000, McMenamin was obliged to confirm that the coins in question were fakes(as) as revealed in his book, Phoenicians, Fakes and Barry Fell .
It has been suggested(p) that the ancient city (2000-1400 BC) of Nora, just south of today’s Pula, was thriving long before the arrival of the Phoenicians in the 8th cent. BC.. It appears that contact between Sardinia and its trading partners suddenly ceased around 1400 BC, until the arrival of the Phoenicians. Phoenician inscriptions, one dated to the 11th century BC, were been found at Nora(q) in 1773. These inscriptions refer to Pygmalian, King of Tyre and to a battle between Sardinians and Phoenicians at Tarshish!
It has been postulated that the Shardana, one of the Sea Peoples of the 2nd millennium BC, gave their name to Sardinia and were probably the builders of the hundreds of Nuraghi there. Leonardo Melis, a native Sardinian, has studied and written at length on the subject. David Rohl, the archaeologist and advocate of revising generally accepted ancient chronologies, has argued that the Shardana were in fact originally from Sardis in ancient Anatolia and that they migrated westward to Sardinia following the collapse of the Hittite Empire.
Angelo Paratico also proposed a connection between the Lydian capital Sardis and Sardinia in a lecture delivered in Hong Kong in 2004(an). Wikipedia includes the following information “According to Timaeus, one of Plato’s dialogues, Sardinia and its people as well, the “Sardonioi” or “Sardianoi”, might have been named after “Sardò”, a legendary woman from Sardis, capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia.”(ao)
Apart from the enigmatic remains of the nuraghic period, Sardinia has presented archaeologists with a greater mystery in the form of a structure at Monte d’Accoddi that closely resembles a Mesopotamian ziggurat. The earliest parts of the monument have been dated to circa 3000 BC – the same period during which comparable step pyramids were being built in Mesopotamia. Leonardo Melis has speculated that the name of the site, Accoddi, may be connected to the Akkadian civilisation. Step pyramids are also found on Sicily(c) and additionally the Le Barnenez cairn(ad) (4500-4700 BC), in Brittany, has a superficial resemblance to some of the Western Mediterranean ‘pyramids’.
The ancient-wisdom.com website, in a well-illustrated aericle, has drawn attention to the fact that the nuraghi, while very numerous are not the only distnct form of megalithic monument on the island, but there are two others known as ‘Tombes Gigantes’ (Giants Tombs) and ‘Domus de Janas’ (Spirit Homes).(ap)
Statue menhirs are also found on adjacent Corsica.
The end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries saw Antoine Court de Géblin and Delisle de Sales suggesting Sardinia as a remnant of Atlantis. However, the first person in more recent times to promote a Sardinian Atlantis was Paolo Valente Poddighe, who did so in 1982, but, it was 2006 before he published a book supporting this claim.
It was nearly another twenty years before Robert Paul Ishoy was the first to have a website(a) that promoted Sardinia as the site of Atlantis. His contention is that Atlantis was a powerful state based in Sardinia that controlled most of the western Mediterranean and was at its peak between 2000 BC and 1400 BC. Ishoy further contends that the Keftiu, Atlantean and Nuraghi cultures were all one. He contends that they made attempts to conquer the principal civilisations of eastern Mediterranean including the Minoans, Athenians and Egyptians. During one of these attacks the Athenians with the unexpected support of floods and earthquakes defeated the Atlanteans. Ishoy has been planning an expedition to Sardinia to seek further evidence in support of his thesis.
In 2002, the Italian journalist, Sergio Frau, published a book, in Italian, which firmly located Atlantis just south of Sardinia, where it is now covered by water(ah). He argued that the Pillars of Heracles were at one time located as a boundary marker at the Strait of Sicily and later moved to Gibraltar as the Greek awareness of the western Mediterranean developed with expanded trade. Frau attributes this change of location to the geographer Eratosthenes who flourished more than a century after Plato. Understandably, his theory has been greeted with the usual hail of criticism but was given support by UNESCO when it organised a symposium on the theory in Paris in 2005 followed by an exhibition in Rome the following year.
In the interest of balance, Thorwald C. Franke’s critique(n) of Frau’s work is required reading, as well as a 21-point refutation of his book signed by 71 Sardinian historians, geologists and archaeologists(w). However, others such as Silvio Diego Novo have followed Frau’s lead(aq), while Aldo Bonincontro has also nominated Sardinia as Atlantis, which he did in a 2007 article, but without any reference to Frau!
In June 2015 Frau together with a number of Italian scientists joined him when he visited Sardinia(x). They included historian Mario Lombardo; archaeologist Maria Teresa Giannotta; Claudio Giardino, a specialist in ancient metallurgy; cartographer Andrea Cantile; archivist Massimo Faraglia; and Stefano Tinti, a geophysicist and expert on tidal waves. Their objective was to study the evidence for a huge tsunami inundating the southern part of the island in ancient times.
A report in The Guardian (15/8/15) noted(y) that “Professor Tinti explained that until the 1980s no one was aware that tidal waves had occurred in the Mediterranean. But since 2004 scientists have identified 350 events of this type over a 2,500-year period,” and regarding the Sardinian tsunami “So what would have been required in our case?” he then asked. “We’re talking about a huge volume of water, some 500 metres high [the elevation up to which the nuraghi were affected]. Only a comet could do that, if the impact occurred very close to the coast and in a very specific direction,” he asserted. An event of this sort may have occurred near Cagliari, with the resulting wave devastating the plain of Campidano.”
Afterwards, Frau’s claim was given further attention(u) when an exhibition in the museum in Sardara, which focused on that catastrophe which hit the island around 1175 BC. This cataclysm mainly effected the southern portion of Sardinia covering it with a layer of mud. A geophysicist, Stefano Tinti, claims that the most likely cause of such an incursion would be an enormous tidal wave resulting from the impact of a comet in the Mediterranean. It was not surprising that Jason Colavito debunked(v) any linkage of Sardinia with Atlantis as well as the claim of a cometary impact, but avoided offering any explanation for the layer of mud.
A French website offers an interesting titbit regarding the extent of the mud, noting that “A nuraghe was discovered not far from the Sardinian town of Barumini.Les archéologues ont mis 14 ans pour ôter les 12 mètres de boue qui recouvraient ce monument. The archaeologists took 14 years to remove the 12 meters of mud that covered this monument”.
An alternative view of Sardinia and its nuraghi was offered(z) by Brian Cairns on the Thunderbolts website, where he claimed that the nuraghi were constructed to offer protection from cosmic electrical strikes. In his conclusion he states that “while the evidence above is circumstantial, it seems that Sardinia had a very active electric environment.”
The late Vittorio Castellani who had advocated locating Atlantis in the British Isles was so impressed by Frau’s book that he changed his mind and supported the idea of a Sardinian Atlantis. Another keen supporter of Frau is Mario Tozzi who has also suggested that if Sardinia was Atlantis that the mysterious Etruscans may have been Sardinians(r)(s). Further support has come from Mario Cabriolu and architect Paolo Macoratti, who identifies the Plain of Campidano with the Plain of Atlantis and locates the Atlantean capital further south in the Gulf of Cagliari, illustrated on a map on the sardolog.com site(t).
As Sardinia is still very much above water, it might seem an unlikely choice as the location of Atlantis. However, if it is accepted that the Pillars of Heracles were in fact situated at the Strait of Sicily, there are a number of features on Sardinia that would support the theories of Ishoy and Frau. There is evidence that the large plain of Campidano was inundated, from the south, by a tsunami, following an earthquake, in the Central Mediterranean in the 2ndmillennium BC. Professor Mauro Perra has argued against this(o) using extensive stratigraphic evidence. However, this tsunami also covered Punic and Roman remains indicating a much later date.
Furthermore, there are mountains protecting the plain from cold northern winds and rich mineral deposits are also found in the locality. Sardinia was well-known in ancient times as a source of silver as well as copper, iron and lead(af). There is also some evidence that a small but important quantity of tin was available on the island according to Stephen L. Dyson and Robert J. Rowland jnr., in their recent history of Sardinia. The excellent phoenicia.org website comments that Sardinia can scarcely have been occupied by the Phoenicians for anything but its metals. The southern and south-western parts of the island, where they made their settlements, were rich in copper and lead; and the position of the cities seems to indicate the intention to appropriate these metals.
In 2010, Giuseppe Mura published a book of nearly 600 pages, in which he identifies the Gulf of Cagliari as the location of the Pillars of Heracles that previously led to a channel which gave access to the Plain of Campidano, which he claims(g)(h) was the Plain of Atlantis described by Plato.
Furthermore, another young Sardinian has recently pointed out that colours associated by Plato with Atlantis, namely red, white and black, are found naturally on the island as well as excavated buildings of the Nuraghic period being painted in red and black stripes. The Sardinian regional flag also uses these colours.
We can expect that the future will see further development of the Sardinian Theory, which shows more promise than many of the other suggested locations.
For those interested in reading more about the history of Sardinia from its prehistory until the present should visit Claudio de Tisi’s website(i) (In Italian and English). It includes a review of Sergio Frau’s book on Atlantis. In 2011, travel writer Angela Corrias wrote a two-part article)(ab)(ac), which also includes a review of Frau’s theory.
There would appear to be growing support from local researchers on the island for a Sardinian Atlantis . One of the more recent is Giorgio Valdés who equates Sardinia with Tartessos and Atlantis. This idea of Sardinia and Tartessos being identical goes back to the middle of the 20th century, when Wikipedia(k) tells us “that W.F. Albright (1941) and F.M. Cross (1972) suggested Tarshish was Sardinia because of the discovery of the ‘Nora Stone’ or ‘Nora Fragment’.” An extensive article(l) on the Nora Stele, in Italian, was written in January 2014, based on a translation by Jose Stromboni.
In August 2016, Frau’s theory received a further spurt of publicity with an interview in Sputnik News, which was followed a few days later by the announcement that National Geographic was planning a documentary, co-produced by James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, based on Robert Ishoy’s Atlantis in Sardinia theory(ae).
However, Diaz-Montexano is also certain that the documentary will focus on his theory(ai). In the end, both theories featured in what turned out to be a disappointing documentary.
In late 2016, Nicola Betti, Luciano Melis & Alessandro Mugria published Il mare addosso. L’isola che fu Atlantide e poi divenne Sardegna  in which they add their support to the idea of Atlantis in Sardinia. They believe “with reasonable certainty that a large area of south-west Sardinia was hit by a swarm of iron meteorites in a period between 11,000 and 9000 BC,” which would have caused a catastrophic mega-tsunami.(am)
Pier Paolo Saba, another Sardinian, suggests in his book Atlantide , that following a catastrophe around 10,000 BC Atlantis was destroyed and survivors were dispersed to the Americas, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. One group settled in Saba’s native Sardinia, where they became the Shardana and were responsible for the building of the thousands of nuraghi found throughout the island and were part of the Sea Peoples who attacked Egypt(au)(av).
(b) See Archive 2139)
(c) See: Archive 2650
(w) https://www.colonnedercole.it/spip/spip.php?article67 (Italian)
(ab) See Archive 2898
(ae) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20190331144818/https://www.myheraldreview.com/free_access/national-geographic-calls-on-sierra-vista-researcher-about-atlantis/article_c3685cf8-7229-11e6-9512-b390b32f6ba7.html
(aq) See: Archive 2353 (Italian)