The Deluge or Noah’s Flood are the commonly used terms when referring to the biblical flood of Genesis. It might perhaps be more accurate to use the plural, as there is evidence of several large-scale catastrophic inundations within the human memory. The Noachian deluge has been the subject of continuous debate: was it real or pure fantasy, was it local, regional or global and is the Ark to be found on Mt. Ararat.
Reginald Fessenden controversially noted in his The Deluged Civilization of the Caucasus Isthmus  that “the traditions were collected, tabulated and compared. This developed the fact that there were only five traditions of an inundation of more than local character.”
1. The Greek tradition; of Deucalion; the Aegean, 100 to 250 miles southwest of the Black Sea.
2. The Egyptian-Phoenician; of Atlantis and the Greeks; the western and northeastern shores of the Black Sea.
3. The Cimmerian; of the Crimea; the north shore of the Black Sea.
4. The Hebrew-Babylonian; of Noah and Atra-Hasis; the southeast shore of the Black Sea.
5. The Phrygian; of Noe; the south shore of the Black Sea.
The Flood of Noah is an echo of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, which in turn has a resonance with the deluge story of Manu in Indian mythology. If all three relate to the same event it would be of great interest to discover if there was a shared origin.
Noah is the hero of the Deluge story in Genesis. He was also an accomplished shipbuilder and viticulturist. According to some he was also an Atlantean! Cosmas Indicopleustes a 6th century AD theologian and geographer from Alexandria wrote of Atlantis as a large island in the western ocean. He also added a twist to the tale by recording an ancient tradition that Noah had resided on Atlantis! More recently, Frank Joseph [108.85] has endorsed this daft idea.
Interestingly, so many of the deluge stories include a scenario where the ’hero’ is warned of the impending doom. To me, this would make sense that where a landbridge was threatened by gradually rising waters on one side, simple observation would have provided adequate time to warn those at risk on the other side.
Another identification, by Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., is that Noah is Nereus in Greek mythology and widely depicted in Greek art(c). Confusingly, it has also been suggested(a) that Enoch, usually accepted as the grandfather of Noah, were the same person.
According to Plato, Atlantis was destroyed by the gods as a punishment for their wickedness, while the same reason is given in the Bible for the obliteration of Noah’s people. Coincidentally, both Atlantis and Noah’s homeland, which was probably located in Mesopotamia, were destroyed by water leading to the not unreasonable suggestion that the two stories are related.
While the biblical account of the Deluge does not stand up to detailed scrutiny(j), the global ubiquity of Flood stories is seldom adequately explained. Some possibilities that occur to me are related to the ending of the last Ice Age, which had watery consequences around the world. While the rising sea level took place in fits and starts, there were more dramatic events during this period such as the huge meltwater lake discharges and Heinrich Events that occurred across North America and Eurasia. The effect in the southern hemisphere was less spectacular. Survivors would have been forced to migrate in all directions, bringing their account of these floods with them. Another explanation, but in my view, a more likely cause of global floods would have been a close encounter with a large extraterrestrial body, an idea promoted by various researchers such as Emilio Spedicato.
Apart from the story of the actual flood, global or otherwise, the detailed biblical account of the building of the Ark along with the gathering of the animals and the voyage itself does not hold water (sorry)(y). Some decades ago, Roger A. Moore offered a forensic study of the account, which, is still impressive(x).
In March 2019, a paper by Roger M. Pearlman put forward another radical idea, namely, that Göbekli Tepe had been founded by Noah (Noach) and his sons(u).
A more light-hearted look at the story of Noah is also worth a read(n).
Every aspect of Noah’s Deluge story in the Bible has been a source of controversy for centuries. From the nature and cause of the Flood itself, as well as the building of the Ark and its final resting place and of course the date of the event.
Some years ago, Pastor Bertrand L. Comparet (1901-1983), a staunch racist(w), denied that the Flood of Noah had been a global event(v).
2018 began with matters hitting rock-bottom when an English language newspaper offered the following headline(l) “Turkish academic claims Prophet Noah used a cell phone to call his son before the flood.” Unsurprisingly, Jason Colavito has covered this story with an interesting blog(m).
Plato’s Atlantis story contains a curious reference in Timaeus (23a-c) to a series of floods that occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean(ah) since the Atlantean war, namely, those of Ogyges, Deucalion and Dardanus. If based on historical fact, on its own, the Biblical Flood or the breach of a landbridge cannot explain this succession of inundations but suggests that there could be a much more complex story, still to be revealed, which was spread over millennia.
Anastasios Stamou presented a paper [750.183] to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he reviewed the evidence relating to three floods that befell ancient Greece and alluded to by Plato. Drawing on ancient Greek texts including the Parian Marble, he places these events in chronological order beginning with the flood of Ogyges, then Deucalion’s and finally that of Dardanos.
Stamou accepts that conventional wisdom has it that these flood events occurred in the 2nd millennium BC and based his paper on that assumption. However, he expressed serious doubts about this dating suggesting a much earlier date for some inundations and promising a future paper dealing with this revision.
Stephen Oppenheimer mentions  three sudden ice melts, 14,000, 11,500 and 8,000 years ago that would have had a global effect. It should be considered that the second date is close to Plato’s apparent date for the destruction of Atlantis.
Since writing, as we know it, did not develop until long after de-glaciation, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify the date, location or extent of any of the early myths relating to these possible de-glaciation inundations.
Similarly, Gérard Gertoux places the Deluge circa 3200 BC in a lengthy paper(z), in which he also controversially touches on subjects such as radiocarbon dating, the age of the patriarchs, the Ice Ages, evolution and more.
China has its own ‘Great Flood’ tradition, which in the August 2016 edition of Science journal had its reality given strong support in a paper(bi) by a mainly Chinese team of researchers, who date the event to 1920 BC.
Recent years have seen the above-mentioned flooding of the Black Sea or even more controversially, the flooding of the desiccated Mediterranean basins, following the breaching of a suggested landbridge at Gibraltar, proposed as possible sources of the story of Noah in the Bible. These inundations are dated to around 5600 BC and their memory should have survived in the traditions and mythologies of the region. In addition to that, the Persian Gulf is also accepted by many to have been dry during the last Ice Age but also began to flood around 5000 BC. In Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea and the Celtic Shelf both suffered post-glacial inundations, while around the same time in the South China Sea the enormous Sunda Shelf suffered extensive flooding.
On a more controversial level, Donald Patten and Samuel Windsor presented evidence  for a series of close encounters between Mars and the Earth during the 1st millennium BC. David Rohl, the Egyptologist, dates Noah’s Flood to 3114 BC  and links it with the climatic consequences of a major catastrophe in the Aleutian Islands.
Alexander and Edith Tollman linked the Noachian Deluge with the consequences of a cometary impact in 7552 BC. On the other hand, G.F. Dodwell the Australian astronomer, after studying ancient gnomons, concluded that it was a worldwide catastrophe in 2345 BC that altered the Earth’s tilt, leading to the Deluge. This is comparable with the 1696 claim by William Whiston that the earth had an encounter with a comet in 2346 BC, which caused the Flood of Noah. Emilio Spedicato advocates 3161 BC as the date of the biblical Deluge(ac), which has also been endorsed by Stuart L. Harris(ad).
When Ryan & Pitman(ae) published their 1997 theory that around 5600 BC, the Black Sea had been flooded by water from the Aegean breaching the Bosporus, it did not take long before it was speculated that the event was reflected in the story of Noah’s Deluge. With little delay, strong objections to the idea were raised by many others(af).
T.R.Holme has an interesting article(ax) on the flooding of the Black Sea and the migration from the region that resulted. He also links that event with the work of the late Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994).
Nick Thom, an engineering lecturer at Nottingham University has written The Great Flood  which gives an overview of many Flood myths, but more importantly, he identifies the emptying of glacial Lake Agassiz around 6250 BC as the mechanism which caused a tilting of the Earth, which in turn generated a global deluge remembered by the survivors in myth and later recorded in scriptures. This is also fully outlined in a lengthy entitled, A Re-interpretation of the 8.2ky BP Event(ag). Also relevant to our subject is his claim that the flow of water was from the Black Sea into the Aegean rather than the other way around!
Jeffrey Goodman, the controversial author of Psychic Archeology , maintains that “Noah’s Flood was, in reality, a tsunami caused by a comet” and supports this contention with a retranslation of Genesis 7:11 (ar).
Kirk Kirchev in a recent (April 2018) two-part article(bb) “offers a unifying scientific hypothesis that connects diverse ancient flood myths with mainstream scientific fact.” and concluded that “If my calculations and assumptions are correct, an object of around 900 km in diameter passing the earth at an altitude of less than 1000 kilometres (621.37 miles) (of average, rocky density) would be large and heavy enough to create a strong localized tidal uplift in the oceans beneath its flight path (approximately 50 times the current tidal amplitude). That is large enough to destroy most of humankind, and a large portion of the fauna, but small enough to not cause a major extinction event or to disturb earth’s orbital path and rotation.”
Immanuel Velikovsky’s controversial cosmological ideas suggest that our Earth had at one point been a satellite of Saturn! In his unpublished book, In the Beginning (bk), he proposed that “The conflict between the larger planets resulted in long-stretched filaments ejected by a disturbed Saturn to cross the Earth’s orbit. The hydrogen of the planet combined with the oxygen of the terrestrial atmosphere in electrical discharges and turned into water” and so generated the Deluge!
In 1993, Alexander Tollman and his wife Edith published, Und die Sintflut gab es doch. Vom Mythos zur historischen Wahrheit, “which claimed that Noah’s flood was the consequence of a bolide impact about 9500 years ago, and supported the claim through geology (impact craters, iridium, shatter cones, stress lamination of minerals, radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology, a peak of acid in the Greenland ice) and legends and folk traditions.”(bj) Christian O’Brien has endorsed the Tollmans’ ideas(bl).
Aloys Eiling (1952- ) a German researcher has offered a variation on the close encounter theory, suggesting that the Deluge was one of the consequences of the capture of our Moon that took place when our planet was already populated – somewhere between 40,000 and 13,000 BC. He notes(bn) that “the capture of the Moon caused worse than a flood; it changed the geography of the world. Earth’s surface was devastated, millions died, and life in total was brought to the brink of extinction. In the collective memory of mankind, the event indelibly remained in the myths about a Deluge.”
Nevertheless, there is one rather disturbing element to be found alongside some of the flood myths, namely that the deluge event was concurrent with the sun seemingly standing still and in some cases, it is recorded that the Moon also appeared to stop(o)(av)! One explanation on offer is that it is a reference to an eclipse(aw). This might be acceptable if it was compatible with other myths from different parts of the world, which does not appear to be the case. Furthermore, it does not explain the association of the stopping of the sun with the global deluge. A very close encounter between the Earth and another large celestial body might.
As I see it, we are left with the two popular explanations for the global flood myths, either a close encounter with an extraterrestrial body that created a megatsunami that was on such a scale that it swept around the globe, perhaps many times before dissipating or the melting of the Ice Age glaciers produced the cyclical bursting of ice-dams and landbridges and the inundation of vast areas of low-lying land. I’m inclined to believe that the balance of probabilities favours the latter explanation, although I find it difficult to accept that gradual deglaciation would or could have generated floods that ‘covered mountains’ (Gen. vii.19)!
Other floods may have been caused by tsunamis resulting from underwater earthquakes and/or storegga. Quite recently it was discovered(bh) that around 6000 BC, a calamitous tsunami was generated in the Mediterranean when Mt. Etna in Sicily sent approximately 6 cubic miles of rock and rubble crashing into the sea. One could be forgiven for speculating that this event may have triggered the flooding of the Black Sea, which is dated to this same period.
>GLOBAL or LOCAL
The scientific case against a global deluge is presented in a paper by Lorence G. Collins.(bt)<
An interesting overview of traditional as well as modern thinking regarding the possible historical reality behind the Deluge of Genesis is presented(ai) by Robert Squillace on the New York University website.
On January 1st 2010 it was revealed(b) that a 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet which, unlike the biblical record, describes an ark made of reeds, 70 metres in width and round in shape(aj)(ak). This would have been recorded a thousand years before the Genesis story was written down. Understandably, this has caused the knickers of some fundamentalist Christians to become seriously twisted! The discovery has now been expanded on by a cuneiform specialist at the British Museum, Irving Finkel, in The Ark before Noah . Jason Colavito offers an interesting review of the book(d).
Even more radical is the result of a high-tech study of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which suggest that Noah’s Ark was pyramidal in shape(al)! Commenting on this report, Jason Colavito has pointed out that the concept of a pyramid-shaped ark is not new(am).
There is an unexpectedly large number of books written over the last century on the subject of Noah’s Ark that is listed on a specialist website(e). One such offering, resurrected by Jason Colavito(f), provides some comic relief with the claim in 1922 by C. E. Getsinger, who wrote that Noah’s Ark was the Great Pyramid!(g) Even earlier, John Taylor (1781-1864) claimed  that Noah had built the Great Pyramid! Nevertheless, a recently deciphered fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls has suggested that the Ark was shaped like a pyramid!(h)(i)
Barry Warmkessel also entered the fray with the suggestion that aliens had been involved in the design and construction of the Ark(r)! Nevertheless, that idea certainly competes with the suggestion of Xavier Séguin that the ‘Ark’ of Noah had been an Earth satellite(aa)!
Even more radical is the claim by Hebrew scholar Richard Seary that the Ark never actually existed, but that conventionally accepted understanding of the Genesis text is the result of some incorrect translations(aq). One example is that there is no such material as gopher-wood and that the word ‘gofer’ means lava!
A life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark was due to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Holland in the summer of 2016(an). It was built over four years by a carpenter, Johan Huibers, completing it in 2012. It is 410 feet long, 95 feet wide and 75 feet tall. It weighs 2,500 tons and is said to hold more than 5,000 people at any one time. However, there is no provision for live animals! The replica was sold to Aad Peters, a Dutch artist, who in 2019 brought it to Ipswich in Britain. Unfortunately, it has been impounded by the authorities there as it lacks the appropriate paperwork to permit it to leave. There are also serious concerns regarding its seaworthiness and is also clocking up port fees of £500 a day(ao)(ap).
UBIQUITY OF FLOOD MYTHS
Flood myths are found throughout the world and for centuries were seen as confirmation of the reality and universality of the Biblical Flood of Noah. However, when it was discovered that the Earth had endured a series of Ice Ages and that following each of these, the melting ice caps led to worldwide inundations with consequent immortalisation of these events through locally developed myths, it led to speculation that Noah’s Flood may have been just a regional but a catastrophic event. It is also probable that separate regional inundations would have occurred as deglaciation continued at the end of the last ice age, so when recounted through mythology many centuries later they may appear to refer to a single global event.
The competing concepts of global deluge versus local inundations are discussed in a brief paper(bc) from L. James Gibson, who concluded that “these local floods do not explain important features of the biblical flood.”
Nevertheless, megafloods are not necessarily only caused by tsunamis and melting glaciers. “A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months” a catastrophic event that is now generally forgotten. An extensive 2013 article(bd) in Scientific American has full details.
These ancient flood stories are to be found to contain content with a remarkable similarity of detail. It is worth pointing out that none of these legends ever recount the ‘hero’ of their particular tale returning to his former home. One simple explanation for this might be that the original homelands no longer existed. This would not normally be the case if the floods in question were tidal, storm-driven or even giant tsunamis. However, if the inundations were the result of rising sea levels, resulting from the melting of Ice Age glaciers, we could expect two principal effects. The first would have been the gradual submergence of all low-lying flood plains that are now identified as continental shelves. Two of the best known of these would be the Sunda Shelf (Sundaland) and the area stretching from the west coast of mainland Europe across the North Sea encompassing the British Isles and into the Atlantic beyond Ireland. The second effect would have been the dramatic inundation of valleys and basins protected by low landbridges or dams. Again, we have examples, some debatable, such as the Baltic, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and perhaps the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Sea of Japan.
An extensive and more general collection of Flood myths can be found on the internet(be). A USGS list of the world’s greatest floods, ancient and recent, is available as a pdf file(bf). Similarly, a website by Mark Isaak offers an extensive overview of flood myths around the world, although the site does not appear to have been updated for some years(bg).
Despite the existence of these huge collections of worldwide flood myths(ay) there appears to be one glaring omission, from all such databases, namely a contribution from Egypt where, inexplicably, there is no such deluge tradition apart from the predictable annual flooding of the Nile. However, there is the Egyptian story of Hathor/Sekhmet(az)(ba) who flooded the land with blood, which some may interpret as a mythological code for water!
The flooding of all these worldwide locations would have occurred quite slowly over an extended period following the last Ice Age, possibly providing the basis for the widespread existence of these flood myths. However, it could not explain the biblical claim that the flood covered mountains.
Dhani Irwanto, author of Atlantis: The Lost City in the Java Sea , offers a number of interesting articles on his website including an extensive overview of the ubiquity of Deluge stories, concluding with the following comment “Thus, Noah and the waters of the great Flood are not only recalled in the ancient traditions of all nations, but their names have also become incorporated in many and varied ways into the very languages of his descendants. The trails are tenuous and often almost obliterated so that some of the inferred connections are speculative and possibly mistaken, but the correlations are too numerous to be only coincidental, thus adding yet one more evidence for the historicity of the Great Flood.(bs)“
Many Atlantologists have sought to link the Deluge with the inundation of Atlantis. Egerton Sykes was a keen supporter of the idea. Joseph S. Ellul has interpreted the biblical story to support the idea of a landbridge at Gibraltar, which eventually collapsed when the waters of the Atlantic rose after the last Ice Age. Ellul maintains that Genesis 7:11 ‘All the springs of the Great Deep broke through’ is a reference to the percolation of the Atlantic waters, through the Gibraltar dam, that eventually led to its collapse as the sea level rose or was shattered by seismic or tectonic movements. I find it hard to accept this, because the pressure that is exerted by the Atlantic, would have rapidly changed any such seepage into a major breach and the subsequent collapse of the dam. Gerhard F. Hasel, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology offers a more conventional interpretation of “the fountains of the great deep” in a paper with the same name(ab).
Nevertheless, 2017 finished with renewed interest in Noah’s Ark being generated by media reports(k) of statements emanating from The Geoscience Research Institute, which is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which claims that a 2010 expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey, carbon-dated timbers found there to 4,800 years ago.
A sceptical 2019 article has looked critically at many aspects of the story of the Ark, including the most commonly offered Turkish site as the resting place of the Ark – “One of the most famous supposedly-Noah’s-ark sites is the admittedly very boat-looking Durupinar site in the Mount Tendurek area in Turkey. According to Atlas Obscura, the site was exposed in the late 1940s after a series of earthquakes and storms.”(an)
The late David Allen Deal was another investigator to propose the Ararat region as the landing place of the Ark, with Mt. Judi as the specific location(o). A more recent article supports his ideas(p). The precise location of the biblical Ararat is a matter of continuing and intense debate(q).
The UK’s Daily Mail added that talking after the initial claims in 2010, Mike Pitt, a British archaeologist, said the evangelical explorers had yet to produce compelling evidence. He said: ‘If there had been a flood capable of lifting a huge ship 2.5 miles [4km] up the side of a mountain 4,800 years ago, I think there would be substantial geological evidence for this flood around the world. And there isn’t.’
In his 2020 book, Apocalypse , Dr Sean Welsh agreed that Noah’s Ark finally rested on Mt. Ararat, but took everyone by surprise by claiming that it was not Ararat in Turkey but Ararat mountain on Crimea’s Kerch Peninsula! Welsh does not explain where Shinar was in relation to his Ararat. Conventional wisdom locates it in southern Mesopotamia, placing them around 2,500 km apart.
Angelo Palego was an Italian researcher who has spent 35 years seeking Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat (Mount Agiri) on the Turkish-Iranian border(bq). Unfortunately, in 2021 he fell ill while in Turkey and died on August 15th, aged 86, and in accordance with his wishes was buried on the slopes of Mt. Ararat(bp).
However, a more valuable offering was a paper(ab) delivered in 2008 to the Sixth International Conference on Creationism in Pittsburgh, PA by Anne Habermehl. She finished her contribution, Review of the Search for Noah’s Ark, with the following conclusions;
“(1) It would appear that the Ark cannot have landed on Mount Ararat, because scientists have shown that this mountain did not exist until some time after the Flood had ended. (Also, the area that Mount Ararat occupies was probably not yet included in Urartu at that time.)
(2) In light of historical and geographical considerations, Mount Cudi near Cizre, Turkey, is the most likely place where the Ark landed.
(3) It seems doubtful that anyone has actually seen the Ark anywhere in modern times. The alleged sightings all seem to evaporate on careful examination.
(4) It is unlikely that very much of the Ark exists today; it is probable that over the millennia it has decayed, and various scavengers have taken most of it away.
(5) Because of 14C dating problems, it may not be possible to prove that any given samples are or are not the right age to have come from the Ark.
(6) More archaeological work needs to be done if we are ever to reasonably prove the Ark’s landing spot anywhere.
(7) It is probable that no matter what is found in any location, there are those who will remain unconvinced.
(8) Interest in finding the Ark is unabated, and the Ark search will go on.
At the end of the day, we have to face the reality that it may be difficult, or even impossible, ever to prove where the Ark landed. This author would have liked to end on an optimistic note for the soon recovery of a largely intact, proven Ark, but this seems unlikely; and this paper therefore ends, in the words of T. S. Eliot (1925): “Not with a bang but a whimper.”
In 2021, author S.H. Scholar in a short book entitled Heavenly Flood  modestly claimed to have “uncovered history’s greatest secret – the influence of ancient astrology on the development of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood Tale.” John McHugh has also offered a comparable zodiacal link with the biblical Deluge story in The Celestial Code of Scripture  which has been critiqued by Gary D. Thompson(bm).
Eugenio Ralbadisole who advocates India as the home of Atlantis also locates the landing place of Noah’s Ark in the same region. Based on texts in the Vedas where “we read that a man after a catastrophic flood arrived with his ship full of animals in a village called Naubandhana. A location with similar names can be found near “Barda Hills” in Gujarat.” (bo)
(g) The Thomson Review, Thomson, Illinois, July 19th, 1922 – p.3,
(r) Archive 3514
(aq) Fortean Times, April 2014, p.55
* See Atlantis Vol.6, Nos.1,2&3, May, July & September 1953
The Central Mediterranean is a very geologically unstable region containing as it does all of Europe’s land-based active volcanoes(a), regular seismic(b) activity with the attendant risk of tsunamis. It is now estimated that a devastating tsunami will hit the Mediterranean every 100 years(c). While the Aegean region experiences the greatest number of earthquakes, the Central Mediterranean, particularly around Sicily is also prone to regular tremors.
The idea that Atlantis was situated in this region is advocated by a number of researchers, including Alberto Arecchi, Férréol Butavand, Anton Mifsud, Axel Hausmann, as well as this compiler. Plato unambiguously referred to only two places as Atlantean territory (Crit.114c & Tim 25b) North Africa and Southern Italy as far as Tyrrhenia (Tuscany) plus a number of unspecified islands.
The area between Southern Italy and Tunisia has had a great number of sites proposed for the Pillars of Herakles, while possible locations for Gades are on offer with a number places still known today by cognates of that name.
Plato clearly includes continental territory as part of the Atlantean domain as well as a number of important islands. Within a relatively small geographical area, you have two continents, Africa and Europe represented by Tunisia and Italy respectively, as well as the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Malta together with a number of smaller archipelagos, matching Plato’s description exactly. The later Carthaginian Empire also occupied much of the same territory apart from eastern Sicily and southern Italy which by then was controlled by the Greeks and known as Magna Graecia.
For me, the clincher is that within that region we have the only place in the entire Mediterranean to have been home to elephants up to Roman times – Northwest Africa.
(b) The Europeam Mediterranean Seismic Centre – EMSC, records all activity in the region.
(c) Tsunami Alarm System – A3M Tsunami Alarm System (tsunami-alarm-system.com) (German & English)
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.”
Basil Booth & Frank Fitch are two earth scientists who co-authored Earthshock. They reviewed the catastrophic past of our planet and its lessons for the future. They briefly touched on the subject of Atlantis suggesting that “it is possible that the legends of Atlantis and Noah’s Flood may arise from folk memories of ancient tsunamis”[p.102] and that the tsunami associated with the eruption of Thera that devasted the Minoan civilisation may have given rise to the legend of Atlantis[p.150].
Katherine Fordham Neer is an American writer, editor and researcher. She appears to accept the existence of Atlantis having published a brief paper(a) with the odd title of Shocker: 9 Reasons Atlantis May Have Been Real, which simply recounts the existence of natural catastrophic events such as tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. Disappointingly, Neer offers nothing to support the existence of Plato’s Atlantis exemplified by number 8 of her ‘reasons’ entitled ‘The Ocean is Really, Really Big’!
Karen Mutton is a Australian writer(a) who has written books and articles on a range of ‘alternative’ or ‘fringe’ subjects. Her 2009 book, Sunken Realms, is a comprehensive examination of known sunken cities, harbours and roads. Included in her survey are crannogs, which are artificial islands constructed in lakes. She refers to the crannogs of Scotland, ignoring the Irish examples which total around 1,200 or nearly three times the Scottish number.
She devotes a somewhat disproportionate amount of space to an extensive review of Atlantis theories, without offering anything new. Google Books have a considerable amount of this book online(b).
>Mutton also published a paper(c) on the Ancient Origins website, reviewing some of the most devastating tsunamis experienced by man over the past eight thousand years.<
George Pararas-Carayannis is a Greek-born oceanographer now living in Hawaii. His area of interest is disasters, natural and man-made, particularly tsunamis. He has a website devoted to disasters(a) which includes a paper(b) linking the Minoan civilisation and the Bronze Age eruption of Thera with the destruction of Atlantis. In a similar vein is another paper(c) that he prepared for the 2005 Atlantis Conference.
Hendrik J. Bruins is a Dutch professor of geology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. In April 2007 he appeared on a BBC Timewatch documentary entitled The Wave that Destroyed Atlantis. In it he supported the new old idea that Atlantis was Crete and had been destroyed by a megatsunami generated by the eruption of Thera. Costas Synolakis, a tsunami expert from the University of Southern California, on the same programme pointed out that apart from tsunami damage to ports and shipping, ash falls would have resulted in crop failure and general social collapse. Neither Bruins or Synolakis attempted to match the full Atlantis text with the Minoan location.
>In 2010, Bruins commenting on new developments in the radiocarbon dating of Pharaonic Egypt conceded that “major problems exist here in relation to the Santorini eruption between archaeological dating, radiocarbon dating and association between archaeological strata in the field and Egyptian Historical Chronology.”(a)
Theodoros V. Paschos is a Greek researcher and the son of Vassilios Paschos (1924-1993) who was also an atlantologist. Theodoros delivered a paper to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he placed Atlantis in the Atlantic and focused on its destruction which he claims to have taken place in two stages. The first of these was partial submergence around 9600 BC resulting from the melting of the Ice Age glaciers. The second and final destruction took place, between 7000 BC and 7500 BC, as a consequence of the seismic instability of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge which generated earthquakes and tsunamis.
Paschos formerly supported his work with a website, now closed, which had included some English sections.
>He offered ten reasons why he believes Atlantis was situated in the Atlantic(b), however, he offers nothing that unambiguously supports this belief.<
A YouTube clip featuring T.V. Paschos is available(a).
(a) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNR7uELdky4 (Greek)
A Tsunami was probably first described in the 5th century BC by Thucydides when he wrote “in my opinion, the cause of the phenomenon was this: where the earthquake was most violent, the sea receded and was then pushed back with even greater violence, thus bringing about a flood. Such a thing would not have happened without an earthquake” (Peloponnesian War, Book III.89)(b). However, there are also conditions that can produce tsunamis inland, such as occurred around 500 AD inundating Geneva in the Alps(k)(m).
The word ‘tsunami’ first appeared in an English language publication in the September 1896 edition of National Geographic Magazine in which the devastation caused by an earthquake wave in Japan was graphically described.
Recent studies(g) indicate that a similar tsunami saved the Greek town of Nea Poteidaia from a Persian attack in 479 BC. Herodotus in reporting the event attributed the Persian defeat to divine intervention by Poseidon, god of the sea.
A similar event on an even greater scale has been one of the suggestions as the possible cause of the flooding of Atlantis. A 2002 paper(a), by Louisiana State University geologist, Gary Byerly and his team, identified an ancient asteroid impact that generated a tsunami that “swept around the earth several times, inundating everything except the mountains”. The study of ancient tsunamis is at a very early stage of development.
Ivan T. Sanderson in one of his books, Investigating the Unexplained , recounts an 1863 report of a 200-foot high tsunami that sped up the Ganges and Houghli Rivers in India killing tens of thousands of people without ‘snapping-off’ trees. He contrasts this with the tree stumps covering acres around East Creek, New Jersey that have all been broken off at the same height and where he suggested that only a tsunami could have caused such widespread and uniform destruction. In view of the fact that some of these cedar trees had six-foot diameter trunks, he speculates on the possible size of a tsunami that could bring about such extreme damage.
Perhaps even more relevant to the study of Atlantis is the evidence gathered by Jürgen Spanuth in his chapter on the ‘Natural Catastrophes of the 13th Century’ including an interesting section on tsunamis [015.167].
Marc-André Gutscher of the University of Western Brittany in Plouzané, France, has discovered evidence of an ancient tsunami on Spartel Island, an Atlantis candidate, in the Gulf of Cadiz. Georgeos Diaz-Montexano has pointed out that Josephus, the 1st-century Jewish historian, seems to describe the devastation caused by its assault on the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal at the time of the Lusitanians and Cantabrians in the 1st millennium BC.
Professor Stefano Tinti of Bologna University visited Sardinia and explained(r) “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.”
Tinti has also noted(w) that generally speaking, the majority of tsunamis are generated by seismic rather than volcanic activity. Globally, volcanic tsunamis account for only 2% of the total, however, the profusion of volcanoes in Southern Italy has considerably increased this percentage. Furthermore, according to a recent article on the BBC website “The scale of the tsunami hazard from volcanoes that collapse into the sea has been underestimated.”(x)
A 2022 report of a recent study(ac) revealed some new interesting information.
>“Archaeologists have found evidence of the largest known earthquake in human history — a terrifying magnitude-9.5 megaquake that caused a 5,000-mile-long (8,000 kilometres) tsunami and prompted human populations to abandon nearby coastlines for 1,000 years.
The earthquake struck about 3,800 years ago in what is now northern Chile when a tectonic plate rupture lifted the region’s coastline. The subsequent tsunami was so powerful, it created waves as high as 66 feet (20 meters) and travelled all the way to New Zealand, where it hurled car-size boulders hundreds of miles inland, the researchers found.” <
More recently, Dhani Irwanto has written about the probable effect of tsunamis on his Indonesian Atlantis(y). Studies of the sedimentary record in a sea cave in Sumatra have revealed the frequency and strength of tsunamis in the region over a five thousand year span from 5900 BC until 900 BC(u).
Tsunamis are also associated with the destruction on Crete following the eruption of Thera in the 2ndmillennium BC. A TV documentary entitled Sinking Atlantis(i), provided graphic evidence of tsunami damage on Minoan Crete(h).
J.V.Luce cited[120.119] a number of local legends from around the Aegean that may have originated with the tsunami that followed the eruption on Thera.
However, the extent of this damage is strongly contested by W. Sheppard Baird(j) and he proposes instead that it was in fact more likely to have been a pyroclastic surge from the Theran eruption that caused the most damage.
A recent report(d) concludes that a large tsunami generated by the volcanic activity of Mt. Etna around 6000 BC produced waves up to 43 feet high that struck the coasts of Greece and Libya. This event would have caused devastation on nearby Malta, where evidence of past tsunamis was published in the journal Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie. The research was carried out over three years by scientists from the University of Portsmouth, led by Dr Malcolm Bray with assistance from colleagues at the Department of Geography at the University of Malta(n). A 1693 earthquake generated the earliest recorded tsunami on Malta and as recent as 1908 Malta was hit by a tsunami that resulted from a catastrophic earthquake in the vicinity of the Strait of Messina(p).
On the Atlantic west coast of Ireland, we have a 250 km2 region, in County Clare, known as the Burren, which consists of limestone denuded of soil cover. Recently, strong evidence was discovered suggesting a 4000 BC tsunami in the region(o). For me, the karst landscape of the Burren is reminiscent of parts of Malta.
Plato’s description does not support the idea of a tsunami as the primary cause of Atlantis’ inundation since tsunamis will eventually subside and return to the ocean, whereas Atlantis was still under water years after the event, causing a permanent navigation hazard. John Michael Greer makes a similar point [345.126] in relation to the megatsunami which struck Madagascar in 2800 BC. Evidence of other ancient megatsunamis in Hawaii was presented at the 2012 meeting of the American Geophysical Union(l). The power of megatsunamis is highlighted in an article on the UK’s MailOnline website(t).
Recent excavations at Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula, the location of the original Olympic Games, have pointed to the site having been repeatedly hit by devastating tsunamis during the past 7,000 years(c).
The Bunurong tribe in Australia have a ‘myth’ that explains the creation of Melbourne’s Port Philip Bay. A recent article(e) has linked this to a tsunami that resulted from the impact of Comet Manhuika southwest of New Zealand in the 15th century. A more cautious view of this event is expressed elsewhere(f).
The excellent livescience.com website has an interesting list of ten history-making tsunamis(q), while Wikipedia offers an extensive list of European tsunamis from prehistoric times until the present(s).
A 100-metre-high tsunami, caused by a landslide, one of the highest ever recorded was experienced in a remote area of Greenland in June 2017. Four lives were lost and eleven houses destroyed in the fishing village of Nuugaatsiaq, located on an island about 20 kilometres away(v).
The Greenland event would have been greatly overshadowed, literally, by the tsunami generated by the asteroid that struck Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula around 66 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs. According to a 2021 report(z) it has been estimated that the impact produced a tsunami nearly a mile high!
>In 2020, David Keys, author of Catastrophe  wrote an article for the UK’s Independent newspaper outlining the most recent research into the 6200 BC tsunami that destroyed Doggerland. “It is estimated that multiple giant waves inundated some 2,700 square miles of land – from Scotland in the north to Norfolk in the south.
New underwater research carried out by the universities of Bradford, Warwick, St Andrews and Wales has for the first time discovered that the tsunami devastated parts of East Anglia and adjacent land which is now submerged beneath the southern part of the North Sea.” (ab)<
>On August 12, 2021, within minutes of each other, two earthquakes struck the South Sandwich Islands of the South Atlantic. National Geographic reported “These rumblings, which occurred on August 12, 2021, were not unusual on their own, since the islands sit atop a combative meeting of tectonic plates. The odd part is that they were followed by a tsunami powerful enough to show up on distant shores along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Although the swell wasn’t destructive, it was the first since the catastrophic tsunami of 2004 to be recorded in three different oceans(aa).“<
(a) See: Archive 2931