Modern Classical Scholars are frequently constrained by the need to raise research funding and are consequently reluctant to express privately-held views on particular controversial subjects. Others want to avoid endangering career prospects or simply fear ridicule. Atlantis can be considered one such ‘hot potato’ topic.
Nevertheless over the past century a number of classical scholars have expressed acceptance of all or some of the Atlantis story as historically factual. Hans Diller, J.V.Luce, J.G.Stallbaum, Victor Bérard, W.Brandenstein, Denys Eissart, H.Görgemanns, Walter Leaf and W.Christ have all supported the reality of Atlantis.
Unfortunately, the expansion of the Internet has permitted the widespread publication of many nonsensical ideas regarding Atlantis. The proliferation of such drivel has undermined the credibility of the more rational ideas of serious researchers>and forcing many of those that are full-time academics to remain ‘in the closet’.<
Scheria is the name of a Phaeacian island mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey and identified by some, including Ignatius Donnelly, as Atlantis. Scheria has been noted as only second to Atlantis for the array of locations ascribed to it. For example, Heinrich Schliemann, as well as many ancient and modern commentators, considered Scheria to have been Corfu. K. T. Frost in the early part of the 20th century associated Atlantis with Homer’s Scheria and both with the Minoan Empire, an idea also supported by Walter Leaf(l).
A recent paper by Gerard Janssen, of Leiden University, also places Scheria in the Canaries, specifically on Lanzarote(f). This is one of an extensive series of papers by Janssen, which links Homer’s geography with locations in the Atlantic(g). An introductory paper(h) might be the best place to start.
An Atlantic location for Homer’s epic poems is advocated by N.R. De Graaf, the Dutch author of the Homeros Explorations website(i). Specifically, he also concluded that Scheria can be identified with Lanzarote in the Canaries concurring with Wilkens and Janssen.
According to Pierluigi Montalbano, his native Sardinia was the Homeric land of the Phaeacians(j). Massimo Pittau offered the same conclusion “However the fact is that the Odyssey- as we have seen before – never mentions Sardinia. How, therefore, can this great and singular historical-documentary inconsistency be overcome? It can be overcome by assuming and saying that the poet of the Odyssey actually mentions Sardinia, but not calling it with his name, which will later become traditional and definitive, but with some other name relating to one of its regions or its population. And this is precisely my point of view, the one I am about to indicate and demonstrate: the poet of the Odyssey mentions Sardinia and its Nuragic civilization when he speaks of the «Scherìa or island of the Phaeacians».”(k)
Armin Wolf (1935- ), the German historian, suggests(b) that Calabria in Southern Italy was Scheria and even more controversially that the Phaeacians were in fact Phoenicians!
Wolf also claims[669.326] that although the country of the Phaeacians is in some translations called an island, the original Greek text never calls it ‘island’ just Scheria, which, Wolf informs us, etymologically means ‘continent’ – perfectly fitting Calabria. Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria they say they are going to the ‘continente’. Wolf puts Scheria in the vicinity of Catanzaro, the capital of Calabria. It has been suggested to me in private correspondence(d) that the etymology of Catanzaro is strongly indicative of a Phoenician influence! Catanzaro is also known as ‘the city of the two seas’, having the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the east. It is Wolf’s contention that it was across this isthmus that Odysseus travelled[p.327].
A further mystery is that, according to Dr Ernst Assmann quoted by Edwin Bjorkman, “both the vessel of Odysseus, as pictured in Greek art, and the term applied to it, are of Phoenician origin.”
Daniel Fleck(a) lists ten similarities between Scheria and Atlantis. Jürgen Spanuth quoted and added to an even more extensive list of comparisons between the two compiled by R. Hennig. Rainer W. Kühne has also written a paper(c) on the similarities. Walter Leaf perceived a connection between the two and wrote accordingly. Edwin Björkman went further and wrote a book that linked Tartessos, Scheria and Atlantis. More recently, Roger Coghill stressed the similarity of Homer’s Scheria to Plato’s Atlantis in The Message of Atlantis . Ernle Bradford notes that the name Scheria itself is thought by some to be derived from the Phoenician word ‘schera’, which means marketplace, which is not incompatible with Plato’s description of Atlantis as a hive of commercial activity. [1011.204]
Michael MacRae in his Sun Boat: The Odyssey Deciphered also thinks that Scheria could be identified with Atlantis and as such was probably situated at the western end of the Gulf of Cadiz near Portugal’s Cape Vincent. A number of 20th-century researchers such as Sykes and Mertz have placed the travels of Odysseus in the Atlantic. More recently, Gerard Janssen has followed this school of thought and as part of his theories identifies Scheria as the island of Lanzarote in the Canaries (e).
However, Ernle Bradford, who retraced the voyage of Odysseus, voiced his view that Corfu was the land of the Phaeacians and noted that “the voice of antiquity is almost as unanimous about Scheria being Corfu as it is about the Messina Strait being the home of Scylla and Charybdis.”
A paper by John Black concluded with the following paragraph that fairly sums up what we actually know about the Phaeacians. “Who were the Phaeacians and where was their place of abode? No definite answers and no clues have been found but yet their extraordinary seafaring abilities and the intriguing description by Homer make them appear to be either a fascinating advanced civilization of the past yet to be discovered, or a fiction of the imagination for the sake of a good story. It is worth mentioning that Homer’s description of Troy was also once considered to be a work of fiction. However, the city of Troy has now been discovered, turning myth into reality.” (m)
(a) See: Archive 2087
(d) Private correspondence Jan. 2016
(l) Miscellanea Homerica, VI, The Classical Journal, Vol. 23, No. 8 (May, 1928), pp. 615-617 (3 pages) *
Walter Leaf (1852-1927) was born in London and educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a banker by profession, holding the position of chairman of Westminster Bank for the last decade of his life. He was one of the founders of the International Chamber of Commerce of which he was president in 1925. From 1919 until 1921 he was president of the Institute of Bankers.
However, it was as a classical scholar that Leaf was arguably better known having been president of the Hellenic Society and the Classical Association. He translated Homer’s Iliad as well as works from Russian and Persian, and was fluent in several European languages, including French, Italian and German.
He apparently accepted the reality of Atlantis and was one of a number of writers to note the similarity between Homer’s Scheria and Plato’s Atlantis and opted for Crete as its most likely location.
The Identity of the Atlanteans has produced a range of speculative suggestions nearly as extensive as that of the proposed locations for Plato’s lost island. However, it is highly probable that we already know who the Atlanteans were, but under a different name.
The list below includes some of the more popular suggestions and as such is not necessarily exhaustive. While researchers have proposed particular locations for Atlantis, not all have identified an archaeologically identified culture to go with their chosen location. The problem is that most of the places suggested have endured successive invasions over the millennia by different peoples.
It would seem therefore that the most fruitful approach to solving the problem of identifying the Atlanteans would be to first focus on trying to determine the date of the demise of Atlantis. This should reduce the number of possible candidates, making it easier to identify the Atlanteans.
A final point to consider is that the historical Atlanteans were a military alliance, and as such may have included more than one or none of those listed here. The mythological Atlanteans, who included the five sets of male twins and their successors would be expected to share a common culture, whereas military coalitions are frequently more disparate.
Basques: William Lewy d’Abartiague, Edward Taylor Fletcher
Maltese: Anton Mifsud, Francis Xavier Aloisio, Kevin Falzon, Bibischok, Joseph Bosco, David Calvert-Orange, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, Albert Nikas, Joseph S. Ellul, Francis Galea, Tammam Kisrawi, Charles Savona-Ventura, Hubert Zeitlmair.
Maya: Robert B. Stacy-Judd, Charles Gates Dawes, Colin Wilson, Adrian Gilbert, L. M. Hosea, Augustus le Plongeon, Teobert Maler, Joachim Rittstieg, Lewis Spence, Edward Herbert Thompson, Jean-Frédérick de Waldeck,
Minoans: K.T. Frost, James Baikie, Walter Leaf, Edwin Balch, Donald A. Mackenzie, Ralph Magoffin, Spyridon Marinatos, Georges Poisson, Wilhelm Brandenstein, A. Galanopoulos, J. G. Bennett, Rhys Carpenter, P.B.S. Andrews, Edward Bacon, Willy Ley, J.V. Luce, James W. Mavor, Henry M. Eichner, Prince Michael of Greece, Nicholas Platon, N.W. Tschoegl, Richard Mooney, Rupert Furneaux, Martin Ebon, Francis Hitching, Charles Pellegrino, Rodney Castleden, Graham Phillips, Jacques Lebeau, Luana Monte, Fredrik Bruins, Gavin Menzies, Lee R. Kerr, Daniel P. Buckley.