<Volcanoes at their most explosive have played an important part in the mythologies and histories of humans.
A recent Irish Times article (10/2/22) observed “Despite the small number of volcanoes here, European culture has been deeply influenced by volcanic activity. In ancient Greek mythology, volcanoes were where the Olympian gods had imprisoned their rivals, the Titans. When the Romans adopted the Greek religion, Mount Etna became the home of Vulcan, the god of fire and blacksmiths, who worked his forges underneath the mountain.”(u)<
Volcanism is not part of the Atlantis story as related by Plato. His narrative clearly attributes the destruction of Atlantis and the Athenians to flooding and earthquake. Admittedly, flooding can be the result of some volcanic activity, but in the absence of any evidence to support this view in the case of Atlantis, the idea is only supposition. While most accept that Atlantis was named after its first king, Atlas, Frank Joseph’s fertile imagination suggests that ‘the island of Atlantis was named after its chief mountain, a dormant volcano’. For those that place Atlantis in the Atlantic the idea of volcanic or seismic activity as the cause of the flooding of Atlantis AND Athens are hard pressed to suggest a location for this activity that would explain two catastrophes two thousand miles or more apart.
However, the red, white and black stone that Plato may be related to volcanic eruptions that produce rocks of tufa (red), pumice (white) and lava (black). Pumice has been found at various locations in Egypt and identified as originating not only from Thera, but also from eruptions on the Greek islands of Nisyros and Giali as well as the Italian Lipari Islands(o).>Pumice has a chemical fingerprint which enables its source to be identified(t).<
Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Sanders are the authors of Volcanoes in Human History which supports the idea that the eruption of Thera was a factor in the development of the Atlantis story and also suggests a link with the Flood of Deucalion.
Nevertheless, a recent book by William Lauritzen, The Invention of God, makes a convincing case for accepting volcanic activity as the inspiration behind some of the imagery of ancient mythologies and most major religions. A recent article(i) on the BBC website expanded on this further. Lauritzen also suggests that the pyramids were meant to represent volcanoes.
The most active volcanic region of Europe is to be found in Italy, where Etna and Stromboli have been continuously erupting for thousands of years(b). There is a report that a 6000 BC extreme eruption of Etna resulted in a tsunami 130 feet in height which swept the Mediterranean(c). However, the most devastating prehistoric volcanic eruption discovered so far seems to have been in Siberia 252 million years, which may have led to the most extensive mass extinction of life on earth(e). This is now rivalled by Tamu Massif in the Pacific mentioned below.
The cataclysmic volcanic eruption of Thera in the second millennium BC has had a strong level of support as the cause of Atlantis’ collapse, a view endorsed by recent television documentaries and an IMAX film. The Greek volcanologist, George Vougioukalakis, whose research is featured in the aforementioned film, is convinced that the eruption of Santorini offers the most rational explanation for the truth behind Plato’s story(a). However, he dissents from the recently expressed view that pumice found on the Northern Sinai Peninsula was transported there by a tsunami generated by the eruption of Thera and prefers to believe their transportation there was by normal sea currents.
Apart from Santorini, Jim Allen had initially proposed the Andean village of Quillacas, which lies on top of a volcano, as the site of Atlantis, but later found that the nearby site of Pampa Aullagas had a greater correspondence with the description of Atlantis. More recently Richard W. Welch has suggested the eruption of a supervolcano in the Atlantic as the cause of Atlantis’ demise. And so the idea of volcanic destruction of Atlantis still has some support!
Since January 2011, Santorini has shown some signs of a volcanic reawakening(d).
In September 2013 studies revealed(f) what may be the location of the largest volcano ever to have erupted on our planet. It would have been the size of the British Isles and situated underwater in the northwest Pacific and known as Tamu Massif. It would have rivalled the Olympus Mons on Mars, but fortunately, has been dormant for 140 million years.
March 2014 saw a post on Dale Drinnon’s website(g) take the linkage between Atlantis and a volcano rather further with the suggestion that “the capital city of Atlantis in Plato’s description was built in the caldera of an extinct volcano and that many of the features of the description are volcanic in origin. The “Poseidon’ temple is the pyramidal volcanic neck, an erosional feature that stood out like a conical mound some hundreds of feet in diameter and possibly some hundreds of feet high on the outside. there was a tunnel bored through this aligned East and West, to allow the sunlight in at the beginning and the end of the day for certain rituals.”
In December 2014 a report from Princeton University revealed that a massive series of volcanic eruptions 66 million years ago can be aligned with the extinction of the dinosaurs and should be included as part of the cause of that extinction along with the Yucatan meteorite impact(h). However, in February 2021, a report from Harvard proposed that the Yucatan impactor was a comet rather than an asteroid or meteor(s).
In 2009, it was reported(q) that another example of contemporaneous meteorite impact and flood volcanism was identified in Belarus.
The Laki volcano in Iceland erupted in 1783, killing 9,000 local people but more dramatically causing the Nile Valley population to be cut by a sixth, according to a study published by scientists at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. “The study is the first to conclusively establish the linkage between high-latitude eruptions and the water supply in North Africa”(j).
A 2015 report(k) suggests that a series of North American volcanic eruptions in 536 AD had such a detrimental effect on the climate of Europe that contributed to the demise of the Roman Empire.
Furthermore, there is now evidence(m) that the eruption of El Chicon volcano in Southern Mexico around 540 AD led to the disruption of the Maya civilisation. Can there be a connection between these two events? In 2020, it was reported that the massive Tierra Blanca Joven eruption of the Ilopango volcano in El Salvador had been accurately dated to within a year or two of 431 AD, which also devastated Maya communities within an eighty-kilometre radius(r).
However, David Keys in his book, Catastrophe, has proposed that a massive eruption of Krakatoa around 535 AD caused disruption on a global scale. Matthew Toohey from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, has suggested the possibility of a double event involving both El Chicon and Krakatoa!
Recently the longest (1,200 miles) continental volcano chain was identified in Australia(l).
The BBC reported(n) in 2016 that “Deep-sea volcanoes are so remote until recently we did not even know they existed” and although “We do not see them erupt, yet more than half of the Earth’s crust can be attributed to their dramatic explosions” and “In fact, the mid-ocean ridges form the largest volcanic systems on Earth. But as they are largely hidden from sight, they have long remained elusive.”
In July 2017, the BBC offered an interesting article on the potential ongoing threat from supervolcanoes around our globe(p) and the inevitability of a future eruption.
Sundaland is the name of a large biogeographical region of South East Asia, a large portion of which had been above sea level during the last Ice Age and later inundated as the glaciers retreated. The term was apparently first used in 1949 by R.W. van Bemmelen (1868-1941) and later by other authorities.
It is worth noting that it is now generally accepted that South East Asia was probably the entry point of modern humans from Africa. Human traces have been found in Papua New Guinea that have been dated to around 40,000 BC.
Some authors have specifically claimed a clear link between Sundaland and Plato’s Atlantis. The Sunda Sub-Oceanic Plain is large enough to match Plato’s description of Atlantis. Its topography, climate, flora and fauna together with aspects of local mythologies, all permit a convincing case to be made to support this idea.
C.W. Leadbeater (1854-1934) who was a prominent theosophist was perhaps the first to suggest a link between Atlantis and Indonesia in his book, The Occult History of Java , which is now available online(f).
Other investigators have written on the prehistory of the region of whom the best known is probably Stephen Oppenheimer who firmly locates the Garden of Eden in this region, although he makes little reference to Atlantis. More recently, Robert Schoch, in collaboration with Robert Aquinas McNally, wrote a book in which they suggest that pyramid building may have had its origins in a civilisation that flourished on parts of Sundaland that are now submerged.
The first book to specifically identify Sundaland with Atlantis was written by Zia Abbas. However, prior to its publication, the Internet offered at least two sites that discussed in detail the case for Atlantis in South East Asia. William Lauritzen(a) and the late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos(b) developed extensive websites. Lauritzen has also written an e-book that is available from his site, while Santos developed his views on an Asian Atlantis in another recent book. Dr Sunil Prasannan has an interesting essay on Graham Hancock’s website(c). A more esoteric site(d) also offers support for the Sundaland theory.
An Indonesian researcher, Panji R. Hadinoto, has published on his website(e) a 32 point checklist purporting to ‘prove’ that Atlantis was located on Sundaland. Unfortunately, this checklist is not original but copied from the work of Professor dos Santos.
April 2015 saw further support for an Indonesian Atlantis with the publication of a book by a hydraulic engineer, Dhani Irwanto, who endeavours to identify features of the lost city with details in Plato’s account with a site in the Java Sea off the coast of the island of Kilmantan. He has now published a YouTube video in support of his theory(h).
In 2019, Irwanto published two new books, the first, Sundaland: Tracing the Cradle of Civilisations , in which he offers a compelling case for considering emigrants from a submerging Sundaland as bringers of embryonic civilisation to other lands, where it flourished and developed local variants. It crossed my mind that Irwanto’s contention might explain the origins of the likes of the Sumerian civilisation, among others, which have never been satisfactorily settled!
The second book, Land of Punt , is another interesting offering in which the author suggests that Punt and the biblical Ophir can be equated with Atlantis, located in Sundaland. However, this idea conflicts with a growing consensus(k) that places Punt in the region of the Horn of Africa or across the Red Sea in Arabia.
A 2016 series of graphics shows the gradual inundation of Sundaland from 18,000 BC onwards(g).
Thorwald C. Franke has drawn attention(j) to a recent controversy in Malaya where historian Zaharah Sulaiman has claimed that the Malay set of mtDNA is 63,000 years old, dating back to a time long before the submergence of Sundaland. It seems that Sulaiman had built her claim on some of Oppenheimer’s writings. This veiled suggestion of some sort of racial superiority, through antiquity, was disputed locally.(i)
Ahmad Yanuana Samantho published Atlantis Nusantara  in 2015, which purports to build on the work of Arysio dos Santos with additional data that the author (or publisher) describes as ‘spectacular’. Unfortunately, the 538-page book is only available in Indonesian. Nusantara is generally used to describe the Indonesian archipelago.
William Lauritzen is a graduate of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. At the age of 21, he received a master’s degree in Industrial Psychology from Purdue University. He was discharged from the Air Force as a pacifist.>He has taught psychology at Los Angeles City College and also taught for 8 years at a national university in China, Xiamen University.<
Lauritzen claims to have been the first, in 1995, to offer the idea that the periodic eruptions of Krakatau on the Sunda Shelf may have eventually developed into the Atlantis story. His website(a) promotes Sundaland as the real location of Atlantis. This view has recently received support from Robert Schoch generally considered an Atlantis sceptic.
In January 2011 Lauritzen published his The Invention of God in which he traces the influence that natural catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions have had on the development of mythologies and religions. Unlike other authors who have sought to explain many mythological references as disguised accounts of encounters with extraterrestrial bodies, Lauritzen prefers to interpret much of the imagery as distorted descriptions of more earthly phenomena such as volcanoes. This makes sense when you consider the infrequency with which comets or asteroids collide with the earth in contrast with the relative regularity and spread of volcanic eruptions.>Lauritzen’s book should be listed under geomythology.<
Lauritzen also published a ‘companion’ to The Invention of God entitled Atlantis 2012. This short work,>which is no longer listed<, was padded out with extensive excerpts from Critias and Timaeus, is a review of Lauritzen’s contention that Atlantis had been located on the Sunda Shelf before its submergence following the last Ice Age.
>Like many other commentators Lauritzen considers Atlantis to be part fact and part fiction.(b) Although, he did have an article on site regarding Atlantis(a), this has been removed(c)!<
Indonesia in recent years have seen an increasing number of supporters for the idea of Atlantis being located in the vicinity of today’s archipelago, prior to the ending of the last Ice Age, on the submerged continental shelf now frequently referred to as Sundaland. The redating of cave paintings on the island of Sulawesi suggests that they are as old as any in Europe(h), possibly stretching back as far as 40,000 years. A 2016 report(j) has now pushed back the earliest human occupation on Sulawesi to 100,000 years ago.
As far as I can ascertain the earliest suggested linkage between Atlantis and Indonesia came from the leading Theosophist, C. W.Leadbeater (1854-1934). In a booklet, The Occult History of Java, published in 1951 he proposed that Java had been an Atlantean colony.
However, it is reported(g) that Sukarno (1901-1970), the first president of Indonesia, spoke of Atlantis nearly half a century ago when he located it in the Atlantic
William Lauritzen was probably the first to advocate this idea of a Sundaland connection on his website, but it seems that the concept was given a huge boost by the publication of the late professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos’ book Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found.
The idea was given a boost in February 2012 when it was reported(a) by a somewhat incredulous Jakarta Post that the Indonesian president had given his support to a search for an ancient sunken civilisation in Indonesian waters following meetings with researchers including British author Stephen Oppenheimer.
May 2013 saw The Jakarta Post report(b) the publication of a book by local geologist, Danny Hilman Natawidjaja in which he claims that Atlantis was part of prehistoric Indonesia. In the book, entitled Penemuan Atlantis Nusantara (The Discovery of Atlantis in the Archipelago) he claims to base his theory on Plato’s text. However, commenting on the book the Indonesian archaeologist Daud Aris Tanudirjo said that Natawidjaja’s claim was ‘premature’, pointing out that the author had only an English translation of Plato’s text to work with and suggesting that Natawidjaja had no knowledge of ancient Greek. Further background information was subsequently made available(c).
Natawidjaja also claims that a site at Gunung Padang, 120 km southwest of Jakarta may be more than 9,000 years old! Graham Hancock has expanded on this idea(e). Nevertheless, a recent assault on Natawidjaja’s theories in an open letter(m) from Rebecca Bradley, has laid bare the weaknesses in his contentions.
In 2015 Dahni Irwanto published Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea, in which he located the biblical Garden of Eden and the legendary island of Taprobane on the Indonesian island of Kilimantan (Borneo) and placed Atlantis off its coast. Irwanto has built on the work of Santos, expanding Santos’ 32-checklist to 60 headings. In his well illustrated book Irwanto goes further with the suggestion that Atlantean Indonesia was a cultural centre from which post-diluvian refugees spread throughout the world influencing the great civilisations of Asia, the Mediterranean and the Americas.(p.143) He subsequently published Sundaland: Tracing the Cradle of Civilization (1618) in which he develops his idea that ancient Indonesia was a hyperdiffusionist hub. Although I found this book interesting, I thought it over speculative.
While Irwanto’s theories may be hard to accept, at least he presents then in a rational coherent manner, the same cannot be said of Turangga Seta, an Indonesian Atlantis-obsessed group, who place Atlantis in the Java Sea. Their leader, Timmy Hartadi, explains that their beliefs are based on psychic conversations with their ancestors!(n)
Coincidentally, Delisle de Sales, writing in the 18th century cited an anonymous source who placed Atlantis in Taprobane, considered at the time to be a reference to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), not Irwanto’s Indonesian Kilmantan.
A short April 2016 blog(k) suggests that Quranic Archaeology may be used to support the idea of an Indonesian Atlantis, a sentiment expressed again a month later(l).
(a) See: Archive 3629
(k) https://www.islamsejati.com/2016/03/ahli-arkeologi-fakta-dari-al-quran.html (offline Jan. 2017)
Zia Abbas, according to his own website(a), is a computer scientist and works as a freelance software engineer and consultant for many companies. He is the author of Atlantis: The Final Solution in which he claims to prove that Plato’s Atlantis is to be found in the South China Sea. The core proposal of this book is that Atlantis was located on the continental shelf in the South China Sea, known as Sundaland, which was exposed before the end of the last Ice Age, when it was inundated as the glaciers retreated. According to Abbas, this large landmass contained the original Atlantis and was known as Idress. It is quite probable that early urban settlements did exist along the coast and at the river mouths of Sundaland, and were subsequently flooded. However, it is quite improbable that the flooding of these towns and villages were the inspiration for the Atlantis of Plato. Remember that at the same time, similar inundations were taking place much closer to home in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and these events are more likely to have been remembered in the legends and myths familiar to Plato. The prehistoric flooding of the Sundaland region is covered extensively in Stephen Oppenheimer’s Eden in the East.
Abas is no trailblazer, as the idea of Atlantis in this region has been advocated since 1997 by investigators such as the late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos(b) and William Lauritzen(c). Abbas’ theory is just a poor rehash of their ideas and his particular book has done little to advance their acceptance.
On the first page, Abbas claims that Atlantis was a republic, which seems rather strange for a confederation ruled by ten kings. He states that Athena was a ‘god’ of Atlantis, a claim that would have surprised Plato. Abbas also asserts that Atlantis is to be found in the Old Testament under the name of Enoch!
Further incongruity is encountered when we find that Abbas’ website includes a technical paper on Gravitation and Special Relativity.
This book is high on speculation and low on science. For many, the author’s credibility will completely vanish as soon as they encounter references to reptilian aliens a la David Icke, artificial structures on Mars or a hollow Earth. This is all a far cry from the Dialogues of Plato and probably explains the poor reviews that the book has received. Abbas also provides a website(c) that does very little to add to his cause.
*There has been little heard from Abbas in recent years, when the Atlantis in Sundaland theory has been advocated more strongly by dos Santos and Irwanto.*
(c) https://www.geocities.com/zia abbas/index.htm
Jelle Zeilinga de Boer is anemeritus professor of geology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and co-author of Volcanoes in Human History [together with fellow geologist Donald Theodore Sanders. Chapter three of their book is entitled ‘The Bronze Age Eruption of Thera: Destroyer of Atlantis and Minoan Crete?’ in which they add their weight to the suggestion that the Theran eruption played a part in the development of the story of Atlantis (p.70).
What is remarkable is that the two geologists were apparently so seduced by the Minoan Hypothesis and in spite of Plato’s clear statement that Atlantis was destroyed by an earthquake they were prepared to contradict him and support instead the idea that a volcanic eruption was responsible. They also link the eruption with the Flood of Deucalion. In 2005 they co-authored a companion book, Earthquakes in Human History.
Some of Zeilinga de Boer’s views coincide with those of William Lauritzen as expressed in his recent book, The Invention of God. Haraldur Sigurdsson the volcanologist, has also suggested that volcanic eruptions, particularly Thera, have influenced the development of Greek myths such as Hesiod’s Theogony and Plato’s Atlantis!
Divine Retribution is the explanation offered by Plato (Crit. 121c) for the destruction of Atlantis in a manner which for us is reminiscent of the biblical tale of Noah and many other flood stories. Some modern writers such as Maxine Asher have promoted this concept of godly reprisal. However, there is one important element missing from Plato’s narrative, namely, the salvation of a chosen few. The idea that the entire story of Atlantis was concocted by Plato as some form of parable is incompatible with the elimination of both (bad) Atlanteans AND (good) Athenians (Tim.25d). Consequently, if Plato was not relating some form of invented morality tale, we are entitled to recondider the probability that he was transmitting a story with a core of historical truth.
The earthquake and tsunami of 1755 that destroyed Lisbon and which killed up to 100,000 people is just another example of how divine retribution has been invoked as the cause of catastrophe. For those that accepted this explanation, all it did was consolidate the power of the church and its clergy. For me, the event was just an example of twisted divine humour, when people were killed in churches and synagogues while the red-light district was left virtually intact(f).
The idea of a god on a punishment spree arose more recently when both Christian(e) and Muslim(d) survivors attributed the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean on December 2004 to divine retribution for the wickedness of man. Similar comments were expressed following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal(g). This modern knee-jerk reaction may explain the inclusion of similar sentiments in so many ancient flood stories.
William Lauritzen is a leading advocate of Atlantis having been situatedon the Sunda Shelf where Indonesia is located today. He provides a more rational explanation for the tsunami tragedy in a new eBook(a) where he explains that the unstable geology of the area which caused the recent tragedy also destroyed Atlantis.
The following year the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in new Orleans was once again credited to the whims of a bad-tempered divinity.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti produced a further stream of ‘divine retribution’ claims, among which were those from American evangelist Pat Robertson, who attributed the cause to the ‘satanic’ voodoo beliefs of many Haitians and somewhat surprisingly from the well-known movie actor Danny Glover who claimed that the earthquake was god’s response to the failure of the 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen!!!
Charles Pellegrino expressed it well, when he wrote in Return to Sodom and Gomorrah[821.120], “when an explanation is sought for evil events in a presumably just universe, history brands the people villains because they became victims, victims because they became villains.”
All these nonsensical claims demonstrate that god has either an appalling sense of justice, executing good and bad with equal vigour or, as is my personal belief, that he/she/it does not exist at all. Tectonic fault lines and their attendant hazards exist irrespective of the moral behaviour of people living in their vicinity. Similarly, hurricanes sweep into the Caribbean and the southern United States every year bringing death and destruction, not because the people in the area are inherently evil, but because particular meteorological conditions exist in the region that cyclically generate hurricanes.
It is fairly clear then that a fault line existed in the vicinity of Atlantis, a fact which should help to identify or at least eliminate some suggested locations. Coincidentally, a BBC documentary How the Earth Made Us, aired today, highlighted the fact that many of the most important ancient cities were sited near fault lines in order to exploit the mineral resources that are frequently to be found associated with them.
Another ‘prophecy of doom’, from the late V.M.Rabolú (1926-2000), is that a planet five or six times the size of Jupiter, is approaching earth to destroy it, because of mankind’s wickedness. Rabolú claims to have travelled in his Astral Body to Venus and Mars and witnessed the inhabitants of those planets. He also points to the destruction of Atlantis being the result of the greed of its inhabitants. All this and more drivel is available in a free booklet, written by Rabolú, from the Alcione Association(b).
The concept of divine retribution was given a further twist in January 2014 when a British politician and member of UKIP, David Silvester, claimed(c) that the recent severe flooding in his country was a consequence of the same-sex marriage policy of the British government. Rain in Ireland seems a little heavier lately, following the referendum vote here in favour same-sex marriage!
My final comment is a reflection on the fact that many western legal systems incorporate the concept of divine intervention with the use of the term ‘Act of God’ to describe catastrophic natural events leading to loss of life or property. Is it not time that such happenings be more accurately redefined as ‘natural but unanticipated’.
In February 2016 a paper was published(h) in Nature magazine with the interesting title of “ Moralistic gods, supernatural punishment and the expansion of human sociality”.