Zapp & Erikson
National Geographic or Nat Geo are registered trademarks of the National Geographic Society and are now, sadly, part of the Murdoch communications empire. Its magazine and TV channel enjoy global recognition. Undoubtedly, NG has enhanced our view of the world around us. One piece of NG trivia is that the word ‘tsunami’ first appeared in an English language publication in the September 1896 edition of National Geographic Magazine.
Generally, NG has avoided controversy, but not always(a) , so it will be interesting to see how its new chief James Murdoch, a climate change denier(b), will deal with the NG views on the subject up ’til now(c) . However, for me, it was something of a surprise when NG tackled the subject of Atlantis.
In 2004 NG News published a short article(d) highlighting the theories of Ulf Erlingsson and Rainer Kühne, who, respectively, were advocates for Ireland and Spain as Atlantis locations. Also in 2004, Zeilitsky and Weinzweig claimed to have found submerged man-made structures near Cuba and subsequently sought US government funding for further research there. It has been suggested that NG objected and further exploration did not take place! In 2006 NG gave the Atlantis in America theory of Zapp & Erikson an airing(e).
However, in 2012, Andrew Collins offered a different account of the Zelitsky funding difficulties(m).
In a short 2011 article(l)., NG trotted out the now generally abandoned idea that Atlantis had been a continent. The idea was obviously later dumped by NG as well, when James Cameron et al. went looking for Atlantis in Malta, Sardinia and Santorini in 2016.
December 2012 saw NG publish an article on Doggerland, without any reference to the suggestion that there might be an Atlantis connection. NG has also voiced the scepticism of well-known commentators, such as Robert Ballard and Charles E. Orser jnr(f).
However, I find that the NG treatment of Atlantis inconsistent. In October 2011 an anonymous article(k) on one of their sites, entitled The Truth Behind Atlantis: Facts, declared that Atlantis was continental in size (and so must have been located in an Ocean?) This is based on a misinterpretation of the Greek word meison. Nevertheless last year NG had Simcha Jacobovici, remotely guided by James Cameron, scouring the Mediterranean, from Spain to Sardinia, Malta, and Crete for evidence of Atlantis. This attention-seeking exercise found nothing a few stone anchors that proved nothing and inflicted on viewers an overdose of speculation!
NatGeo TV aired a documentary(g) in 2015 relating to earlier excavations in the Doñana Marshes of Southern Spain by a Spanish team and partly hijacked by Richard Freund. A new NG documentary, hyped with the involvement of James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, was filmed in 2016, and later broadcast at the end of January 2017. Initially, it was thought by Robert Ishoy to be in support of his Atlantis location of Sardinia, but at the same time Diaz-Montexano was convinced that his Afro-Iberian theory was to be the focus of the film. To coincide with the airing of the new documentary D-M has published a new book, NG National Geographic and the scientific search for Atlantis with both English and Spanish editions.
Jason Colavito was promised a screener but had the offer subsequently withdrawn. One wonders why?
Once again NG promotes the region of the Doñana Marshes as a possible location for Atlantis(i), based on rather flimsy evidence, such as six ancient anchors found just outside the Strait of Gibraltar. They estimate the age of the anchors at 3,000-4,000 years old but. unfortunately, they are not marked ‘made in Atlantis’. Rabbi Richard Freund, never afraid to blow his own shofar, makes another NG appearance. Jacobovici throws in the extraordinary claim that the Jewish menorah represents the concentric circles of the Atlantean capital cut in half, a daft idea, previously suggested by Prof. Yahya Ababni(k).
What I cannot understand is why this documentary spends time dismissing Santorini and Malta as possible locations for Plato’s Atlantis and at the same time ignoring the only unambiguous geographical clue that he left us, namely that the Atlantis alliance occupied part of North Africa and in Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Tuscany) and presumably some of the islands between the two.
Overall, I think the NG documentaries have done little to advance the search for Atlantis as they seem to be driven by TV ratings ahead of truth. Perhaps, more revealing is that Cameron is not fully convinced by the speculative conclusions of this documentary.
Jason Colavito, an arch-sceptic regarding Atlantis has now published a lengthy scathing review(j) of NG’s Atlantis Rising, which is well worth a read. While I do not agree with Colavito’s dismissal of the existence of Atlantis, I do endorse the litany of shortcomings he identified in this documentary.
(d) See: Archive 3582
The Flora and Fauna of Atlantis is mentioned by Plato in Critias;
“Besides all this, the earth bore freely all the aromatic substances it bears today, roots, herbs, bushes and gums exuded by flowers or fruit. There were cultivated crops, cereals which provide our staple diet. And pulse (to use its generic name) which we need in addition to feed us; there were the fruits of trees, hard to store but providing the drink and food and oil which gives us pleasure and relaxation and which we serve after supper as a welcome refreshment to the weary when appetite is satisfied – all these were produced by that sacred island, then still beneath the sun, in wonderful quality and profusion.” (115a-b)
The lack of sufficient detail in the extract from Critias has led to a variety of interpretations. Jürgen Spanuth in support of his North Sea location for Atlantis has claimed[015.68] that during the Bronze Age the snow line in that region was higher than at any other time since the last Ice Age at 1,900 metres. He claims that as a result, grapes and wheat were cultivated there during that period.
The existence of the same species plants and animals on both sides of the Atlantic has been noted for some time, so when the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) was discovered in the 19th century and subsequently combined with the realisation that sea levels had dropped during the last Ice Age, it was thought that a stepping-stone/s, if not an actual landbridge, between the continents had been identified. This idea was popular with many geologists and botanists at the beginning of the 20th century, such R.F. Scharff and H.E. Forrest, both of whom also saw the MAR as the location of Atlantis, an idea that still persists today. Emmet Sweeney is a modern writer who also sees the earlier exposed MAR as an explanation for the shared transatlantic biota and is happy to identify the Azores as the last remnants of Atlantis.
Andrew Collins has attempted to squeeze a reference to coconuts out of this text to support his Caribbean location for Atlantis. However, coconuts were not introduced into that region until colonial times(c). Ivar Zapp & George Erikson, driven by similar motivations had made the same claim earlier. My reading of the text is that Plato is describing food with which he is personally familiar.
Mary Settegast points out that around 7300 BC there is evidence of crop rotation including cereals at the Tell Aswad site in Syria.
The olive tree thrives best in the regions with a Mediterranean climate. Olive trees are mainly found between 25° and 45° N. latitude and, as for France, only in the Mediterranean area.
Ignatius Donnelly devoted Chapter VI(a) of his Atlantis tome to a review of the Atlantean flora and fauna. The print media at the start of the 20th century kept the general public aware of these theories(b).