The Sunken Kingdom
The Sunken Kingdom , by Peter James, offers a dramatic new theory regarding the location of Atlantis. James is convinced that the story of Atlantis originally came from Western Turkey. In common with most ‘discoverers’ of Atlantis, James reviews the theories of his predecessors, in particular the Minoan Hypothesis, and discounts them in a manner that will nudge the reader towards the greater logic of his thesis.
James postulates that Plato had mistaken Solon’s account of Atlantis as originating in Egypt, when in fact; Solon had travelled widely, including Lydia in western Anatolia, while there, it is claimed that he spoke with King Croesus and Aesop the noted fabulist. One might consider whether it is possible that there was some confusion between Solon’s notes, supposedly held by Plato’s family, from Egypt and Lydia? James sees the story of Tantalis being manipulated by Solon to include local Lydian mythology and history and moving their geographical location westward to give him scope to produce an epic poem on the scale of Homer’s Illiad. Unfortunately, he got around to developing this work and his notes led to misunderstandings in Plato’s inclusion of them in his story of Atlantis. James discusses in detail the evidence for a parallel between the Lydian Tantalus and the Greek Atlas, a view long accepted by scholars.
Tradition has it that Tantalus founded a city named Tantalis, which was shattered by an earthquake and drowned beneath a lake. As a result of his own investigations in Turkey, this lake is believed by James to be, the now dry, Lake Saloe. Some classical writers have identified Tantalis as the ancestral seat of the Mycenaean kings.
The echoes of Plato’s tale led James to seek tangible evidence for this piece of folklore. Inspired by the writer Pausanias, James has identified an area near present day Manisa Dagh (Mt Sipylus) situated about 20 miles inland from Izmir (ancient Smyrna) as the probable site of the city of Tantalis. It is worth adding that the region around Izmir is in one of the worst earthquake zones in the world.
Confirmation, or otherwise, of James’ ideas will only come from archaeological excavation at his proposed site near Manisa Dagh, permission for which has so far been unforthcoming from the Turkish authorities.