Location hypotheses of Atlantis

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A map showing the supposed extent of the Atlantean Empire. From Ignatius L. Donnelly's Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, 1882.[1]
Karte der Lokalisierungshypothesen zu Atlantis.jpg

Location hypotheses of Atlantis are various proposed real-world settings for the legendary island of Atlantis, described as a lost civilization mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 B.C. In these dialogues, a character named Critias claims that an island called Atlantis was swallowed by the sea about 9,200 years previously. According to the dialogues, this story was passed down to him through his grandfather, Dropides, who in turn got it from Solon, the famous Athenian lawmaker who got the story from an Egyptian sanctuary. Plato's dialogues locate the island in the Atlantic Pelagos "Atlantic Sea",[2] "in front of" the Pillars of Hercules (Ηράκλειες Στήλες) and facing a district called modern Gades or Gadira (Gadiron), a location that some modern Atlantis researchers associate with modern Gibraltar; however various locations have been proposed.

A 17th century artwork of Olof Rudbeck dissecting the world and revealing the secret location of Atlantis (which he believed to be hidden in Sweden). He is surrounded by other well-known figures of antiquity such as Plato, Aristotle and Homer.

North-West of Egypt: From Greece to Spain[edit]

Hypothesized locations of Atlantis in the Mediterranean.

Most theories of the placement of Atlantis center on the Mediterranean, influenced largely by the geographical location of Egypt from which the story allegedly is derived.

Thera (Santorini)[edit]

Satellite image of the Island of Thera, also called Santorini. Clockwise from center: Nea Kameni; Palea Kameni; Aspronisi; Therasia; Thera

The theory that Thera was the site of the capital of Atlantis was suggested by Angelos Galanopoulos in 1960.[3]

Soon after the discovery of the Minoan civilization at Knossos on Crete by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900, theories linking the disappearance of this advanced empire with the destruction of Atlantis were proposed by K. T. Frost in 1913 and E. S. Balch in 1917. This theory was revived by Spyridon Marinatos in 1950 and P. B. S. Andrews in 1967.[4] More recent archaeological, seismological, and vulcanological evidence[5][6][7] (Recent arguments for Akrotiri being Atlantis have been popularized on television in shows such as The History Channel show Lost Worlds episode "Atlantis"[8][9]) has expanded the asserted connection of Crete, the island of Santorini, and the Minoan civilization with Plato's description of Atlantis. Evidence said to advance this idea includes:

  • The Minoan palace and buildings discovered at the digs at Knossos on Crete and at Akrotiri on the island of Thera have revealed that the Minoans possessed advanced engineering knowledge enabling the construction of three- and four-story buildings with intricate water piping systems, advanced air-flow management, and earthquake-resistant wood and masonry walls. This level of technology was, it is said, far ahead of that found on mainland Greece at the time.
  • Thera (also called Santorini) is the site of a massive volcanic caldera with an island at its center. Vulcanologists have determined that the island was engulfed by a volcanic eruption, the Thera eruption, around 1600 BC. The event, referred to as the Minoan eruption, was among the most powerful eruptions occurring in the history of civilization, ejecting approximately 60 km³ of material, leaving a layer of pumice and ash 10 to 80 meters thick for 20 to 30 km in all directions and having widespread effects across the eastern Mediterranean region.[10] Volcanic events of this magnitude are known to generate tsunamis and archaeological evidence suggests that such a tsunami may have devastated the coastal Minoan settlements on Crete.[7] Plato did not describe a volcanic eruption, although the events he described as "sunk by an earthquake" or "violent earthquakes, and only a flood (in singular)", could perhaps be intrepreted as consistent with such an eruption and the resulting tsunami.[11]
  • Plato described quarries on Atlantis where "one kind of stone was white, another black, and a third red",[12] writing that these stones were quarried from the island and used in the construction. Rocks like this are found on Santorini.[citation needed]
  • The center of the metropolis of Atlantis was described as being laid out in circular manner, surrounded by three circular concentric pits of seawater and two earth-rings, each connected to the sea by a deep canal. Docks for a large number of ships, with a causeway, were also mentioned. Scientists reconstructing the shape of the island prior to the eruption have concluded that there was a ring configuration with only one narrow entrance to a larger lagoon with islands inside, much as Plato described.[13] One fresco in the ruins of Akrotiri is believed to be a landscape of the city. It shows a large city in an island in the center of the caldera lagoon.
  • The ancient Greek for "between" and "larger" are easily confused in transcription and translation, so "larger than Asia and Libya", might have originally read "between Asia and Libya",[citation needed]which is how Classical Greeks would have described Thera and Crete.
Fresco found at Akrotiri

Near Cyprus[edit]

It has been argued by Robert Sarmast, an American architect, that the lost city of Atlantis lies at the bottom of the eastern Mediterranean within the Cyprus Basin.[14] In his book and on his web site, he argues that images prepared from sonar data of the sea bottom of the Cyprus Basin southeast of Cyprus show features resembling man-made structures on it at depths of 1,500 meters. He interprets these features as being artificial structures that are part of the lost city of Atlantis as described by Plato. According to his ideas, several characteristics of Cyprus, including the presence of copper and extinct Cyprus Dwarf Elephants and local place names and festivals (Kataklysmos), support his identification of Cyprus as once being part of Atlantis. As with many other theories concerning the location of Atlantis, Sarmast speculates that its destruction by catastrophic flooding is reflected in the story of Noah's Flood in Genesis.

In part, Sarmast[14] bases his claim that Atlantis can be found offshore of Cyprus beneath 0.9 mile (1.5 km) of water on an abundance of evidence that the Mediterranean Sea dried up during the Messinian Salinity Crisis when its level dropped by 2 to 3 miles (3.2 to 4.9 km) below the level of the Atlantic Ocean as the result of tectonic uplift blocking the inflow of water through Strait of Gibraltar.[15] Separated from the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea either partly or completely dried up as the result of evaporation. As a result, its formerly submerged bottom turned into a desert with large saline and brackish lakes. This area all was flooded when a ridge collapsed allowing the catastrophic flooding through the Straits of Gibraltar. However, Sarmast disagrees with mainstream geologists, oceanographers, and paleontologists[16][17] in arguing that the closing of the Straits of Gibraltar; the desiccation and subaerial exposure of the floor of the Mediterranean Sea; and its catatstrophic flooding has occurred "forty times or more times in its long and turbulent existence" and that "the age of each of these events is unknown."[18] In the same interview, he also contradicts what mainstream geologists, oceanographers, and paleontologists argue[16][17] in claiming that "Scientists know that roughly 18,000 years ago, there was not just one Mediterranean Sea, but three." However, he does not specify who these scientists are; nor does he cite peer-reviewed scientific literature that supports this claim.

Marine and other geologists,[15][19] who have also studied the bottom of the Cyprus basin, and professional archaeologists completely disagree with his interpretations.[20] Investigations by Dr. C. Hübscher of the Institut für Geophysik, Universität Hamburg, Germany, and others of the salt tectonics and mud volcanism within the Cyprus Basin, eastern Mediterranean Sea, demonstrated that the features which Sarmast interprets to be Atlantis consist only of a natural compressional fold caused by local salt tectonics and a slide scar with surficial compressional folds at the downslope end and sides of the slide.[19] This research collaborates seismic data shown and discussed in the Atlantis: New Revelations 2-hour Special episode of Digging for the Truth, a History Channel documentary television series. Using reflection seismology, this documentary demonstrated techniques that what Sarmast interpreted to be artificial walls are natural tectonic landforms.

Furthermore, the interpretation of the age and stratigraphy of sediments blanketing the bottom of the Cyprus Basin from sea bottom cores containing Pleistocene and older marine sediments and thousands of kilometers of seismic lines from the Cyprus and adjacent basins clearly demonstrates that the Mediterranean Sea last dried up during the Messinian Salinity Crisis between 5.59 and 5.33 million years ago.[15][19][21][22][23] For example, research conducted south of Cyprus as part of Leg 160 of the Ocean Drilling Project recovered from Sites 963, 965, and 966 cores of sediments underlying the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea at depths as shallow as 470, 1506, and 1044 meters (1540, 4940, and 3420 ft) below sea level. Thus, these cores came from parts of sea bottom of the eastern Mediterranean Sea that either lie above or at the depth of Sarmast's Atlantis, which lies at depths between 1460 and 1510 meters (4820 and 4950 ft) below mean sea level.[19] These cores provide a detailed and continuous record of sea level that demonstrates that for millions of years at least during the entire Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene epochs that the feature that Sarmast interprets to be Atlantis and its adjacent sea bottom were always submerged below sea level.[21] Therefore, the entire Cyprus Basin, including the ridge where Sarmast claims that Atlantis is located, has been submerged beneath the Mediterranean Sea for millions of years.[17] Since its formation, the sea bottom feature identified by Sarmast as "Atlantis" has always been submerged beneath over a kilometer of water.[19]

Helike[edit]

A. Giovannini has argued that the submergence of the Greek city of Helike in 373 BC, i.e. while Plato was alive, may have been the inspiration for a totally fictional story about Atlantis.[24] The claim that Helike is the inspiration for Plato's Atlantis is also supported by Dora Katsonopoulou and Steven Soter.[25]

Sardinia[edit]

In 2002 the Italian journalist Sergio Frau published a book, Le colonne d'Ercole ("Pillars of Hercules"), in which he states that before Eratosthenes, all the ancient Greek writers located the Pillars of Hercules on the Strait of Sicily between Sicily and Tunisia, while only Alexander the Great's conquest of the east obliged Eratosthenes to move the pillars at Gibraltar in his description of the world.[26]

According to his thesis, the Atlantis described by Plato could be identified with Sardinia. He argues that a tsunami once hit Sardinia which destroyed the enigmatic Nuragic civilization and that the survivors migrated to the nearby Italian peninsula, founding the Etruscan civilization (which is now thought to have come from the Eastern Mediterranean).

In April 2005, the theories of the Sergio Frau were debated at a conference organized by UNESCO in Paris. At the same time, an exposition of his findings was on display in the UNESCO building.[27]

Sicily[edit]

The concept of the identification of Atlantis with the island of Sicily is the idea that the Italians were involved in the Sea Peoples movement (a similar story to Plato's account), that the name "Atlas" may have been derived from "Italos" via the Middle Egyptian language, and Plato's descriptions of the island and the city of Atlantis share several traits with Sicily and its Bronze Age culture.[28][29]

Malta[edit]

Malta, being situated in the dividing line between the western and eastern Mediterranean sea, and being the home to the oldest man-made structures in the world, is considered a possible location of Atlantis both by some current researchers[30] and by Maltese amateur enthusiasts.[31]

In Malta: Echoes of Plato's Island (2000), Anton Mifsud, Simon Mifsud, Chris Agius Sultana and Charles Savona Ventura catalogues the many archaeological sites and ancient remains in Malta that could be related to Atlantis.[32]

In Malta fdal Atlantis (Maltese remains of Atlantis) (2002), Francis Galea writes about several older studies and hypotheses, particularly that of Maltese architect Giorgio Grongnet, who in 1854 claimed that the Maltese Islands are the remnants of Atlantis.[33] Already 1828, the same Giorgo Grongnet was involved in a scandal concerning forged findings which were intended to provide a "proof" for the claim that Malta was Atlantis.[34]

North-East of Egypt: From Middle East to the Black Sea[edit]

Middle East[edit]

The Sinai peninsula and the present day Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian territories

Jaime Manuschevich argues that the real place of the mythical civilization is the territory that today corresponds to Israel and Sinai,[35] and that this region was an island in the Great Rift Valley,[36] surrounded by the Jezreel Valley on the north, the Dead Sea and Red Sea on the east and the Gulf of Suez and the Mediterranean on the west until 5600 BC. In addition, Manuschevich proposes that Atlantean civilization corresponds to the Natufian peoples, the first food-producing people, whose main political and harbor center was Jericho. These people lived in the region in the dates established by Plato (11,600 BC).

Turkey[edit]

Peter James, in his book The Sunken Kingdom, identifies Atlantis with the kingdom of Zippasla. He argues that Solon did indeed gather the story on his travels, but in Lydia, not Egypt as Plato states; that Atlantis is identical with Tantalis, the city of Tantalus in Asia Minor, which was (in a similar tradition known to the Greeks) said to have been destroyed by an earthquake; that the legend of Atlantis' conquests in the Mediterranean is based on the revolt by King Madduwattas of Zippasla against Hittite rule; that Zippasla is identical with Sipylus, where Greek tradition placed Tantalis; and that the now vanished lake to the north of Mount Sipylus was the site of the city.[37]

Troy[edit]

The geoarchaeologist Eberhard Zangger has proposed the hypothesis that Atlantis was in fact the city state of Troy.[38] He both agrees and disagrees with Rainer W. Kühne: He too believes that the Trojans-Atlanteans were the sea peoples, but only a minor part of them. He proposes that all Greek speaking city states of the Aegean civilization or Mycenae constituted the sea peoples and that they destroyed each other's economies in a series of semi-fratricidal wars lasting several decades.[39]

Black Sea[edit]

The rectangle has dimensions of approximately 555 km by 370 km (3000 to 2000 stadia - plain of Atlantis[40]). Circle held around Snake Island (potential candidate for the Capital of Atlantis[41]), located 35 km east of the Danube Delta

German researchers Siegfried and Christian Schoppe locate Atlantis in the Black Sea. Before 5500 BC, a great plain lay in the northwest at a former freshwater-lake. In 5510 BC, rising sea level topped the barrier at today's Bosporus. They identify the Pillars of Hercules with the Strait of Bosporus.[41] They gave no explanation how the ships of the merchants coming from all over the world had arrived at the harbour of Atlantis when it was 350 feet below global sea-level.

They claim Oreichalcos means the obsidian stone that used to be a cash-equivalent at that time and was replaced by the spondylus shell around 5500 BC, which would suit the red, white, black motif. The geocatastrophic event led to the neolithic diaspora in Europe, also beginning 5500 BC.

In 2000, the Guardian reported that Robert Ballard, in a small submarine, found remains of human habitation around 300 feet underwater in the Black Sea off the north coast of Turkey. The area flooded around 5000 BC. This flood is also believed to have inspired the Biblical story of Noah's Ark known as the Black Sea deluge theory.

Another candidate bordering the Black Sea, suggested by Hasan Umur in the 1940s, would be Ancomah, a legendary place near Trabzon.[42]

Around Gibraltar: Near to the Pillars of Hercules[edit]

Andalusia[edit]

Andalusia is a region in modern day southern Spain which once included the "lost" city of Tartessos, which disappeared in the 6th century BC. The Tartessians were traders known to the Ancient Greeks who knew of their legendary king Arganthonios. The Andalusian hypothesis was originally developed by the Spanish author Juan de Mariana and the Dutch author Johannes van Gorp (Goropius Becanus), both of the 16th century, later by Jose Pellicer de Ossau y Tovar in 1673, who suggested that the metropolis of Atlantis was between the islands Mayor and Menor, located almost in the center of the Doñana Marshes,[43] and expanded upon by Juan Fernández Amador y de los Ríos in 1919, who suggested that the metropolis of Atlantis was located precisely where today are the 'Marismas de Hinojo'.[44] These claims were made again in 1922 by the German author Adolf Schulten, and further propagated by Otto Jessen, Richard Hennig, Victor Berard, and Elena Wishaw in the 1920s. The suggested locations in Andalusia lie outside the Pillars of Hercules, and therefore beyond but close to the Mediterranean itself.

In 2005, based upon the work of Adolf Schulten, the German teacher Werner Wickboldt also claimed this to be the location of Atlantis.[45] Wickboldt suggested that the war of the Atlanteans refers to the war of the Sea Peoples who attacked the Eastern Mediterranean countries around 1200 BC and that the Iron Age city of Tartessos may have been built at the site of the ruined Atlantis. In 2000, Georgeos Diaz-Montexano published an article explaining his belief that Atlantis was located somewhere between Andalusia and Morocco.[46] An Andalusian location was also supported by Rainer W. Kühne in his article that appeared in the journal Antiquity.[47][48] Kühne's theory says: "Good fiction imitates facts. Plato declared that his Atlantis tale is philosophical fiction invented to describe his fictitious ideal state in the case of war. Kühne suggests that Plato has used three historical elements for this tale. (i) Greek tradition on Mycenaean Athens for the description of ancient Athens, (ii) Egyptian records on the wars of the Sea Peoples for the description of the war of the Atlanteans, and (iii) oral tradition from Syracuse about Tartessos for the description of the city and geography of Atlantis." According to Wickboldt, Satellite images show two rectangular shapes on the tops of two small elevations inside the marsh of Doñana which he hypothesizes are the "temple of Poseidon" and "the temple of Cleito and Poseidon".[49] On satellite images parts of several "rings" are recognizable, similar in their proportion with the ring system by Plato.[45] It is not known if any of these shapes are natural or manmade and archaeological excavations are planned.[50] Geologists have shown that the Doñana National Park experienced intense erosion from 4000 BC until 9th century AD, where it became a marine environment. For thousands of years until the Medieval Age, all that occupied the area of the modern Marshes Doñana was a gulf or inland sea-arm, but there was not even a small island with sufficient space to house a small village.[51][52][clarification needed]

In 2011, a team led by Richard Freund claimed to have found strong evidence for the location[where?] in Doñana National Park based on underground and underwater surveys, and the existence of what they characterized as "memorial cities" rebuilt in Atlantis's image.[53][54] Spanish scientists have dismissed Freund's claims claiming that he was sensationalising their work. The anthropologist Juan Villarías-Robles, who works with the Spanish National Research Council, said "Richard Freund was a newcomer to our project and appeared to be involved in his own very controversial issue concerning King Solomon's search for ivory and gold in Tartessos, the well documented settlement in the Donaña area established in the first millennium BC" and described his claims as 'fanciful'.[55]

Simcha Jacobovici, involved in the production of a documentary on Freund's work for the National Geographic Channel, stated that the biblical Tarshish (which he believes is the same as Tartessos) was Atlantis, and that "Atlantis was hiding in the Tanach". Aren Maeir, a professor of archeology at Bar-Ilan University said "a lot of people have made many crazy claims about Atlantis – it's one of those classic places where you have a lunatic fringe looking for all types of things. And Richard Freund is known as someone who makes ‘sensational’ finds. I would say that I am exceptionally skeptical about the thing, but I wouldn’t discount it 100% until I see the details, which haven’t been published as far as I know...every few years we hear something like this from him... And the fact that it's on National Geographic doesn’t mean much. Unfortunately, over the past years they’ve had many questionable programs.".[56]

Spartel Bank[edit]

Two hypotheses have put Spartel Bank, a submerged former island in the Strait of Gibraltar, as the location of Atlantis. The more well-known hypothesis was proposed in a September 2001 issue of Comptes Rendus de l'academie des Sciences by French geologist Jacques Collina-Girard.[57] The lesser-known hypothesis was first published by Spanish-Cuban investigator Georgeos Díaz-Montexano in an April 2000 issue of Spanish magazine Más Allá de la Ciencia (Beyond Science), and later in August 2001 issues of Spanish magazines El Museo (The Museum) and Año Cero (Year Zero).[58] The origin of Collina-Girard's hypothesis is disputed, with Díaz-Montexano claiming it as plagiarism of his own earlier hypothesis, and Collina-Girard denying any plagiarism. Both individuals claim the other's hypothesis is pseudoscience.[58][59]

Collina-Girard's hypothesis states that during the most recent Glacial Maximum of the Ice Age sea level was 135 m below its current level, narrowing the Gibraltar Strait and creating a small half-enclosed sea measuring 70 km by 20 km between the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean. The Spartel Bank formed an archipelago in this small sea with the largest island measuring about 10 to 12 kilometers across. With rising ocean levels the island began to slowly shrink, but then at around 9400 BC (11,400 years ago) there was an accelerated sea level rise of 4 meters per century known as Meltwater Pulse 1A, which drowned the top of the main island. The occurrence of a great earthquake and tsunami in this region, similar to the 1755 Lisbon earthquake (magnitude 8.5-9) was proposed by marine geophysicist Marc-Andrè Gutscher as offering a possible explanation for the described catastrophic destruction (reference — Gutscher, M.-A., 2005. Destruction of Atlantis by a great earthquake and tsunami? A geological analysis of the Spartel Bank hypothesis. Geology, v. 33, p. 685-688.) .[60] Collina-Girard proposes that the disappearance of this island was recorded in prehistoric Egyptian tradition for 5,000 years until it was written down by the first Egyptian scribes around 4000-3000 BC, and the story then subsequently inspired Plato to write a fictionalized version interpreted to illustrate his own principles.

A detailed review in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review comments on the discrepancies in Collina-Girard's dates and use of coincidences, concluding that he "has certainly succeeded in throwing some light upon some momentous developments in human prehistory in the area west of Gibraltar. Just as certainly, however, he has not found Plato's Atlantis."[61]

Morocco[edit]

Atlantis Nesos - The Island of Atlas.
Docks cut into red-white-black bedrock near Cap Ghir.

According to Michael Hübner, Atlantis core region was located in South-West Morocco at the Atlantic Ocean. In his papers[62][63][64] an approach to the analysis of Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias is described. By means of a hierarchical constraint satisfaction procedure, a variety of geographically relevant indications from Plato's accounts are used to infer the most probable location of Plato's Atlantis Nesos. The outcome of this is the Souss-Massa plain in today's South-West Morocco. This plain is surrounded by the High Atlas, the Anti-Atlas, the Sea of Atlas (Atlantis Thalassa, today's Atlantic Ocean). Because of this isolated position, Hübner argued, this plain was called Atlantis Nesos, the Island of Atlas by ancient Greeks before the Greek Dark Ages. The Amazigh (Berber) People actually call the Souss-Massa plain island. Of major archaeological interest is the fact that in the North-West of the Souss-Massa plain a large annular caldera-like geomorphologic structure was discovered. This structure has almost the dimensions of Plato's capital of Atlantis and is covered with hundreds of large and small prehistoric ruins of different types.[65] These ruins were made out of rocks coloured red, white and black. Hübner also shows possible harbour remains, an unusually geomorphological structure, which applies to Plato's description of roofed over docks, which were cut into red, white and black bedrock. These 'docks' are located close to the annular geomorphological structure and close to Cape Ghir, which was named Cape Heracles in antiquity. Hübner also argued, that Agadir is etymologically related to the semitic g-d-r and probably to Plato's Gadir. The semitic g-d-r means enclosure, fortification and sheep fold.[66] The meaning of enclosure, sheep fold corresponds to the Greek translation of the name Gadeiros (Crit. 114b) which is Eumelos = Rich in Sheep.[67]

Atlantic Ocean: West[edit]

Hypothesized location of Atlantis in worldwide, click image for greater detail

It has been claimed that when Plato wrote of the Sea of Atlantis, he may have been speaking of the area now called the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean's name, derived from Greek mythology, means the "Sea of Atlas". Plato remarked that, in describing the origins of Atlantis, this area was allotted to Poseidon. In Ancient Greek times the terms "Ocean" and "Atlas" both referred to the 'Giant Water' which surrounded the main landmass known at that time by the Greeks, which could be described as Eurafrasia (although this whole supercontinent was far from completely known to the Ancient Greeks), and thus this water mass was considered to be the 'end of the (known) world', for the same reason the name "Atlas" was given to the mountains near the Ocean, the Atlas Mountains, as they also denoted the 'end of the (known) world'.

Azores Islands[edit]

One of the suggested places for Atlantis is around the Azores Islands, a group of islands belonging to Portugal located about 900 miles (1500 km) west of the Portuguese coast. Some people believe the islands could be the mountain tops of Atlantis. Ignatius L. Donnelly, an American congressman, was perhaps the first one to talk about this possible location in his book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World.[68] Ignatius L. Donnelly also makes a connection to the mythical Aztlán.

The Azores are steep-sided volcanic seamounts that drop rapidly 1000 meters (about 3300 feet) to a plateau.[69] Cores taken from the plateau and other evidence shows that this area has been an undersea plateau for millions of years.[70][71] Ancient indicators, i.e. relict beaches, marine deposits, and wave cut-terraces, of Pleistocene shorelines and sea level show that the Azores Islands have not subsided to any significant degree. Instead, they demonstrate that some of these islands have actually risen during the Late and Middle Pleistocene. This is evidenced by relict, Pleistocene wave-cut platforms and beach sediments that now lie well above current sea level. For example, they have been found on Flores Island at elevations of 15-20, 35-45, ~100, and ~250 meters above current sea level.[72]

Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde[edit]

The Canary Islands have been identified as remnants of Atlantis by numerous authors. For example in 1803, Bory de Saint-Vincent in his Essai sur les îles fortunées et l'antique Atlantide proposed that the Canary Islands, along with the Madeira, and Azores, are what remained after Atlantis broke up. Many later authors, i.e. Lewis Spence in his The Problem of Atlantis, also identified the Canary Islands as part of Atlantis leftover from when it catastrophically sank.

Detailed geomorphic and geologic studies of the Canary Islands clearly demonstrate that over the last 4 million years, they have been steadily uplifted, without any significant periods of subsidence, by geologic processes such as erosional unloading, gravitational unloading, lithospheric flexure induced by adjacent islands, and volcanic underplating.[73] For example, Pliocene pillow lavas, which solidified underwater and now exposed on the northeast flanks of Gran Canaria, have been uplifted between 46 and 143 meters above sea level.[73] Also, marine deposits associated with lavas dated as being 4.1 and 9.3 million years old in Gran Canaria, ca. 4.8 million years old in Fuerteventura, and ca. 9.8 million years old in Lanzarote demonstrate that the Canary Islands have for millions of years undergone long term uplift without any significant, much less catastrophic, subsidence.[74][75] A series of raised, Pleistocene marine terraces, which become progressively older with age, on Fuerteventura indicate that it has risen in elevation at about 1.7 cm per thousand years for the past one million years. The elevation of the marine terrace for the highstand of sea level for the last interglacial period shows that this island has experienced neither subsidence nor significant uplift for the past 125,000 years.[76] Within the Cape Verde Islands, the detailed mapping and dating of 16 Pleistocene marine terraces and Pliocene marine conglomerate found that they have been uplifted throughout most of the Pleistocene and remained relatively stable without any significant subsidence since the last interglacial period.[77] Finally, detailed studies of the sedimentary deposits surrounding the Canary Islands have demonstrated, except for a narrow rim around each island exposed during glacial lowstands of sea level, a complete lack of any evidence for the ocean floor surrounding the Canary Islands having ever been above water.[78][79]

Northern Spain[edit]

According to Jorge Maria Ribero-Meneses,[80] Atlantis was in northern Spain. He specifically argues that Atlantis is the underwater plateau, known internationally as "Le Danois Bank" and locally as "The Cachucho". It is located about 25 kilometers from the continental shelf and about 60 km off the coast of Asturias, and Lastres between Ribadesella. Its top is now 425 meters below the sea. It is 50 kilometers from east to west and 18 km from north to south. Ribero-Meneses hypothesized that is part of the continental margin that broke off at least 12000 years ago as the result of tectonic processes that occurred at the end of the last ice age. He argues that they created a tsunami with waves with heights of hundreds of meters and that the few survivors had to start virtually from scratch.[81]

Detailed studies[82] of the geology of the Le Danois Bank region have refuted the hypothesis proposed by Jorge Maria Ribero-Meneses that the Le Danois Bank was created by the collapse of the northern Cantabrian continental margin about 12,000 years ago. The Le Danois Bank represents part of the continental margin that have been uplifted by thrust faulting when the continental margin overrode oceanic crust during the Paleogene and Neogene periods. Along the northern edge of the Le Danois Bank, Precambrian granulite and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks have been thrust northward over Miocene and Oligocene marine sediments. The basin separating the Le Danois Bank from the Cantabrian continental margin to the south is a graben that simultaneously formed as a result of normal faulting associated with the thrust faulting.[82][83] In addition, marine sediments that range in age from lower Pliocene to Pleistocene, cover large parts of Le Danois Bank, and fill the basin separating it from the Cantabrian continental margin demonstrate that this bank has been submerged beneath the Bay of Biscay for millions of years.[84][85]

Atlantic Ocean: North[edit]

Irish Sea[edit]

In his book Atlantis of the West: The Case For Britain's Drowned Megalithic Civilization (2003), Paul Dunbavin argues that a large island once existed in the Irish Sea and that this island was Atlantis. He argues that this Neolithic civilization in Europe was partially drowned by rising sea levels caused by a comet impact that caused a pole shift and changed the earth's axis around 3100 BC.[86]

Great Britain[edit]

William Comyns Beaumont believed that Great Britain was the location of Atlantis[87] and the Scottish journalist Lewis Spence claimed that the ancient traditions of Britain and Ireland contain memories of Atlantis.

On December 29, 1997, the BBC reported that a team of Russian scientists believed they found Atlantis in the ocean 100 miles off of Land's End, Cornwall, Britain. The BBC stated that Little Sole Bank, a relatively shallow area, was believed by the team to be the capital of Atlantis. This may have been based on the myth of Lyonesse.[88]

Ireland[edit]

The idea of Atlantis being located in Ireland was presented in the book Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land (2004) by Swedish geographer Dr. Ulf Erlingsson from Uppsala University. It hypothesized that the empire of Atlantis refers to the Neolithic Megalithic tomb culture, based on their similar geographic extent, and deduced that the island of Atlantis then must correspond to Ireland. Erlingsson found the similarities of size and landscape to be statistically significant, while he rejected his null hypothesis that Plato invented Atlantis as fiction.[89]

Based on this result, the speculation was made that the capital of Atlantis could be connected with Newgrange, Knowth, and Tara, Ireland. As regards the sinking of Atlantis, it was suggested that it is a memory from another time and place, notably the Dogger Bank area. It was an island that sank in the North Sea about 6100 BC. While the world sea level rose gradually as the Ice Age ice sheets melted, there was a sudden sea level rise at this time due to the final drainage of Lake Agassiz. At about the same time a tsunami from the Storegga Slide is believed to have devastated the island in the manner described by Plato. (See also entry on North Sea below.)

Other hypotheses place the location of Atlantis between Britain and France on the Celtic Shelf.[90] This hypothesis was first developed by Lewis Spence and has been recently revived by some oceanographers.[who?]

North Sea[edit]

Satellite image of the North Sea, which has also been suggested as the location of Atlantis.

The North Sea is known to contain lands that were once above water; the medieval town of Dunwich in East Anglia, for example, crumbled into the sea. The land area known as "Doggerland", between England and Denmark, was inundated by a tsunami around 8200BP (6200BC), caused by a submarine landslide off the coast of Norway known as the Storegga Slide,[91] and prehistoric human remains have been dredged up from the Dogger Bank.[92] Atlantis itself has been identified besides Heligoland off the north-west German coast by the author Jürgen Spanuth,[93] who postulates that it was destroyed during the Bronze Age around 1200 BC, only to partially re-emerge during the Iron Age. Ulf Erlingsson hypothesized that the island that sank referred to Dogger Bank, and the city itself referred to the Silverpit crater at the base of Dogger Bank. A book allegedly by Oera Linda claims that a land called Atland once existed in the North Sea, but was destroyed in 2194 BC.

Denmark[edit]

In his book The Celts: The People Who Came Out of the Darkness (1975), author Gerhard Herm links the origins of the Atlanteans to end of the ice age and the flooding of eastern coastal Denmark.[94]

Finland[edit]

Finnish eccentric Ior Bock located Atlantis in the Baltic sea, at southern part of Finland where he claimed a small community of people lived during the Ice Age. According to Bock, this was possible due to Gulf Stream which brought warm water to the Finnish coast. This is a small part of a large saga that he claimed had been told in his family through the ages, dating back to the development of language itself. The family saga tells the name Atlantis comes from Swedish words allt-land-is ("all-land-ice") and refers to the last Ice-Age. Thus in the Bock family saga it's more a time period than an exact geographical place. According to this the Atlantis disappeared in 8016 BC when the Ice-Age ended in Finland and the ice melted away.[95]

Sweden[edit]

Olaus Rudbeck's Atlantica.

In 1679 Olaus Rudbeck wrote Atland (Atlantica), where he argues that Scandinavia, specifically Sweden, is identical with Atlantis. According to Rudbeck the capital city of Atlantis was identical to the ancient burial site of Swedish kings Gamla Uppsala.

Americas[edit]

When Columbus returned from his voyage to the west, some historians of the period such as Francisco López de Gómara,[96] writing in 1552 thought that what Columbus had discovered was the Atlantic Island of Plato.

In 1556 Agustín de Zárate stated that the Americas was Atlantis which at one time began from the straits of Gibraltar and extended westwards to include North and South America[verification needed] and that it was as a result of Plato that the new continent was discovered. He also said it had all the attributes of the continent described by Plato yet at the same time mentioned that the ancient peoples crossed over by a route from the island of Atlantis. Zarate also mentions that the 9,000 "years" of Plato were 9,000 "months" (750 years).[97]

This was also repeated and clarified by historian Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa in 1572 in his "History of the Incas",[98] who by calculation of longitude stated that Atlantis must have stretched from within two leagues of the strait of Gibraltar westwards to include "all the rest of the land from the mouth of the Marañon (Amazon River) and Brazil to the South Sea, which is what they now call America." He thought the sunken part to be now in the Atlantic Ocean but that it was from this sunken part that the original Indians had come to populate Peru via one continuous land mass. He says that South America was also known by the name of the Isla Atlanticus.[verification needed]

It first appeared as the Atlantic Island (Insula Atlantica) on a map of the New World by cartographer Sebastian Münster in 1540[99] and again on the map titled Atlantis Insula by Nicolas Sanson and son (1669) which identified both North and South America as "Atlantis Insula", the eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean as "Oceanus Atlanticus" and the western part of the Atlantic Ocean plus the Pacific Ocean as "Atlanticum Pelagus". This edition was further embellished with features from the Atlantis legend by his son Guillaume Sanson including the names of the ten kings of Atlantis with Atlas’ portion being in Mexico. Sanson's map supposedly showed what the earth looked like 200,000 years before there were any humans on it.[100]

South America[edit]

A hypothesis by author Jim Allen argues that Plato's description exactly fits South America with the island capital in what is now Bolivia because he describes a level rectangular-shaped plain which he said lay in the center of the continent, next to the sea and midway along the longest side of the continent.[101] He also described the capital city of Atlantis which was built on a small volcanic island and also called Atlantis. The city lay on the level rectangular plain, five miles from the sea and according to Plato the whole region was high above the level of the ocean sea, rising sheer out of the ocean sea to a great height on that side of the continent. Allen contends that the Altiplano region of Bolivia meets these characteristics.

Cuba[edit]

Author Andrew Collins has advocated a Cuban connection to Atlantis in his book Gateway to Atlantis: The Search for the Source of a Lost Civilization. Collins supports his hypothesis with indirect historical and geographical evidence. He suggests Isle of Youth and the shallow sea bottom that surrounds it as a possible location for Atlantis.[102]

Sonar images suggested to be a complex of submerged structures or a Cuban underwater city were recorded off the coast of the Guanahacabibes peninsula near the Pinar del Río Province in 2001.[103]

Other locations[edit]

There have been suggestions for Atlantis to be placed outside of the Mediterranean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Such locations would tend to fall outside of the known world of the original sources of the legend.

Antarctica[edit]

The theory that Antarctica was Atlantis was particularly fashionable during the 1960s and 1970s, spurred on partly both by the isolation of the continent, and also the Piri Reis map, which purportedly shows Antarctica as it would be ice free, suggesting human knowledge of that period. Flavio Barbiero, Charles Berlitz, Erich Von Däniken and Peter Kolosimo are some of the popular authors who made this proposal.

More recently Rose and Rand Flem-Ath have proposed this in their book, When the Sky Fell; the theory was revised and made more specific in Rand's work with author Colin Wilson, in The Atlantis Blueprint (published in 2002). The second work theorized that Atlantis was to be found in Lesser Antarctica, near the coast of the Ross Ice Shelf. A geological theory known as "Earth Crust Displacement" forms the basis of their work. The Atlantis Blueprint uses both scientific and pseudoscientific (such as mere speculation and assumptions) means to back up the theory.[104]

Charles Hapgood came up with the "Earth Crustal Displacement theory". Hapgood's theory suggests that Earth's outer crust is able to move upon the upper mantle layer rapidly up to a distance of 2,000 miles, placing Atlantis in Antarctica, when considering the movements of the crust in the past. It is to be noted that Albert Einstein was one of the few voices to answer Hapgood's theory. Einstein wrote a preface for Hapgood's book Earth's shifting crust, published in 1958. This theory is particularly popular with Hollow Earthers, and can be seen as a mirror of the Hyperborean identification.[105] In his book "Fingerprints of the Gods", author Graham Hancock argues for the Earth Crustal Displacement theory in general, and the Atlantis/Antarctica connection specifically, then goes on to propose archaeological exploration of Antarctica in search of Atlantis.

What is now known about the Quaternary and Holocene history of Antarctica completely discredits any hypothesis about it being the location of Atlantis. Mapping and dating of the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum; mapping and dating of glacial erratics, tills, and striations within now ice-free areas; microfossils from post-glacial lake deposits; coring and analysis of glacial tills and marine sediments underlying the Ross and Wedell seas; coring and analysis of ice cores; and other research has accumulated an enormous amount of data that has disproved the various hypotheses that any sizable part of Antarctica was sufficiently ice-free and temperate in climate during the last 100,000 years and earlier to have supported any civilization.[106][107] This research soundly refutes Flem-Ath's proposal that lesser (West) Antarctica was ice-free and temperate prior to 9,600 B.C. (11,600 B.P.)[108][109][110]

Indonesia/Sundaland[edit]

Areas exposed during lowstands of sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum.

The South China Sea north of Indonesia and Java Sea have been advocated as a site for Atlantis. Key to this argument that Sundaland was the location of Atlantis is that the Ocean of Atlantis refers to the ocean which encircles Eurasia and Africa, which was the historical understanding until the time of Christopher Columbus. Proponents of this idea claim that natives of Sundaland who fled the rising waters or volcanic explosions eventually had contact with Ancient Egyptians, who later passed the story onto Plato who gets some but not all of the details correct, including location and time period. The main advocate of this theory is the Brazilian professor of nuclear physics Arysio Nunes dos Santos.[111]

During the Last Glacial Maximum, what is now known as the Sunda Shelf was the location of a large subaerial coastal plain that was part of Sundaland. During the Last Glacial Maximum, Sundaland extended northward from Indonesia to Borneo and northwestward to the coast of Southeast Asia.[112][113][114] Sundaland is quite tectonically stable lacking any known prehistory of any significant, much less cataclysmic, tectonic subsidence.[112][115] Numerous studies by petroleum and Quaternary geologists have found a complete lack of any evidence for any Neogene and Quaternary volcanic activity within the Sunda Shelf despite its proximity to Indonesia.[115][116][117]

Detailed studies[115][116] of late glacial and postglacial sea level rise for this part of the Sunda Shelf demonstrates that the first significant submergence of Sundaland by rising sea level occurred between 14,000 and 15,000 years ago. Periods of abrupt rise in sea level submerged a significant part of Sundaland beneath the South China Sea between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago. Between 14,300 and 14,600 years ago, a period of 300 years, sea level rose 16m (62 feet). Between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago, the submergence of Sundaland by rising sea level was relatively minor. A final period of rapid flooding of Sundaland by the South China Sea occurred between 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. The submergence of Sundaland during this period was minor in extent relative to the area submerged between 13,000 and 14,000 years ago. Evidence for any significant or cataclysmic submergence of Sundaland as the result of tectonic processes is completely lacking.[115][116][118]

North Pole[edit]

The professor of systematic theology at Boston University William Fairfield Warren (1833–1929) wrote a book promoting his belief that the original centre of mankind once sat at the North Pole entitled Paradise Found: The Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole (1885). In this work Warren placed Atlantis at the North Pole, as well as the Garden of Eden, Mount Meru, Avalon and Hyperborea.[119] Warren believed all these mythical lands were folk memories of a former inhabited far northern seat where man was originally created.[120]

Warren's identification of Atlantis with the North Pole was maintained by positioning Atlas in the far north by mapping out ancient Greek cosmology. Warren equated the primordial Titan Atlas of Greek mythology who supported the Heavens on his shoulders (or supported the earth on a pillar) to the Atlas described in Plato's dialogue Critias as the first ruler of Atlantis (Critias, 114a). In Warren's view, all the axis mundi or cosmic-axis of ancient legends (Yggdrasil, Irminsul and Atlas' pillar) had to be in the far north "at the top of the world":

...To locate these in right mutual relations, one must begin by representing to himself the earth as a sphere or spheroid, and as situated within, and concentric with, the starry sphere, each having its axis perpendicular, and its north pole at the top. The pole-star is thus in the true zenith, and the heavenly heights centring about it are the abode of the supreme god or gods.[120]

Warren noted how Homer, Virgil and Hesiod all placed Atlas or his world pillar at the "ends of the earth", meaning in his view the far northern arctic regions, while Euripides related Atlas to the Pole Star, so as he concluded:

......in oldest Greek thought Atlas belongs at the North Pole, and it is only reasonable to locate the kingdom of Atlas in the same locality.[121]

Therefore in Warren's view Atlantis sat in the far north, at the North Pole, since the Atlas in his ancient Greek cosmological mapping stood in the far northern zenith, under the Pole Star.

References and notes[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

General information[edit]

  • Vidal-Naquet, P (2007). The Atlantis Story: A Short History of Plato's Myth. University of Exeter Press. ISBN 978-0859898058
  • Ramage, ES (1978). Atlantis, Fact or Fiction?. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253104823
  • Atlantis Conference Milos 2005 Proceedings of the International Conference "The Atlantis Hypothesis: Searching for a Lost Land" , Athen 2007 ISBN 978-960-89882-1-7
  • Atlantis Conference Athens 2008 Proceedings of the International Conference "The Atlantis Hypothesis: Searching for a Lost Land" , Athen 2010 ISBN 978-960-6746-10-9

Specific hypotheses[edit]

  • Allen, JM (1998). Atlantis: the Andes Solution.
  • Allen, JM (2000). The Atlantis Trail, 2000. Kindle 2010.
  • Allen, JM (2009). Atlantis: Lost Kingdom of the Andes, Floris Books.
  • Andrews, S (2002). Atlantis. Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 1-56718-023-X
  • Berlitz, C (1974). The Bermuda Triangle. 1974. ISBN 978-0385041140
  • Brandenstein, W (1951). Atlantis – Größe und Untergang eines geheimnisvollen Inselreiches, Gerold & Co Vienna.
  • Donnelly, I (1882). Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, New York: Harper & Bros. Retrieved 6 November 2001, from Project Gutenberg.
  • Collina-Girard, J (2009). L’Atlantide Rétrouvée? Enquête scientifique autour d'un mythe, Belin-Pour la Science éditeur, Collection Regards. ISSN1773-8016, ISBN 978-2-7011-4608-9
  • Collina-Girard, J (2001). L'Atlantide devant le Detroit de Gibraltar ? mythe et géologie. Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences de Paris, Sciences de la Terre et des Planètes. 333; 233-240.
  • Díaz-Montexano, G (2012). Atlantis - Tartessos. Aegyptius Codex. Epítome de la Atlántida Histórico-Científica. Una confederación talasocrática Íbero-Líbica y Hykso-minoica. Un estudio de la Atlántida -a modo de exordio- desde las fuentes documentales primarias y secundarias. Tomo I. Con prólogo de los doctores Cesar Guarde y Antonio Morillas de la Universidad de Barcelona. Turpin Ediciones S.L (Madrid). ISBN 1-4610-1958-3 / [ISBN 978-1-4610-1958-9]. (Spanish)
  • Donnelly, I (1882). Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. New York, Harper. LCCN 06001749
  • Dunbavin P (2003). Atlantis of the West: The Case For Britain's Drowned Megalithic Civilization. ISBN 0-7867-1145-0
  • Erlingsson, U (2004). Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land. Lindorm Publishing. ISBN 0-9755946-0-5
  • Flem-Ath, R&R (1995). When The Sky Fell. ISBN 978-0312136208
  • Flem-Ath, R & Wilson, C (2000). The Atlantis Blueprint.
  • Franke, TC (2012). Aristotle and Atlantis - What did the philosopher really think about Plato's island empire?, Bod Norderstedt/Germany. German edition 2010. ISBN 978-3848227914
  • Frau, S (2002). Le Colonne d'Ercole: Un'inchiesta, Rome: Nur neon. ISBN 88-900740-0-0
  • Galanopoulos, AG & Bacon E (1969). Atlantis; the truth behind the legend. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill. LCCN 71080738 //r892
  • Ashe, G (1992). Atlantis : lost lands, ancient wisdom / Geoffrey Ashe. New York, N.Y., Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-81039-7
  • Görgemanns, H (2000). Wahrheit und Fiktion in Platons Atlantis-Erzählung, Hermes, vol. 128, pp. 405–420.
  • Joseph, F (2002). The Destruction of Atlantis: Compelling Evidence of the Sudden Fall of the Legendary Civilization. Bear & Company. ISBN 1-879181-85-1
  • King, D. (1970). Finding Atlantis: A true story of genius, madness, and an extraordinary quest for a lost world. Harmony Books, New York. ISBN 1-4000-4752-8
  • Ley, W (1969). Another look at Atlantis, and fifteen other essays. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday. LCCN 69011988
  • Luce JV (1978): The Literary Perspective – The Sources and Literary Form of Plato's Atlantis Narrative, in: Edwin S. Ramage (ed.), Atlantis – Fact or Ficton? 49-78. ISBN 978-0253104823
  • Luce JV (1982). End of Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend, Efstathiadis Group: Greece
  • Mifsud, A&S, Sultana CA, Ventura CS (2001). Echoes of Plato's Island. (2nd edition) Malta. ISBN 99932-15-01-5
  • Muck, OH (1976/1978). The Secret of Atlantis, Translation by Fred Bradley of Alles über Atlantis (Econ Verlag GmbH, Düsseldorf-Wien), Times Books, a division of Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., Inc., Three Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016. ISBN 978-0671823924
  • Spence, L (1924) The Problem of Atlantis, London.
  • Spence, L (1926/2003). The History of Atlantis, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-42710-2
  • Zangger, E (1992). The Flood from Heaven: Deciphering the Atlantis legend. Sidgwick & Jackson. ISBN 0-688-11350-8
  • Zeilinga de Boer, J et al. (2002). Volcanoes in human history : the far-reaching effects of major eruptions. The Bronze Age eruption of Thera : destroyer of Atlantis and Minoan Crete?. Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press.
  • Zhirov, NF (1970). Atlantis – Atlantology: Basic Problems, Translated from the Russian by David Skvirsky, Progress Publishers, Moscow.

External links[edit]

General information[edit]

Specific hypotheses[edit]