Atlantis the Antediluvian Land

There must be a million web sites on Atlantis, a quick search on Amazon turns up over 23,000 books on it, a Google search shows 54,600,000 hits.   Literally millions of books have been sold, I don’t know how many movies and television programs but there is even a series on it today.  (Stargate Atlantis, on the Sci-Fi channel)  People have an enduring fascination with the “mythical” Atlantis despite the equally enduring and repeated denials from Academia that any such civilization could have possibly existed.

So many places have been proposed by one author or theorist around the globe that virtually every place on the planet has been proposed, even Antarctica.  Then there are the minimalists, who hold a more special place in the approving eye of Academia, the fine folks who say that Plato (or Solon) really made a ten-fold error in the translation from Egyptian to Greek.  This is an interesting possibility because we then have a known civilization that would neatly “fit” into the story – the Minoans.  The eruption of the volcano on the island of Thera (Santorini) literally blows a whole city into powder in the sky, launching a massive series of tsunamis that destroys the palaces on Crete, which is the capital of the Minoan empire but we have to ignore this little flaw for the moment.  The date is set by various experts between 1600 to 1500 BC, making it about 900 years before the time of Solon (~500 BC) but this flaw we can dismiss with the ten-fold error.  Then the flaws start to pile up.  For one rather important problem, Santorini is in the Aegean sea, a part of the Mediterranean sea and NOT out in the Atlantic ocean, so is on the wrong side of the Pillars of Herakles (straits of Gibraltar). 

The ‘Minoans=Atlantis’ theorists simply side-step this flaw with some sophistry, saying that there are several different sets of “Pillars of Herakles” and find one or more that will suffice to place Atlantis in the Aegean, though this means we must also change a couple of letters in Plato’s description, making it “meso” (in the middle of” instead of what it actually reads “mega” – larger than, Libya (Africa) and Asia.  Our flaws are not finished yet though for Plato has other statements that really are tough to explain away, such as “This power came forth out of the Atlantic” and that the Atlanteans had conquered all the territory inside the Mediterranean up to Egypt in Libya, and up to Tyrrhenia in Europe, which is non-sensical if we place Atlantis in the Aegean.

Then there is the size problem – for the island of Santorini is really quite small – some 28 square miles.  Even if we add in the whole caldera that has been blown away, it only increases the island to 60 square miles.  Compare this with a ten-fold reduction in Plato’s description – which shrinks the main island from some 345 miles long by 230 miles wide to 34.5 miles long by 23 miles wide, or about one fortieth of the size of Ireland.  Yet even this is far too large for it makes 793.5 square miles or more than ten times the size of Santorini at its largest extent.  The ten-fold error becomes compounded when we continue in the text, for Plato describes the size of the island as having the land divided into lots, with each lot being 10 stadia square, the total number of lots was 60,000.  This equals a land area size of 79,428 which is remarkably similar to the size we get if we use the length and width to estimate the land area which would give us 79,350.  Now reduce them by a factor of ten – and each lot becomes ONE stadia square, the total is now 6000, and we get a total land area of 77.47 square miles!  Even at this, it is too large for the island of Santorini at its maximum by over one-fourth.  The problem starts to get ridiculous when you read on in Plato (Critias) and he adds that each of these lots was responsible for providing quote

 the sixth portion of a war-chariot, so as to make up a total of ten thousand chariots; also two horses and riders for them, and a pair of chariot-horses without a seat, accompanied by a horseman who could fight on foot carrying a small shield, and having a charioteer who stood behind the man-at-arms to guide the two horses; also, he was bound to furnish two heavy armed soldiers, two slingers, three stone-shooters and three javelin-men, who were light-armed, and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships.

So do we then say that they were to provide one SIXTIETH of a chariot, a fifth of a horse and so on?  the ten-fold error idea just won’t hold up when you start to use it!  This is not the end of the problems with the MInoan idea however, for there were no elephants on Santorini and these are specifically mentioned as being present in Atlantis in good quantities.  Then there is that little flaw about the volcano – for the Minoan civilization certainly got a death-blow due to an eruption, yet Plato never said a word about any volcano erupting, only a “single day and night of earthquakes and floods” – we should imagine that if a volcano were at fault, he would have included that rather important point.  Then there is the time-span of the end of Atlantis, Plato said it vanished virtually overnight, yet the Minoans lasted about another century after the eruption.  What about the eruption itself?  Plato has the Atlanteans wiped out, yet the inhabitants of Santorini seem to have gotten some kind of advance warning, for not a single example of human remains has ever been found in the excavations, and there is evidence that people had moved their beds into the streets, prepared amphoras of food and water etc.  It rather looks like at least a good part of the people escaped the doom of the eruption.  I could go on with the list but as we already have several TV programs expounding on the Minoan-Atlantis idea and many folks earning their livings from it and I have no desire to rob them of their income.

The misconceptions about Atlantis are almost as astounding as the numerous theories.  For one, there is an insistence upon referring to it as the “continent” of Atlantis, when Plato never said it was a continent, in fact he said it was a group of islands that you could use rather like stepping stones to cross the Atlantic to reach the true continent that rings the whole of the western Atlantic.  This so-frequently overlooked passage is absolute and undeniable proof that the ancient Greeks were at least aware of the existence of the Americas!

Thanks to many modern writers, many people believe Atlantis was a highly advanced society, with high technology, flying machines, submarines etc.  None of this is evident in the ancient sources (and yes there are ancient sources besides Plato, despite such claims by many modern skeptics) in fact from the words of Plato and others, the description could fit with any Bronze-age culture, with the exception of the advanced plumbing.  In point of fact, Plato never mentions any IRON, which is a good clue in my opinion.  If we consider that agriculture had actually begun before the timeline we get from Plato for the end of Atlantis, and that we have known ancient ruins (settlements) that date to the time period (9500 BC) such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey or Jericho in Israel (9000 BC) is it SO far-fetched to think that another civilization might have been in existence at that time, which was destroyed?  Since sea levels have risen well over 100 feet the island might well be wholly under the surface of the sea by now.  Or perhaps the island sank in a mass subsidence, as has happened historically such as the land bridge to the island of Java, part of the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt, a whole strip of coastline in Chile, or the “real Atlantis” – the ancient city of Helike in Greece so recently re-discovered.

I have found Atlantis, but am saving this tidbit for the book.  With the tremendous popularity of the subject of Atlantis, I think this tidbit might help sell more books, and more books means more royalties for me (I am not wealthy, far from it) which could be helpful in financing our own dreams, our “blue heaven”.  I would suggest to anyone really interested in Atlantis, to actually read the two texts written by Plato, they are online in English and free – Timaeus http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html

  and Critias

http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/critias.html

You will not regret it.  I will be happy to post links to some of the other ancient sources online if anyone should request it.

Good luck and good hunting, I hope you find your own Atlantis!

Oroblanco

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~ by Oroblanco on May 16, 2008.

2 Responses to “Atlantis the Antediluvian Land”

  1. has been found by the members of Treasure Net

    • Yes quite a few people claim to have found it, but unfortunately fall disappointingly short on proof.

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