The story of the lost continent of Atlantis starts in 355 B.C. with the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato had planned to write a trilogy of books discussing the nature of man, the creation of the world, and the story of Atlantis, as well as other subjects. Only the first book was ever completed. The second book was abandoned part way through, and the final book was never even started.
Plato used a series of dialogues to express his ideas. In this type of writing, the author's thoughts are explored in a series of arguments and debates between various characters in the story. Plato often used real people in his dialogues, such as his teacher, Socrates, but the words he gave them were his own. A character named Kritias tells an account of Atlantis that has been in his family for generations. According the character the story was originally told to his ancestor Solon, by a priest during Solon's visit to Egypt.
According to the dialogues, there had been a powerful empire located to the west of the "Pillars of Hercules" (what we now call the Straight of Gibraltar) on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. The nation there had been established by Poseidon, the God of the Sea. Poseidon fathered five sets of twins on the island. The firstborn, Atlas, had the continent and the surrounding ocean named for him. Poseidon divided the land into ten sections, each to be ruled by a son, or his heirs.
The capital city of Atlantis named Poseidonia was a marvel of architecture and engineering. The city was composed of a series of concentric walls and canals. At the very center was a hill, and on top of the hill a temple to Poseidon. Inside was a gold statue of the God of the Sea showing him driving six winged horses. About 9000 years before the time of Plato, after the people of Atlantis became corrupt and greedy, the Gods decided to destroy them. A violent earthquake shook the land, giant waves rolled over the shores, and the island sank into the sea never to be seen again.
So is the story of Atlantis just a fable used by Plato to make a point? Or is there some reason to think he was referring to a real place? Well, at numerous points in the dialogues Plato's characters refer to the story of Atlantis as "genuine history" and it being within "the realm of fact." Plato also seems to put into the story a lot of detail about Atlantis that would be unnecessary if he had intended to use it only as a literary device.
If we make the assumption that Atlantis was a real place it seems logical we should find it west of the Straight of Gibraltar near the Azores Islands (some have suggested that the Azores are what are left of Atlantis's highest mountain peaks). A scientific survey of the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, though, shows it is covered with a blanket of sediment that must have taken millions of years to accumulate. There is no sign of a sunken island continent.
Are there any other candidates for the location of Atlantis? People have made cases for places as diverse as Switzerland and New Zealand. One of the most convincing arguments, though, came from K.T. Frost, a professor of history at the Queen's University in Belfast. Later, Spyridon Marinatos, an archaeologist and A.G. Galanopoulos, a seismologist, added evidence to Frost's ideas.
Frost suggested that instead of being west of the Pillars of Hercules Atlantis was east. He also thought that the catastrophic end of the island had come not 9000 years before Plato's time, but only 900. If this was true the land of Atlantis might already be a well-known place even in Plato's time: The Island of Crete.
Crete is now a part of modern Greece and lies just south of the Athens across part of the Mediterranean Sea. Before 1500 B.C. it was the seat of the Minoan Empire. The Minoans dominated the eastern Mediterranean with a powerful navy and probably extracted tribute from other surrounding nations. Archaeological excavations have shown the Minoan Crete was probably one of the most sophisticated cultures of its time. It had splendid architecture, and art. A code of laws gave women equal legal status as men. Agriculture was highly developed and an extensive irrigation system was existed.
Then, seemingly in a blink of an eye, the Minoan Civilization disappeared. Geological studies have shown that on an island we now know as Santorinas, located just ten miles to the north of Crete, a disaster occurred that was very capable of toppling the Minoan state. Santorini today is a lush Mediterranean paradise consisting of several islands in a ring shape. Twenty-five hundred years ago, though, it was a single large island with a volcano in the center. The volcano blew itself apart in a massive explosion around 1500 B.C.
To understand the effect of such an explosion, scientists have compared it with the most powerful volcanic explosion in historic times. This occurred on the Island of Krakatoa in 1883. There a giant wave, or tsunami, 120 feet high raced across the sea and hit neighboring islands killing 36,000 people. Ash thrown up into the air blackened the skies for three days. The sound of the explosion was heard as far away as 3,000 miles. The explosion at Santorini was four times as powerful as Krakatoa.
The tsunami that hit Crete must have traveled inland for over half a mile destroying any coastal towns or cities. The great Minoan fleet of ships were all sunk in a few seconds. Overnight the powerful Minoan Empire was crushed and Crete changed to a political backwater. One can hardly imagine a catastrophe more like Plato's description of Atlantis' fate than the destruction of Crete.
Many of the details of the Atlantis story fit with what is now known about Crete. Women had a relatively high political status, both cultures were peaceful, and both enjoyed the unusual sport of ritualistic bullfighting (where an unarmed man wrestled and jumped over an uninjured bull).
If the fall of the Minoans is the story of Atlantis, how did Plato get the location and time wrong? Galanopoulos suggested there was a mistake during translation of some of the figures from Egyptian to Greek and an extra zero added. This would mean 900 years ago became 9000, and the distance from Egypt to "Atlantis" went from 250 miles to 2,500. If this is true, Plato, knowing the layout of the Mediterranean Sea, would have been forced to assume the location of island continent was squarely in the Atlantic Ocean.
Not everyone accepts the Minoan Crete theory of the story of Atlantis, but until a convincing case can be made for some other place, it remains science's best guess.
The Legend of Atlantis
The legend of Atlantis has to be one of the oldest and most spellbinding of all the world's mysteries. It has puzzled both skeptics and believers alike. Where exactly was Atlantis and where is it now? What caused its destruction? Exactly how advanced were the Atlanteans? I hope someday everyone will know the answers to those questions.
Plato, a Greek philosopher, gave us the first known account of Atlantis. Plato was said to have lived from about 428 to 348 B.C. He was a student of Socrates. After studying with Socrates, Plato opened up his own philosophy school. There he began to write his philosophies in a play-type form. These dialogues always featured Socrates as the main character. In the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, he wrote about an amazing place called Atlantis. In Critias, Plato wrote of Atlantis' architecture, engineering, and ceremonies in great detail. Many people, even Plato's own students, thought this place was Plato's own creation, but he argued that Atlantis was real, and filled with more splendors than anyone could imagine.
All races share the story of a great flood that destroyed an entire civilization. The name Atlantis appears in various forms throughout the world. The Canary Islands have a legend involving Atalaya. The Basques of Northern Spain have Atlaintica. The Vikings told the tale of Atli. Northern Africa called it Attala. The Aztecs have Aztlán, and the North American Indians called theirs Azatlán.
Plato said Atlantis was a large island in the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere west of the Pillars of Hercules (the Rock of Gibraltar). This description has lead to many people believing that Atlantis could have been the Aegean Island of Thera (Santorini) which suddenly blew up. Atlantis was also identified as part of an ancient series of land bridges that stretched across the Atlantic and even out into the Pacific as far as New Zealand. Others say that the Canary Islands are the tops of Atlantis' tallest mountains. Some say that the Bermuda Triangle is the result of Atlantis sinking. The discovery of blue eyes and blondness among some of Africa's Berbers soon led some people to place Atlantis in the Atlas Mountians of modern Morocco and Tunisia. Still others claim that Atlantis was not even on this planet.
According to the continental drift theory, all the continents fit together, like a jigsaw puzzle. If you look at a map, you will see that the continents really do fit together- with the exception of the USA in North America and Western Europe. Could Atlantis be the missing piece?
According to Plato, one of the best splendors of Atlantis was the palace compound located in the heart of its capital. It was ringed by three canals. Plato remarked, "As each king received it [the palace] from his predecessor, he added to its adornment and did all he could to surpass the king before him, until finally they made of it an abode amazing to behold for the magnitude and beauty of its workmanship. The visitors passed through a wall of brass, a wall of tin, and a wall of copper. White and black and red stone quarried from the native rock." He also wrote that the wealth they possessed was so immense that the like had never been seen before in any royal house, nor will ever easily be seen again. This, of course, lead to Atlantis' destruction.
He stated that the Atlanteans appeared to be superlatively fair and blessed, yet they were filled with lawless ambition and power. The Atlanteans started valuing material wealth above goodness-that's where they went wrong. Plato said, "The portion of divinity within them was now becoming faint and weak through being oftentimes blended with a large measure of mortality." The Atlanteans were unable to bear the burden of their possessions. So, "There occurred portentous earthquakes and floods, and one grievous day and night befell them, when...the island of Atlantis...was swallowed up by the sea and vanished." Plato doubted that any sign of the lost land would ever be found. "The ocean at that spot, has now become impassable and unsearchable." This contributes to the Bermuda Triangle theory above.
Even though it seems that no one could survive such a tragedy, it is believed that many Atlanteans escaped. One example of this is Edgar Cayce. In April of 1939, he fell into a trance and spoke about Atlantis. "In Atlantis, when there was the breaking up of the land came to what was called the Mayan Land or the what is now Yucatan-entity was the first to cross the water in the plane or air machine of that period." In support of the escape, Atlantis has been hailed for spawning civilizations such as Hellenic Greece, the Mayas & Incas of the New World, and ancient Egypt.
Atlantis, The Lost Continent
The most important thought that is on everyone's mind is not where, what, or Atlantis, the Lost City everyone is talking about. Where is it, is it real? Why are there rumors if it's not true? Here we will explore the myths and realities of the Lost Continent of Atlantis. Sit back, relax and take a wonderful ride!
The city of Atlantis, if you hear about it, one would think that it would be located in the Atlantic Ocean, hence the name. But researchers have been looking for this continent for years. The continent was mentioned in many religions and folklores, that it became a possibility that it truly does exist. But if it does, where is it and has it been found by scientists yet, or have they think they have found the Lost City or Continent of Atlantis?
The great philosopher, Plato, wrote in his Critias, that he believed that a great continent was extremely technologically advanced, and that this continent had been destroyed and lost by a rush of ocean covering the evidence to us to this day. Plato had believed that Atlantis was located in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere. In fact, the reason why the Atlantic Ocean is called such today, is because of the Atlantean theory. Plato believed that Atlantis was a sunken continent approximately the size of Libya and Asia put together. That would be about 5 to 10 million square kilometers hidden below a large oceanic surface!
Monoliths, similar to the monoliths in Easter Island, supposedly are a "signature" of the Atlantean culture. Some believe this culture survived on to Islands and lands such as Easter Island and other various areas still leaving scientists and archeologists befuddled. Pyramids, such like those found in Egypt and other ancient sites, are also a supposed "signature" of the Atlanteans.
Plato believed that Atlantis had a great army, probably of around 1.2 million armed men. He also believed that the army had a vast number of chariots. Horses were definitely used. This was the theory that had caused many to believe that the horse that evolved from Asia became domesticated in Atlantis. This remains a striking detail, because scientists and archeologists cannot determine precisely when the domestication of the horse occurred.
Elephants are supposedly also a very big part of the Atlantean culture. Plato even writes himself:
"There were a great number of elephants in the island, for there was ample provision of food for all sorts of animals...including for the animal which is the largest and the most voracious of all."
The strange part about the elephants, is that the epoch in when the continent of Atlantis was supposedly alive and flourishing, mastodons and mammoths were abundant, and the elephant did not come about until approximately the supposed time when the continent of Atlantis was believed to have "fallen" into the ocean, the same time when mastodons and mammoths became extinct.
It must be remembered, that Plato had written Critias in 360 BCE. This was where it all started, with Plato's words:
"Let me begin by observing first of all, that nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Hercules and all who dwelt within them; this war I am going to describe. Of the combatants on the one side, the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war; the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis, which, as was saying, was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia, and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean. The progress of the history will unfold the various nations of barbarians and families of Hellenes which then existed, as they successively appear on the scene; but I must describe first of all Athenians of that day, and their enemies who fought with them, and then the respective powers and governments of the two kingdoms. Let us give the precedence to Athens."
Where did Plato's revelation of the continent of Atlantis come from? Plato's revelation was told to him by a man named Solon, who in turn received the information about Atlantis from the ancient Egyptians. If it's just a story, it is one heck of an intriguing one! A thrilling reality to this wonderful piece of writing, is that the end of the transcript has been lost. What was at the end of the transcript...we will never know. He talked of Gods and spirits that made the islanders what they were. An ancient influence that could have come from anywhere. Could it have come from the stars? And is it just plain mythology, or is there a glimpse of truth in the evidence?
What is interesting, is that what Plato described is also described in the Bible as the "Great Flood". Could the continent of Atlantis be the true "Garden of Eden?"
Some scientists believe that the sinking of Atlantis was caused by a great "Ice Age." Pillars are abundant on the oceanic floors, but are these pillars naturally made or manmade?
The "Sleeping Prophet", also known as Edgar Cayce, had believed he was an Atlantean himself. He was a prophet that believed that spirits spoke to him in his dreams. The dreams revealed revelations of great extent for his own life and many others. His prophetic visions attracted many people, which in turn made many seek out his help in life through his "seeing eye." Cayce believed that he was being told his clairvoyances from Atlantean gods and spirits.
One prophecy that Edgar Cayce had made, did not come to pass, this was regarding the lost continent of Atlantis. Cayce prophesized that the lost island of Atlantis would emerge from the ocean in 1968 or 1969. Cayce also suggested that the island was located near the Bermuda island of Bimini.
The lost continent to this day, has many possibilities of where it could "be," however, no scientific evidence that is strong enough to prove Atlantis had existed has been yet found. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist!
The Location of Atlantis
The story of this lost city has been around since 355 B.C. Plato wrote about this lost land in two dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. Plato believed that this land was near the Straits of Gibraltar until its destruction 10,000 years prior. Atlantis was explained to be in the shape of a bullseye. Alternating rings of land seperated by the Atlantic. Plato used his dialogues (Timaeus and Critias) to express his thoughts. In these dialogues a powerful empire was said to be located to the west of the Straits of Gibraltar (or what was then noted as the Pillars of Hercules). This Empire was founded by the God of the Sea, Poseidon. Poseidon had 5 children on this island. Atlas, the first born, had the continent and the surrounding ocean named after him. The land was then divided into ten sections to be ruled by each of his sons, and their heirs.
The capital of Atlantis was the best of engineering and architecture. This city was made up of walls and canals. In the very center was a hill, and on top of this hill was a temple to the God of the Sea.Inside of the temple was a gold statue of Poseidon driving six winged horses. If you dare to assume that Atlantis exists then the only place that it could be found (my opinion, may differ from other researchers) is near the Azores Island which is just west of the Straight of Gibraltar. However a survey has been conducted in this area showing a blanket of sediment that would have taken millions of years to accumulate. Even though there is no scientific sign of the sunken continent....it's there.
Ocassionally someone will try to convince someone interested in Atlantis that it is near New Zealand or Switzerland?. If you find yourself in a situation where a person presents this idea..briskly walk in the opposite direction. If you've done your research on Atlantis you should know the name K.T. Frost. Frost was the first to present the idea that Atlantis may be to the east rather than the west of Straits of Gibraltar. Frost also believed that the destruction of Atlantis came only 900 years before the birth of Plato.
So...where...is...Atlantis? If your not confused yet you should be. Ready for the 360 degree turn into a brick wall? Everyone knows the Island of Crete. If you don't...it's a modern part of Greece that lies just a bit south of Athens. If you don't know where Athens is...well...your a lost cause. If we take a trip back in time to about 1500 B.C. you would see the Island of Crete as the seat of the Minoan Empire. I know...I know, I lost you again. During this time period the Minoans were all over the eastern Mediterranean. Minoan Crete was the most sophisticated cultures of this period. Then without warning the Minoans disappeared...like dinosaurs after (insert your preferred theory here).
Ten miles north of Crete is Santorina. Many scientists, including myself, believe that a disaster occured here capable of destroyiing the Minoans. Twenty-five hundred years prior to this Santorina was just an island with a volcano, which erupted around 1500 B.C. The eruption was four times as powerful as Krakatoa. Imagine a 400 feet high tsunami, and now picture it landing in your backyard. Hey....wheres your house? Ash would have blackened the sky for 12 days. That tsunami hit Crete and destroyed everything including the Minoans. No castastrophe matches Plato's account of Atlantis than the one I just gave you. Do you accept this theory? Do you have one that puts this one to shame? Do you have more questions?