You’ve probably heard about the lost city of Atlantis, buried deep under water somewhere.
It’s a fascinating story, but there is controversy surrounding it, including the fact that many believe it’s a mere myth.
Let’s look into this lost city’s controversy once again and see what we can uncover.
What’s the story of Atlantis all about?
First described by the Greek philosopher Plato over 2,000 years ago, Atlantis, according to Plato’s account, written around 360 BC, was a major sea power located in the Atlantic.
According to him, it was larger than Turkey and Libya combined and was an important island with mountains in the north.
Ruled by descendants of the sea god Poseidon, Atlantis was said to have conquered most of Europe and Africa at its peak.
Then, according to Plato, the entire island one day sank to the bottom of the sea. And was never to be seen again. Intriguing story, but is there any grain of truth in it?
Several scholars have spent considerable time trying to figure out the truth behind Atlantis and whether Plato was indeed referring to an old super power.
However, the most believable explanation is that Plato was referring to the Minoan people, which were destroyed by a massive volcanic explosion which resulted in tsunamis and floods.
Most people believe Plato was just using Atlantis as a symbol to explain his political views.
What is the big deal about Atlantis?
According to Plato, the Atlantians were great engineers and architects. There were palaces, harbors, temples and docks. The capital city was built on a hill and surrounded by rings of water, which were joined by tunnels large enough for a ship to sail through.
A huge canal connected the outer rings of water to the ocean. On the outskirts of the capital city there were huge fields where farmers grew the city’s food.
Past the field there were mountains where wealthy villagers lived. Plato goes great detail about the amazing buildings – complete with hot and cold fountains, shared dining halls and stone walls covered with precious metals.
Is Atlantis not just a story?
For over two thousand years the story of Atlantis was just a story.
Then, in the late 1800s, an American named Ignatius Donnelly became fascinated with the story and wrote a book called Atlantis, the Antediluvian World, which became a bestseller.
Ignatius studied flood history from Egypt to Mexico and believed that Plato was recording an actual natural disaster. Since then, several books have been written about the lost city.
Where is Atlantis thought to be located today?
The exact location of the lost city of Atlantis has been questioned by many people, like British Royal Air Force photo interpreter J.M. Allen. He is convinced Atlantis is in Altiplano, near the Andes Mountains, in Bolivia.
The famous psychic channeler Edgar Cayce believed the remains would be found off the coast of Florida near Bimini Island. Other people think it’s lost somewhere in Central America, the China Sea or Africa. Others believe that Atlantis is nothing more than a myth.
What do experts say about Atlantis?
Few, if any, scientists think Atlantis actually existed. Ocean explorer Robert Ballard, the National Geographic explorer-in-residence who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, notes that “no Nobel laureates” have said that what Plato wrote about Atlantis is true.
Still, Ballard says, the legend of Atlantis is a “logical” one since cataclysmic floods and volcanic explosions have happened throughout history, including one event that had some similarities to the story of the destruction of Atlantis. About 3,600 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption devastated the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea near Greece.
At the time, a highly advanced society of Minoans lived on Santorini. The Minoan civilization disappeared suddenly at about the same time as the volcanic eruption.
The quick video below will explain the Atlantis mystery in simple terms. If you don’t want to watch it, you can read the transcript below as well.
In January 2015 marine archaeologists investigating a 2-and-a-half thousand year-old wreck off the coast of Sicily made a curious discovery.
Buried amongst other artifacts were 39 ingots of a strange red metal. Professor Sebastiano Tusa claimed the metal was the mythical ‘orichalcum’ believed to have been mined on the island of Atlantis.
The alloy of copper, zinc, lead, iron and nickel was described by the philosopher Plato as the source of wealth for the sunken civilization. Does this prove Atlantis existed? And if so, how did it disappear?
The earliest and most comprehensive account of Atlantis is from Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias, written around 360 BC.
For many, from Greek philosophers to modern historians, Atlantis was nothing more than an allegory for pride and the opposite of the perfect Athenian society. When Poseidon destroyed Atlantis, it was a just reward for the Atlanteans’ greed.
However there is historical evidence of similar ancient civilizations being devastated by cataclysmic events. The Thera volcano, on the modern Greek island of Santorini, is believed to have erupted some time in the second millennium BC, and with such force that the following earthquake and tsunami practically destroyed the Minoan civilisation.
And the city of Helike [he as in head – lee-kay], Southern Greece, in 373 BC was likewise destroyed by a tsunami, believed at the time to have been caused by its citizens’ pride and Poseidon’s wrath. With these historical precedents it’s not hard to see where Plato drew inspiration for Atlantis.
However, the notion that Atlantis did indeed exist is relatively modern. 19th century author Ignatius Donnelly is credited with beginning a fascination with the sunken continent that lasts today.
Donnelly stated that all ancient cultures, including Egypt, descended from the people of Atlantis. His contemporary, historian Augustus Le Plongeon, claimed that the Atlanteans were actually Mayans travelling East towards Egypt.
But where exactly was Atlantis?
The island continent, described by Plato as being larger than Libya and Asia Minor combined, has been located everywhere, from the Caribbean, to the Philippines, to just off the coast of Ireland.
The most common location is the one proposed by Plato himself: the Mid Atlantic, roughly where the Azores are today. Sceptics propose that it is impossible for a continent to simply sink, as tectonic movement is a matter of plates colliding, forming mountains, or sliding underneath one another over a period of millennia.
However, proponents of Atlantis have pointed out that continents have broken off and sunk in the past, such as the recently discovered Zealandia. And a large underwater plateau, approximately 300,000 square miles, has been discovered in the area where Atlantis is believed to have been.
This would conform to the theory proposed by author Tom T. Moore that a continent, stretching from the Caribbean to thirty miles off the coast of Africa, sat on top of the mid-Atlantic ridge.
He says that when a line of volcanoes running the length of the continent erupted, the continent sank leaving behind a few island landmasses that we see today. The subsequent shift in sea levels resulted in the Biblical flood of Noah.
A Norwegian Polar expedition in the mid 1890s discovered evidence of sea creatures usually found in shallow water, at depths of nearly 3300 feet, seemingly supporting the theory of rapid continental sink.
So if Atlantis was indeed real and located in the middle of the Atlantic, where did the inhabitants go? According to Plato, they all perished as the island sank into the ocean.
However, 19th century scholar Brasseur de Bourbourg maintained that the surviving Atlanteans fled westwards towards the Americas, becoming who we now regard as the Mayans.
One of the more widely held beliefs, however, comes from American mystic Edgar Cayce [case]. He maintains that there was a sizeable landmass in the mid Atlantic which was broken up by a shifting of the poles.
And according to authors D.S. Allan and J.B. Delair, such a shift can only be brought about by a celestial body with massive magnetic pull, in an event they call “The Phaeton disaster”.
Author Greg Jenner claims that the planet Nibiru, while straying near Earth, triggered this change, initiating a series of damaging natural disasters that were felt around the world, and destroyed Atlantis.
Yet for all the interpretations, research, and books written on Atlantis, there is little to no solid evidence to suggest that a great society simply disappeared. No official oceanographic or deep sea expedition in the proposed sites, from Plato onwards, have revealed evidence of human habitation matching the stories.
And archeologists like Ken Feder say there is simply nowhere that a place larger than Libya and modern day Turkey combined could disappear to without trace. Those who believe Atlantis kickstarted Western civilization, such as noted “new Egyptologist” Graham Hancock, have had to reorganise established history for Atlantis to fit in.
But supporters have refused to give in, and continue the search for a history lost to the sea.
Verdict: The lost city of Atlantis presents an alluring tale, but there is hardly any evidence to back it up. On the other hand according to the writings of the historian Strabo, Plato’s student Aristotle remarked that Atlantis was simply created by Plato to illustrate a point. Unfortunately, Aristotle’s writings on this subject, which might have cleared the mystery up, have been lost eons ago. However, it is very likely that Plato’s story was not entirely true, but rather inspired by some real events, just like a movie based on a true story.
Interested in reading more? Here are some reference links on the Atlantis controversy.