Location of Atlantis - capital of an ancient civilization said to have been destroyed by a monstrous volcanic eruption thousands of years ago - may have been substantiated by a group of Charlotte County anomalists.
A limit of 12 people, with over-developed curiosity, gather at a sylvan retreat on the fifth Saturday of any month for an extended “confab" and brown-bag lunch. There they attempt to solve mysteries that “deviate from the common order of history, science and philosophy. "
Recently the topic was: “Did Atlantis exist? If so, where and when?"
Of course, there was no definitive answer. If there were, it would not be an anomaly. A majority opinion is the best expected.
Consider the main facts.
The myth, fable, legend or almost-forgotten history was put into the common literature of mankind by the Greek philosopher Plato in 350 B. C.
He purportedly learned the story from Critias, grandson of Solon, a Greek ruler who visited Egypt in 595 B. C.
Solon said he was criticized by Egyptian priests for not knowing ancient Greek history. He was shown records of a misguided invasion by Atlanteans repulsed by the earliest Greek tribes.
The invasion was reported by Solon - via Critias and Plato - to have occurred nine thousand years before his time - that is, more than eleven thousand years before our time.
Atlantis supposedly was established by the sea god Poseidon who sired five sets of twin sons by the Earth woman Cleito. He appointed Atlas, the first-born son, ruler of a large island the “size of Libya" (then North Africa beyond Egypt. ) in the middle of an ocean - presumably the Atlantic - “beyond the pillars of Hercules. "
Solon said one could easily sail from his continent to Atlantis and from there to another continent beyond. The pillars in later years were believed to be the prominences forming the Strait of Gibraltar between the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Atlas, with the counsel of his nine brothers, created an idyllic nation of salubrious climate, bountiful soil and fragrant flowers. Elephants and monkeys roamed freely. Homes had hot and cold water piped from springs.
A large, circular harbor accommodated trading vessels with rich cargoes. In the middle of the island was a mountain on which Atlas resided in a place of white, black and red stone. A wide moat was connected to the harbor by a canal.
Atlantis citizens were peaceful and prosperous. Unfortunately, they became greedy and began raiding other less-advanced neighbors - only to be stopped by the brave Greeks.
Shortly after their defeat, the mountain on which Atlas lived became a volcano which belched ashes, lava and deadly fumes. Within a day, Atlantis blew up and sank into the sea. All Atlanteans were killed.
Fact Or Fiction?
Plato told the Atlantis story in two manuscripts which he said were conversations with his students Critias and Timaeus. Gist of the conversations is that nations were prosperous when they shared, and fell when they became quarrelsome and greedy.
This is a common premise for philosophers to debate. Plato insisted the Atlantis account is true. We could accept the assertion if Plato had not written elsewhere that a “noble lie" is permissible for good purposes.
Plato's analogy survived the ages pretty much as a moral tale until Ignatius Donnelly in 1882 wrote a sensationally popular book on the subject: “Atlantis The Antediluvian World. "
Donnelly was a lawyer and social reformer who moved to Minnesota Territory to start a communal “utopia. " When Minnesota became a state in 1859 he took an active part in politics. He was elected Lt. Governor twice and U. S. Representative for two terms.
In his later years, he became obsessed with Atlantis - placing it squarely in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and linking its destruction to the Biblical flood.
Donnelly offered no scientific evidence to substantiate his theory, but it was a publishing success for several years despite scathing reviews. Interest in Atlantis has persisted - as the recent Disney animation “Atlantis" demonstrates.
Edgar Cayce, the American “Sleeping Prophet, " envisioned the past and future and cured illness over the telephone until he died in 1941. Over the span of 20 years he referred to Atlantis 700 times. His most famous prediction was that Atlantis would “rise again in the Caribbean Sea in 1967 or 1968. "
Discovery of undersea rock formations resembling straight-line “roads" in 1968 - off the Bahamas island of Bimini - was hailed by Cayce fans as archeological evidence of Atlantis.
Geologist insist the formations of huge, square blocks are the drowned remains of a beach - also found elsewhere - when the seas were much lower during the last Ice Age.
Of greater credibility is the theory advanced in 1960 by Angelos Galanopoulos, a reputable Greek seismologist. He contends Solon confused the Egyptian hieroglyph of a lotus flower symbolizing 1,000 with that of a rope coil indicating 100.
Thus, all references by Solon to time, distance and size should be reduced by a factor of ten.
Under Galanopoulos’ scale, the destruction of Atlantis occurred 900 years before Plato's time, not 9,000 - that is, about 1600 B. C. The huge size of Atlantis and its landmark features are reduced to more believable dimensions.
Furthermore, Galanopoulos claims that Plato's reference to the Pillars of Hercules most likely refer to the Peloponnes in Greece where Hercules performed his Twelve Labors.
It had long been known that the ancient Island of Thera - now called Santorini - once was a dormant volcano that exploded violently in the dim past wiping out a city there. Later, Greek fishermen built a village, Akrotiri, on the remnant rim.
Excavations at Thera began in 1967 and are still going on - through layers of white, black and red stone. A marvelously preserved town is being uncovered.
Homes were piped for hot and cold water from thermal springs to bathtubs and flush toilets.
Stunning murals depict the everyday life of an ancient Minonian culture centered at Crete, a larger island in the Mediterranean between Greece and Egypt. Monkeys are depicted, but no elephants. However ivory objects are found, indicating extensive trading with Egypt and knowledge of elephants.
It is now known the eruption at Thera was followed by a huge tidal wave that also devastated Crete and caused the collapse of the Minonian empire of seafarers.
No human bones or precious metals have been found at Thera, suggesting a prolonged series of earthquakes gave the inhabitants time to evacuate.
It is believed the terminal eruption was four times more powerful than the well-documented 1883 explosion of Krakotoa in Indonesia. It also triggered a huge tidal wave that killed more than 36,000 people throughout East Asia.
The Fifth Saturday Anomalists concurred in the reality of Atlantis but rejected Plato's time line, measurements and placement of Atlantis in the Atlantic.
Most likely, the island in the middle of a sea, between the continent of Euro-Asia and Africa, was Crete.
The closely allied islands of Thera and Crete, together, was Atlantis.
Cities, writing, numbers and other rudiments of civilization did not begin until ten thousand years ago - and empire building not until five thousand years ago.
Solon and Plato certainly did not know there was a continent beyond an island in the vast Atlantic Ocean.
Discovery 40 years ago of continental plates - pushed around by mid-ocean upwelling of magma - preclude mid-ocean land masses.
There are a dozen places in the ancient world - and still today -that have mountains that residents claim were Pillars of Hercules holding up the sky.
One local anomalist has visited a pair of small pillars on the shore of the Corinth sea, south of Delphi, that are said by Greeks to have been erected by Hercules to commemorate his twelve labors.
- Atlantis was real,
- was destroyed by a mighty volcanic eruption in 1628 B. C. as confirmed by archaeological data
- Thera is the place.
June 29, 2003
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