|The Atlantis We Look For|
|The Circle of Evolution|
|Old Maps and Writings|
|Can Lands Sink and Rise?|
|Old Texts - Just Stories?|
|The Underwater Search|
|Mysteries on Shore|
|The Current Search|
|Location Theories I|
|Location Theories II|
|Location Theories III|
|Is it Mesopotamia?|
|Mysteries of Ancient Civilizations: Solved|
Last Update: February 26,
©1997 - 2007Andreea Haktanir
One cannot pretend to be objective, unless both views on Plato's "Dialogues" are presented.
In Plato's writings one finds usually debates concerning aristocratic and democratic forms of government. His work is written mainly in the form of dialogues.
The story of Atlantis appears in "Timaeus" and "Critias", written during his last years of life. He died before he finished it.
Since I have already exposed the story to you, I think it's safe to jump to theories and then to conclusions, without further ado.
My personal view, even while making this site, is that one cannot expect to look for Atlantis in the shape given by Plato. It would be strange to take for granted all the information given by him in his work. For example, to cite the absurd, we wouldn't look for an island sunk by gods inhabited by people who mixed with gods. That kind of information is useless for us. However, the mentioning of the gods' names might create a bridge between Plato's work and the nature of the source that inspired him.
To understand his work, and qualify it as 'history' or as 'myth', we have to know the events that took place during his life.
Dr. Iain Stewart, in his work, "Echoes of Plato's Atlantis", written in October 2001, says: "While the bulk of Plato's account of Atlantis details its physical and political layout, its location and the nature of its destruction warrant only a few hundred words. It is a meager foundation for the weight of subsequent theories and speculations on which the modern controversy is based".
According to Dr. Stewart, who's basing his claim on Herodotus, Thucydites, Aristotle, and Callisthenes's writings and the seismologists' views, the time in history when Plato lived was shaken by frequent and terrible earthquakes. The first earthquake struck Sparta in 469-464 BC, at a time when Sparta and Athens were not in good relations. As Sparta refused Athens' help, the hostilities increased and lead, in 431 BC, to war.
In 426 BC, another earthquake struck predominantly the north of Athens. It was accompanied by tsunamis, and the destruction they brought was beyond imagination. The island of Atalante seemed to have been created as a result of the earthquake.
In 373 BC, another earthquake, accompanied by a sea wave, sank in one night the cities of Helike and Bura, 150 kilometers south of Athens.
At this point, I should let you know that, although writers like Pausanias and Ovid reported that the ruins of Helike could still be seen below the waves, scientists took the account as another 'myth'. Whatever the scienstists can't find is obviously a legend, sewed by people trying to make a philosophical point: like Troy, like Helike, like the seven sunk temples in India; like Atlantis. They looked for Helike for forty years and only in the year 2000 were they able to find it. And we are speaking of a land that sunk 2500 years ago, not 5000 or even more.
Anyway, they have been looking for it in all the 'right' places, until they found Helike 'inland'. The city is on Selinous River, close to the Golf of Corinth. According to a BBC News article from 19th October, 2000, the digs revealed archaic walls, classical ceramic fragments, and evidence that the city was once submerged under the sea. The clay of walls contained sea shells.
Slowly, the river had covered most of the city with sediments, so the area was inhabited again, at one time even by the Romans. Helike was lift up due to the 'general uplifting of the land'.
So maybe the Atlantis story of Plato is not a true account, at least not one hundred percent true.
Plato mentions 'concentric rings' that surrounded Atlantis. This might be true for any ancient city and can be looked at as a defensive system, a fortress to stop invaders, or even as an irrigation method. If I told you about the pyramids the Egyptians had built and described them to you, with all that amazing data that still makes our scientists wonder, and assuming that the pyramids hadn't been discovered yet, would you believe me? Probably not.
Also, some believe that a mistake had occurred in the telling of the story. Atlantis is said to be "bigger than Lybia and Asia together". In Greek, the word for "middle of" was "meson", while "mezon" means "bigger than". This would help us look for an island more or less of an acceptable size, and not for a whole continent.
Please also note this quote from Plato's work:
"First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis, making a road to and from the royal palace. And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors, which they continued to ornament in successive generations, every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power, until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty."
The Egyptians used the idea when building the Temple of Karnak (below). For a larger image and annotations, click on the map.
It's being claimed that Atlantis was a story meant to make a point about what happens to developed civilizations which have a moral decay. Scientist argue that the inspiration for the story wasn't Solon's account, from Egypt, but the difficult historical period in which Plato lived (the earthquakes, the sunk city of Bura and Helike). Plato says that Atlantis had a war with Athens, just like the Spartans had; that it made Poseidon angry, while Helike, a majestic capital of the Achaean League, was the cult center for worship of Poseidon. Dr. Stewart tells that "the sacred grove of Poseidon was second only to the oracle at nearby Delphi in terms of sanctuary at that time"quot;. Helike did not involve itself in any turbulences and tried to maintain good collaboration with the neighbors. Athens blamed Helike for such a policy.
Honestly, what I believe is that the story does originate from Egypt, as Plato claimed, and that it was brought to Athens by Solon (c.638 BC - 558 BC). What revived the story was maybe fear of earthquakes and floods, like when Plato's grandfather tells him what he has heard from Solon. It's the fear that what happened once to such a big island, can happen to Greece, a country surrounded by water from three directions. And what convinced Plato to write it, is the circumstance. The sinking of Helike is the perfect opportunity to make a moral and philosophical statement, by bringing up a lost story, that took place so many years ago. So Plato has the synopsis, and all he has to do, to make it more than just an account of a lost city, is to create a link between Atlantis and Helike. At some point he says that the names of gods have been translated in Greek, which is even a more powerful tool to make the account believable. What better time could it be for selling wizardry items for kids than after the "Harry Potter" books had been published? Through his book and the tale of Atlantis, he's trying to put forward a statement, by scaring the Greeks. The writing has to be clear, has to be in his normal way of writing, has to appeal to everyone. Who would care about a sunken city whose population barely reached the bronze age, whose gods are not the Greek gods, and who have foreign names so difficult to pronounce that your tongue becomes a roller-coaster in your mouth?
Since Greeks believed at the time that any catastrophe was brought by gods as a punishment for their actions, adapting the names and creating a parallel between them (it would be hard to explain in a book what each god does in the Atlantean world) was a necessity.
So Plato does not get into much detail about the destruction of Atlantis, however, his story remains 'hanging' at a point when the decision of Poseidon was about to be made. If you remember the myths of the flood, the pattern is usually - indications and descriptions after the God exposes his plan to the other gods, not before. "We will do this to them because they annoyed us by doing this, and this is how it will happen and this is what it will be after the destruction."
Now we know the story came from Egypt and I believe it to be true. In the previous chapters I have mentioned some of the myths of the flood and how they were seen by different civilizations. The Sumerians were supposed to be living before any other major civilizations. They were followed by Acadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, all in Mesopotamia. The Phoenicians lived more or less during the same timetable with them and the connections between the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Phoenicians were close, in a way or another, if only by being geographically so close to each other. A story like this, with religious implications, is not hard to trade (if you would claim one source only), even if the Egyptians took it as a story. So the source is real, and there is no point in assuming that Plato completely invented a story to accomplish his mission.
Of course, the Sumerians had to have a source as well. So how do you make religion believable? Religion was invented (or brought, if you like, to mankind) at a time when the earth's inhabitants didn't know the word 'civilization', when nothing was known about the stars, or the sky, or the moon, or the planets. You didn't know why floods occurred, why there was draught, or why the earth shook and threw boulders over your tent. So you attributed this power to the gods: a god for every mysterious event, for every piece of nature, for any item important to your culture. You could come up with a god for corn, in America, for example. So that's the part of the story of Atlantis sinking attributed to the gods.
But you don't invent the calamity for the purpose of giving power to gods. It doesn't make sense. Why would you? There are many anyway. However, when the disaster happens, you give credit to the almightiness and the realness of that is stronger than any story you can come up with. People witnessed it and wouldn't forget.
It came in this form to the Sumerians. Maybe it was brought up to them through religion. Maybe, someone else brought it to them, just like it was brought to the Egyptians or the Hebrews. And yes, I am not dismissing the possibility of the Atlanteans themselves telling the story.
In any case, the story of the flood persists in tales from all parts of the world. It happened and scientists know it. Is it then so hard to assume that many islands sank, that territories that once existed don't exist anymore? They looked for Helike in the water and found it on land. The city became a place to live not long after it sank. But the geologists had no clue about that, only when there was evidence they could say: yes, that's how it was!
Another thing bothering me is the mention of "oricalcum". Plato talks about gold and silver which are known to us, so why on earth would he go rambling all of a sudden with this metal? If it were a story indeed, then he would keep it real, he wouldn't mention weird things to make a point for his society. Or, if he wanted it to be a legend, he could have added his own mythological creatures, just like Homer did. Funny thing: Homer wrote a legend, but Troy was a real place. Mr Vaia Sarlikioti brought to my attention the fact that 'oricalcum' was actually a very well known metal before the introduction of iron and it was the metal they used in archaic times. It is copper which has endured a special heating process.
Lately, scientists have found some weird nature-made structures in Atlantic, things they had no idea could exist on earth. The formations are related to volcanic activity. If the experts find any life in those weird structures, they said they would have to reconsider the possibility of life on other planets.
What other proof does one need to go on supporting his theories, when even our scientists are not sure of anything?