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Atlantis: Lost City or Myth?

Tim Johns is a writer with a special interest in legends and myths.

Atlantis: a legendary civilization with advanced knowledge and technologies, protected by the god Poseidon. Is the tale true, or is it a work of fiction designed to warn us about power and greed? If it did exist, did the people of Atlantis fall out of favor with the gods, or was the island destroyed by natural events? Is it buried in the mud plains in southern Spain or underneath the water in the Bahamas? Or is it an island near Greece that has its own history of volcanic eruptions, wiping out whatever life that inhabits it? Over the last century and a half, these questions have been asked and researched with few facts being found.

A possible lay out of what Atlantis would have looked like before it was destroyed.

A possible lay out of what Atlantis would have looked like before it was destroyed.

The Story of Atlantis Began With Plato

Around 330 B.C., the philosopher Plato, wrote an allegory on the Hubris of Nations; in which he uses a fictional character named Critas to tell the story of a civilization that existed 9000 years before his time named Atlantis. Plato states in his story that the island is located "in front of the mouth of the Pillars of Hercules", some people believe this to be the Strait of Gibraltar and "that is was larger than Libya and Asia (minor) together". The king of Atlantis was Atlas, the son of Poseidon. As the story has it, as the Atlanteans grew more more powerful, their ethics declined. Plato refers to Atlantis at one point as "A technologically sophisticated but morally bankrupt evil empire". The Atlanteans grew so powerful that they conquered Africa as far as Egypt and Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Etruscan Italy) before being driving back by an Athenian-led alliance. The people of this alliance were said to be spiritually pure, morally principled, and incorruptible. After the Atlanteans were driven back, they lost favor with the gods and the island had earthquakes and floods set upon it, sinking the land into a muddy sea.

The story of Atlantis was widely accepted at the time as a work of fiction that Plato used to warn people of a corrupt society. Aristotle, a student from the school Plato started and a famous philosopher, was quoted as saying "only Plato could conjure nations out of thin air and then destroy them". Despite it being accepted as fiction, it hasn't stopped some researchers and historians for searching for it.

An ancient map showing the location of Atlantis.

An ancient map showing the location of Atlantis.

The Legend of Atlantis Resurfaced in the 19th Century

The story about Atlantis laid outside of mainstream media until 1882, when a former U.S. Congressman named Ignatius Loyola Donnelly published "Atlantis: The Antediluvian World". Donnelly suggested that Atlantis was destroyed during the same event remembered in the Bible as The Great Flood. Citing research on the ancient Maya civilization, Donnelly believed that Atlantis had been the place of a common origin for ancient civilizations in Africa, Europe and the Americas. Donnelly also believed that Atlantis had been the original home of an Aryan race whose red-haired, blue-eyed descendants could be found in Ireland. He also believed that most of the important accomplishments in the ancient world, such as metallurgy, agriculture, religion and language, must have come from Atlantis.

Donnelly is widely credited with creating the theme of Atlantis as an antediluvian civiliation that became so popular during the 20th century. Because of his writings, Atlantis is the basis for many movies, video games, and documentaries, and laid the foundation for expeditions in the future.

Present-Day Atlantis

After Donnelly laid the ground work and brought the story of Atlantis back into the picture of mainstream media, most philologists and historians were quick to say that Atlantis was a work of fiction. Despite the majority consensus, there were still people who believed that Atlantis was real. Many researchers have claimed to have found the location of Atlantis, but their expeditions have failed to produce clear evidence that they had actually found Atlantis. Throughout the years, some of the locations have been in the Atlantic Ocean, Antarctica, Bolivia, Turkey, Germany, Malta, and the Caribbean.

In 1974, Charles Berlitz published a book call "The Bermuda Triangle". In the book, Berlitz writes out a theory claiming that Atlantis was the cause of the Bermuda Triangle, but in what became the trend with most evidence found and proclaimed to lead to Atlantis, it was debunked a year later by Larry Kusche in his book called "The Bermuda Triangle - Solved".

Here are some of the most notable locations:

The Greek Island of Santorini

Santorini, known is ancient times as Thera, is widely accepted as a possible location for Atlantis. It is a circular island with concentric structures, which Plato talks about when describing Atlantis, that can be dated before the Minoan volcanic eruption. There have also been archaeological findings on the island that show a rich and developed, marine community flourishing before the Minoan volcanic eruption. There has also been much debate about whether or not Solon translated the dates correctly, meaning that instead of the island being 9000 years before Plato's time, it was only 900 years before his time.

Bimini Road

Bimini Road

Bimini Road in the Bahamas

On September 2, 1968, three divers by the names of J. Manson Valentine, Jacques Mayol, and Robert Angove, discovered a rock formation near North Bimini Island in the Bahamas. The rock formation is measured around a half of a mile, laid shore-ward and is composed of flat-laying, tabular, and rectangular, sub-rectangular, polygonal, and irregular blocks. It was given the name of the Bimini Road because some people believe that it is and ancient road laid by Atlanteans. Others believe that it is the top of a wall, so it is sometimes called the Bimini Wall. Since the original rock formation has been found, two more have been found that run parallel to the original.

In 1977, a sample was taken of the road to be carbon-date tested. The testing was completed in 1979, with the results putting the road around 3,500 years old. Many geologists, archaeologists and marine engineers, as well as, numerous divers, have visited these sites through out the years. Among most of the experts, the general consensus is that Bimini Road is a natural feature made of beach rock.

Southern Spain

In March 2009 through 2010, Richard Freund led a group of archaeologists and geologists in an expedition into the mud flats in southern Spain. Using deep-ground radar, digital mapping, and underwater technology to discover a multi-ringed dominion in the marshlands of the Dona Ana Park. Freund also discovered a series of memorial cities in central Spain that are built in the image of Atlantis. Freund adds that Atlantean residents who did not die in the tsunami that buried Atlantis in the the marshlands, fled inward and built the new memorial cities.

The Conclusion

While there is no definitive proof that Atlantis ever existed, it hasn't deterred some historians, archaeologists and geologists about writing about it, or searching for it. Whether Atlantis is real or not, the search will continue because the idea of an advanced, Utopian society is intriguing. There is also no denying the impact that Atlantis has had on the entertainment industry.

Maybe Atlantis is real and we'll find it someday. Then again, may be it was a clever story made up by Plato to warn us about governments becoming to greedy and powerful. Either way, it is an intriguing story that needs to be looked into.


© 2015 Kingsniz


Rod Martin Jr from Cebu, Philippines on February 04, 2017:

So many find Atlantis in locations that ignore what Plato wrote. So many dismiss Atlantis as fiction, but don't seem to realize that they're making an argument to ignorance type logical fallacy.

I discovered in the scientific literature 3 pieces of evidence which prove an Atlantis-like event occurred right when Plato said the legendary island was swallowed by the sea. We also have another myth which parallels the story of Atlantis to an uncanny degree.

We also have genetics, blood types, linguistics, and other clues which support the story of Atlantis. This story isn't over.

Greg Wiseman on November 15, 2016:

Atlantis is in the same place all of the other " unknown" places are located. We only see what we want to see and we can make it a habity to purposelyforget some of the things that stare us in the face daily...

shaun on October 25, 2016:

The solution is much simpler as we think. Firstly why are we hundred percent positive Plato wrote Critas as his works was lost only till the middle ages. let's consider a compilation of different Author's years later and combined as one idea. Then reading the location and description of buildings and advancements even Cleito's father and mother's names as well as the ten kings which someone mixed the Vowels. We get the real Atlantis legend and links to one of the greatest empires the world has seen and know very well. one clue to start Cleito's father name Evonor is in fact Evander and mother's name is not a person but a cult that Evander brought with him. So happy hunting!!