The Lost City of Atlantis: Fact or Fiction?
Atlantis in Greek means the "island of Atlas". It is supposedly a legendary island which was first mentioned in Plato's Timaeus and Critias.
According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval island which was located "in front of the Pilars of Hercules" which is now the Straits of Gibraltar. The timeline given by Plato was 9000 years before Solon which would date Atlantis to 9600 BC.
For decades, there have been scores of people who believed that the Lost City of Atlantis was a fact and that there was indeed at island as mentioned as per Plato's account. Other's believed that the story was a mere fiction just to complete Plato's dialogues.
In Plato's dialogues introduced Atlantis in Timaeus, his accounts of Atlantis is explained below:-
"For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, 'the pillars of Heracles', there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the other islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean."
A philopsopher, Cantor which was a student of Plato's student Xenocrates, believed Atlantis to be a real city and that Plato's account of it to be historical fact. The location of Atlantis as given in Plato's Timaeus states:-
"that an island of such nature and size once existed is evident from what is said by certain authors. According to them, there were seven islands in that sea at that time, sacred to Persephone, and also three others of enourmous size, one of which was sacred to Pluto, another to Ammon, and another one between them to Poseidon, the extent of which was a thousand stadia (200 km)."
Other historians and philosophers who believed in the existence of Atlantis was Strabo and Posidonius.
When the theories of Continental drift became popular during the 1960s, it was at this time that the "Lost City" became the "Lost Continent". A Plato scholar, Dr Julian Annas, who is a Regent Professor at the University of Arizona said that:-
"The continuity of discovering Atlantis illustrates the dangers of reading Plato. For he is clearly using what has become a standard device of fiction - stressing the histocity of an event as an indication of what follows is fiction."
Other quotes of Atlantis being a fictional city is mentioned by A.E Taylor who stated that:-
"We could not be told much more plainly that the whole narrative of Solon's conversations with the priests and his intention of writing the poem about Atlantis are an invention of Plato's fancy."
Hypothetical locations of the Lost City of Atlantis
Over the years, there have been numerous hypotheses as to the exact location of the lost city of Atlantis. The areas mentioned:-
1) In or near the Mediterranean Sea
2) In the Atlantic Ocean
The Canary islands and Madeira islands have been identified as being the potential lost city. Several other islands such as the Azores islands and the submerged island of Spartel have been thought to be the lost city as well.
3) Other possible locations
Several other locations have been thought to be the lost city of Atlantis. These are the Batabano Bay which is South of Cuba, the Bahamas, the Bermuda Triangle, Sundaland in Indonesia. The lost continent of "Kumari Kandam" has also been suggested to be the lost city.
Google Earth Finding
In 2009, several group of experts, noted that they may have found the lost city of Atlantis located on the seabed off the African coast. They claimed that the grid of streets represented the outlines of a big city.
This claim was eventually brushed off as an incidental hoax as the official Google statement released stated that:-
"In this case, however, what users are seeing is an artefact of the data collection process. Bathymetric (or sea floor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea floor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data. The fact there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how little we really know about the world's oceans."
From the photo below, however you look at it, it just does not fit the description of the Lost City of Atlantis given by Plato.
Found at last !!
Professor Richard Freund and his team claimed to have found the Lost City of Atlantis. They are said to have found the lost city just off Cadiz, Spain in a swampy marshland of the Dona Ana Park. They used satellite photographs, ground-penetrating radar as well as underwater technology.
However, what intrigued Freund to investigate the Dona Ana Park further was the discovery of "memorial cities" which he claims were built by the survivors of Atlantis. The exact location is known as the Spartel Bank which sank 11,600 years ago. However, it seems that Plato could have messed up his timing as 9,000 years ago, there was no known advance civilization anywhere in the world. The facts presented by Gutscher seem to fit the geological time and place of Atlantis.
The four key data used by Gutscher is:-
1) 11,600 years ago;
2) island about 15 kilometres across;
3) a location in the sea beyond the Pillars of Hercules; and
4) sinking of the city leaving a muddy shoal behind.
Now, based on the four points listed above, it could seem likely that there was in fact land in which is now swampland and the land could he higher and larger as well.
Earthquake and Tsunami?
The only account of Atlantis destruction is found in Plato's writings which describe Atlantis as sinking into the ocean "in a single day and night of misforturne."
Recent findings have concluded that the Lost City of Atlantis could have met its untimely end in an earthquake and tsunami which was similar to the one that hit Japan recently.
Marc Andre Gutscher reported in Geology in 2002 that the Gulf of Cadiz, which is west to the Straits of Gibraltar, which Plato described as being the plausible location for the lost city of Atlantis, showed a subduction zone and a wedge of sediment. Gutscher also wrote that it was "possible for a magnitude 8.5 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Lisbon in 1755".
However, in a contradiction to Gutscher's finding, it has been shown that no advance civilation lived in that region 12,000 years ago. This is because the first city which has been recorded in human history is Catalhoyuk which is 6300 BC old, while monumental architecture only came about in 5,000 BC. In an archeological perspective, based on evidence gathered has clearly stated that humans at that time were hunter-gatherers.
Minoan Culture and People
This civilization was the Bronze Age civilization which began in 2700 BC. It is believed that these people had trade relationsips with Egypt and Crete. The people were mostly merchants with who had trade relationships overseas. This trade is the possible link which make the Minoan people to be that of the lost city of Atlantis. However, in 1450 BC, the Thera volcano erupted and it was this eruption which caused damaged to their city and culture.
Until time memorial, we will never know what the Lost City of Atlantis was to Plato. We do not know if it was indeed a real city or if it was just a figment of his imagination. But, one thing is for sure, Plato left us with the greatest unsolved mystery of mankind.