There’s only one reason for tourists to try and visit the Eye of the Sahara - to search for the long lost city of Atlantis. These two young woman could not even make it out of their hotel room due to the Mauritanian government detaining them. They booked a three-day weekend and got appropriate tourist visas, believing everything was fine so long as they followed all the proper procedures. As soon as they stepped out of the airport to get a cab they were stopped by police who sexually harassed them and went through their phones, degrading them for pictures in which they were not covered by the strict traditional muslim garb, despite being in full dress code compliance while traveling in Mauritania. This could be standard geopolitical complications of international travel but many believe it is indicative of a governmental attempt to prevent discovery of the fabled lost city Atlantis.
The enormous geological feature deep in the Saharan Desert that these women were seeking is officially known as the Richat Structure, but has been dubbed the Eye of the Sahara for its unique resemblance to a human eye when viewed from very, very far away. In fact, this structure is so large it can be seen from space! It’s comprised of concentric circles of land created by the erosion of a geological dome likely caused by volcanic activity. These concentric circles of land are a surprisingly good match for the earliest known descriptions of Atlantis given by Plato.
Many believe Plato’s account to be fictionalized hyperbole used as allegory to glorify Athens, but if it was a legitimate attempt to describe a location then there is no closer match on earth than this strange feature of the African desert. Even the location is not as strange as it sounds when compared to other references to the lost city. Due to the famous destruction of the city sinking beneath the waves all archaeological attempts at discovery have been focused on underwater excavations so a city buried in the desert would have evaded such attempts easily. If the water table had been different during the time of Atlantis by shifting landmasses these concentric circles of land would have been surrounded by water and a large tsunami could have made it seem as if the city sank.
Very few experts are willing to entertain this desert Atlantis theory but armchair archaeologists of the internet make many compelling arguments for why we should at least look at the Richat Structure for signs of the ancient lost city. Tourists who have made it there report finding ancient artifacts along with giant whale bones that encourage adventurous travelers to try and seek it out for themselves, hoping to be the one to find the first real proof of Atlantis.
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