The Search for a Legendary Land: Does the Truth of Plato’s Atlantis Rest on a Shifting Sea Floor? | Ancient Origins
|Photo: Phil Flambas|
|Artist’s representation of underwater ruins. |
Plato describes a civilization with a Bronze Age level of technology, centered on what was a large “Atlantic island” located somewhere outside the Mediterranean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean.
Plato wrote two works or “dialogues” called the Timaeus and Critias around 360 BCE and they are the only known works that describe the civilization of Atlantis in detail. They describe the travels to Egypt in about 570 BCE of the Athenian statesman Solon (638–558 BCE). While Solon was in Egypt, some senior Egyptian temple priests told him about the empire of Atlantis and its war against the nations of the eastern Mediterranean, including prehistoric Athens. The Mediterranean war occurred 9,000 years before Solon's time. After the war ended, the Atlantic Island sank and there were destructions of prehistoric Athens. Plato based his Atlantis dialogues on Solon's translation of the Egyptian story.
Historical Fact, or a Noble Lie?
In both the Timaeus and Critias, Plato repeatedly describes the Atlantis story as fact, not fiction. However, virtually from the time Plato wrote the dialogues in the 4 th century BCE, many philosophers and scholars have argued that Plato created the Atlantis story as a fiction or “noble lie”. They claim that Plato created a fictitious Atlantis and prehistoric Athens as a metaphor and moral message for a discussion about ideal societies. However, if you take the time to read a translation of the Timaeus and Critias, you will find the degree of detail that Plato uses, particularly to describe the geography of the Atlantic Island and prehistoric Athens, is much more than necessary for a metaphor.
Given the thousands of books and location theories already written about Atlantis, it surprises me that virtually all the authors pick parts of Plato's geographical descriptions or greatly alter them so that their theories satisfy only a few of the descriptions. Most commonly, the authors argue that Plato was either wrong in his time or distance calculations, that there was not an Atlantic Island that sank, or that Atlantis' location was not in the Atlantic Ocean. I have spent six years researching all of Plato's descriptions in the Timaeus and Critias as being true and precise.
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|The "Atlantic island" in the Caribbean. |
Image via author
By analyzing Plato’s geographical descriptions of the “Atlantic island” , I have concluded that it was located in the eastern Caribbean region. The Atlantic Island was once a large landmass of over one million square kilometers that occupied the eastern half of the Caribbean Tectonic Plate. It was once above sea level but then most of it “sank” and now forms a large part of the Caribbean Sea floor.
Plato’s Atlantean civilization developed more than 11,600 years ago, after what is called the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which occurred about 20,000 years ago. The LGM was the time during the current Ice Age when glacial ice sheets over Antarctica and much of North America and Eurasia were at their greatest extent and kilometers thick.
Source: Ancient Origins