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The Lost Continent of Atlantis
Plato gave the world the oldest remaining written account of Atlantis, in Critias, recorded circa 370 BC. "Critias" was a fictionalized transcript of information from "Critias the Younger, " an apparently real Greek nobleman who lived at the same time as Plato.

By Plato's account, Poseidon, god of the sea, sired five pairs of male twins with mortal women. Poseidon appointed the eldest of these sons, Atlas the Titan, ruler of his beautiful island domain. Atlas became the personification of the mountains or pillars that held up the sky. Plato described Atlantis as a vast island-continent west of the mediterranean, surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. The Greek word Atlantis means the island of Atlas, just as the word Atlantic means the ocean of Atlas. Atlantis was governed in peace, was rich in commerce, was advanced in knowledge, and held dominion over the surrounding islands and continents. By Plato's legend, the people of Atlantis became complacent and their leaders arrogant; in punishment the Gods destroyed Atlantis, flooding it and submerging the island in one day and night.

In a sense, Atlantis may have actually existed. According to the hypothesis described here, Atlantis was indeed destroyed by the sea in a cataclysmic event, very plausibly lasting a day and a night. Plato's account was wrong in several essential ways, but was derived from correct, if garbled, historical accounts. Plato's writings embodied the now lost words of Solon, a Greek ruler who visited Egypt circa 590 BC. Solon sired Critias the Elder, who in turn sired Critias the Younger. As Plato's account was derived from Critias the Younger, it was thus a retelling of the story of Solon, who in turn told the stories that he had heard during his trip to Egypt. So, by this reasoning, any historical search for Atlantis starts with assessing what Solon actually heard in Egypt.

It seems likely that Solon's Egyptian sojourn acquainted him with tales of an ancient land named Keftiu, an island nation named for holding one of the four pillars that supported the Egyptian sky. According to the Egypt legend, Keftiu was an advanced civilization, and was the gateway to and ruler of all of the lands to the far west of Egypt (Greece, Libya, and beyond). Keftiu traded in ivory, copper, and cloth. Keftiu supported hosts of ships and controlled commerce far beyond the Egyptians domain.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

The ancient Minoans (Atlanteans) display their many styles of ships in this wall painting (circa: AT LEAST 1600 BC).

By Egyptian record, Keftiu was destroyed by the seas in an apocalypse. It seems likely Solon carried legends of Keftiu to Greece, where he passed it to his son and grandson.

Plato recorded and embellished the story from Solon's grandson Critias the Younger. As in many ancient writings, history and myth were indistinguishably intermixed. Plato probably translated "the land of the pillars which held the sky" (Keftiu) into the land of the titan Atlas (who held the sky). Comparison of ancient Egyptian records of Keftiu identifies a number of similarities to Plato's Atlantis. It seems likely that Plato's Atlantis was a retelling (and renaming) of Egypt's Keftiu.

When Plato identified the location of the land he named Atlantis, he placed it to the west-in the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, Egyptian legend placed Keftiu west of Egypt, not necessarily west of the Mediterranean. In describing Atlantis as an island (or continent) in the Atlantic Ocean, we suspect Plato was merely wrong in his interpretation of the Egyptian legend he was retelling.

Yet Plato preserved enough detail about the land of Atlantis that its identification now seems very likely, and rather less mysterious than many new-age advocates would like. It is likely that Atlantis was the land of the Minoan culture, namely ancient Crete and Thera. If this hypothesis is correct, Plato never realized that the land of Atlantis was already familiar to him. Let's have a look at the evidence which suggests that Minoan Crete and surrounding islands bear a striking resemblance to what Plato described as Atlantis.

Archaeological records show that the Minoan culture spread its dominion throughout the nearby islands of the Aegean, very roughly from 3000 years BC to about 1400 years BC. Crete, now part of Greece, was the capital for the Minoan people an advanced civilization with language, commercial shipping, complex architecture, ritual and games. It seems very likely that related islands (e.g. Santorini/Thera) may have been part of the same culture. The Minoans were peaceful: very little evidence of military activity was found in their ruins. A 4-storied palace at Knossos, Crete, was said to be the capitol of the Minoan culture. Correspondence of Minoan cultural artifacts with aspects of the Atlantis legend make the identity of the two seem virtually certain. Perhaps the most unusual of these is the Minoan bull fighting. By Egyptian legend, the inhabitants of Keftiu would engage in ritualistic bull fighting, with unarmed Minoan bullfighters wrestling and jumping over uninjured bulls. This same foolhardy practice is richly illustrated in remaining Minoan artwork. Plato's (Egyptian) legend also holds that Atlantis was peaceful this is confirmed by a virtually complete absence of weapons in Minoan ruins and in Minoan artwork unusual for peoples of that time. Egyptian legend held that elephants were found on Keftiu while there were presumably no elephants on Crete, the Minoans were known to deal in African ivory, and appear to have been the principal access to ivory for Egypt 20 centuries before Christ.

The Atlanteans kept many exotic animals on their islands, as shown in this Minoan wall painting.

Plato's maps of Atlantis have even been argued to resemble the geography of ancient Crete.

Many ancient Greek myths take their location from Minoan crete more than ten centuries before Plato. Daedalus, the ancient scientist, was supposedly the architect of the palace at Knossos. There one can still find ruins alleged to be the labyrinth that housed the legendary Minotaur, the monster (half-human, half bull) slewn by Thesius. So ancient myths were not new to Minoan Crete. Regardless of the legend, Minoan culture extended across the island of Crete, with most of its developments along the northern coast of Crete. But, after more than a thousand years of dominance, the Minoan culture came to an abrupt end, circa 1470 BC.

But what of the fabled apocalypse which, according to the Egyptians, swallowed Keftiu-Atlantis in one day and one night? This also has basis in historical fact. The trail of evidence leads to the small island of Santorini.

Santorini (also known as Thera) lies 75 km north of Crete.

Santorini was also a Minoan land, and ruins can be found throughout the island. A mountain lay at its center, probably about 1500 meters in height until approximately 1500 BC. This mountain was a volcano; eruptions began about 1500 BC, and smoldered until a final climax about 1470 BC. Geologically, not all volcanoes are the same. Some drip lava slowly for centuries, others explode cataclysmically. From tectonic location, composition, and physical structure one can identify similarities between volcanoes. The volcano at Santorini was geologically similar to the 19th century Pacific volcano Krakotoa, and quite different from (for example) the volcanoes on Hawaii. Krakotoa exploded violently in 1883, spreading unparalleled tidal waves (tsunamis) throughout the southwest pacific, and filling the atmosphere with ash that spread through the entire world.

Santorini was about 4 times larger than Krakotoa, and probably at least twice as violent. The fury of Santorini's final explosion is inferred from geologic core samples, from comparison to the detailed observations made on Krakotoa in 1883, and from the simultaneous obliteration of almost all Minoan settlements. The geologic record time the final explosion of Santorini with remarkable accuracy. The likely picture then, is this.

In summer, circa 1470 BC, Santorini exploded. Volcanic ash filled the sky, blotted out the sun, and triggered hail and lightning. A heavy layer of volcanic ash rained down over the Aegean, covering islands and crops. Earthquakes shook the land, and stone structures fell from the motion. When the enormous magma chamber at Santorini finally collapsed to form the existing caldera, enormous tsunamis (tidal waves) spread outward in all directions. The coastal villages of Crete were flooded and destroyed. The only major Minoan structure surviving the waves and earthquakes was the palace at Knossos, far enough inland to escape the tidal waves. But in the days that followed, volcanic ash covered some settlements, and defoliated the island.

Buildings were completely covered in volcanic ash by the cataclysmic explosion.

In famine from the ash, with the bulk of their civilization washed away, the remaining Minoans were overrun by Mycaeneans from Greece, and Knossos finally fell.

The modern island of Santorini is now the rim of the the volcano the caldera is covered by the Aegean sea. Mounds of pumice and volcanic ash mark its center, where the volcano remains. New inhabitants of Santorini mine the volcanic ash to make cement and still find ancient ruins under the stone. The ash is now the soil, olive and fruit trees cover the landscape, and former Atlantis (Crete, Santorini, and perhaps other Aegean islands) is mostly buried. New inhabitants have rebuilt Crete, but the mute ruins of ancient Atlantis can still be seen.

References: The above was a summary of: J V Luce: The End of Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend, 1969, Thames and Hudson. Reprinted 1993 by Efstathiades Group.

Similarities between Plato's beliefs, and today's facts.
Thera and Atlantis both experienced severe earthquakes and a volcanic eruption(s) so huge that only 5 islets, some no more than rocks, remain of Thera, and of Atlantis remained "small islets, only the bones of a wasted body". See above map.

Both were wealthy, highly developed cultures, concerned with art, beauty, entertainment and personal comforts and adornments.

Notice the detailed necklace of this woman.

Plato spoke of bulls hunted with ropes within a temple in Atlantis. Archaeological evidence has shown the Minoans built bull rings, hunting the animals with nooses, (the only example of this kind of "bullfight" in world history) and practiced "bull jumping", either a sport or religious ritual. These practices gave rise to the legend (?) of the Minotaur, half man, half bull, secured within the labyrinth.

Atlantis was said to be situated near a gateway of rock; namely, the Pillars of Hercules. Though the Straight of Gibraltar had this name, there was a different location called The Pillars of Hercules, located in the Cyclades.

Atlantis was a powerful thalassocracy, and ruled areas "larger than Asia and Libya", with "the docks full of tiremes (a kind of ship) and naval stores...the largest of harbors were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts." The Minoan area of sea control and economic influence included all of North Africa, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Their fleet was unsurpassed in its size. Remember the ships? Since all the countries in these areas were not even aware of each other's existence, certainly strange and exaggerated tales could have begun to circulate about the size, scope and wonders of the Minoan civilization.

Plato described Atlantis as alternating rings of sea and land, with a palace in the center "bull's eye". Interestingly, the remnants of post eruption Thera are circular around a deep, wide lagoon, with another small island located in the center of the lagoon. Perhaps Egyptians or other ancient travelers visited Thera long after the volcanic destruction occurred, misinterpreted the geographical remains of the island, and began the legend of the rings of Atlantis. Looking 70 miles south to crescent shaped Crete, the ancient traveler could have easily assumed the ring system of Atlantis reached as far.

Plato speaks of the stone quarried from under Atlantis; "one kind of stone was white, another black, and a third red". The first sight of Thera that modern day tourists see is the sheer cliffs remaining when the rest of the island dropped into the sea, and these cliffs are a breathtaking mix of white, black and red stone. A unique sight in the Aegean world.

Archaeologists have found an extensive and sophisticated system of sewers, drainage, drinking and bath water pipes in Crete and Thera. Private homes had flush toilets and bathtubs. It appears Minoans heated their houses and had hot and cold running water from hydrothermal vents. Plato describes the "bringing up (of) two springs of water from beneath the earth... fountains, one of cold and another of hot water...there were the king's baths and also the baths of private persons."

Some may argue the fact of Plato saying that this civilization was destroyed "9000" years ago, and the actual date from Plato's time being closer to "900" years ago. The reason is this:
The symbols for "900" and "9000" were simply written incorrectly after being copied time and time again.
It would have only taken one person to mistake this: for this:

What do YOU think?

More Images

This is a picture of an Atlantean fisherman.
This is a picture of women gathering safron.
Today, the archaeological site must be covered with a roof to be protected from the suns' rays or strong winds and rain.
This picture shows an ancient two story building, which was completely buried in ash.

I'm currently going to UH Manoa in Hawaii and looking for a job. Help me out if you're willing and able.. Mahalo.

hits since November 18th, 1999.

Copyright Alex Hawk 1998,1999