Friday, September 19, 2008



Anthony Radford

The story of Atlantis began in the Western mind with the modern translations of Plato, actually just the "Timaeus" and the "Critias". It has captured the imagination particularly since Ignatius Donnelly published his work "Atlantis: The Antediluvian World" in 1882. He was the same author that tried to prove that Francis Bacon was the real poet behind the works of Shakespeare.

Despite the fact that Plato is almost the sole source of this legend and the nearly total lack of hard facts from geology and archaeology to find Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean, the popular concept persists. Briefly stated, it is that a large highly advanced civilization had once existed, somewhere out in the Atlantic. It had ended in a geological catastrophe by sinking beneath the waters some 11,000 years ago. Survivors of this race influenced embryonic civilizations across the world such as Egypt and in some cases founded new ones.

They were ruled by ten kings who chose an overlord from amongst themselves. They were religious, possibly in the mother goddess tradition and enjoyed all sorts of comforts brought to them by their superior seafaring traditions. Their increasingly wanton and depraved practices such as experimenting with changing men into animals eventually caused their downfall into the depths of the Atlantic much to the delight of the moralistic story tellers. "Where did this story come from." is a question more easily answered than why it has persisted.

Solon was known as the great lawgiver to Greece. About 595 BC, in his youth, he visited Egypt where he was told a tale by Egyptian priests concerning both their earliest history and the founding of his own Attica, the district of Athens, nine thousand years earlier, by descendants of a noble race who lived long before. Those early Greeks had successfully defended the whole Mediterranean area from a warlike power that came from the Atlantic Sea who tried to conquer and enslave them. Subsequently to this war, there were great earthquakes and deluges that shook and buried the island of the Atlanteans in a day and a night. Those disturbances were felt throughout the Mediterranean.

About two hundred years later Plato incorporates this tale in his "Timaeus", a dialogue between Socrates, Timaeus, a scientist, Critias, an historian, and a general named Hermocrates in which the story of Atlantis is told. Some years later, he continues it in his "Critias"

In his description of Atlantis, Plato has developed the story with the popular conceptions of Atlanteans of his time. They were the legends of Hyperboria, the land beyond the north winds, with its moated citadels, earth mothers, and sea-kings. Both Homer and Hesiod refer to lands somewhere far to the west such as the Garden of the Hesperides with its golden apples, a paradise for the souls of departed heroes. Plato also combined the closer legends of the former Minoan civilization of Crete with its royal palaces, maritime wealth and mother goddesses. It is not possible to place Atlantis at any one place because of this fusion of sources which is not an uncommon practice in legends which have undergone many generations of verbal tradition before being written down.

Plato did something more. The size of Atlantis was too large to fit in the Mediterranean Sea, and the population too great, so he chose to believe a version of the story that placed it somewhere beyond the Pillars of Hercules. That was way out in the Atlantic that was by then known to be an ocean rather than just a sea, the traditional home of the sea-kings. There are also myths relating to interactions between Atlantians and Hyperboreans as though they were separate nations but whether they were very old or more recent in the time of Plato is not known.

The importance given to Plato’s writings on the subject is not supported by what is known of their origins. He wrote them in 355 BC when he was in his seventies. He wrote of a time when he would have been about six years old so could hardly have kept notes on any conversations with Socrates and the story itself is of a time nearly two hundred years previously about a conversation Solon was supposed to have had. The "Timaeus" was to have been a sequel to his "Republic" and is a fictional vehicle for the expounding of opposing philosophical ideas with Plato’s own position not disclosed. He does mention that Athena founded an Athenian empire, which ties in with our book. The only value that can be ascertained from this is a collection of ideas about their neighbors and the history that was believed by the Greeks at the time and not of any relevance to a factual Atlantis. It is interesting to note how a collection of maps is called an atlas. Early volumes showed a picture of the Titan, Atlas, supporting the world on his shoulders but then seafarers like the Atland sea-kings must have had their versions of an atlas.

In 1909, K. T. Frost suggested that from an Egyptian point of view, the disappearance of the Minoan sea-power gave a lot of support to the Atlantean legend if Crete had been their home. The more recent discoveries of archaeological evidence of the ancient eruption of Mt. Thera in the Santorini Islands has given cause to speculate that ancient Crete was Atlantis. Santorini now consists of a ring of five islands, the southernmost member of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean, north of Crete. Mt. Thera is still the highest point but was once part of a larger main island. Excavations have revealed a maritime trading city-state of considerable wealth preserved under several feet of pumice before a much more violent explosion destroyed anything above that covering. It has been found that first came earthquakes followed by a recovery period that was interrupted by four or five feet of light pumice ash permitting the inhabitants to escape, possibly to Crete. No bodies have been found like at Pompeii. Another quake or else the collapsing of the crust to form a caldera, let the sea into the hot center of what is now a ring of islands. The resulting explosion estimated to be twice the magnitude of the well-documented Krakatoa one and many times that of Mt. St. Helens would have been heard throughout the Mediterranean. Finally, a deluge could have occurred even in dry Egypt because ash acts as nuclei for the formation of hail. In that event it has been estimated that ash rose up to eighteen miles into the atmosphere.

Marinatos in 1939 proposed the volcanic destruction of Crete at the time of the Thera eruption to satisfy the catastrophic ending of a Cretan Atlantis but people demanded a more watery demise. A. G. Galanopoulos believed that Plato had to consider an Atlantic home for Atlantis because the exaggerated dimensions were the result of a translation error in the Egyptian symbol for one hundred as opposed to that for one thousand. Large values in Solon’s writings should have been reduced by a factor of ten. This makes sense for a Cretan Atlantis as far as both age and size is concerned. Nine thousand years becomes nine hundred so that Attica would have been founded about 1500 BC then the war and subsequent catastrophes some time later. The destruction of the palace at Knossos on Crete has been determined by carbon-14 dating techniques to be 1559 BC ±44 years. This is a more recent estimate than the previously published values of 1456 BC ±43 years, which was in agreement with the archaeological dating of 1450 BC, but what if the charcoal samples tested, were from palace timbers that were themselves, hundreds of years old?

It is still necessary to combine the traditions of a wetter, more fertile climate to the story if Crete is to be the location of the legendary Atlantis. This speculation does fit the concepts of a maritime power, a great trading nation ruled by kings and having a matriarchal religious system. It lacks only the submergence contention unless there were myths of land being lost to the sea that were part of the popular understanding in the time of Plato and there is indeed the myth of the Deucalion deluge, possibly from the same phenomenon. In Greek myth, Deucalion, the son of Prometheus, and father of Helen, the ancestor of the Hellenic people, made a boat when Zeus decided to destroy all mankind by means of a flood. The boat landed at Mt. Parnassus where he and his wife, Pyrrha, recreated all men and women by throwing stones from the mountain. Modern geologists attribute that flood to the tsunami wave resulting from the Mt. Thera explosion.

Next we will consider how the stories in the Oera Linda Book relate to this tradition. We are told that the sea-king Jon took Minerva to Crete about 1620 BC, that they were in contact with the Greeks who were not independent but paying tribute to some stronger power. The Cretan government reads as though it was loosely governed, not by a powerful despot but by local lords without strong military support, but dependent upon popular belief in their superiority or value which was achieved by a combination of religious fear and a payola system called taxation. This could be an intermediate period between Minoan empires but is most likely the beginning of Late Minoan I-B, a less than splendid era. On some charts this is listed at about 1580 BC but has recently been moved back to possibly 1650 BC with another hundred years to the end of Knossos. It does not take a great natural disaster to end a strong era that is usually recognized by archaeologists as a high taxation, palace or monument building period. All it takes is a revolt followed by smaller autonomous units, perhaps even giving greater freedom to the common population for a period - if that is considered one measure of civilization, but not leaving much evidence.

There was piracy or wars at the time causing Minerva to choose to stay on the very poor country of Crete from where her fame spread to Attica, which they considered less developed. A delegation from Greece wanted her help in throwing off the foreign domination. This is why she moved to Attica to found a citadel she called Athens, the City of Friends and soon afterwards her followers built the two fortified arms to the sea that characterize Piraeus, the port of Athens. After her death, the people chose Geert as a new mother but the princes with the help of an Egyptian priest named Cecrops drove her away. This was a powerful period in Egyptian history, possibly during the reign of Tutmosis III because Egypt had considerable influence over the Phoenicians as well, whom they solicited to attack Piraeus, by sea. Perhaps this was the war that was told to Solon with nationalistic exaggeration.

The escaping Geertmen went through the Nile to the Red Sea and were immediately cut off from pursuit by an earthquake that closed access to that sea. That earthquake was certainly felt in Egypt but if it was the one at Thera or a precursor of that quake it would put the date to approximately 1555 BC instead of 1650. According to one record in the Book, another statement would put it thirty years later but in either case, it agrees well within the modern carbon-14 dating values. We are also told that the Geertmen witnessed new land being built in Persia on their journey to India, which they, much later, named New Geertmania in the time of Alexander. If that uplifting were related to the quake in Egypt then it must have been a very active period in geological history.

The war, the quake, the founding of old Athens, but not Attica has been recalled in the Book. The maritime prowess and stories of citadels with circular moats housing wise priestesses is also supporting evidence for Plato, and of course the name "Atlantis" is so close to "Atland" that it is undoubtedly a word known to ancient Greece and Egypt. The trading wealth, the sophistication of their society all fit, even the stories of giants in those days can be believed if one calls a seven foot woman with a seven foot sword a giant. Ulysses must have brought back quite a tale when he finally returned to the eastern Mediterranean.

According to classical mythology, the Giants were the fourth race of mankind before the Heroes. The first children of Heaven (Uranus) and Earth (Gaea) were three monsters with fifty heads and a hundred hands representing the violent forces of nature. Their father did not care much for them and imprisoned them in the earth hence the earthquakes and eruptions. This tale has striking similarities to many-headed gods depicted in Indian mythology. The next offspring were one-eyed, man-eating Cyclops followed by the more manlike Titans and then came the Giants. It is interesting to note that a ship with a standard compliment of twenty-five rowers per side has fifty heads and a hundred hands. The ornamental bowsprit would make it appear as a monster.

Some of the dates of the Oera Linda Book fit very well with what we know of the ancient Mediterranean, but others, particularly the Egyptian calendar, may need revising. However, as this calendar is used to date most other events in the history of the time, including the Minoan calendar of events, it will be very difficult to accomplish. Some have tried to relate the event of the Biblical Exodus to this time and to the Pharaoh Tutmoses III, suggesting that the explosion on Santorini influenced the strange events recorded in the Old Testament but that is another story. Others want an ancient Atlantis and talk about the three or more hundred feet that the last ice age lowered the sea as "evidence" enough but let us try to keep our feet on the ground. Even if, as a modern theory suggests, the Gulf Stream suddenly broke through the land barrier formed by the lower sea level of an ice age and started flowing under the ice cap, melting and flooding would still take thousands of years, not a day and a night.

Though we were born out of an ice age some ten thousand years ago who is to say we are the first? Our own individual memories and feelings do not convince anyone else not sharing them, so we continue to wait for both geological and archaeological evidence for the existence of an antediluvian Atlantis. It is the author’s contention that the old Atlantis may never have existed according to the Plato concept but that both a northern Atland and a Cretan royal power contributed to the myths of Atlantis that Plato recorded as legend.

If this were so then Minno’s adventures would have had to occur either centuries before Minerva and Jon or, more likely, just after during a period when Cretan royal power was at a minimum. It is also likely that the subsequent Mycenaean influence on Crete has been exaggerated or limited to part of the island and also that the foreign domination of Attica was not Cretan but from Asia Minor, even Egyptian. There is no dating of the writings of Minno, but he does make reference to Athens as an existing place, dating him to be either contemporary or after their time. It is possible his name was not related to "Minoan" or that he himself picked up his name from Crete.


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