The Legendary Lost Continent of Atlantis

A seventeenth century map placing Atlantis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The map is oriented with south at the top. (Image source: Public Domain)

“[…] histories tell of a mighty power which was aggressing wantonly against the whole of Europe and Asia […] This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which you call the Columns of Heracles [the Strait of Gibraltar, known as the Pillars of Hercules]: the island was larger than Libya [northern Africa] and Asia [Turkey] put together, and was the way to other islands, and from the islands you might pass through [to] the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a continent.

“Now, in the island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire, which had rule over the whole island and several others, as well as over parts of the continent; and, besides these, they subjected the parts of Libya [northern Africa] within the Columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia [Italy].” 1

This was the story told to the Athenian statesman Solon by Egyptian priests in the temple of Sais in Egypt in 600 BC. The records and the temple itself were destroyed by 1400 AD. 2

That the story reaches us today is because it was recorded by Plato (in his dialogue Critias). Thus, the story of Atlantis has been handed down for centuries, for the Western world to ponder over.

A map of Atlantis from Ignatius L. Donnelly's Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, 1882
A map showing the supposed location of Atlantis, from Ignatius L. Donnelly’s Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, 1882 (Image source: Public Domain)

Was Atlantis destroyed by a natural disaster?

The priests of the Egyptian temple also told of the cataclysm which destroyed Atlantis, which occurred some 9000 years earlier, in 9600 BC. This is a curious date, for it coincides with the end of an era of rapid cooling which occurred for over a thousand years, called the Younger Dryas period. Around 9600 BC, a rapid warming period was occurring which many argue caused great floods around the world. The cause of the Younger Dryas period, it is theorised, was a comet. It is this sudden rise in sea level which is associated with the sinking of Atlantis.

A comet impacting the earth many thousands of years ago is recorded in the Native American folklore of the Ojibwa people.

The star with the long, wide tail is going to destroy the world some day when it comes low again […] It came down here once, thousands of years ago […] The comet burned everything to the ground. There wasn’t a thing left […]The comet made a different world. After that survival was hard work. The weather was colder than before.” 3

Recent academic theories place the possibility of this comet impact around 10,890 BC, due to the physical evidence present around this time. Physical evidence includes compressed nanodiamonds, which are said to have been remnants of a high impact disaster. A testament to the global reach of this catastrophe is the fact that such physical evidence has been found across many continents. 4

The ancient secrets of Göbekli Tepe

It has been suggested by Martin B. Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis of the University of Edinburgh that the world’s oldest megalithic site, Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, contains records of this cosmic impact.

Göbekli Tepe
Göbekli Tepe, Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”, is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. (Image credit: Klaus-Peter Simon / Wikimedia Commons)

This structure is thousands of years older than the pyramids, and its function remains a mystery. However, the carvings on the Vulture Stone seem to record a great object impacting the earth in 10,950 BC. It may even be the case that the whole site of Göbekli Tepe was built to record astronomical events, especially meteoroid showers. 5 Curiously, the founding of this site seems to have been around the same time that Atlantis was said to have disappeared off the earth. 6

All of this evidence points to a cataclysmic natural disaster having occurred around the time that Atlantis is said to have fallen. Could such a cataclysm have destroyed an entire civilisation?

Atlantis: home of the Gods

At the temple of Edfu in Egypt, there exists some hieroglyphics which tell of an island which served as the homeland of the gods. They lived there until a catastrophe befell the island. After this, their “homeland ended in darkness beneath the primeval waters”. 7

Even more mysterious, however, are texts from the temple which hint at some sort of artificial source of illumination described as the “sound eye”. According to the texts, the whole island fell into darkness when the great flood hit. Is this evidence of advanced technology?

It is further suggested in the temple’s inscriptions that Atlantis was not entirely destroyed in a single day. Rather, the deluge inundated most of the island, resulting in an attempt by the gods to reclaim the land they had lost. Eventually, however, the project was abandoned – the island was too destroyed to be reclaimed. After this, it is said that the gods went across the world on a civilising mission. 8

What happens after the fall of Atlantis can allegedly be correlated with several myths from around the world. The legend of Quetzalcoatl in Central America; Oannes and the sages of Mesopotamia; and, of course, the gods of Egypt; as well as others around the world. What these myths have in common is the arrival of peoples from a far off place to teach tribal people agriculture, animal herding and other hallmarks of primitive civilisation. 9

And, the timing is remarkable. According to Plato’s writings, Atlantis was destroyed in 9,600 BC; about a hundred years later the foundations of agriculture are firmly in place in the Levant region of the Middle East. 10

Atlantis’ location

The whereabouts of Atlantis has always been a mystery.

Gunung Padang Megalithic Site
Gunung Padang Megalithic Site (Image credit: Mohammad Fadli / Wikimedia Commons)

Plato mentions that it is beyond the straits of Gibraltar, between Europe and “the other continent”, presumably the Americas. The mention of the other continent in Plato’s record has always been a source of contention, but if it does mean the Americas, then it would indicate that the ancient Egyptians were at least aware of something which would take thousands of years for Western civilisation to rediscover.

Other reports place Atlantis in fact in Indonesia. Recent archaeological evidence from the Gunung Padang Megalithic site in West Java has revealed carbon dates older than 12,000 BC. Such findings are rewriting history, proving that what we thought we knew of our ancient past, is far from a complete understanding. 11

Yet, if the era of the tenth millennium BC is one defined by cataclysmic natural disasters, then it would not be unreasonable to think that there was more than just Atlantis that existed in the antediluvian world. The world may have been much as it is today, divided between developed and developing areas. One day it all changed: a comet ravaged the earth and in the great waves that encompassed the old world, a new one was baptised into being. It is a frightening prospect to consider, for it means that everything that all nations have ever done today could tomorrow only exist in an obscure reference, written by some future philosopher.

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