Did Atlantis Exist Essay

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The purpose of this essay is to determine if there is any truth in the tale of Atlantis.

This is an Essay I choose to do for my Australian Year 11 (NSW) Ancient History Assignment.

Is there any truth in the story of Atlantis?[edit]

Atlantis is a topic, when mentioned, most people turn a blind eye to. A lot of people say “since mankind cannot find it, it does not exist.” That is as far from the truth as possible. Until Heimlich Schliemann found the city of Troy in 1865, most people never truly believed that it existed. To determine the possibility of Atlantis’ existence, the following needs to be considered: 1)What is Atlantis, and why is everyone so obsessed with it? 2) What ancient texts (both directly and indirectly) support the theory of Atlantis, and what scholars have opinions on the matter? 3) If Atlantis does in fact exist, where is it located?

What is Atlantis?[edit]

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato first set the Atlantis pin rolling for the public when he published two books “Timaeus” and “Critias” around 370 B.C.E [1]. Timaeus describes how Solon, “a relative and a dear friend of my great-grandfather” [2] travelled to Egypt to be told the story of Atlantis by a priest, who had translated the history of Atlantis and Athens, recorded on pillars in Heiroglyphics. The story continues to claim that the god Poseidon founded Atlantis. Poseidon fell in love with a woman and bore 5 pairs of male twins, one of which, Atlas, became king of Atlantis, which is named after him.

The book Critias describes the war that took place 9000 years ago (from Plato’s viewpoint, 11,600 years ago from today’s date) between “between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles [Hercules] and all who dwelt within them” [3] (see figure 1) and Atlantis’ eventual destruction, "But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea." [3] Critias ends suddenly, literally midsentence, just when Zeus, king of the gods, calls a meeting with the other gods to discuss the fate of Atlantis.

The Peri Reis map is pictorial evidence that supports certain theories about Atlantis, as it has what appears to be Antarctica near the Atlantic Ocean.[6] The Athanasius Kircher’s map is another map that certain scholars believe to be Antartica in the Atlantic, although it looks more like Australia. The map’s compass points to the south, like the Ancient Egyptians used to do in their days, thus the map needs to be viewed upside down in order to correctly identify the surrounding landmarks. (see figure 2)[6][5.i]

What ancient texts give reference (either directly or indirectly) to Atlantis?[edit]

There are many ancient texts that give reference either to the island of Atlantis (Plato, Plutarch, Herodotus, Diodorus, Aristotle, Marcellus, Proculus, Crantor, Homer and Hesiod, to name a few from Greece alone!) , or to a “destruction of mankind” as plainly evident in the Bible, and the hundreds of destruction myths from around the world. Almost every single myth mentions an earthquake, flood or fire/volcano. [6] Texts that do not specifically mention the word “Atlantis” or some phonetic variation, should not be disregarded at this point in time, as scholars are unable to determine whether Plato’s version of events is accurate. Accounts of the other lost civilisation Lemuria also should not be disregarded, even though Lemuria dates to even older to Atlantis and is believed to have existed in the Pacific Ocean, around the approximate location of Easter Island, simply because scholars are unable to confirm what Plato meant by “Atlantic Ocean” i.e. in Plato’s time, the region was called the “Western Ocean”[8].

The Biblical Account of Genesis is a prime example of evidence for Atlantis, as it reads very similarly to Plato’s Dialogues [11]. For Example, Genesis recounts the blood line from Adam/Eve to Noah, the Dialogues recount the line of kings from Poseidon to Hermes Trismegistus (Thoth or “Hermes, thrice born”), the last of the kings before Atlantis’ demise, as shown by the Manetho’s kings list compared to the Turin Papyrus. [9][7]. Both texts state that their respective people (Noah, Adam etc / Atlantean kings) lived for overwhelming lengths of time, and that the last of their respective kind would survive the cataclysm i.e. noah & family survived; Thoth & his chosen few survived & came to Egypt. This is further backed up when the Emerald Book of Thoth, a very ancient literary text said to have been written by Thoth himself [7] and found in a chamber in the Great Pyramid at Giza, which was supposedly built by the Great Architect himself. It starts off with the words “I, THOTH, the Atlantean”[10]

There are a multitude of other major and minor texts which also refer to the cataclysm, which thus backs up the validity of Plato’s Dialogues. For Example, the Oera Linda, which is a collection of Flood related myths from Holland. The book is one of the oldest texts ever found. It mentions the island of “Atland” which was engulfed in the fire of a volcano. Most scholars who specialise in “Atlantology”, including Ignatius Donnelly, believe that all destruction myths are based on the Atlantis Cataclysm.[1][6][7][13]

What theories are there to propose the location of Atlantis?[edit]

Scholars are constantly bickering about Atlantis’ true location, mixing truth, myth, and making a judgement based on only 1 fact and distorting the rest of the facts in order to support their own version of the truth. Many locations have been hypothesised, from Thera (Santorini), to the Azores, to Antartica & even the United Kingdom, with every place in between, even land-locked locations! The most popular theory is that of Thera, because it have an active volcano, however the dates and size do not match those quite clearly pointed out in Plato’s Dialogues. [6][7][2][3][12.2]

Most scholars make reference to at least 3 key evidences: Plato’s Dialogues, the Piri Reis’ map and Kircher’s map. In 1886 Ignatius Donnelly proposed the Azores region as the most likely location, incorporating the legends of nearby civilizations, evidence found on the shores of Africa & South America,various unanswered asked by previous scholars, and much more. [12.2][7] There are as many as 12 volcano’s situated in the Azores region, as well as reports of frequent violent marine activity, with the loss of several trans-Atlantic cables in the area,[12.2] which may explain why there have been no artefacts recovered from the area.

Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos theorised that Atlantis was located in the West Indies, by connecting the creation myths of the Garden of Eden and other Paradises with Atlantis [12.3][13]. Prof. Santos’ ideas are very credible, and he uses an overwhelming amount of sources, but they do stretch the boundaries of the Dialogues quite a few times. Finally, Antarctica itself was suggested by Professor Charles Hapgood, by comparing the Athanasius Kircher’s map with the proposed position & landmass of Antarctica thousands of years ago. Hapgood backs this theory up by identifying some pollen found on the land mass, dating to 4000 BCE, which indicates that Antarctica froze over much later than previously thought. [12.1] The reader needs to make up their own mind as to where they believe Atlantis to be locate.

In summary, Atlantis is a place deeply ingrained in the consciousness of humankind, as shown by the numerous creation/destruction myths. Plato’s Dialogues are one of the prime sources to use, but one needs to consider how much of the story is truth, and how much of it is just story. Atlantis itself could be located anywhere on earth, if scholars are to be believed. One has to remember that so many of our histories that we take for granted, were previously believed to be absolute myths, so one cannot disprove a myth until there is conclusive evidence to disprove it. In retrospect, one cannot prove the Existence of Atlantis until it is found for real.


[1] [1], Ellie Crystal

[2] Plato, Timaeus, (Forgotten Books), circa 360BCE (Accessed via Google Books & http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/index.htm)

[3] Plato, Critias, (Forgotten Books), circa 360BCE (Accessed via Google Books & http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/index.htm)

[4.i] [2] (image)

[5.i] [3] (image)

[6] [4] Andreea Haktanir

[7] Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, (Forgotten Books), 1882 (Accessed via Google Books & [5])

[8] [6]

[9] [7]

[10] Hermes Trismegistus (?), Emerald Book of Thoth, Date unknown (retrieved from[8])

[11] Book of Genesis, Bible, King James Version

[12] [9] [12.1], [10][12.2], [11] [12.3] (connected pages) Andreea Haktanir

[13] http://www.atlan.org Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos

If the writing of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato had not contained so much truth about the human condition, his name would have been forgotten centuries ago.

But one of his most famous stories—the cataclysmic destruction of the ancient civilization of Atlantis—is almost certainly false. So why is this story still repeated more than 2,300 years after Plato's death?

"It's a story that captures the imagination," says James Romm, a professor of classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York. "It's a great myth. It has a lot of elements that people love to fantasize about."

Plato told the story of Atlantis around 360 B.C. The founders of Atlantis, he said, were half god and half human. They created a utopian civilization and became a great naval power. Their home was made up of concentric islands separated by wide moats and linked by a canal that penetrated to the center. The lush islands contained gold, silver, and other precious metals and supported an abundance of rare, exotic wildlife. There was a great capital city on the central island.

There are many theories about where Atlantis was—in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Spain, even under what is now Antarctica. "Pick a spot on the map, and someone has said that Atlantis was there," says Charles Orser, curator of history at the New York State Museum in Albany. "Every place you can imagine."

Plato said Atlantis existed about 9,000 years before his own time, and that its story had been passed down by poets, priests, and others. But Plato's writings about Atlantis are the only known records of its existence.

Possibly Based on Real Events?

Few, if any, scientists think Atlantis actually existed. Ocean explorer Robert Ballard, the National Geographic explorer-in-residence who discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, notes that "no Nobel laureates" have said that what Plato wrote about Atlantis is true.

Still, Ballard says, the legend of Atlantis is a "logical" one since cataclysmic floods and volcanic explosions have happened throughout history, including one event that had some similarities to the story of the destruction of Atlantis. About 3,600 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption devastated the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea near Greece. At the time, a highly advanced society of Minoans lived on Santorini. The Minoan civilization disappeared suddenly at about the same time as the volcanic eruption.

But Ballard doesn't think Santorini was Atlantis, because the time of the eruption on that island doesn't coincide with when Plato said Atlantis was destroyed.

Romm believes Plato created the story of Atlantis to convey some of his philosophical theories. "He was dealing with a number of issues, themes that run throughout his work," he says. "His ideas about divine versus human nature, ideal societies, the gradual corruption of human society—these ideas are all found in many of his works. Atlantis was a different vehicle to get at some of his favorite themes."

The legend of Atlantis is a story about a moral, spiritual people who lived in a highly advanced, utopian civilization. But they became greedy, petty, and "morally bankrupt," and the gods "became angry because the people had lost their way and turned to immoral pursuits," Orser says.

As punishment, he says, the gods sent "one terrible night of fire and earthquakes" that caused Atlantis to sink into the sea.


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