The legend of the Lost Atlantis
Beyond any doubt the legend of the Lost atlantis has been one of the worlds most enduring legends in history. Many times it has been told that that it was just a fictious story created by Plato and to be remember only in his years, yet to have endured the passing of time and to be still remember up to now.
But what was the Lost Atlantis according to Plato?
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.
Was Lost Atlantis a real continent at the Bahamas?
Inspired by Donnelly, many later writers expanded on his theories and added their own speculations as to where Atlantis may have been. One of these writers was Charles Berlitz, grandson of the founder of the well-known language schools, and author of many books on paranormal phenomena. In the 1970s, Berlitz claimed Atlantis was a real continent located off the Bahamas that had fallen victim to the notorious “Bermuda Triangle,” a region of the Atlantic where a number of ships had supposedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Supporters of this theory point to the discovery of what look like man-made walls and streets found off the coast of Bimini, although scientists have evaluated these structures and found them to be natural beach-rock formations.
Lost Atlantis was Antarctica.
Another theory—that Atlantis was actually a much more temperate version of what is now Antarctica—is based on the work of Charles Hapgood, whose 1958 book Earth’s Shifting Crust featured a foreword by Albert Einstein. According to Hapgood, around 12,000 years ago the Earth’s crust shifted, displacing the continent that became Antarctica from a location much further north than it is today. This more temperate continent was home to an advanced civilization, but the sudden shift to its current frigid location doomed the civilization’s inhabitants—the Atlanteans—and their magnificent city was buried under layers of ice. Hapgood’s theory surfaced before the scientific world gained a full understanding of plate tectonics, which largely relegated his “shifting crust” idea to the fringes of Atlantean beliefs.
5. Atlantis is the story of the Minoan civilization, which flourished in the Greek islands circa 2500-1600 B.C.
One of the more recent theories about lost atlantis concerns the civilization that flourished on the Greek islands of Crete and Thera (now Santorini) more than 4,000 years ago: the Minoans, named for the legendary King Minos. Believed to be Europe’s first great civilization, the Minoans built splendid palaces, constructed paved roads and were the first Europeans to use a written language (Linear A). At the height of their power, however, the Minoans suddenly disappeared from history—an enduring mystery that has fueled belief in a link between this great, doomed civilization and Plato’s Atlantis. Historians believe around 1600 B.C., a massive earthquake shook the volcanic island of Thera, triggering an eruption that spewed 10 million tons of rock, ash and gas into the atmosphere. Tsunamis that followed the eruption were large enough to wipe out Minoan cities throughout the region, a devastation that may have made the Minoans vulnerable to invaders from the Greek mainland.
The Lost Atlantis experience museum was created in Santorini, one of the alleged location of mythological island of Atlantis. The experience is situated in a unique building that spans 700 sqm (7,500 sq ft), near the village of Megalohori.
The Lost Atlantis experience is a private initiative, that promotes Greek heritage, culture and mythology.