Theories About Atlantis
It was for Greek philosopher to bring to the world the story of the lost continent of Atlantis.
His story began to unfold for him around 355 B.C. He wrote about this land called Atlantis in two of his dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, around 370 B.C. Plato said that the continent lay in the Atlantic Ocean near the Straits of Gibraltar until its destruction 10,000 years previous.
The Capitol of Atlantis
Plato described Atlantis as alternating rings of sea and land, with a palace in the center ‘bull’s eye’.
Plato used a series of dialogues to express his ideas. In this type of writing, the author’s thoughts are explored in a series of arguments and debates between various characters in the story.
A character named Kritias tells an account of Atlantis that has been in his family for generations. According the character the story was originally told to his ancestor Solon, by a priest during Solon’s visit to Egypt.
According to the dialogues, there had been a powerful empire located to the west of the “Pillars of Hercules” (what we now call the Straight of Gibraltar) on an island in the Atlantic Ocean. The nation there had been established by Poseidon, the God of the Sea. Poseidon fathered five sets of twins on the island. The firstborn, Atlas, had the continent and the surrounding ocean named for him. Poseidon divided the land into ten sections, each to be ruled by a son, or his heirs.
The capital city of Atlantis was a marvel of architecture and engineering. The city was composed of a series of concentric walls and canals. At the very center was a hill, and on top of the hill a temple to Poseidon. Inside was a gold statue of the God of the Sea showing him driving six winged horses.
About 9000 years before the time of Plato, after the people of Atlantis became corrupt and greedy, the Gods decided to destroy them. A violent earthquake shook the land, giant waves rolled over the shores, and the island sank into the sea never to be seen again.
At numerous points in the dialogues Plato’s characters refer to the story of Atlantis as “genuine history” and it being within “the realm of fact.” Plato also seems to put into the story a lot of detail about Atlantis that would be unnecessary if he had intended to use it only as a literary device.
In “Timaeus,” Plato described Atlantis as a prosperous nation out to expand its domain: “Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent,” he wrote, “and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia.”
Plato goes on to tell how the Atlanteans made a grave mistake by seeking to conquer Greece. They could not withstand the Greeks’ military might, and following their defeat, a natural disaster sealed their fate. “Timaeus” continues: “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.”Interestingly, Plato tells a more metaphysical version of the Atlantis story in “Critias.” There he describes the lost continent as the kingdom of Poseidon, the god of the sea. This Atlantis was a noble, sophisticated society that reigned in peace for centuries, until its people became complacent and greedy. Angered by their fall from grace, Zeus chose to punish them by destroying Atlantis.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.
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.