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,
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
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