Atlantis was a legendary ancient island, whose existence and location have never been confirmed. The first mentions we have are from the classical Greek philosopher Plato, who said that it was destroyed by possibly an earthquake or tsunami about 9,000 years before his own time. Plato did mention it was somewhere outside the Pillars of Heracles (i.e. the Straits of Gibraltar), though some think its location would have been more suitable in one of the cradles of civilization, the Mediterranean Sea.
According to historical accounts, the story of Atlantis was about the conflict between the ancient Athenians and the Atlantians around 9,000 years before Plato's existence.
The origins of the story of Atlantis date back to Egyptian priests who transfered it to Solon. Solon passed the tale to Dropides, who was the great-grandfather of Critias. And Critias learned of it from his grandfather also named Critias, son of Dropides.
Main article: Critias (Plato)
Plato's Timaeus (21e - 25d) and his Critias are the only written accounts of Atlantis; in these Plato gives some information on the size and location of the island of Atlantis. Atlantis might be a work of fiction, yet an extended parable intended to illustrate Plato's philosophy of the ideal government. Plato's account purports to be based on a visit to Egypt by the Athenian lawgiver Solon, itself quite possibly a legendary event. Sonchis, priest of Thebes, is purported to have translated it into Greek for Solon.
According to Plato's story, over nine thousand years ago a war between those outside the pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them took place . Those on the outside was suppose to inhabit an island greater in extent than Libya and the then known Asia. This supposedly was sunk by an earthquake. The land became an impassable barrier to voyagers sailing to any part of the ocean. There was a plain which is said to have been very fertile. Near the plain, and also in the centre of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia, there was a mountain not very high on any side. There at the inner hill the land was enclosed all round by alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water. The whole island and the ocean were called "Atlantic". The island was facing the country called the region of Gades (Greek, Eumelus; Atlantean, Gadeirus).
Aristotle wrote of a large island in the Atlantic Ocean that the Carthaginians knew as Antilia. Proclus, the commentator of "Timaeus" mentions that Marcellus, relying on ancient historians, stated in his Aethiopiaka that in the Outer Ocean (which meant all oceans, not just the Atlantic) there were seven small islands dedicated to Persephone, and three large ones; one of these, comprising 1,000 stadia in length, was dedicated to Poseidon. Proclus tells us that Crantor reported that he, too, had seen the columns on which the story of Atlantis was preserved as reported by Plato: the Saite priest showed him its history in hieroglyphic characters. Some other writers called it Poseidonis after Poseidon. Plutarch mentions Saturnia or Ogygia about five days' sail to the west of what is called nowadays Britain. He added that westwards from that island, there were the three islands of Cronus, to where proud and warlike men used to come from the continent beyond the islands, in order to offer sacrifice to the gods of the ocean.
Other Greek accounts
An important Greek festival of Pallas Athene, the Panathenaea was dated from the days of king Theseus. It consisted of a solemn procession to the Acropolis in which a peplos was carried to the goddess, for she had once saved the city, gaining victory over the nation of Poseidon, that is, the Atlanteans. As Lewis Spence comments, this cult was in existence already 125 years before Plato, which means that the story could not be invented by him. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the intelligentsia of Alexandria considered the destruction of Atlantis a historical fact and described a class of earthquakes that suddenly, by a violent motion, opened up huge mouths and so swallowed up portions of the earth, as once in the Atlantic Ocean a large island was swallowed up. Diodorus Siculus recorded that the Atlanteans did not know the fruits of Ceres. In fact, Old World cereals were unknown to American Indians. Pausanias called this island "Satyrides," referring to the Atlantes and those who profess to know the measurements of the earth. He states that far west of the Ocean there lies a group of islands whose inhabitants are red-skinned and whose hair is like that of the horse. (Christopher Columbus described the Indians similarly.) A fragmentary work of Theophrastus of Lesbos tells about the colonies of Atlantis in the sea. Hesiod wrote that the garden of the Hesperides was on an island in the sea where the sun sets. Pliny the Elder recorded that this land was 12,000 km distant from Cádiz, and Uba, a Numidian king intended to establish a stock farm of purple Murex there. Diodorus Siculus declares that the ancient Phoenicians and Etruscans knew of an enormous island outside the Pillars of Hercules. He describes it as having a climate that is very mild; fruits and vegetables grow ripe throughout the year. There are huge mountains covered with large forests, and wide, irrigable plains with navigable rivers. Scylax of Caryanda gives similar account.
Marcellus claims that the survivors of the sinking Atlantis migrated to Western Europe. Timagenes tells almost the same, citing the Druids of Gaul as his sources. He tries to classify the Gallic tribes according to their origins and tells of one of these claiming that they were colonists who came there from a remote island. Theopompus of Chios, a Greek historian called this land beyond the ocean as "Meropis". The dialogue between King Midas and the wise Silenus mentions the Meropids, the first men with huge cities of gold and silver. Silenus knows that besides the well-known portions of the world there is another, unknown, of incredible immensity, where immeasurably vast blooming meadows and pastures feed herds of various, huge and mighty beasts. Claudius Aelianus cites Theopompus, knowing of the existence of the huge island out in the Atlantic as a continuing tradition among the Phoenicians or Carthaginians of Cádiz. Perhaps the Byzantine friar Cosmas Indicopleustes understood Plato better than the ancient and modern "Aristotelians", says Merezhkovsky. In his Topographia Christiana he included a chart of the (flat) world: it showed an inner continent, a compact mainland surrounded by sea, and this was surrounded by an outer ring-shaped continent, with the inscription, "The earth beyond the Ocean, where men lived before the Flood." The Garden of Eden is placed in the eastern end of this continent.
In the mid-6th century, the Byzantine writer Jordanes, who was no navigator himself, simply repeated common folklore of the eastern end of the Mediterranean when he said
"This same Ocean has in its western region certain islands known to almost everyone by reason of the great number of those that journey to and from. And there are two not far from the neighborhood of the Strait of Gades, one the Blessed Isle and another called the Fortunate. Although some reckon as islands of Ocean the twin promontories of Galicia and Lusitania, where are still to be seen the Temple of Hercules on one and Scipio's Monument on the other, yet since they are joined to the extremity of the Galician country, they belong rather to the great land of Europe than to the islands of Ocean." —Jordanes, Getica, chapter 1:4.
The atlanteans were also revered as the Gnolams And Psilons for their amazing political and intellectual zeal .
With rare exceptions, such as Francis Bacon's book The New Atlantis, interest in Atlantis then languished, until, some 2,200 years after Plato, the 1882 publication of Atlantis: the Antediluvian World by Minnesota politician and sometime crankish writer Ignatius Donnelly. Donnelly took Plato's account of Atlantis seriously and attempted to establish that all known ancient civilizations were descended from its high-neolithic culture.
Since Donnelly's day, there have been dozens — perhaps hundreds — of locations proposed for Atlantis. Some are more-or-less serious attempts at legitimate scholarly or archaeological works; others have been made by psychic or other pseudoscientific means.
In the 19th century, the Atlantis myth became conflated with Mu and Lemuria. Occultist Helena Blavatsky (The Secret Doctrine, 1888) introduced the idea of the Atlanteans as cultural heroes (an aspect that is absent in Plato, who describes them mainly as a military threat to the Greeks), and described its inhabitants as the fourth "Root Race", succeeded by the "Aryan race". Rudolf Steiner based much of his writings on occult revelations of Mu or Atlantis. Edgar Cayce likewise proposed that Atlantis was an ancient, now-submerged, highly-evolved civilization. The metaphysical significance being that it was a land from which many of us continue to reincarnate, with Cayce adding that the Atlanteans also had ships and aircraft powered by a mysterious form of energy crystal. The work Toward the Light (1920) claims to describe Atlantis, including its exact geographical location. Through Theosophy and Anthroposophy, the concept of Atlantis also entered Nazi Mysticism. Heinrich Himmler was inspired by Ferdinand Ossendowski to the belief that a remnant of the white Atlanteans were to be found in Tibet, the search for which was part of the mission of the Nazi expedition to Tibet in 1938/9 led by Ernst Schäfer. According to Julius Evola (Revolt Against the Modern World, 1934), the Atlanteans were Hyperboreans were Nordic supermen who originated on the North pole. Similarly, Alfred Rosenberg (The Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1930) spoke of a "nordic-atlantean" or "aryan-nordic" master race. Aleister Crowley has also written an esoteric history of Atlantis, although this may be intended more as metaphor than as fact. In the mid-1940s, J. R. R. Tolkien reshaped his legendarium to contain elements of an Atlantis myth (see Atalantë). The Lord of the Rings (1954/5) contains only obscure references to this, and the myth was published only posthumously, in the Silmarillion (1977). Jane Roberts' work also contains references to Atlantis.
Some investigators believe that Atlantis is in the the Eastern Hemisphere, which would have the location in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
Because the first human civilizations began around the the Mediterranean area and is part of the Cradle of Humanity, some believe that Atlantis is located here. Some factors that weigh toward this location was the Minoan civilization, which flourished on the island of Crete, and the river valley civilizations which had large populations.
Crete and Santorini
Among those who believe in an historical Atlantis, a common hypothesis holds that Plato's story of the destruction of Atlantis was inspired by massive volcanic eruptions on the Mediterranean island of Santorini during Minoan times. Skeptics of an Atlantic Ocean location usually promote this theory. Some consider this to be the likeliest hypothesis, though investigators (such as Frank Joseph) discount this theory as misleading. A main criticism of this hypothesis is that the ancient Greeks were well aware of volcanoes, and if there was a volcanic eruption, it would seem likely that it would be mentioned. Additionally, Pharaoh Amenhotep III commanded an emissary to visit the cities surrounding Crete and found the towns occupied shortly after the time Santorini was speculated to have completely destroyed the area.
Part of this hypothesis proposes, because Solon received his information from Egypt, that we assume that the Ancient Egyptian symbol for "hundred" was mistakenly read as "thousand". If this was possible, the translation would reduce the age and size of Atlantis by a factor of ten. This alteration would make Atlantis fit Minoan Crete well in size and age. Though, a translation error is unlikely because there would be little confusion in the visual appearance of hieroglyphic symbols of Egyptian numeric values.
Off the east coast of Cyprus
Robert Sarmast, an American architect, claims to have definitely found the lost city of Atlantis on November 14, 2004, saying that by using sonar scans he was able to find manmade walls that matched the description of the structures described by Plato, CNN reports. The site lies 1,500m deep in the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and Syria. (http://athens-olympics-2004.newkerala.com/?action=fullnews&id=42709) Several geologists were quick to dispute the claim, as the place was deep under water during the period in question.
In 2002 the Italian journalist Sergio Frau in his book Le colonne d'Ercole hypothesized that the Pillars of Hercules could be identified not with Gibraltar but with the Sicily Strait between Africa and Sicily, so Atlantis was really Sardinia. A catastrophic event (with a big wave) eradicated from Sardinia the ancient and still enigmatic Nuragic civilization. The few survivors migrated to the near Italian peninsula, founding the Etruscan civilization, the base for the later Roman civilization.
Dr Anton Mifsud who, with co-authors Simon Mifsud, Chris Agius Sultana and Charles Savona Ventura, published Malta Echoes of Plato's Island also added another recent hypothesis.Their book is the product of thoughtful and profound research about the archeological sites and ancient remains related to Atlantis. Frances Galea in his book Malta Fdal Atlantis also wrote about the results of his lifelong research on several ancient studies and known hypotheses on Atlantis, particularly that of Giorgio Grongnet, the renowned Maltese architect, who in 1854 claimed that the Maltese Islands are the remnants of Atlantis.
Near Cape Spartel
Another recent hypothesis is based on a recreation of the geography of the Mediterranean at the time of Atlantis' supposed existence. Plato states that Atlantis was located beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the name given to the Strait of Gibraltar linking the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean. 11,000 years ago the sea level in the area was some 130 metres lower, exposing a number of islands in the strait. One of these, Spartel, could have been Atlantis, though there are a number of inconsistencies with Plato's account.
The geoarchaeologist Eberhard Zangger has proposed the hypothesis that Atlantis was in fact the city state of Troy. He both agrees and disagrees with Rainer W. Kühne: He too believes that the Trojans-Atlanteans were the sea peoples, but only a minor part of them. He proposes that all Greek speaking city states of the Aegean civilization or Mycenae constituted the sea peoples and that they destroyed each other's economies in a series of semi-fratricidal wars lasting several decades.
British archaeologist Peter James took a clue from Plato's mention of king Tantalus, and investigated the city of Tantalis (also Tantalos) in the province of Manisa, Turkey. In addition to having very similar sounding anagram names, numerous inscriptions and ancient writings from the region matched the Atlantis story. Tantalis, formerly a wealthy city state, was destroyed when a powerful earthquake struck and caused a lake to flood the city.
An hypothesis by Juan Fernández Amador de los Ríos (1919), Jürgen Spanuth (1953), Georgeos Díaz-Montexano (2000) "Atlantis Discovery", Rainer W. Kühne (2003) suggests that the Atlanteans were the Sea Peoples who attacked the Eastern Mediterranean countries around 1200 BC. The city and state of Atlantis were located in Andalucia, 50 kilometers southwest of Seville. Werner Wickboldt (2002) and Rainer W. Kühne (2003) claim that recent satellite photos show two rectangular structures, which they hypothesized to be the "temple of Poseidon" and "the temple of Cleito and Poseidon".
Ponza has many similarities to the Atlantis legend. Legend say that Ponza was the lost island of Tyrhenia which was large and had a city at its edge. It was connected by land to the Italian mainland near Naples (Napoli). A volcano exploded and the island sunk leaving only the mountain top which is now called Ponza. Near Naples is Pozzuoli where Roman Temples in the harbor rose above water in the late 1960's due to volcanic processes.
German researchers Siegfried and Christian Schoppe locate Atlantis in the Black Sea: Before 5500 BC there was a great plain in the northwest at a former freshwater-lake. In 5510 BC, the barrier at today's Bosporus broke due to the rising sea level. The Pillars of Hercules are identical with the Strait of Bosporus. Oreichalcos means the obsidian stone that used to be a cash-equivalent at that time and was replaced by the spondylus shell around 5500 BC. The geocatastrophic event led to the neolithic diaspora in Europe, also beginning 5500 BC.
In 2000 AD, the Guardian reported that Robert Ballard, in a small submarine, found remains of human habitation around 300 feet underwater in the Black Sea off the north coast of Turkey. The area flooded around 5000 BC. This flood may have inspired the Biblical story of Noah's Ark; but the area need not to be Atlantis.
Finnish pseudohistorian Ior Bock locates Atlantis to the southern part of Finland where he claims a small community of people lived during the Ice Age. This is a small part of a large saga that he claims to have been told in his family through the ages, dating back to the development of language itself.
In 2004, this theory was presented and tested scientifically in the book [Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land by Swedish geographer Dr. Ulf Erlingsson from University of Uppsala. It hypothesizes that the empire Atlantis refers to the Neolithic Megalithic tomb culture, based on their similar geographic extent. The island Atlantis is deduced to be Ireland. The similarities of both size and landscape are found to be statistically significant to the 2% level, while the null hypothesis (that Plato invented Atlantis as fiction) is rejected.
The capital Atlantis is tentatively connected with Newgrange, Knowth, and Tara, Ireland. Ireland has not sunk beneath the sea, but the Dogger Bank shoal was an island that sank in the North Sea about 6100 B.C. While the world sea level rose gradually as the Ice Age ice sheets melted, there was a sudden rise at this time due to the final drainage of Lake Agassiz. At about the same time a tsunami from the Storegga slide is believed to have devastated the island in the manner described by Plato.
Some related hypotheses place the location of Atlantis between Britain and France on the Celtic Shelf.  (http://www.grahamhancock.com/underworld/CrispDanAtlantis.php?p=3) This hypothesis was first developed seriously by Lewis Spence and has been recently revived by some oceanographers.
Prof. Arysio Nunes dos Santos, Ph. D. in Nuclear Physics; Free-Docent, and Professor of Nuclear Physics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, has been researching on Atlantis for almost 30 years now, pointing out that "Atlantis was never found because we have all been looking in the wrong places". The reason for this, according to Prof. Santos, is that when Plato spoke of the Ocean of Atlantis, he was not speaking of the ocean that we today call Atlantic Ocean, but of the whole ocean that encircles Eurasia and Africa, formerly known as the atlantic ocean.
Prof. Santos hence concludes that Atlantis is really located in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, which was considered to be the eastward extension of the modern Atlantic Ocean, even though it is impossible that knowledge of such a place could reach a place as far away as Egypt. The modern Atlantic Ocean was once deemed to extend all the way to the East Indies, a conception which lasted down to the times of Christopher Columbus and other Renaissance explorers and geographers. Despite the prevalent opinion of experts of all sorts that "continents cannot possibly sink" (see Isostasy theory), Prof. Santos managed to discover a whole sunken continent in the region of Indonesia, which he identifies with the Lost Continent of Atlantis, as can be seen in the detailed map published in Santos' Atlantis site.
Prof. Santos also identifies his Atlantis to Eden, the Judeo-Christian Paradise sunken in the Universal Flood. This event he dates at 11,600 BP [Before Present], the exact date of the catastrophic end of the last Pleistocene Ice Age, which also corresponds exactly to the date of Atlantis' demise as given by Plato and to the final sinking of Kumari Kandam, the sunken homeland of the Hindu Dravidas. Prof. Santos is presently planning an oceanographic expedition to the site in order to investigate several curious artefactual features he has already identified in the region he identifies with Atlantis-Eden.
In February 2005, Canberra-based independent researcher Raimy Che-Ross, announced to the world that he had found a lost city in the unsunken Malaysian portion of the lost continent. A well funded expedition is now underway involving a large ground team of experts and Malaysia Centre For Remote Sensing (Macres) satellites. The Malaysian Department of Museums and Antiquities has been instructed to report their findings by August 2005.  (http://188.8.131.52/special/lostcity/)
India and Sri Lanka
In South India and Sri Lanka there is a reputed "Kumari Kandam" (kandam means "continent" in Tamil), believed to be submerged under the sea. This continent is surrounded by legendary stories similar to those of Atlantis. It has been called the "cradle of Dravidians". Also, there have been some people linking the "Kumari continent" to Lemuria.
In the Gulf of Cambay, there is an archaeological submarine site of a former island named Dwaraka, which is mainly associated with locations in Indian mythology (especially in the Mahabharata), which has also appeared in discussions about Atlantis. But its date (about 1,500 BC) is too recent to correspond to the real site of Atlantis, according to Plato's date of 9,600 BC.
Some investigators believe that Atlantis is in the Western hemisphere, which would have the location in the Atlantic Ocean, near The Americas, or at some of the surronding islands.
Plato spoke of the Ocean of Atlantis, he may have been speaking of the ocean that we call Atlantic Ocean. The ocean's name, derived from Greek mythology, means the "Sea of Atlas". Plato remarked that, in describing the origins of Atlantis, this area was allotted to Poseidon. Poseidon's first-born son was Atlas, who inheritted the kingdom, and passed it onto his firstborn for many generations.
There is a prevalent opinion in scientific circles that "continents cannot possibly sink", delineated by the Isostasy theory. Geological studies of the mid-Atlantic fail to demonstrate that a large continent of Atlantis existed there. However, Atlantic Ocean geology does not exclude the possibility of a sunken island. If an island existed, it would have been much smaller than the island continent of Australia. Plato never claimed that a whole continent disappeared. He referenced a sunken island in front of another continent.
One of the suggested places is that Atlantis is around the Azores Islands which are a group of islands belonging to Portugal located about 900 miles (1500 km) west of the Portuguese coast. Some people believe the islands could be the mountain tops of Atlantis.
Bahama Bank and Caribbean
Not all geologists deny the possibility of a sunken island in Central America. After the Charles Berlitz book The Mystery of Atlantis, a Canadian Hungarian geologist-topographer's book was published, entitled Atlantis: The Seven Seals. The author, Z.A. Simon, called the attention to these controversies. He included some supporting conclusions of Dr. J. Manson Valentine, M. Dmitri Ribikoff, E. Umland and C. Umland, Robert B. Stacy-Judd, Dr. David Zink, John P. Cohane, Peter Tompkins, Pino Turolla, Captain Alexander, Francis Hitching, James Bailey, Dr. C.J. Cazeau, Dr. S.D. Scott, Brad Steiger and William R. Fix.
The June 1981 edition of Marine Geology shows some radiocarbon dates on mangrove peat, based on the estimate of Broecker and Kulp, listing dates between 5590 and 3680 BC, with connection of the gradual sinking of the Florida–Bimini region. Most recently the rate of the sea level's rise has slowed to 4.5 in (114 mm) per century. Prior to that time it was one foot per century. Near Andros Island, underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau found a huge submerged cave 165 ft (50 m) beneath the surface. There are stalactites and stalagmites in it, that can be formed in the open air only. Marine sediments on the walls of the grotto enabled scientists to estimate its submersion around or after 10,000 BC. The submarine topography of the Bahamian region shown in the huge Russian Atlas Mira by detailed isobaths, catches the attention of a topographer. The sea floor on the northern side of Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico indicates a definite system of submerged valleys of ancient rivers, combined with sunken mountain ranges. The "Tongue of the Ocean" at Andros Island is undoubtedly an underwater ravine caused by terrible tectonic forces, surrounded by almost vertical walls, as a "memento" of the catastrophe. The main problem with this theory is that Atlantis was supposed to have submerged rapidly, following an earthquake.
Z.A. Simon offers an "accurate" map of Plato's rectangular island with its given dimensions as 2,000 by 3,000 stadia, overlaying its outline on the suspected ancient irregular shoreline of that traditional island in the Bahamas region. (An Attic stadium corresponds to 177.6 m)
Isla de la Juventud near Cuba
Recent underwater discoveries off the west coast of Cuba have led some to speculate on an Atlantean connection. However, even before these discoveries were announced, author Andrew Collins had explored the Cuba connection in a book titled "Gateway to Atlantis." Collins supports his hypothesis with a great deal of indirect but compelling historical and geographical evidence. He finally suggests present-day Isle of Youth and the shallow sea bottom that surrounds it as a possible location for Atlantis.
A seemingly bizarre hypothesis that the city of Atlantis was in Antarctica has usually received incredulous reactions from the scientific community. Under this theory, all continents and oceans shifted as one, causing the ancient south pole to be over ocean, liberating a considerable portion of Antarctica from its current ice sheet and yielding ideal conditions for human habitation. Controversial claims of precipitation-ice sheet thickness mismatches and the mismatches between Antarctica's ice sheet thickness and annual snowfall, new methods of translating Plato's text, and native flood stories from all sorts of different cultures around the world supposedly back up this theory. It is questionable whether or not such a widespread ecological catastrophe in the form of an extreme geologic process could occur in such a short time period and leave relatively little evidence. Furthermore, dating of the ice core taken at the Vostok station shows that the ice sheet there is at least 420,000 years old, and the continent is estimated to have been ice covered for 5 to 30 million years, although the results might be inaccurate.
Atlantis in fiction
Main article: Atlantis in fiction
The legend of Atlantis is frequently featured in many books, movies, television series, and other creative works. One notable example is Stargate Atlantis, in which it is depicted a city in the Pegasus Galaxy.
Atlantis has inspired an instrumental by The Shadows, a song by Donovan and concept albums by jazz artist Sun Ra, Dutch band Earth and Fire, British band Prefab Sprout, English battle metal band Bal-Sagoth and German death metal band Atrocity.
One strange idea relating to Atlantis, is that as a result of an alleged 'Martian Eclipse' the coordinates of Atlantis are supposed to be revealed. Ridiculous you might think, but their are actually many secret cults that believe so much in this fact, that you can't help but wonder if they know something that we don't.
Links and other references
Project Gutenberg Presents: "Atlantis: the Antediluvian World (http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=4032)" by Ignatius Donnelly
Open Directory Project: Atlantis (http://www.dmoz.org/Science/Social_Sciences/Archaeology/Alternative/Lost_Civilizations/Atlantis/)
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