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Atlantis

By Tim Trott, 21st December 2007 in Ancient World

The lost civilization of Atlantis is a story told throughout the ages. The first documented accounts are from around 355 BC by Greek philosopher Plato in the first part of his planned trilogy.

In this book he records accounts and stories passed on generation-by-generation dating back around 9000 years. The capital city of Atlantis was a wonder to behold. Full of mechanical engineering, it was constructed from a series of concentric walls and canals. The myths say that the people of Atlantis became greedy, corrupt and sinful and for this the gods became angry and Poseidon (God of the sea) reclaimed the island.

Since the stories originate from Plato, an author who is known for using dialog and metaphors in his writings, we must take into consideration whether Atlantis is another metaphor to illustrate one of his ideas.

Location

If Atlantis actually existed, where was it located? This is the mystery that has puzzled writers, philosophers, archaeologists and hundreds more over the centuries.

There are several possible locations for the lost civilization, including Crete, Azores and the Straight of Gibraltar. There is also the possibility of an island that has been either sunk or eroded away over a great many years.

Colonization

In 1882 an American politician named Ignatius Donnelly published a book titled "Atlantis, the Antediluvian World". In this book he claims that the description of the island given by Plato is accurate fact, not fiction. He also claims that Atlantis was the region where man first rose from a state of barbarism to civilization and went on to establish colonies in places like ancient Egypt and Peru.

Donnelly's book became a worldwide best seller, but researchers could not take Donnelly's theories seriously as he offered no proof for his ideas.

Minoan Empire

Around 1500 BC the Minoans dominated the eastern Mediterranean with a powerful navy. Archaeological excavations have shown that Minoans were probably one of the most sophisticated cultures of the time. They had magnificent architecture and art, laws that gave women equal rights to men and a highly developed agriculture and irrigation system. At the heart of Minoan empire was Crete.

In archaeological timescale, the Minoans civilization disappeared in the blink of an eye. Studies have shown that there was a disaster on the island Santorinas, 10 miles north of Crete, which is estimated to be four times as powerful as the Krakatoa eruption which killed 36,000 people and created a 120 foot tsunami.

The tsunami from Santorians would have engulfed Crete, destroying any coastal towns and sinking the navy. Overnight the Minoan culture was washed away into the history books.

There are a number of comparisons between this event, and the event Plato describes as the fall of Atlantis, which leads some to believe that this was the Atlantian civilization. There are also comparisons between the two cultures: in both women had a relatively high political status and both were peaceful cultures.

Galanopoulos and Bacon ("Atlantis. The Truth behind the Legend." 1969) argue that the date for the destruction of Atlantis Plato gives as 9000 years before this time should be read as 900 years and the distance from Egypt to Atlantis should read 250 miles instead of 2500. They argue that there was an erroneous translation by Solon from the old Egyptian number system to the Greek.

Is the Minoan culture the same as Atlantis? Where else could it be? With no evidence either way, Atlantis remains a total mystery.

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