Atlantis – the Lost Land or Lost Illusions?

Atlantis – the Lost Land or Lost Illusions?


Introduction
There are a lot of uncovered miseries in the world. People in their guest for meaning of life turn to unexplainable things and mystical stories. The city of Atlantis is one of the controversial issues of our time. Atlantis is a lost city described by Plato in his works. Plato dedicated two volumes of his dialogs to the description of this mystical land. So, most of our information about the Atlantians we get from the Plato’s writings. Plato described Atlantis as a mystical land inhabited by superficial creatures. He also stated that this land had been swept away by the food. There is no exact information about the place where Atlantis people lived. Plato named the Pillars of Hercules, which correspond to the modern Strait of Gibraltar. “For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantis ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, 'the pillars of Heracles,' (i.e., Hercules) there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travellers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent.” (Plato, 278)
No physical evidence of this lost civilization was found yet and some researches name different places, such as Bolivia, Florida coast, Greece, the Mediterranean sea, Central America, the China Sea or even Africa. The story about Atlantis was regarded rather like a beautiful myth until the recent time, when in 1980s the interest to this topic was raised by the controversial book by Ignatius Donelly. His book called Atlantis, the Antediluvian World described the history of flood from Egypt to Mexico and gave evidence of the Atlantis existence. The book became a bestseller and provoked loud resonance in the society. Soon after the number of other books researching this topic was written. Debates about the existence of the city of Atlantis don’t weaken till nowadays. The main dispute is centered around three core concepts. Those, who believe in the existence of the lost city believe in Plato’s writings and think that he’s described real even and place in his books. Other group of researches and readers believe that the facts given by Plato are only partially true and that his story about Atlantis is a beautiful tale, based on some real facts, though. The third group of researches does not believe in the existence of Atlantis at all considering it to be the object of speculation of pseudo-researches. All three concepts have a lot of followers and the adherents of each one give a lot of proofs to support their thesis.
The Reasons Against Atlantis’ Existence
For more than 2000 years Atlantis was just a myth and only in 1800s scientists paid their attention to this mystical story and decided to make a number of researchers. Ignatius Donnelly wrote a book called Atlantis, the Antediluvian World, where he investigated all facts connected with Atlantis (Donnelly). Then, a lot of other book devoted to this theme appeared but even now despite all hypothesis and investigations no one can prove or disapprove the existence of Atlantis.
There are a lot of arguments that make us have some doubts about the existence of Atlantis. The first argument is that still no person can name the exact name of Atlantis’s location. Some scientists look for Atlantis in the Mediterranean Sea, others claim that it used to be on the territory of Africa and Europe, and America. The third group denies all these points of view and insists that it could exist in Antarctica or South America. Some scientists are sure that Atlantis could be only in the Aegean Sea, on the Island of Santorini. As we can see, there is not one common opinion because there is no actual prove of its existence. Such variety of opinions about its location may just confuse people and it isn’t a point in support of Atlantis’s existence.
The first mentions of Atlantis we meet in two Plato’s works: the Timaeus and the Critia. In these works Plato gives a lot of information about Atlantis that is rather difficult to prove and that’s why people incline to the fact that it’s more the myth of the lost civilization than real history. Plato’s narration is intricate and no one is able to interpret it thoroughly and precisely. Librarian Rand Flem-Ath thinks that according to Plato Atlantis is the sunk land; Eberhard Zangger, Swiss archeologist, believes that under Atlantis Plato meant ancient Troy.
Plato’s works are beautiful stories about riches and knowledge of a mythical land Atlantis. It has both advantages and disadvantages. Aristotle, for example, said that Plato had just made the existence of Atlantis up. This point of view has been accepted by a lot of scientists who investigated this knotty problem.
Those, who state that the town of Atlantis was situated somewhere in the Atlantis Ocean probably forget about Plato’s words “and one grievous day and night befell them, when the whole body of your warriors was swallowed up by the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner was swallowed up by the sea and vanished; wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal mud which the island created as it settled down.“ (Plato, 245).
According to Plato Atlantis was a land west of Gibraltar that sunk because of great earthquakes more than 9,000 years before Plato wrote his books. There is an opinion that is widespread enough that Atlantis was an allegory used to express a moral message for further generations. In such a way he depicts ideal society, which may one day exist on our planet. Some researches regard his depiction of Atlantis as a continuation of his Politea and thus Atlantis is just an illustration of an ideal state, which didn’t exist in reality. A group of scientists who seriously investigated Plato’s works insist on the fact that Plato chose such kind of narration to express his ideas vividly. The main argument that Plato was not telling about true events is the fact that nobody in Greece had mentioned a battle between Athens and Atlantis although all memorable events were thoroughly fixed by historians. According to Plato the battle was in the 8th or 9th millenium B.C and it’s clear that in those times Athens was inhabited by primitive people or wasn’t inhabited at all and it’s another prove that Plato didn’t describe real historical events. His stories are aimed to give us moral lessons. Despite these facts Plato is often thought to be the main source for the existence of Atlantis.
Atlantis is described as a land of high level of development of civilization and technology. People mention about nuclear bombs and other extraordinary achievements that inhabitants of Atlantis used. If it all had been the truth, we would already have found at least one fact in support of it. For example, usage of nuclear bombs couldn’t leave no remains in the environment.
We know from the history how experience was transported from one neighboring civilization to another; they just couldn’t help influencing one on the another. Hypothetically, the neighboring inhabitants of the Atlanteans were the Egyptians and Mesoamericans but no of these civilizations had reached such level of development.
Till now there is no evidence about archeological or geological location of Atlantis and although thousand of people believe in the existence of Atlantis, their belief is based more on guesses than on facts.
Those, who keep middle position and believe that some facts about the city of Atlantis could have real ground state that the theory, proposed by the famous Greek archeologist Angelos Galanopoulos is the most reliable one. In the end of the 1960s after the number of researches he put forward the theory that a massive volcano eruption, which happened around 1500 BC, has broken apart the Santorini island in the Mediterranean sea. This wiped out the part of civilization on the Greek islands and big regions of Greece. Galanopoulos stated that this disaster resulted the sunk of Atlantis. This theory has two counterparts. First of all the dates mentioned by Angelos do not adjust with the Eyptian symbols found in manuscripts. Second inconsistency is in the place of Atlantis existence. Plato was very exact naming the place somewhere close to Pillars of Hercules (The Straight of Gibraltar) while Galanopoulos distinguished the place somewhere close to modern Greece.

The Proofs of the Existence of the City of Atlantis
The problem of Atlantis existence occupies the minds of people of different occupations and from different countries. Thus, the problem was treated from different side and those, who want to find the proof of Atlantis existence can turn to such fields of knowledge, as history, philosophy, religion, geology, oceanography and mythology.
Berlitz, Lewis Spence, Donnelly, L. Sprague De Camp, Edgerton Sykes, Flem-Ath, Otto Muck and J.V. Luce are among the most prominent specialists, who made researches trying to prove the existence of Atlantis. The interesting fact is that all the researches mentioned above started their search with the purpose to prove that Atlantis didn’t exist and turned to opposing opinion after finding arguments of its existence.
The evidence of believers in Atlantis existence can differ a lot because different scholars and researchers try to persuade the audience that the lost city existed exactly in their countries. Thus, arguments can differ a lot.
Those who do not believe in credibility of Plato’s writings state that the story is a myth invited by Plato as it is not mentioned in any other literary sources. This information is no true, though. There are a lot of other authors, who talk about the city of Atlantis. It is necessary to mention that they all wrote after Plato and there are absolutely no references in any literature before his writings. At least, no name Atlantis is used. So, Plato was the first one to describe mystical lost land in his two books of dialogs, the Timeaus and the Critias. He describes Atlantians as mighty and powerful nation, who “of the lands here within the Straits they ruled over Libya as far as Egypt, and over Europe as far as Tuscany. So this host, being all gathered together, made an attempt one time to enslave by one single onslaught both your country and ours and the whole of the territory within the Straits.” (Plato, 296) Plato gave detailed description of the customs, rites, way of life of the citizens of Atlantis. He gave the detailed history of the Atlantis, its development and decline.
Researches have found more mentions about the city of Atlantis in the woks of other ancient philosophers. For example, Herodotus in his History mentions the land called Atlantis."184. From the Garmantians at a distance again of ten days' journey there is another hill of salt and spring of water, and men dwell round it called Atarantians, who alone of all men about whom we know are nameless; for while all taken together have the name Atarantians, each separate man of them has no name given to him. These utter curses against the Sun when he is at his height, and moreover revile him with all manner of foul terms, because he oppresses them by his burning heat, both themselves and their land.” (Herodotus, 158) Such historians, as Diodorus, Kantor, Plutarch, also mention about the lost continent in their writings.
Aelianus Claudius, the Roman scholar and philosopher, also mentions about Atalantics in his work Various History. He described the nature of the city of Atlantis and strange customs and traditions of local inhabitants.
Not only ancient Greek and Roman texts mention about the city of Atlantis. Ancient Aztecs and Mayan texts also tell about the mysterious land called Atlantis. The mentions about Atlantis can be found in Chilam Balam, Dresden Codex, Popuhl Vuh, Troano Manuscript and Codex Cortesianus. Some researches state that the Oera Linda Book, which is considered to be among the oldest manuscripts of the world, also contains the information about Atlantis.
In addition, we can find some resemblance in the cultural prophecy of Maya, Aztecs, Egypt and Atlantis as it was depicted by Plato. Some researchers believe it to be the proof of the common origin of this countries and thus the existence of Atlantis.
Written sources are not the only evidence of Atlantis existence. We can find proves in the mythological systems of different people all over the world. Almost in all religions there is depiction of gods or superior creatures, which resemble the depiction of Atlantiaens, give by Pluto. Different races used different name to describe this nation of giants, but we will understand that they all look alike to Atlantiaens. In addition, stories about the Great Flood, which demolished the “mankind» and Golden Age are presented in the most of the world religions.

It’s necessary to underline that Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis contained nothing mystical or unearthly. He described rich country with tall, friendly and clever people. All other mystical details about the supernatural abilities and unreal creatures were made up much later.
Those, who do not believe in Atlantis existence, put forward the argument that no ruins or some material evidence of Atlantis existence was found yet. As it was told by Plato, Atlantis has sunk and it is difficult to look for any remains under the water, especially taking into account great water surface and doubts about the geographical location of the lost land. There are circumstantial evidences, though. There were found ruins and remains of human life dated more than 6000 BC. This is much older than any dates of human civilization appearance, named before. This means that new facts can appear about Atlantis.
Conclusion
The question about the existence of Atlantis is still open. There are a lot of arguments given by both sides. Plato’s works are still the main evidence of Atlantis existence. Unfortunately, very often scientists who don’t believe in the existence of Atlantis sweep away new information and convincing arguments in order not to lose their authority. With the flow of time new and new evidence, which prove the existence of Atlantis are discovered. Hopefully, in the nearest future mankind will grow to such a level that will be able to discover the truth about Atlantis and other miracles of the world.

Contents
Introduction
The Reasons Against Atlantis’ Existence
The Proofs of the Existence of the City of Atlantis
Conclusion


References

Rudolph Schuller, Charles Schuchert Geographical Review, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan., 1917) , pp. 61-66

Plato: Timaeus and Critias, Desmond Lee (translator) (Harmondsworth 1965) pp. 34-38, 129-43.

Herodotus. The Histories. Translated by Aubrey De Selincourt. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1954. Revision, London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1996.
Donnelly, Ignatius, Atlantis ed. Egerton Sykes. New York, 1949.

Spence, Lewis, The History of Atlantis. New York, 1968.

Donnelly, Ignatius, Atlantis ed. Egerton Sykes. New York, 1949.

Cayce, Edgar Evans, Edgar Cayce on Atlantis. New York, 1968.