The mystery of the lost city of Atlantis still captures the imagination of millions. Was it real or just myth. Here are the basic facts.
Solon (638 BC–558 BC) was a famous Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and Lyric poet who allegedly heard the story of Atlantis from Egyptian priests that he was visiting that claimed that the Athenians had forgotten their true history because from time-to-time their civilization had been largely destroyed by catastrophes.
Atlantis was first described by the Greek philosopher Plato more than 2,000 years ago.
While many believe the story is a myth created by Plato to illustrate his theories about politics, others insist it is based on a real historical disaster.
According to Plato’s account, written around 360BC, Atlantis was a major sea power located in the Atlantic.
It was larger than ancient Libya and Asia Minor (modern Turkey) put together, and was ‘the way to the other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent’.
His account included detailed descriptions of the island – with mountains in the north and along the coast, and a plain in the south.
Its kings were descended from Poseidon – the god of sea – but their divine lineage became diluted as they mixed with mortals.
By around 9600BC the island had conquered much of Western Europe and Africa and enslaved its enemies.
This date would make the city nearly as old as the end of the last ice age and pre-dates the earliest recorded city states, found in what is now Iraq, so seems rather unlikely.
After a failed attempt to invade Athens, the entire island sank into the sea ‘in a single day and night of misfortune’.
Over the centuries, scholars have attempted to locate the real Atlantis – believing the account was based on a real ancient superpower.
One of the most plausible theories is that Plato was describing the Minoan civilisation on Crete and the neighbouring island of Santorini which was devastated by a massive volcanic eruption around 1600BC.
Some believe the Atlantis myth was inspired by the Black Sea floods of around 5000BC – an event that may have also generated the flood stories which appeared in the Old Testament.
- The Egyptian priests referred to the “Declamation of Heavenly Bodies”, meaning meteorites, which cause devastation on the planet. —–The Egyptian priests understood that from time-to-time there were serious natural catastrophes that involved fire and water (from which they had been largely immune). They attributed these to the actions of the Gods
- A war once took place between the Athenians and the Atlanteans The Athenians apparently came from Athens.
- The Atlanteans apparently came from an island beyond the pillars of Hercules (Straights of Gibraltar)
- The war took place 9,000 years before the time of writing which was approximately 2,500 years before today – so in effect 11,500 years ago.
- Atlantis was allegedly an island greater in size than Libya and Asia combined.
- Atlantis was eventually destroyed by an earthquake.
- The Athenian Gods were at peace with each other.
- The story had been forgotten by the Athenians because of a great deluge whereby only the illiterate people of the mountains had survived.
- Solon inferred that the event took place before the time of Theseus.
- At the time the Athenians ruled a land from the Isthmus (of Corinth) to the heights of the Cithaeron (a mountain range in what is today central Greece) and Parnes. Oropus was the boundary on the right and the river Asopus the boundary on the left.
- The Athenian land was fertile and able to support a great army.
- Many floods had taken place during the 9,000 years prior to the recording of the story.
- Many of the cliffs surrounding this (Athenian) land had been eroded and fallen into the sea. Many of the woods that once existed have disappeared. The land was less eroded and less rainfall was swept into the sea.
- The climate was more temperate.
- The Acropolis was larger and surrounded by soil and not the outcrop of rock it is now.
- They had Gymnasia.
- There were once more springs that disappeared after an earthquake.
- The Athenians were healthy, beautiful people that were well prepared for war.
- Poseidon was patron and God of Atlantis. (God of the sea and earthquakes)
- Atlantis was an Island with a small mountain at its centre with fertile plains surrounding it.
- The central mountain had rings of water surrounding it.
- Water flowed from underground – some hot, some cold.
- Crops flourished in the fertile soil.
- Poseidon’s first child (born on Atlantis) was named Atlas and the ocean around the Island was named Atlantic.
- From beyond the Pillars of Hercules the lost city of Atlantis controlled islands and lands as far as Egypt.
- They had extensive trade with other countries.
- Orichalcum (an unknown red coloured metal or alloy possible a mixture of copper and gold) was common on the Island.
- The Island was well forested.
- There were a great number of elephants on the Island.
- The Island had chestnut trees.
- The City / island existed long enough for many rulers / kings to develop it.
- The lost city of Atlantis had a canal from the sea to an inner lagoon.
- Three kinds of stone, one red, one black and one white were quarried on the Island of Atlantis.
- They used brass to cover their dwellings and brass, tin and orichalcum to cover the outer walls of their cities.
- Poseidon’s temple at the centre had a barbaric appearance and the roof (interior) was made of Ivory.
- In the temple there was a statue of the god in a chariot.
- The lost city of Atlantis made use of private and public baths and then saved the water for use on their fields.
- The later docks had Triremes and many naval supplies.
- The Island had cliffs on most sides but was otherwise a plateau with a small mountain at its centre and mountains to the North.
- The North of the Island had high and beautiful mountains.
- The plain featured a circular ditch (canyon) of such size (a 100 ft in depth) that it could not have been manmade.
- The military had war chariots.
- They benefited from winter rains.
- Their shields were small.
- The land was divided into ten kingdoms each with its own city.
- No King was to ever make war on another Atlantean King.
- This rule lasted for a great time but in the end the Kings became victim to mortal desires and sins
Over 11,000 years ago there existed an island nation located in the middle of the Atlantic ocean populated by a noble and powerful race. The people of this land possessed great wealth thanks to the natural resources found throughout their island. The island was a center for trade and commerce. The rulers of this land held sway over the people and land of their own island and well into Europe and Africa.
This was the island of Atlantis.
Atlantis was the domain of Poseidon, god of the sea. When Poseidon fell in love with a mortal woman, Cleito, he created a dwelling at the top of a hill near the middle of the island and surrounded the dwelling with rings of water and land to protect her.
Cleito gave birth to five sets of twin boys who became the first rulers of Atlantis. The island was divided among the brothers with the eldest, Atlas, first King of Atlantis, being given control over the central hill and surrounding areas.
At the top of the central hill, a temple was built to honor Poseidon which housed a giant gold statue of Poseidon riding a chariot pulled by winged horses. It was here that the rulers of Atlantis would come to discuss laws, pass judgments, and pay tribute to Poseidon..
To facilitate travel and trade, a water canal was cut through of the rings of land and water running south for 5.5 miles (~9 km) to the sea.
The city of Atlantis sat just outside the outer ring of water and spread across the plain covering a circle of 11 miles (1.7 km). This was a densely populated area where the majority of the population lived.
Beyond the city lay a fertile plain 330 miles (530 km) long and 110 miles (190 km) wide surrounded by another canal used to collect water from the rivers and streams of the mountains. The climate was such that two harvests were possible each year. One in the winter fed by the rains and one in the summer fed by irrigation from the canal.
Surrounding the plain to the north were mountains which soared to the skies. Villages, lakes, rivers, and meadows dotted the mountains.
Besides the harvests, the island provided all kinds of herbs, fruits, and nuts. An abundance of animals, including elephants, roamed the island.
For generations the Atlanteans lived simple, virtuous lives. But slowly they began to change. Greed and power began to corrupt them. When Zeus saw the immorality of the Atlanteans he gathered the other gods to determine a suitable punishment.
Soon, in one violent surge it was gone. The island of Atlantis, its people, and its memory were swallowed by the sea.