Was Atlantis a real place?
Though there is some dispute over the meaning of Crantor's involvement in the Atlantis story, there remains the possibility that he saw evidence in Egypt to support the story of Plato's Atlantis.
Many of the things we know of those ancient, historical times come to us second or even third hand, because the original works were lost. And what of the works that were lost for which no one bothered to write commentaries? Could alternate, corroborative sources of the Atlantis story still exist to be dug up? Could some corroborative sources have disappeared, destroyed as so many ancient documents have been? So many skeptics speculate about the lack of evidence, but it is only that — speculation.
One reference I read, years ago, of Egyptian myth mentioned an island "moving" West. I wish I had taken better note of the article, because now I can't find it. (If anyone knows of this, and its source, please let me know.) Yet, what strange wording! Could the directions West (of the setting sun) and East (of the rising sun) be symbols for "down" and "up," respectively? The Cherubims "east" of the Garden of Eden, mentioned in Genesis, might merely have been symbolically "up" (heaven). Could "West" then mean "subsidence?" Could the island mentioned in that obscure Egyptian myth have subsided instead of having moved laterally?
I've also read that Egyptian "god," Thoth, and some of his buddies came from an island far to the West, before settling in Egypt. Later, an Egyptian pharaoh sent an expedition to see if they could find traces of the original homeland.
A fellow researcher told me recently that there is an Indian (Asian) myth of an island sinking far to the West. Could this refer to Atlantis?
Did Plato Make Up the Story?
This is certainly one possibility. Many skeptics, however, fall into the trap of being unskeptical about this unproven hypothesis. The usefulness of the "good kind" of skepticism is that of restraint from jumping to an unfounded conclusion and restraint from assuming that a conclusion is true without rigorous proof, first.
It is entirely possible that Atlantis is a complete fiction. It is also possible that it was a very real place. Right now, we simply do not know for certain.
One researcher on a video about Atlantis, narrated by Ted Danson, claimed that Atlantis was merely made up by Plato because there are no other versions of the story in Greek myth as there are for other myths. Well, there are three flaws in his logic. For one, the story had not been in Greece long enough to have evolved multiple versions, as with the other Greek myths. The Atlantis myth was originally Egyptian, and only 200 years in Greece before Plato wrote about it.
Another flaw involves the fact that "Atlantis" was merely a local, family tale brought back by Solon and shared with friends and family — and not widely distributed, like other myths. Thus it did not have the same opportunities for such metamorphosis.
The third flaw involves the fact that there is another myth that bears a number of similarities with the Atlantis myth, though it never uses the name "Atlantis." This is the myth of Athena's birth. And this myth entered the Greek culture long before Solon's tale.
How is this myth similar?
First of all, Athena's mother, Metis (the wisest individual of all time), was swallowed whole by her boyfriend, Zeus (the god of all nature). Atlantis (the most advanced civilization of all time), was swallowed whole by the sea (part of nature). Athena was born full-grown from her father's head, wearing armor. Any refugees of Atlantis (perhaps leaving the "head" or capital city) would likely have carried with them a fully mature (full grown) society and the ability to protect itself (fully armored) in the wilderness of Europe.
The idea of someone swallowing their girlfriend whole is pretty radical and completely unreal. But looking at the myth as symbolic for something else as seen through the mind of someone who likely did not have the proper vocabulary, the Atlantis story makes far more sense. To the hunter-gatherer primitive who might hear such a story, "island empire" has no meaning, but powerful goddess might be something they could understand.
Children of Atlantis
If Metis was Atlantis in its final days, and Athena was the refugees of Atlantis, then the culture of Atlantis may have been matriarchal — ruled by women. In one hypothesis, the possible "children of Atlantis" mostly spoke/speak agglutinative languages (Basques, Suomi [Finns], Magyar [Hungarians], Rasna [Etruscans], Georgian [Colchis?], Sumerian, Dravidian, and possibly Mon-Khmer), most had matriarchal, matrilineal or moderately egalitarian societies, many created civilizations that were unique or innovative, and some share genetic ties.
The Etruscans were constructing roads and buildings when their neighbors, the Romans, were still simple dirt farmers. The Sumerians gave us writing and a head start on civilization. The Mon-Khmer constructed one of the wonders of the world at Angkor — a massive city in the middle of the Cambodian jungle. The people of Colchis (Georgians?) may have possessed two items of ancient technology — the Golden Fleece and a Golden Dragon (which guarded the Fleece, and may later have been used by Medea when she flew away from Athens and her second husband).
Dragon Myths Worldwide
Dragons are to be found worldwide, in the myths of many ancient cultures. From China and India to Egypt and Greece. We also find dragons in Mesoamerica. Could the feathered serpents of the West have meant that the dragons there were like birds (feathered) because they flew? And the golden dragons of Cadmus and Medea also flew.
The dragon of the Egyptian merchant-prince rescue tale sometimes spoke to the recovering prince as a dragon and sometimes as a man. Metamorphosis? Or could it merely have been the pilot of a dragon ship speaking sometimes from the inside of his aircraft and sometimes from outside it? The myth of Cecrops and the naming of Athens describes the leader as half man, half snake. Could Cecrops merely have been the captain of a dragon ship popping the hatch in order to discuss with his men the naming of their new city? With only the upper half of him exposed, and the lower half appearing to be the body of the serpent ship, the legend of half-man, half-snake was born.
Some myths make a big deal out of the toughness of dragon scales. Plato mentions a mysterious substance for which Atlantis was abundantly rich — orichalcum. In Plato's Critias, orichalcum was said to be reddish in color. Could orichalcum have been merely copper? Could it have been alloyed with other metals to create a gold-like color. It is interesting to note that one of the densest and toughest metals has a melting point right next to that of copper. This is the element uranium. This dense, tough metal is sometimes used in armor-piercing rounds because of its ability to slice right through other metals. Now, that's tough! Could "gold" dragon scales have been made out of a copper-uranium alloy?
Where could all of these dragon myths have originated? It is entirely possible that each culture merely had a separate fascination with snakes. It is also possible that an ancient culture possessed an advanced technology which inspired the myths worldwide. Could that source have been Atlantis?
Some skeptics make a big deal that so many Atlantis researchers point to Atlantis as a possible source for a great many mysteries. So what? They say this as if it proves something negative against Atlantis or the researchers, which it doesn't.
Look at it another way. Consider for a moment that one very advanced civilization had hundreds or even thousands of refugees entering the relative vacuum of a primitive, Eurasian wilderness. It would seem foolish to assume that such a presence would not create numerous myths amongst all their neighboring primitives.
Proof of an Atlantis-Like Event 9620 BCE
Three events mentioned in scientific, peer-reviewed literature — each in a different discipline — support the idea that Atlantis was a real place? How?
Admittedly, they don't prove Atlantis, directly. They do, however, prove that an Atlantis-like subsidence occurred 9620 BCE — a veritable bulls-eye for Plato's date.
- An abrupt, worldwide change in climate 9620 BCE (end of the Younger Dryas).
- A moderately large volcanic event 9620.77 BCE (GISP2 survey).
- A sudden, 2-meter drop in sea levels worldwide 9620 BCE (1989 Nature article on 17,000 years of sea level rise).
This last item sorely needs corroboration, but if proven to have been a proxy for a real event, then this 2-meter drop would prove that an Atlantis-sized body of land (or island) subsided approximately 1 kilometer down somewhere in the oceans of the world. Again, this doesn't prove Atlantis, directly. Yet, Atlantis remains the likeliest suspect because of the coinciding dates.
Geology of Atlantis
The most critical aspect of the Atlantis story, short of finding direct proof, is that of the geological feasibility of the Atlantis story. We need a plausible mechanism for the creation and later demise of such a large island.
Creation: Most mountains are formed near tectonic plate boundaries from the actions of subduction or convergent compression. Plato's Atlantis, if it existed at all, stood along the Africa-Eurasia tectonic plate boundary, from Gibraltar to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. There is a great deal of evidence of plate damage which could have been from the effects of such creation and subsequent destruction.
Destruction: Currently, the Africa plate is rotating around the general vicinity of Plato's Atlantis. This would tend to weaken any landmass created there from subduction or convergent compression and would accelerate the extensional forces caused by gravity. Add to this weakening, the force of post-glacial isostatic adjustment. On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Europe and North America were "rebounding" from the melting of trillions of tons of ice. The last Ice Age was coming to an end. To compensate for the massive rebound, Atlantis (in between both regions) suffered the penalty of subsidence.
Want to know more? An Atlantis video gives a layman's overview of the subject. A downloadable article on the Geology of Atlantis gives a more in-depth look at the subject including pictures, maps, diagrams and sources.
Look at the facts presented here. What do you think of these specific points? Do you have anything to add to the original question — was Plato's Atlantis made up or based on fact?