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Egypt and the enduring mystery of Atlantis

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Ian Driscoll: Since Plato first recorded the myth of Atlantis in his two dialogues, the Timaeus and Critias, the question of the tale's meaning has been fiercely debated. Aristotle, Plato's Academic successor, is said by Strabo to have stated categorically that the legend had no historical basis. Proclus, the often quoted Neo-Platonist of the 5th century CE, makes clear his opinion that the story should be interpreted as a spiritual allegory as well as a factual account of historical events. Modern theories on Atlantis are innumerable, ranging from the tediously scholastic (the modern Santorini hypothesis) to the fringe (Atlantis as a dramatic representation of quantum mechanics). Atlantis has been "found" over a thousand times in a hundred different locations in the last century alone, forcing us to wonder whether we may be asking the wrong questions or looking in the wrong directions.

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Ian Driscoll: Since Plato first recorded the myth of Atlantis in his two dialogues, the Timaeus and Critias, the question of the tale's meaning has been fiercely debated. Aristotle, Plato's Academic successor, is said by Strabo to have stated categorically that the legend had no historical basis. Proclus, the often quoted Neo-Platonist of the 5th century CE, makes clear his opinion that the story should be interpreted as a spiritual allegory as well as a factual account of historical events. Modern theories on Atlantis are innumerable, ranging from the tediously scholastic (the modern Santorini hypothesis) to the fringe (Atlantis as a dramatic representation of quantum mechanics). Atlantis has been "found" over a thousand times in a hundred different locations in the last century alone, forcing us to wonder whether we may be asking the wrong questions or looking in the wrong directions.

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An interesting discussion of this idea is provided by Stephen S. Mehler at this link:

Google Books

Turns out the translations the author above relies on (by Reymond) are quite faulty.

There's not much doubt that the story written at Edfu is not similar to Plato's allegory, though the latter could possibly be somewhat based on the Edfu tale.

It seems the story at Edfu may be about the time when Northern Africa was covered with lakes and rivers, and the newcomers were not some "advanced civilization" that came to "teach the Egyptians" anything. They were likely ordinary people that (eventually) migrated to the already populated Nile River area.

Now, it could be that the theme of a people from a "destroyed island," which can be found in a few mythologies (supposedly,) is based on this ancient Egyptian tale. However, there's nothing in it that is in any way similar to Plato's allegory. In fact, the texts at Edfu, it turns out, don't describe the newcomers' (Neters') homeland as being destroyed by a storm or any other cataclysm, as the earlier translation claimed.

Harte

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An interesting discussion of this idea is provided by Stephen S. Mehler at this link:

Google Books

Turns out the translations the author above relies on (by Reymond) are quite faulty.

There's not much doubt that the story written at Edfu is not similar to Plato's allegory, though the latter could possibly be somewhat based on the Edfu tale.

It seems the story at Edfu may be about the time when Northern Africa was covered with lakes and rivers, and the newcomers were not some "advanced civilization" that came to "teach the Egyptians" anything. They were likely ordinary people that (eventually) migrated to the already populated Nile River area.

Now, it could be that the theme of a people from a "destroyed island," which can be found in a few mythologies (supposedly,) is based on this ancient Egyptian tale. However, there's nothing in it that is in any way similar to Plato's allegory. In fact, the texts at Edfu, it turns out, don't describe the newcomers' (Neters') homeland as being destroyed by a storm or any other cataclysm, as the earlier translation claimed.

Harte

Hi Harte,

Clearly, I disagree. I've heard the same criticism from Mr. Mehler himself (whose research I have a good deal of respect for, incidentally). I'm a firm believer in working with the facts at hand, however, and in that spirit I made my comparison. As I've stated many times previously, the work is less alternative history and more comparative mythology. That said, the focus of the book was on widely accepted and peer-reviewed source material. Mr. Mehler's work deals primarily with an oral tradition in Egypt, which is really not susceptible to what I'd call academic evaluation. And thus, as interesting as his theories are, they necessarily remain hypotheses at present.

Your tone throughout your comment is interesting. You come across as a skeptic who leans towards the orthodox (which is fine), but you accept Mehler's oral tradition rather than Egyptological consensus. Again, perfectly fine, but somewhat contradictory, in my opinion.

Your final comment, that the theme of a destroyed island can "supposedly" be found strewn throughout world myths is also odd. This is independently verifiable. If you have any doubt as to the veracity of that claim, there's certainly nothing to stop you from researching it yourself. No reason for fence-sitting on this one.

Regards,

Ian

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I'm a new member, directed here from legendary times. I enjoyed reading this article. I was unaware of this story carved at Edfu. I'm not a historian, just one of the curious, please forgive any errors.

It occured to me that since the Ptolomeys were Greek in origin, maybe they just altered their own Greek creation myth a little to make it seem more Egyptian, a little more palatable to a population that was under Greek conrol. I'd like to believe in Atlantis. Maybe the Ptolomeys, who are said to have been very wise, were playing on that same desire to believe and using it in an attempt to win over the hearts and minds. I think the article said that this inscription and the story it tells is unique to this particular site built during the period of Greek domination. If that's the case, then maybe this was propoganda? If I remember correctly the Greeks were regarded as being more merciful than the Romans who followed. Maybe this carving is a remnant of their (Greek) more subtle style of influence by controlling thought and belief so that they didn't have to rely on the sword.

I'm wondering, are these glyphs located in a place where it looks as though they were intended to be seen and read by everyone passing by? I guess I'm looking for a clear attempt to influence public belief. It seems unusual that a culture which seems to enjoy retelling the same stories, like Ramses battle at Kadesh, that they would carve this important story in only one place.

However, I am of the, 'where there's smoke, there's fire school' so I do believe that the tales which come to us from ancient times must have some element of truth in them. Some event must have happened to inspire these and any other inscriptions. Maybe this tale and other creation myths are local versions which come from a common source that we haven't discovered yet, or maybe the wise Ptolomeys were engaged in propoganda, it's tough to say.

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I'm a new member, directed here from legendary times. I enjoyed reading this article. I was unaware of this story carved at Edfu. I'm not a historian, just one of the curious, please forgive any errors.

It occured to me that since the Ptolomeys were Greek in origin, maybe they just altered their own Greek creation myth a little to make it seem more Egyptian, a little more palatable to a population that was under Greek conrol. I'd like to believe in Atlantis. Maybe the Ptolomeys, who are said to have been very wise, were playing on that same desire to believe and using it in an attempt to win over the hearts and minds. I think the article said that this inscription and the story it tells is unique to this particular site built during the period of Greek domination. If that's the case, then maybe this was propoganda? If I remember correctly the Greeks were regarded as being more merciful than the Romans who followed. Maybe this carving is a remnant of their (Greek) more subtle style of influence by controlling thought and belief so that they didn't have to rely on the sword.

I'm wondering, are these glyphs located in a place where it looks as though they were intended to be seen and read by everyone passing by? I guess I'm looking for a clear attempt to influence public belief. It seems unusual that a culture which seems to enjoy retelling the same stories, like Ramses battle at Kadesh, that they would carve this important story in only one place.

However, I am of the, 'where there's smoke, there's fire school' so I do believe that the tales which come to us from ancient times must have some element of truth in them. Some event must have happened to inspire these and any other inscriptions. Maybe this tale and other creation myths are local versions which come from a common source that we haven't discovered yet, or maybe the wise Ptolomeys were engaged in propoganda, it's tough to say.

King Necho 2 was the source of the atlantian tale

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Hi Harte,

Clearly, I disagree. I've heard the same criticism from Mr. Mehler himself (whose research I have a good deal of respect for, incidentally). I'm a firm believer in working with the facts at hand, however, and in that spirit I made my comparison. As I've stated many times previously, the work is less alternative history and more comparative mythology. That said, the focus of the book was on widely accepted and peer-reviewed source material. Mr. Mehler's work deals primarily with an oral tradition in Egypt, which is really not susceptible to what I'd call academic evaluation. And thus, as interesting as his theories are, they necessarily remain hypotheses at present.

While true that Mehler's source for translation, Baba Abd'El Hakim Awan, is primarily concerned with what might be an oral tradition extending back 10,000 years (or might not be,) Hakim is also an Egyptologist and can read hieroglyphs.

His interpretation is as valid as Reymond's. Moreso, given that Hakim's is less in conflict with longstanding Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs.

Your final comment, that the theme of a destroyed island can "supposedly" be found strewn throughout world myths is also odd. This is independently verifiable. If you have any doubt as to the veracity of that claim, there's certainly nothing to stop you from researching it yourself. No reason for fence-sitting on this one.

Regards,

Ian

I'm aware of several. The purposeful misuse of the word "strewn" was a poke at all the fringers that make the claim that it is universal in mythologies.

But, after all, islands do sometimes sink. Such occurences are certainly as noteworth as, say, a flood.

Harte

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