Monday, December 11, 2006

Origins of Atlantis

The Eruption of Thera?

(1) "A Wonderful Empire"

"You do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city [Athens] are descended from a seed or remnant of them which survived.
"The power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in from of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar]: the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands...Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island, and several others, and over parts of the continent, and furthermore the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Hercules as far as Egypt and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia [Italy]."
- Plato, Timaeus, 22c-23c; 24c-d

"So great was Atlantis that Plato had to shift its location to 'beyond the Pillars of Hercules' (outside of the Strait of Gibraltar), which in classical times was the standard location used in stories about lands far away in distance and/or time."
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

Plato claimed to have learned his story of the sinking of the lost continent of Atlantis from relatives who had passed it down from the great Athenian statesman Solon. Solon had reportedly traveled to Egypt and received his information from Egyptian priests at Sais in 559 B.C.E. The priests told him that the great disaster had taken place almost 10,000 years earlier, almost exactly a factor of ten too large for the eruption of Thera (which occurred around 1500 B.C.E. according to archeological dating or 1627 B.C.E. according to dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating.

"The story of Atlantis, if Plato did not invent it, may reflect some Egyptian record of this eruption, one of the most stupendous of historical times. "
- Encyclopaedia Britannica

"If a legend, passed down for nearly a thousand years before it reached Solon, and for an additional two hundred years before Plato finally committed it to paper, can, through successive retellings, expand an island culture into a continental one and dislocate it west a thousand miles, it is easy to believe that Plato's family, or the Egyptians, or both, stretch its age as well."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 45

(2) A Place Called Keftiu

"...There are papyrus documents that make references to early contacts between Egypt and a place called Keftiu, which is generally accepted to be Minoan Crete. Keftiu is first mentioned in Egyptian writings dating back to the third millennium B.C.:"
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 43

"Keftiu and Isy [Cyprus] are under awe of thee. I cause them to see their majesty as a young bull. Firm of heart, sharp of horns, who cannot be felled."

"If Solon had inquired more particularly about Keftiu, he would have been told that it was an island far away in the west. The Ipuwer papyrus uses the phrase, 'as far away as Keftiu.'...If Solon pressed them on the ultimate fate of Keftiu, the priests could certainly have told him that it disappeared from their records around the middle of the XVIII Dynasty [around the time of Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut, and Amenophis II."
- J. V. Luce, Lost Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend (1969)

"J. V. Luce points out that the original name for Crete - Keftiu - is probably derived from a root meaning 'pillar', and that a western island containing a 'sky pillar', that is a lofty mountain helping to support the dome of the sky, would fit neatly into the frame of Egyptian Bronze Age mythology. A goddess [Nut] was said to hold the heavens on her back, and the sky pillars were the four points at which her arms and legs touched earth."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 45

"It is even possible that the Egyptian priests had some recorded material about the worship of sacred pillars which was so prevalent in Minoan Crete....Imagine Solon's reaction when confronted with this sort of information about ancient Keftiu. He could not have failed to associate it with the myth of Atlas, 'the Titan' who held the sky on his shoulders."
- J. V. Luce, Lost Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend (1969)

Poseidon and Cleito has five pairs of male children. "And the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantis."
- Plato, Critias 114b

"In Greek, Atlantis and Atlantic are adjectival forms of Atlas, meaning '(the island) of Atlas' and 'the sea of Atlas' respectively....Now Atlas may once have been located well inside the Mediterranean before the gradual extension of Greek geographical knowledge pushed him to the west and located him on the High Atlas range in Morocco..."
- J. V. Luce, Lost Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend (1969)

"Keftiu translates as wither 'the island of Keft' or 'the people of Keft', depending on which determinative is added to the Egyptian hieroglyph. The root keft has come into the twentieth century as the word 'capital'[originally of a pillar]."
"The identification of Keftiu with the Biblical Caphto, Luce explains, is emphasized by the Sargon of Akkad tablet, which refers to Kap-ta-ra as lying 'beyond the Upper Sea' (the Mediterranean). Biblical passages connecting Crete (Kaphtor) with the Philistines include: Genesis 10:14 ('and the Caphtorim when came the Philistines'), Amos 9:7, Jeremiah 47:4."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 46

"However, Luce himself admits that there may be some truth in the view proposed by Vidal-Naquet that the two confronted powers in the legend, Athens and Atlantis, represent in the mind of Plato the 'good' and 'bad' fates of Athens respectively. 'Good' Athens in the eyes of conservative Plato would be the city without navy, and with a well-stratified society of farmers and landowners. On the other hand, 'bad' Athens (Atlantis) 'would be a maritime state of shifty sailors and covetous merchants'."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 155

(3) Similarities Between Plato's Atlantis and Minoan Crete

"Upon examination of Plato's words on Atlantis as written in the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, we find many similarities between what archaeologists and historians know to be true for the Minoans, and characteristics Plato attributes to Atlantis and its occupants.
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

·"From an Egyptian point of view, [Plato's description of Atlantis] seemed...an apt descriptions of Crete: a gateway to the other Minoan island (the Cyclades) and the European continent beyond."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 154

"Atlantis was the way to other islands and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent."
- Plato, Timaeus, 24e

·"For a civilization said to be coming out of the Atlantic, the pattern of conquest is strange, moving, according to Plato, from the eastern Mediterranean shores of Greece, Libya and Egypt to the rest of the Mediterranean - toward, not from, Gibraltar - with no mention of conquest in northern Spain or along the Atlantic shores of Africa. Plato has described a civilization radiating out of the eastern central Mediterranean, from the direction of Minoan Crete."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 232

"...The island of Atlantis...had subjugated the parts of Libya within the Pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar] as far as Egypt, and Europe as far a Tyrrhenia [Italy]. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country [Egypt] and yours [Greece], and the whole of the region within the straits [the Mediterranean]..."
- Plato, Timaeus, 24d

·Thera and Atlantis both experienced severe earthquakes and a volcanic eruption(s) so huge that only 5 islets, some no more than rocks, remain of Thera, and of Atlantis remained 'small islets, only the bones of a wasted body'.

·Both were wealthy, highly developed cultures, concerned with art, beauty, entertainment and personal comforts and adornments."
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

"Under the direction of archaeologist Christos Doumas, the excavations at Thera are revealing multistoried, exquisitely decorated buildings, complete with bathrooms and running water. Plumbing and other technologies emerging from the ash are of a complexity not seen again until the Islamic empire of the Middle Ages. The walls and streets are literally honeycombed with pipes."
"The abundance of plumbing suggests that fresh water ran so plentifully on ancient Thera that it must have sluiced continually through the underground sewage system, flushing the city clean."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 17

"[Poseidon] himself, as he was a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the center of the island, brining up two springs of water from beneath the earth, one of warm water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil."
- Plato, Critias 114a

·"Plato spoke of bulls hunted with ropes within a temple in Atlantis. Archaeological evidence has shown the Minoans built bull rings, hunting the animals with nooses, (the only example of this kind of 'bullfight' in world history) and practiced 'bull jumping', either a sport or religious ritual. These practices gave rise to the legend (?) of the Minotaur, half man, half bull, secured within the labyrinth. "
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 41

"There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon; and the ten kings, being left alone in the temple, after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him, hunted the bulls without weapons, but with staves and nooses; and the bull which they caught they led up to the pillar."
- Plato, Critias, 119c

On Crete, "Minoan tombs were being found intact, unmolested by looters. One tomb yielded teacup-shaped vessels with scenes of bullfights engraved on their sides. The bulls were shown snared in ropes. Similar scenes were depicted on the palace walls of Knossos - scenes that differed from all other bullfights known though history in precisely the point Plato had emphasized: no weapons except ropes were used."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 41

·"Atlantis was a powerful thalassocracy, and ruled areas 'larger than Asia and Libya', with 'the docks full of tiremes (a kind of ship) and naval stores...the largest of harbors were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts.' The Minoan area of sea control and economic influence included all of North Africa, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Their fleet was unsurpassed in its size. Since all the countries in these areas were not even aware of each other's existence, certainly strange and exaggerated tales could have begun to circulate about the size, scope and wonders of the Minoan civilization.

·"Plato described Atlantis as alternating rings of sea and land, with a palace in the center 'bull's eye'. Interestingly, the remnants of post eruption Thera are circular around a deep, wide lagoon, with another small island located in the center of the lagoon. Perhaps Egyptians or other ancient travelers visited Thera long after the volcanic destruction ocurred, misinterpreted the geographical remains of the island, and began the legend of the rings of Atlantis. Looking 70 miles south to crescent shaped Crete, the ancient traveler could have easily assumed the ring system of Atlantis reached as far.
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

Recent geological examination of the strata of the island of Santorini (the modern name for Thera), reveals that a large open lagoon formed by the volcano's cauldera was present in classical times. This corresponds to Plato's description of Atlantis with its enclosed circular harbor and distinctive rose-colored earth.

"Before 1500 B.C. the sea must have been further inland, as has been shown by the well dug near the south gate of the site, where brackish water was struck at a depth of about 6 m in the layer of pumice and below the ash layer....The spot lies about 200 m inland, in the valley between the hill of Mesovouna (east) and the ride of Mavro Rhachidhi (west). This location, sheltered by the surrounding hills, would have been idea for of prehistoric Akrotiri. In my opinion, it is this harbor which is depicted in the wall-painting of the fleet from the West House [above]....The hilly landscape in the background is very reminiscent of the profile of the Mavro Rhachidhi ridge."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 55

·"Plato speaks if the stone quarried from under Atlantis; 'one kind of stone was white, another black, and a third red'. The first sight of Thera that modern day tourists see is the sheer cliffs remaining when the rest of the island dropped into the sea, and these cliffs are a breathtaking mix of white, black and red stone. A unique sight in the Aegean world.

·"Archaeologists have found an extensive and sophisticated system of sewers, drainage, drinking and bath water pipes in Crete and Thera. Private homes had flush toilets and bathtubs. It appears Minoans heated their houses and had hot and cold running water from hydrothermal vents. Plato describes the 'bringing up (of) two springs of water from beneath the earth... fountains, one of cold and another of hot water...there were the king's baths and also the baths of private persons.'"
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

·"The size and location of Atlantis's capital was also more in proportion with Crete or Thera than with Plato's Libya/Asia-sized continent. Plato's mythical palace was located halfway along the coast of the island, about fifty stadia (a stadia being less than half a mile) inland, on a low hill about four stadia across (Cirtias, 113). The real Minoan palace of Knossos was located halfway along the northern coast of Crete, on a low hill about four stadia across."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 154

"One curious revelation is that these priests had told Solon that his ancestors had lost the art of writing for awhile. Remarkably, that is exactly what happened, as was only learned by digging up Mycenaean sites. Around 1400-1200 BCE, the Mycenaean Greeks had a system of writing, 'Linear B', which they had learned from the Minoans. It was very different from the Greek alphabet of later times, being a syllabic script that was mixed with picto- and ideographs in the style of Japanese - and which was very unsuited for the Greek language (any one sign could stand for any of several syllables: ke -- ke, ge, khe, kes, ges, khes, ker, ger, kher, etc.) The surviving examples of it were used exclusively for bookkeeping at the Mycenaean palaces, and when the palaces fell, the script apparently went with them. The only memory of this writing in later times was Homer's reference to a tablet with 'magic signs' with this meaning: kill its holder."
- Loren Petrich

"One remnant of Minoan civilization is believed to have sailed southwest to Tunisia, where they settled in the Atlas Mountains and become the tribe known to the classical Greeks as the Atlantes. Another remnant went south, where a handful of talented refugees apparently became Egyptian nobles; and others almost certainly sailed east, bringing their distinctive architecture with them to the land they called Philistia, or Palestine, in what is now Israel's Mediterranean coast west of the Dead Sea."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 86

Other Theories of the Origin of the Legend

(1). During the Peloponesian War?

"Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state (Athens) in our histories but one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valor. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean for in those days the Atlantic was navigable and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles, the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together and was the way to other islands and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the straits of Hercules is only a harbor having a narrow entrance but that other is a true sea."
- Plato, Timaeus

"The only episode which fits this description which has been recorded as an historical fact is the circumnavigation of Africa by the Phoenician fleet sent forth by the Egyptian pharoah Neco shortly before the time Plato paints Solon as having heard the story in Egypt."
- Steve Whittet

"They had such an enormous amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates and is not likely ever to be again. Because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries....They went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks... First of all they bridged over the zones of the sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis."
- Plato, Critias

"The only city built on a man made island in antiquity was the city of Tyre."
- Steve Whittet

"In the center was a holy temple dedicated to the worship of Cleito and Poseidon."
- Plato, Critias

Cleito and Poseidon were "deities associated with and not predating Phoenicia."
- Steve Whittet

"There occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune....The island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea."
- Plato, Timaeus

"...There is also a reference, contemporaneous to the time of Plato,to an island called 'Atalanta' which was destroyed by flooding and sinking beneath the sea after an earthquake in The Peloponesian War, Thucydides. Book III, chapter XI para 89 destroying an Athenian garrison. This is germane because in Timaeus the description of the destruction says: 'in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth and the island of Atlantis in like manner dissapeared into the depths of the sea."
- Steve Whittet

(2) The Devastation of Tantalis?

"Plato described a catastrophe involving earthquake and flood, yet the Thera event was a volcanic explosion. The Greeks were reasonably informed about ancient Cretan civilization - as echoed in the stories of Minos, Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth - so it seems unlikely that they would have, first, earnt about Crete from the Egyptians, and second, not recognised what their source was ostensibly describing. It also became clear by the1980s that the explosion of Thera did not, after all, bring about the end of Minoan civilization. It was time for a new approach to the Atlantis problem."
- Peter James, The Sunken Kingdom - The Atlantis Mystery Solved

According to archaeological evidence, Crete suffered from the eruption of Thera, but the Minoans survived to rebuild. Peter James argues that the story of Atlantis came from western Turkey, where a major Bronze Age city, the legendary Tantalis, was devastated by an earthquake and submerged beneath a lake.

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