Everything we know about the legendary island civilization of Atlantis comes from several pages of Time and Crete, two famous dialogues written by the Greek philosopher Plato in the fourth century BC. According to Plato, Atlantis existed some 9 thousand years before his time. The great naval power of the ancient world, the Utopian island kingdom mysteriously disappeared into the sea in just one day. For centuries countless writers, historians, scientists and researchers have debated whether Atlantis really existed and if so where it could be.
Atlantis was a Mid-Atlantic continent that suddenly sank into the ocean
The idea that Atlantis was a truly historic site, and not just a legend invented by Plato, did not emerge before the late 19th century. In his 1882 Atlantis book, A World Before the Flood, writer Ignatius Donelli argues that the achievements of the ancient world (such as metallurgy, language, and agriculture) must have been inherited from an earlier advanced civilization, since the people of antiquity were not skilled enough to be alone they develop all these achievements.
Assuming the Atlantic Ocean was only a few hundred feet deep, Donnelly described the continent sunk by the swollen ocean at exactly the location indicated by Plato: in the Atlantic Ocean just outside the Herculean pillars, two stones marking the entrance to the Gibraltar Strait. Long after modern oceanography and a greater understanding of plate tectonics have found holes in his thesis on the swollen ocean, some continue to adhere to Donelli’s theory, largely because of its adherence to Plato’s location of Atlantis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Atlantis was swallowed by the Bermuda Triangle
Inspired by Donelli, many later authors expanded his theories and added their own assumptions about where Atlantis might be. One of these authors was Charles Berlic, the grandson of the founder of the renowned language school and the author of many books on paranormal phenomena.
In the 1970s, Berlitz claimed that Atlantis was a real continent located outside the Bahamas that fell victim to the infamous Bermuda Triangle in the Atlantic where numerous ships reportedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Proponents of this theory point to the discovery of walls and streets beyond the shores of Bimini that appear to have been made by humans, though scientists have evaluated these structures and concluded that they are natural formations of coastal rocks.
Atlantis was Antarctic
The second theory – that Atlantis was actually a much more moderate version of what Antarctica is today – is based on the work of Charles Hepgood, whose 1958 book The Shifting of the Earth’s Crust – is accompanied by a preface by Albert Einstein. According to Hepgood, about 12,000 years ago, Earth’s crust shifted, displacing the Antarctic continent from a location much northerly than today.
This more temperate continent was home to a developed civilization, but the sudden shift to today’s icy site condemned the downfall of Atlantis and their magnificent city was buried with layers of ice. Hepgood’s theory emerged before the world came to a scientific understanding of plate tectonics, which greatly suppressed his idea of a crust that moves to the last place of belief in Atlantis.
The story of Atlantis is a mythical retelling of the Black Sea flood
This theory assumes that Atlantis itself was invented, but the story of its disappearance was inspired by a true historical event: the Bosphorus passage into the Mediterranean Sea and the subsequent flood of the Black Sea, around 5600 BC. At that time, the Black Sea was half the freshwater lake than it is today. The flood swept away civilizations that developed along its shores in a short period of time (perhaps less than a year). As the inhabitants of this region scattered, they spread stories of the flood and may have led – thousands of years later – to Plato’s version of Atlantis.
Atlantis – the story of the Minoan civilization
Atlantis is the story of the Minoan civilization that peaked in the Greek islands around 2500-1600 BC.
One of the more recent theories about Atlantis concerns a civilization that peaked in the Greek islands of Crete and Tera (now Santorini) more than 4,000 years ago: Minoans named after the legendary King Minos. Believed to be the first major civilization, the Minoans built beautiful palaces, paved roads, and were the first Europeans to use the letter (linear).
At the height of its power, though, the Minoans suddenly disappeared from the historical scene – a lingering mystery that held the belief in the link between this great civilization doomed to ruin and Plato’s Atlantis. Historians believe that around 1600 BC, a powerful earthquake struck the volcanic island of Tera and caused an eruption that ejected 10 million tons of rocks, ash and gas into the atmosphere. The tsunami that followed the eruption was more than enough to wipe out Minoan cities across the region, a destruction that made the Minoans vulnerable to invaders from the Greek mainland.
Atlantis did not exist at all – Plato invented it
Many historians and scholars throughout history have come to the conclusion that Plato’s version of the lost kingdom of Atlantis was fabricated. Accordingly, the Greek philosopher invented Atlantis as his vision of an ideal civilization, with the intention of telling the story of its disappearance that gods punish human arrogance. Outside of Plato’s dialogues, there is no written evidence of Atlantis, even in numerous texts that have survived since ancient Greece. Moreover, despite modern advances in oceanography and ocean floor mapping, no trace of such a sunken civilization has ever been found.