Welcome to Nerdy by Nature for an exciting Science episode for this Wednesday. What if Atlantis isn’t really lost at all? What if it’s hiding under the ocean? What if Plato’s writings were just a fable? All that and more on today’s show as we take you through our thoughts and theories about the lost city of Atlantis. So many questions that have puzzled archaeologists, adventure seekers, and enthusiasts for hundreds of years.
The legend of the lost city of Atlantis dates back to around 360 B.C., when it was first mentioned in the works of the famous Greek philosopher Plato. According to Plato, Atlantis was an advanced island nation that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa around 9,600 B.C.
For most of the past two millennia, no one thought much about Atlantis but today it is a quest of truth and understanding for many, including myself. An armchair archaeologist at heart as it’s definitely a topic that has fascinated me for years. We all remember stories of Atlantis as a child, maybe movies and cartoons depicting this super advanced Utopian society.
How advanced are we talking? Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, provides a description of Atlantis in his dialogue Critias, which was never completed. The land was divided into concentric zones of land and water. There was two zones of land and three zones of water surrounded the central island, complete with springs. Atlantis was full of large and beautiful palaces, temples, docks, and a network of various bridges and canals that united different sections of the kingdom, including gardens. Plato writes that it was larger than Libya and Asia together.
Did Atlantis sink? Some believe so. The writings of Plato describe that Zeus caused the destruction of Atlantis because of immoral and greedy behaviour that the civilization had blossomed into. If such a place existed, the suggestion by scholars is that its demise had been due to a massive earthquake, which caused flooding and also a volcanic event which made it disappear from the earth… or has it?
Archaeologists have been exploring the Greek island of Santorini for years, and believe that Atlantis had been part of the formation of Islands off Crete. This area had seen volcanic activity in the past so it was fitting to think there might be a connection. A team archaeologists had uncovered Akroti, a Minoan settlement buried under ash. The discoveries were remarkable; buildings that boast advanced construction techniques, including thoughtful layout of the city, and even indoor plumbing. They also found a number of imported pottery, precious stone and bronze objects which indicated that some long distance travel had occurred to retrieve copper.
Sounds credible? Some historians hold that this settlement, as well as the disaster that left it unknown to most of history, as the inspiration behind Plato’s story of Atlantis, as mentioned in his dialogue. According to Plato, the island was located outside the pillars of Hercules (known as the strait of Gibraltar) which would peg somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
Another theory; through geomorphic and geological studies, the Canary Islands have been identified as remnants of Atlantis (along with the Madeira, and Azores). The suggestion is that those places were the lost continent’s highest summits. There is also evidence of past volcanic formations, and along with close proximity to the straits of Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean make it an underwater destination to explore. With that said, partial palaces and temples are still to be found in the bottom of the sea.
There’s more; apparently the story of Atlantis had been passed down to Plato, coming from an ancestor, then from Solon (an Athenian statesman 300 years before), who had learned it from an Egyptian priest, who said it had happened 9,000 years before that. And the fascinating thing is that that archaeologists have found Egyptian hieroglyphics depicting what appears to be a representation of Atlantis and its people in trade relations.
Does Atlantis truly exist? Well, we don’t know; but, this episode we came closer to knowing. Archaeologists and historians have theories about the existence as you heard. In addition, there is a whole list of other suggested resting locations for Atlantis, but none so promising as the theory of the island of Santorini.
Share your thoughts and speculations with us in the comments below, or head over to our home on Twitter to continue this Lost City conversation right meow.