The lost city of Atlantis was first mentioned by Plato over 2300 years ago. According to him, this island was home to a mighty civilization around 9500 B.C. After trying, and failing, to capture Athens, Atlantis disappeared “in a single day and night of misfortune”. Was the story of Atlantis a myth, meant to forward Plato’s political theories? Or did Atlantis really exist?
Currently, there is no proof that Atlantis, the lost city, ever existed. The possibility was discussed throughout antiquity, and scholars through the ages have sought proof to no avail. Still, the mystery and romance of this fabled civilization captures our attention to this day. The Atlantis quest has influenced art, literature, and the theater. But the first written record belongs to Plato.
In Plato’s dialogue Timaeus, he described Atlantis as, “a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.”
Ancient Athens is described as a perfect society, while Atlantis is an example of the opposite. The Atlanteans were conquering wide areas of land and enslaving many people. A band of resisters from Athens defied Atlantis, and emerged victorious. Before the Atlantean empire could respond, a great tragedy occurred.
Earthquakes and floods ravaged the island, which was, “swallowed up by the sea”. Atlantis had disappeared, and a rich and vibrant (if land-hungry) culture had disappeared with it. But what proof is there that Atlantis even existed?
Authors like Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton wrote about Atlantis. In the 19th century, many scholars believe that Atlantean and Mayan cultures were related. Many scientists and scholars have combed the records for evidence of Atlantis’ existence.
Edgar Cayce was a famed psychic who mentioned Atlantis in several readings. He believed that Atlantis was home to an advanced civilization, located in the Caribbean. He also proposed that the Atlantean’s used mysterious energy crystals to power ships and aircraft. In 1938, Cayce predicted that, “a portion of the temples may yet to be discovered under the slime of ages and sea water near Bimini… Expect it in ’68 or ’69 – not so far away.” In 1968, an underwater geological formation was discovered near Bimini Island. Searchers in the Atlantis quest believe this may be evidence of Atlantean civilization, and are searching for more clues.
Given Plato’s descriptions of the lost city of Atlantis, it seems likely that a volcano caused much of the damage. Scholars and scientists have scoured the planet looking for possible locations of Atlantis. Many locations have been suggested, and many theories discarded. But not all theories can be so easily ignored.
The most interesting theory suggests that an error in translation multiplied measurements tenfold. Rather than the 9000 years before, it was suggested that the tragedy occurred only 900 years before. A massive eruption on Thera, a Mediterranean island, is believed to have caused a tsunami – one so powerful that the Minoan civilization on nearby Crete was devastated. Satellite images of the island show a classic volcanic ring, and the volcano has erupted many times.
Dozens of locations around the world have been proposed as possible sites of the lost city of Atlantis. Until conclusive proof is found, the Atlantis quest will continue.