Top 6 Theories About Atlantis

1. Atlantis was a mid-Atlantic continent that suddenly sank into the ocean.

Engraving of Atlantis, as first described by Plato, just beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar and Mount Hacho). (Credit: Ann Ronan Pictures/Getty Images)

The idea that Atlantis was a real historical place, and not just a legend invented by Plato, did not surface until the end of the 19th century. In his 1882 book, Atlantis, the antediluvian worldthe writer Ignatius Donnelly has argued that the achievements of the ancient world (such as metallurgy, language, and agriculture) must have been passed down from an earlier advanced civilization, since the ancients were not sophisticated enough to develop these advances by themselves.

Assuming the Atlantic Ocean was only a few hundred feet deep, Donnelly described a continent flooded by shifting ocean waters that sank in the exact place Plato said he did: in the Atlantic Ocean just outside the ‘Pillars of Hercules’, the two rocks that mark the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. Long after modern oceanography and a better understanding of plate tectonics punched holes in his moving water thesis, some still cling to Donnelly’s theory, mainly because of his adherence to the placement of the l ‘Atlantis by Plato in the middle of the Atlantic.

2. Atlantis was swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle.

Inspired by Donnelly, many later writers expanded on his theories and added their own speculations about where Atlantis might have been. One of these writers was Charles Berlitz, grandson of the founder of famous language schools and author of numerous books on paranormal phenomena. In the 1970s, Berlitz claimed that Atlantis was a real continent located off the Bahamas that had fallen victim to the famous “Bermuda Triangle”, an area of ​​the Atlantic where a number of ships were said to have disappeared under circumstances. mysterious. Proponents of this theory point to the discovery of what look like artificial walls and streets found off Bimini, although scientists have assessed these structures and found that they are natural rock formations.

READ MORE: What is the Bermuda Triangle?

3. Atlantis was Antarctica.

Another theory – that Atlantis was actually a much more temperate version of what is now Antarctica – is based on the work of Charles Hapgood, whose 1958 book The moving earth’s crust preface by Albert Einstein. According to Hapgood, around 12,000 years ago the Earth’s crust shifted, moving the continent that became Antarctica from a location much further north than it is today. This more temperate continent was home to an advanced civilization, but the sudden shift to its present frigid location doomed the civilization’s inhabitants – the Atlanteans – and their magnificent city was buried under layers of ice. Hapgood’s theory surfaced before the scientific world had a full understanding of plate tectonics, which largely relegated his idea of ​​a “moving crust” to the fringes of Atlantean beliefs.

4. The story of Atlantis was a mythical tale of the Black Sea Flood.

This theory assumes that Atlantis itself was fictional, but the story of its disappearance was inspired by a real historical event: the rupture of the Bosphorus by the Mediterranean Sea and the subsequent flooding of the Black Sea, around 5600 BC. . a freshwater lake half its present size. The floods inundated civilizations known to thrive along its shoreline with hundreds of feet of seawater in a short time (perhaps less than a year). As the people of the region dispersed, they spread stories about the Flood and may have led – thousands of years later – to Plato’s account of Atlantis.

5. Atlantis is the story of the Minoan civilization, which flourished in the Greek islands around 2500-1600 BC.

Island of Thera (Santorini) during an eruption that may have created a tidal wave destroying Knossus and wiping out the Minoans.  (Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

Island of Thera (Santorini) during an eruption that may have created a tidal wave destroying Knossus and wiping out the Minoans. (Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

One of the most recent Atlantean theories concerns the civilization that flourished on the Greek islands of Crete and Thera (now Santorini) over 4,000 years ago: the Minoans, named after the legendary King Minos. Considered the first great civilization in Europe, the Minoans built splendid palaces, built paved roads and were the first Europeans to use a written language (Linear A). At the height of their power, however, the Minoans suddenly disappeared from history – a lingering mystery that fueled belief in a connection between this doomed great civilization and Plato’s Atlantis. Historians believe that around 1600 BC, a massive earthquake shook the volcanic island of Thera, triggering an eruption that spewed 10 million tons of rock, ash and gas into the atmosphere. The tsunamis that followed the eruption were large enough to wipe out Minoan cities throughout the region, a devastation that may have left the Minoans vulnerable to invaders from the Greek mainland.

READ MORE: Ancient Greece

6. Atlantis did not exist at all – Plato invented it.

Most historians and scientists throughout history have come to the conclusion that Plato’s account of the lost kingdom of Atlantis is fictional. According to this argument, the Greek philosopher coined Atlantis as his vision of an ideal civilization and intended the story of its demise to be a cautionary tale of the gods punishing human hubris. No written records of Atlantis exist outside of Plato’s dialogues, including in one of the many other texts that survive from ancient Greece. Moreover, despite modern advances in oceanography and ocean floor mapping, no trace of such a sunken civilization has ever been found.