The Boy Who Cried Atlantis

Scene from the Aesop's fable about the boy who cried "wolf."
Scene from the Aesop's fable about the boy who cried "wolf." | Source

There once was a boy who herded sheep and felt so bored with his job that he cried, "Wolf!" in order to stir things up. Each time he did so, the townspeople would come to the rescue only to find him laughing at their gullibility. Then one day, a wolf actually showed up and, in some versions, ate the naughty little boy. The ancient Greek teller of fables, Aesop, gave us this delightful tale about lying and its consequences.

What does this have to do with Atlantis? It seems every few months, someone declares they have found Plato's lost island, only they are not joking. And, for them, their declaration is no lie. They are quite serious in their pronouncements.

The list of locations is long and varied, covering regions around the globe—the high Andes of South America, Sweden, the Sahara, Antarctica and even Indonesia. To the hardened skeptic, the subject of Atlantis has become a farce. Even if Atlantis were to be found in all honesty, few, if any, would believe it. The "discovery" has been made too many times. Too many have "cried Atlantis." And like the Aesop fable, the word "Atlantis" now falls on deaf ears. It has lost its meaning to those who could do anything about it.

Catch-22

The professional, career scientist (geologists and archaeologists) will not investigate Atlantis or anything associated with that fabled island. To them, the word "Atlantis" has become a blasphemy—something from beyond the fringe. If scientists will not investigate anything associated with Atlantis, then they will never find proof of Atlantis. If scientists require proof of Atlantis before they will investigate anything associated with Atlantis, then we have a situation impossible to solve—a classic "Catch-22" (a term, coined by Joseph Heller in his novel by the same name, referring to a logical paradox).

In Heller's novel, catch number 22 is the impossibility of getting out of combat duty by being declared insane. It works like this: If someone wants to get out of combat, then they are automatically assumed not to be insane. Anyone who wants combat duty would be suicidally crazy. Thus, any pilot who requests a fitness evaluation is presumed sane, and must fly combat missions. On the other hand, if an evaluation is not requested, the pilot will never receive one, so he can never be found insane, even if he is loony tunes. Thus Catch-22 guarantees that a pilot can never be found insane, no matter what his mental state.

Statue of the Greek god, Poseidon (Roman god, Neptune), ruler of the sea.
Statue of the Greek god, Poseidon (Roman god, Neptune), ruler of the sea. | Source

One island in the Bahamas possesses several sites in its surrounding, shallow waters which may contain archaeological finds. Amateurs have photographed them and, while they may not be entirely convincing, they seem promising. Professional archaeologists will not investigate these sites, and the reason is quite clear. They do not want to jeopardize their funding or their tenure by being associated with the blasphemous Atlantis. The island is named Bimini, part of the Bahamas, and stands not far from Florida, United States.

Four decades ago, an underwater wall was found north of the island. Not long after its discovery, a Mr. Shinn, who had a bachelors degree in biology and worked for the United States Geological Service, investigated the so-called wall. His original article, published in an obscure, Florida journal, seemed inconclusive. The orientation of the blocks of beach rock out of which the wall was created seemed random, rather than entirely natural. Because of this, it proved entirely reasonable to conclude that the structure may have been manmade. In a subsequent article, Mr. Shinn changed his story. He wrote that the evidence conclusively showed that the wall was entirely natural because all of the blocks were oriented toward the sea. Either Mr. Shinn lied in his first article, or he lied in every article which followed. But now, Mr. Shinn was famous. If a geologist or archaeologist were ever asked about the enigmatic "Bimini Wall," or as it is frequently called, "Bimini Road," they would merely point to Mr. Shinn's later articles which show conclusively that the structure is natural. Apparently, none of the scientists know of Mr. Shinn's original article and its implications. Oh, well! They have all they need to know. They have buried their heads in the sand and don't even taste the grit.

I have seen similar travesties happen in astronomy's scientific literature. Mistakes made by scientists over a century ago are quoted by later scientists as fact, even though other scientists have long proven those errors to be false. So, even in a peer-review environment, if the reviewer does not know better, they may approve an article full of known errors—known to some, but not to all.

More about Atlantis...

Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics)
Timaeus and Critias (Penguin Classics)

This is the book that started it all! Plato's two dialogs. And this is my preferred translation--by Sir Desmond Lee.

 
Quest for Atlantis II
Quest for Atlantis II

This book is by one of the good guys. I know this guy and he's a dedicated scientist, collecting scientific fact that may relate to Plato's Atlantis.

 
Proof of Atlantis: Records from the Past
Proof of Atlantis: Records from the Past

An exciting, page-turning novel about modern adventurers, devious governments and unscrupulous individuals all interested in the lost records of Atlantis.

 

Definition

If Atlantis was a real place, there remains only one location which could qualify. Plato stands as the only source for our story. All earlier writings on the subject, if they ever existed, have been lost. Plato's dialogs, Timaeus and Critias, define the subject. And Plato tells us a very specific location.

Atlantis, if it existed, stood in the Atlantic Ocean, just outside the Strait of Gibraltar, facing a region in Southern Spain, known in Plato's time as "Gadira"—modern day "Cádiz."

The size of Atlantis was somewhat more vague. Plato merely said that its area equaled that of ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined. This would include most of coastal North Africa, excluding Egypt, but including most of modern Turkey. In other words, Atlantis was an island between one and two times the size of Texas—the largest state in the contiguous United States. Because of this extent, Atlantis likely stretched to include the Azores archipelago and perhaps some of the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Every other place on Earth cannot have been Atlantis, by definition. If some ancient ruins are found elsewhere, they might possibly have been an inspiration for the Atlantis story, at best. The only exception to this rule would be the colonies described by Plato. Some of these Atlantean settlements stood along the Mediterranean coast, as far as Italy in the North and up to, but not including, the Nile valley in the south. Other colonies stood amongst the islands across the great ocean (Atlantic) and on the opposing continent (America?). Could the Bahamas be included amongst these colonial islands?

A hypothetical depiction of Atlantis based on the locations of the Africa-Eurasia tectonic plate boundary, the Azores underwater plateau, and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Adapted from a map courtesy cia.gov.
A hypothetical depiction of Atlantis based on the locations of the Africa-Eurasia tectonic plate boundary, the Azores underwater plateau, and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Adapted from a map courtesy cia.gov.

Proof

Alas, we have no direct proof of Atlantis. But say that it did exist as Plato described. The most startling proof would be that of ancient writings and a method for deciphering the now long-dead language. Perhaps almost as rewarding would be the acquisition of a dateable map which showed the lower sea levels of twelve thousand years ago plus the island or islands of Atlantis in the Atlantic. Next on the discovery "wish list" would be whole buildings on the bottom of the Atlantic in the region described by Plato. Last on this list, we might include buildings in the colonial areas of Atlantis, perhaps dozens of meters below sea level, closer to the old sea level of 9600 BC.

However, we have proof of an Atlantis-like event. In fact, we have three pieces of evidence, each from a different scientific discipline. The most startling and controversial of these suggests that an Atlantis-sized body of land submerged approximately one kilometer at about 9620 BC. Each of these world-changing items of proof coincide with the same date—roughly Plato's date for the subsidence of Atlantis.

We also have a great deal of other evidence which supports the past reality of Atlantis, including geological, archaeological and cultural.

For Crying Out Loud!

 Don't pay too much attention to those who find Atlantis here, or there, or anywhere. Plato was quite specific about the location of Atlantis

Geologists will not look because, for them, there is nothing in the geology of the North Atlantic which would allow for the formation and subsequent destruction of a large island. But don't let the scientific Catch-22 stop you from investigating.

The following video gives you a layperson's explanation of Atlantis, comparing that fabled island with a modern group of islands—the Philippines.

For a more in-depth discussion of the geology of Atlantis, and much more, check out www.MissionAtlantis.com.

More by this Author


Comments 17 comments

Sam9999 profile image

Sam9999 5 years ago

Great Article. It is obvious that you put a lot of work into that video. I always look forward to your hubs.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Sam9999. I enjoyed putting it all together, and I'm happy you enjoyed it.


Betty Johansen profile image

Betty Johansen 5 years ago

What a clever title! But it's a shame that Atlantis has become a joke. Few topics are more intriguing than the lost civilization of Atlantis. This is a fascinating hub! However, as a Texan, I have to say that if Atlantis was bigger than Texas, maybe you should refer to it as a continent, rather than an island. Just kidding!

Great work! I enjoyed the video too. I almost didn't watch it when I saw how long it was, but it didn't seem long, at all. A very enjoyable hub from start to finish. Thanks!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Betty, as a Texan, I would have to agree, but I didn't want to offend the non-Texans out there. ;-)

Thanks for the wonderful comments.


A.Villarasa profile image

A.Villarasa 5 years ago from Palm Springs

Hello Mr. Martin:

Any other authority other than you, I would have questioned the veracity of Atlantis' existence in pre-history. Thankfully my and your beloved Philippines won't share the same fate.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Mr. Villarasa. Thanks for the kind words. And yet, even I question the existence of Atlantis' existence in pre-history. I guess I'm not afraid of losing a career over talking about it.

Yes, all we have to worry about in the Philippines (geologically) are volcanic eruptions!


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

I just watched a National Geographic documentary about Atlantis being found in a march, right where Plato says it was. It isn't the size of Texas though but it is in the straight of Gibraltar. Have you seen that documentary and if so, what did you think of it?


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi Slarty. No, I didn't see it. Wish I had. I currently live in the Philippines and don't watch much television, lately.

You say, "right where Plato says it was... but it is in the straight of Gibraltar." Are you saying "within the strait"--in other words, in the Med? Or if you mean literally "in" the strait, could it be referring to Spartel, an island which disappeared about 12,000 years ago from rising oceans?

Plato is quite clear that Atlantis was _not_ within the strait. Timaeus and Critias are quite clear on this with several clues.

* Atlantis faced Gadira (modern Cadiz, the oldest European city on the Atlantic coast). Any island within the Med could not "face" Gadira. And Spartel is too close to the strait to face Gadira, actually a few miles into the Atlantic, but south and east of Cadiz.

* Atlantis subsided violently in a day and a night. Spartel quietly whimpered out of existence from slowly rising oceans, suffering a fate similar to some islands around the world, today, from global warming.

* Plato said that Atlantis was the size of Libya and Asia combined. These meant different things to the Greeks of Plato's day. Libya meant coastal Africa, from Gibraltar up to, but not including, Nile Valley Egypt. Asia meant Asia Minor (most of modern Turkey).

* Plato talked of widely separated regions, each ruled by a different king. Spartel, and most other "theoretical locations" of Atlantis, are far too small to have ten such regions.

* At the pace Spartel was being swallowed by the rising seas, there would not have been much of the island left during the millennium preceding its final demise. There would not have been much territory there for an empire to muster forces against pre-historic Greece and Kemet (Egypt).

The best any other location can hope to be would be that of possible "inspiration" for Atlantis, but none of those locations could _be_ "Plato's Atlantis," by his definition. Just as Las Vegas can only metaphorically be called a modern "Babylon," there was only one Atlantis (if it existed at all), and Spartel was not it.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed the discussion in NG's documentary. There are still too many unanswered questions about Atlantis to close the book, just yet.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

I frankly know nothing about it. You will have to download the video if you have better than a dial up connection. I got it from the net as well because I missed the actual show. It's called: National Geographic, Finding Atlantis.

From what it says they found evidence of it through pictures from space, and it is located on the tip of southern Spain under what is now a marsh.

Again, I have no idea whether it is Atlantis or just something else they found. They seem to think it is Atlantis, but I wouldn't vouch for it either way. Good show though.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

This url will give you a good look at the basics

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/find.../10009_00


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Slarty, for the URL. A fun production by NG, but it's amazing how loosely some investigators take Plato's description.

Plato could have been giving us a complete fiction, granted. But taking bits and pieces of his story, cafeteria style, so that one location or another "fits" their version of Plato's Atlantis, is a bit tiresome.

Plato gave us the formula for what describes Atlantis. If a location doesn't match up, then it's not Atlantis. If nothing matches up, then Atlantis did not exist. There are many locations which have one or two of the "matches," but miss on many other criteria.

Southern Spain? Not an island. Not a large island. Not "in" the Atlantic. Did not subside violently to be swallowed by the sea; though being washed out by a massive tsunami sort of works. Does not "face" Gadira, but is adjacent to it; that sort of works.

Could they have found evidence of one of the European colonies of Atlantis, described by Plato? Possibly. And the massive tsunami might have been unleashed by the real Atlantis sinking farther west--a large island in the Atlantic which perhaps did face Gadira. Quite possibly, Atlantis suffered several aftershocks, but the first blow might have created a tsunami as much as a mile or two high. What followed might have been waves only a few hundred feet high at landfall.

Speculation? Yes, but based on mounting evidence. I was wondering when someone would come up with proof of a major tsunami hitting the coast of Europe. Thanks, Slarty. Very nice, indeed.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada

Like I said, I don't believe it nor disbelieve it. I haven't got a clue. But I enjoyed the documentary and I'm glad you did too. ;)


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

I hear you, Slarty. And I don't "believe," either. I'm holding out for more proof.


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I used to consider the possiblity that atlantis was a real place while discounting some of the more radical notions about it. i.e. Aliens buildt it, They had supernateral powers and super advanced technology. That sort of thing. I figured it was a great civilisation that influenced the world then collaspsed.

Then I read an articale in Skeptic jr explaining that Socrates made the story up as a teaching tool. While I no longer believe in atlantis per se I do think there are many various lost empires that need discovering.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Ruffridyer. I had not heard the theory of Socrates making up the story. I wonder where Skeptic jr got his evidence. I know of no videotape from that era.

It's highly possible that Atlantis was a complete fiction, but the proof I've found seems to hold the door open on the subject. I don't "believe" Atlantis existed. I consider it a possibility, but I'm still looking for more proof, pro or con.


Ask_DJ_Lyons profile image

Ask_DJ_Lyons 5 years ago from Mosheim, Tennessee

You have a very interesting writing style. I enjoyed reading your take on this controversial topic. I personally feel like Atlantis did exist. Thanks for sharing!

Debbie


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks for the compliments, Debbie.

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