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Atlantis and Tartessus
Atlantis has been discovered by satellite, again. That’s right; this is not the first time it has happened. This newest discovery is actually not a discovery at all but a reinterpretation with new evidence. In the documentary Finding Atlantis we are told of a German physicist who has discovered that there are rings beneath the surface of a Spanish nature preserve. He made this discovery in 2004; he knew to look at this site because it was suggested as the site of Atlantis by archaeologists in 1922. This site has also been suggested as the location of the city of Tartessus, a city known to the ancient Greeks and perhaps recorded in the Bible as Tarshish.
As with most documentaries of this kind the evidence is paltry. We are shown scenes of the plain where Atlantis might be, but nothing substantial is found (a couple of Bronze Age figures). We are then shown scenes of sites elsewhere in Spain that represent the same culture. We are then given a tour of a completely different site in Crete showing the Minoan culture.
The Minoans represent neither Atlantis nor Tarshish. They are brought in because they suffered from a devastating tsunami in the same way that the site of Tartessus did. But it was not the same tsunami. The Tartessan tsunami is believed to have occurred between 800 and 500 B.C., the Minoan tsunami occurred about 1600 B.C., caused by the eruption of Santorini/Thera. Neither date is appropriate to Plato’s Atlantis.
In its favour, the Tartessan site is on the western side of the Pillars of Hercules. The archaeologists were looking for evidence from 2000 B.C., yet this is supposed to be the founding civilization of all civilizations in the Near and Middle East, and it is still not early enough for Plato’s Atlantis. While there is intriguing evidence of a city at this location there is no “smoking gun”. The evidence that is presented suggests that if this were Atlantis, it is so only as a model on which Plato intended to build his story. If it is Tartessus, it is an intriguing publication of ancient history, publication, not discovery, because the site has long been thought to be the site of Tartessus/Tarshish.
Satellite imagery has also been used to suggest that Atlantis is in Bolivia. This goes back to at least 2003 and here the information is new. Unlike the Spanish site, the Bolivian location comes with lots of evidence. Even (or perhaps especially) on the Internet it is visually impressive. Which leaves me to wonder, why the support for the site in Spain when an already impressive site exists in Bolivia? The site in Bolivia is west of the Pillars of Hercules, it has rings as listed in Plato, and the size is about right, it has more going for it than the Spanish site.
Perhaps the difficulty arises because the Bolivian site defies the currently accepted chronology, there is not supposed to be an advanced civilization in South America that is earlier than the Egyptian and Sumerian kingdoms. But the evidence is intriguing. There are anomalies, but the thing to remember about anomalies is that the only thing they prove is that there is something we don’t understand. The tale of Atlantis has undoubtedly spurred many investigations and perhaps led to some interesting discoveries. None of which proves the existence of Atlantis. Personally, I believe Plato’s Atlantis was meant as part of morality tale, but the anomalous archaeology out there proves that there is still a lot of unexplained history to discover.