Atlantis: Examining the Legendary Tale of Plato
“....an island comprising mostly of mountains in the northern portions and along the shore, and encompassing a great plain of an oblong shape in the south extending in one direction three thousand stadia (about 555km 2), but across the center island it was two thousand stadia (about 370km 2). Fifty stadia (9km) from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides…broke it off all round about…the central island itself was five stades in diameter (about 0.92km)”. - Plato
(Image courtesy author)
Interestingly, and just as Plato mentioned, this super-island drowned by the sea at around 8000 BC during the rapid rise of the Mediterranean and just prior to the flooding of the Black Sea (see 2005 UNESCO study). So, in light of this latest discovery, having a site that finally matches Plato's description of Atlantis, is it possible to accept that Plato's story was based on a real setting and a prehistoric civilization known to ancient Greeks? Of course it is, especially since disproving a perfectly matching site may be even more difficult than finding such a site to begin with.
Consequently, earlier this year, the same image was sent to a popular blog site (one that prides itself to contain the most comprehensive data on Atlantis) with the following comments:
" ....if we remain true to Plato’s account and look for a setting at around 9600 BC, the place on the image must have been the prehistoric site Plato was talking about, whether ‘Atlantis’ as we know it was real or not. As you see, the geography is perfectly identical, the volcanic geology is there, and the flora and fauna (including elephants) chronologically match the topography. Furthermore, a pre-Bronze Age civilization in the immediate area further reinforces this likelihood. If Plato’s Atlantis was ever real, this site offers the perfect match! As you also know, before any geographical area qualifies to be considered the site of Plato’s Atlantis, the 2005 conference of Milos established two dozen criteria. This site meets most of these criteria while the remaining few, especially past suppositions ‘hinting’ to its possible location being somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, are also explained when properly interpreting Plato from ancient Greek to English.… Obviously, it is no longer considered a farfetched hypothesis to accept that, 10,000 years ago, humans were more advanced and just as Plato asserted. Along with the ancient city of Jericho in Palestine, which long ago was determined that some of its structures date back to the 10th millennium BC, the mega-site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey (12000BC), as well as the submerged city off the coast of West India in the Gulf of Cambay (8000BC), prove conclusively that prehistoric humans had progressed earlier than anthropologists previously thought.” - Christos A. Djonis
Regardless of the many archaeological discoveries though, which clearly point to past advanced civilizations, it seems that most skeptics continue to argue, as this blogger did, that “Plato’s 9,000-year-old Atlantis conflicts with common sense and archaeology.” In fact, he also indicated that “since several details in Plato’s story are not compatible with the 10th millennium BC (horse races, triremes, the city of Athens, Egypt, etc.), that leaves no doubt in his mind that Atlantis was a myth.”
Subsequently, in order to demonstrate how important supportive details are to a true story, and to show how Plato's story suffers from verifiable details, a few days later he posted an article in his regular blog in which he outlined the military and the ‘population of Atlantis,’ (which he based on three different past theories) and pointed out that those theoretical numbers cannot be right.
While, of course, this can be explained in a couple of ways, one being the so-called ‘expert’ opinions in the three conflicting examples are wrong, conversely, he never discussed or explained away the ancient island on the image proposed. Apparently, as other skeptics often do, he formed an opinion he based either on modern interpretations of the story, or on oddities from Plato’s own account, as if every “true story” we are ever told always turn out to be real down to the last detail.
Fictions Turned Reality
So, were the Atlantians truly a prehistoric civilization as Plato claimed, or was that a myth? Was the story of Atlantis entirely a product of Plato’s imagination, or is it possible he created a fable around a real setting and an ancient civilization known to ancient Greeks, which in order to successfully communicate some of his philosophical ideas, (divine vs. human, ideal societies vs. corrupt) he filled with familiar matter and details from later times. Could this ideological story otherwise appeal to his audience if they could not connect or relay to it?