The Lost Continent of Atlantis -

The Lost Continent of Atlantis

Area 51

Man has long been fascinated with the possibility of Atlantis, a lost and advanced civilization existing thousands of years before The Age of Greece, one that was perhaps as culturally and technically advanced as any mankind has ever seen.

By Matt DeReno Staff Writer

Atlantis: An Introduction

There has long been speculation about what led to the destruction of Atlantis, if we are to say it ever existed. Such a demise would surely have been a cataclysmic event, a tectonic plate shifting or perhaps a terrifying deluge that wiped them off the map — only to leave mere traces of their doomed society buried under layers of volcanic ash and sediment at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Greek philosopher Plato is credited with making the first reference to Atlantis in The Critias, in which he discusses political theories and philosophy. Ever since then, scholars have debated the actual existence of such a “lost civilization” and speculated on its whereabouts.

In the 19th Century, paranormal expert Edgar Cayce claimed he could channel the spirits of this lost civilization. He attributed to the Atlantis civilization a powerful crystal, which was the source of much of their technological superiority.

Before Cayce, the 1882 publication of Atlantis: the Antediluvian World by Ignatius L. Donnelly stimulated much popular interest. Donnelly took Plato's account of Atlantis seriously and attempted to establish that all known ancient civilizations are descended from its high Neolithic culture.

At about the same time, ideas about the legendary nature of Atlantis were combined with stories of other lost continents, such as Mu and Lemuria, by other occult fabulists.

In our time, the allure of Atlantis is undiminished, as evidenced by the popular Sci-Fi Show, Stargate Atlantis. What is it about this subject which we find so compelling?

First comes the obvious question — did Atlantis really exist? If so, where would it have most likely been? Why did it disappear? Are parts of its magical culture preserved in contemporary cultures? These and other questions continue to vex us.

The Legend

As legend would have it, well over 11,000 years ago there existed an island nation in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean populated by a noble and powerful race. Atlantis experts believe the civilization flourished from about 60,000 to 11,000 BCE.

The people of Atlantis possessed great wealth thanks to their island’s abundant natural resources. Atlantis was a center for trade and commerce. Its influence penetrated well into Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean.

We don't know much about Atlantis' political, social systems and degree of development since the only dialogue which speaks of it, The Critias, is brief and incomplete, and consists mostly of geographical information.

Plato’s portrait of Atlantis depicts a harmonious island, a place where nature generously provided all manner of flora and fauna for the people who called themselves Atlanteans. The climate was conducive to two crops every year and because of that, Atlanteans never knew want.


(From Wikipedia – Public Domain Image)
"Atlantis" by Lloyd K. Townsend
According to Plato, Atlantis was bigger than
Libya and Asia and was situated in front of the
Pillars of Hercules, in the ocean which
he called “Atlantic.”.

The island was divided into ten kingdoms, each ruled by a king since in earlier times. The first king, Poseidon, begat five sets of twins who inherited the Atlantean empire.

Kings had full powers in their kingdom over people and things; the arrangement was similar to that of the Incas of South America. The capital city, built by the god Poseidon, flourished in a highland surrounded by mountains.

The city's plan was fascinating: the acropolis was encircled by three canals of water and two rings of land.

The outer land ring was reinforced by walls clad in copper, the second by walls covered by tin. The wall encircling the acropolis glittered with “orichalcum,” a legendary metal now lost, and reputed to be second in value only to gold.

Ships navigated through the canals, which had locks and gates. The rings of land were linked through bridges. The walls featured guard towers to help protect the populace. Multicolored stones and metals were the main bricks of Atlantis architecture. Houses were built with three different kinds of stone: white, red and black.

The most lavish building of the Acropolis was a temple dedicated to Poseidon and Cleito, the mortal being he married before giving birth to the Empire of Atlantis, as legend tells it.

According to that legend, the Acropolis was sheltered by a golden enclosure adorned with statues and surrounded by walls of silver. Inside it was decorated with gold, orichalcum, ivory and silver.

Most of the houses, shops and public places were located outside the outer water ring, on the plains. The plains were populated with cities purportedly laid out in grid-like fashion, much like our modern cities.

Resources of all types were gathered and distributed in districts, which were the basic political unit of the plains cities.

At the top of the central hill, a temple was erected to honor Poseidon. It housed a giant gold statue of him riding a chariot, pulled by winged horses. It was here that the rulers of Atlantis would come to discuss laws, pass judgments, and pay tribute to Poseidon.

So what happened to this great civilization?

Atlantis is destroyed

There are numerous theories concerning the final destruction of Atlantis, involving massive floods, earthquakes, wars — even earth-crust displacement.

Earth-crust displacement theory holds that when the polar ice caps acquired too much mass, they shifted in one great piece, re-positioning everything in relation to the poles. The result was a catastrophe that toppled Atlantis.

Edgar Cayce, on the other hand, saw a civilization destroyed by excessive use of explosives to hunt animals. He also saw that before its final destruction, the Atlantean continent was split into five massive islands by immense earthquakes.

Cayce also believed there was a strong cultural aspect to this destruction. The Atlantean diaspora sought to teach their ways to anyone they could find, so that their great civilization would not be lost altogether.

Cayce says there are traces of the Atlantean civilization among the Native American peoples, as well as in cities in Egypt, Morocco, and Central America.

Plato summed up what happened to this civilization with this passage in The Critias, written in 360 BCE. Ironically, it is the first mention of Atlantis in recorded history.

"Let me begin by observing first of all, that nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Hercules and all who dwelt within them; this war I am going to describe. Of the combatants on the one side, the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war; the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis, which, as I was saying, was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia, and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean."

– Plato, The Critias, 360 BCE

According to the site, Edgar Cayce is responsible for some of the more outlandish notions about how Atlantis was destroyed, including the idea that the Atlanteans possessed some sort of Great Crystal. Cayce called it the “Tuaoi Stone” and said it was a huge cylindrical prism used to gather and focus "energy," thus allowing the Atlanteans to do all kinds of fantastic things. But they got greedy and stupid, tuned up their Crystal to too high a frequency and set off volcanic disturbances that led to the destruction of their ancient world.

In other words, Cayce blames their ultimate destruction on that oldest of human follies, moral corruption.

Possible locations for Atlantis

It seems everyone has their own theory on where Atlantis was located. Hundreds of potential locations have been proposed. Not all of them are even physical. Many scholarly hypotheses suggest Atlantis is only accessible by psychic powers or other pseudoscientific means.

Most of the proposed locations are in or near the Mediterranean Sea: islands such as Sardinia, Crete and Santorini, Cyprus, Malta, and Ponza, for example. Land-based cities or states such as Troy, Tartessos or Tantalus, Turkey, and the new theory of Israel-Sinai or Canaan have also been suggested.

The enormous volcanic Thera eruption, dated either to the 17th or the 15th century BCE, caused a massive tsunami that experts hypothesize devastated the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete, leading some to believe that this may have been the catastrophe that inspired the story.

Others contend that the story's time scale has been distorted by an error in translation, probably from Egyptian into Greek. This error resulted in a "thousands" instead of "hundreds." If we take this into account, we could recalibrate Plato's Kingdom of Atlantis to the size of Crete, while leaving the city the size of the crater on Thera. Proponents of this theory calculate that 900 years before Solon is roughly equivalent to the 15th century BCE.

Other experts put the locations as wide-ranging as Andalusia, Antarctica, Indonesia, underneath the Bermuda Triangle, and the Caribbean Sea. In the area of the Black Sea the following locations have been proposed: Bosporus and Ancomah (a legendary place near Trabzon).

The submerged island of Spartel near the Strait of Gibraltar would coincide with some elements of Plato's account, matching both the location and the date of submersion given in The Critias. Popular culture increasingly places Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean, thus perpetuating the original Platonic ideal.

Areas in the Pacific and Indian Ocean have also been proposed, including Indonesia, Malaysia, or both. Stories of a lost continent off India called "Kumari Kandam" have parallels to the Atlantis story.

Some argue that Atlantis stretched from the tip of Spain to Central America. According to Ignatius L. Donnelly there is a connection between Atlantis and Aztlán, which he describes as the ancestral home of the Aztecs.

He claims that the Aztecs looked east to the Caribbean as the former location of Aztlan. Some have considered the Philippines to be the possible site of Atlantis and proposed that its archipelago of islands is actually the remnants of Atlantis's mountains.

The Canary Islands have also been identified as a possible location, west of the Straits of Gibraltar, but in close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. Various Atlantic islands or island groups have also been identified as possible locations, notably the Azores, and even several Caribbean islands.

The Conclusion

Though there is no hard evidence proving the civilization of Atlantis ever existed, we cannot discount the possibility. Was it a figment of Plato’s mind? Did he simply use it as an illustrative teaching device to describe political philosophy? Or was he drawing on the historical remnants of a very real civilization that was tragically wiped out? The end to the debate over these and other scenarios is nowhere in sight, but one thing is certain: until it is proven otherwise, it can't hurt to keep looking and asking questions about where Atlantis might once have been and why and how it met its doom.

If can add to the corpus of theories on the subject, we might suggest the same thing that wiped out the Mammoths around 11,000 BCE, when they all disappeared almost overnight — an asteroid of some sort. Death from above, anyone?

Scientists who study fossilized Mammoth tusks have found in them trace elements of metals that are common only in asteroids. These metals are embedded deeply in the tusks. The speed and force required to do this can come from but a few causes. Surely an asteroid must rank high on that dreadful list.

Few now dispute that the Earth does, from time to time, suffer from such cataclysmic events — just ask the dinosaurs...


"Atlantis: the Myth," Encyclopedia Mythica from Encyclopedia Mythica Online.
Erlingsson, U (2004). Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land, Miami: Lindorm. ISBN 0-9755946-0-5
Flem-Ath R, Wilson C (2001). The Atlantis Blueprint: Unlocking the Ancient Mysteries of a Long-Lost Civilization, Delacorte Press
Gill, C (1976). 'The origin of the Atlantis myth', Trivium, vol. 11, pp. 8-9.
Griffiths, JP (1985). 'Atlantis and Egypt', Historia, vol. 34, pp. 35f.
Heidel, WA (1933). 'A suggestion concerning Plato's Atlantis', Daedalus, vol. 68, pp. 189-228.
Jordan, P (1994). The Atlantis Syndrome, Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-3518-9
Zangger, E (1993). The Flood from Heaven: Deciphering the Atlantis legend, New York: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0-688-11350-8
Morgan, KA (1998). 'Designer history: Plato's Atlantis story and fourth-century ideology', Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 118, pp. 101-118.


Hover your mouse over the pictures below for captions.

The island of Atlantis, as depicted in an engraving in Athanasius Kircher's Mundus Subterraneus (1664; “Subterranean World”).

This map, based on Egyptian maps, is oriented with the south at the top (note the compass arrow pointing down), so America and the Atlantic Ocean lie to the right of Africa and Spain.

The text in the legend on the upper left, translated, reads, “The site of Atlantis, now beneath the sea, according to the beliefs of the Egyptians and the description of Plato.”
Stories of a lost continent south of India called
"Kumari Kandam" have parallels to the Atlantis story.
Mu and Lemuria are so-called “lost continents.” Both were postulated in the 19th century and continue to have some believers today. The two lost continents differ in some ways and are very similar in others.

Lemuria was originally postulated by Philip Sclater and is sometimes said to have existed in the Pacific, sometimes the Atlantic and sometimes the Indian Ocean.

Mu was initially postulated by Augustus Le Plongeon, who claimed that it sank overnight and that humans who fled the sinking continent established both the Mayan and the Egyptian ancient civilizations.
Plato (center-left in this image, through the character Critias in his dialogues) describes Atlantis as an island larger than Libya and Asia Minor combined, located in the Atlantic just beyond the Pillars of Hercules — generally assumed to be the Strait of Gibraltar.

Its culture was advanced and it had a constitution similar to the one outlined in Plato’s “Republic.” It was protected by the god Poseidon, who made his son Atlas king and namesake of the island and the ocean that surrounded it.

As the Atlanteans grew powerful, their ethics declined. Their armies eventually conquered Africa as far as Egypt and Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Etruscan Italy) before being driven back by an Athenian-led alliance. Later, by way of divine punishment, the island was beset by earthquakes and floods, and sank into a muddy sea.
A 17th century artwork of Olof Rudbeck dissecting the world and revealing the secret location of Atlantis (which he believed to be hidden in Sweden). He is surrounded by well-known figures of antiquity such as Plato, Aristotle and Homer.
Hypothesized Locations of Atlantis Worldwide

It has been thought that when Plato wrote of the Sea of Atlantis, he may have been speaking of the area now called the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean's name, derived from Greek mythology, means the "Sea of Atlas".
Most theories of the placement of Atlantis center on the Mediterranean, influenced primarily by the geographical location of Egypt, from which the story is supposedly taken.
The enormous volcanic eruption of Thera, dated either to the 17th or 15th century BCE, caused a massive tsunami which experts think devastated the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete, shown here in a satellite image.
The red rectangle in this image has dimensions of approximately 345 by 230 miles. The blue circle around Snake Island (not visible in this image, but a potential candidate for the capitol of Atlantis), is located 22 miles east of the Danube Delta.
The North Sea is known to contain lands that were once above water; the medieval town of Dunwich in East Anglia, for example, crumbled into the sea.

The land area known as "Doggerland", between England and Denmark, was inundated by a tsunami around 8200BP (6200BC), caused by a submarine landslide off the coast of Norway known as the Storegga Slide, and prehistoric human remains have been dredged up from the Dogger Bank.

Atlantis itself has been identified besides Heligoland off the north-west German coast by the author Jürgen Spanuth, who thinks it was destroyed during the Bronze Age around 1200 BC, only to partially re-emerge during the Iron Age.

In 2000, renowned ocean explorer Robert Ballard, in a small submarine, reportedly found remains of human habitation around 300 feet underwater in the Black Sea off the north coast of Turkey that some believe could be remnants of Atlantis. The area flooded around 5000 BC. The same flood is thought to be the basis of the Biblical story of Noah's Ark.
An unknown metal said to have been used in the sunken city of Atlantis has been found on a 2,600-year-old shipwreck near the coast of Sicily.

39 ingots of ‘orichalcum’ — described by Plato
in his Atlantis writings — are utterly unique.

Nothing similar has ever been found, according to one expert.

Plato described Atlantis as glittering ‘with the red light of orichalcum’, and he claimed that it was mined there, and used to build huge, glinting temples to the sea god Poseidon.
A British company claims that it might have found
the remains of Atlantis.

Merlin Burrows, a British firm of satellite experts, say they've spotted remnants which match Plato's descriptions
2,400 years ago.

The ruin is in the Doñana National Park in Spain — and the firm claims that traces of what they believe to be concrete at the site hint that it could be 10-12,000 years old, consistent with the timeframe Atlantis is thought to have existed in.
Numerous geographical similarities exist between Plato’s descriptions of Atlantis and the paleoisland of Spartel in the western Straits of Gibraltar. The dialogues recount a catastrophic event that submerged the island in a single day and night, due to violent earthquakes and floods. This sudden destruction is consistent with a great earthquake (of a greater than 8.5 magnitude) and tsunami...

— From the study "Destruction of Atlantis by a great earthquake and tsunami? A geological analysis of the Spartel Bank hypothesis" printed in the August 2005 issue of Geology Magazine
According to Plato, Atlantis was bigger than Libya and Asia and situated in front of the Pillars of Heracles, in the ocean which he called “Atlantic.”
The story of Atlantis, if Plato did not invent it, may in fact reflect ancient Egyptian records of a volcanic eruption on the island of Thera about 1500 BCE. This eruption, one of the largest in historical times, was accompanied by a series of earthquakes and tsunamis that destroyed the civilization of Crete, perhaps giving rise to the Atlantis legend.
The mystic Edgar Cayce claimed that the Atlanteans were well-versed in technology that harnessed the power of the quantum world. This included the use of crystals and sound waves for healing. Elevators and connecting tunnels operated with compressed air and steam. And they used quartz crystal science to mine gold, copper, and silver from the earth. Atlanteans were adept at the use of silicon chips at levels unrivaled in the modern world.
Edgar Cayce told of how the Atlanteans had a “death ray that brought from the bowels of the Earth itself — when turned into a source of supply — those destructions to portions of the planet!” He also claimed that this “death ray” would be re-discovered within twenty-five years (it was 1933 when he made these statements) — many believe that Cayce was describing what we know now as lasers.
This map, taken from the French edition of amateur anthropologist Scott-Elliot’s work exploring the origins of humanity, shows the land surface of the earth as he believed it looked a million years ago, at the point when the Atlantean race was at its height.
Scientists who study fossilized Mammoth tusks have found in them trace elements of metals that are only common in asteroids.
If can add to the corpus of theories on the subject of Atlantis, we might suggest the same thing that wiped out the Mammoths around 11,000 BCE, when they disappeared from the face of the earth almost overnight — an asteroid of some sort. Death from above.
The earth-crust displacement theory holds that when earth's polar ice caps accumulate too much mass, they shift in one great piece, re-positioning everything in relation to the poles. The result would be geologic disruptions powerful enough to destroy technologically-advanced societies.

The Critias

by Plato

Critias, one of Plato's late dialogues, contains the story of the mighty island kingdom of Atlantis, and its doomed attempt to conquer Athens. Critias is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, preceded by Timaeus and followed by Hermocrates, though the latter was possibly never written and Critias was left incomplete.

Plato (428-348 BCE) was a philosopher and mathematician in ancient Greece. A student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle, his Academy was one of the first institutions of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely regarded as the father of modern philosophy.

Amazon web page

Atlantis: The Antediluvian World

by Ignatius Donnelly

The great classic of Atlantis, this book more than any other established the existence of this lost continent for the modern world. Attracting hundreds of thousands of readers and stimulating vast debate, it influenced generations of people including countless scientists who went on to do serious work in their fields, and numerous science-fiction writers. It is a measure of the power of the Atlantis myth that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the idea of a submerged Atlantic Ocean continent remains vigorous today, long after Donnelly's work first appeared.

A lawyer and politician before he turned to writing, Ignatius Donnelly (1831‒1901) spent many years amassing evidence for his book on Atlantis. Displaying an immense knowledge of Platonic and Biblical material, comparative archeological discoveries, folk traditions of deluges, and geological data supporting catastrophic volcanic activity, Donnelly staggered his readers with "facts" and overwhelmed them with his many brilliant arguments. Despite the many more recent discoveries that have proved many of his "facts" to be false, his arguments still dazzle and his central myth continues to fascinate. The highly appealing idea of a lost continent with a high civilization, one that was the mother of all other civilizations, is one of the most enduring of all human myths and shows no signs of disappearing.

A seminal work on Atlantis and a classic in the history of culture, this book is the starting point for anyone sincerely interested in the Atlantis myth. Still the most readable and imaginative of the books on Atlantis, it is a work that will long outlive most of the more recent accounts. As a study of the golden past, it is an enormously intriguing and enjoyable book.

Amazon web page
"With the Ancients' city of Atlantis discovered in the Pegasus Galaxy by Stargate Command, Dr. Elizabeth Weir and Major Sheppard lead a scientific expedition to the ancient abandoned city. Once there, the team not only find themselves unable to contact Earth, but their explorations unexpectedly reawaken the Ancients' deadly enemies, The Wraith,
who hunger for this new prey."

The story description above, for the highly-rated TV series STARGATE: ATLANTIS (which enjoyed a six-year run from 2004 to 2009) demonstrates the ongoing appeal of the idea of Atlantis in popular culture.

IMDb web page
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