Atlantis, Plato, and “The pillars of Hercules”
Every now and then, Atlantis reappears from the depths of Atlantic Ocean in which Plato tells us had submerged. Some scholars and amateurs of archaeology exercised the research, often imaginative, on Atlantis. To be specific, let’s set the theme, critically returning to data offered by Plato.
Therefore, Plato tells that Critias handed down some news around to Atlantis, learning them by Solon, after his return from a long journey to Egypt. Solon had stayed at Sais, and here a senior minister told him the fantastic story of Atlantis. The minister had therefore narrated to Solon that in the Atlantic Ocean, in the face of the straits called “The pillars of Hercules” there was a larger island than Libya and Asia.
In this island it had developed an empire of considerable magnitude, which arrived up to Europe. But, at some point, earthquakes very violent and floods enormous did disappear the great island in the depths of the Ocean.
But… where is Atlantis?
Plato therefore gives us the exact coordinates where was the site of Atlantis: near to “The pillars of Hercules”. In course of time, however, the identification of the island-lost recognized other geographical areas compared to what Plato tells us. For example, Bailly, in 1779, posed it in the Arctic; Baer, in 1762, in Palestine; Frobenius, 1910, in West Africa; Latrelle, 1919, in Persia, and other researchers in other places (Scandinavia, Morocco, Tunisia, Southern Spain).
Someone else, giving free play to own fantasies, even moved “The pillars of Hercules” in various places of the Earth: who wanted to set them on the Red Sea, who in the Bosphorus or the Aegean Sea and Montenegro or other still. In short, the Platonic source has been interpreted with fanciful manner.
Is the Aegean Sea “the” answer?
Today, a theory that seems to be held in great esteem, and perhaps also it owns a rational and scientific fund in itself, yet is that proposed by J.V. Luce (1), who identified Atlantis with the island of Santorino, in the Aegean Sea, which, for terrifying earthquakes, accompanied by an intense volcanic activity around the 1470 B.C., descended into the depths of the sea.
In this island have been found the remains of an ancient city of the Minoan age, which was buried under a substantial layer of ash from a volcanic eruption. It is possible that Atlantis and the disappearance of the island of Santorino are one and the same thing.
It is also to note that, actually, the large earthquakes repercussions developed around 1470 B.C. determined the crisis of the Minoan civilisation, which, indeed, had built in the Aegean a great commercial empire, perhaps the same “Empire” of which Critias talks us in the “Platonic dialogues”. So, therefore, it seems things have gone.
A little of scepticism…
But in an article on the disappearance of Atlantis problem, after that he accredited J.V. Luce’s assumptions as the most credible, the Italian scholar A. Desio does an observation that casts a little of scepticism about secular searches of the one most famous ancient civilisation mysteriously extinct : “… If then we must to believe Posidonius, one of the most famous Greek philosophers who lived between last century B.C. and the first century A.D., it wouldn’t be even sure that Plato had given a great credit to the reports by Solon from Egypt relatively to the Atlantis… . (2)”
The search continues…
1) Luce J.V. (1969), “The End of Atlantis. New Light on an Old Legend”: London [ Luce J.V. (1976), “La fine di Atlantide, nuove scoperte su un’antica leggenda”: Roma: Newton Compton].
2) Desio A., “Cultura e Scuola” [“Culture and School”] , “Si sta ancora cercando l’Atlantide di Platone” [“We are still searching the Plato’s Atlantis”], 101 (1987):162-168.