What is Atlantis? These days, Atlantis is merely a name and an inspiration. It is an idea of lost civilizations in times before our history began.
Atlantis, according to the Greek philosopher, Plato, was a large island in the northeast Atlantic which sank in a day and a night. The island was said to have been quite beautiful, rich with resources, tall mountains and fertile soil. Upon the island resided a proud and greedy people who were bent on conquering the world.
Their campaign of conquest was stopped by the citizens of prehistoric Greece, but both Greece and Atlantis were forever changed on that day. Both civilizations were lost. For Atlantis, the loss was more final, the island sinking below the waves. Greece suffered great tidal waves and earthquakes which removed its own rich topsoil and killed all of its valiant warriors.
All of this was said to have taken place about 9600 BC. So, you can see, “What was Atlantis?” makes a far better question than, “What is Atlantis?” Atlantis supposedly ended nearly 12,000 years ago.
The main story of Atlantis comes to us from two of Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. These were written roughly 2,400 years ago. In his dialogues, he repeats the claim that the story of Atlantis is a true one. Was it?
What is Atlantis—Fact or Fiction?
If you attempt to discuss Atlantis with any professional scientist, you will likely receive a look of scorn or a scoff of derision. “Atlantis” is the modern equivalent of “blasphemy” in the realm of hard realism and expert skepticism. Such a scientist will likely point out that Atlantis is purely and only myth. What is funny about such a declaration is that it did not go through rigorous peer review. The claim is not supported by thorough research and discussion. Asking most scientists, “What is Atlantis?” will usually prove frustrating.
Even more damning to such a claim is that it is based on a logical fallacy—an “argument to ignorance” type fallacy. Let me give you an example of this. When Thomas Edison was researching the possibility of an incandescent light bulb, some scientists ridiculed him, saying that such a device was impossible.
Why would they make such a claim? For one, there is no evidence of an incandescent light bulb every having been created before Edison. They would effectively have been saying, “We don’t know of any such thing.” Ignorance! When Edison found a way to create such a light bulb, he proved their claim wrong.
Let me give you another example. On the topic of Atlantis, skeptics had long said that the lack of evidence of a civilization that far back proves that Atlantis didn’t exist. What is troubling about such a claim is that there are plenty of places on Earth left to dig. We don’t have all of the evidence, yet. To claim that evidence not yet in your possession proves that something is true or not true, is an argument to ignorance. In the mid-1990s, scientists found ruins at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey that date to about 9500 BC. This is barely a century after Plato’s date for the demise of Atlantis. The site in Turkey includes dozens of massive stones with intricate carvings on their surfaces.
Evidence in Support of Atlantis
We now have evidence of a major world-changing event which occurred 9620 BC. The fact that this date coincides with that of Plato’s rounded approximation, means that there “might” be a correlation between those events and the sinking of Atlantis. Three pieces of evidence, each from a different scientific discipline tell of something big happening on or near that date.
One proved to be a major change in climate worldwide—the abrupt end to the Younger Dryas “Big Freeze.” The second involves traces of volcanic debris in the Greenland ice cores (GISP2) for a moderately large volcanic event—an eruption about 9620.77 BC. Of course, there is nothing known here that pinpoints the source of these two events on a map. There’s nothing yet known that could tie these to the location of Atlantis.
The third piece of evidence comes to us from a 1987 article in Nature magazine, in an article on 17,000 years of sea level rise. That article included a graph of that sea level rise, and showed a sudden, 2-meter drop at the end of the Younger Dryas (about 9620 BC). This third piece of evidence is the weakest and certainly needs validation, because such a tiny blip on the graph could be merely noise in the data, an error in recording or something equally innocent.
But this piece of evidence, if proven to be a proxy for a real event, provides us with a “smoking gun” in the death of Atlantis. A 2-meter drop is consistent with the submergence of an Atlantis-sized block of land somewhere in the oceans of Earth. Again, the drop doesn’t tell us where the drop originated, but with the coincidence of dates, Atlantis proves the be the likeliest suspect.
What is Atlantis? Conclusion
So, when we ask, “What is Atlantis?” we have to answer that it’s an unfinished story. We don’t yet know if the island ever existed. But there is mounting evidence in support of its past existence.
What questions do you have about Atlantis?
This article was originally published 2013:0530 on MissionAtlantis.com