Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a huge admirer of creative minds. Whether we’re talking about artists, authors, movie-makers or video game developers, I just can’t get enough of the envelope-pushing.
The power of a great story, movie or such cannot be overstated. It can ignite imaginations, change lives, and become a part of the wider popular culture of the whole darn world. Look at Harry Potter, for instance, which rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest multimedia franchises the world has ever seen. The freshly-released Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald is sure to be another smash, and evidence that the world’s infatuation with the magical world is sure to continue.
Heck, I’m thirty years old, and if a Hogwarts letter turned up on my doorstep today, you can bet your sweet cheeks that I’ll be booking seven years off work like that.
The thing about capturing the public’s imagination, though, is that we can completely lose sight of the truth. The story of Atlantis is one that continues to be shared, embellished and repeated, and we just don’t know where we stand with it today. Will it ever be located? Does it even exist in the first place? There’s no clear-cut answer to that.
What we can do, however, is take a look at some of the most intriguing stories and theories that people have shared about Atlantis over the centuries. Did you know that it disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle? Did you know that it was built by Poseidon himself? No, I didn’t either, funnily enough, and I still don’t. Somebody did at some point or another, though.
25 It Was One Humongous City
Much of what we ‘know’ about this ancient city comes from Plato, who first shared the tale some 2,300 years ago. He reported that the civilisation had flourished for 9,000 years before mysteriously vanishing without a trace.
According to the great man, it was a city that sure as heckles couldn’t have vanished easily. His writings on the mysterious underwater kingdom describe it as, “an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together.”
I mean, come on now, Plato. I know you Ancient Greeks liked your theatrics, but there are giant cities are there are giant cities. Let’s just rest a while and calm ourselves down.
24 Poseidon: Angry Trident-Waver And Handy Builder
The key to an outlandish and enduring tale like Atlantis is separating the possibilities from the… well, the idea that Atlantis was built by Poseidon himself. We may need to have a few words about that one.
According to one fantastical tale of the city’s origin, as reported by Marine Insight, “Atlantis city was built by Poseidon- the God of Sea, of storms and earthquakes- when he fell in love with a mortal woman Cleito. He made this city on top of a hill, in an isolated island in the sea, to protect her and named it Atlantis.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally dig the Ancient Greek gods and the ridiculous situations they often got themselves into. I’m just not quite convinced about this one.
23 The Mystery Solved… Except It Isn’t
I can appreciate the imag of Poseidon setting his beloved trident down, busting out an Ancient Greek cement mixer and getting to work building a city. I definitely can. I have precisely zero qualms with that.
It’s just… it’s a little early to be getting into how the mythical city came to be. Before we can settle on anything like that, we’ve got to know where it is, where its ruins lay. A whole range of experts have put forward a whole range of theories as to that, friends, which we’re going to get into next.
22 It’s *Totally* In The Atlantic Ocean
Needless to say, the story of Atlantis continues to captivate people today. Conspiracy theorists debate its existence and location endlessly, even though there’s nary of shred of true evidence to be found anywhere.
As the location for his Atlantis, Plato spoke of the ‘Pillars of Hercules.’ This location, as History reports, is a real place, known today as the Straits of Gibraltar. This one of the most commonly-cited possibilities for the city’s location, but searches and monitoring have proven fruitless. Even with today’s super-advanced technology and surveying tools, there’s nothing to suggest that Plato was speaking literally about the whole thing.
21 No, Wait, It’s In The Mediterranean Sea
Searches of those famous Pillars of Hercules may have been a bust, but like any good legend, enthusiasts weren’t to be dissuaded. In a wide old world such as ours, with oceans as vast and often all-but-impenetrable as they are, it’s like finding a technologically-advanced race of aliens (more on that later) in a haystack.
As such, alternate theories have placed Atlantis in various other locations around the globe. Some suggest that it can be found in the Mediterranean, not far from the Spanish coast. In this instance, estimates of the city’s size scale it down to around the size of the island of Crete. As of right now, though, that’s a definite no-go too.
20 No, Scratch That Too, It’s In The Antarctic
Of course, the location that Plato himself cited would be one of the big-ticket items, when it comes to possible resting places for Atlantis. As a result, the area hasn’t been short of media and scientific attention over the years. As of yet, we have no compelling evidence to go on.
All this means is more study and speculation. In April this year, The Daily Star reported an intriguing discovery in Antarctica: as the ice melted, something began to appear that was much too ornate and symmetrical to be natural.
"It looks ancient, almost like it has been carved out of the rock itself,” its discoverer stated. “I’m of the opinion this is the remains of a building or structure. I think there were large civilisations spanning the ancient Antarctic continent and maybe Antarctica was even home to the mythical Atlantis?”
As far as evidence of such goes, it’s just another mysterious possibility to add to the pile.
19 Is It Home To An Alien Race?
For as much as we humans can be a super-smart bunch, there are certain concepts that we struggle with. Questions that we just don’t have a definitive answer to. It’s easy to plug these knowledge-leaks with something like it was totally aliens, and that’s an option that many take.
How were the pyramids built, and the work completed with such mathematical precision? It was totally aliens, that’s how. Speaking of which, the residents of the mythical Atlantis are believed by some to be totally aliens as well. The existence of such beings alone is a difficult enough pill for so many of us to swallow, and the idea that they were Atlanteans to boot hasn’t really caught on.
18 These Aren’t Just Any Old Aliens
So, yes. Popular culture is rife with different images of extra-terrestrial beings, from E.T to Doctor Who and those squishy little snarky dudes from Men In Black. These are all, I’m sorry to break it to you, totally fictional.
This is all well and good, but then we’re back with those Atlantis rumour residents again. As Marine Insight states, there’s an outlandish belief that “the original inhabitants of the lost city of Atlantis are believed to be of extra-terrestrial origin who reached there about 50,000 years ago from the Lyrian star system. Despite being much taller and fairer than today’s average human being, the average lifespan of these people is believed to have been 800 years.”
Has there been any evidence of this? Crazy enough, no, no there hasn’t.
17 The Truth Is Out There… Possibly. Somewhere
So, yes. From everything we’ve seen so far, it’s clear that the stories surrounding Atlantis get pretty darn out there, pretty darn quickly. Sadly, though, as we all see in the news every day, out there certainly doesn’t mean impossible. The truth is stranger than fiction, they say, and both can be so bizarre that you don’t quite know which of the two you’re looking at.
It’s just possible that, like a lot of these sorts of stories, there’s some basis in truth to Atlantis. After all, as Marine Insight explains, “Ocean explorer Robert Ballard finds logic in the story as it has similarities with a massive volcanic eruption in the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea near Greece. Ballard says a highly advanced society lived there [and] disappeared suddenly as happened with Atlantis.”
16 No Rest For The Wicked
Having said that, though, nothing is clear cut in this story. Even if we are to assume that such a civilisation did exist and its remnants are still out there somewhere, there’s a lot more going on here.
We can’t agree on the nature of this city, for one thing. We tend to have an image of the hypothetical Atlantis as a bit of a utopia, but that’s not the case at all.
According to Live Science,“professor of archaeology Ken Feder notes that in Plato's story, "Atlantis is not a place to be honoured or emulated at all. Atlantis is not the perfect society ... Quite the contrary, Atlantis is the embodiment of a materially wealthy, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful nation that has become corrupted by its wealth, sophistication, and might.”
15 Ignatius Donnelly Steps In
Interestingly, legends like these are about so much more than just the story itself. It’s all in the teller, the way that it’s told. Whatever ‘rules’ Plato may or may not have laid out when he first told of Atlantis, the forgotten city we hear of today could be completely different. Elements have been added or altered as the years have gone on, and the facts have become utterly blurred.
The way Live Science tells it, it was Ignatius Donnelly and his 1882 publication The Antediluvian World that popularised the Atlantis tale. The book speaks of Donnelly’s belief in Diffusionism (the idea that all advanced civilisations can be traced back to a single source), and of the great wealth and power that Atlantis wielded.
14 Charles Darwin Was *Not* Impressed
There’s always something that re-ignites an interest. How about Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, and the wave of interest in Ancient Egyptian history that swept the world in its wake?
If Ignatius Donnelly and his book had the effect of putting Atlantis back on the map… well, it didn’t work on everybody. The belief and hysteria surrounding such wasn’t as dramatic as you may have thought. Indeed, as Live Science notes, acclaimed scientist Charles Darwin was having none of it:
“Donnelly sent a copy of his book to Charles Darwin, who found it interesting but unpersuasive — reading it, he said, "in a very skeptical spirit."
13 Of Geo-Myths And Legends
As I say, then, a lot of the most fantastical stories and myths have a basis in reality. Over the years, lots of interested parties have striven to find the truth behind Atlantis with that in mind.
It’s a different approach, a more realistic one. As The BBC explains, it’s a discipline known as geomythology. Scientist Dorothy Vitaliano coined the term back in 1966, and described it as “the science of "seeking to find the real geological event underlying a myth or legend to which it has given rise.” In short, did this sunken city disappear as a result of a real natural disaster, and so is it real itself?
12 The Island Behind The Myth (Or Not)
It’s always encouraging to hear a reasonable, logical, more grounded argument. Let’s not get carried away with high-tech crystals powering mysterious cities under the sea (more on that little doozy later, too), but investigate what geomythology may have brought to the table in terms of possibilities for Atlantis’s existence, fate and whereabouts.
“A popular idea,” the BBC reports, “is that the Atlantis myth is associated with the fate of Thera, now the Greek island of Santorini, which was partly destroyed by a volcanic eruption about 3,600 years ago.”
While this line of thinking hasn’t amounted to anything in terms of evidence, it’s encouraging to know that we’re trying to match things up logically rather than rearing way off into hysteria. Some of the time, at least.
11 Who Were The Minoans?
With regards to the history of Thera, we do know a little more. This island, along with Crete, was home to the Minoan people. They were a super-accomplished people, with History going so far as to claim that they were “believed to be Europe’s first great civilization.”
They had pathed roads, magnificent buildings and devised the first written language on the continent, but declined and were absorbed by the Ancient Greek Mycenae.
“Historians believe around 1600 B.C., a massive earthquake shook the volcanic island of Thera, triggering an eruption that spewed 10 million tons of rock, ash and gas into the atmosphere. Tsunamis that followed the eruption were large enough to wipe out Minoan cities throughout the region,”History continues.
The Minoans’ fate is often linked to whatever supposedly happened to Atlantis, but that’s a tenuous link to the mythical city Plato described.
10 It’s Pretty Darn Difficult To Pin Down
Speaking of hysteria, it’s an unfortunate facts that many believers in concepts like Atlantis tend to go a little overboard. It’s tough to get the wider scientific community on board when it looks like you’re plucking ideas out of your enthusiastic behinds, after all.
In that regard, Atlantis is a really awkward case to investigate. The trouble is, while Plato is quite clear about the supposed location of his Atlantis, it’s all in the reading.
“With the addition, omission, or misinterpretation of various details in Plato's work, nearly any proposed location can be made to "fit" his description,”Live Science reports, demonstrating the depth of the problem.
9 That Doesn’t Mean We Can Stop Listening, Though
So, yes. I’m not really building up a case for Atlantis’ existence here, I think it’s safe to say. I suppose that’s the trouble with long-held mysteries like these. There’s no clear-cut evidence for their existence, but neither can they be truly disproved. Which is a lifeline that believers cling to.
The most difficult part is the inherent plausibility of it all. Plato wrote that “in one cataclysmic night, the gods sent a battalion of fire and earthquakes so intense that the Utopian kingdom of Atlantis sank deep into the ocean, never to be found again.”
It sounds melodramatic and far-fetched, but we can’t forget that, as the BBC states, “Plato was living in a volcanically and tectonically active part of the world.” Could there be a basis here?
8 The Mystery Of The Shetland Islands
Further befuddling the whole thing, the other angle we’ve got to look at is the fact that mysterious discoveries are being made all around the world that seem to tie in with the whole thing. On TV shows and in movies, Atlantis is often depicted as an impossible underwater haven for Aquaman and his buddies, but we’re talking strictly about the real-world connotations here.
On that note, as Digital Trends reports, this world still holds more mysteries. In 2011, geologists discovered 3,861 square miles of ancient landscape over a mile beneath the North Atlantic. It was found via a sophisticated sonar-esque technique, west of the Shetland islands.
As this goes to prove, we can’t ever assume that we’ve got the planet all mapped out and accounted for.
7 20,000… Whats? Under The… What?
Plato, as we’ve firmly established by now, was the author who first wrote of Atlantis, where it is and what happened to it. What exactly there was to the story as he told it is still a mystery, but when the story re-emerged in the modern era, it still retained many of its Ancient Greek roots (in terms of the architecture and features of the ruined city, as imagined by popular culture).
You may not know that a lot of this comes from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. In the novel, Professor Arronax visits Atlantis with the aid of diving equipment. He narrates the experience:“Further on, some remains of a gigantic aqueduct; here the high base of an Acropolis, with the floating outline of a Parthenon; there traces of a quay…”
This vision of a classical, Ancient Greek-style city is at odds with the idea of a technologically advanced home for a race of superhumans, but that’s just another facet of the Atlantis mystery.
6 There Is A Precedent For All Of This
Let’s put those magic energy crystals and members of an advanced race with a lifespan of several centuries aside for a moment. To delve back into the realistic explanations and theories for what happened to Atlantis, there’s something else super important to bear in mind: disappearing islands and cities aren’t as peculiar as they may sound.
As we’ve seen, geomythology is the study of dramatic stories from the past and the cataclysmic events that gave rise to them. Teonimanu was one study, a part of the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific, and it demonstrated that there was a precedent for these sorts of events.
Geologist Patrick Nunn believes that this particular lost island was the victim of a seafloor earthquake. “Nunn points out that the volume of material in an island such as Teonimanu is still a lot less than the amount that moves in large terrestrial landslides,” reports the BBC, suggesting that tales of disappearing islands aren’t as far-fetched as you may believe.