18 – The Lost City of Atlantis
We can blame Greek philosopher Plato for this particular myth. He wrote about a city called Atlantis in around 330 B.C. and said the founders were half human, half god. According to Plato, Atlantis existed 9,000 years before him and consisted of a group of islands with an abundance of silver, gold and other precious metals. It also supported a range of exotic flora and fauna.
In the modern era, we have the notion that Plato spoke of Atlantis as a utopian civilization but in reality, he described it as a technologically advanced but morally bankrupt empire that tried to take over the world by force. One version of the story suggests that the ancient Athenians stood up to the Atlantis Empire. Another version says the Gods became angry with the nature of the empire and sent a night of terrible fire and earthquakes that caused Atlantis to sink to the bottom of the ocean, never to be seen again.
Speculation over where Atlantis could be found has been rife for centuries. Dozens of places have been suggested as possible locations including the Atlantic Ocean, Turkey, Germany, Bolivia, Antarctica, Malta and the Caribbean! This is despite the fact that Plato outlines where the city lies. He said it was in the Atlantic Ocean beyond âthe pillar of Hercules’. This would place it near the Strait of Gibraltar yet no trace has ever been found.
There is a possibility that a real island inspired Plato to create his tale. A contender is the archipelago of Santorini in the Aegean Sea which was devastated by a volcanic eruption approximately 3,600 years ago. There was a highly advanced Minoan civilization living on the island at the time and it disappeared at around the same time period as the eruption. Santorini was an island at that point in history but was destroyed by the volcanic eruption which also set off tsunamis and blew an immense amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The result would have been cold, wet summers which ruined the harvests and led to the rapid decline of the Minoans.