Atlantis: the island of Plato - Marco Goti - ebook
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Why did the mythical island of Atlantis disappear so suddenly "Submerged by water and sunk in a day and a terrible night "? Is it still possible to find it? And if so, where is it now? Based on the Platonic Dialogues and a study on the unique geological conformation, the author traces it Atlantis to an existent island: a wide and almost rectangular plain, surrounded by large mountains. Not only that: he individuates the catastrophic event which lead to its suddenness destruction, even coming to designate with absolute precision the exact geographic coordinates of the site in which the capital was located, with its very special concentric ring structure that alternates earth and sea. Atlantis: the island of Plato is a "journey by sea" along the route indicated by the great Greek philosopher 2400 years ago, that offers the possibility to finally shed light on one of the most fascinating mysteries in human history.

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Indice dei contenuti

Atlantis: The Island of Plato

Index

Foreword

Introduction

1. The origins of the Myth and the previous researches of Atlantis

2. The city, the plain and the whole island

3. The Region of Gades and its Pillars of Heracles

4. About the Hyperboreans and the garden of the Hesperides

5. The expedition of the Argonauts

6. The island of Atlantis

7. The city of Atlantis

8. Greenland ice cap

Valediction

Appendices

Bibliography

Photo credits

Note

Atlantis: The Island of Plato

Translated by Elena Castorina

Index

Foreword

Introduction

The origins of the Myth and the previous researches of Atlantis

The city, the plain and the whole island

The Region of Gades and its Pillars of Heracles

About the Hyperboreans and the garden of the Hesperides

The expedition of the Argonauts

The Island of Atlantis

The city of Atlantis

Greenland ice cap

Valediction

Appendices

Bibliography

Image Credits

Foreword

“ Is it true what Plato tells? This is what all the readers of the tale of Atlantis wonder”. [1] This is how the famous Greek scholar Enrico Turolla (1896-1985) introduces the myth of the island disappeared, which Plato summoned first in his Timaeus and Critias, and which, since then on, has never ended to let rivers of ink flow.

The answer provided by the scholar himself is clear and firm: in his opinion, Plato “is the carrier of a tale coming from much farther. He has received, has organized, but has not invented anything. In fact, he has accurately kept, like the reference to the continent beyond the sea (Timaeus, 25a1) shows undoubtedly”. [2] This refers to the part where Plato states that in the Atlantic, beyond the missing island, there are other isles, beyond which the immense sea is surrounded by “a land that, absolutely, clearly and for sure (pantelôs alethôs orthótata), can be called a continent”. Now, the fact that a wonderful thinker like Plato, with his ever-elegant prose, has put his credibility on the line, by betting on the existence of a continent beyond the sea that was completely unknown in his days – with three adverbs after each other – shows the reliability of his tale (and of his sources, which he clearly had utmost confidence in), for we know nowadays, that continent beyond the ocean truly exists!

I believe that another point making Plato’s tale likely is the fact that, in both dialogues, he describes an extremely ancient Athens, in parallel with Atlantis, founded and led by Athena and Hephaestus, included in a Region of Attica that’s morphologically completely different from the present region: “But in the primitive state of the country, its mountains were high hills covered with soil, and the plains, as they are termed by us, of Phelleus were full of rich earth; and there was abundance of wood in the mountains (...) It let off into the hollows the streams which it absorbed from the heights, providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers”. The town territory was itself different: “In the first place the Acropolis was not as now (...) But in primitive times the hill of the Acropolis extended to the Eridanus and Ilissus, and included the Pnyx on one side, and the Lycabettus as a boundary”. In short, the prehistoric Athens described in Critias is quite different from the Greek Athens. Now, according to the theory expounded in my book, Omero nel Baltico. Le origini nordiche dell’Odissea e dell’Iliade, the Greek Athens actually should have had its prototype in another Athens, i.e. the one mentioned by Homer and flourished in the 2nd millennium BC in the Baltic area, where the events celebrated in the Homeric poems should have taken place, and which only later on should have been transposed into the Mediterranean area by people coming from the North, who rebuilt there their Baltic-Scandinavian lost homeland, by using the names of the places they had to leave (just like many other migrant people were going to do, after them: just think of New York, New Orleans and so on). Moreover, the width given by the Critias to the territory of that remote, prehistoric town, has a precise reflection in the Greek adjective “euryaguia” (spacious), used by Homer to “depict” his Nordic Athens.

Tracking Atlantis gets thus a new perspective: as a matter of fact, in the Nordic world, large areas were repeatedly under flooding, since the end of the Ice Age. For example, Rydbeck suggested the existence, in the megalithic age “of an emerged, intermediate territory, in the North Sea, between the British Isles and the Cimbrian Peninsula” [3] (that means Jutland, which the Romans called Chersonesus Cimbrica). This corresponds to a precise geographical indication by Plato, according to which the aggressive Atlantis people were supposed to have colonized a region called “Gadiric”, on the European continent, whose name seems to be resembling that of the present territory of Agder, in southern Norway, located exactly in front of the North Sea. And this is where The Odyssey allows us to close the loop: in fact, just in that area in Norway, in a place not far away from Agder, the Phaeacian people can be placed and, as highlighted by many researchers, the Phaeacians have much in common with the people of Atlantis in the Critias. Just think of their seafaring tradition (Homer calles them nausiklytoí, that means “famous sailors”), or their origins, from the god Poseidon, or the characteristics of the palace of Alcinous, the sacrifices of bulls and the family relationship itself of the king with his wife, who was his brother’s daughter.

Now let’s focus for a while on the Nordic reallocation of the poems by Homes, that’s going to be helpful again: this reallocation is necessary, to solve all the macroscopic, geographical, morphological and climatic inconsistencies to be found in the traditional Mediterranean setting, already noted in ancient times. For example, the enigmatic, Homeric Peloponnese, described in both poems as a plain, in spite of the sharp orography of Greece, can be identified as Sjaelland, the large Danish island, where Copenaghen is presently located; the only archipelagus in the world that perfectly matches the precise indications concerning the islands surrounding Ithaca in The Odyssey is in Denmark; in the longest battle of The Iliad, the fight lasts uninterruptedly for two days and this implies the phenomenon of the so-called “white nights”, that’s typical of high latitudes; in Homeric poems, the climate is always cold and the weather quite bad and the thick clothing of the heroes actually corresponds to that of the Danish tombs of the Bronze Age. Moreover, in Homer we can find all the phenomena typical of high latitudes, from northern lights to white nights, from the darkness of the Winter solstice to the sun at midnight. After all, according to Bertrand Russell, the Mycenaean civilisation in Greece had originated from the “fair-haired, Nordic invaders who brought with it the Greek language”. [4]

Let’s get back to Atlantis that shares further relations with Homer and the Nordic world: for instance, a passage of The Iliad tells of a Trojan warrior, who, stabbed in the back, “breathed his last, bellowing like a bull bellows when young men are dragging him to offer him in sacrifice to the King of Helice…” (Il. XX, 403-405). This passage refers to the temple of Poseidon, located in the placed called Helikē by Homer (that’s where the expression “King of Helice” to call Poseidon comes from): this place can be identified with the present Helgoland, or Heligoland, one of the Frisian Islands, in the North Sea, west of Jutland. Now, Helgoland is also called Fositeland: a name coming from that of an ancient Frisian god – Fosite [5] - and strongly recalling that of Poseidon. That is not all: the Viking equivalent of Fosite, called Forseti and said to be “quite an ancient god” by scholars, [6] used to have a Glitnir, i.e. “shining”, dwelling, with “golden walls and pillars”, which is easy to match to the “wonderful (…) glittering golden palace” of Poseidon (Il. XIII, 21-22). In short, it’s absolutely reasonable to think that the present Helgoland (whose name means “holy earth”) can be identified with the Homeric Helike, the temple of Poseidon.

Moreover Glitnir, the glittering, golden palace of the Nordic god Forseti, doesn’t simply correspond to the glittering, golden palace of the Homeric Poseidon, but even to the wonderful temple built right in the centre of the capital city of Atlantis, described in detail in the Critias and dedicated to Poseidon himself: “All the outside of the temple, with the exceptio of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum (…) In the temple they placed statues of gold; there was the god himselfstanding in a chariot – the charioteer of six winged horses – and of such a size that he touched the roof of the buolding with his head (…) There was an altar too, which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence…” (Critias, 116d-117a). [7]

Another contact point between the myth of Atlantis and the Homeric world is to be found in the passage of The Iliad mentioned a little earlier: in fact, the bull given in sacrifice to Poseidon, the King of Helice, in the temple of Helike-Helgoland is reflected in a religious ritual taking place in the island disappeared. As a matter of fact, here in the heart of the capital city of Atlantis, in the grandiose temple of Poseidon, whose description we have just read, the ten kings of the island periodically gathered to then go ahead with a sort of ritual hunting of a group of bulls, followed by the immolation of the bull caught. This sacrifice was actually the introduction to the most solemn ritual of all: after a sacred oath with the blood of the bull immolated, the kings of Atlantis became a judging court and passed sentences, always inside the temple of Poseidon, which was thus turned into a courthouse (or, better said, into a sort of Supreme Court). It is amazing that a remarkable trace of this courthouse is left in the Nordic mythology, referring to Forseti himself and to his Glitnir palace “tha is supported by golden pillars and covered with silver: Forseti lives there for many days and moderates all arguments” (Grímnismál verse 15). Always on Glitnir, “there’s the best court for gods and men” (sá er domstadhr beztr medh godhum ok mönnum; Gylfaginning 32). [8] We have reported this passage in original language, too, for it represents an extraordinary contact point between Atlantis and Nordic mythology.

At this point, we can highlight that the German researcher Jürgen Spanuth, in his Die Atlanter, places Atlantis in the zone of Helgoland (with argumentations different from those exposed here and this gives such meeting point even more value): he thinks the so-called “sea people”, who came down from the North-European coasts in his opinion, were the ones taking the myth of the lost island to Egypt, where, according to the Timaues, a minister is supposed to have told it to the Athenian Solon later.

It is also observed that no land features all the characteristics, which Plato attributes to his mythical island. To overcome such difficulty, it seems reasonable to suppose that the myth of Atlantis may hide a very old substrate, that means the memory of a primordial, even more ancient location, previous to Helgoland (that, as we have seen, matches some of Plato’s indications, though not all of them). For instance, in Plato’s tale, it seems baffling that there are elephants: now, in the Siberian island of Wrangel, some remains of pygmy mammoths were found, dating back to around 2000 BC. So, the puzzling “elephants” mentioned in the Critias might be the last trace of the mammoths, which, in a very remote past, the people from Atlantis should have lived with, probably in an Arctic or Sub-Arctic land. After that, when the end of the so-called “post-glacial climatic optimum” (that for some millenniums had guaranteed quite a mild climate even at very high latitudes) made it uninhabitable, they went don to the North Sea and, later on, to the Mediterranean.

In short, the hypothesis of two “substrates”, the original Acrtic one and then the Nordic one, could be the key to many riddles in the tale of the Greek philosopher. It would even match perfectly both the suggested Arctic origin of the Celts (coming from “the islands North in the world”, according to an ancient tradition), and with the possible relationships studied by Vittorio Castellani in his “Quando il mare sommerse l'Europa” (When the sea submerged Europe, translator’s note) between their civilization, that of Atlantis and the megalithic cultures, whose evidences can be found worldwide and, therefore, who had to refer to an advanced, seafaring civilization.

However, there had to be close relationships also with the primitive, Indo-European world, which the Homeric universe has kept the last memory of in the “house of Hades”, that’s placed by The Odyssey in a barren, Arctic context [9] (this is reflected in the Wastelands of the Celtic legends and probably even in the Bible memory of the “wasteland” of Isaiah). In fact, with the end of the merry age of Kronos – the lord of the golden age, corresponding to the flourishing of the climatic optimum – the primordial, Indo-European heaven located at the north end, had turned into the ice-cold land of the dead, even though its idealized memento was going to remain etched in the memory of the descendants who migrated to more comfortable places: just think of the Homeric “Elysian plain, which is at the ends of the world (...) there the faired-hair Rhadamanthus reigns, and men lead an easier life than any where else in the world” (Odyssey IV, 563-565).

According to Homer. Kronos was then dethroned by his three children, who shared the world: “Poseidon fell to have his dwelling in the sea for evermore (...) Hades took the darkness of the realms under the earth, while air and sky and clouds were the portion that fell to Zeus” (Iliad XV, 190-192). These lines seem to foreshadow the effects of the fading of the Atlantic, climatic optimum that, after reaching its peak between the 5th and 9th millennium BC, had run out at the time of the Homeric poems, giving way to what climatologists call “Subboreal phase”, [10] with the subsequent predominance of both sea and atmospheric storms, as well as with the desertification of the northernmost regions, which were in the grip of ice and ice-cold weather conditions. This situation is well reflected in the threatening looks of Kronos’ three children, perfectly underlined by both poems: Poseidon rages with its frightening gales on the sea; Hades, the lord of the dead, dwells in a desolate, Arctic context and Zeus himself features all the characteristics of a “storm god”, with his several epithets: “Lightning Launcher”, “Black Cloud”, “Great Thunder” and so on. Moreover, it is within this frame that we can definitely include the fact that ancient Greeks used to call the Northern Atlantic the “Sea of Kronos”, where, according to Plutarch, the ancient god was being held prisoner by Zeus in a remote island.

We note that the memory of a merry, primordial age can be found in Roman mythology, too, where the return of the epoch-making reign of Saturn, the Latin correspondent of Kronos, is mentioned by Virgil at the beginning of the Eclogue Four: “redeunt Saturnia regna…”. So, it is not by chance that in Roman coins Saturn is associated to a ship – according to Macrobius, “for he had come on a ship” (quoniam ille navi fuerat advectus) – and that in some extremely old cities in Latium, there are impressive, megalithic sights.

Concerning the catastrophic event that probably forced the people of Atlantis to run away from their own country, moving further south, we could find a clue in the “punishment” that Zeus was willing to inflict them, to punish them for their growing wickedness. We do not know exactly what this punishment was like, since the Critias breaks off at this point, however, if we think of a famous passage of the Iranian Avesta – the god Ahura Mazda warned Yima, the first king of men, about a series of freezing Winters that was going to destroy his country and, after that, about ten months’ Winter and two months’ Summer, that means, the present climate in Arctic regions – we can assume that the divine punishment for the wrongdoing of the people of Atlantis was the destruction of their primordial, Arctic world, by means of bitter cold and ice.

This is confirmed by the fact that the way the bull is sacrificed in the Critias is extremely similar to the sacrifice of the reindeer in the Lapp world: also in this case, there are some animals in a locked enclosure and one of them is saized with some ropes and, after the sacrifice, some of its blood, poured into a bowl, is drunk by a shaman, who leads the ritual. [11] In the Critias, the kings of Atlantis replace the shaman, but the shamanic atmosphere is beyond of the question, with its extremely archaic connotations, lingering around the rituals connected to the sacrifice and to the actions following it.

Given the above, the first great merit of the work by Marco Goti, which I have here the pleasure to introduce, is to propose an original location of Atlantis, based on strong arguments and therefore extremely logical and reasonable: Greenland, the large North-Atlantic island that’s nowadays mostly covered with ice, but was called “Green Land” by the Norwegian Vikings who settled there towards the year 1,000, because of the huge extension of lawns they found there, when they reached it.

That was the time of the so-called “Medieval Warm Period”, approximately from the 9th to the 13th century, when the polar pack got remarkably smaller in the Arctic Sea and the floating ice became extremely rare, both around Iceland, that became then a flowering land, and in front of Greenland. It is reasonable to assume that the favourable conditions of the sea and the lack of ice in northern Atlantic in that period strongly facilitated the Vikings sailing between Norway, Iceland and Greenland. In particular, as underlined by professor Franco Ortolani, “paleotemperatures show a remarkable increase of the average temperature, that allowed growing vineyards in Norway” [12]; but in those days vineyards were grown also in England, while on the eastern coast of Greenland, facing Labrador, around the 12th century a Catholic diocese flourished, led by a Viking bishop and later destroyed by the return of ice, after the coming of the LIA, the “Little Ice Age”, that went on until the middle of the 19th century). Now, such relevant effects in the Medieval Warm Period were caused by an average increase of temperatures in our continent, which remained nevertheless lower than that occurred some millenniums earlier, during the climatic optimum. If we also take into account the different time extension between the two periods – the medieval one only lasted only few centuries, while the prehistoric optimum some millenniums – we can get an idea of the beneficial effects that the latter must have produced in the Greenlandic area, sometime between five and six thousand years ago.

An important clue supporting the identification of the primordial seat of the people of Atlantis with Greenland is the fact that it perfectly matches a specific indication of Plato, always defining Atlantis as an “island” (nêsos) and never as a “continent”, but, at the same time, stating it was “bigger than Libya and Asia together”. To explain this apparent contradiction, we must consider that, while to us the idea of “extension” of a territory normally refers to its surface (which has often led to a misinterpretation of the real dimensions of Atlantis), for ancient people the size of an island was defined by the length of its coastal profile, which could be roughly estimated by simply circumnavigating the island itself (differently from the surface of the island, requiring completely different means). This is evident, for example, in Diodorus of Sicily, when he reports the “size” of Great Britain, identifying it with the perimeter, meant as the sum of its three sides (Bibliotheca Historica, V, 21). However, even Cristopher Columbus made the same with the island Juana, the present Cuba. [13] In short, Plato, or, better said, his source, compared the “size” of the island of Atlantis with the coastline of Libya and Asia Minor and, in fact, the perimeter of Greenland – that, we shouldn’t forget, is the largest island in the entire planet – is lightly bigger than the total coastline of “Libya” (i.e. Northern Afric, from Gibraltar to the Sinai) and “Asia” (Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and the Anatolian coast up to the Bosporus).

The further great credit of the essay by Marco Goti, in my opinion its most original and suggestive aspect – giving his theory the so-called Popper requisite of falsifiability – is to be found in his proposal of looking for the remains of the mythic capital city of Atlantis and its great harbour, “full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts, who, from their numbers kept up a multitudinous sound of human voice, and din and clatter of all sorts night and day” (Critias 117e), near a Greenlandic bay, in a place that I’m not going to reveal here, to leave the reader all the pleasure to discover it. Such proposal is also supported strong arguments and the description of the very particular structure of the harbour, articulated in three concentric zones of canals, alternated with circular land spits connected by bridges, represent one of the most extraordinary passages of the Critias.

In this regard, Turolla wonders if “the coincidence with the structure of prehistoric Mexican cities will be by chance (...) The island with a mountain surrounded by concentric rings of walls and canals (...) is also depicted in the Aztec drawings of the Aztlan, i.e. the homeland of the Aztecs. Where the consonance of Aztlan with Atlantis is noteworthy”. [14] In fact, the legendary Aztlan was told to be “somewhere in the North” [15] and this might match the Greenlandic Atlantis, both for its location and for its name. This seems to be well tuned with Plato’s statement, following which the lost island extended its domain even “on parts of the continent” that was beyond the sea (Timaeus 25b). We can also observe that Nordic mythology suggests a peculiar connection just between Greenland and the Aztecs, whose one of the best-known characteristics was the torture of the heart ripped from the chest of the victim: actually, in the “Greenland Ballda of Atli”, Hogni is tortured exactly in this way (Atlakvidha in Grœnlenzka, str. 21-25). Atli’s Greenlandic dimension is confirmed by another ballad in the Edda, called Atlamál in Grœnlenzko.

We can also note that, seen that remote era the temperatures probably had set the passage north-west of Canada free from ice, at least in Summer (as it will be again in few years, because of the present process of global warming), leaving from the capital of Atlantis, in those days it had to be possible to reach the Pacific coasts and islands directly, where, in fact, there are massive megalithic remains: just think of the trilithon named “Ha'amonga 'a Maui”, in Tonga (over 5 metres high and large, it is made up of three blocks of coral limestone, weighing several tons, so much that has been compared to Stonehenge). It is said to have been built by Maui, a mythical demigod, who’s the protagonist of a whole lot of Polynesian legends, where we can often find also a great sea goddess, Hina, extraordinarily [16] matching Ino, the “White Goddess” in many ways. Ulysses met this White Goddess while he was sailing just in front of the Phaeacian coast: but these are the great sailors of The Odyssey, whose affinities with the world of Atlantis we showed a while ago! In short, there seems to be a complex network of references, crossroads and connections here, whose leitmotiv might be found in a great, prehistoric, seafaring civilization that virtually covered the whole world and was able to build huge, megalithic monuments, whose most important – though not the only one – memory should have been passed down by Plato, with the myth of Atlantis.

At this point, a scientific testing of the possible presence of archaeological remains in the Greenlandic site identified by Marco Goti seems to be definitely desirable. It is almost superfluous to emphasize that any possible, positive development of such a research would have an enormous impact on the human studies and knowledge of prehistory: the discovery of artifacts in that area, which might be attributable to Plato’s tale, could open a completely new world, with the actual possibility of shedding light on some mysteries still unsolved, such as the sudden disappearance of megalithic civilizations and their connections with the original, Indo-European world.

Nevertheless, dear readers, now the time for you has come to read this book, where Marco is going to lead you to a surprising world.

Felice Vinci, January 2017

Introduction

“ It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult”.

– Seneca.

This work is meant to be as a simple journey through the sea, with a boat filled with anything necessary to face waves, winds and some unshakable certainties.

If you come on board with me, in this small boat we’ll only rely on a single nautical chart, as well as on the Timaeus and the Critias by Plato, an actual treasure map, showing the starting point of our route, but not its arrival at the final destination: Argonautica, too, by Apollonius of Rhodes, who, we’ll see, has proved himself a true enigma.