So, Is Atlantis Found At Long Last?
|NASA Landsat 7 image of the Richat Structure, with north at the top and south at the bottom.|
I am going to assume that you have some familiarity with Plato because this article would become a book if I were to recite all of Plato's references with links. Just accept that what is said below about Atlantis does come straight from Plato and nowhere else unless otherwise noted. To verify, read Plato yourself if you are suspicious, better you do that than retain lingering suspicions about my references to Plato here, suspecting that I am "being selective" or using a biased translation or whatever.
All I will claim in this article is that I will convey what Plato himself wrote about Atlantis, with no embellishment or distortion or exaggeration, for purposes of matching those characteristics with a very specific place that exists today. I compare Plato's points about Atlantis to this specific place so that you may independently learn about that place and decide for yourself whether his account matches that location.
There are a lot of people working on this theory, so it is not just some off-handed thought that I dreamed up one night. I certainly claim no credit for anything new, this is a brewing area of research for a growing number of experts. Here, I only hope to provide a cogent summary of the current state of research for people who are interested in Atlantis. I want to get the word out. There is no proof that this theory is true. It is just a hypothesis for an unknown phenomenon based on observable facts - which is what all scientific theories are. Sometimes such theories are proven right, sometimes they are proven wrong, and often their validity remains to be determined. The theory that we are discussing here falls into the third category, unproven and subject to strong debate.
Still interested? Read on.
Atlantis: What's the Big Deal?
Atlantis is only known in detail from the writings of Plato, who claimed to obtain his information from the writings of his ancestor Solon (six generations ahead of Plato). Whatever Solon wrote was "kept in the family" and ultimately came to Plato's attention. Apparently, Plato's source from Solon was in the form of writings that now are lost.
In those far-away days that Ocean could be navigated, as there was an island outside the channel which your countrymen tell me you call the 'pillars of Heracles'. This island was larger than Libya and Asia together, and from it seafarers, in those times, could make their way to the others, and thence to the whole opposite continent, which encircles the true outer Ocean.Fortunately, Plato is very specific about Atlantis itself after that very open-ended geography: it is formed by concentric islands of a certain distance from the city center, there are mountains to the north with rivers flowing through them, and so forth. To summarize, Plato said Atlantis was out in in the Atlantic (or beyond) somewhere - or at least entering the Atlantis was how you got there (which may seem like a fine point, but really is the crux of the case I'm about to make). Since the ancient Greeks didn't know anything at all about the Atlantic beyond the fact that it was there, Plato's description of the location isn't exactly helpful to us today.
|Engravings at the Temple of Horus at Edfu appear to corroborate Plato.|
|Reconstruction of the map of Herodotus, dated to roughly 430 B.C. - several years before Plato was born.|
|Is this mysterious blob Atlantis?|
|The same blob a little further out and colorized.|
|The possible location of Atlantis. You can still see the blob if you look hard. (Credit: ESA).|
|You may be looking right at Atlantis and not even realize it. (Credit: ESA).|
|A close-up of the Richat structure shows the concentric rings. Note what appears to be an ancient channel flowing to the southwest toward the Atlantic. (Credit: ESA).|
The Eye of AfricaWhat is the Eye of Africa? Its scientific name is the Richat Structure. It is located in Africa in the country we now know as Mauritania. The Eye of Africa is in the province of Adrar, which only has about 70,000 inhabitants.
|The Eye of Africa.|
|The Richat Structure is a harsh landscape indeed - which has kept explorers away.|
- Its outer circle is roughly 23.5 km in diameter, more or less (it varies but is within 20-25 km throughout)
- It has mountains to the north with what appear to be river channels and other mountains on its approaches which are beautiful and striking
- The area to the south is open
- The center "island" of the Richat has different levels
- The Richat is inland but may have been connected to the Atlantic despite now being completely landlocked (250 miles inland)
- There is a lower-level "channel" that approaches the rings
- The Richat is surrounded by a massive level plain to the south and there is a rectangular plain nearby
- There are red, black and white stones in the region) which natives still use to build houses
- A well at the center of the Richat has freshwater, whereas other wells nearby oddly are saltwater
- Sailors from Greece would have had to sail out into the Atlantic past the "Pillars of Hercules" to get there and would have encountered "mud" if the passage to the area began to fill in with sand
- Elephant skeletons and ancient rock paintings have been found nearby, suggesting elephants lived there at one time
- There are copper and gold mines nearby, and those are among the chief exports of Mauritania today
- Greek and Egyptian sailors could have sailed there (if there was water) without losing sight of the coast, which was important to sailors of the time
- The date provided by Plato for Atlantis' destruction, 11600 years ago, coincides with a post-glacier change in sea levels known as the Younger Dryas.
- Since the Eye of Africa and Egypt are not that distant, it makes perfect sense that Egypt may have been a colony of Atlantis as claimed by Plato if it was located there.
- The key symbol of ancient Egypt, the Eye of Horus, bears an uncanny resemblance to the Eye of Africa (see picture below).
- The first ruler of Mauretania is known as Atlas (where the mountain range gets its name) - which just so happens to be the name of the first ruler of Atlantis. What a coincidence!
- The ancient historian Herodotus placed a nation called Atlantis in exactly the location of the Richat Structure in a map that he drew up 2500 years ago. Herodotus, incidentally, is known as the "Father of History" and was born 58 years before Plato. The map is dated to 430 B.C., three years before Plato was even born. Herodotus died before Plato was born.
- Herodotus posed a different possible water route to Atlantis, the Nile, which he suggests ran from the Sahara in the past and which is certainly possible.
|Edgar Cayce: finally vindicated?|
|An artist's conception of Atlantis based upon a strict reading of Plato. This is not based upon the Richat Structure - but notice the astonishing similarities with the photos of the Eye of Africa above and below.|
It is simply astounding that this one location encompasses all of these very specific details given by Plato. There's no other way to put it.
Okay, Why Haven't I Ever Heard Of This "Eye of Africa" As Being Atlantis Then? It's all Pseudo-Science! You're Just Fantasizing About Aliens! You're a Crackpot!Look, I get it. You start talking about Atlantis and you also must believe in Martians and UFOs. It's easy to read these kinds of articles with a grin and a smirk, secure in the belief that it's all just comic-book stuff. We all understand the fantasy of people wishing there was "something more" than just dull reality, that the aliens would just arrive already and "beam us up" so we can go traipsing around the Cosmos together as interstellar brothers.
Well, let's stick to facts. Atlantis is not "pseudo-science" as some "respected sources" would have it. This has nothing to do with "aliens." There is solid historical support for a place called Atlantis that was the center of some sort of society. We know as much about Atlantis as we do about much of ancient history which depend upon only one or two secondhand sources. Historians often must rely on a single source for events covering large swathes of time, with only sketchy corroboration. There may have been additional written sources for Atlantis available in Plato's time, and in fact there almost certainly were, because Plato says that he used one himself without considering that exceptional. Herodotus had a source for Atlantis, too, and it wasn't Plato because Herodotus was dead before Plato was born. Plato did not rely upon Herodotus, so there are two independent lines sources, not one. And, considering the temple inscriptions which strongly suggest an account of Atlantis without actually naming it, possibly more lines of sources.
|Herodotus is the smoking gun in the Atlantis debate that the detractors overlook.|
|A typical artist's conception of Atlantis, based, of course, on Plato's writings.|
One of the reasons that the Richat Structure has never been associated with Atlantis is that its unique shape is only visible from space. Astronauts first noticed its peculiar formation in 1965, but they weren't looking for Atlantis and dismissed it as a curiosity. Thus, if the argument is that this would have been figured out hundreds of years ago if it were true, that won't wash. Nobody had any inkling that Atlantis might be in such an unlikely spot until very recently.
Another reason for the obscurity of the Eye of Africa is that it is remote. Located in a remote area of the Sahara, it is accessible only by a dusty gravel road and very few people go to the Eye of Africa. There's not much reason to go there, either as those that do visit can't see any difference from the rest of the desert from ground level. It is a hostile environment that travelers only want to cross, not stay and "investigate." The Richat Structure is very, very different, as seen from space, but just more desert when traveling on the ground or in an airplane.
A third reason that the Richat Structure is not associated with Atlantis is that there are no known ruins there. Well, that is overstating it - there are artifacts, but they are not what we usually associate with Atlantis. There are African relics. You would expect something like death ray machines and so forth because of the fanciful imaginations of some people in Hollywood - but there isn't anything remotely like that. At least, nothing has been found, but Western Sahara is one of the most unexplored regions in the world. Nobody has dug there. Whatever was there, if anything, might still be there, but buried under sand or rock. Or, it may have been washed away in whatever cataclysm destroyed it in one night - as mentioned again by Plato. Flash floods can wash away just about everything. Mauritania also is a dangerous place with travel advisories in place. So, few experts go to the Richat Structure, let alone dig there.
But here's a shocker: satellite images suggest that there may - may - be buried structures in the Richat Structure. There are rectangular shadows which in other places have suggested buildings. I'm not claiming this as proof of anything. Nobody will know what is underground in the Richat Structure without some digging by professionals, and that would be expensive and difficult. But we have better hints of past civilization than sketchy photos with shadowy figures that can be interpreted as figments of the imagination.
|A radar image of newly discovered paleo-rivers in Mauretania. Water may last have coursed through the newly discovered network’s channels 5,000 years ago. Photograph: Philippe Paillou.|
|A proposed map of the Trans-Saharan Seaway.|
Oh, and as to whether I'm a crackpot, you can be the judge of that.
So, Why Isn't This Atlantis Then? Why Are You Quibbling?The Eye of Africa historically has not been associated with Atlantis because everyone assumes that Atlantis is at the bottom of the ocean. This brings us to the one great reason why the Richat Structure usually is not considered in the hunt for Atlantis: it's not only completely above water level, it is well above sea level. It is about 1300 (400 meters) feet above sea level.
|The image was created from various bands based on Sentinel 2A data of the EU Copernicus program and provides a spatial resolution of ten meters. The image has been digitally altered to compensate for atmospheric factors.|
|View of the Richat Structure from Google Earth. Its coordinates are (21°07'30" N, 011°24'00" W.|
|The Richat Structure looks like nothing special on the ground. It is only from pictures taken from orbit that you can appreciate its possible significance (Photo courtesy of Hudson Valley Geologist).|
|A generic diagram of an anticline taken from Wikipedia.|
|View from Google Earth.|
ConclusionThe Eye of Africa meets virtually all of Plato's very specific requirements for Atlantis. In fact, the Eye of Africa meets them better than any other known place on earth, without exception. If you read Plato, and compare his description of Atlantis to the Richat Structure and add a little imagination about it being at sea level and populated, it is almost uncanny how closely the two match - it's an absolutely dead-on description of it. Really, I don't see how he could have given a better description of the Eye of Africa with the above provisions, and people of ancient times could only have known the part about the concentric rings if there had been water there to distinguish them (they are not discernible otherwise at ground level).
Plato himself said that the tale of Atlantis was "strange." This is an area worthy of further research. There is no need for you to believe anything here that conflicts with your previous understanding and accepted dogma. However, perhaps an article like this will help you to keep an open mind about things we don't know everything about yet.