Atlanteans

If I am going to give a thought or two about ancient Atlantis, its mysterious people and all the conspiracy theories behind it, there is no doubt that I'll first think of the origin of the story. Classical Greece and Plato. One of the most famous scholars from BC. In his own time, Plato was definitely the top Greek philosopher from ancient Athens, who lived in fourth century before Christ and dedicated his entire scholarly life to philosophical research and development of modern society and politics. The method he used in his publications were dialogues, very popular way of expressing scientific thoughts at the time. Plato's dialogues, in which he never took the role as one of participants, were often the front story in his works accompanies with narration, but in some of them he even excluded narrator and presented his work in pure novel-style with his characters carrying the story all the way.


In regards of today's title, two dialogues are especially interested - Timaeus and Critias. Participants in the dialogues where Socrates, Timaeus, Hermocrates, and Critias and Plato tried to describe the perfect society time-framed way back before the old Classical Greece. In very short, these two dialogues describes a tale from a man called Solon, another Athenian, who during his travels throughout the ancient Egypt, learned about mysterious people who lived and perished many generations before. Twenty years or so before these dialogues, Plato had written his master piece "The Republic" in which he discussed what he thought of ideal state with a 'just man' and the meaning of justice in general from the point of view of Greek cities from the classical time. His ideal state was named 'Ancient Athens', placed in existence 9000 years before Plato's time and governed with superior and almost utopian society. As it seems, Atlanteans are used in Plato's books just as an example of how even the enemy that was so powerful, beyond any current comprehension, is incapable of defeating perfectly regulated society. After that the story went wild and Atlanteans, who tried to enslave entire Mediterranean, were easily defeated by 'utopian' and perfectly organised Athenians. In the aftermath, their superb armada retreated to their island and the gods in their final rage destroyed entire Atlantean civilization which Plato described in his famous words "There occurred violent earthquakes and floods and in a single day and night of misfortune the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea." In second dialogue "Critias", Plato described in more details the origin of the 'ancient' Atlanteans with extensive use of old Greek mythology as Poseidon's heaven who created perfect society that ultimately, over time, started to fade out as soon as they started losing their divine origin and got overwhelmed in corruption.

Today, we have a great knowledge about ancient Greek times and so far there is no scientific facts in favour of "ancient of the ancient" Greek society that is older than 3 millenniums BC who fought mighty civilizations who came from the other side of the Pillars of Hercules and both vanished without a single trace. However, there is a faint clue and tons of theories of where Plato really found inspiration for this incredible tale.

Reconstruction of a late Cycladic Ship (© 7reasons, Michael Klein)*

As for the faint clue, I would vote for ancient Minoan civilization and their predecessors who preceded Greeks in the Aegean and suffered ultimate decimation from both natural disaster and human invaders. They lived on the island of Crete within ancient settlements of Knossos and Gortyn and also within northern Aegean island of Thera (Santorini) in ancient site of Akrotiri which is, just like Roman Pompeii remarkably preserved after the tremendous volcanic eruption. Their civilization flourished in late Bronze age and like in Plato's words, within single day and night, around the year of 1600 BC, disappeared into the sea in one of the most powerful volcano eruption in the history of entire world. What is today known as 'The Minoan eruption of Thera' seismologists tend to classify as four times powerful than well known explosion of Krakatoa. If Minoans had more settlements in the neighborhood, which was likely, they were all destroyed and sunk during the natural reshaping of the archipelago. Massive eruption, no doubt, created large tsunami wave that probably reached all the way to Crete and ultimately decimated Minoan people in the northern part of island. In a following years, pirates and thieves from the sea and land took the chance and made sure for Minoans to never recover to what they once were.

Well, in a conclusion and after this small history glimpse, if you ask me, there is a fair chance that Plato's Atlanteans are truly based on ancient Minoans. After all, 2300+ years ago, in Plato's time, the world wasn't big and the entire cradle of the civilization as we popularly call Greek Classical times was small and all about the Aegean sea. Even the Mediterranean was too large for wooden galleys and far travels. Ancient Minoans came to Aegean two millenniums before Plato and after their misfortune I am sure the legends and myths about them grew slightly above the facts. Still, their language, clay tablets, art, pottery, architecture and overall history prove they once were a very respectful and organized society.


There is no doubt that Atlanteans from Plato's 'Timaeus and Critias' served just a supporting role in this piece of philosophy but still ever since the Atlantis story has had a large impact on literature, comic books and movies. They are used in tons of novels and portrayed as insanely advanced civilization with all the technological wonders, perfect cities, flying ships, state of the art armory, etc. There is no bay or gulf in Mediterranean sea and Atlantic ocean all the way to Caribbean that some rich adventurer or scholar didn't try to find the Atlantean ruins or at least to post new theory of Atlantis site or conspiracy theory of some sort. To be honest, I am really ok with that - if you look to it from the entertainment point of view, what you get is very much fun and if you read it on the beach it surely adds another level to your vacation time.

This is exactly what I did this summer and during our ten days of R&R on Thassos Island of northern Aegean I loaded all three books of The Origin Mystery in my Kindle and swallowed them all in record time. Honestly, from this trilogy I expected a lot and this is exactly what I got! You have to be brave to make yet another novel about Atlanteans and A.G. Riddle wrapped it just right. He managed to connect several Sci Fi genres into one successful story. For my taste all the sciences are there and connected perfectly. Biology, virology and genetic research including junk-DNA involvement, physics and space travels, quantum entanglement, Antarctica, known history and use of connection and conspiracy theories like Nazi bell (Die Glocke) or Roswell UFO sighting. Play with time dilatation and hibernation. Space battles of enormous proportion. Explanation of Gods and ancient astronauts. If you add usual 'Indiana Jones' type of adventures and romance there was no better choice for me this July. Perhaps, using so many connected sciences in the plot is too risky as the author faces with challenges of choosing what is more important and deserves to be explained better at the expense of other technologies or speculations but I don't mind. All in all, Riddle's Atlanteans are perhaps the best version I read in a long while and I warmly recommend it.

Reconstruction of the Akrotiri Supervolcano (© 7reasons, Michael Klein)*

As for the real Atlanteans or in this case ancient Minoans I hope some of next summers will lead us to the southern Aegean and then this story will earn another post in the thread. No doubt with images from ancient Akrotiri. In the meantime don't miss below link with incredible scientific reconstructions from before the Minoan Eruption made by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archeology (LBI ArchPro).

Images credit:
The Akrotiri Supervolcano (© 7reasons, Michael Klein)


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