Monday, 29 February 2016

00. Introduction


'Redefining Atlantis' is perhaps a little misleading, it goes much deeper*. The focus is not only the enigmatic lost city / island / continent, but also on Greek Mythology, ancient Greek culture, anthropology, and the migratory patterns of the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean peoples.

*It is safe to assume puns and ambiguous comic references are intentional

Originally intended as a book, Redefining Atlantis just became too big. This blog builds into a comprehensive guide that explodes myths, provides answers, and gives informed personal hypotheses. Much of what you read here is well documented, the perception however is personal and to the best of my knowledge unique. Though not considered an expert in any field, an eclectic wisdom has certain advantages over a specialised one. My chief criticism of others who may have researched Atlantis is tunnel-vision, preconception, and inflexibility of thought.

The story of Atlantis is bigger than the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah type tale. The Atlanteans were key to history, the missing link. The Atlanteans were the progenitors of the Hellenes, and their polytheism is the origin of monotheist religion. There is little doubt they were the superior race of their time. Although there could be a basis for some otherworldly explanation, there is also a more natural one, in Redefining Atlantis we will consider all the options. Split into four sections, an overall picture is given for you to assess and draw your own conclusions.

Before the Romans adopted and tainted it (see Greek Love), Greek 'religion' was in many ways something to be lauded. Over the years, misinterpretation has led to many misconceptions. Redefining Atlantis aims to set the record straight. If you have anything to add or require additional information, please comment on the relevant post or e-mail in confidence.

Statement of Facts:

This blog-book is neither intended to offend nor influence the beliefs of the reader. This is MY belief. In these sensitive times, it appears just holding an alternate view of our origins can cause hysteria. The information here is provided as a statement of 'facts' as I see them and in my opinion is no less plausible than the views of anyone else. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Part I - The Evidence

This section gives an overview on what we already know for sure and / or what can reasonably be assumed to be true.

  • Sources
  • Conspiracy
  • Sunken Cities
  • Location
  • Gods
  • Climate Change
  • Migration
  • Civil Unrest
  • Beliefs
  • Summary

Saturday, 27 February 2016

01. Sources

Personal research began as a child. It was purely a need for answers, answers that nobody seemed to know yet were willing to kill each other over. The research was never meant to be so diverse, but when studying one thing numerous side issues came to light and were in need of investigation. The initial goal was rather simplistic; discover the origins of human existence, how hard could it be? Redefining Atlantis is a spin-off from the main body of research but no less significant.

The problem is verifiable fact. What is fact? Archaeological evidence is perhaps most reliable, although one cataclysm can wipe out significant evidence from a previous one, and I have reservations about the accuracy of dating systems due to atmospheric fluctuation and variations in terrain. Art-work and sculpture are not only open to interpretation, but can also be misleading, especially when drawing comparisons with society today as was the tendency of many historians. Even text is dubious, just because somebody wrote it doesn't make it true, changes in language leave context open to conjecture. With such a view, problems were soon encountered. As much information as possible was gathered and analysed for clues, or tenuous links that could possibly substantiate another claim.

The clues are there, and in abundance. Nevertheless, all this information still doesn't make it fact. Even when corroborated by another, it is most likely they all came from the same sources. There will always be doubts when looking at early history, religion, archaeological evidence, myth, and legend. At some point a decision has to be made on which information can or cannot be trusted. No matter what the source cited here there will always be critics, such is the nature of the beast. The information provided is from the most reliable sources available to me and has been included only after careful consideration.

The primary source of the Atlantis story comes from Plato as told by Critias in the Timaeus and Critias Dialogues. Most other sources are later and almost exclusively based on Plato's account. Some argue the tale of Atlantis is just a fictional moralistic metaphor, and there is some evidence to justify this. There is no direct mention by Homer of Atlantis, although there are suggestions an Atlantean society had been existence. Other ambiguous references from the Middle East, India, and Egypt, could easily relate to Atlantis but Plato is the only one to mention it by name. Homer does however give us invaluable information about the life, times, and culture in ancient Greece and among Mediterranean peoples.

Herodotus is another prime source due to his Homeric references. If Plato is considered a little suspect in some ways, Herodotus gives even more reason for scepticism.  Herodotus was called the 'father of history' by many, a phrase supposedly coined by Cicero. Yet despite numerous accolades, Herodotus, like Plato, had critics who ridiculed his work. Some of his contemporaries called him the father of lies. There is little doubt he travelled extensively, verified by geographical and historical facts he described in detail, and much information was gathered from folklore or wandering minstrels. Herodotus stated he only reported what was told to him (echoes of Plato in some respects), and there were some fanciful stories by consequence. Thucydides was a critic of Herodotus, not without cause.

Thucydides was known as the 'father of scientific history' and whilst his need for accuracy is commendable, to completely overlook myth and legend is folly. It is a problem shared by scientists and atheists alike. They dismiss a whole book due to sporadic nonsense. Many of the collected folk tales were undoubtedly embellished but rather than discard them, we should look for the clues they hold. Another thing about Herodotus is his being a contemporary of Socrates, and he too seemed loathe to attribute acts to the Gods. However his 'reporting' style saved him sharing the same fate and may have been an inspiration for Plato.

Homer is an enigma. When the fact there is uncertainty as to whether Homer even existed is thrown into the mix, any remaining readers of a sceptical disposition will roll their eyes. Very little can be verified. It is one view that Homeric Poetry was akin to folklore and not directly attributable to one person, named Homer or otherwise. Travelling minstrels and entertainers would entertain with such tales. No doubt they were subject to the Chinese Whispers treatment. Even Plato's account of Atlantis was heard 4th or 5th-hand at best.

Hesiod (c.750-650 BC) is thought to be a contemporary of Homer and his Theogeny is the major source of the genealogy of the Gods. There was a lot more to Hesiod besides his Homeric dialect poetry. He was cited as a major source of farming techniques, economic thought and astronomy. Hesiod's genealogy is one source I use for my own hypothesised genealogy but there are significant differences.

Here, Greek Myths are treated in much the same way as other ancient scriptures, possibilities are explored objectively. The pleasing thing with the ancient Greeks is how they 'humanised' many of their deities. There are clues to actual people and places that can loosely be accounted for by 'known' historical / geological events. Conversely there is also a lot of nonsense (or superstitious misinterpretation of natural phenomena and the cause).

Of course it would be folly to believe or try to rationalise without at least a little evidence. Socrates tried to dispel the nonsensical areas of mythology but was executed (encouraged to commit suicide) for impiety and corrupting youth. Unfortunately all the work of Socrates is non-extant and Plato's accounts of it may be coloured by paranoia. The Greek Myths themselves are taken from a variety of sources, the majority having their documented origins with Herodotus, Homer, and Plato. Most are pretty similar both in translation and the way they are generally perceived.

For the most part I haven't attributed sources but translations are from those generally accepted as most accurate. Being linguistically challenged with regard to Linear B and ancient Greek, I have to accept these'true translations' but I often feel context has been misconstrued.

Some translations are of text that is no longer extant and leaves the door open for more inaccuracy. Whilst extracts of generally accepted translations will be posted here, they are subject to closer scrutiny and are often given a slightly different slant. For the most part, I regard contributions from Roman sources as deeply suspicious. I feel the Romans on conquering Greece adopted the culture of those who were in essence their ancestors, but besmirched it with their excesses.

Geological and archaeological evidence is invaluable yet even here I feel many are missing the obvious or simply failing to correlate data correctly. Text is open to (mis)interpretation just as is art. To fully appreciate and understand the context of scripture or imagery, a more holistic view is necessary.

Friday, 26 February 2016

02. Conspiracy?

A number of question marks surround the credibility of the Atlantis story. Archaeological evidence is coming to light that corroborates much of what is hypothesised here. What about the story itself? It's no secret influential people will use propaganda to exploit fearful ignorance. Let's first look at the person from whom the story originated, Solon (640-558 BC).

It is possible Solon concocted his story, but unlikely. There is however good reason to believe he embellished it significantly. Perhaps he didn't embellish so much as change the emphasis. He was a statesman and lawmaker who fought the moral decline in Athenian society. Although unsuccessful during his time in office, Solon is considered by many to have laid the foundations of democracy. There is understandably no documented record of Atlantis before Solon - ignoring possible ambiguous references from Homer and Hesiod - not in Greek literature anyway.

Around 594 BC Solon was chosen as archon (chief magistrate) in Athens. Solon implemented reforms largely unpopular with the ruling class. He travelled abroad for 10 years so influential Athenians couldn't induce him to repeal any of his laws. First off he went to Egypt and it was there the story of Atlantis came to light. Solon visited the Pharaoh, Amasis II (reign 570-526 BC), and spent some time with two Egyptian priests discussing philosophy. The priest Sonchis of Sais is attributed as the source of the history of Atlantis.

Note: Sais is stated as the birthplace of the Pharaoh Amassis II which adds a little weight to Solon being there, although Sonchis being the priest who related the story is contested by some.

The Greek Dark Ages (c.1200-800 BC) blotted out ancient history, as surmised by the Egyptian priest in the Timaeus Dialogue (see Literature [1c]). Plato's account doesn't name the priests. Sonchis speaks of a great victory by Athens in defeating the all-conquering Atlanteans. Although the Dialogue is consistent, there are question marks against certain aspects. It is conceivable Solon twisted the story to put Athens in a better light, so he could best relate the moralistic tale without further antagonising those in power. On the other hand Sonchis might well have done that himself, but if he had been discussing philosophy with Solon it is unlikely.

Whatever embellishment the story might have received at the hands of Solon, it is very likely it was further edited by Plato, in order to make it more palatable to those in power. Socrates had died for his views and Plato wouldn't want to share the same fate as his tutor. Plato had a habit of 'he said, she said' to allow denial of accountability. In effect Socrates has very little bearing here as none of his works are extant and we rely on Plato as his 'mouthpiece'. Just how much was from the tutelage by Socrates, and how much was purely Plato's own thoughts, is open to question.

There is no record of Timaeus anywhere else. He is Italian according to the Dialogue and his story of the creation has similarities with the biblical version in Genesis. Critias is likely genuine, as is Hermocrates the third speaker who never spoke, or whose dialogue is lost. Both are referenced by others from the time. The existence of Socrates is not in doubt. What is in doubt is if these dialogues were a coming together. It is almost certain the part of Socrates in the dialogues are assumptions by Plato, on how he perceived his mentor would respond. This could also be a cover story for his own protection. Nevertheless, although most date the Dialogues to 360 BC, some 39 years after the death of Socrates, it doesn't mean such a meeting never took place. My personal view is that Plato met with his fellow protagonists but at different times and simply put together a series of dialogues he had with them individually.

Socrates had a strange role in the Dialogues. From what Critias states, it appears Socrates was constructing a moral tale. The suspicion of a conspiracy of sorts is high in my opinion yet this doesn't discredit the tale, it merely suggests caution when assessing truthful elements. Socrates may have discussed intent with Plato when tutoring him. Plato may well have met Critias some time later and heard Solon's story. By combining the account of Critias and the intent of Socrates, he in effect told the story his tutor hadn't.

The more we look at it, the more we see evidence of some kind of fabrication. Was Plato responsible for carrying out a deception or merely recording the thoughts of others? Nor did he always get it right as we see with his Pythagorean notes in Republic, which are nonsensical in their ambiguity. In Critias the Gods are barely mentioned apart from Poseidon, Though purported descendants of the Gods, the mortality of the Atlanteans is clear. At the end of the incomplete Dialogue there is mention of Zeus as 'God of Gods' before the text stops abruptly. Did Plato see he was painting himself into a corner?

In the Dialogues there is mention of an absentee who was taken ill, and then there is Hermocrates who never managed to speak, whose dialogue was lost, or was simply not written. Hermocrates could be key. He was a general who repelled Athens in Sicily and advised Sparta. His part can be surmised but the real issue is the time of his death, 407 BC and the fact he had returned to Sicily in 408 BC. There is divided opinion on Plato's date of birth. Taking the earliest estimates he would be 19/20 years old when Hermocrates returned to Sicily, taking the latest he would have been 16/17.

Socrates was a member of the Boule (council of citizens) who debated the fate of the generals after the Battle of Arginusae (406 BC). The means the meeting would still be plausible, Critias was one of the Thirty Tyrants installed to govern Athens after the fall in 404 BC, Timaeus has always been a mystery. Perhaps the meeting took place and during the writing Plato heard of the death of Hermocrates. Academics will argue the Dialogue was among Plato's later works but many an author has old drafts they only publish much later. When all said and done, I am perhaps a little harsh on Plato, he is after all just an author.

There is of course much more to Plato than the scant mention here, and I could dissect all his works, but all I'm trying to establish is how much credence we can give him with regard to the Timaeus and Critias Dialogue. It is important to look at things objectively and inconsistencies must be addressed. Having said that, even the implausible cannot be dismissed out of hand, often fact is stranger than fiction.

Irrespective of the conspiracy theory and the ideology behind it influenced by Solon / Socrates / Plato, the main body of evidence suggests the basis of the Atlantis story is historical fact.