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Atlantis, an ancient civilization said to have existed around 9600 B.C, has been described as a complete utopia. The people of Atlantis accomplished amazing feats, especially in architecture and engineering. Atlantis was believed to have an intricate tunnel network for ships to navigate within the city. Most proponents claim that the island was located in the Atlantic Ocean.



Plato was a Greek philosopher who was the first to document anything related to Atlantis. While many regard Plato’s account of Atlantis to be historically accurate, Plato himself was not a historian. He was a “true philosopher,” who cared more for otherworldly matters than actual fact. Plato is credited with creating the foundation for many aspects of modern science. Even so, Carl Sagan criticized Plato because of Plato’s firm stance on thinking rather than observation and experimentation. (Alford, 2004)

Charles Berlitz

Charles Berlitz is the author of The Mystery of Atlantis.

Dr. Paul Schliemann

The grandson of Heinrich Schliemann (who discovered Troy), who wrote an article for the New York American which announced that he had an inscribed metal plate and coins from the ancient civilization of Atlantis. He claimed that these artifacts were sealed in an envelope by his grandfather, only to be opened by one who would devote his life to the exploration.(Stemman, 1977)

Ignatius T. T. Donnelly

Ignatius T. T. Donnelly was an American born politician who served as the Lieutenant-Governor of Minnesota for four years before serving in Congress for eight. Donnelly is often considered the father of modern Atlantology. He pioneered some of the most seemingly factual evidence to support the existence of Atlantis. His most famous book, Atlantis: the Antidiluvian World, which was published in 1882, survives even today.

Lewis Spence

Lewis Spence was a Scottish mythologist who is credited with having one of the best pro-Atlantis books. Spence took a scientific approach to Atlantis. He improved greatly on Donnelly’s own ideas of the existence of Atlantis.



Timaeus was a dialogue written by Plato, in which Socrates, Timaeus, Critias, and Hermocrates take part in a discussion of ideal government. Timaeus was intended to be a sequel to The Republic. Even so, this book does make a reference which describes how the tale of Atlantis came into play and the disaster which struck both the Athenian army and the civilization of Atlantis.


The second book of what was intended to be a trilogy. This dialogue includes a much deeper description of the Atlantis, including the founding and advancements of this civilization. Critias goes into great detail about the buildings and other structures within Atlantis.


The first account of Atlantis was written by Plato. He claims to have referenced ancient Egyptian records, but no such records have been found. Plato had intended to write a trilogy where Atlantis would play an important role. Unfortunately, he only finished the first book, Timaeus, and part of the second, Critias. In Timaeus, Critias recalls that Solon visited Egypt around 570 B.C. Solon claims that, while in Egypt, a group of priests told him the story of Atlantis. This story was passed on to four people before reaching Critias. According to the story, Atlantis controlled North Africa up to Egypt and Southern Europe up to the Greek borders. The Atlanteans then set their eyes upon Athens. With what has been stated has the greatest army ever produced at the time, the Atlanteans begin their conquest for Atlantis. The Athenians, however, rose up and drove back the Atlanteans in what has been described as the most epic battle Athenian times. They took over Atlantis, but then violent earthquakes and floods caused Atlantis to sink along with the bulk of the Athenian army.(Stemman, 1977)

Criticisms and Controversy

The controversy surrounding Atlantis is amazing. Plato’s account is arguably the most important since everyone who claims for the existence of Atlantis references Plato’s dialogues. Atlantis was an extremely advanced civilization which took over much of the known world before being beaten by the Athenians and destroyed by cataclysms. Plato’s claims show that Atlantis was destroyed in a night’s time. His claims also suggest that both Atlantis and Athens had highly advanced civilizations around 9600 B.C. Also, the meeting written about in the dialogues is said to take place in 421 B.C. when Plato was just six years old. Many people, including both Donnelly and Spence claim that traces of Atlantis can be found in the Mayan and Egyptian civilizations. Donnelly claims that the Egyptian civilization was not built up, but, rather, emerged suddenly. This claim gives rise to the idea that some Atlanteans were able to flee from Atlantis before it was fully submerged. Donnelly continues supporting his claim by stating that this shows the Atlanteans who fled brought a ready-made civilization to the Egpytians. Both Spence and Donnelly also claim that the Mayans were of Atlantic origin. Spence brought more controversy to the table with more intuitive theories. Spence claimed that Atlantis did not simply fall to the ocean floor, but actually disintegrated over time. First, he claimed that Atlantis broke into two major islands with an archipelago in between the two islands. The island closest to Africa disintegrated first with the one closer to South America disintegrating much slower. This gives evidence for the claim that the Mayan civilization was formed by Atlanteans. His theory states that the 10,000 year gap between the submergence of Atlantis and the rise of the Mayan empire can be explained by the fact that some people fled the first island and stayed on the second island for thousands of years before fleeing to South America. Spence also claims that the habits of animals from Atlantis can be seen in more modern animals. One example explains that Norwegian lemmings, once their population overgrows their food source, will swim into the ocean until they eventually drown. He continues by stating that these animals are calling upon a distinct memory of a land that once existed across the ocean.(Stemman, 1977)


While examining Plato’s evidence for Atlantis, the first problem arises with Athens having a highly advanced civilization in 9600 B.C. Archaeologists have, based on their studies of Greek civilization, essentially ruled out the possibility of an empire such Plato’s Athens to have existed as early as 9600 B.C. If the story presented in Plato’s dialogues is thought of as fact, the event would have occurred when Plato was only nine, hardly an age to accurately interpret anything the four men may have stated. This alone makes Donnelly’s claims, which were largely based on Plato’s writings, hard to fathom. Even so, Donnelly claims much evidence to back up his claims. He argued that the resemblance of plants and animals in both America and Europe can be accounted for by their common origin in Atlantis. One major problem with both Donnelly and Spence’s views is the sudden emergence of the Egyptian and Mayan civilizations. Modern archaeology has shown the gradual evolution of these cultures from more primitive societies. As far as Spence’s lemming claim, lemmings will actually travel in any direction in search of food, often swimming in rivers to find food. Swedish lemmings, for instance, tend to travel across the Baltic in the opposite direction.(Stemman, 1977)


Berlitz, C. (1969). The Mystery of Atlantis. New York: Avon Books.

Stemman, R. (1977). Atlantis and the Lost Lands. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc.

Atlantis. (2006). Retrieved February 14, 2010 from Atlantis: the skeptic's dictionary:

Alford, A. (2004). Atlantis. Retrieved February 14, 2010 from Atlantis:

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