Atlantis – the lost city
Atlantis (or Atlantica) was described in antiquity as a large island in the sea to the west of the known world (the Western Ocean), near the Pillars of Hercules (the Gibraltar Straits?). It was not, therefore, a part of the known geography of the period. An earthquake was said to have submerged it in the ocean.
It is first mentioned in the dialogues Timaeus and Critias written about 360 BC by the Greek philosopher Plato (428-347 BC). An Egyptian priest was supposed to have described it to the Greek statesman Solon (638-559 BC).
The priest insisted that Atlantis was enormous – bigger than Asia Minor (today, a part of Turkey) and Libya combined. It harbored a technologically advanced civilization, recounted the priest, in the 10th millennium BC (c. 12,000 years ago).
Curiously, he also said that the Atlanteans conquered all the lands of antiquity, bar Athens (which only came into existence in the Neolithic period, about 3000 years later).
Arab geographers propagated the story of Atlantis and medieval European authors referred to it as fact.
Atlantis in Greek myth
Greek myths tell Poseidon fell in love with Atlantean mortal woman named Cleito, daughter of Evenor and Leucippe. Cleito gave birth to 5 sets of twin boys. The oldest boy, Atlas, became the first king of Atlantis and ruled over the mountains and surrounding area – his twin brother, Gadeirus, was given the outer part of the island all the way towards the pillars of Hercules (perhaps Gibraltar or Cadiz).
To protect Cleito, Poseidon carved a castle into the central mountain and surrounded it with rings of water and land. A temple to honor Poseidon was built at the top of the mountain.
The main city was situated outside of the first ring of water. Beyond the city, a fertile plain extended for 320 miles (530km) in length and 118 miles (190km) in width, surrounded by another deep canal. The climate of Atlantis allowed for 2 harvests per year.
Atlantis was prosperous and powerful, invading nations as far as Egypt – but failed to conquer Athens. And as happens with most powerful nations, Atlantis became corrupted by greed and power. Zeus, the “god of gods”, gathered the other gods to determine a punishment for the Atlanteans.
But at a later time there occurred portentous earthquakes and floods, and one grievous day and night befell them, when the whole body of your warriors was swallowed up by the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner was swallowed up by the sea and vanished; wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal mud which the island created as it settled down.
Oceanographers, scholars and conspiracy theorists place Atlantis all over the world map – from an island in the Aegean Sea (Thera, or Santorini it suffered an earthquake in 1640 BC and housed the flourishing Cycladic civilization), Brazil, the Canary Islands, off Cuba, Gibraltar, Sandaland, Santorini, Scandinavia, and more. Considering that many ancient civilizations – such as Troy, long considered a mere fable – were unearthed by archaeologists, it is not futile to continue to look for Atlantis.