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Plato's Atlantis

Plato's Atlantis will explore of how the 'lost civilisation' introduced in the dialogues 'Timaios' and 'Kritias' has been interpreted, misinterpreted and sought for from Antiquity to the present day.

Plato's myth of Atlantis has exercised a fascination on the imagination since the time of the Ancient Greeks. But, when we read his dialogues 'Timaios' and 'Kritias', are we are looking at a real place and a real geological event remembered in mythical terms, or witnessing some other type of myth-making: is it true that Atlantis once existed? Is Atlantis the fountain-head of all civilization? Is there a basis of fact which Plato has embellished for his own purposes? Is Plato’s tale derived from earlier mythological traditions? What is Plato’s tale really about? How has the tale been used by historians, mystics, archaeologists, politicians and religious thinkers from antiquity, the middle ages  and the renaissance through to modern times?

We will explore geophysical, archaeological and historical theories ranging from the academically credible to the downright bizarre. Moving from the depths of the Atlantic to the islands of Santorini and Crete, we will study locations as diverse as Scandinavia, Palestine and the Caribbean. In analysing flood myths from across the globe, we will unravel the ‘mystery of Atlantis’ in a sane, scholarly and perhaps surprising way.

Date created:

2017-01-13 09:49
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Resources for this course

Displaying 1 - 19 of 19
Type Resource Description People Full details
Image collection Saite official, c. 570-526 BCE, Saite official, c. 570-526 BCE

[Plato, Timaeus 21e] Critias replied, ‘In Egypt, at the apex of the Delta, where the stream of the River Nile divides, there is an...

Steve Kershaw view
Image collection This clay map of Babylon shows the Tuba area of the city, two gateways, a section of the inner wall of the city, and a waterway fed by the River Euphrates. c. 600-500 BCE, probably from Babylon, modern Iraq. Cat. ME 35385, A clay tablet fragment giving detailed measurements of Babylon's the inner city wall, called Imgur-Enlil, at the start of Nebuchadnezzar's reign (ruled 605-572 BCE, making him contemporary with Solon, who, according to Plato's story, received the Atlantis tale from Egyptian priests). It names the Zababa and Urash Gates. From Sippur or Babylons, modern Iraq. Cat. ME 54634abylon, This clay tablet fragment dating from c.700-500 BCE records traditions from much earlier times, and refers to the Babylonian Flood Myth. The Babylonian world is shown in bird's-eye view asa disc surruonded by a ring labelled 'Bitter River' (not unlike the Greek Oceanus). The City of Babylon straddles the River Euphrates, which flows southwards through marshes into the sea. Inscribed circles indicate cities and areas within Mesopotamia in loosely accurate geographical locations., Beyond the outer edges of the known world are 8 triangular regions, which are tghe homes of strange/legendary beings. One id identified as the mountain where the Babylonian 'Ark' landed after the Great Flood. This lies across the water, far beyond the Mountain of Urartu (Ararat in the Bible) on the very rim of the world. There is no hint of Atlantis here. c.700-500 BCE, probably from Sippar, modern Irag. Cat. ME 92687, Lion from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (the eighth gate to the inner city), c.BCE on the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar II. Pergamon Museum, Berlin, The Ishtar Gate of Babylon (the eighth gate to the inner city), c.BCE on the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar II. . These details do not appear in Herodotus' account of Babylon. Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Herodotus' History includes a memorable description of the city of Babylon, which may have had a considerable influence on Plato's...

Steve Kershaw view
Document THE FLOOD MYTHS OF DEUCALION, NOAH, GILGAMESH, ATRAHASIS AND HATHOR

In the Timaeus 22a-b, Plato's Critias tells us that, 'on one occasion, when [Solon] wanted to lead [the Egyptian priests at Sais...

Steve Kershaw view
Link HERODOTUS ON BABYLON

Herodotus' History includes a memorable description of the city of Babylon, which may have had a considerable influence on Plato's...

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Link XERXES AND THE MOUNT ATHOS CANAL

The construction of Xerxes' canal across the base of mount Athos is the type of hybristic engineering project which Plato's Atlanteans, themselves...

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Link XERXES AT THE HELLESPONT

Herodotus' description of Xerxes' bridging of the Hellespont show us the combination of ambitious engineering projects with out-of-control...

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Link HERODOTUS ON EGYPT

The Greek historian Herodotus, produced a wonderfully engaging account of his historia (= ‘inquiry’) into the origins and events of...

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Link HERODOTUS ON ECBATANA

One major city in the Persian Empire that Herodotus describes, and which might have had a bearing on Plato’s description of Atlantis-ville, was...

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Link XERXES' CANAL

This link takes you to an article in World Archaeology about Xerxes' canal.

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Link HYPERBOREA, HYPERBOREANS AND ATLANTIS

Up in the Greek mythological north we find Hyperborea, ‘the Land Beyond the North Wind’, inhabited by the Hyperboreans - a blessed race who spent...

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Link HESPERIA AND THE HESPERIDES

Hesperia and the Hesperides occasionally find their way into Atlantis theorising. This link takes you to some useful information and links about...

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Link PLUTARCH'S "LIFE OF SOLON" AND ATLANTIS

Atlantis, "The Island of Atlas", had never been mentioned anywhere in the whole of world literature until, in a fictional conversation in Plato’s...

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Link HOMER, CALYPSO, OGYGIA AND ATLANTIS

Homer’s Odyssey takes us through the fabulous world of Odysseus’ travels, and the first time we encounter him at first hand he is on...

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Link ERYTHEIA: THE 'RED LAND'

Erytheia, the sea-circled mythical ‘Red Land’ located out in the far west beyond the mighty earth-encircling river Oceanus, occassionally excites...

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Link SOLON'S POETRY

Plutarch wrote a biography of Solon, in which he tells us that Solon tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce to the Atlantis story to the Greeks in a...

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Link SCHERIE, PHAEACIA, AND ATLANTIS

In Homer's Odyssey, having left Ogygia, Odysseus is wrecked by a mighty storm sent by Poseidon, but is washed up on the island of Scherie...

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Link Atlantis Scout

This website compiled by Thorwald C. Franke offers "approaches at an academic level towards Plato's Atlantis as a real place, along with a large...

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Link ATLANTIPEDIA

Typing ‘Atlantis’ into a web browser will bring up over 93 million results. This website, ‘Atlantipedia’, helps to narrow down the options and...

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Link "BAD ARCHAEOLOGY"

“Bad Archaeology: exposing frauds, misconceptions and distortions.” This site maintains that “Bad Archaeology is all around us. Many of its ideas...

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