Eternal Atlantis

From New Dawn 89 (Mar-Apr 2005)

For more than one hundred years, mostly independent researchers who argued that Atlantis had in fact been destroyed by a great flood were ridiculed by mainstream scientists. Conventional scholars were convinced that Earth changes were incremental, requiring thousands and millions of years.

They belittled Plato’s statement that Atlantis was engulfed by the sea “in a day and a night” as imaginative fantasy, and scoffed at any suggestion civilisations have ever succumbed to natural forces. These professional debunkers were in for a rude shock during late December, last year, however, when a relatively small-scale re-enactment of the Atlantis catastrophe was played out in the Indian Ocean.

A single earthquake sent super-waves traveling at speeds of five hundred miles per hour across the sea to claim more than three hundred thousand lives in a dozen countries. The infra-structure of Sri Lanka, much of Indonesia and large parts of southern India were shattered beyond repair, without massive outside aid from the rest of the world. Multiply that disaster by a factor of ten and some appreciation may be had for the cataclysm that struck Atlantis. Had the Indian Ocean catastrophe been followed by just one more similarly destructive tsunami, the region would have been beyond reconstruction. Photographs and videos of the killer waves that came ashore resembled the last moments of Atlantis, before the geologically unstable island on which she perched so precariously was similarly overwhelmed.

Exactly ten years before the Indian Ocean tsunami, two worlds changed forever. One of them was Earth. When Jupiter was struck by a barrage of meteors in the summer of 1994, their impact on the scientists of our planet was hardly less dramatic. Until then, most of them believed with the Larousse Encyclopedia of Astronomy that “the perfect timing and positioning required make the possibility of collision extremely slight.” Nonetheless, a comet six miles in diameter disintegrated in the Jovian gravitational field. Its pieces broke free and began a final pass, in tandem, around the Sun. During mid-July, stony remnants of the dead comet returned. A line of twenty one fragments, each about one-and-a-half miles across, hit the planet at more than thirty seven miles per second.

Disbelieving observers watched, as columns of flame shot several thousand miles high into the atmosphere. Ejected fireballs larger than Earth itself exploded in full view of the Hubble Space Telescope. Impact of the cometary debris generated energy ten thousand times more powerful than mankind’s entire nuclear arsenal. For more than a year following these collisions, Jupiter was still pock-marked by their resultant super-heated gas-bubbles, one of which was large enough to have swallowed our planet whole. Centuries of calm assurance that Earth possessed some special immunity from outer space threats had been dramatically replaced by a more sober appreciation for our precarious position in the solar system.

These two event-horizons of our time – one in outer space, the other from inner space – combined to provide some inkling of what happened to Atlantis, while underscoring the fragility of human civilisation, then and now. That is the great value in examining the Atlantean catastrophe: It is very up-to-date, because it is an eternal story. Numerous cultures around the world remembered four major floods followed by mass-migrations. This tradition was shared by such diverse peoples as the Incas of Peru, the Celtic Irish, Classical Greeks, the Aztecs of Mexico, and many others beside.

The close fit results when we compare their folk memories with what science now recognises as a quartet of natural catastrophes that ravaged the Earth beginning more than five thousand years ago. But when physical archaeology was added to myth, astronomy and geology, a new light on the ancient past suddenly winked on. Its brightness uncovered the hitherto unseen causes that brought history into existence. And clearly exposed was a common theme that over and over again threaded together and made sense of all the diverse twists and turns in a vast human drama – Atlantis. The name was as inescapable as it was powerfully revealing.

Applying that sunken realm to the four separate global calamities we now know occurred explains the beginning and development of civilisation, while simultaneously defining Atlantis within the credible parameters of real history, not speculative fantasy. It suffered not one but several different catastrophes, each one separated by many centuries, until a fourth destruction finally obliterated the kingdom.

The Age of Atlantis

My book, Survivors of Atlantis, describes these event-horizons for the first time, and elucidates them via traditions from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Ireland, Wales, Scandinavia, pre-Columbian North America, Mesoamerica and pre-Conquest South America. Survivors of Atlantis relates another story yet to be told. This is the war Plato said the Atlanteans launched in a bold bid to conquer the world. Their hitherto neglected military adventure was intimately connected with and actually determined by the natural calamities which eventually overwhelmed them. The chaos men brought about on Earth was mirrored in the angry heavens.

When the Atlantean Age suddenly ended around 1200 BCE, Pre-Classical Civilisation everywhere collapsed or went into irreversible decline, from Pharaonic Egypt and Homeric Greece to the Hittite Empire and China’s Shang Dynasty. Atlantis was one more victim of the worldwide catastrophe. And, like the others, it was an identifiably Bronze Age city, according to Plato’s description. Survivors of Atlantis describes each of the four global cataclysms, as uncovered by science and graphically related in the folk memories of peoples whose shores were washed by the Atlantic Ocean. In so doing, the lost empire comes into clearer focus than ever before. The legacy of its enduring influence on our current civilisation stands out for the first time in bold relief. And we come to realise that the story of Atlantis is the story of the world.

In terms of power-politics, it was not much different from our own, tragically. By 1198 BCE, the day Atlantean militarists waited for so long finally arrived. The powerful Egyptian king, Merenptah, had died of old age. He was followed by no less than five rulers in quick succession, including the club-footed Siptah and Tewosret, a short-reigned queen. These prolonged political crises destabilised the XIXth Dynasty, and Atlantean strategists prepared to take advantage of the situation. Now the Egyptians were preoccupied with the accession of a new pharaoh and all the powerful implications, good and evil, a change of divine leadership inevitably brought. This time they had special cause for worry. A frightening omen appeared following the death of King Sethnahkt, who had just founded a new dynasty, the XXth. An immense, dark cloud began to cover the sky at unnatural speed from the west. The Sun turned blood red, then disappeared. Broad daylight was reduced to twilight, accompanied by a rain of black dust that fell for weeks over the entire land. “Men walk about like ravens,” the Egyptian scribe recorded. “No one can keep their garments clean anymore.”

These ominous conditions boded ill for the Atlanteans, too. In the midst of organising an invasion of the Nile Delta, such signs and wonders in the heavens presaged disaster for someone. Having been born and raised on a geologically active island, they recognised the “black dust” as ash-fall blown in on the prevailing westerlies from some major volcanic event outside the Mediterranean. Naturally and anxiously, their thoughts turned to the ever-smoking mountain of their far-off homeland, Mt. Atlas.

Their worst fears were confirmed when waves of human migration deluged through the Pillars of Heracles. Panicked refugees streamed by the hundreds of thousands along North African shores or in ragged flotillas of boats and ships overcrowded with dispossessed families traumatised by disaster. Most of them were fellow Atlanteans, and they had a report to make. “You can’t go home again,” they said, “because home is no longer there.” With hardly more than one day’s warning, the island of Atlantis had been torn by earthquake and sky-fire before the angry sea swallowed it whole. The accompanying devastation was so pronounced and widespread, that the entire region, including all foreign coastal areas raked by a series of ruinous tsunami waves, had been rendered uninhabitable. The occupied areas of Italy, Tripoli and the Mediterranean islands swelled with new populations of survivors, compromising living conditions everywhere.

But the exiles brought with them more than tales of woe. Important sections of the home fleet escaped the catastrophe, carrying warriors and supplies, as well as crowds of displaced persons. The Sea People armada at Cyprus and Rhodes was appreciably reinforced by these new arrivals of warships and marines. More than before, the conquest of Egypt was needed to resettle the streams of refugees, their growing numbers making increasing demands on the limited resources of the occupied territories. Bolstered with fresh battle-cruisers, munitions and soldiers, the Atlantean commanders resolved to strike at once, while the Egyptians were still distracted by their royal interregnum and celestial portents. Nearly two thousand years before, the Atlanteans conquered Egypt for the first time as fugitives from a natural calamity. They would do so again. Let the fall of “black dust” be a sign of doom for the new pharaoh!

The Fall of Atlantis

Like other aggressors before and since, however, the Atlanteans would go down in defeat against a surprisingly capable leader, Rameses III. But the story of their military debacle and simultaneous destruction of their capital spread far beyond Egypt. In Ireland, there were tales of a “Sea People” known as the Tuatha de Danann. Their leader was Ogma, from Tir-nan-Og, the Irish Atlantis.

According to a classic authority on early Ireland, Henry O’Brien, the Tuatha de Danann arrived at the south coast of Ireland in 1202 BCE. This date compares remarkably well with the final Atlantean catastrophe that occurred around the turn of the 12th century BCE. O’Brien, who wrote in 1834, knew nothing, of course, about the untranslated wall-texts at Egypt’s Medinet Habu or late 20th century oceanography and astrophysics confirming the ultimate destruction of Atlantis precisely in the same period he determined entirely from Irish folk tradition. His conclusions were supported in the next century by a fellow countryman, Michael Bailey, a leading dendrochronologist, whose investigation of Irish peat bogs revealed that a major climate change with disastrous ecological consequences took place around 1200 BCE. Bailey’s research contributed importantly to scientific understanding of the worldwide cataclysm that brought the curtain down on Bronze Age civilisation. O’Brien believed that the strange, obelisk-like towers still found in Ireland were erected by the Tuatha de Danann, citing the 10th century Book of Leccan, which tells of “the Tuathan tower”. Ruins of several such towers are found, appropriately enough, in County Roscommon, at Moy-tura, where the Tuatha de Danann decisively defeated their immediate enemies. Known more correctly as Moye-tureadh, the battle-area is translated as “the Field of Towers”.

Hostilities among the various Atlantean groups in the midst of their disasters might in part be explained by their different origins, however related. The Tuatha de Danann told of four, great cities – Findias, Gorias, Murias and Falas – all simultaneously overtaken by a natural catastrophe and dragged to the bottom of the sea. They appear to have been located on separate islands in the Atlantean Empire, from which various groups contested each other for control of Ireland. Gorias, for example, was probably in the Gorgon Isles associated with the Canary Islands.

The 16th century scholar William O’Flaherty recorded that the Milesians, the last of the pre-Celtic invaders, arrived before 1000 BCE. His general time-parameter, too, coincides with a Late Bronze Age Atlantis. Their leader was Eremon, a name synonymous for all Ireland. It appears to be a linguistic inflection on Euaemon, the fourth king of Atlantis in Plato’s dialogue, the Kritias. “The Book of Invasions” tells how Eremon established Tara as the capital of his new kingdom. Originally known as Tea-mhair, he named it after his wife, Tea. Together with her sister, Tephi, Queen Tea made Tara the spiritual centre of ancient Ireland. The women are described as daughters of the royal house in the Blessed Isles lost beneath the sea.

The Milesians chief deity, Macannan Mac Lir, was a worldwide wanderer from Annwn famed throughout Celtic myth as “Land under Wave”, from the Brythonic an (“abyss”) and dwfn (“world”). Also known as the “Revolving Castle” (Caer Sidi), it was a fortified island of great natural beauty with fresh water streams and a circular-shaped city surrounded by concentric walls lavishly decorated with gleaming sheets of precious metal. The central palace was called Emahin Ablach, “Emhain of the Apple Trees”. His home-away-from-home, however, was at the Isle of Man, where Reel Castle allegedly covers his grave site.

Although a god and supposedly immortal, he preferred death to eternity when Ireland went Christian. Before then, he traveled in a chariot as “the rider of the crested sea”, and was the divine patron of sailors. He founded Llyr-cestre, modern Leichester, and was head of the “three Chief Holy Families of the Isle of Britain”, known equally in Wales as “the Children of Llyr”. Today, he is better remembered as the figure of tragic disillusionment in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Resemblances between Macannan Mac Lir and Poseidon, the Atlantean sea-god, are unmistakable. Both crossed the waves in a chariot, were patrons of sailors, and progenitors of royal families. Their islands were identically configured into concentric walls sheeted in decorative metal, while “Emhain of the Apple Trees” echoes Atlas’ Garden of the Hesperides with its golden apple trees. The medieval Fate of the Children of Tursun likewise describes an island called “the Plain of Happiness”, where trees bearing golden apples grew in the “Garden of Hisberna”. In the lost “Druidic Books of Pheryllt” and “Writings of Pridian”, Ynys Avallach, or Avallenau were “more ancient than the Flood, when all the rest of mankind had been overwhelmed.”

Avallenau was also the name of a Celtic goddess of orchards, reaffirming the Hesperides’ connection with Atlantis. Avalon was additionally referred to as Ynys-vitrius, the “Island of Glass Towers”, an isle of the dead, formerly the site of a great kingdom in the Atlantic Ocean, the same story embraced by Portuguese Gauls as their foundation-myth. Another Irish memory of Atlantis preserved in The Voyage of Maeldune, presented below, mentions the “Island of Apples”. Britain’s Geoffrey of Monmonth characterised an identically named place he additionally called “Fortunate” in his 12th century Vita Merlin. Atlantis was often referred to by Classical writers other than Plato (Strabo, Pliny, Aelian, etc.) as “the Fortunate Isle”.

It was remembered in several other Irish epics, such as The Voyage of Bran. It told of “a distant isle, the plain on which the hosts hold games. Pillars of white bronze shine through eons of beauty. It is a lovely land through all the ages of the world, a silvery land on which dragon stone and crystal rain. Sweet music strikes the ear. The host races along Magh Mon, a beautiful sport. Coracle races against chariot.” Bran’s kingdom describes no other island than Atlantis, from its vast plain to horse races, similarly described by Plato.

“Pillars of white bronze” suggest orichalcum, the high-grade, gold-alloy copper he reported was the extraordinary product of Atlantean metallurgy. It is mentioned again in other Irish accounts of Atlantis, such as the 9th century “Travels of O’Corra”, which told of a bright metal unlike any other, findrine, found at Formigas. The island “had a wall of copper all around it. In the centre stood a palace from which came a beautiful maiden wearing sandals of findrine on her feet, a gold-coloured jacket covered with bright, tinted metal, fastened at the neck with a broach of pure gold. In one hand she held a pitcher of copper, and in the other a silver goblet.” Here, again, is encountered the central palace surrounded by walls adorned by precious metals, together with typical mineral opulence, especially copper, described in the Kritias.

The unique metal occurs again in “The Voyage of Maeldune”, where it is referred to as bath. The seafaring Maeldune lands at “a large, high island with terraces all around it, rising one behind one another; a shield-shaped island.” As he explored the island, he found “a broad, green race course”. But there were several other islands in the vicinity. The next one he visited was the “Island of the Apples” mentioned above. A third featured a city surrounded by a high wall, while a fourth was divided in two across its centre by a massive wall of gleaming brass. The last island had no less than four concentric walls arranged in rings encircling each other. The outer wall was decorated with gold, the second with silver, the third with copper and the innermost wall with crystal.

It is clear that the four places Maeldune visits are not separate locations, but alternating rings of land and water on one, large island – a self-evident representation of Atlantis remarkably presented in an Old Irish account. But it was not the only one. Others recalled Rath-cruachain, a circular, stone fortification with walls thirteen feet thick at the base and surrounded by five concentric ramparts. Its bronze, golden and silver palace was the centre of the fortress-like city, which one day vanished under the sea. Even the Atlantean sacred numeral occurs in Rath-cruachain‘s five walls.

Stonehenge’s Connection to Atlantis

If Eremon-Euaemon was the Atlantean-Milesian monarch of Ireland, Late Bronze Age Britain was ruled by the eighth refugee king mentioned in Plato’s account of Atlantis. Mestor, whose name meant, “the Counselor”, may have been associated with Europe’s most famous megalithic site, which gave counsel, as it were, regarding the movements of the heavens. According to archeo-astronomers, Stonehenge was a kind of astronomical computer primarily oriented to the positions and phases of the moon. Indeed, it resembles the concentric city-plan of Atlantis itself, even to the inclusion of Atlantean sacred numerals, Five and Six, repeated throughout its design.

Archaeologists believe the structure was first laid out by 3000 BCE, began to reach the apex of its construction 1,400 years later, and was suddenly discontinued around 1200 BCE. Its development, use and abandonment parallel Atlantean immigration at the close of the 4th millennium BCE, the zenith of Atlantis as the foremost Bronze Age civilisation, and final destruction in 1198 BCE. Not coincidentally, Atlas was depicted in Greek myth as the founder of astronomy; hence, his representation as a titan supporting the sphere of the heavens on his shoulders. He therefore signified the birth and florescence of astronomy at the city named after him – Atlantis.

Its impact on Britain was no less dramatic than in Ireland, as suggested by native folk memories of foreigners arriving from an oceanic catastrophe in the deep past. Comparisons between Irish versions and their Welsh counterparts are often very close, suggesting a common event that was experienced independently by two different peoples. For example, the story of Murias, the Tuatha de Danann’s sunken homeland, was almost identically known in Wales as Morvo. But British renditions of Atlantis throw a new light on the fate of its survivors.

Llyon Llion was the Lake of Waves, which overflowed its banks to inundate the entire Earth. Before this former kingdom was drowned, the great shipwright, Nefyed Nav Nevion, completed a vessel just in time to ride out the cataclysm. He was joined in it by twin brothers, Dwyvan and Dwyvach, who, landing safely on the coast of Wales, became the first Welsh kings. This myth is less the slight degeneration of an obviously earlier tradition than it is an example of the Celtic inclination toward whimsical exaggeration, making a mere lake responsible for the world flood. In all other respects, it conforms to other Atlantean deluge accounts, wherein surviving twins, like those listed in Plato’s Atlantis story, become the founding fathers of a new civilisation.

Hu-Gadarn is mentioned in the Hanes Taliesan, the “Tale of Taliesan,” where he is known as Little Gwion. If this affectionate diminutive seems derivative of the Trojan capital, Ilios, (Wilion in Hittite and perhaps the Trojan language, as well), the impression is deepened when Hu-Gadarn says, “I am now come here to the remnant of Troia.” Troy was allied with Atlantis through common blood-ties. Hu-Gadarn is regarded as the first ancestor of the Cymry, the Welsh people.

His Atlantean identity is no less apparent: “I have been fostered in the Ark,” he confesses. The Hanes Taliesan reports, “He had been fostered between the knees of Dylan and the Deluge,” arriving in Wales after a worldwide flood whipped up by a monstrous serpent.

Llys Helig is a stony patch on the floor of Conway Bay, sometimes visible from the shore during moments of water clarity, and still locally regarded as the site of a kingdom formerly ruled by Helig ap Glannawg. He perished with Llys Helig when it abruptly sank to the bottom of the sea. The stones taken for the ruins of his drowned palace are part of a suggestive natural formation that recalls one of several Welsh versions of the Atlantis disaster. Others speak similarly of Llyn Llynclys. A large, dark pool of fathomless water in the town of Radnorshire is supposed to have swallowed an ancient castle known as Lyngwyn.

In the Preiddu Annwn, “the Spoils of Annwn”, King Arthur and his men escape from Caer Wydyr, the “Fortress of Glass”, which sank beneath the waves soon after. A “Tower of Glass” appears in the Historium Britanum by medieval chronicler Nennius. Standing majestically in the midst of the sea, Turris Vitrea echoes only the voices of outsiders, and seems utterly abandoned – a Celtic device symbolising death. Similar Welsh tales told of Caer Feddwid, the “Court of Carousal”, and Caer Siddi, opulent island-kingdoms featuring fountains and curative fresh water springs, as similarly described in Plato’s Atlantis dialogue.

The “Tale of the Lowland Hundred” tells of Cantref y Gwaelod, an island forty miles long and twenty miles across. It was filled with fruit trees, natural hot springs, forests and ringed by a great range of mountains. A system of sluices created alternating rings of land embankments and moats with canals bridged over by connecting walk-ways. The island had a capital, Caer Gwyddno, which extended political control over sixteen neighbouring islands and cities. But a disaster overtook the city, and it sank beneath the ocean, drowning most of its inhabitants. King Gwyddno Garanhir, along with a party of survivors, landed on the Welsh coast, and eventually became the first royal family of Wales. A rocky ridge running some seven or eight miles out to sea before its disappearance under water was said to mark the direction in which Caer Gwyddno lay at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Remembered in some parts of Wales as Llyn Syfaddon, Llyn Savathan was the extensive kingdom of Helig Voel ap Glannog, whose great possessions, extending far into the sea from Priestholm, had been suddenly overwhelmed by the sea. His name is remarkable, because it contains the “og” derivative of Atlantean deluge-heroes in other parts of the world. Another Welsh flood tradition, Llys Elisap Clynog, not only repeats the “og” theme, but seems to include Plato’s second king of Atlantis, Elasippos.

So many similar accounts deeply rooted in the folkish consciousness of both Ireland and Wales were never regarded by their peoples as mere fables, but revered instead as sacred traditions of ancestral beginnings. Myths such as these may not yield their truths to the archaeologist’s spade, but can disclose themselves to any honest mind, as they were intended.

Folk memory of Atlantis is deeply rooted in the mythic traditions of numerous peoples impacted by the military adventures of its massive armed forces, the nuclear-like destruction of its homeland, and the migration of its survivors to numerous lands which formerly comprised their world empire.

This article was published in New Dawn No. 89 (Mar-Apr 2005).
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About the Author

Frank Joseph has published more books (eight) about the lost civilisation of Atlantis than any other writer in history. These and his twenty other titles dealing with archaeology, military history and metaphysics have been released in thirty-seven foreign editions around the world. He was the editor-in-chief of Ancient American, a popular science magazine, from its inception in 1993 until his retirement fourteen years later. He lives today with his wife, Laura, in the Upper Mississippi Valley of the United States.

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