on March 10th 2015
Genres: History, Travel
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set mostly in Europe
A few years ago, Mark Adams made a strange discovery: Far from alien conspiracy theories and other pop culture myths, everything we know about the legendary lost city of Atlantis comes from the work of one man, the Greek philosopher Plato. Stranger still: Adams learned there is an entire global sub-culture of amateur explorers who are still actively and obsessively searching for this sunken city, based entirely on Plato's detailed clues. What Adams didn't realize was that Atlantis is kind of like a virus--and he'd been exposed.
First line –
We had just met the previous week in Bonn, my new German acquaintance and I, and here we were on the west coast of Africa on a hot Thursday morning, looking for an underwater city in the middle of the desert.
Most people don’t realize that everything we know about Atlantis comes from Plato. Basically, he tells a story about finding this information in some papers of his ancestor Solon. Solon traveled all over. On a trip to Egypt a priest tells him a story about a civilization that was destroyed by water 9000 years ago. There are a lot of very specific descriptions of the size and set up of Atlantis. People have been looking for it ever since.
But, is it a real story or an allegory? If there is a kernel of truth to it, what part is true? There are many ancient Mediterranean powers that were destroyed by natural disasters. Any one of them could have been the basis of the story if you discount the 9000 years before Solon’s time part.
The idea that Atlantis was on an island in the middle of the Atlantic comes from an American named Ignatius Donnelly who I learned about in this book.
(That’s a good book too.)
Most everyone else is looking in Spain, Morocco, or on islands around the western Mediterranean.
This book doesn’t give you any answers but it is an interesting look at what is known and what can be known about ancient civilizations. Some intriguing work is being down with under water exploration because many ancient cities are now in areas that are in the sea.
I now know more about Plato than I’d ever thought I would know. I skipped the chapter on his numerical theories though. It made my eyes hurt.