When did Atlantis appear and when did it disappear?
by Georgeos Díaz-Montexano, Writer, Expert in ancient languages and writing of lost civilizations, Accepted Member of The Epigraphic Society, President Emeritus of the Scientific Atlantology International Society (SAIS), Historical-Scientific Atlantology Adviser for National Geographic Channel and for James Francis Cameron & Simcha Jacobovici Producers.
I have been asked these questions many times. As a matter of fact, they are the most frequently asked questions – alongside with the location of Atlantis- for the last two decades, since I started publishing my investigation about Atlantis.
After all the evidence I have been able to gather over these years (epigraphic and paleographic evidence (written primary sources) and seismological evidence (new findings about seismic tsunamis around the Atlantic area and Gulf of Cadiz)), my most updated and rigorous reply – up to this very moment- is that the end of Atlantis, that is, when it was destroyed by a great seismic-tsunami cataclysm must have happened at some point between 2600 and 1550 BC (and it had nothing to do with volcanoes, as the reading of primary sources made clear). This is the most accurate time frame that I have been able to establish, according to the existing evidence and circumstantial proof. Atlantis timeline can be summarized as follows:
About 11.570 years ago, (that is, 9000 years before Solon visited Sais, which would be around 570 BC) the Olympian gods, ruled by Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, divided the world among themselves after beating out the Titans (as it is stated in the Critias). Thus, Hephaestus and Athenea received Attica, and the primitive Athens was founded by Cecrops or Erechtheion, who was born from Hephaestus and Gaea. At the same time, Poseidon received Atlantis, another island in the Atlantic (which had a different native name by then). This god chose for a wife the mortal woman Cleito, a beautiful young native woman from the island, and she gave birth to ten children. The story of Atlantis begins then: The Island and the sea around it take the name from his first son Atlas, although his real name was not Atlas (most of the original names in the narration had been translated by Solon to Greek, basing these translations on the meanings of the names, as it is explained in the Critias). Atlas was the Greek translation of a name meaning “the one supporting, raising, or upholding (the sky)”, the Egyptian god Schu o Shu, (who was the equivalent to the god Atlas). At the beginning of time, Poseidon built Cleito’s home on a high hill at the very center of the island, surrounded with five concentric rings of water and land for his wife’s protection, because – as it is spelled out – humankind did not know yet the art of navigation. The dates, as it coincides with the end of Paleolithic Period.
About 5000 years ago, that is to say, about 3000 BC, after successive generations – where each generation of kings was worried about embellishing the capital of Atlantis, trying to surpass former dynasties or kingdoms – Atlantis people reached a high civilization level, similar to that of a City-State, like the great civilizations of the Bronze Age. They had already mastered the art of navigation, the use of nearly all kind of metals, and also the art of large-scale construction, from houses to palaces and temples, even gymnasiums, thermal baths or arches over which aqueducts were carried, that is, like typical Roman aqueducts, which were supposed to have been invented two hundred years after Plato’s death. Obviously such level of advancement could not have been reached in one century, and Atlantis story had started one century before, that is, on 9000 before Solon. It would be necessary, at least, the passing of several thousands of years. This is easily verifiable. None of the greatest civilizations reached this Bronze Age level of civilization until up to 6000 or 5000 years after the end of the Paleolithic period. For that very reason it can be read repeatedly in the Critias that there were successive generations of kings or dynasties and how each generation did its best to improve and embellish the city. Therefore, it can be inferred, basing on common sense reasoning, that the reasonable date for the zenith of Atlantis Civilization and its great city-state would be circa 3.000 BC (when Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations rise), according to the descriptions made in Plato’s texts).
About 4.700 years ago – around 2700 BC- the Atlanteans, already far from the divine essence of the first royal lineage (those first descendants of the god Poseidon, such as indicated at the end of the Critias) were full of hybris (reckless pride and arrogance) and, grasping for gold and wealth, decided to expand their power dominating other cities and nations of the Atlantic including the inner side of the Pillars of Hercules, or, what is the same, the Mediterranean Sea. They wanted to expand through Europe, from Gibraltar to Tyrrhenia (the Italic peninsula) and maybe to part of Anatolia, Syria and Palestine; and through Africa, from Gibraltar to the borders of Libya and Egypt.
At some point between 2.700 BC and 1.550 BC (as the most recent possible date), the Atlanteans were defeated by the Athenians, and “sometime after” (such as it is vaguely indicated in the Timaeus), the primitive Athens was destroyed by a great cataclysm, being the third great water-related disaster.1 It is said that such cataclysm preceded the disaster occurred in Deucalion’s times, which was the fourth water-related disaster. Apparently, Atlantis was also destroyed in that third great disaster, prior to the Deucalion disaster, because it is said “in the same way” or “in the same manner” Atlantis sunk into the sea and disappeared2
This is the best way to summarize Atlantis timeline, according to what we can really infer from the written primary sources, specially, when reading the main and most important source for Atlantis story: Plato’s texts. It is clear that Atlantis could not be destroyed 11.580/70 years ago, that is to say, 9.000 years before Solon, because then is when the story starts, when the gods divide the world among themselves, and Hephaestus and Athenea receive Attica, whereas Poseidon gets Atlantis. Therefore, that is the date when both civilizations’ history starts.
It is again logical to infer that it should have taken at least six or five thousand years for the Atlanteans to change from their first primitive state, characteristic of late Paleolithic (when the art of navigation wasn’t even known) to a high degree of civilization, characteristic of the great cities on the Metal Age (Chalcolithic and Bronze Age). And when Atlanteans reach the pinnacle of their civilization “many generations” had passed away (ἐπὶ γενεὰς πολλὰς), expression often repeated in the Critias, and these last Atlanteans were far from the divine essence of the first royal lineage. Therefore, a long time had passed since then (it is also clear in the Critias itself).
The end of Atlantis can be established at some point within the time frame that goes, rounded, from 2.600 to 1.600 BC, for the simple reason that the catastrophic flood that destroys the primitive Athens is supposed to occur just before the Deucalion’s deluge (epi Deukalionos), after the Atlanteans had been defeated by the Athenians, which is dated around 1.530 BC, according to the most reliable Greek written sources. All the Classical sources agree that the cataclysm prior to Deucalion occurred in Ogygus or Ogyges times. Ogygian flood has been associated – since ancient times- to the biblical cataclysm known as “Noah’s flood” which has been dated by biblical exegetes, in round figures, at some point between 2.500 and 2.300 BC. That is the same time frame for one or two high energy seismic-tsunami events, also called Mega-tsunami, registered in the Atlantic, near the coasts of Iberia and Morocco3, high intensity earthquakes that triggered big tsunamis and that could have destroyed many coastal cities and low-lying lands and might have caused the sinking of an island located right at the Gulf of Cadiz. Maybe the island, which did not have a solid base and was located right there, collapsed when African and European tectonic plates collided creating a fracture zone between both plates.
Apparently, an important part of that same island still existed during such a late date as the Second Century, according to Aelius AristidesII,4 who clearly refers to a great island located in the Atlantic, in front of the coasts of Iberia, while commenting on some passages by Eutimene di Marsiglia (Marseilles, 500 BC), so it is possible that he read it in Eutimene’s work too.
This great island would be a remain of Atlantis, which, obviously, did not sink when Ogygos cataclysm destroyed the primitive Athens, long after the Atlanteans were defeated by the Athenians, and it occupied part of the Gulf of Cadiz, extending to the West up to Madeira and to the South as far as the Canary Islands. It is probably the same great island that I have found represented in almost two hundred Egyptian maps, and, at least, in two Carthaginian maps, according to Punic or maybe Egyptian tradition. For a more detailed explanation about these maps, I recommend reading the two tomes of Historical-scientific Atlantis Epitome, or the two compendiums that summarize this epitome.5
The following passage can be read in the Critias or The Atlantic dialogue, when describing the vast plain where the metropolis of the kingdom of Atlas was (Crit. 118c, written by Plato according to the original notes his penta-grandfather had brought from Egypt):
“… [118β] […] ὧδε οὖν τὸ πεδίον φύσει [118ξ] καὶ ὑπὸ βασιλέων πολλῶν ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ διεπεπόνητο. …” (Critias, Platón, Ed. de Burnet, 1903).
“…Ahora bien, la llanura, por la naturaleza y por causa (por la acción o influencia) de muchos reyes durante mucho tiempo fue conformada. …” (Literal translation, ‘in verbatim’, Díaz-Montexano, 2000)*
* (…however, the plain, due to nature or because of (their action or influence) many kings for a long time, was conformed …” (Translator’s Note).
“…Now as a result of natural forces, together with the labors of many kings which extended over many ages, the condition of the plain was this. …” (W.R.M. Lamb. Cambridge, 1925).
“… Ahora bien, esta llanura, por acción conjunta y simultánea de la naturaleza y de las obras que realizaran en ella muchos reyes, durante un período (de tiempo) muy largo, había sido dispuesta de la manera siguiente. …” (Samaranch, 1963)*
* (…However, this plain, due to the sustained and simultaneous action of nature and the works that many kings, during a long time had performed, had taken the following conformation…”(Translator’s Note).
“… la naturaleza y muchos reyes, con su largo esfuerzo, habían conformado la llanura de la siguiente manera. …” (Duran & Lisi, Gredos, 1992).*
*“Nature and many kings, in their long endeavor, had shaped the plain as follows” (Translator’s note).
Comment: It is unacceptable –and even inexplicable- that Duran and Lisi’s translation of the words “ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ” (“over many ages”) has been completely removed, and, instead, it has been inserted “in their long endeavor”, which by no means can be translated as “ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ”.
Let’s see some more translations from the same passage of Critias 118c:
“…As a result of its nature, and of many years of engineering by successive kings, the plain had taken on the following character: …” (Traducción de Robin Waterfi eld, Oxford, 2008).
“…A planície foi mantida pela natureza e também por muitos reis durante muito tempo do seguinte modo…” (Rodolfo Lopes translation, 2011; University of Coimbra) [English: “The plain was maintained by nature and also by many kings for a long time as follows. …”]
Literally, that is to say, ‘in verbatim’ “… ὧδε οὖν τὸ πεδίον φύσει καὶ ὑπὸ βασιλέων πολλῶν ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ” means: “However, the plain, due to nature and because of (their actions or influence) many kings for a long time…” The meaning is clear. It is about the conformation of the Atlantis’ great central plain “by the action of nature itself and of many kings for a long time”. The expression “πολλῷ χρόνῳ” is quite usual in Greek texts with that meaning.
Athens and Atlantis story starts when the gods divided the world (event that happened after the battle against the Titans), when Hephaestus and Athena received Attica and Poseidon received the island of Atlantis, 9000 years before, that is, between 9580 and 9560 BC (Solon would talk to the Egyptian priests between 580 and 560 BC). This is made clear in several passages of the Timaeus and the Critias (see the posts in my blog, links are shown below).
Atlantis history started 9.000 years before the conversation between Solon and the Egyptian priests, that is, 11.580/11.560 years ago. Later on it is said, in several passages, that many generations of kings had passed away, and it had been a long time, such as we have just seen in Cri.118c, “βασιλέων πολλῶν ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ”, “many kings for a long time“, before they finally became corrupted, they decided to fight wars against other nations and final destruction fell upon them through earthquakes and floods.
Therefore, I would like to ask a question to all those authors that still maintain in books, articles, presentations, lectures, radio interviews, documentaries….etc that, ”according to Plato, Atlanteans started expanding after the flood, more than 12.000 years ago, and Atlantis itself disappeared 12.000 years ago or more”:
If the history of Athens and Atlantis started 9000 years before Solon (that is, between 11580 and 11560 before present times, according to what we read in Plato’s texts) and afterwards “many generations and successive kings” and “a long time” (πολλῷ χρόνῳ) had passed before they became corrupted and went to war against other nations, being finally destroyed by the final great cataclysm, how is it possible that they had started expanding after the flood?
Once Plato’s texts are read thoroughly, (if he is considered as a main source), it cannot be maintained that “Atlantis disappeared 12.000 years ago”, because that is not what Plato conveys through the notes that his penta-grandaunt (Solon) brought from Egypt. Such statement would be absurd. Atlanteans could not have started their military expansion, conquering and colonizing other countries, at the same time as the beginning of their history, that is, 9.000 years before Solon (almost twelve thousand years ago) because they didn’t even know how to navigate and they didn’t have vessels then. Consequently, it is impossible that Atlantis, with its maritime civilization that was not even born yet, could have disappeared at the same time as Poseidon received the island and fell in love with Cleito. That is, it is impossible that Atlantis disappeared just at the same time as the history of Atlantis begun.
The appropriate reading of the Timaeus and The Critias makes clear that the end of Atlantis as well as their colonizing expansion should happen “long time” (πολλῷ χρόνῳ) afterwards, (we may think about thousands of years later), judging by all the details given about the evolution of Atlantis civilization, from its origin (9.000 years before Solon ,between 11.580 and 11.560 years ago, when they did not have any vessel and they did not have navigation skills) to the period when they reached their highest level, similar to the level of civilization during Metal Age (Chalcolithic or Bronze). So we can place their military and colonizing expansion towards the end of 3.500 BC, at the earliest, and the end of their civilization (with Atlantis sinking) between 2.700 and 1.700 BC, when it is estimated that the same cataclysm as the one that destroyed the primitive Athens occurred (apparently it also destroyed Atlantis), according to the different classical sources.It was the third one, as indicated in the Critias 112b, where more specific information is provided, as it is said it happened right before the disaster that occurred in Deucalion times.
[Excert of ATLANTIS.NG. National Geographic and the scientific search for Atlantis, by Georgeos Díaz-Montexano and Eva Molina, 2016]