Encyclopedia » Mystery & Curiosities » Atlantis, a Lost Paradise...

Atlantis, a Lost Paradise...

...or perhaps found? Legend, reality or both, it is indisputable that fascinating, wonderful and tragic stories emerge behind her, which continue to captivate us despite the passage of time.

La Graciosa, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

Aerial view of 'La Graciosa', Las Palmas, Canary Islands (Spain). The most commonly accepted hypothesis about the location of Atlantis establishes that it occupied a large part of the Atlantic, in the Quaternary Era, and that the Canary and the Azores Islands are a vestige of it. [Photo: A. Alvarez]

The island produced much more than was necessary for daily employment. The hard and fusible metal, extracted from the mines, which is now known only by name, stood out; but then there were many deposits on the island; I am talking about Orichalcum, the metal of greatest price except gold. It gave in abundance the wood that carpenters required; and there were in it numerous animals, domestic and wild. In addition, herds of elephants were raised, since fertility sustained not only the beasts of the marshes, lakes and rivers, mountains and plains, but also the elephant, which is by its great nature the most voracious of all.» Who wrote the previous description and what was described? The author was the famous philosopher Plato (427?-347 BC), and the place so attractively described, the wonderful country/empire of Atlantis. The platonic dialogues of Timeus and Critias are the most definite starting point of the myth of Atlantis. In Plato's story a splendid civilization is presented, which sank into the ocean as a result of a catastrophe, with the island that sustained it.

The Country of Columns

The name of Atlantis is derived from that of Atlas. It was also called the Country of Columns. Its existence is as enigmatic as that of the continent of Gondwana, the Land of MU or the subcontinent of Lemuria. However, after scientific and pseudo-scientific studies, the publication of several thousand works on it and the research and communications presented at many conferences gathered to clarify the enigma, the fact of its historical or at least geological existence is beginning to acquire signs of reality, although it need to be dispensed with the mythical details and legends that surround the mysterious region. Once it has been proven that there was an Atlantis, once it has been shown that it is not a chimera, the remaining elements accumulated by tradition, folklore and human imagination since time immemorial can be examined and analyzed on a firmer basis.

Most ancient writers, led by Aristotle -Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, among others- either do not mention Atlantis, or consider it a myth or a philosophical allegory used to present the ideal State.

Five Rings of Land and Water

According to Plato, Atlantis was granted to Poseidon. Cleto, daughter of two terrestrial beings, lived in it, and the god fell in love with her, who built, to house her beloved, a palace on the island with two springs, one hot and one cold, and surrounded with five rings, two of land and three of water. Cleto had five pairs of twins from him, and named the eldest Atlas. Poseidon divided the island into a confederation of kingdoms, and at the head of each he put his respective sons, and Atlas had the empire over all.

The emperor's descendants chose the city of Atlantis on the southern shore, and with canals and bridges they linked the circles of land and water, and raised walls of white, black, and red stone, and clad them in bronze and tin. The one that surrounded the acropolis was lined with orichalcum. The royal palace had a rich temple dedicated to Cleto and Poseidon, and in it the ten sovereign races were engendered and born.

Swallowed by the Ocean in a Day and a Night

From the island, whose area was equal to that of North Africa and Anatolia, it was possible to go to any part of the then known world. The empire of the confederation stretched from Libya to Egypt and the central part of the Italian peninsula. It pretended to dominate Athens and Egypt, and all the territory limited by the Straits; but the Hellenes resisted.

Atlantis La Píldora del Saber
[Image: LPDS/Wombo Art]
Later, there were earthquakes, floods, and catastrophes that, in one day and one night, decimated the armies of Atlantis, and the island disappeared into the ocean. That is why, says Plato, the sea is at that point impassable and unfathomable; it is blinded by the mud bank that Atlantis formed when it submerged.

At the Mouth of the Guadalquivir River?

One of the most important questions is where the empire lost in the cataclysm was situated. The most commonly accepted hypothesis ensures that it occupied a large part of the Atlantic, in the Quaternary Era, and that the Canary and the Azores Islands are a vestige of it. This opinion does not seem erroneous from the geological point of view, since when laying a submarine cable in 1898 it was verified the presence, at about a thousand kilometers north of the Azores, of crystalline structures whose formation was only possible on land; Added to this was the subsequent discovery that the seabed had risen in places up to four kilometers. This would explain a series of anthropological (skull resemblance), linguistic, and architectural coincidences (pyramids in Mexico and Egypt), etc. Some locate it at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River and identify it with Tartessos. Others place it in the Sahara and even in the Gulf of Senegal (Nigeria); others, in Crete, in the Sea of ​​Azof, in Malta, in Scandinavia, etc., and for this they wield more or less debatable arguments and evidence of validity and logic, such as, for example, attributing the portent of  The Crossing of the Red Sea by the Hebrews to the cataclysm that produced the disappearance of Atlantis, located, according to the author of the hypothesis, in Tripoli and Tunis; that is to say, the catastrophe caused a storm that separated the waters and allowed the Israelites to cross on foot.

Atlantis Map Athanasius Kircher
Old map from 1664 that places Atlantis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The map is oriented with south at the top. [Image: Athanasius Kircher, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]
The legend of the fabulous island-continent has impressed many artists, including filmmakers. La Atlántida is, for example, the title of a poem by the great Spanish poet Jacinto Verdaguer, who wrote it in Catalan and which served as the basis for the beautiful musical work of the same name, composed by Manuel de Falla for orchestra, choirs and soloists.


[Source: Vv.Aa. (1978). Atlantis. In Maravillas del Saber. Consultor Didáctico (Tome III, pp. 114-115). Milan, Italy: Editrice Europea di Cultura]