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Lost Kingdom of the Andes


Preface

 

This article is a cursory assessment and critique the recent book by Atlantis enthusiast J.M. Allen, if I am worthy of the task and won’t misrepresent it.  By doing so will put a certain strong emphasis upon not just how this itself is to be evaluated but any similar matter that is being pursued when there is lacking conclusive evidence.  And as such must recognize that much of our presumed knowledge is relied upon without the attainment of absolute and incontrovertible proof, there are still matters for which we must still include the occasional qualifier, as always such a thing does not condemn it to eternal uncertainty, yet we cannot feign certainty merely to please our own satisfaction when we are in the case making historical claims.

It is the nature of history to establish what we know, for relying upon something as true when it is not will later plague us when it forces us to progress up blind alleys, only to eventually realize we must retrace our steps and try again.  Such things are always going on and it seems it is continually valuable not to rely too much upon the accepted notions of the past and merely to build upon them, since much of our knowledge from the Aryan invasion of India to the “Clovis first” conception are facing challenges against mounting contrary evidence.

This would seem benign to most, presuming new evidence will aid us, otherwise we will go on accepting what is not true as true indefinitely.  We have no excuses for favoring a theory merely because it has been accepted before, our scope should encompass any theory that fits the evidence, which requires not just simplicity but imagination.  It makes little difference whether our new conceptions are challenging previous theories or cultural attitudes or deeply held religious beliefs, we cannot permit human ignorance to prevail because it wills its own truths to exist.


Introduction

 

It is likely that given evidence we can go so far as to say: it fits in all its details but we still have nothing that actually proves it.  But this is common in archaeology that we proceed our conclusion with “thought to be” which pays tribute to the impressive requirement for absolute proof, that is, to be able to claim without reason to doubt.  It is perhaps not troubling if we never actually find the name Atlantis itself, given that it is not certain what language this originates from, in addition although we cannot off-hand denounce everything Plato writes as fiction we also cannot claim it is even attempting to convey a strict historical account, both because history was readily mixed with legend and myth in those days, and that Plato is not known for having pursued the writing of history.  So we could well say that neither side can yet claim absolute victory, yet if one is attempting to prove a murder took place, the first question he will be asked is “yes, so you say, but where is the body?”

If the search for Atlantis were that for the body of an ancient murder victim, J.M. Allen would then say he has discovered the real body and that it was murdered in just the way it was recorded at the time.  Yet just as in every case in archeology, we do not find a marker stone around it or a passport on the body, only a collection of bones, and it is uncertain how far anyone can use this to prove his case.  Then it must all be based upon other evidence that must be persistently consistent with the known facts in order to provide proof.  Yet even if every correspondence is made, no matter how thorough, we could not rule out that we have really been looking at many skeletons, and if we find one with the right injuries where they would be expected, at a reasonable place and time period, then we have our man, but can we really say so with dead certainty?

      It is somewhat more difficult given that we have to know what is the question we are specifically attempting to answer.  Since Allen seems to be attempting many things, not only to show that details of Altiplano match Plato’s description, but that it is also the best of any other candidate sites, while at the same time attempting to show that there are far off and intriguing sites and artifacts to see in the region.  We actually have many questions: Was there contact between Mesopotamia or Egypt and South America prior to the Conquistadores? Was there a rich and prosperous ancient civilization on Altiplano? Was the civilization of Altiplano settled by the Sumerians, or did the Sumerians come from Altiplano? Was the site at Altiplano the same we know of as Atlantis? Did the war between Atlantis and the Achaeans really take place?  With all these things going on at once it is somewhat difficult to assure we are both establishing requisites for proof and then validating them properly, rather than just offering a large collection of exotica and hoping that it engages the imagination suitably to encourage inquisitive tourism.  So the purpose of this article is simply to attempt to boil things down to the basics, rather than focusing on every intriguing possibility that might emerge.

 

One can put together a good deal of evidence that points to pre-Columbian contact between the Old World and the New World, one can indicate evidence that people from the Mediterranean had knowledge of South America, we can suggest that folks from the Amazon River civilization made forays into the Mediterranean, we can argue that Egyptians settled in South America, Greeks settled in Central America, Hebrews settled in North America, we can show similarities between the Sumerians and the ancient Peruvians, we can claim board knowledge of the continents of the world far prior the Age of Exploration, and suggest that an ancient civilization existed thousands of years ago in the high Andes, any one of these would require a large study and a good deal of careful consideration and evidence to back it up.  But any success at doing so does nothing to establish the proof that Plato’s Atlantis ever existed, or that they had conquered areas around the Mediterranean until a war force from the Greeks drove them out, shortly before the entire island sunk into the sea.

      The intriguing question is that there could be many sources for the story of Atlantis.  If we take Plato’s word for it, it was recorded by the Egyptians, has not prevented some from suggesting that Plato invented it as a fictional tale to prove a point.  Likewise it might not be out of the question to think that Plato merely was treating what Solon wrote as true, or that this was truly source material to compose an epic poem in classical Greece for the sake of the Athenians.  If we presume that the Egyptian story did exist, it might have been a myth, a legend, history, or a mixture of all three, either recorded by the Egyptians themselves or learned from travelers or warriors from Atlantis itself.  And if the presumed real Atlantis is far enough removed from the mythical Atlantis, one might question whether they are truly the same in any case, any more than the real Shangri La is far enough removed from the mythical one to take away its greatest significance.

      It is usually assumed that we have two choices: that Atlantis existed and was more or less the way Plato described it, or that it was a fictional invention by Plato or someone else known to him.  What is not often suggested is that it might well have been a myth, and as such raises a very interesting possibility: that those who came to Egypt with the story were only telling a myth and that the myth itself used geographic and other detail in explaining what they had seen.  In a sense, reconstructing what “must have happened”, which is often the case when people encounter phenomena they do not understand, and is more well founded now since we know how people fit anything from the buried bones of extinct animals, the stars in the sky, large natural formations, or even ancient human ruins into their myths.

Merely because humans might see geological or other physical detail and describe how they got there, does not mean that it derives from a true story.  Any person who studies mythology knows that odd geological shapes and formations are often explained with a myth ('myths of observation'), no one presumes that the myth actually happened as it is told, even if they point to the geological feature that was to have arisen from it: boiling pools, salt seas, volcanoes, boulders, petrified trees, dinosaur bones.  So it is true that if we wish to prove something it is not enough merely to find some evidence that fits, or that are suggested, enough of it must fit so as to exclude the possibility of another explanation.  Lumping together lots of diverse evidence is a common method used to suggest proof (that is, to proffer that if even some of it is true it would be proof enough) but not a successful one if when investigating we find each of the pieces really has nothing to support it (such as the case for extraterrestrials visiting Earth).

      So here we have specific requirements that must be overcome, first so as to determine whether there is any proof as to a large-scale invasion into the Mediterranean prior to the age of Classical Greece.  (It matters little archaeologically when it occurred, who they were, or where they came from, since no evidence for it at all would preclude any candidate invaders.)  If not we need look no further for the supposed historical details contained in Plato, a wide-scale possession of a territory and evidence of warfare should be easy to find, even though we would need to know to look for it.  Yet even if these details are not ever found, does it mean then that Plato’s Atlantis did not exist?  There is still the second hurdle to overcome: the description and details of Atlantis might be true but arise from an ancient myth based upon geological details, as mentioned before.  So in other words, we need to be looking for more than just geological detail.  Another issue that might arise if we find evidence of human activity: how can we associate that human activity specifically with the details of the island of Atlantis rather than some other human society?

      So if we uncovered archaeological evidence or other contemporary evidence of an invasion into the Mediterranean from a group that could be identified as the Atlanteans, it matters little who really fought them back, and in fact invasions are never so clean as they appear in the official historical reports, individuals often will remain and mix with the local populations, even cases when the entire invading army remains.  If we were then to discover a geographic area that fit Plato’s description, and evidence of a civilization that existed there that was perhaps contemporary with the invasion, along with evidence corroborating other details Plato conveys, then it would be possible to claim that all the evidence supports that this civilization was the basis for the Atlantis story in Plato.  Yet it is also possible that through some strange coincidence a civilization existed that fit the details of Atlantis without actually being the very same.  In this case careful attention to detail must be given to assure that there is consistency in practices that are difficult to universalize: for instance, finding evidence of sacrifice does no good if all civilizations engaged in sacrifices.

      But what if some of the evidence is found but not others?  What if there is no evidence of an invasion around the Mediterranean?  What if we find no location that fits the geographic description?  What if we locate no city at that location?  What if the city never goes by the name of Atlantis?  We would then have to see how close we can get, for attaining just one of these is not by itself enough.  Yet there are further problems: the passage of geologic time, the loss of historical information, the presumed submergence of the island of Atlantis itself.  What if the site for Atlantis shared every detail but did not have an island with concentric rings?  Would this oppose the conclusion or aid it, given that the Atlantis island was supposed to have been destroyed?  In other words, if we were looking for it now what could we expect to find?  A few or even several inconclusive finds are not going to do much in support of anything, so what would the conclusive finds be?

What is required is that the geographic details need to match by and large, also that it must be identified to have been a former city and civilization, and third that specific artifacts need to be found that provide solid support for the various descriptions of it.  If these three things are upheld then it could be established well enough, but what if some are lacking?  If the geographic details are correct but the other two do not have evidence then there is nothing to say that the entire story was not merely a circulated myth, that might well have originated among the people of the highlands of the Andes and eventually found its way to Egypt.

      For the sake of Atlantis it is far better to not stand upon Plato and go out grasping for evidence as it arises, one can suggest that such and such a thing seems to be valid, and reading Allen’s book one is intrigued but wishes to know, “so you say, but is such a thing really true?”  It might well be that the interest in Atlantis is uncovering all sorts of new lines of inquiry about the region of Altiplano, but in doing so Allen has difficulty doing anything more than claiming that some piece of evidence “looks right” or “fits” or is "interesting", not through his own fault but because he lacks the resources to undertake a thorough investigation that covers so many disciplines, where there are so many layers to peal back, and still so much basic knowledge to acquire.  To make sure any of them is conclusively established (even apart from the question of Atlantis) will take lots of time and money.

      So what I propose to do is to not become too embroiled in the issue of evidence of pre-Columbian Old World and New World contact, nor even the War with Atlantis (for which no evidence has so far been made known), but merely for the existence of the geographical location of Plato’s Atlantis, then to ask the question as to whether or not Plato’s Atlantis was a location of myth or an actual human civilization.  This is about all that can be done from Allen’s pioneering work.


What Plato's Dialogues Contain

 

If we possessed the entirety of the collected writings of the past and a vast oral tradition on top of this, it would be far easier to put together a case as to why Plato’s account of the Atlantis story was an oddity that was contradicted or not mentioned by other sources, but we are in a far different situation.  Rather it has been up to historians and others to attempt to use what has filtered though and survived the centuries to piece together the past.  For this reason eagerly dismissing the Atlantis story is just as bad as giving it too much historical credence, since the goal is to uncover the past and those who discount it might well be aiding the obscuring or ignorance of the past.  So without sure and good reasons to abandon it, it should not be beyond the realm of scientific inquiry to attempt to understand or judge evidence rather than to merely dismiss it because our preconceptions tell us that it is all nonsense.  It is just as common for soft scientists to value something because of preconceptions on faith, to hold to it as factual merely because it has become well accepted in the field.

      When considering Allen’s evidence one must do so only with comparison to Plato, usually in English translation (we can be fairly certain the Greek itself has not become corrupted), yet it could be questioned what value is it if something is shown to agree with Plato if we doubt the accuracy of what Plato himself wrote.  There is also the question of whether some of what is presented within Plato is correct and some isn’t.  There are a few things that must be taken for granted: that the bulk of the evidence must match, that Plato might have taken certain liberties with the information, that others might have made changes or that it changed over time or through transmission.  So some amount of adjustment is to be expected.

 

There is little point in presenting Plato’s dialogues relating to Atlantis yet again, but in order to better analyze the various aspects of the story, one fitting way is to break it down into its constituent parts, which aids in being able to compare various aspects of it with comparable evidence.  In this, all of the dialogues that relate the Source of the story will be shown in blue, that which details the Descriptive elements in black, the Pseudo-historical elements in green, and any Myth will be shown in red.  Each of these would require a different approach, for example the descriptive elements would arise largely out of archaeology, the historical could be verified by archaeology but also could survive within written works, the mythical could be related to other known myths.  The story of Atlantis begins within the dialogue of TIMAEUS:

 

Critias.  Then listen, Socrates, to a tale which, though strange, is certainly true, having been attested by Solon, who was the wisest of the seven sages.  He was a relative and a dear friend of my great-grandfather, Dropides, as he himself says in many passages of his poems; and he told the story to Critias, my grandfather, who remembered and repeated it to us.  There were of old, he said, great and marvellous actions of the Athenian city, which have passed into oblivion through lapse of time and the destruction of mankind, and one in particular, greater than all the rest.  This we will now rehearse.  It will be a fitting monument of our gratitude to you, and a hymn of praise true and worthy of the goddess, on this her day of festival. 

Socrates. 
Very good.  And what is this ancient famous action of the Athenians, which Critias declared, on the authority of Solon, to be not a mere legend, but an actual fact?

Critias
.  I will tell an old-world story which I heard from an aged man; for Critias, at the time of telling it, was as he said, nearly ninety years of age, and I was about ten.  Now the day was that day of the Apaturia which is called the Registration of Youth, at which, according to custom, our parents gave prizes for recitations, and the poems of several poets were recited by us boys, and many of us sang the poems of Solon, which at that time had not gone out of fashion.  One of our tribe, either because he thought so or to please Critias, said that in his judgment Solon was not only the wisest of men, but also the noblest of poets.  The old man, as I very well remember, brightened up at hearing this and said, smiling: Yes, Amynander, if Solon had only, like other poets, made poetry the business of his life, and had completed the tale which he brought with him from Egypt, and had not been compelled, by reason of the factions and troubles which he found stirring in his own country when he came home, to attend to other matters, in my opinion he would have been as famous as Homer or Hesiod, or any poet.  And what was the tale about, Critias? said Amynander.  About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us.  Tell us, said the other, the whole story, and how and from whom Solon heard this veritable tradition.  He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came.  The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them.  To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old.  On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called "the first man," and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened.  Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you.  Solon in return asked him what he meant.  I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age.  And I will tell you why.  There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes.  There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt.  Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore.  And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us.  When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea.  Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient. 

The fact is, that wherever the extremity of winter frost or of summer does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser numbers.  And whatever happened either in your country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed-if there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples.  Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves.  As for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon, they are no better than the tales of children.  In the first place you remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which survived.  And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word.  For there was a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities, is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven. 

Solon marvelled at his words, and earnestly requested the priests to inform him exactly and in order about these former citizens.  You are welcome to hear about them, Solon, said the priest, both for your own sake and for that of your city, and above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. 
She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old.  As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action; the exact particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers themselves.  If you compare these very laws with ours you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours as they were in the olden time.  In the first place, there is the caste of priests, which is separated from all the others; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other classes, and are commanded by the law to devote themselves solely to military pursuits; moreover, the weapons which they carry are shields and spears, a style of equipment which the goddess taught of Asiatics first to us, as in your part of the world first to you.  Then as to wisdom, do you observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, out of these divine elements deriving what was needful for human life, and adding every sort of knowledge which was akin to them.  All this order and arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when establishing your city; and she chose the spot of earth in which you were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the wisest of men.  Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest herself.  And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue, as became the children and disciples of the gods. 

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories.  But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour.  For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end.  This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent.  Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia.  This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind.  She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes.  And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars.  But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.  For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island. 

I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon and related to us.  And when you were speaking yesterday about your city and citizens, the tale which I have just been repeating to you came into my mind, and I remarked with astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence, you agreed in almost every particular with the narrative of Solon; but I did not like to speak at the moment.  For a long time had elapsed, and I had forgotten too much; I thought that I must first of all run over the narrative in my own mind, and then I would speak.  And so I readily assented to your request yesterday, considering that in all such cases the chief difficulty is to find a tale suitable to our purpose, and that with such a tale we should be fairly well provided. 

And therefore, as Hermocrates has told you, on my way home yesterday I at once communicated the tale to my companions as I remembered it; and after I left them, during the night by thinking I recovered nearly the whole it.  Truly, as is often said, the lessons of our childhood make wonderful impression on our memories; for I am not sure that I could remember all the discourse of yesterday, but I should be much surprised if I forgot any of these things which I have heard very long ago.  I listened at the time with childlike interest to the old man's narrative; he was very ready to teach me, and I asked him again and again to repeat his words, so that like an indelible picture they were branded into my mind.  As soon as the day broke, I rehearsed them as he spoke them to my companions, that they, as well as myself, might have something to say.  And now, Socrates, to make an end my preface, I am ready to tell you the whole tale.  I will give you not only the general heads, but the particulars, as they were told to me.  The city and citizens, which you yesterday described to us in fiction, we will now transfer to the world of reality.  It shall be the ancient city of Athens, and we will suppose that the citizens whom you imagined, were our veritable ancestors, of whom the priest spoke; they will perfectly harmonise, and there will be no inconsistency in saying that the citizens of your republic are these ancient Athenians.  Let us divide the subject among us, and all endeavour according to our ability gracefully to execute the task which you have imposed upon us.  Consider then, Socrates, if this narrative is suited to the purpose, or whether we should seek for some other instead. 

Socrates. 
And what other, Critias, can we find that will be better than this, which is natural and suitable to the festival of the goddess, and has the very great advantage of being a fact and not a fiction? How or where shall we find another if we abandon this? We cannot, and therefore you must tell the tale, and good luck to you; and I in return for my yesterday's discourse will now rest and be a listener. 

Critias. 
Let me proceed to explain to you, Socrates, the order in which we have arranged our entertainment.  Our intention is, that Timaeus, who is the most of an astronomer amongst us, and has made the nature of the universe his special study, should speak first, beginning with the generation of the world and going down to the creation of man; next, I am to receive the men whom he has created of whom some will have profited by the excellent education which you have given them; and then, in accordance with the tale of Solon, and equally with his law, we will bring them into court and make them citizens, as if they were those very Athenians whom the sacred Egyptian record has recovered from oblivion, and thenceforward we will speak of them as Athenians and fellow-citizens.

 

The tale of Atlantis picks up again with the dialogue CRITIAS:

 

Timaeus.  How thankful I am, Socrates, that I have arrived at last, and, like a weary traveller after a long journey, may be at rest! And I pray the being who always was of old, and has now been by me revealed, to grant that my words may endure in so far as they have been spoken truly and acceptably to him; but if unintentionally I have said anything wrong, I pray that he will impose upon me a just retribution, and the just retribution of him who errs is that he should be set right.  Wishing, then, to speak truly in future concerning the generation of the gods, I pray him to give me knowledge, which of all medicines is the most perfect and best.  And now having offered my prayer I deliver up the argument to Critias, who is to speak next according to our agreement. 

Critias.  And I, Timaeus, accept the trust, and as you at first said that you were going to speak of high matters, and begged that some forbearance might be shown to you, I too ask the same or greater forbearance for what I am about to say.  And although I very well know that my request may appear to be somewhat and discourteous, I must make it nevertheless.  For will any man of sense deny that you have spoken well? I can only attempt to show that I ought to have more indulgence than you, because my theme is more difficult; and I shall argue that to seem to speak well of the gods to men is far easier than to speak well of men to men: for the inexperience and utter ignorance of his hearers about any subject is a great assistance to him who has to speak of it, and we know how ignorant we are concerning the gods.  But I should like to make my meaning clearer, if Timaeus, you will follow me.  All that is said by any of us can only be imitation and representation.  For if we consider the likenesses which painters make of bodies divine and heavenly, and the different degrees of gratification with which the eye of the spectator receives them, we shall see that we are satisfied with the artist who is able in any degree to imitate the earth and its mountains, and the rivers, and the woods, and the universe, and the things that are and move therein, and further, that knowing nothing precise about such matters, we do not examine or analyze the painting; all that is required is a sort of indistinct and deceptive mode of shadowing them forth.  But when a person endeavours to paint the human form we are quick at finding out defects, and our familiar knowledge makes us severe judges of any one who does not render every point of similarity.  And we may observe the same thing to happen in discourse; we are satisfied with a picture of divine and heavenly things which has very little likeness to them; but we are more precise in our criticism of mortal and human things.  Wherefore if at the moment of speaking I cannot suitably express my meaning, you must excuse me, considering that to form approved likenesses of human things is the reverse of easy.  This is what I want to suggest to you, and at the same time to beg, Socrates, that I may have not less, but more indulgence conceded to me in what I am about to say.  Which favour, if I am right in asking, I hope that you will be ready to grant. 

Socrates.  Certainly, Critias, we will grant your request, and we will grant the same by anticipation to Hermocrates, as well as to you and Timaeus; for I have no doubt that when his turn comes a little while hence, he will make the same request which you have made.  In order, then, that he may provide himself with a fresh beginning, and not be compelled to say the same things over again, let him understand that the indulgence is already extended by anticipation to him.  And now, friend Critias, I will announce to you the judgment of the theatre.  They are of opinion that the last performer was wonderfully successful, and that you will need a great deal of indulgence before you will be able to take his place. 

Hermocrates.  The warning, Socrates, which you have addressed to him, I must also take to myself.  But remember, Critias, that faint heart never yet raised a trophy; and therefore you must go and attack the argument like a man.  First invoke Apollo and the Muses, and then let us hear you sound the praises and show forth the virtues of your ancient citizens. 

Critias.  Friend Hermocrates, you, who are stationed last and have another in front of you, have not lost heart as yet; the gravity of the situation will soon be revealed to you; meanwhile I accept your exhortations and encouragements.  But besides the gods and goddesses whom you have mentioned, I would specially invoke Mnemosyne; for all the important part of my discourse is dependent on her favour, and if I can recollect and recite enough of what was said by the priests and brought hither by Solon, I doubt not that I shall satisfy the requirements of this theatre.  And now, making no more excuses, I will proceed. 

Let me begin by observing first of all, that nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them; this war I am going to describe.  Of the combatants on the one side, the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war; the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis, which, as was saying, was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia, and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean.  The progress of the history will unfold the various nations of barbarians and families of Hellenes which then existed, as they successively appear on the scene; but I must describe first of all Athenians of that day, and their enemies who fought with them, and then the respective powers and governments of the two kingdoms.  Let us give the precedence to Athens. 

In the days of old the gods had the whole earth distributed among them by allotment.  There was no quarrelling; for you cannot rightly suppose that the gods did not know what was proper for each of them to have, or, knowing this, that they would seek to procure for themselves by contention that which more properly belonged to others.  They all of them by just apportionment obtained what they wanted, and peopled their own districts; and when they had peopled them they tended us, their nurselings and possessions, as shepherds tend their flocks, excepting only that they did not use blows or bodily force, as shepherds do, but governed us like pilots from the stern of the vessel, which is an easy way of guiding animals, holding our souls by the rudder of persuasion according to their own pleasure;-thus did they guide all mortal creatures.  Now different gods had their allotments in different places which they set in order.  Hephaestus and Athene, who were brother and sister, and sprang from the same father, having a common nature, and being united also in the love of philosophy and art, both obtained as their common portion this land, which was naturally adapted for wisdom and virtue; and there they implanted brave children of the soil, and put into their minds the order of government; their names are preserved, but their actions have disappeared by reason of the destruction of those who received the tradition, and the lapse of ages.  For when there were any survivors, as I have already said, they were men who dwelt in the mountains; and they were ignorant of the art of writing, and had heard only the names of the chiefs of the land, but very little about their actions.  The names they were willing enough to give to their children; but the virtues and the laws of their predecessors, they knew only by obscure traditions; and as they themselves and their children lacked for many generations the necessaries of life, they directed their attention to the supply of their wants, and of them they conversed, to the neglect of events that had happened in times long past; for mythology and the enquiry into antiquity are first introduced into cities when they begin to have leisure, and when they see that the necessaries of life have already been provided, but not before.  And this is reason why the names of the ancients have been preserved to us and not their actions.  This I infer because Solon said that the priests in their narrative of that war mentioned most of the names which are recorded prior to the time of Theseus, such as Cecrops, and Erechtheus, and Erichthonius, and Erysichthon, and the names of the women in like manner.  Moreover, since military pursuits were then common to men and women, the men of those days in accordance with the custom of the time set up a figure and image of the goddess in full armour, to be a testimony that all animals which associate together, male as well as female, may, if they please, practise in common the virtue which belongs to them without distinction of sex. 

Now the country was inhabited in those days by various classes of citizens;-there were artisans, and there were husbandmen, and there was also a warrior class originally set apart by divine men.  The latter dwelt by themselves, and had all things suitable for nurture and education; neither had any of them anything of their own, but they regarded all that they had as common property; nor did they claim to receive of the other citizens anything more than their necessary food.  And they practised all the pursuits which we yesterday described as those of our imaginary guardians.  Concerning the country the Egyptian priests said what is not only probable but manifestly true, that the boundaries were in those days fixed by the Isthmus, and that in the direction of the continent they extended as far as the heights of Cithaeron and Parnes; the boundary line came down in the direction of the sea, having the district of Oropus on the right, and with the river Asopus as the limit on the left.  The land was the best in the world, and was therefore able in those days to support a vast army, raised from the surrounding people.  Even the remnant of Attica which now exists may compare with any region in the world for the variety and excellence of its fruits and the suitableness of its pastures to every sort of animal, which proves what I am saying; but in those days the country was fair as now and yielded far more abundant produce.  How shall I establish my words? and what part of it can be truly called a remnant of the land that then was? The whole country is only a long promontory extending far into the sea away from the rest of the continent, while the surrounding basin of the sea is everywhere deep in the neighbourhood of the shore.  Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years, for that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I am speaking; and during all this time and through so many changes, there has never been any considerable accumulation of the soil coming down from the mountains, as in other places, but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight.  The consequence is, that in comparison of what then was, there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, as in the case of small islands, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left.  But in the primitive state of the country, its mountains were high hills covered with soil, and the plains, as they are termed by us, of Phelleus were full of rich earth, and there was abundance of wood in the mountains.  Of this last the traces still remain, for although some of the mountains now only afford sustenance to bees, not so very long ago there were still to be seen roofs of timber cut from trees growing there, which were of a size sufficient to cover the largest houses; and there were many other high trees, cultivated by man and bearing abundance of food for cattle.  Moreover, the land reaped the benefit of the annual rainfall, not as now losing the water which flows off the bare earth into the sea, but, having an abundant supply in all places, and receiving it into herself and treasuring it up in the close clay soil, it let off into the hollows the streams which it absorbed from the heights, providing everywhere abundant fountains and rivers, of which there may still be observed sacred memorials in places where fountains once existed; and this proves the truth of what I am saying. 

Such was the natural state of the country, which was cultivated, as we may well believe, by true husbandmen, who made husbandry their business, and were lovers of honour, and of a noble nature, and had a soil the best in the world, and abundance of water, and in the heaven above an excellently attempered climate.
  Now the city in those days was arranged on this wise.  In the first place the Acropolis was not as now.  For the fact is that a single night of excessive rain washed away the earth and laid bare the rock; at the same time there were earthquakes, and then occurred the extraordinary inundation, which was the third before the great destruction of Deucalion.  But in primitive times the hill of the Acropolis extended to the Eridanus and Ilissus, and included the Pnyx on one side, and the Lycabettus as a boundary on the opposite side to the Pnyx, and was all well covered with soil, and level at the top, except in one or two places.  Outside the Acropolis and under the sides of the hill there dwelt artisans, and such of the husbandmen as were tilling the ground near; the warrior class dwelt by themselves around the temples of Athene and Hephaestus at the summit, which moreover they had enclosed with a single fence like the garden of a single house.  On the north side they had dwellings in common and had erected halls for dining in winter, and had all the buildings which they needed for their common life, besides temples, but there was no adorning of them with gold and silver, for they made no use of these for any purpose; they took a middle course between meanness and ostentation, and built modest houses in which they and their children's children grew old, and they handed them down to others who were like themselves, always the same.  But in summer-time they left their gardens and gymnasia and dining halls, and then the southern side of the hill was made use of by them for the same purpose.  Where the Acropolis now is there was a fountain, which was choked by the earthquake, and has left only the few small streams which still exist in the vicinity, but in those days the fountain gave an abundant supply of water for all and of suitable temperature in summer and in winter.  This is how they dwelt, being the guardians of their own citizens and the leaders of the Hellenes, who were their willing followers.  And they took care to preserve the same number of men and women through all time, being so many as were required for warlike purposes, then as now-that is to say, about twenty thousand.  Such were the ancient Athenians, and after this manner they righteously administered their own land and the rest of Hellas; they were renowned all over Europe and Asia for the beauty of their persons and for the many virtues of their souls, and of all men who lived in those days they were the most illustrious.  And next, if I have not forgotten what I heard when I was a child, I will impart to you the character and origin of their adversaries.  For friends should not keep their stories to themselves, but have them in common. 

Yet, before proceeding further in the narrative, I ought to warn you, that you must not be surprised if you should perhaps hear Hellenic names given to foreigners.  I will tell you the reason of this: Solon, who was intending to use the tale for his poem, enquired into the meaning of the names, and found that the early Egyptians in writing them down had translated them into their own language, and he recovered the meaning of the several names and when copying them out again translated them into our language.  My great-grandfather, Dropides, had the original writing, which is still in my possession, and was carefully studied by me when I was a child.  Therefore if you hear names such as are used in this country, you must not be surprised, for I have told how they came to be introduced.  The tale, which was of great length, began as follows:-

I have before remarked in speaking of the allotments of the gods, that they distributed the whole earth into portions differing in extent, and made for themselves temples and instituted sacrifices.  And Poseidon, receiving for his lot the island of Atlantis, begat children by a mortal woman, and settled them in a part of the island, which I will describe.  Looking towards the sea, but in the center of the whole island, there was a plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile.  Near the plain again, and also in the center of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia, there was a mountain not very high on any side.

In this mountain there dwelt one of the earth born primeval men of that country, whose name was Evenor, and he had a wife named Leucippe, and they had an only daughter who was called Cleito.  The maiden had already reached womanhood, when her father and mother died; Poseidon fell in love with her and had intercourse with her, and breaking the ground, inclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water, which he turned as with a lathe, each having its circumference equidistant every way from the center, so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not as yet.  He himself, being a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the center island, bringing up two springs of water from beneath the earth, one of warm water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil.  He also begat and brought up five pairs of twin male children; and dividing the island of Atlantis into ten portions, he gave to the first-born of the eldest pair his mother's dwelling and the surrounding allotment, which was the largest and best, and made him king over the rest; the others he made princes, and gave them rule over many men, and a large territory.  And he named them all; the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic.  To his twin brother, who was born after him, and obtained as his lot the extremity of the island towards the Pillars of Heracles, facing the country which is now called the region of Gades in that part of the world, he gave the name which in the Hellenic language is Eumelus, in the language of the country which is named after him, Gadeirus.  Of the second pair of twins he called one Ampheres, and the other Evaemon.  To the elder of the third pair of twins he gave the name Mneseus, and Autochthon to the one who followed him.  Of the fourth pair of twins he called the elder Elasippus, and the younger Mestor.  And of the fifth pair he gave to the elder the name of Azaes, and to the younger that of Diaprepes.
  All these and their descendants for many generations were the inhabitants and rulers of divers islands in the open sea; and also, as has been already said, they held sway in our direction over the country within the Pillars as far as Egypt and Tyrrhenia. 

Now Atlas had a numerous and honourable family, and they retained the kingdom, the eldest son handing it on to his eldest for many generations; and they had such an amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates, and is not likely ever to be again, and they were furnished with everything which they needed, both in the city and country.  For because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries, and the island itself provided most of what was required by them for the uses of life.  In the first place, they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there, solid as well as fusile, and that which is now only a name and was then something more than a name, orichalcum, was dug out of the earth in many parts of the island, being more precious in those days than anything except gold.
  There was an abundance of wood for carpenter's work, and sufficient maintenance for tame and wild animals.  Moreover, there were a great number of elephants in the island; for as there was provision for all other sorts of animals, both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers, and also for those which live in mountains and on plains, so there was for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of all.  Also whatever fragrant things there now are in the earth, whether roots, or herbage, or woods, or essences which distil from fruit and flower, grew and thrived in that land; also the fruit which admits of cultivation, both the dry sort, which is given us for nourishment and any other which we use for food-we call them all by the common name pulse, and the fruits having a hard rind, affording drinks and meats and ointments, and good store of chestnuts and the like, which furnish pleasure and amusement, and are fruits which spoil with keeping, and the pleasant kinds of dessert, with which we console ourselves after dinner, when we are tired of eating-all these that sacred island which then beheld the light of the sun, brought forth fair and wondrous and in infinite abundance.  With such blessings the earth freely furnished them; meanwhile they went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks.  And they arranged the whole country in the following manner:

First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis, making a road to and from the royal palace.  And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors, which they continued to ornament in successive generations, every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power, until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty.  And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia in length, which they carried through to the outermost zone, making a passage from the sea up to this, which became a harbor, and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress.  Moreover, they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea, leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another, and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships; for the banks were raised considerably above the water.  Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth, and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth; but the next two zones, the one of water, the other of land, were two stadia, and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width.  The island in which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia.  All this including the zones and the bridge, which was the sixth part of a stadium in width, they surrounded by a stone wall on every side, placing towers and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in.  The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the center island, and from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side.  One kind was white, another black, and a third red, and as they quarried, they at the same time hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock.  Some of their buildings were simple, but in others they put together different stones, varying the color to please the eye, and to be a natural source of delight.  The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum. 

The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise:-in the center was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon, which remained inaccessible, and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold; this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light, and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions, to be an offering to each of the ten.  Here was Poseidon's own temple which was a stadium in length, and half a stadium in width, and of a proportionate height, having a strange barbaric appearance.  All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold.  In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum; and all the other parts, the walls and pillars and floor, they coated with orichalcum.  In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot-the charioteer of six winged horses-and of such a size that he touched the roof of the
building with his head; around him there were a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins, for such was thought to be the number of them by the men of those days.  There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons.  And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives, and there were many other great offerings of kings and of private persons, coming both from the city itself and from the foreign cities over which they held sway.  There was an altar too, which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence, and the palaces, in like manner, answered to the greatness of the kingdom and the glory of the temple. 

In the next place, they had fountains, one of cold and another of hot water, in gracious plenty flowing; and they were wonderfully adapted for use by reason of the pleasantness and excellence of their waters.  They constructed buildings about them and planted suitable trees, also they made cisterns, some open to the heavens, others roofed over, to be used in winter as warm baths; there were the kings' baths, and the baths of private persons, which were kept apart; and there were separate baths for women, and for horses and cattle, and to each of them they gave as much adornment as was suitable.  Of the water which ran off they carried some to the grove of Poseidon, where were growing all manner of trees of wonderful height and beauty, owing to the excellence of the soil, while the remainder was conveyed by aqueducts along the bridges to the outer circles; and there were many temples built and dedicated to many gods; also gardens and places of exercise, some for men, and others for horses in both of the two islands formed by the zones; and in the center of the larger of the two there was set apart a race-course of a stadium in width, and in length allowed to extend all round the island, for horses to race in.  Also there were guardhouses at intervals for the guards, the more trusted of whom were appointed-to keep watch in the lesser zone, which was nearer the Acropolis while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel, near the persons of the kings.  The docks were full of triremes and naval stores, and all things were quite ready for use.  Enough of the plan of the royal palace. 

Leaving the palace and passing out across the three you came to a wall which began at the sea and went all round: this was everywhere distant fifty stadia from the largest zone or harbour, and enclosed the whole, the ends meeting at the mouth of the channel which led to the sea.  The entire area was densely crowded with habitations; and the canal and the largest of the harbours were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts, who, from their numbers, kept up a multitudinous sound of human voices, and din and clatter of all sorts night and day. 

I have described the city and the environs of the ancient palace nearly in the words of Solon, and now I must endeavour to represent the nature and arrangement of the rest of the land.  The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea, but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea; it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the center inland it was two thousand stadia.  This part of the island looked towards the south, and was sheltered from the north.  The surrounding mountains were celebrated for their number and size and beauty, far beyond any which still exist, having in them also many wealthy villages of country folk, and rivers, and lakes, and meadows supplying food enough for every animal, wild or tame, and much wood of various sorts, abundant for each and every kind of work. 

I will now describe the plain, as it was fashioned by nature and by the labours of many generations of kings through long ages.  It was for the most part rectangular and oblong, and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch.  The depth, and width, and length of this ditch were incredible, and gave the impression that a work of such extent, in addition to so many others, could never have been artificial.  Nevertheless I must say what I was told.  It was excavated to the depth of a hundred, feet, and its breadth was a stadium everywhere; it was carried round the whole of the plain, and was ten thousand stadia in length.  It received the streams which came down from the mountains, and winding round the plain and meeting at the city, was there let off into the sea.  Further inland, likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain, and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia, and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships, cutting transverse passages from one canal into another, and to the city.  Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth-in winter having the benefit of the rains of heaven, and in summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the canals. 

As to the population, each of the lots in the plain had to find a leader for the men who were fit for military service, and the size of a lot was a square of ten stadia each way, and the total number of all the lots was sixty thousand.  And of the inhabitants of the mountains and of the rest of the country there was also a vast multitude, which was distributed among the lots and had leaders assigned to them according to their districts and villages.  The leader was required to furnish for the war the sixth portion of a war-chariot, so as to make up a total of ten thousand chariots; also two horses and riders for them, and a pair of chariot-horses without a seat, accompanied by a horseman who could fight on foot carrying a small shield, and having a charioteer who stood behind the man-at-arms to guide the two horses; also, he was bound to furnish two heavy armed soldiers, two slingers, three stone-shooters and three javelin-men, who were light-armed, and four sailors to make up the complement of twelve hundred ships.  Such was the military order of the royal city-the order of the other nine governments varied, and it would be wearisome to recount their several differences. 

As to offices and honors, the following was the arrangement from the first.  Each of the ten kings in his own division and in his own city had the absolute control of the citizens, and, in most cases, of the laws, punishing and slaying whomsoever he would.
 Now the order of precedence among them and their mutual relations were regulated by the commands of Poseidon which the law had handed down.  These were inscribed by the first kings on a pillar of orichalcum, which was situated in the middle of the island, at the temple of Poseidon, whither the kings were gathered together every fifth and every sixth year alternately, thus giving equal honor to the odd and to the even number.  And when they were gathered together they consulted about their common interests, and enquired if any one had transgressed in anything and passed judgment and before they passed judgment they gave their pledges to one another on this wise:-There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon; and the ten kings, being left alone in the temple, after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him, hunted the bulls, without weapons but with staves and nooses; and the bull which they caught they led up to the pillar and cut its throat over the top of it so that the blood fell upon the sacred inscription.  Now on the pillar, besides the laws, there was inscribed an oath invoking mighty curses on the disobedient.  When therefore, after slaying the bull in the accustomed manner, they had burnt its limbs, they filled a bowl of wine and cast in a clot of blood for each of them; the rest of the victim they put in the fire, after having purified the column all round.  Then they drew from the bowl in golden cups and pouring a libation on the fire, they swore that they would judge according to the laws on the pillar, and would punish him who in any point had already transgressed them, and that for the future they would not, if they could help, offend against the writing on the pillar, and would neither command others, nor obey any ruler who commanded them, to act otherwise than according to the laws of their father Poseidon.  This was the prayer which each of them-offered up for himself and for his descendants, at the same time drinking and dedicating the cup out of which he drank in the temple of the god; and after they had supped and satisfied their needs, when darkness came on, and the fire about the sacrifice was cool, all of them put on most beautiful azure robes, and, sitting on the ground, at night, over the embers of the sacrifices by which they had sworn, and extinguishing all the fire about the temple, they received and gave judgment, if any of them had an accusation to bring against any one; and when they given judgment, at daybreak they wrote down their sentences on a golden tablet, and dedicated it together with their robes to be a memorial. 

There were many special laws affecting the several kings inscribed about the temples, but the most important was the following: They were not to take up arms against one another, and they were all to come to the rescue if any one in any of their cities attempted to overthrow the royal house; like their ancestors, they were to deliberate in common about war and other matters, giving the supremacy to the descendants of Atlas.  And the king was not to have the power of life and death over any of his kinsmen unless he had the assent of the majority of the ten. 


Such was the vast power which the god settled in the lost island of Atlantis; and this he afterwards directed against our land for the following reasons, as tradition tells: For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another.  They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them.  By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them; but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power.  Zeus, the god of gods, who rules according to law, and is able to see into such things, perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they might be chastened and improve, collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, which, being placed in the center of the world, beholds all created things.  And when he had called them together, he spake as follows-


Presentation of the Evidence

 

The best presentation of the evidence comes out of the Introduction.  This will constitute the most important testimony regarding the evidence that corresponds to the descriptions from Plato.  Much of the rest of the book adds a good deal to draw attention to the region, and in fact Allen does not hide the fact that one goal of his most recent book is to encourage tourism in the Bolivian highland regions around Altiplano, but it does draw the attention away from the true purpose of the book at times.

 

Geography

 

The most convincing evidence of the Andean origin of Atlantis is the physical layout of the land itself, which was what first attracted Allen’s attention.  This still remains the case after other evidence has been accumulated through numerous on-site visits, but still this has only served providing some ancillary features that might or might not make the case any more reliable.  So lets begin with the strongest evidence which includes the description of Altiplano, Lake Poopo, and Pampa Aullagas.  Here are the most relevant sections of Plato restated:

 

The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea, but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea [Pacific Ocean]; it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the center inland it was two thousand stadia.  This part of the island [South America] looked towards the south, and was sheltered from the north.  The surrounding mountains were celebrated for their number and size and beauty, far beyond any which still exist, having in them also many wealthy villages of country folk, and rivers, and lakes, and meadows supplying food enough for every animal, wild or tame, and much wood of various sorts, abundant for each and every kind of work.

 

I will now describe the plain, as it was fashioned by nature and by the labors of many generations of kings through long ages.  It was for the most part rectangular and oblong, and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch.  The depth, and width, and length of this ditch were incredible, and gave the impression that a work of such extent, in addition to so many others, could never have been artificial.  Nevertheless I must say what I was told.  It was excavated to the depth of a hundred feet, and its breadth was a stadium everywhere; it was carried round the whole of the plain, and was ten thousand stadia in length.  It received the streams which came down from the mountains, and winding round the plain and meeting at the city, was there let off into the sea [Lake Poopo]  Further inland, likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain, and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia, and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships, cutting transverse passages from one canal into another, and to the city.  Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth-in winter having the benefit of the rains of heaven, and in summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the canals. 

While all of the general descriptions apply, enclosed by mountains, the general size the continent which all match well, there are more specific details: the city of Atlantis was 50 stades (5 miles) distant from the sea (lake), the rectangular plain was 3,000×2,000 stades, and high above the sea (ocean).  The plain itself lies at 13,000 feet above the level of the sea, itself the same 3 to 2 proportions using a 300 foot stade (half of the Greek 600 foot stade) and mountainous on all sides right down to the sea.  It even recalls that the distance “across the center inland [from the sea]” means the smaller distance would be the E-W direction, which is also the case with Altiplano.  The plain also is located at the point where South America has land to the north and sea to the south, which might be what was meant by “was sheltered from the north”.  All these geographical measures fit and truly are the easiest to verify today since such details take millions of years to change their form, where here we are only speaking of about perhaps 5,000 years.  In addition to the remains of several large canals, several small canals mentioned by Allen to be 5 ft wide rather than the 100 ft ones, mentioned in the dialogue, do not necessarily have to be the original canals.

Concentric rings are mentioned, the most recognizable feature of the city of Atlantis, and the mountains were low on all sides and in the center of the plain next to the sea.  The central island is 5 stades in diameter and 50 stades from the sea, which matches Plato’s description according to Allen’s measurements.  The measurements of Pampa Aullagas are not the former 300 foot but 165 feet (which he notes is equivalent to 100 Sumerian cubits).  But these measurements might be less reliable if volcanic or earthquake activity might have changed the size or shape of the island over time.  All of this geographic detail is summarized and graded in Figure 1.

 

Figure 1.

Geographic Scorecard

 

Feature

Attribute

Score

Notes

Continent

At a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean

A

 

 

opposite straits called the ‘Pillars of Hercules

A

 

 

larger than Libya and Asia combined

A

 

Plain

in the center of the island near the sea

A

 

 

enclosed by mountains

A

 

 

high above the level of the sea [ocean], rising sheer out of the sea to a great height

A

 

 

midway along its greatest length

A

 

 

naturally a long, regular rectangle (3,000 x 2,000 stades)

A

Stade would be 300 feet (ancient stade, half a Greek stade)

 

Large canal one stade wide ran around the plain

B

Must be established as the right time period

 

Smaller parallel canals criss-crossed

C

Must be established as manmade and the right time period

Island

Center of the plain

A

 

 

50 states from the sea [lake] a mountain low on all sides

A

 

 

Surrounded by concentric rings of alternating, two of land and three of water

D

The reconstruction is not entirely convincing, but it is very possible the concentric rings were volcanic in origin

 

Central island 5 stades in diameter

A

Stade according to current dimensions would be about 165 feet

 

 

Legends

 

As has been mentioned by Allen and others, the sinking of Atlantis is similar to an Andes tale from the region around Altiplano, which is here told from the Narratives of the Rites and Laws of the Incas about the god Thonapa, also sometimes known as Wiracocha:

 

They say that this man came to the village of a chief called Apo-tampu (this Apo-tampu is Paccari-tampu) very tired.  It was at a time when they were celebrating a marriage feast.  His doctrines were listened to by the chief with friendly feelings, but his vassals heard them unwillingly.  From that day the wanderer was a guest of Apo-tampu, to whom it is said that he gave a stick from his own staff, and through this Apo-tampu, the people listened with attention to the words of the stranger, receiving the stick from his hands.  Thus they received what he preached in a stick, marking and scoring on it each chapter of his precepts.  The old men of the days of my father, Don Diego Felipe, used to say that Cafi-cafi were the commandments of God, and especially the seven precepts; so that they only wanted the names of our Lord God and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the punishments for those who broke the commandments were severe.  This worthy, named Thonapa, is said to have visited all the provinces of the Colla-suyu, preaching to the people without cessation, until one day he entered the town of Yamquesupa.  There he was treated with great insolence and contempt, and driven away.  They say that he often slept in the fields, without other covering than the long shirt he wore, a mantle, and a book.  They say that Thonapa cursed that village, so that it was covered with water.  The site is now called Yamquisupaloiga.   It is a lake, and nearly all the Indians of that time knew that it was once a village, and was then a lake.  They say that, on a very high hill called Cacha-pucara, there was an idol in the form of a woman, and that Tonapa was inspired with a great hatred against it, and afterwards burnt it, and destroyed it with the hill on which it stood.  They say that to this day there are signs of that awful miracle, the most fearful that was ever heard of in the world. (Markham 1873: 72)

 

This is much shorter than the descriptions and content of the full dialogue of Plato, but how does this compare to the only the mythical or mythologized elements from the dialogues?  These sections in the dialogue can be broken into three parts: Greek creation myth, Atlantian creation myth, and Atlantian eschatological myth.  The latter two are the ones of interest for now.  That the correspondence is only a resemblance is actually quite noteworthy for two reasons: first that Plato’s story, according to the dialogue, is an Egyptian account of the presumed original Bolivian one, that was then translated into Greek and supposedly recalled from memory by Critias, and second that the myths of the Incas arrived to us in rather fragmentary or embellished form when recorded after the conquest.  Here is not a situation where there is in either case a pristine or original version that could be compared to each of these two derivatives, rather they might only be compared to one another.

In the Bolivian “Legend of Desaguadero” (University of La Paz) given by Allen the god Pachacamac, also known as Tunupa, was associated with water and sometimes described as the maker of water and travelled along the water axis from Lake Titicaca to Lake Poopo where he disappeared in the region of Pampa Aullagas.  The circumstances were that there existed a city on the edge of a lake which fell into evil ways, and so in punishment the gods submerged it in a great flood.  The god of the sea Tunupa who created the ringed formation at Pampa Aullagas then he disappeared beneath the waters of Lake Poopo.  At this point, the story continues with Tunapa being deposited on the shore of the lake in the guise of a beautiful woman, now known as Thunapa in the female form, who subsequently marries a male god on the peak opposite.  Kon or Kjuni was the god of the wind and rain was the god equivalent to Zeus, who is responsible for destroying the city.

 

It is possible, however to gain further insight by investigating other aspects of Peruvian mythology, specifically dealing with the creation myth.  For example, as Allen points out, that Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala in his The First Chronicle and Good Government writes:

 

[The first generation of Indians] did not die, and they did not kill.  People say that they gave birth in pairs, boy and girl.  From these there multiplied all the generations of Indians that were known as Pacarimoc Runa [founding people].  (Poma 2006: 25)

 

But here the twins are male and female, whereas in Plato they are male twins.  Guaman Poma’s chronicle is highly politicized, but does contain traces of original Andean mythology.  These comparisons are summarized in Figure 2.

 

Figure 2.

Atlantean myth compared to Inca myth

 

Plato’s Critias

Narrative of the

Rites and Laws of the Incas

Cleito is daughter of Evenor and Leucippe in mountain

 

Cleito lived on a hill with springs encircled with circular canals

Idol in the form of a woman on a very high hill

Poseidon begat with Cleito five pairs of twin male children, distributed lands among them

(First generation of Indians gave birth in pairs, boy and girl.)

Poseidon’s law (inscribed upon pillar of orichalcum)

Tonapa inscribed his law upon a stick

Divine to mortal decline

Tonapa treated with insolence and contempt by people of Yamquesupa

War between Atlantis and Athens

 

Gods cause Atlantis to sink beneath the sea

Tonapa causes Yamquesupa to be submerged

 

Allen also includes reference to an Inca origin myth about Virachocha, that after a flood that wiped out the race of giants for their sins, two people of the Canaris escaped to a mountain, one died and afterwards the other brother by his wife and his brother’s wife had “ten sons who formed two lineages of five each” (Allen 2009: 63).  While this clearly means five by each woman, Allen does interpret this to mean the “five pairs of twin sons” in Plato.  How he summarizes the information is shown in Figure 3.

 

Figure 3.

Allen’s Summary of Myth Comparison

(Allen 2009: 70-71)

 

Greek version

Bolivian version

Poseidon, god of the sea, marries a woman who lives on a hill and creates a ringed, defensive formation around it.

Tunapa, god of the sea, lakes and waterways marries a person who lives on a hill and lays down on the very mountain in the location Plato gave, thus creating the ringed formation to be found there.

Poseidon had five pairs of twin sons.

Virachocha had give pairs of twin sons

Zeus, chief of the gods, punishes the city of Atlantis and submerges it in the sea because the people no longer followed the divine laws.

Virachoca, chief of the gods, punishes a city for losing the divine ways and submerges it under the sea.

 

An interesting question to consider, from the Greek perspective, is which came first: did the idea of the god Atlas and the island upon which he stood get applied to the land of South America when it was discovered by seafaring people from the Old World (or related to the Old World by people from the New World), or did knowledge of that continent and its high mountains that appeared to support the very sky lead to the myth of Atlas in the first place.[1]  It appears that either could be the case, or there could have been repeated confusions through time, a real island that became the subject of myth, then rediscovered became the subject of history again, and such.  Certainly this was the case when the American continents were rediscovered in the 15th century, that they were very quickly associated with the continent of Atlantis again.

 

So has anything been proven here?  It appears that there is a notable correspondence between the story in Plato and Andean myth, but did these both derive from the original oral tradition of a sunken continent, or were both based upon first person accounts, one that was taken back to the Mediterranean and one that remained in the Andes?  Again it is impossible to tell.  Plato clearly has precise descriptive knowledge of the lands, but the part that is absent from the Andes version is that there is no link between the myth of the submergence, “the most fearful that was ever heard in the world”, and the war between Atlantis and Athens.

This introduces several alternatives, ranging from the notion that it never occurred to its having not been coincident to the submergence of the village.  As yet there is no evidence of any sort that there was an empire in the Mediterranean 5,500 years ago, nor any surviving mention of the war this empire had with Athens and Egypt outside of Plato.  It is perhaps not unusual, if it were not for the Iliad story we would perhaps never know that the Trojan War ever took place, and certainly definitive verification for this has remained absent.  It could be said, however, that the site of Illium is a real place on the map, despite the lack of evidence, and a collection of circumstantial evidence can be provided to lend support to the notion that the Trojan War took place, and the same thing could be said of Atlantis.  That all the evidence need not be immediately verified, but some of it could be, such as the correspondence between South America and Altiplano and various others with the descriptive characteristics of the dialogue, even if the historical aspects remain elusive.

More perhaps could be learned from a broader study of Andean and Mesoamerican mythology, however this could also lead to greater and greater feats of supposition and speculation that becomes increasingly valueless.  What is required is what has always been required, direct physical identification of a site, which it must be recalled might or might not match well Plato’s description.


[1] The location of Atlas is given in Apollodorus as Hyperborea, which makes more sense, given that the axis of the heavenly sphere is located above the North Pole.  This does not mean that there were not alternate versions, but if knowledge of mountains were discovered that were to have supported the sky, that this could then be remebered as an alternative location for Atlas, a real place that became remembered as a name combination of each of these Atlas-Andis.  The only question is whether the god Atlas himself was not originally a Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl, who Spence has shown bears some resemblance to the Greek god: 'As a single example – consider the similarities he points out between Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec god who brought civilization to Mexico and who went back to Tlapallan, his original home in the eastern sea – and Atlas, so important in the memory legends of Atlantis.  The father of Atlas was Poseidon, Lord of the Sea while the father of Quetzalcoatl was Gucumatz, a diety of the ocean and earthquake – “the old serpent…who lives in the depth of the ocean.”  Quetzalcoatl and Atlas were each one of twins, both were represented as bearded and each holds up the sky.' (Berlitz 1969: 125-26)

 

Other Evidence

 

There is other evidence that factor in, including the presence of metals including tumbaga which is thought to be the orichalcum, hot and cold springs on Altiplano; earthquakes; red, black and white stones; elephants (mastadons); sacrifice of bulls (llamas); and their ability to have two crops per year.  While it is true that mastadons are presumed extinct by about 5000 BC they might still have been viewed depending upon the presumed date of the tale, at least their skeletons might have suggested to the inhabitants that such animals were still around somewhere.  Here restating some of the important features relating to the landscape of the Atlantean island to be found in Plato.

 

There was an abundance of wood for carpenter's work, and sufficient maintenance for tame and wild animals.  Moreover, there were a great number of elephants in the island; for as there was provision for all other sorts of animals, both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers, and also for those which live in mountains and on plains, so there was for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of all.  Also whatever fragrant things there now are in the earth, whether roots, or herbage, or woods, or essences which distil from fruit and flower, grew and thrived in that land; also the fruit which admits of cultivation, both the dry sort, which is given us for nourishment and any other which we use for food-we call them all by the common name pulse, and the fruits having a hard rind, affording drinks and meats and ointments, and good store of chestnuts and the like, which furnish pleasure and amusement, and are fruits which spoil with keeping, and the pleasant kinds of dessert, with which we console ourselves after dinner, when we are tired of eating-all these that sacred island which then beheld the light of the sun, brought forth fair and wondrous and in infinite abundance.

 

 This comprises the rest of the relevant material presented in the Introduction, which is evaluated in Figure 4.

 

Figure 4.

Resources Scorecard

 

Feature

Description

Score

Notes

Metals

Gold

A

 

 

Silver

A

 

 

Copper

A

 

 

Tin

A

 

 

Orichalcum

A

 tumbaga (gold-copper)

Geology

Hot springs

A

 

 

Cold springs

A

 

 

Earthquakes

A

 

 

Volcanism

A

 

 

Flooding

A

 

 

Red, black, white stones

A

 

Animals

Elephants

B

Living mastodons or skeletons of extinct mastodons

 

Sacrifice of bulls

B

Could be a reference to llama sacrifices

 

Horses

D

Could have been imported but no evidence, perhaps llamas

Agriculture

Two crops per year

A

 

 

New archaeological discoveries included by Allen are the walls dating from 4000 BC found under Lake Titicaca, pyramids dating from 2627 BC in Caral Peru, and perhaps the most interesting at Caral an old plaza dated to about 3500 BC.  His interest in Andean mummies, however, seems to add little, as there is nothing to indicate they aren’t natural mummies and such a thing is never mentioned by Plato in any case.


Atlantis Trail

 

What follows after the Introduction is a mass of information or travelogue that sometimes does and sometimes does not seem relevant to the Atlantis question.  Though interesting still seeming to be rather sparse, discussion of how Europeans early on had identified the newly discovered Americas as Atlantis, the existence of pyramids in the Americas, “mummies” (natural mummies) found around Bolivia, and the story of Blavatsky’s journeys relating to locating hidden Inca treasure, that seems to offer little reliable information.  That the mountain that became the tomb of the Incas resembled a pregnant belly (signifying the womb of the world) should not be surprising, implying a belief in reincarnation.  Gamboas account really adds nothing further, except another reference to the kingdom in pairs, Allen then goes on to an interesting but inadequately assessed suggestion that the Uru of South America was related to the Sumerians who founded the city of Ur in the Near East.  The Fuente Magna is interesting but despite the time spent on it is not worthy of too much reliance as of now, until it can be proven not to be a fake; yet is not truly relevant to the Atlantis question, unless it were to contain specific reference to it.

      There is nothing in all this evidence that covers about 40 pages of the book that strengthens the case for Altiplano being the site of Plato’s Atlantis.  It is not until page 79 that he begins speaking of the island of concentric rings, which follows the contours of a seeming volcanic formation.  Yet even Plato tells that the plain was partly natural and partly man made, it is not out of the question that natural rings were extended by softer embankments that have not survived, but there is no evidence of this.  However, although Allen’s reconstruction of the concentric rings would not be at all clear without Plato’s dimensions to guide him, there is no reason to believe that the concentric rings had to be entirely circular and regular either, for this description comes out of a myth segment.  It could well have been only partially so or only on one side of the island, so this itself does not present an insurmountable problem.  There is following an account of how the flooding of the plain and the island have taken place over the millennia.  The most important bolstering argument begins on page 100 which begins to describe the transverse canals that exist on the plain, visible in high-resolution satellite photos, which if proven to be manmade and made within the span that Atlantis would have existed do match Plato’s descriptions well would bolster the case.

      There follows one chapter dedicated to the shape of the island resembling a cross, which is interesting but not critical, before he includes a number of photographs of stones from the area of the plain that have a blocky character to them.  Unfortunately, there is no specific evidence that they are manmade, so even though Allen uses the leading term ‘cut stone’ to describe them offers no verification of any kind they have been cut.  Clearly they often have edges or corners that appear to be nearly square, but at the same time most appear to be the product of volcanic upheaval, which also would explain their red and black coloration.  (Although I cannot be sure, the large red stone on page 119 even looks to me like it has been painted red.)  The curved stones and other rounded stones (his “statues” or “columns”) are either obviously or appear in the photographs to be the product of volcanic upheavals: as the liquid rock thrust up gets pulled down by gravity creating something of a circle, so nothing can be made of them.  If there are any blocks shown that are manmade it is uncertain to which time-period they come, but from the photographs most of them can be explained as the product of volcanic activity, naturally any blocks that are unusually square will attract the eye and supposition.

      What follows is a fairly lengthy account of the Pisiga mummies, which provides a tourist attraction but nothing relevant to the Atlantis question.  Except that he proceeds to work it into the question of the Sumerians, who came to the Near East named the Euphrates Urutu “copper river” because this was the river that brought copper to them, which Allen suggests was coming from South America.

 

[T]he Sumerians who are said to have arrived at the entrance to the river Euphrates with a ready made civilization and no one knows where they came from.  In Mesopotamia, the early Sumerians are said to have arrived by sea and were an aquatic people, in the beginning the early settlers lived amongst the marshes and used reed boats not unlike those of Lake Titicaca and Lake UruUru (a continuation of Lake Poopo). (Allen 2009: 139)

 

This is followed by an account of measurements and the Tiwanaku calendar that seem to offer little else to aid the case.

The most interesting line of inquiry is one relating to the possibility that the identity of Atlantis led to the El Dorado stories, but while intriguing it creates a new line of proof that El Dorado was Atlantis, before the existence of either Atlantis or El Dorado has ever been established.  This is included about the Pilcomayo river in a Spanish chronicle

 

This account refers to a great city on an island in the Pilcomaoy, not at its lower entrance in the rio Paraguay, but higher up the river not far from Tarija.  Closer to the foothills of the Andes it is at the junction of the rio Pilcomayo and the rio Pilaya, which is particularly interesting since both rivers rise in the silver mountain of Potosi. (Allen 2009, 160)

 

So this other city would have been the other important location to the Atlanteans, since this was the base of their connection to the South American river network of the Amazon.

 

This is clearly illustrated in a sixteenth century engraving which shows porters dragging canoes overland from an unknown river to an inland salt lake on which sat the fabulous city of Manoa, otherwise known as El Dorado…The situation is similar to that of the headwaters of the river Pilcomayo relative to that of Lake Poopo, and in the drawing the saltwater lake is named as Lake Parime. (Allen 2009, 160)

 

He then goes on to state that Lake Poopo had been formerly known as Pazna or Paria.  He also draws a connection between an island shown on old maps of the entrance to the Pilcomayo river and a reference to the pre-Egyptians having migrated from a point of longitude (Braghine 1980, Shadow of Atlantis) that passes directly through this island.  It is not certain how to take the references to a ‘Toltec document which I possess’ or a couple of ‘incriptions’ that are supposed to confirm this.  The final chapter of the book ends with a final analysis of the dating question.

The Postscript does present some interesting new satellite pictures of large canals, which actually appear manmade, measuring across 200 feet (total width with embankments at 250 feet), seems to be the only new evidence that could be used to indicate either the presence of an ancient civilization or the existence of the kingdom of Atlantis.


Conclusion

 

So where does Allen currently stand?  If you only consider the Descriptive elements and the Mythical ones his case does well, as he recognizes himself, lacking only in a couple cases but not to the point where the rest can be dismissed.  However, when considering the pseudo-historical aspects it does very poorly, the most significant of which are shown in Figure 5.

 

Figure 5.

Historical Scorecard

 

Feature

Description

Score

Notes

Historical

Kings of Atlantis

F

No evidence but possible

 

Empire in South America

F

No evidence but possible

 

Empire in Mediterranean

F

No evidence but possible

 

10,000 horse-driven chariots

F

No evidence, perhaps carts

 

1,200 ships

C

Many reed ships in Amazonian society likely

Dating

c. 1250 BC

D

Sea Peoples from Amazonia

 

c. 3500 BC

C

Copper Age empire

 

c. 9500 BC

F

Stone Age empire

 

Yet Allen does point out that the various kingdoms in Atlantis, each ruled by two kings, equates with the Aymara who had two kings for each province, each controlling their own kingdom with its own territories.  Then there is still the relevant question of the actual war with Atlantis, which is described:

 

For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end.  This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable.

 

Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island [South America] and several others [Caribbean?], and over parts of the continent [North America?], and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya [Africa] within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia [Italy].  This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits [Mediterranean]; and then, Solon, your country [Athens] shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind.  She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes.  And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars.

 

But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.  For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way [alluvium or volcanic ash?]; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.

 

So how far is Allen merely presenting only the evidence that fits, ignoring what doesn’t, or attempting to fit the descriptions to the features found on Altiplano?  It seems rather that as new features have come to light they have rather only helped rather than opposed the thesis, while it is true that Allen has focused on his most recent discoveries.  However, we cannot well reconstruct the history of the region thus far, let alone that of the world at the time of the Bronze Age and Copper Age.  The historicity of the kingdom of the Andes (Atlantis), if it existed, should be suitably reconstructed by itself from forthcoming evidence, whether or not we have to presume that Plato’s account is an accurate account of history; but how far can we take Plato, or any isolated source, to fill in the missing pieces.  Perhaps because in the past written sources were entirely relied upon as historical truth that we feel the need to seek objective truth, which is certainly well founded and necessary.

There is a lack of evidence for anything like a civilization originating in Altiplano, the lack of any knowledge of Atlantean kings or kingdom or empire of expansion into the Meditteranean outside of Plato.  Yet we should expect that given the passage of time from the Atlantis story to Plato’s time that it had become a collection of information: geographical, mythical and legendary.  Whether Solon, Critias, or Plato then used this as the basis for an epic tale about Athens is what is impossible to ascertain.  Yet if this occurred it should not deviate attention from the source material that is clearly contained in the dialogues, nor to ignore the presence of a physical site that matches its description, merely because it has already been concluded (without certainty) that it could not exist because it is entirely fictional.  That is, ironically relying upon the use of reason to oppose observable facts.

Allen is not merely grasping at straws, rather he has attained a good amount of corroborating evidence, enough to encourage further attention at least; but one would only hope that he would declare a reference for every piece of knowledge he brings in, just to remove any doubt about its source or reliability.  So we should credit the many details that have been verified, not dismiss it all because there are a few yet that cannot be adequately accounted for.  However, it is also proper not to become too engrossed in the search for Atlantis, or anything else, to the detriment of a more thorough and extensive understanding of human history through careful and scientific studies.  So in essence, if the evidence is there eventually it should be uncovered, but not at the expense of the entire history of the region.

The difficulty is that it is not itself enough to just show comparable features, yet it would appear that the only evidence that is truly lacking is simply the evidence of a once human civilization on the site.  Of course what it actually was like might differ as much from the later account of it as Solomon’s kingdom was from how it is described in the Bible.  That is, we might be looking for something far more modest than classic or modern portrayals would make with it.  In addition, the actual kingdom would apparently have had something to do with the Amazonian culture, which was quite developed and populous before the arrival of Old World diseases, by which the influence of this kingdom could be felt in near quarters and into the Mediterranean.

      If such a thing is true, then the kingdom must have had great wealth and this must have come from the presence of metals in that location.  The importance of this is evident, thus traces of South American metals found in other parts of the world, specifically around the Mediterranean, would help to bolster the notion of a Copper Age empire from South America.  Yet proving this and proving a connection between the Andes and the Sumerians might lend some credence to various ideas contained in the Atlantis legend, but without actually being able to prove the existence of a historical Atlantis itself.

However, the ones that are going to draw the most criticism are any that don’t fit with the proposed site, the most flagrant being the presence of many elephants, horses and chariots, and a war and occupation of the region around the Mediterranean.  Could it be that these and only these features were a later addition, or are they actually accurate?  Unless a skeletal horse or pieces of a chariot are found in context, it seems doubtful that any such thing would be believed.  It is possible that llamas or alpacas were meant, but these are pack animals rather than hauling animals.  (It is difficult but not impossible to imagine that they could have pulled a cart or chariot, but it would have to need to be of an unusually specific design.)  Yet if these are the only details that do not match, considering that the bulk of the evidence does match, we can hardly reject the rest merely because there is some evidence that does not appear to fit (which can arise because it doesn’t fit or simply because it has been understood it’s meaning wrongly).  It is not beyond belief that more than one account of subsiding islands might have become conflated in ancient times; perhaps there was a smaller island off the coast of Africa that had elephants and horses that at some point subsided and created a shoal of mud just beyond the Pillars of Hercules, much closer to Plato’s time.  (But is there anyone else who has suggested the Atlantic Ocean was not navigable in the times of Classical Greece?)

There are certainly still questions to ask about what role the composition served, however if a site is found it matters little how Plato decided to use it, if he or Solon were using it as the basis for an intended epic story about Athens that was never completed.  It is not even sure we can rely upon the time period specified in Critias, even if there were no ambiguity and we could establish it around a certain time-period BC.  With claims that there was metallurgy of some kind, and widespread use of metals, it is relevant of course that bronze and iron are not mentioned, which suggests that either orichalcum was bronze (copper and tin) or was tumbaga (copper and gold).  If it were bronze it would seem likely that it would have been recognized as bronze (unless it was seen before most people had a name for that metal).  The most likely equivalent to something described as red-gold would be tumbaga.  Either way it would imply a time-period prior to the Bronze Age.  All we know for sure is that it must have been at the latest about 1000 BC but perhaps only as early as 6000 BC.

 

So what is still required to secure the final proof?  It is really not for anyone to say to establish a criterion, because there is no way to know what evidence will come to light.  While Plato has provided a large amount of detail it is hardly a full and extensive history, in addition to having been transmitted several times by those who had no first-hand knowledge of it.  But given what is already known there are some things that would help the case?

First, the channels must be proven to have been manmade canals by some means (unless the fault lines create grooves that can be used as canals, in which case it wouldn't matter if they were man-made or natural).  This never means the removal of all doubters, merely that there is significant proof that they are manmade, or that they are not fault lines.  Partly because if they were viewed initially to be fault lines, no matter how rotten prevailing with precedence is, those working in the field will have learned this and will not be eager to agree to its overthrow without good evidence, even as it often happens that such beliefs become established rather early on nothing but the authority of giants of the field and then are merely accepted later without any hard intrinsic proof to justify these conclusions.  The canals would also have to preferably date to something that could match the age of Atlantis (although it is possible they might have been used over millennia) so this might be difficult to establish.  However, it is not out of the question, provided planted evidence and hoaxes can be avoided, eventually some details about who built the canals would come to light.  In addition, generally more archaeological work in the region, rather than a focus on Atlantis itself, to build up a better picture of prehistoric South America, which might well suggest some such conclusion.  At some point Plato’s account might end up merely as a footnote to far more interesting story arising from sites and finds that prove the existence of a Copper Age empire originating in the Andes and Amazonia.

      However, if the actual site of the city is irretrievably lost, then it seems rare that any city sitting on a volcanic ridge would leave any archaeological evidence of its existence.  Thus it seems likely that there will be nothing available other than circumstantial evidence, all pointing to the existence of an empire or influence that has no center.  At this point it would be useful to not have entirely dismissed the Atlantis tale, since this might prove our best evidence to fill in the missing pieces.  But it is likely that the word “likely” will never be removed even if it is largely accepted, in some cases because it is such an ancient site, there are not other histories that corroborate, and that the archaeological evidence will be sparse if not nonexistent.  Any influential empire does not exist at a single site, so even if the city was destroyed the rest of its extent will reflect the same structure and essences.  So there should be isolated examples of it here and there, but only when they are taken in context.  Isolated items or circulated stories are not sufficient proof, not because they aren’t genuine but only because they cannot be accepted as genuine, so there is still some way to go.  But every piece of well-founded and incontestable corroborating evidence helps.  Yet although there might not be enough evidence to prove that Altiplano is the site of Atlantis, given the right evidence it wouldn’t take very much more to tip things in favor of it, but it would need to be a significant find.

If we think we know what that might be, it can become all to enticing for someone to hope to secure final proof by filling in the expected lacking evidence with a cheap substitute.  So the fault will occur when the suggestion that Altiplano was Atlantis will encourage people to make it so, either because they come to believe it themselves or because they see the gains to be had from doing so.  (It has happened before.)  So it is valuable not to be too eager to believe it is true since it is already being taken as true.  This could do irreparable harm to any attempt to conduct any proper investigations that could use the evidence, provided all the evidence was reliable.  Forgeries and fakes ultimately disserve the purpose of not only history but often of the proof itself, because it means that legitimate evidence will be dismissed when it comes to light, and this would be ruinous for not only the future of Atlantis but to our proper comprehension of human history, rather than to continue to desire to create a mythical past suited to our own liking, present politics, and current thinking.

While tourism can be of benefit in increasing the value of historical sites for the local population, in the case of Atlantis there is a danger that it will spur on as many hoaxes and deceptions that will encourage the conviction that the region once was the site of the fabled city of Atlantis.  It would be unfortunate to find that those studying the site cannot separate out fact from fiction, while there is liable to be very little in the way of archaeological evidence if there are any remains from the presumed lost city.

 

So to summarize, what can be concluded?  While the evidence does not provide any evidence of a city of Atlantis or an Atlantean empire, it does suggest that some connections did exist, and it is perhaps true that the stories were brought into Egypt through trade and exchanges with this far land.  What would have been passed between them is knowledge and trade goods, descriptions, and myths.  The evidence is currently strongly in favor of knowledge of Atlantis arising out of Andean myth combined with some knowledge of the South American continent.  This means that the evidence leads to the conclusion that Atlantis was not a fiction invented by Plato but a myth of the ancient Aymarans.  What is lacking is the existence of strong historical details, anything that would prove the existence of a civilization, kingdom, or empire originating in Altiplano.  The existence of Aymaran twin kingdoms could lead to myths about progenitor twin kings, without ever proving the mythical kings actually lived.  The geographical formations at Pampa Aullagas could well have been, and in fact were, described as having arisen from the actions of a god.  If a village is destroyed by a flood, in hindsight it must be attributed to sins of that village against the water god, which is merely a human explanation for a display of godly wrath.  It would then be this information that was used to create the Atlantis story in Plato.  Thus if Allen can make a claim it is having discovered the probable location of Atlantis, which is currently about the same as having identified the Pishon River or Mount Sinai.

Despite all of this it is certainly possible that most of Allen’s other conclusions are valid, that forthcoming evidence would even go so far as to prove such a city and empire, perhaps falling short only on the matter of the war itself.  Currently it could be viewed that this outcome, falling short of an actual proof of Atlantis as a real place, implies scientific requirements seem to be only standing in the way of what seems like an obvious conclusion.  It is not improper to suggest possible conclusions about one thing or another, but usually these possibilities are used to bolster one another, and so the conclusions become more and more established upon a house of cards, but with seeming verification.  The danger of not following the standards of historical and scientific proof is that we are essentially creating a world of myths, and myths ill serve us because they often end up telling us what we already believe or worse yet what others want us to believe.  While we can say that the study of human history does not have modern repercussions, it certainly does, and serious ones relating to economy, religion, and national identity.


Appendix

 

Across the Atlantic

 

There is a great limit on the amount of documentation we have from before the Iron Age, and even during the Iron Age the texts come from civilizations.  Even with the great deal of knowledge that has been lost about the Roman Empire, we know far more about the Romans than we do about the Germans from the same time, and so even less about cultures that were not known to the Romans.  Much of this of course has to do with the loss of histories in Europe, in the Near East, and in Central America, either oral or written histories.  These losses have affected us profoundly in terms of what clues they might have provided about other areas of the world that in the absence of significant knowledge about them are either ignored or slowly being filled in through archaeology and other research.  This is the main reason why the study of mysteries is so significant, since it is based upon an attempt not to mythologize the past but to reclaim what really happened in the past using only the remnant clues and scraps of evidence.  However, one must be cautious to draw too much from too little evidence.  Although we rely upon written records from the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Hittites and others to illuminate the past, this is essentially the civilized world, and in the absence of documented evidence from other societies there would be numerous peoples, episodes, and expeditions that have been lost to history.

Consider the hypothesis about the Sea Peoples from the late Bronze Age having been a remnant group from Atlantis.  This association is usually made because the proliferation of these people corresponds to the supposed Bronze Age date for the destruction of Atlantis around 1200 BC.  Allen’s presentation of a headdress shown on the Egyptian wall at Medinet Habu being similar to the Amazonian natives could just be coincidence, but it could also reveal something quite different: that some of the sea people that came to the Mediterranean were from the Amazon culture, or that some of the sea people eventually traveled to and settled in Amazonia.  Either of these is plausible, however, merely because there was interaction between people in South America and the Mediterranean does not mean that it has anything to do with Atlantis; they might not even be from the same areas or eras.  If we presume, for instance, that some of the Sea Peoples were captured after their attack on the Egyptians, and then either were kept as prisoners or merely integrated into Egyptian culture.  They might have been telling myths themselves and could have brought the story of Atlantis with them.  However, it is doubtful the Atlantis invasion would be credited by the Egyptians as being driven back by Athens if it were in fact done by the Egyptians themselves!

Nor would the mention of an island in the fifth book of Diodorus, discovered in the Atlantic by Phoenician sailors who had been blown westward by immense winds, mean that they were seeing anything other than South America.  It cannot ever prove that South America was Plato’s Atlantis.  Although it is more clear now that Amazonia supported a vast and populous network of societies, who could very well have reached Africa and the Mediterranean, a telling indicator is the presence and spread of diseases, since most often isolation between the two halves of the world could be proven by the lack of the spread of some diseases.  However, were there not episodes of rampant diseases spreading prior to Columbus?

The difficulty with any evidence presented, is that what might be provided as evidence of contact and exchange between Africa and South America before Columbus is a separate issue to the existence of Atlantis.  So while it is certainly valid to argue that similarities exist between the Old and New world, this appears to only suggest a trans-Atlantic communication of some kind.  It could even be that expeditions like the Welsh one by Prince Madoc in the 11th century (Berlitz 1969) or Alexander the Great’s fleet that sailed out of the Mediterranean and never returned might well have ended up in the Americas (Berlitz 1969).  However they might have ended up somewhere in Europe, Africa or sunk somewhere in the Atlantic; there is no way to do anything more than speculate until specific evidence is found.  There is also an account of red Indians having made it to Germany and in the first century and were promptly enslaved (Berlitz 1969).  It is certainly plausible to presume that small numbers did at times become aware of the opposing continents, and perhaps heard stories from one another, which could have led to the story of Atlantis but still hasn’t been proven.

 

Kantor (5th century B.C.), a follower of Plato, reported that he too had seen the columns on which was preserved the story of Atlantis as reported by Plato.  Other ancient writers wrote of a continent in the Atlantic, sometimes with names other than Atlantis and sometimes calling it Poseidonis after Poseidon, the god of the sea and the lord of Atlantis. (Berlitz 1969: 34-35)

 

Proclus (410-485 A.D.), a member of the neo-Platonic school, said that not far to the west of Europe there were some islands whose inhabitants still kept the memory of a larger island which once ruled them and which had been swallowed up by the sea.  In commenting on Plato, he wrote “…that such and so great an island once existed, is evident from what is said by certain historians regarding the external sea.  According to them, there were seven islands in that sea.  According to them, there were seven islands in the sea, in their times, sacred to Persephonë, and three others of great size, one of which was sacred to Pluto, one to Ammon, and one to Poseidon, this last being a thousand stadia in area.  They also say that the inhabitants of this island sacred to Poseidon preserved the remembrance of their ancestors, and of the Atlantic island that existed there, and was truly wonderful; and which had for centuries dominated all the islands in the Atlantic Sea, and was also sacred to Poseidon…” (Berlitz 1969: 35)

 

In the Odyssey Homer tells of Scheria, an island far in the ocean where the Phaecians “…dwell apart, afar on the unmeasured deep amid its waves – the most remote of men….” (Berlitz 1969: 36)

 

A Greek historian, Timagenes (1st century B.C.), commenting on the inhabitants of ancient Gaul, makes mention of a story current with them that they had once been invaded by a people from an island which sank.  He further states that some of the Gauls themselves believed that they came from a remote land in the middle of the ocean. (Berlitz 1969: 38)

 

At another point in his histories Herodotus speaks of a tribe called the Atarantes and also of still another tribe, the Atlantes, “…who take their name from a mountain called Atlas, very tapered and round; so lofty, moreover, that the top, it is said, cannot be seen, the clouds never quitting it, neither summer nor winter….” (Berlitz 1969: 37)

 

What Diodorus Siculus mentions is a war between the Amazons and the Atlantioi.[1]  The Amazons from an island in the west Hespera, which was in the Tritonis Marsh “near the ocean which surrounds the earth” and the mountains “called by the Greeks Atlas” and “The story is also told that the marsh Tritonis disappeared from sight in the course of an earthquake, when parts of it which lay towards the ocean were torn asunder” (Berlitz 1969) clearly refers to locations in Africa, the Atlas mountains in western North Africa.  Diodorus continues his myth:

 

       “…The kingdom was divided among [t]he sons of Uranos, the most renowned of whom were Atlas and Kronos.  Of these sons Atlas received as his part the regions on the coast of the ocean, and he not only gave the name of Atlantioi to his peoples but likewise called the great mountain in the land Atlas.  They also said that he perfected the science of astrology and was the first to publish to mankind the doctrine of the sphere; and it was for this reason that the idea was held that the entire heavens were supported upon the shoulders of Atlas….” (Berlitz 1969: 39-40)

       “For there lies out in the deep off Libya, an island of considerable size, and situated as it is in the ocean it is distant from Libya a voyage of a number of days to the west.  Its land is fruitful, surpassing beauty.  Through it flow navigable rivers which are used for irrigation, and the island contains many parts planted with trees of every variety and gardens of great multitudes which are traversed by streams of sweet water; on it also are private villas of costly construction, and throughout the gardens banqueting houses have been constructed in a setting of flowers, and in them the inhabitants pass their time during the summer season….There is also excellent hunting of every manner of beast and wild animal….

       “And, speaking generally, the climate of this island is altogether so mild that it produces in abundance the fruits of the trees and the other seasonal fruits of the year, so that it would appear that the island, because of its exceptional felicity, were a dwelling place of the gods and not men….” (Berlitz 1969: 40)

 

What is unusual about Diodorus’ account is that it presents very similar details to Plato’s story, and the mention of Atlas and the Atlantioi.  Merely because there are references to Atlantis after Plato does not mean they are independent and not derivatives of this story of Solon in Timaeus or Critias.  Diodorus’s descriptions and tone are similar to Plato’s but are not clearly based directly upon them.  In fact his information is not about a war between Atlantis and Athens but the Atlantioi and Amazons.  What is curious is the reference to the submergence of the Tritonis Marsh resembles the description of Athens’ warriors being swallowed up by the earth as described in Plato.

Thucydides mentions an altogether different location when, after mentioning the inundation of the Orobiai sea in Euboia, he states: “A Similar inundation occurred in the neighborhood of Atalantë, an island on the coast of the Opuntian Locri….”  This would an island off the coast of the east side of Greece.  There is not enough here to go by, since regardless of what these descriptions say or mean, the existence of Atlantis does not hinge upon them, since if a physical site is located it would be proven to have existed despite stories and myths that might have been the orally transmitted knowledge of it in the Mediterranean region.

It is far more difficult to substantiate descriptions of lands to the west or names within mythology, since claiming relationships to places to the east or west can arise merely from an association with the direction of the rising or setting sun.  A greater number of similarities, like those that show how Quetzalcoatl is a very similar figure to Atlas, cannot yet be suitably explained.  One might suggest a connection therefore between certain Old World and New World peoples, even through linguistic similarities, but how then do we conclude what it indicates that can be taken as factual?  If something lends itself to a dozen different plausible theories, it is clear that we have too little evidence to say anything conclusive yet, nor does it make too much sense to detail every interpretation put forward or even every possible interpretation.  It is usually only because Atlantis is well known that it appears to some authors to provide an easy explanation to any otherwise mysterious or unexplained findings or phenomena.

      So here then there is nothing that can at all corroborate with Atlantis.  There are numerous historical episodes that lack suitable proof and our knowledge of the yet unproven Atlantis cannot be used in the way it sometimes is, despite the tremendous number of pages in books about Atlantis dedicated to evidence of cross-Atlantic contact prior to Columbus.  These pursuits however have certainly acted to accumulate examples of correspondences, and do often times hint about interesting possibilities, but while an interesting pursuit it fails to do anything to lend support to the existence of Atlantis nor that Atlantis is equatable with South America.

 

 

[1] It should be mentioned at least that the conquistadors who came through Amazonia named the river because of the presence of female warriors to be found there.  Such a thing has yet to be proven, however.

 

New World to Old World

 

Even if Plato’s Atlantis is proven to be a real location, what more does it tell us?  Apart from establishing that such and such a place was known to the Greeks in the Atlantis story, we know so little about the place apart from its general geographic description that it serves little else to history, unfortunately, because Plato’s account of it ends up being so small.  It is a far less important and revolutionary finding than to determine more general questions about the development of humanity, including the question of contact between New and Old World before the arrival of the Spaniards.  This is so even if it were conclusively established that Atlantis could be added to the map, that it still adds very little to our understanding of history, yet it is very unlikely it could ever be conclusively established, and thus cannot be relied upon in support of further conclusions.  No matter how much evidence is found in support, unless something were excavated that proved the site was called Atlantis or some equivalent variant of it, it could never be so well established.

Much of the evidence pertaining to Atlantis, starting with Ignatius Donnelly, has often become consumed with providing examples of how the Old World had contact with the New World prior to Columbus.  Such a thing is not as groundbreaking as it might seem if we do not take a grade school history lesson as Gospel Truth.  As with any other situation, the established view requires new theories to be absolutely convincing, to “change the paradigm”, yet often the established view while being held to tenaciously is often accepted based upon precedence more than proof.  So how would anyone react if it were suggested that the civilizations of the Old World actually originated in the New World’s Amazonian civilization?  Merely because it goes against everything that is currently accepted should not by itself cause us to dismiss it entirely, unless we could provide incontrovertible evidence that such a thing could never have taken place.  If we now no longer seek to further the attempt to prove the existence of Atlantis, leaving archaeology behind us, but speculate that a South American empire existed based upon the rising metal trade beginning with the Copper Age we could ask ‘what would be the possible impact of it upon the world?’

Even without archaeological or historical evidence it is certainly possible or even likely that a civilization that developed along the Amazon and eastern South America would either have made excursions to the Mediterranean region and to have met those coming from there who came across to them.  That there is no evidence should not preclude us from recognizing that such things are possible or even probable.  Whether it can ever be concluded is another matter, but there might be evidence of connections that not only suggest communication and trade but actual colonization and settlement, to suggest the Sumerians came through into the Amazon River to found the civilization there or that the Amaryans came through the Pillars of Hercules to found the Sumerian civilization there.  Various methods could be used, linguistics, the comparison of measurement systems, imported technology, exchange of plants, and genetic traces, even apart from any direct reference.

To begin the question on the assumption that Atlantis did exist, where does it then fit into history?  This question needs to first address when it is supposed the Atlantis war with Athens actually took place.  For the various evidence presented, the point between the Copper Age and the Bronze Age is the most well supported, about 3500 BC.  A crude attempt to fit this into a timeline is shown in Figure 6.

 

Figure 6.

How Atlantis would fit on BC timeline

Atlantis Timeline

 

If a Copper Age empire existed in Atlantis, it could have been the first civilization on the Earth, and thus could well have become populous and sent out expeditions to other areas of the world, as all empires are inclined to do.  Could they have mounted something like an invasion into the Mediterreanean?  If they had, could not some of them also have remained?  Considering that the destruction of Atlantis took place about 3500 BC, do we find that there is anything that appears after this time that might have arisen out of it: for instance, things that arrived suddenly into the archaeological record around this time, or the establishment of new civilizations?  The answer is that it is believed that the Sumerian civilization began at least as early as 3300 BC and Egyptian around 3200 BC.  Is it possible that these civilizations originated from the fall of the civilization in South America?  It is certainly possible, but there is nothing that proves it.  Any similarity between the styles or designs of the Old World and New World could not prove which way diffusion went (dating is not so precise).

Although Plato mentions that the Atlanteans had writing (hieroglyphics arose 3400-3200 BC) [1], horses and chariots (proto-chariots were in Mesopotamia 3000 BC), and ocean-going ships (Egyptian ships as late as 3100 BC).  Merely because someone drew the picture of a seagoing vessel in Egypt does not mean it originated from there, and the drawings of them in the Nubian Desert date to the very time period we are supposing the South American empire existed.  Yet there is nothing that suggests that the arising of any of these is imported from elsewhere, rather that it appears that all form part in the continuity of the development of the individual civilizations from present and verified precursors (as far as current supposition favors), and there is nothing in Plato that suggests that Atlantis was the source of either the Sumerian or Egyptian civilizations (and certainly the Egyptians should know).

Usually archaeology can detect the sudden appearance of something that indicates the arrival of a new group into an area or evidence of colonization.  Yet there is still no sure method to assess archaeological interpretation in a way that can be verified beyond merely a record of the material objects that are located in the ground.  Clearly we are most often at the mercy of the evidence that is uncovered, but there are other methods such as linguistic, genetic, mythologic, and writing styles.  There are verified traces of coca and tobacco in Egyptian mummies towards the end of the Bronze Age (Allen 2009, 40), and Allen makes a reference to the sudden appearance of plants native to South America into Africa and vice versa in the very time we are supposing the South American empire existed (6000-3000 BC) (Allen 2009, 149).

However, a few isolated finds will not be enough to revolutionize the picture of the past, often because they arise out of context, such as the Fuente Magna or Mediterranean amphora Allen mentions.  They could have been planted there on purpose but also because we cannot conclude too much from wild interpretations as to what such a find might imply.  For instance, finding a Greek amphora in South America does not mean there is evidence of trade, because the contents of a sunken vessel might simply have floated over and washed up on the coast.  (There could be other reasonable or possible explanations too.)  So we cannot rely on an interpretation that suits a certain conclusion when there isn’t anything to suggest anything so specific.  It still remains an interesting question as to whether certain civilizations of the New World might have been colonies from the Old or vice versa, but something far more would be required to prove it, found undisturbed and in context.


[1] It is interesting that among the New World civilizations, the Aztecs and Maya had writing but the Incas, who were the rulers of the Andes and a wide kingdom, did not.  This might suggest that the remains of an earlier Andes culture were dispersed to other regions.  The Aztecs believed thier place of origin was an island in the middle of a lake called Aztlan or Azland, which has been suggested by others might have been the city of Atlantis.  The Aztecs even went so far as to found their own city Tenochtitlan upon an island, the one that Cortes eventually laid seige to.  Although it should be mentioned in terms of time scale, this city was founded in 1325 AD, almost 5,000 years after the presumed destruction of Atlantis.


Sources

 

Allen, J. M.  Atlantis: Lost Kingdom of the Andes.  Floris Books: Edinburgh, 2009.

Berlitz, Charles. The Mystery of Atlantis. Grosset & Dunlap: NY, 1969.


J. M. Allen's Response (see www.atlantisbolivia.org)

 

On subpage 2 there are better photos which show other mountain tops on the Altiplano surrounded by what appear to be concentric irrigation canals, (smaller ones which are a standard feature of the area, but curiously all of them hit by earthquakes), some regular square plots using a “stade” of 330 feet which suggests the 330ft or half-furlong was the actual length of the 3,000 x 2,000 stade description of the plain  (measuring across the plain to the edges as opposed to just to the edge of the lake and on subpage 4 I have put more information about the war and a possible scenario as to how it relates to Plato’s story, namely that whether or not an actual civilisation called Atlantis existed, it seems certain that the first part of his story was based upon a description of South America and the Altiplano, and the second part, about the war, chariots, ships etc, may have been inspired by the war which began with the Trojan war, continued with the attacks of the Sea Peoples then ended with the defeat by the Greeks of the invading Persian armies which tried to conquer the Greeks.

Bearing in mind Plato’s philosophical purposes it may be that he drew these elements together for his final story and whereas his “years” may have been “lunar months” it seems also possible that he simply set it 9,000 years previously to push it back into the more respectable distant past.

As you point out in your review, there are so many things that we simply do not know and your comment “I feel a certain level of dismay that no one will take up and pursue your line of investigation” sums up the situation pretty well, there is a limit to what one person can do by themselves without any support, funding or any academic or other backing and the general lack of public or academic interest is the main reason I have not gone back to Bolivia at the present time although I have put together a number of sites for further investigation, including sites completely overturned by earthquakes which can be seen on Google earth and probably also led to the demise of the Tiwanaku culture.

Incidentally, if you see current footage of present disasters especially earthquakes, landslides and for example the other day on TV we had a reporter standing on what looked like a beach (in Pakistan after the floods) with a few rounded boulders, she said “It’s hard to believe that only a few days ago there was a modern school building standing on this site.”

It seems probable that anything on the Altiplano would have been swept away by the force of water and passage of time, the canals which can be clearly seen on Google Earth are interesting because not so long ago everyone insisted there were no canals only fault lines; these are probably more recent than any date compatible with a Plato timescale or have been reworked over generations, yet they have never been investigated and the authorities in the region were totally unaware of their presence or extent…..

The essential point is that all of the geographic factors of Plato’s tale belong to and are typical of the Altiplano, yet as you say it is completely ignored and only the other day there was another modern archaeologist on TV yet again with another documentary about Atlantis being inspired by Crete/Thera even though this location bears no relationship to the geographic description, which is probably why in such films the actual description is generally ignored.

Cut stones incidentally do not necessarily mean squared off, rectangular blocks of stone as in later building methods or as in Tiwanaku. Many Inca sites use stones which are not cut at all, or which are cut so that the stone fractures giving a smooth surface which is used on the outward facing side of the construction. The method was explained to me by the former rector of Oruro Univeristy, the natural stones contain very fine lines which when struck a blow with a hammer split the stones into more useable pieces. The red stones are naturally red as are the white and black stones, I’m told the colouring depends on the amount of gas present in the lava at the time it formed. In the local Quillacas (the next volcano) church some stones were originally painted to enhance the red and black and make a colourful pattern in the construction of the walls although the Quillacas volcano has naturally occurring red and black stones only whereas Pampa Aullagas has red, black and white….