Brief Reviews of the Latest in the Search for Atlantis-Updated 9/04
by Dr. Greg Little
Atlantis was Ireland?
There may now be more countries proposed as Atlantis than countries that have not been—especially during this year. The newest book to emerge proposes that Atlantis was actually Ireland. Ulf Erlingsson, a geologist, asserts the idea in his book "Atlantis from a Geographer’s Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land." Fairy land, hmmm, maybe.
Atlantis in Spain?
2004 has seen numerous "Atlantis Found!" headlines telling us that Atlantis was "definitely" in southern Spain, especially near Cadiz. Various reports and disputes have filled internet sites and sensationalized news reports. The "Atlantis was Spain" proponents have a rather bitter verbal war going on, seemingly fueled by Georgeos Díaz-Montexano and a mystery person who calls him- or herself Maria Fdez Valmayor. Most of the accusations being made are that all the other people who claim Atlantis is in Spain have somehow plagarized Georgeos Díaz-Montexano, stolen his idea, and that his translation of Plato is the only accurate one that has ever been done. Montexano also apparently claims that he was first with the idea and he "found" Atlantis on satellite images and on expeditions. Most of the verbal tirades were first written in Spanish and then a primitive language translator was used to convert the Spanish to English. The result is a bizarre, often nonsensical mishmash of accusations and name-calling that is hard to follow. The messages tend to be long and are often indecipherable. It is hard to understand why so many of those who reply to these messages do so, especially since nearly all of them are called Facists, liars, racist, hateful, etc. The large majority of these internet postings have been on the Atlantis Rising message board, but Montexano has also posted numerous websites with the same material (using the ubiquitous free hosting networks with unending popup ads). UPDATE: In late August, about a week after this article was posted, the Atlantis Rising message board with the running controversy was shut down by the website's administrator and further postings from "Maria" and her "supporters" were blocked. The person who calls him- or herself Maria Fdez Valmayor has also posted on a Yahoo group (Halls-of-Atlantis) and on Graham Hancock's site. While some postings on the Atlantis Rising message board have blatently suggested that Maria Fdez Valmayor and Georgeos Díaz-Montexano are one-and-the-same, and one person found that other messages supporting Georgeos Díaz-Montexano came from the same internet IP address used by Maria and Georgeos, most of those who replied to "Maria" seem to ignore it. Interestingly, while several messages on the Yahoo group are signed by the acidic "Maria," the Yahoo email address actually gives Georgeos Díaz-Montexano as the author. Maria is supposedly the secretary of Montexano's organization, but what this organization actually is—is unclear. The many links created by "Maria" and others to the free sites appear to give the impression that the organization gives tours, provides educational opportunities, and a host of other professional items, but all the websites remain under construction, so only the main page, with popups, is accessible.
Perhaps the most interesting information that has emerged from this comes from what purport to be the actual expeditions to the underwater coastal areas of Spain and Gibraltar. Photos have been taken of large metal connectors and stone, but most of the metal "artifacts" appear to be modern remains of dumping. The stones are interesting, but their context and use is not known. Montexano has made use of these photos on several websites, but others are credited as taking the photos. The photos can be accessed at a peculiar website here. Note that you have to scroll through many pages of tedious, extremely poorly translated text and all of the websites with material from Montexano have numerous popup ads.
For those who are interested, a photo of the "Parisian Marble" text Montexano claims has the story of the war between Atlantis and Athens is shown on a website. Interestingly, the translation doesn't mention Atlantis at all.
Who was the first to claim Spain was Atlantis?
We will probably never know for certain who first made the claim that portions of Spain were Atlantis. And unless one of the many proponents of the idea comes up with hard proof, chances are that very few people will actually care who was the first. But a 1928 book, "ATLANTIS IN SPAIN: A Study of the Ancient Sun Kingdoms of Spain," by E.M. Whishaw, certainly predated all the recent claims that "I was first." The 1928 book is still available and it cites earlier sources claiming that Spain could have been Atlantis.
Dr. Maxine Asher & Spain as Atlantis
One of the long-term researchers who has investigated first-hand the idea that a portion of Atlantis was off Spain's coast was Dr. Maxine Asher. She appeared on an "In Search of..." episode in the 1970s touting the idea. In 1973, Asher found large stones and artifacts off the coast of Spain but their diving attempts were apparently limited by many factors. Indications are that Asher did, in fact, discover remnants of a now-underwater complex. Asher is to be commended for her long-time research and persistence, as well as her discovery. The fact that all the more recent "Spain was Atlantis" proponents have basically ignored her work is pathetic. But Asher has to be given credit for her work. According to Asher's website, "Dr. Maxine Asher has now legally claimed her 1973 discovery of Atlantis in Cadiz, Spain." The website adds, "In June 2004, satellite photos were taken over the waters of Cadiz, Spain, definitely proving the existence of Atlantis."
Well, okay then.
As far as the "definite proof" obtained from a satellite image claim, in truth, not a shred of evidence supports it. Here, in part, is what was reported in the June 2004 online issue of Alternate Perceptions:
Satellite images 'show Atlantis' —BBC Headline (June 6, 2004)
The most recent headlines announcing the discovery of Atlantis have created a flurry of activity on the internet. While the BBC and a few other news organizations have given the impression that the ruins of the major temples in the Center City of Atlantis have been physically found, that assertion is not at all true. Yet the BBC subtitled its sensationalized article with a teasing one-liner: "A scientist says he may have found remains of the lost city of Atlantis." The media articles on this discovery come from interviews with Dr. Rainier Kuhne from the University of Wuppertal (Germany). In June 2004 Kuhne published an online article in the UK journal Antiquity titled, "Location and dating of Atlantis." Apparently, subsequent actions by Montexano and "Maria" caused the journal to make changes in the article which Kuhne disliked immensely.
The article begins with comments on the idea that Spartel Island could have been the source of Plato's story of Atlantis. In 2001, Jacques Collina-Girard asserted that a now-submerged mud shoal, located 50 miles west of Gibraltar, was Atlantis. While the shoal was an island in 10,000 B.C., today it is about 170 feet below the surface. Rising sea levels at the end of the last Ice Age submerged the island in about 9000 B.C. The Antiquity article mentions (incompletely) Plato's statement that from the main island of Atlantis one could travel to other islands and reports that three smaller islands (just to the West of Spartel) also existed during the last Ice Age. What the article neglects to mention is that Plato added that, by hopping from island to island, the "opposite continent" could be reached. Some proponents of the Spain idea believe that "the opposite continent" obviously meant Spain.
The essence of Kuhne's assertions about Atlantis are based on a single satellite image, and a poor one at that, and on an examination of the image by Werner Wickboldt. One of the satellite images, focusing on a marshy area near Spain's southern coast, showed incomplete and vague outlines of what looked like two rectangular forms. Not far from the rectangular forms, a partial circular line, which could be a road, stream, hillside, or even tree line was vaguely seen. Kuhne speculates (wildly) that the two rectangular formations are the remains of temples described by Plato that were located on the center hill at the middle of the Center City of Atlantis!
Kuhne admits that the two rectangular forms are larger than the buildings described by Plato and the difficult to perceive partial circle on the satellite image (asserted to be one of the concentric canals ringing the city) encloses a larger landmass than Plato described. Kuhne explains this by stating Plato "understated" the size of Atlantis. As another alternative, he says the measurement Plato used to describe Atlantis (the Stade) may have been 20% larger than typically thought. Curiously, many scholars assert that the stade employed by Plato is actually much smaller than thought.
In truth, the two rectangular forms are difficult to completely perceive. The site of the two rectangular forms lies in one of Spain's national parks. Curiously, neither the Antiquity article nor any of the published interviews with Kuhne report any on-site visits to the location whatsoever. Nor does it report any attempts to visit the site or to obtain information from locals! The BBC article stated that Kuhne hoped to attract the interest of archaeologists and obtain funding to mount some sort of expedition and excavation at the site.
Kuhne also asserts that the actual time frame of Atlantis' demise was around 500 B.C. rather than 9600 B.C. as Plato stated. In short, Plato's timeframe was completely wrong. The war fought between Atlantis and Athens was, according to the article, a series of recorded conflicts between "the Sea Peoples" and a variety of cultures in the Mediterranean in 1200 B.C. Since the Atlanteans lived on islands and the mysterious 1200-B.C. Sea Peoples supposedly lived on islands, according to Kuhne, they are one-and-the-same.
Kuhne asserts that the coastal region of Spain spanning the region from Cadiz to Gibraltar was the main island of Atlantis. He asserts that Plato's use of the words "island" or "isle" really mean "coast or region." Finally, as to the "sinking of Atlantis," Kuhne believes that a flood occurred on this Spanish plain sometime between "800 B.C. and 500 B.C." This flood gave the impression that the "island" of Atlantis sank.
Readers may certainly reach whatever conclusions they wish but, in essence, this recent "discovery of Atlantis" boils down to the following: two somewhat rectangular formations, both of which are larger than descriptions given by Plato, have been spotted on a poor-quality satellite image of Spain. No one knows what the formations actually are because the researchers who claim to have found Atlantis there haven't take the time to go there nor simply try to find out what is there from locals. Furthermore, they assert Plato meant 500 B.C. rather than 9600 B.C., he understated the size of Atlantis and used a different measurement than that traditionally accepted. Plato also meant to say that Atlantis was a coast or region rather than an island. In sum, according to Kuhne, Plato was wrong in just about everything he said about Atlantis.
Updates on the widely announced Summer 2004 expeditions in Cyprus & Spartel
Robert Sarmast, author of a widely-hyped book that proposes the Mediterranean island of Cyprus was Atlantis, was supposedly going to mount an extensive underwater expedition for two weeks around the island in July. It hasn't happened yet but as reported on his website, it will now occur in September. Samarast's website also has links for those interested in "investing" in the expedition. September isn't too far away, so we'll know soon if this expedition, which was supposedly well-funded, actually gets off the ground.
Spartel Island is a mud shoal located just to the outside of the Straits of Gibraltar and is now lying under 170-feet of water. But during the last Ice Age, Spartel was above the surface. In 2001, Jacques Collina-Girard touted the idea that Spartel could have been the basis for Plato's Atlantis. Girard had announced a planned expedition for this summer, but it didn't take place. UNESCO had supposedly granted funding, but the expedition has apparently been delayed until October. October isn't too far off, either. Actually, this isn't such a far fetched idea. Atlantis was an island empire and Spartel certainly could have been an outpost of the mythical maritime culture.
Updates on the Bahamas Atlantis Search
In a recent article in Atlantis Rising, archaeologist Bill Donato asserted that a formation near Cat Island in the Bahamas could have been Atlantis. The formation, called "Long Rocks," has been the site of numerous dives operated by commercial dive operators as well as the location of an expedition conducted there a few years ago to look for the remains of Atlantis. Large digital charter maps of the area, produced by the US government, show that the few curved rock formations there just don't fit any of the circular patterns described by Plato. In addition, the expedition that was conducted in the area (as well as work by other divers) found nothing of real significance there. An examination of the larger and more accurate maps of the area of Long Rocks makes it difficult to understand where the idea comes from that asserts that the rock formation "fits Atlantis perfectly."
Donato, one of the most consistent and respected researchers in the Bahamas, has conducted numerous expeditions in the Bahamas. He has made several important and intriguing finds indicating that an ancient culture may well have been in the region during the last Ice Age. He hopes to mount an extensive side-scan sonar and sub-bottom profiling of large areas of the region.
On the Yahoo! group, "Halls of Atlantis," Paul Bader announced on August 11 that he had become a Director of Donato's organization and they had immediate plans to visit Andros Island. The purpose is to find and inspect the underwater cave petroglyphs diver Herb Sawinski found there in 1972. Bader also reported that one of their team members was currently at Cat Island inspecting Long Rocks. Bader also announced the need for funding to support a submarine expedition to Bimini to inspect "what appears to be ruins off of Bimini located in 1998 with sidescan sonar."
In June 2004, we returned to Andros with a production team with the National Geographic. The underwater Andros Platform, found in 2003, which we believe may have been a breakwater or building platform, was investigated. We found areas that we had not previously seen and filmed several areas of the Platform that looked like they had large stone slabs arranged as steps. In addition, a University of Leiden Physics Department specialist analyzed the toolmark we found at Andros in 2003. He found another toolmark on our video and we soon reviewed more of the film we had taken during several visits in 2003. Numerous other toolmarks were found all of which escaped our attention when making our DVD. The toolmarks match countless other toolmarks on giant stone formations in Peru and elsewhere. In addition, the existence of an ancient structure in central Andros, overlooking the deep water on Andros' east shore, was verified during the June 2004 trip. A cave was found under the site of this ancient structure. The cave descended about 12-feet straight down and led to a 40-foot long horizontal cave with human artifacts.
One of the things we considered doing at Andros was refinding (and documenting) the underwater petroglyphs Herb Sawinsky found in the early 1970s. At Andros our time was completely taken up with other tasks and after talking to Sawinski about the location of the petroglyphs, we decided that we needed more time and equipment for the task. The petroglyphs are located in a narrow, small cave that is accessed on the shoreline at South Andros. The narrow cave descends deeply into salt water. We hope Donato and Bader find these interesting carvings as it will prove (to all but the skeptics) that Andros was inhabited thousands of years ago. During our several visits to Andros we managed to speak to numerous divers and dive operators, but not one reported ever encountering any petroglyphs in any blue holes or caves. However, these divers tend to dive in areas that are visually appealing and wide so that safety of those diving is a major consideration. We believe that Sawinski's petroglyph discovery was legitimate and think that if Donato and Bader's efforts are successful, it will represent a major archaeological discovery.
The ARE's Search For Atlantis DVD documentary has been updated with 2004 information and is now available. The price has been significantly reduced and the video is now 72-minutes in length. Information can be accessed here.
Cerritos & Beachrock Constructions
In early August, we visited little-known Cerritos Island off the Yucatan. (See related article this issue.) The island was densly packed with Maya construction that was confirmed by extensive archaeological excavations in the 1980s. The island also has the remains of a now-underwater breakwater enclosing a harbor—the only one in existence that is definitely dated to the Maya circa 300 B.C. to mid-century A.D. It was formed from large slabs of beachrock that bear a genuine resemblance to both the Andros Platform and the Bimini Road. We also obtained extensive descriptions and photos of ancient Mediterranean breakwaters and harbors. These were nearly all constructed of beachrock.
In brief, many skeptics (usually geologists) have asserted that since the Bimini Road was beachrock, and that the stones seemed to have come from the same general location, that it proves the Bimini Road is natural. These gullible skeptics have avoided discussing Mediterranean harbors constructed from beachrock and the Cerritos constructions, also made from beachrock. While the skeptical assertion that the beachrock at Bimini is a natural formation is based on "evidence" that ignores actual archaeological finds, there is one truth to their arguments. That is, nothing of definite ancient origin has been found at the Bimini Road that is clearly manmade. That statement, however, does not appear to apply to the toolmarks on the Andros Platform.
Upcoming National Geographic Documentary & DVD Release
The documentary made by the National Geographic focuses on three areas where researchers are seeking evidence for Atlantis. Thera, Malta, and the Bahamas/Cuba are the three areas. That documentary is part of a new series called "Naked Science." It is scheduled to be aired in November or December 2004.
Film from the Cerritos trip, an update on Andros and the toolmark research, and other recent findings—including an interview with Andrew Collins—will be on a new DVD documentary we are currently producing. The major thrust of the documentary is on the Search for Cayce's Yucatan Hall of Records at Piedras Negras, Guatemala. Portions of these will be included in presentations at the ARE's October Ancient Mysteries Conference.
After finishing their work with us at Andros, the National Geograhic film crew went to Cuba where they met the Canadian company ADC. They interviewed several people there and also obtained the underwater footage that ADC took of the formation about two years ago. ADC is contracted to find wrecks of Spanish ships in the hopes of recovering gold for the Cuban government. Although ADC has plans to refilm the formation soon, their plans have had a tendency to not materialze. We'll just have to wait. However, the NatG documentary, scheduled for a November or December, 2004 airing, will show ADC's earlier underwater footage that few people have seen.
2005 Bahamas/Yucatan Plans
In early 2005, the Bahamas research sponsored by the ARE will continue. Several areas will be extensively investigated using both dives as well as an underwater camera that will be mounted on a boat. A large section of the Gulf Stream as well as several other areas will be explored. In addition, more work at Piedras Negras is likely. We are currently in planning for all of these.