THEORY 3: The Legend of Minoa

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How Atlantis resembles the civilization of Minoans

More than two thousand years ago, Plato wrote about a civilization called Atlantis. Since then historians and scientists around the world have tried to find the evidence of its existence but all in vain. This chapter presents another theory of the existence of the city of Atlantis or the city of Crete.

Crete is now a part of modern Greece and lies just south of Athens across part of the Mediterranean Sea

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Crete is now a part of modern Greece and lies just south of Athens across part of the Mediterranean Sea. Before 1500 B.C. , it was the land to Europe's first great civilization, the Minoans. These Minoans were known for their advanced building skills, paved roads, palaces in an era where most Europeans lived in primitive huts. They were excellent ship builders and sailors and had skilled civic engineers.

However, around 1600 BC, the people of the Minoan civilization disappeared, just like the city of Atlantis did. Geologists and scientists found evidences of a number of natural disasters which could have cause the toppling state of Minoa.

The Minoans built a city on the island of Santorini, located just eighty miles to the north of Crete. What the Minoans didn't know was that they built their prosperous city next to a volcano, Thera. Some time around 1600 BC, an eruption occurred. However, it missed some of the major Minoan towns like Crete. On Crete, various broken pottery, building materials, chaotic layers of soil were found mixed up with beach pebbles, sea shells and microscopic marine fauna. Geologist like Hendrik Bruins and archaeologist Sandy McGillivray came to a conclusion that the city of Crete might have been hit by a tsunami.

"The latter can only have been scooped up from the sea-bed by one mechanism - a powerful tsunami, dumping all these materials together in a destructive swoop," says Professor Bruins.

"We're talking about an extreme event, certainly on the order of the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster," said Dr. Costas Synolakis, of the University of Southern California, in a 2008 Discover Magazine article. He came to the conclusion that the wave would have been as powerful as the one that devastated the coastlines of Thailand and Sri Lanka on Boxing day 2004 leading to the loss of over 250,000 lives.

But what caused the tsunami? It is believed that the volcanic eruption at Thera caused the powerful waves. Another evidence of carbon dating of a cow bone found in the chaotic layer of sediment confirms that it was deposited there around 1600 B.C., the same time that Thera erupted.

This newly founded evidences of a civilization washed away by powerful waves is strikingly reminiscent of a mystical city that sank beneath the waves which made many scholars and historians believe that maybe Atlantis is a folk tale of an ancient ...

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This newly founded evidences of a civilization washed away by powerful waves is strikingly reminiscent of a mystical city that sank beneath the waves which made many scholars and historians believe that maybe Atlantis is a folk tale of an ancient civilization swallowed by the sea.

But then how did Plato get the location and time wrong? Angelos Galanopoulos, a Greek seismologist suggested there was a mistake during translation of some of the figures from Egyptian to Greek and an extra zero added. This would mean 900 years ago became 9000, and the distance from Egypt to "Atlantis" went from 250 miles to 2,500. This would have suggested that, Plato mistakenly assumed the location of the Atlantis to be in the Atlantic Ocean.

Why Atlantis may not be the Minoan Civilization

We may never know for sure if Crete was Atlantis, because apart from the story of an advanced city swallowed by the sea, nothing really matches.

Firstly, According to Plato, in  his Critias and Timaeus dialogues, he states "that Atlantis was in the great ocean to the west of the pillars of Hercules (what is now called Gibralter)". The pillars of Hercules here suggest the Atlantic Ocean. Crete, on the other hand, is not far from the Greek coast which is located in the Mediterranean sea.

"Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, as well as over parts of the continent, and, besides these, subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia." – From Plato's Timaeus – Translation by Benjamin Jowett

Secondly, If Atlantis is Minoan then Plato exaggerated the power of its military

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Secondly, If Atlantis is Minoan then Plato exaggerated the power of its military. Minoans controlled Crete and some nearby islands, they never conquered Egypt or large areas of Europe as suggested by Plato. How could Crete support an army of one million men? and no evidence of walled cities have been found around the island of Crete as Plato described.

Thirdly, the timeline is wrong. The island is said to have existed nearly 9,000 years before Plato's time. But the Minoans vanished only 1,000 years before his life.

Classicist John Victor Luce wrote in Classics Ireland that we need to stop identifying archaeological ruins of ancient civilizations as Atlantis. The legendary island is "more properly a matter for literary criticism, that is, or should be, centered in the study of Plato's Timaeus and Critias," he said.

However, according to Luce, earlier generations of classicists believed more in the idea of how Atlantis was an inspiration of the Minoan civilization. He said that the idea was first raised in 1909 by a scholar named K.T. Frost, a professor at Queens University Belfast and James Baikie.

K.T Frost wrote an anonymous letter to the Times presenting his idea. He wrote that - "If Plato's story was an invention, however, we need not assume that it was a pure creation of his fancy. He might work into it anything that he had heard or read of earlier civilizations and dominions existing within the circuit of the Hellenic world."


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