Atlantis "Evidence" Found in Spain and Ireland

Stefan Lovgren
for National Geographic News
August 19, 2004

An empire filled with riches, it was an awe-inspiring civilization west of the Strait of Gibraltar's Pillars of Hercules cliffs—until it was defeated by ancient Athens and consumed by a cataclysmic natural disaster.

"In a single day and night … the island … disappeared into the depths of the sea."

So wrote the Greek philosopher Plato in 360 B.C. about the island he called Atlantis. The story is one of the more mysterious and enduring tales in history.

Whether or not Atlantis actually existed has been a great topic of debate for thousands of years. Plato—whose celebrated "dialogues" Timaeus and Critias are the only historical sources of information about Atlantis—often mixed facts and fable.

Now new evidence claims that Atlantis was based on a real place—or places.

According to Rainer Kühne, a German physicist, satellite photos of southern Spain suggest that the "island" of Atlantis was in fact a region of the southern Spanish coast that was destroyed by a flood between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C.

"These satellite photos show rectangular structures and concentric circles that match very well with Plato's description of the palaces and the city of Atlantis," said Kühne, whose research was reported in the journal Antiquity.

But Ulf Erlingsson, a Swedish geographer, believes Plato combined elements from different times and places in the background description for his utopia. The distribution of the Atlantean empire seems to match that of the megaliths (large rough stone monuments) in Western Europe and North Africa. The geographic description of the island Atlantis, he suggests, is based on an island that is still standing today—Ireland.

"Just like Atlantis, Ireland is 300 miles [480 kilometers] long, 200 miles [320 kilometers] wide, and features a central plain that is open to the sea," said Erlingsson, the author of Atlantis From a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land.

"I have looked at geographical data of the whole world. Of the 50 largest islands, Ireland is the only one that matches Plato's description of the landscape," he added.

Wrath of the Gods

Plato, who derived his story from the Egyptians, described Atlantis as having a main city with a royal palace made of ivory, gold, and silver. The city featured bridges, canals, ships, temples, and even a horse-racing track.

Continued on Next Page >>


ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.