n any study of Atlantis the primary source of analysis should begin with the only ancient records available on the subject. These are the two records written by Plato titled TIMAEUS and CRITIAS. In these two books Plato gives a detailed description of the Island of Atlantis including the geography, structural features, cultural aspects and industry. If indeed Atlantis did exist then the details provided by Plato are to be taken as the benchmark for comparison. One must keep in mind however that Plato himself wrote about Atlantis perhaps 1,000 years after Atlantis ended as a significant civilization. This then could mean that even Plato himself misunderstood the accounts of Atlantis.
My hypothesis is that Atlantis was a powerful state that was based on the island of Sardinia in the Western Mediterranean Sea. This powerful state was most fully developed in the pre Bronze Age and the early Bronze Age, say about 2000 BC to 1400 BC. These dates are supported by A. G. Galanopoulos' adjustments to Plato's time period for Atlantis. *1 (This time period will also be in accordance with other conclusions of this thesis.) It is also my belief that Atlantis controlled much of the rim of the Western Mediterranean and even made attempts to conquer the highly developed states of the Eastern Mediterranean including; Mignon Crete, early Hellenes Greece and Egypt. This would mean that Atlantis was primarily a sea power. Perhaps the earliest great sea power in history. But according to Plato Atlantis was defeated in their invasion attempt of the East by a combination of the Athenian navy and major earthquakes and floods. *2 Together these forces lead to the destruction of Atlantis as a major power. The defeat of Atlantis caused a major set back in the development of the cultures of the Western Mediterranean. However with new research the history of the Western Mediterranean may prove to be much richer than previously thought.
First lets review the confusion as to the whereabouts of the island of Atlantis. Plato tells us that Atlantis was an island located in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Pillars of Hercules. And that this island was larger than Libya and Asia together. He also tells us that there was a chain of islands leading from Atlantis to the West. And that these islands stretched towards a great continent which surrounded the island of Atlantis in all directions. *3 The main problem in accurately placing Atlantis according to Plato's description is that one must realize the perspective difference between Plato's Classical Greece of 450 BC and that of the earlier Hellenistic Greece of around 1500 BC. By Classical Greek times most of the Mediterranean world was well known to the Greeks and the Atlantic Ocean was considered outside of the straits of Gibraltar, known to the Greeks as the Pillars of Hercules. This view of the world is of course our own today. But even in Classical Greece the perceptions of the known world varied greatly from that of the modern age. Herodotus in The Histories was aware of the island of Sardinia. He however refers to Sardinia as being the "biggest island in the world. " *4 Yet today we know that Sardinia is in fact smaller than even its' southern neighbor Sicily. *5 Even by 98 AD Tacitus still referred to the Atlantic Ocean as "the unknown sea." *6 Therefore surely 1,000 years before Plato's time the early Hellenes may have had a much different outlook of their world.
If we were to assume that the Western Mediterranean was unknown to the Hellenistic Greeks then Sardinia would fit Plato's description of Atlantis all too well. First move the Pillars of Hercules back from Gibraltar to the Straits of Messina located between the Southern tip of Italy and Sicily. Sardinia is a large island beyond the Straits of Messina. There are the Baleares, a chain of islands from Sardinia leading Westward. And a great continent surrounds Sardinia if together we include Spain, France, Italy and North Africa.
Now lets look at the specific details of the island itself from Plato and compare these to the island of Sardinia. For this comparison however we must refer to the geography of ancient Sardinia of around 1500 BC.
First of all Plato gives a geographic description of the island as "For the most part it was lofty and precipitous except for a level plain immediately around the capital city. This plain was oblong shaped and faced southward. The plain in turn was surrounded by mountains." *7 Sardinia is nine tenths mountainous with the Campidano Plain being oblong shaped and opening to the south to the Gulf of Cagliari. *8
Next Plato talks of fountains both cold and hot around which the Atlantians constructed buildings that were used in winter as warm baths. *9 Sardinia has hot and cold springs all over the island. *10 In addition there are a number of archaeological findings of "sacred wells" built in ancient times around water sources. *11
Plato also says that the island had an abundance of wood of various types. *12 Sardinia was well forested before the systematic clearing of the island by the Carthaginians. *13
Another detail provided by Plato was that Atlantis had many tame and wildanimals on the island including many elephants. *14 Sardinia in ancient times was inhabited by various species of wild life to include dwarf elephants. *15
Plato mentions that mining activity was part of the industry of Atlantis. They used a material he referred to as "orichalcum. " He stated that this material was more valuable in those days than anything other than gold. *16 This "orichalcum" was dug out of the earth and appears to be a material that was very valuable to pre Bronze Age civilizations. Obsidian was a valuable material to many peoples before the Bronze Age. Obsidian was also a commonly used material on ancient Sardinia. *17
Another matter Plato discusses is the bull cult that many Atlantians followed. This cult is tied to the worship of Poseidon. Temples were built in honor of Poseidon and adorned with symbols of the bullhead. *18 Archaeological remains on Sardinia include rock cut tombs in the northwest part of the island that are decorated with carved bulls' heads in relief. *19
And finally, Plato describes the three primary used to decorate the buildings on Atlantis. They were white, black and red. *20 Not only are these three colors abundant naturally on Sardinia, but in addition the Ozieri pottery wares that are common on Sardinia are often colored with red ochre and black and red coral. Buildings belonging to the Nuraghi culture also have been excavated and found to be painted in red and black stripes. *22
These examples show how ancient and modern Sardinia matches very well with Plato's descriptions of Atlantis. Unlike any other place in the world!!
As if this isn't enough evidence lets us now turn to the archaeological remains of the astonishing Nuragic culture that exist on Sardinia. See links to other sites on this subject. The Nuraghi built huge towers closely resembling the Mycenaean tholi or "beehive tombs." *23 Radiocarbon dates of the materials from Nuraghi sites have placed this civilization as early as 1500 BC. *24
These tall pillars may also help to explain the Egyptian records of a people they referred to as the "Keftiu" who came from the far West. *25 The Egyptian records prior to 1400 BC mention these people as coming from an island power located in the western limits of their world. The Egyptians feared that the "Keftiu" might invade the eastern part of the Mediterranean. The word "Keftiu" has close ties with the Egyptian root word meaning, "pillar." *26
It is my hypothesis that the Nuraghi culture, the "Keftiu" and the Atlantis of Plato are all one and the same. And that the archaeological remains that exist on Sardinia are in fact the remains of the Atlantis civilization. The only piece of the puzzle that remains is the myth that Atlantis sunk to the bottom of the sea. For that explanation the world must wait until new evidence can be discovered to support or discredit this myth.
An expedition has been proposed to the island of Sardinia for the purpose of investigating the possibility that there are in fact ruins off the coast of Sardinia similar to that of the Nuraghi civilization which are found on the land. If you would like to assist in funding this expedition click here.
Foot Notes and Bibliography to Thesis
1. Ramage, Edwin S. ed. Atlantis Fact or Fiction? Bloomington and London:Indiana University Press, 1978, p. 41.
2. Plato, Timaeus: The Dialogues of Plato, Translation by Benjamin Jowett;Great Books of the Western World. Chicago, London and Toronto: EncyclopediaBritannica, Inc. 1952, p. 446.
3. Plato, p. 446.
4. Herodotus, The Histories. New York: Penguin Books, 1954, pp. 109 and 389.
5. Encyclopedia Americana. Vol. 24. New York: Americana Corporation, 1963. P. 299.
6. Ramage, p. 22.
7. Plato, Critias: The Dialogues of Plato, Translated by Benjamin Jowett; Great Books of the Western World. Chicago, London and Toronto: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1952, pp. 483 and 484.
8. Encyclopedia Americana. P. 299.
9. Plato, p. 483.
10. Guido, Margaret. Ancient Peoples and Places Sardinia. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1964. P. 28.
11. Balmuth, Miriam S. The Nuraghi Towers of Sardinia. Archaeology Vol. 34 Mr/Ap. 81. P. 42.
12. Plato, p. 484.
13. Guido, p. 29.
14. Plato, p. 482.
15. Guido, p. 29.
16. Plato, p. 482.
17. Guido, p. 44.
18. Plato, p. 484.
19. Guido, p. 49.
20. Plato, p. 483.
21. Guido, p. 42.
22. Guido, p. 57.
23. Balmuth, p. 40.
24. Guido, p. 111.
25. Ramage, p. 105.
26. Ramage, p. 67.
27. Balmuth, p. 43.
28. Ramage, p. 149.