BY DR P P FLAMBAS
PLATO'S CARIBBEAN ATLANTIS
A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION OF PLATO'S ATLANTIS STORY
What is “Atlantis”? For most people who have heard the name, it is just a vague notion about a mythical land that existed somewhere long ago but then sank beneath the sea. Some people may have seen speculative stories about Atlantis in movies, television programmes, magazines or on the internet. They also may have seen claims about someone’s latest “discovery” of the location of Atlantis.
Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis is a scientific analysis of the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s writings about the lost civilisation of Atlantis. The book is based on Plato’s two written works about the Atlantis story - the Timaeus and Critias dialogues. Plato wrote these two documents in about 360 BCE, and they are the only known works that give a detailed description of the civilisation of Atlantis.
Academics insist that Plato made up the whole Atlantis story and none of it is true, but Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis takes the opposite view. The book claims that Plato wrote about real places and events and did not make up any part of the Atlantis story. Several times in the Timaeus and Critias dialogues, Plato states that Atlantis existed and is not a myth. Plato was not a liar or charlatan. He devoted his life to finding the “truth” in all things, which he considered to be the purpose of philosophy.
PLATO’S ATLANTIS STORY
Many thousands of books and articles have already been written about “Atlantis”. They attempt to describe it or locations for it, but they satisfy very few of Plato’s detailed descriptions. Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis gives rational and scientific explanations for all of the features of the Atlantis story contained in Plato’s writings. It also includes a hypothetical geological cause for the existence and destruction of the large island that was the centre of the Atlantean civilisation.
Regrettably, very few people who think they know something about Atlantis have read the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s written accounts of it. Plato wrote about a prehistoric civilisation with Bronze Age technology that existed more than nine thousand years before his time or eleven thousand years before the present day. He describes the Atlanteans’ civilisation as an aggressive imperial military power that originated on what he called the “Atlantic island” located in the Atlantic Ocean.
With their large military force, the Atlanteans conquered and enslaved native cultures in the Western Mediterranean and then attempted to further expand their empire by conquering the cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Atlanteans were defeated in a war by the remaining free Mediterranean people and were eventually driven entirely from the Mediterranean region. Sometime after the Mediterranean war, the Atlanteans’ homeland on the “Atlantic island” sank into the sea during devastating earthquakes and floods. Plato also describes many details of a prehistoric Athenian society that fought in the war against the Atlanteans but was itself destroyed by natural disasters.
PLATO & SOLON
Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis describes and explains only what Plato wrote in his Timaeus and Critias dialogues. Although the book discusses some myths from ancient civilisations that may be relevant to parts of Plato’s Atlantis story, it avoids extreme opinions and interpretations. Too often in the past, many fantastic theories have tainted and trivialised serious discussion of Atlantis. Those past distortions have lumped Atlantis together with fringe ideas like UFOs and aliens, the Loch Ness monster, Yeti, Bigfoot, and so on. For that reason, Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis rejects any paranormal, occult, or extraterrestrial explanations for Atlantis or any speculation about lost super-advanced Atlantean technologies.
Plato based his Atlantis story in the Timaeus and Critias dialogues on the writings of the Ancient Greek political leader called Solon. Solon was an important historical figure in Athens in the 6th century BCE, almost two centuries before Plato lived there. During the early 6th century BCE, Solon travelled to the city of Sais in the Nile Delta in Egypt where he met with Egyptian temple priests who possessed “sacred records” about Atlantis. The Egyptian priests showed Solon those ancient historical records and told him the story of Atlantis and events that happened nine thousand years before his time. Solon wrote the details of the Atlantis story in Greek and eventually returned to Athens. Plato was a distant relative of Solon and likely received a written copy of Solon’s Atlantis story in the early 4th century BCE. Plato then used the details from Solon’s document to write about Atlantis in his Timaeus and Critias dialogues.
Ever since Plato wrote the Atlantis story over two thousand years ago, many different sites have been claimed as his “Atlantic island”. Several of these locations include the continents of North and South America; the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia, Santorini and Cyprus; the Black Sea; North-West Africa; southern Spain; the Bahamas, the Canary and Azores Islands in the North Atlantic; the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; Greenland; the submerged landmass of Sundaland in South-East Asia; and even the continent of Antarctica.
Plato repeatedly locates the Atlantic Island in the Atlantic Ocean. Although many location theories for the Atlantic Island place it within the Mediterranean, Plato makes clear distinctions between the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the lands on either side of the Atlantic.
Plato - “He (Poseidon) named them all (his sons); the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic.”
Plato - “for this sea (the Mediterranean) which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea (the Atlantic Ocean), and the surrounding land (Europe, Africa and the Americas) may be most truly called a boundless continent.”
Plato clearly states that the Atlantic Island was outside “the Straits of Heracles”. In Antiquity, the “Pillars of Heracles” were the headlands on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar. Plato’s statement that the “real sea” of the Atlantic Ocean has “surrounding land” that forms “a boundless continent” is contrary to the Ancient Greeks’ worldview. To the Greeks of Solon and Plato’s time, only one “Ocean” encircled the known continents of Europe, Libya and Asia, so no other lands lay beyond “Ocean”. The fact that Plato discusses any lands beyond “Ocean” implies some more ancient knowledge that was lost by Solon and Plato’s time.
WHAT WAS THE LOST ATLANTIC ISLAND?
In each of his Atlantis dialogues, Plato describes the size of the Atlantic Island. From the Timaeus - “the (Atlantic) island was larger than Libya and Asia put together”. From the Critias - “was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia”. In the time of Solon and Plato, “Libya” was a region of North Africa to the west of Egypt, while “Asia” was about half of modern-day Turkey. Those combined areas are about one million square kilometres, so the Atlantic Island was even larger than that. If the complete Atlantic Island were still above sea level, it would be the second-largest island on Earth; somewhere between the size of Greenland and New Guinea.
From Plato’s precise geographical descriptions of the location and size of “Atlantic island”, it had to be located in the Caribbean region because no other site satisfies all of his exact details. Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis argues that the Atlantic Island was once a large landmass, which then “sank” and now forms a large part of the floor of the Caribbean Sea.
Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis suggests that the now submerged Beata and Aves Ridges and the Venezuelan Basin were all uplifted in the extremely distant past and eventually emerged above sea level. These geological structures formed the complete Atlantic Island when they joined with the already emergent Caribbean islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
In the Caribbean region, the submerged Venezuelan Basin closely matches the size, shape, and geographical features of Plato’s description of the vast “Plain of Atlantis”. A stadion (plural stadia) is an ancient standard distance measure, here assumed to be 209 metres.
Plato - “Looking towards the sea, but in the centre of the whole (Atlantic) island, there was a plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile”…“it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia (627km), but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia (418km).”
Like Plato’s general description of the Plain of Atlantis, the submerged Venezuelan Basin is rectangular (oblong), flat and featureless (smooth and even). Plato also gives quite precise dimensions in stadia for the size of the Plain - 3,000 by 2,000 stadia. If the assumed length of a stadion is 209 metres, then Plato’s dimensions for the Plain of Atlantis are about 630km by 420km, which gives it a land area of just over 260,000km².
The submerged Venezuelan Basin’s dimensions are about 700km west to east from the foot of the Beata Ridge to the foot of the Aves Ridge. It is about 400km north to south from Hispaniola and Puerto Rico to the Southern Caribbean Deformed Belt. These dimensions closely match those that Plato gives for the Plain of Atlantis - approximately 630km by 420km. The total area of the submerged Venezuelan Basin is about 280,000km², which is extremely close to Plato’s 260,000km² for the Plain of Atlantis.
Plato - “The surrounding mountains (around the Plain of Atlantis) were celebrated for their number and size and beauty, far beyond any which still exist.”
When they were above sea level, the Beata and Aves Ridges bordered the emergent Venezuelan Basin to the west and east, extending over the entire north-south length of the Plain of Atlantis. Suppose the Plain of Atlantis once was the emergent Venezuelan Basin and was “surrounded by mountains” as Plato describes. In that case, the Beata Ridge could then be called the “Western Mountains” and the Aves Ridge the “Eastern Mountains” of the Atlantic Island. When the Venezuelan Basin emerged and formed the Plain of Atlantis, its northern margin would likely have been at about the same level as the southern coastal regions of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. The combined mountain ranges of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico may then have formed the Plain’s “surrounding mountains” in the north - the Atlantic Island’s “Northern Mountains”.
Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis is the result of a ten-year project dedicated to explaining Plato’s Atlantis story and its description of Atlantis and its empire. It is aimed squarely at the science behind Plato’s descriptions; its purpose is to convince people of the truth of Plato’s Atlantis story. The book applies current scientific knowledge from various disciplines to explain Plato’s descriptions of the Atlantic Island and the Earth at the time he specified. The main subject areas in the book include Ancient History, Archaeology, Human Prehistory, Palaeontology, Climate Science and Geology.
Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis investigates and tries to answer many questions that no one has adequately answered up to now, with the central questions being:
Was the Egyptian priests’ story of Atlantis copied and transmitted accurately over thousands of years in the “sacred records” that Solon saw?
Did Solon have an accurate translation of the Atlantis story from Egyptian to Greek?
Did Plato believe Solon’s story of Atlantis to be true?
Were Plato’s dialogues on Atlantis accurately transmitted from Plato’s time to the present day?
Assuming Plato’s geographical descriptions are accurate, where was the Atlantic Island and what did it look like?
When did humans settle on the Atlantic Island and how did they get there?
Did our human ancestors of over eleven thousand years ago have the physical and intellectual capacity to develop the technology of a Bronze Age civilisation?
Is there any continuity of the prehistoric civilisations and cultures Plato describes for the Atlantean Empire and the Mediterranean? What is the archaeological evidence for cultural continuity at those locations?
Could the Atlanteans have created the technology that Plato describes? What are the equivalent technologies from known ancient civilisations?
What prehistoric climate events could have caused the numerous “deluges” and other “destructions of mankind” the Egyptian priests describe in the dialogues?
What geological events might explain the destruction of prehistoric Athens?
What geological mechanism might explain the creation and destruction of the Atlantic Island?
Where could researchers look for physical evidence of the truth of Plato’s Atlantis story and the prehistoric Atlantean and Mediterranean worlds Plato describes?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Phil Flambas was born in Sydney, Australia in 1953. He attended the University of NSW medical school, graduating as a doctor in 1978. In his early twenties, he went to Sri Lanka as a medical student for a few months and combined it with backpacking through India and Nepal. After he graduated, Phil worked as a hospital doctor in England to gain extra qualifications to be a country GP back in Australia. During his time away from Australia, he spent several months backpacking in Morocco, Greece, Turkey and Egypt and saw the remains of those ancient cultures first-hand.
After returning to Australia and practising medicine as a country GP for some years, Phil became interested in the commercialisation of new technologies and wanted a change of career. He returned to Sydney and became the Managing Editor of a long-established medical journal. Realising that he needed more business knowledge to achieve his goals in technology transfer, Phil left medical publishing. He then began a full-time two-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) course at the University of NSW, graduating in 1992. Since then, Phil has worked as a hospital administrator, management consultant and equities analyst, supplemented at times with part-time medical work. Due to family commitments, he returned to full-time medical practice as a skin cancer surgeon for the past eighteen years and is due to retire soon. In his spare time, he researched and wrote about Plato’s Atlantis story for the past ten years.
Dr Flambas’ exciting and original work faces these questions head-on with a narrative that is at once as readable as it is thought-provoking. He explains, “I want people who are curious about Plato’s Atlantis story to keep searching for answers. My ultimate goal is for serious researchers to go where I believe Atlantis and its empire once existed. I want them to find material evidence of Plato’s story, which he claimed repeatedly was fact and not fiction. As a medical practitioner for the past forty years, I know the importance of evidence-based practice and debunking the many myths that surround the Atlantis story is no different. Because so much pseudoscientific rubbish was written about Atlantis in the past, I felt compelled to demonstrate the truth of Plato’s descriptions with the facts presented in this book. If the science is there, it is hard to ignore it.”
To adequately explain all of Plato’s numerous descriptions, Phil utilised his scientific foundations as a doctor as well as his analytical training from the MBA and its application as a management consultant and equities analyst. Because of his analytical experience, he was able to study hundreds of research papers in specialised areas including Ancient History, Archaeology, Human Prehistory, Palaeontology, Climate Science and Geology. Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis joins together all of these diverse academic disciplines into a coherent explanation of Plato’s Atlantis story. Of course, Phil would like to be involved in any search and discovery linked to his book’s radical conclusions.