Atlantis: Cuba, Black Sea, Med., Atlantic, cornfield?

Plato wrote about Atlantis.

Since then there have been as many theories as investigators.

But now, finally, ATLANTIS HAS BEEN FOUND!!!

No, really, this time they mean it. [sub]Or it could be anomalous geology.[/sub] Naah. ATLANTIS FOUND!!!

So the great debate is: did Atlantis even exist? If so, where is it? Are any of the theories better than extraterrestrial telepathic crop circle theories?

One vote for Plato’s imagination.

I tend to think that it was Plato’s imagination, kinda like the Republic. If it wasn’t, then the prime candidate is Santorini, which is located where Plato said Atlantis was, and was destroyed in the manner Plato said it was at about the time that it supposedly happened. The remaining villages on Santorini show a sophisticated pre-Minoan civilization, but not quite as sophisticated as Plato described.

Waddaminute. She thinks Atlantis is off of Mexico? The Europeans were supposed to have crossed the Atlantic circa 3000 years ago? Or are the Atlantis types supposed to have come to Europe, leaving no trace of their culture, no hint that there were another two continents to the West?

Can you say "Crude attempt at publicizing her research?

Another vote for Santorini.

Though there was an interesting documentary on Disco Channel recently (alas no cite) that controversially indicated there was a large melting of polar ice-caps 10,000 - 20,000 years ago (sorry for being so vague) that wiped out several million square miles of coastline around the world - including a lot of large coastal ‘cities’. I think the Yukatan example is one of these; there’s also evidence of the coast of India and something odd under the water in the Caribbean (mentioned in that link).

Of course as far as regular archaeology goes, there weren’t meant to be cities at that time, but if there were, they’d be bound to have been on the coast.

“evidence off the coast of India”. I don’t think we need evidence of the coast of India, as any cruise from the Arabian Gulf to Bangladesh will show you.

I found this bibliography with links.

I find the notion of an advanced culture from the distant past to be highly possible. There is little doubt that there remains a great deal of human history to be discovered under (mostly shallow) water for the reasons jjim outlined. This find, were it to prove to be of human origin, would have to be extremely old or sunk due to an unimaginable geological cataclysm. I would not bet a great deal of money on human origin.

OTOH, let them (Exploramar) speak for themselves.

This page from the same source as the Plato link is pretty funny. Scroll all the way down.

The actual side scan sonar images. It does look strangely geometric, or something.

Okay, first, it was a character in Plato’s dialogue Timaeus supposedly reporting what Solon (Athens’s George Washington, fl. about a century before) had reported as having heard in Egypt, who first told the Atlantis story. The kingdom founded by Poseidon’s by-blows which fought a prehistoric war with a prehistoric Athens is obviously fiction.

What it may have been founded on is the catastrophic eruption of Thera ( now Mt. St. Elias, with Santorini as a remnant) ca. 1500 BC. If you deflate all Plato’s figures by a factor of ten, and move the location from the Atlantic (beyond the Pillars of Hercules, remember) to the middle Eastern Mediterranean, you get a passable description of pre-eruption Thera.

Like Arthurian myth, there has been an enormous superstructure, mostly legendary, erected on a very thin historical foundation. It’s interesting to note that Medieval romance writers used Charlemagne and Alexander the Great with almost the same sort of legend superstructure on a historical foundation.

I like the idea of Atlantis as being the most successful urban legend in history.

“A friend of friend told me about this perfect society…”

There’s a Disco Channel? Isn’t that one of the signs of the apocalypse? :wink:

I think there are major sections of human history (or unhistory) that it would be fascinating to fill with genuine information.

That said, the first question I have for anyone who wants to believe in a large society existing prior to 6000 B.C.E. before we bother going any further:

What crops did they use to feed themselves?

Well, maize would be out of the question because it hadn’t developed into it’s large form yet. What about wheat or rice?

Well, that could certainly explain these structures off the coast of Japan.

tomndebb: Ancient Athens was something like 45,000? Let’s say they were eating expensive foodstuff: meat. Say a cow is about 400 lbs of meat ( A pound of meat a person, that’s 100 cows. Three shiploads a day?

Hmmm. A society that could afford to lose 100 cows x 365 days = 36,500 cows per year. Implies hundreds of square miles of pasture. Seems doable. (But actually I’m thinking a sea faring people would probably use a lot of fish. Even thriftier.)

If the main food were something less labor intensive, say forms of grain, then just a couple hundred square miles?

It doesn’t seem, off-hand, that civilizations 5000 years ago would have found this beyond their means.

Atlantis and prehistory civilizations always put me in mind of a story by Isaac Asimov called Nightfall, about a world where night appears only once every thousand years because multiple suns keep the planet lit all day (every thousand years there’s a convergence of eclipse and occultations by dark bodies that lasts a few hours).

Because people never experience darkness, the world’s civilizations basically burn themselves down every thousand years, lighting uncontrollable fires to return light to their world in a fit of mass hysteria. Civilization is destroyed, and the knowledge of the thousand year periodicity of nightfall is lost.

The novel is set in the period shortly before nightfall, when archaeologists disover eleven layers of previous civilizations under an ancient city, with each layer corresponding to a thousand years; simultaneously, astronomers correcting calculations for planetary/sun movements posit a dark body on an eccentric thousand year orbit, and theorize a thousand year cycle of total eclipse (nightfall). This is apparently the first time civilization got far enough to consider surviving nightfall intact.

Thus, the possibility of prehistoric civilizations that didn’t advance far enough to survive ice ages, etc., is more plausible than it seems on the surface.

I can accept civilization at 5,000 years ago: we have structures from 3000 B.C.E. in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus and Yangtze valleys. The problem with feeding large societies prior to 6000 B.C.E. (my cutoff point–8,000 years ago) is that we have found no crops to feed them.

Cultivated beans (genus Phaseolus) and maize (or teosinte) date to similar periods with beans dating to around 5000 to 4000 B.C.E. and maize usually estimated to have become a crop between 4000 and 3000 B.C.E.

Squash (genus Cucurbita) has been found as a gathered food in Meso-America as far back as 8000 B.C.E. but the first evidence of domestication goes back no farther than 5000 B.C.E and it only appears in an actual agricultural setting at around 1000 B.C.E.

From the slightly more distant regions: a slightly different variety of Phaseolus showed up in what is now Peru around 4500 B.C.E. (some claims are made for a site dated to 5500 B.C.E.) while potatoes and yams in South America seem to date to around 1500 B.C.E. and sunflower and goosefoot in the Southeast extension of North America seem to date to around 500 B.C.E.

(The domestication of crops in Asia occurred earlier, but no earlier than my 6000 B.C.E. earliest date.)

While a fishing society may be postulated, I note that fishing is sufficiently labor-intensive that no large society has survived on it alone in historical times. (And that includes societies that had access to the energy- and protein-rich fishing of the colder climes that produce much more nourishment than fish of the tropics.)

Similarly, domestication of cattle (or any major livestock) appears in the archaelogical record no earlier than 6000 B.C.E.–in Asia, not the Americas–and only dogs appear earlier than that.

The issue is not effort. It is that the plants and animals were still wild and could not be depended on to provide food for large societies. In addition, the wild plants and animals from which the current domesticates descended still survive today (for the most part) and we have no record of them having been domesticated earlier, then reverting to a wild form.

If I recall correctly, Jared Diamond argues that agriculture was less of a leap than a series of tiny steps. Are we certain that there would be archaeological evidence of early agriculture, given the Earth’s upheavals, mobile oceans, and shifting ice caps?

Moreover, early agriculture would not involve the domesticated versions of crops. Although, I concede, given Diamond’s arguments regarding the “reverse evolution”* theory the domesticated versions would have to arise fairly soon after any organized agriculture.

*This part I remember pretty well. He argues that the traits (mutations) which were absolutely fatal to reproduction become the traits necessary for survival when humans enter the picture and begin artificially selecting traits.

Not at all. I’m sure that a coastal civilization might have evidence of its agriculture harmed, perhaps destroyed, by changing sea levels.

I find it harder to accept that they developed useful crops solely on those inundated plains and that those crops disappeared entirely when the water level rose. Even the proposed catastrophic filling of the Black Sea is supposed to have occurred over many years, allowing the people there to retreat to higher ground, carrying their seeds with them and planting on higher ground.

I am sure that a society can regress under pressures–particularly cataclysmic pressures. I am less persuaded that we would find no evidence of their earlier, incremental domestication of crops.
(Cheer up! My questions actually support your extraterrestial hopes.)

The prob is that all we have at present is an incomplete historical record (not that one will ever be fully accurate, there will always be things that are unknown to us), so it is possible (though not necessarily highly likely) that the domestication of various plants and animals occured before the evidence we have now. We might not be looking in the right places, or the evidence could simply have been lost forever in the mists of time. Remember that until recently it looked like Lucy was our ancestor, now that appears not to be the case, with some of the recent discoveries.