Whether or not it Existed, Atlantis Lives on in Mystery and Folklore
by Masha Vodyanik, age 15
The lost island Atlantis is the stuff of legend. It’s been that way for centuries, despite the fact that there is no scientific proof of its location. Still, Greek and Egyptian cultures have cultivated their own stories of the island’s origin.
Greek philosopher Plato provided the first ever written evidence of Atlantis. He described it as an island bigger than Asia Minor and Libya combined, located in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the “Pillars of Hercules” (the Strait of Gibraltar).
Plato speculated that Atlantis was a very powerful and highly civilized kingdom that existed around 10,000 B.C. He said it had great political constitution. Also, according to Plato Atlantis’ influence dominated the Mediterranean, but over time the nation became aggressive and imperialistic. Angered by these actions, the gods flooded the island.
But the Egyptians tell a different story. Around 2,000 B.C., an Egyptian ship heading to the Pharaoh’s mines was shipwrecked by a large wave. Legend has it everyone on the boat drowned, except for one traveler who clung onto a piece of wood. He eventually washed ashore on Atlantis.
There, the traveler met a golden dragon. The dragon told the traveler the island had once been home to many dragons before a falling star claimed their lives. The golden dragon, like the traveler, was the sole survivor. The dragon then prophesied that the traveler would soon be rescued by an Egyptian ship, but would never again see the mysterious island again because it was destined to be swallowed by the waves.
In the Mediterranean an Atlantis-like island, excavated by a Greek archeologist in 1967, may have been the source of the story. Around 2,500 B.C., a society thrived on the Grecian island Thera, located near Crete. Thera was a powerful commercial center. When earthquakes started to shake the island, Therans fled, taking all of their valuables with them. However, they must have planned to return because they left jars filled seeds, grain, and olive oil in their houses, thinking they would eventually restart crops.
Soon after, a volcano erupted leaving a 98-foot thick layer of dust over the whole city. Some years later, the volcano’s cone collapsed, and the sea rushed in, drowning the island.
It appeared that the search for Atlantis had come to a halt when in 1940, a psychic and healer named Edgar Cayce predicted that Atlantis would rise again in 1968 and 1969, this time in the region of the Bahamas. Coincidentally, air photos taken in 1968 showed stone structures had formed underwater off the cost of the Bahamas.
In the same area, stone formations resembling roads were discovered by undersea explorations. Although underwater archeologists doubt the roads were man-made, other scientists think they were man-made. These scientists believe any structures as elaborate as the ones found underwater near the Bahamas had to be built by humans. And these were constructed before the polar ice caps melted in 10,000 B.C. When the polar ice caps melted, the sea level presumably rose to cover up these structures.
While there are many legends about the origins of Atlantis, underwater remnants of civilization fuel the intrigue. Scientists still can’t conclude whether Atlantis was a thriving society swallowed by the sea, or a mere fantasy.
[Sources: The Atlas of Mysterious Places; Atlas of World History]