A scientific approach to Plato's Atlantis

Massimo Rapisarda

Abstract


The myth of Atlantis is hard to die. This attempt to use scientific evidence to give it the final smash ends up with the doubt that it might not be totally unsubstantiated. The time of the supposed existence of Atlantis (around twelve thousand years ago) was, in fact, characterized by technological revolutions, acknowledged by archaeology, and abrupt climate changes, documented by geology. In principle, it cannot therefore be ruled out that some of those dramatic events left a memory, later used by Plato as a basis for its tale. The climate changes involved the majority of the northern hemisphere, thus all the ancient civilizations (Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indian and Chinese) could have preserved reminiscence, but it is clear that the events occurring closer to Greece would have been more accessible to Plato. Among the Mediterranean sites that experienced the cataclysms of the beginning of the Holocene, a good candidate to host a primordial civilization might have been the archipelago then existing in the Strait of Sicily, a natural maritime link between Tunisia and Italy, prized by the presence of an obsidian source at Pantelleria. Eleven thousand five hundred years ago, a sudden sea level rise erased the archipelago, submerging the possible settlements, but Pantelleria obsidian ores are still there and could provide a significant clue. In fact, the potential discovery of artefacts, originating from a source now submerged by the sea level rise, would imply that the collection of the mineral took place when it was still emerged, namely at the time of Atlantis. Even if such discovery would not be sufficient to prove the existence of the mythical island, it would be enough to shake up the timeline of the human occupation in the region.


Keywords


Atlantis, Plato, Strait of Sicily, sea level, obsidian, Pantelleria, Adventure Plateau, monolith, Sicilian Channel

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1478/AAPP.932C1


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