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THE UNLOST ISLAND - A History of Misunderstanding Atlantis

As a major figure in the development of Western thought, Plato, with his philosophies and writings, has been referred to in the  development of democracy and good government.
Yet, he is  responsible for one of the most divisive and hotly debated stories in history.
Even his student, Aristotle, did not believe it to be true. 

Plato’s story had a great deal of influence on the New Age Movement from the end of the nineteenth century, when the mythological motifs and dreams of an ideal society found a
home in Atlantis.  Unfortunately, the new versions of the story that arose from this era were based on false history and pseudo science. 

Academics tried to force Atlantis back into the Mediterranean with its familiar ancient sites, suggesting that Plato relied heavily on metaphor and fiction, despite his insistence that the
story was true.

The subject is still a hotly debated one because it has never been  satisfactorily resolved. 

Starting with Plato’s original story, The Unlost Island unravels the myths and legends, the misinterpretations and fallacies that have plagued the Atlantis story since it was written more than 2000 years ago.

In Store Price: $AU32.95 
Online Price:   $AU31.95

ISBN: 978-1-921574-21-4
Format: Paperback
Number of pages:372
Genre: Non Fiction

Buy as an Ebook version - $AUD9.00 pdf upload.

 

Author: Don Ingram
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2009
Language: English

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

A newspaper artist for 34 years, Don Ingram worked extensively with journalists to produce illustrations, maps, diagrams and all manner of information graphics. He also helped write headings and captions to accompany the visual elements of the newspaper.

As a young man, in the atmosphere of the Art Department, he developed an avid but sceptical interest in the Atlantis story and other ancient myths.

In 1998, he gained insight into the cause of the erroneous notion of the location and timeframe of the Atlantis story. In 2002, he took early retirement to work exclusively on his hypothesis, which is the basis of this book.

Acknowledgements

When I first began my research in 1998, I was faced with the daunting task of overcoming a mountain of extreme ignorance, not only about the subject at hand, but also about how to go about expressing the ideas that had imposed themselves on me. The revelation of how Plato came to be so misunderstood had imposed a mandate that would not go away, and I was impelled to put pen to paper, in a manner of speaking. This meant I had to rely heavily on the good grace of those around me. Fortunately, they included professional wordsmiths, academics and people with an intense interest in things cultural and historical, with, I must say, endless patience. It is with the deepest gratitude that I mention the following friends, helpers and beacons of light.

Very early in my quest, I relied heavily on my friends and colleagues at the Sunday Mail and the Advertiser in dear old Adelaide. Thanks to Jackie Tracy and David Gleeson for their interest, support, help and advice in the early stages of my writing efforts. To Peter Haran, who helped with references and books with uncanny timeliness. To Wayne Thomas, who found several very helpful articles. A special thanks to Ray Wells for copyediting a large portion of the manuscript. To my old mate, the late Geoffrey Kenihan, who, with an interest in all things Greek as well as historical, lent enthusiasm, support and practical help during a time of frustration and doubt. To Andrew Popescu, for many interesting discussions, and for introducing me to The Decipherment of Linear B, a book that has proven to be indispensable. And many thanks to Diane Beer, for the generous sharing of her extensive writing and publishing experience and her ever positive encouragement.

Closer to home are my sons, Stuart and Philip: Stu provided books and information pertaining to craftsmanship and ancient weaponry, and Phil kept the peace between me and my computer. Thanks to my wife Ingrid for putting up with me and for bringing back some vital books from Greece. To my late sister-in-law, Irene, for various contributions during the early stages of development of the hypothesis. To Rod Emblem, for a little translation and introducing a fresh, logical perspective. To Judy and John Smith next door for discussions and helpful criticisms over a glass or two. Special thanks to my nephew, Dr Gordon Ingram, who furnished me with some vital references on the Wessex–Mycenae connection.

During the early development stages of my hypothesis, I was extremely fortunate in gaining feedback from several eminent people. My thanks go to Prof. Harold Tarrant, International Plato Society, for his encouraging assessment of an early essay. To Mike Adamson BA (Hons) MA for his thorough and extremely helpful critique of the first part of this manuscript concerning the hypothesis. To Dr Christopher Knusel, who read a brief, earlier essay on the hypothesis, and generously offered helpful criticism and encouragement. I can never adequately express my gratitude to a dear and long-time friend, Dr Ralph Shlomowitz, whose academic savvy and wisdom helped dispel a profound ignorance of so many aspects relating to this endeavour. I must say, however, that Ralph is in no way to blame for the views held in this book.

Part V, Plato, Point by Point, involves considerable use of material from the Penguin Classics, Timaeus and Critias, by Plato, translated by Desmond Lee, and this material is reproduced with the kind permission of Penguin Books Ltd.

My sincerest thanks also to the team at Zeus, in particular to Gail who edited The Unlost Island with such care, diligence and patience—a mammoth task.

 

Introduction


Plato hated fiction, so why have so many modern scholars accused him of fabricating his story of Atlantis? And why do so many modern writers and imagineers make up things about the story that he never wrote? The answers are complex and vitally important to our understanding of the earliest European civilisations.
If Plato knew the trouble he caused when he wrote the story of Atlantis, he would have been dismayed at how universally misunderstood it has been. Long regarded as one of the major figures in the development of western thought, his philosophies and writings have been used in the development of democracy and good government; yet, he is responsible for one of the most divisive and hotly debated stories in history.
Literally thousands of books and papers have been written on the subject since the time of Plato. Innumerable fantasies, constructions based on guesswork, ‘psychic readings’ and weird theories of all kinds have proliferated in the name of Atlantis.
When the baby boomers were young, books on Atlantis were rolling off the presses in staggering numbers. A strong bias towards the realm of mysticism was part of the New Age Movement of the time.
The Atlantis myth contributed greatly to the atmosphere of other-worldliness, so much a part of the beatnik and flower-power days of social and political unrest throughout the world. The focus of the New Age Movement was, and still is, the restoration of a Utopia based on ancient, lost wisdom. New Age thinking attached itself to mythological motifs and dreams of an ideal society. Unfortunately, the New Age concept of the story was plagued by misunderstandings and built on false history and pseudo science.
Inappropriate connections have been made with folklore and myths from all corners of the earth, false ideas of racial and cultural superiority have been fuelled by the story, and it is unlikely that any other ancient tale has been subject to more abuse for so long. However, the story did seem to have elements of truth with rational explanations.
Interestingly enough, the aspects of the story that have become most prominently fixed in the modern mind are the inventions and fantasies which are not part of the original story, and did not exist before the late nineteenth century. The scarcity of good, reliable, factual evidence in the past has not been helped by the entertainment and fantasy industry, which has done a great deal to instil a false picture in the public mind of a super race that could only be at home in science fiction.
Much of what Plato actually wrote on the subject seems to have faded into obscurity, and been generally ignored by the world at large; perhaps because the puzzles posed by the story were just too hard, or people are just too willing to blindly and uncritically accept at face value what they see and hear.
Plato’s story of Atlantis has been thought of by most classical scholars as generally fictitious, perhaps with some elements of truth, and written for the purpose of presenting his theories of an ideal society, despite the fact that he asserts—no less than five times in the Timaeus—that the story is true. Other more fanciful people have taken his story at face value and treated it as the absolute truth. They have invented societies of superior beings and ‘Elder cultures’ with impossibly advanced technologies, in order to compensate for the anomalies and inconsistencies presented in Plato’s original story.
Now, perhaps, thanks to the wealth of accumulated, wide-ranging scientific and historical data at our disposal, many of the problems associated with this classic story can be resolved.
The purpose of this book is to show that Plato wrote what he believed to have been the truth, but that two ancient, perfectly understandable errors were written into the story.
The Unlost Island is written in five parts. The first part—Plato’s Atlantis— presents the hypothesis that the first error was one of perception regarding the location of the island ‘opposite the Pillars of Hercules’. The second error involves the mistranslation of large numbers.
Most points presented in the first part are not referenced, but are discussed in detail in parts two, three and four, and it is in these parts that all referencing is done; where possible, within the text, or as footnotes.
Part II—New Age Atlantis—deals with the modern errors that first arose at the end of the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century, probably due to the ambiguities of the original story. Modern Atlantology started with Ignatius Donnelly, who wrote Atlantis the Antediluvian World, published in 1882. Based on the limited scientific knowledge of the time, and the fundamental interpretation of the Christian Bible, Donnelly’s book is riddled with easily defined errors. Mme Blavatsky introduced the first modern use of the name ‘Atlantis’ in 1877, in her book, Isis Unveiled. In 1888, she published The Secret Doctrine, which made several mentions of the island, inappropriately linking Atlantis with the Vedic, Kabalistic and other religious texts. Blavatsky’s esoteric volumes became an integral part of the Theosophical Movement; later, the New Age devotees grasped the story of Atlantis with both hands. Edgar Cayce, the ‘Sleeping Prophet’, made no small contribution to the fiasco when his Readings on Atlantis were made public between about 1924 and 1945. He introduced giant magic crystals and psychic technologies that caught the imagination of the New Age Movement. More recent writers on the subject clung tenaciously and uncritically to the false ideas laid down by the original three, and tried desperately to rationalise some of the more obvious discrepancies but without any real tribute being paid to logic.
Part III—History, Time and Place—attempts to show the historical context of the conflict I believe to have occurred in the Aegean region, the frontier between Europe and Asia, during the Middle Bronze Age. In the context of the human habitation of Europe and the Middle East, it can be seen how the various groups of people dispersed, converged and interacted. Thanks to the new and important study of genetics, much progress is being made in the identification of ancient family groups. Various contributors to the book, Archaeogenetics: DNA and the Population Prehistory of Europe, edited by Colin Renfrew and Katie Boyle, were referred to for information on the identities of the people involved.
Colin Renfrew and L.H. Barfield established the all-important link between Wessex and Mycenae, and John Chadwick’s The Decipherment of Linear B was indispensable in identifying the source of the ancient mistranslation of large numbers. My main references for the peoples and events that began from the Early Neolithic period right down to the time of Plato were authoritative writers of conventional history such as Michael Grant, Patricia Phillips, Barry Cunliffe and others.
Part IV—Classic Tales and Legends—examines the diverse myths and legends of Greece. The main sources for these are Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths, Apollodorus’ The Library of Greek Mythology, translated by Robin Hard, and various classics of Greek literature. The Library, in particular, gives an astonishing insight into the ethnic origins of the various characters and the roles they played in the drama of Greek prehistory. In addition to this, the rich body of Greek mythology can be seen as the background and source material that Plato had at his disposal when compiling his story of Atlantis. Particularly telling are the stories of Perseus’ journey to Hyperborea, and of Atlas in Laconia and his seven Mediterranean daughters, the Pleiades.
Plato Point by Point is the fifth and final section of the book, which summarises the hypothesis by responding to many individual passages of Timaeus and Critias, as presented in Desmond Lee’s translation published by Penguin Classics. Benjamin Jowett’s translation has been used for the comparison of points where translations might differ. In the plays, Plato gives a brief account of the climax of hostilities that had taken place over a period—perhaps as much as four hundred years. The Early to Middle Bronze Age was an era of conflict between radically different groups of people. It was brought to an end by the devastating eruption of the volcanic island of Thera in approximately 1650BCE. It was a period when an arms race brought about advancements in metallurgy and technology, and sowed the seeds for the flowering of the Mycenaean culture of the Late Bronze Age.
In the final analysis, I think there is a very strong case for the assertion that Plato did indeed write what he believed to be the truth, and that the plays presented events that took place in Greece and the Aegean Sea just prior to the eruption of Thera. Athens was a mainland colony of the Minoan or Cycladic cultures, thus representing an incursion onto the Greek mainland by eastern foreigners. The Atlanteans can almost certainly be equated with the Wessex II culture of Britain.
In other words, Plato’s war between Athens and Atlantis was a war at the frontier between the Middle East and Europe. What’s new?
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