Did They Find Atlantis?

In a strange coincidence of timing, considering the horrible news and footage coming out of Japan over the past three days, an international team of scientists working in south Spain believe they have pinpointed the location of the city of Atlantis. This is a major big deal in archeology. Plato wrote about Atlantis in 360 B.C. It was said to have been an engineering marvel located near the “Pillars of Hercules” (as the Straits of Gibralter were called back then), that it was built around an island temple to Poseidon which was surrounded by concentric rings of water and land, like a bulls-eye, and that it was “swallowed up by the sea and vanished” over a single day and night thousands of years earlier. People have been telling stories, and writing songs, and making movies and TV shows about it since—and searching for evidence to prove that it did in fact, ever exist.

Over the past few years, as explained in an hour-long documentary called Finding Atlantis that aired last night on the National Geographic channel, a group of scientists led by Richard Freund of the University of Hartford have been studying satellite imagery and deep ground radar maps of a patch of coastal mud-flats in Dona Ana Park, just outside the Spanish city of Cadiz. Freund believes that Atlantis is, in fact, another name for the biblical city of Tarshish (also known as “Tartessos”), which was thought to have been destroyed by a tsunami in the third millenium B.C.

Satellite imagery sure is helping archeologists a lot. Remember last year, the same stuff helped buttress claims—as detailed in David Grann’s excellent book The Lost City of Z—that a complex civilization once existed in the Amazon: The legendary city of El Dorado, perhaps.

Interestingly, though, Freund found his most compelling evidence about Atlantis 150 miles inland from where he believes the city was located. In central Spain, in the ancient ruins of a number of smaller “ritual cities” that have been excavated by archeologists. The ruins have structures that look like they were modeled after the temple of Poseidon that Plato described. And they are marked with symbols in the shape of the bulls-eye. Freund believes that these ritual cities were built by Atlanteans who survived the tsunami and wanted to memorialize their great lost city.

I’m sure other scientists will come forward to say Freund is full of shit. But I found the National Geographic show pretty convincing. It airs again Tuesday at 8, if you want to watch.

Lastly, as noted and displayed above, there have been many songs written about Atlantis over the years. I think the video for this next one probably gives us the most accurate vision of what life there was really like.