Nearly 2,400 years ago, the philosopher Plato described Atlantis as a mighty state that possessed 10,000 chariots, advanced technologies, vast numbers of elephants and bulls, and a series of complex canals. And now, in a new documentary, a U.K.-based group claims to have discovered the ruins of this once-flourishing society on what is now the Atlantic coast of Spain.
But one archaeologist said that the ruins likely belong to another ancient culture, and several researchers interviewed by Live Science could barely contain their exasperation when they heard the news of yet another Atlantis discovery. (People have made dozens of such claims over the years, locating the legendary society in Antarctica, Bolivia, Turkey, Germany, Malta, the Caribbean and elsewhere.)
“Bless their hearts — if they’re correct about this, that would be awesome,” said Ken Feder, a professor of anthropology at Central Connecticut State University. “But here’s my problem: As an archaeologist, I know that I always need to be in the company of my bullshit detector. And these guys, they have done just about everything they possibly can to set off my bullshit detector.”
It’s debatable whether Atlantis even existed. Plato described the ancient society in about 330 B.C., writing that, in effect, a politician named Critias heard about the society through a game of historic telephone dating back to ancient Egypt. Atlantis served as the perfect example of a society that had become corrupted by its material wealth, advanced technology and military might. Then, the gods destroyed Atlantis about 9,000 years ago in a cataclysmic event, Plato wrote.
For centuries, scholars viewed Plato’s writings on Atlantis as allegory. But that perspective changed in 1882, when Minnesota’s U.S. Rep. Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901), an amateur scientist, published the book “Atlantis: The Antediluvian World” (Harper & Brothers), which claimed that Atlantis was a real place.
Since then, people have searched for the sunken remains of the city. In the most recent example, employees at Merlin Burrows pinpointed, two years ago, what may be Atlantis in Spain, Bruce Blackburn, the CEO of Merlin Burrows, told Live Science. The company, based in North Yorkshire, England, uses historical records and satellite data to find archaeological sites.
Blackburn’s team used data taken from commercial satellites, such as Landsat 5 and Landsat 8 (which also supply data for Google Earth), to find the site, which is located in Spain’s Doñana National Park. “Obviously, it’s a very bold thing to say,” said Blackburn, who has a background in business and finance. “Everybody is going to have [one of] two opinions. One is that ‘This is great. Let’s have a look at it,’ and one will be ‘That’s a load of rubbish.'” [The 25 Strangest Sites on Google Earth]
What they found
The company’s researchers chose to look for the site in Spain after reading Plato’s two dialogues on Atlantis, Blackburn said. They also looked at another text, but Blackburn won’t say which one. “We won’t share that in a public forum at this stage,” Blackburn said, adding, however, that he expects that the writing will be submitted for scrutiny “in the fullness of time.”
Text in these documents included Plato’s descriptions that “in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, ‘the pillars of Heracles,’ there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together.” Such descriptions led Merlin Burrows to the Spanish coast, near the Strait of Gibraltar, Blackburn said. There, the team found several archaeological clues: large circles that were possibly the bases of ancient towers, the ruins of what the team claimed may be the Temple of Poseidon and a greenish-blue patina coating some of the ruins — all details that Plato included in his dialogues, Blackburn said. [10 Biggest Historical Mysteries That Will Probably Never Be Solved]
The team also found the remains of a long sea wall, as well as signs of a tsunami, which could be evidence of the cataclysmic event that drowned the society, Blackburn said.
“The Atlantis cities, which are very detailed in Plato’s writing, are really there for everyone to see,” Blackburn said.
Next, Merlin Burrows took samples of material — which is likely human-made concrete, Blackburn said — from the circle-shaped foundations and the possible temple ruins. The company gave these samples to a materials-analysis laboratory in Italy, which dated them to between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, Blackburn said. However, by press time, Blackburn hadn’t said which methods the laboratory used to date the concrete.
Merlin Burrows and Ingenio Films have made a 2-hour documentary called “Atlantica” about the finding, and Blackburn said he expects the companies to make more documentaries.
“What we really want to do is we want to franchise the find,” Blackburn said. “We want to make an awful lot of money out of it. And with that money, we want to support the archaeological community.”
In a new documentary, experts from Merlin Burrows, a land and sea search team based in Harrogate, claim that they’ve discovered the ruins of Atlantis off the coast of Spain.
Using data from commercial satellites, the researchers believe the lost city could be in Spain’s Doñana National Park.
“Everybody is going to have [one of] two opinions. One is that ‘This is great. Let’s have a look at it,’ and one will be ‘That’s a load of rubbish.’”
The researchers focused on Spain having read two of Plato’s dialogues on Atlantis.
Mr Blackburn explained: “The Atlantis cities, which are very detailed in Plato’s writing, are really there for everyone to see.”
The findings will be revealed in an upcoming documentary called Atlantica – although it is unclear when this will air.
However, not everyone is so convinced that this is really Atlantis.