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Plato, the Source of Atlantis Legend

The original source of the Atlantis legend is from two dialogues written by Plato, the Timaeus and the Critias.

Here we cover the main facts as given by Plato.

The Island of Atlantis was located "before the pillars of Hercules." The pillars of Hercules were the straits of Gilbralter.

Atlantis, according to Plato, sank in "a single day and night of misfortune".

For the alledged source of the story here is the version from History of Atlantis by Lewis Spence:

Critias: Listen then, Socrates, to a tale which, strange though it be, is yet perfectly true, as Solon, the wisest of the seven once said. He was a relation and friend of Dropidas, my great-grandfather, as he tells us himself in his poems, and Dropidas assured my grandfather, Critias, who, when an old man, repeated it to us, that there were great and marvellous exploits achieved by Athens in the days of old, which, through lapse of time and in the course of generations, have vanished from memory.

Notice that in the above Plato ascribes this "tale" to a revered ancestor and asserts it is "perfectly true". In multiple places Plato has the characters assert that the tale is true.

Roughly this gives a timeframe for the sinking of about 9,600 B.C. Under some analysis one can argue that the Timaeus gives a time for the sinking of after 8570 B.C. while the Critias gives a time of approximately 9421 B.C.

Plato's estimate for the size of Atlantis seems internally inconsistent. At one point he describes it as "larger than Libya and Asia". Libya here refers to the Mediteranean coast of North Africa. Asia probably refers to Asia Minor or roughly the Middle East. This makes Atlantis continent sized.

In contrast, Plato also says the center area of the city was "oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the centre inland it was two thousand stadia". Since a "stadium" is a unit of measure that is about 11 miles, this makes the "flat" area of Atlantis 330 miles by 220 miles. That is much less than a continent. Also some other descriptions in the dialogues make Atlantis seem still smaller. Interestingly, some Greek words within the dialogue also suggest quite different sizes for the land mass.

As for its topography, Critias says "The whole country was said by him to be very lofty and precipitous on the side of the sea."

Plato portrays the Atlanteans as having a fine character. However, before their submergence their character took a turn for the worse.

For many generations, as long as the divine nature lasted in them, they were obedient to the laws, and well-affectioned towards the god, whose seed they were; for they possessed true and in every way great spirits, uniting gentleness with wisdom in the various chances of life, and in their intercourse with one another. They despised everything but virtue, caring little for their present state of life, and thinking lightly of the possession of gold and other property, which seemed only a burden to them; neither were they intoxicated by luxury; nor did wealth deprive them of their self-control; but they were sober, and saw clearly that all these goods are increased by virtue and friendship with one another, whereas by too great regard and respect for them, they are lost and friendship with them.

By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, the qualities which we have described grew and increased among them; but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power.

We have historical records of Socrates, Critias, Dropidas, Solon, and of course of Plato.

Solon was a prominent figure of Greece. He died in 539 B.C. His life was recorded by Plutarch in 75 A.D.

Dropidas was mentioned in the poems of Solon.

Socrates was condemned to death by the government by a vote of 281 to 220.

Plato lived 428-348 B.C. His works have been placed online along with 52 other Greek writers by MIT.

One more thing. We generally say that Plato is our original source.  Indeed, it was his writing that awakened the West today to the idea of Atlantis. However, it has now been shown that the remembrance of Atlantis was spread thoughout the cultures of the world.

The Wrong Turn of Science

Science made a wrong turn in the early 1800's and the consequences are still with us. However, recent science is beginning to see the mistake and send us in the right direction. As this unfolds the result will be a major rewriting of the sciences of geology, archeology and anthropology. We have to substantially revise our understanding of the history of man and civilization. But on to that first mistake.

As geology was first becomming a science in the early 1800's, there was an evident problem - the eratics. The eratics were giant rocks, piles of gravel, and major striations (scratches) on rock surfaces that should not be there. Huge rocks are resting in the middle of fields and on mountain tops. Piles of gravel are in odd places, always on the same side of the mountain. The striations all go from Northwest to Southeast. How did they get there?

The most natural answer is that wild running water from some catastrophe was the cause. But this has two problems. The first: who wants to think water was running wild like that? Second: it is all too biblical. It is too reminicient of Noah's flood. And if you are starting a new "respectable" science you certainly want to avoid confirming such a distinct biblical event.

Happily for those who did not like wild running water in their immediate history, Charles Lyell came upon the scene and published Principles of Geology in 1830. Lyell rearranged the geological thinking of the day and introduced "uniformitarianism". He asserted that changes come about slowly by natural means. (The opposite view is "catastrophism". Catastrophism asserts that occassional catastrophies occur and contribute significantly to explaining some of the geological structures we find around us.)

Lyell adopted the views of Agassiz and explained that the eratics had been caused by slow moving glaciers. The concept of the "ice ages" has generally been accepted since then.

All of this has considerable connection to Atlantis. First the physical evidence that Lyell explained away was not explained away. It still needs an explanation. When properly examined, we conclude there was indeed a massive earth-wide catastrophe and it easily sunk the whole island, or continent, of Atlantis - despite the claims of geologists that such a thing cannot happen.

Moreover, the rise of civilization is connected to this event. Traditional science has very carefully pieced together the evidence that shows a gradual growth of civilization beginning around the end of the last ice age approximately 8,000 BC to 10,000 BC. At that time, we are told that mankind began the transition from hunter/gatherer to agriculture. Afterall, the ice had receded and conditions were then appropriate for such a change.

However, in the revised view, mankind did indeed have a civilization existing before the 10,000 BC date. An earth-wide catastrophe occurred around 10,000 BC. It sunk Atlantis. It raised the major mountain chains of today. It destroyed the civilization of the time. We are lucky some remnant of the human species survived. Records were destroyed and History forgotten. Those who survived had to begin the arduous process of rebuilding civilization while the past progress was forgotten.

Radical? Yes. But there is much evidence in the geological record. Consider first those ice ages that were supposed to have covered one third of the surface of the earth, including oceans.

Water flows downhill. So does ice. Ice never flows uphill. Ice can flow on level ground for 7 miles. Therefore, the scientists of the 1800's reasoned, there were giant mountains at the north pole that had generated the ice and from which the ice flowed southward and created the ice-age. Those polar mountains were totally taken for granted by the scientists. But in all these years those mountains have never been found! And furthermore those mountains must have gone down and then up again in order to account for the admitted gaps in between the ice-ages. But there have never been any yo-yo mountains at the north pole.

Worse yet, there are eratics where the glaciers never reached. There are eratics in the Sahara desert and elsewhere.

Yes there are glaciers. But there was not the ice age that science asserts. (Did you ever notice that the human figures on the cave wall paintings were dressed for warm weather?)

There are caves and other collections that show utter massive chaos. The piles contain prey, and predator, tree trunks and humans all piled up, obviously thrown together in a massive disaster.

Yes, the frozen mamoths that you may have heard of are also relevant. There was rapid disaster, a shift of the earth's axis was involved.

The evidence from geology exists to confirm that disaster. Myths from around the world confirm the disaster. (The bible of the mid-east says the sun stood still for three days. On the other side of the earth myth says night endured for 3 full days). And much other evidence exists as well. To get an idea of the range of evidence check Ignatius Donnelly's "Atlantis: The Antideluvial World".

Simple conclusion: the only rational evidence of the scientific evidence is that there was a major catastrophe that was earth-wide and caused the sinking of Atlantis.

Plato was right.

Phaeton And Atlantis

This email resumes the Atlantis series. You can also find the complete series so far at the web site by going to then clicking on "science" then on "atlantis".

Just to recap this presentation - a cosmic intruder entered the solar system, did substantial damage, passed by the earth, and likely was consumed by the sun. In passing by the earth it did very considerable damage to civilization and caused major other disasters to our planet including major topographic change. The process sunk Atlantis.

The book Cataclysm, that I have referred to frequently, identifies the Greek mythical character of Phaeton with the cosmic intruder. So this letter will examine Phaeton.

Quite strikingly, Phaeton is mentioned in the legend of Atlantis as described by Plato. And almost equally striking, very few Atlantologists seem to notice this. For example, one scientist that I very much respect for his science on the subject says

"We must point out that the Plato legend contains no indication and not even the vaguest hint that Atlantis perished as a result of a cosmic catastrophe. Plato was not indifferent to events of this kind and if such an event caused the destruction of Atlantis or even accompanied it, he would have given it prominence." ("Atlantis Atlantology: Basic Problems " by N. Zhirov p 371.)

Zhirov is definite isn't he? What is our opinion? Here is what the Timaeus says in part as it presents the Atlantis legend with the Egyptian speaking to the Greek:

"There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Phaeton, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore."

This occurs prominently in Plato's story of Atlantis at the introduction. True enough the Egyptian did not literally say "Phaeton caused the destruction of Atlantis". But do we think Plato just happened to place these words about a destruction at the beginning of the dialogue concerning a destruction?

Now lets look at those words more closely. Here is the key passage "Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth". Doesn't& this clearly say that an inclination of the axis was involved with the sinking of Atlantis? Isn't Plato saying that in this case what is presented has the form of a myth but it describes a specific global reality? It seems to me he says it straight out.

BTW, it was a real surprise to me to discover these words in the Timaeus. Do people generally know or not know that Plato gives a cosmic reference at the beginning of the presentation of the legend?

HPB mentions Phaeton twice in the SD. It appears clear in the following that she is associating Phaeton with a tilt in the axis

"Thus, on the blind faith of his “ignorant” religion, which taught that Phaeton, in his desire to learn the hidden truth, made the Sun deviate from its usual course—Xenophantes asserts somewhere that, “the Sun turned toward another country”; which is a parallel, however slightly more scientific, if as bold, of Joshua stopping the course of the Sun altogether. Yet it may explain the teaching of the Northern mythology (in Jeruskoven) that, before the actual order of things, the Sun arose in the South, and its placing the Frigid Zone in the East, whereas now it is in the North." (SDii535)

In this second quote she also seems to associate Phaeton with an axis shift.

"In the myth of Phaeton it is said that at his death his sisters dropped hot tears which fell into Eridan and were changed into amber! Now amber is found only in the northern seas, in the Baltic. Phaeton, meeting with his death while carrying heat to the frozen stars of the boreal regions, awakening at the Pole the Dragon made rigid by cold, and being hurled down into the Eridan, is an allegory referring directly to the changes of climate in those distant times when, from a frigid zone, the polar lands had become a country with a moderate and warm climate. The usurper of the functions of the sun, Phaeton, being hurled into the Eridan by Jupiter’s thunderbolt, is an allusion to the second change that took place in those regions when, once more, the land where “the magnolia blossomed” became the desolate forbidding land of the farthest north and eternal ices" (SDii770 fn)

In passing we should also note the reference to "amber". Phaeton's sisters tears became amber. And amber is only found in the northern seas, in the Baltic. I remember wondering years ago why their tears should be associated with the North. Now it is clear. That is where the cosmic intruder passed by and caused the amber. (Some other time I may find the references that link the amber to the major event of 12,000 years ago.)

All of the above clearly links the sinking of Atlantis to an axial shift and demonstrates HPB's knowledge of that connection. However, we can go a little further if we review the myth of Phaeton itself.

The name "Phaeton" means "the shining one." Appropriate isn't it?

The Roman Pliny refers to Phaeton (calling him Typhon) and says

"... it had a fiery appearance and was twisted like a coil, and it was very grim to behold: it was not really a star so much as what might be called a ball of fire..." (Rackham, H (translation). 1938 Pliny, the Elder, Natural History (London) vol ii, p 91)

Adam Rockenbach writing in 1602 and claiming to quote the best of ancient sources said

"It was fiery, of irregular cirdcular form, with a wrapped head; it was in the shape of a globe and was of terribloe aspect ... in the form of a disc ..."

Now the myth. I don't remember where I found this so this part is from memory.

People were gossiping that Phaeton was not fathered by Helios, the sun. He was illegitimate. Therefore, to prove his parentage, he decided to approach his father Helios and ask him for a favor that only a father would grant. As usual, after being so approached, Helios said of course he would grant the wish - what was it? Well Phaeton wanted to drive the chariot of his father. He wanted to direct the course of the sun! As usual in these situations, his father was reluctant to grant his son's wish but finally capitulated and agreed to allow his son to drive the chariot.

Phaeton started out the drive okay but then a problem arose. The horses sensed something. (I forget whether they sensed the driver was the wrong person, or the driver was lost or whatever.) The horses left the well worn track and Phaeton could not control them. They passed way to close to earth. Zeus, out of mercy, sent a bolt of lightening down and zapped Phaeton. He died and fell to the earth at the river Po.

Is this beginning to look more like a mythological reference to the event of the cosmic intruder?

We should recall how things seemed to the ancients. The ancients were well accustomed to the planets moving in the sky. The stars kept their relative positions in the firmament but the planets moved around differently and even went backwards sometimes (retrograde in astrology). The planets were gods. No one had ever seen them die. They were immortal.

Then Phaeton arrives in the firmament and seems to come from nowhere. This was new. His parentage was "unknown". Hence the illegitimacy issue.

The issue of getting off the track and coming too close to the earth is clear. The cosmic intruder had come close to the earth.

The issue of being killed by a thunderbolt probably also makes sense. There was a high electrical interchange between the intruder and the earth. Hence lightning bolts. The record of massive conflagration in myth and archeaology support this.

He fell to earth. Yes debris fell to earth from the intruder.

And the tears of amber fits in. The intruder came from the north. (And as I have said, I have seen some connection between the amber and the disaster.)

His relationship to Helios? Makes sense. He was a very bright object in the sky. And got brighter as it/he came closer.

So what do we say? Is this a reasonable way to interpret myths? Is it too materialistic? Does Phaeton have all the earmarks of a cosmic intruder?

Does this help us understand the sinking of Atlantis?

Reed Carson

Atlantis Found?


In the 19th century Blavatsky gave impetus to the idea of an Atlantic continent running through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. She gave some brief history of its inhabitants, identified its location, the times of the sinking of the larger part of the continent, and the time of the last submergence of its principle remaining island. She also specified some land still in existence as land today that was part of Atlantis then. And she gave various cultural arguments for its existence.

The science of her day was quite unhospitable to the idea of a continent in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean because it was committed to the idea of extreme gradualism.

Now 20th century science has found evidence confirming the location of her Atlantis and has also confirmed her statement for the date of its last submergence. A specific seamount (now underwater)in the Atlantic has been named the "Atlantis Seamount" by geologists and is the one that has provided her exact dating.

She also asserted exact knowledge of the nature of part of the ocean floor. In a remarkably precise example of foreknowledge, that assertion has been exactly confirmed by 20th century science. Furthermore, that assertion relates to the prehistory that she has asserted.

(This page only looks at evidence for Atlantis that comes from the floor of the ocean. There are several other classes of valid evidence for Atlantis that are not considered here.)

(Background showing a Theosophical hand in the dissemination of the idea of Atlantis.)


Mid-Atlantic ridge and its continuation

The Western and Eastern Hemispheres have been separating for an estimated 200 million years. The two hemispheres move with their respective tectonic plates, separating in the mid-atlantic and leaving a major fracture zone - called the mid-atlantic ridge. The mid-atlantic ridge is the tectonic plate boundary. It is the most prominent feature of the Atlantic floor, and is evident on any map of the ocean floor. There is an elevated land mass at the sides of this ridge.

Just prior to Blavatsky writing "Isis Unveiled", an international task force, led by the British ship Challenger and the U.S. Dolphin, obtained the first map of the ocean floor. They lowered buckets on ropes until they contacted the bottom. In the twentieth century, sonar was invented to locate enemy submarines and later it acquired the peace-time use of mapping more accurately the ocean floor. Now satellites have obtained the same information. An article in "Discover Magazine" March 1996, displays this ocean feature with colored maps obtained indirectly - a satellite detected gravity that implied ocean bottom features.

Blavatsky used the then recently obtained information on the floor of the Atlantic to justify her position on Atlantis. She says the mid-atlantic ridge is a remnant of that continent.

No more striking confirmation of our position could be given, than the fact that the ELEVATED RIDGE in the Atlantic basin, 9,000 feet in height, which runs for some two or three thousand miles southwards from a point near the British Islands, first slopes towards South America, then shifts almost at right angles to proceed in a SOUTH-EASTERLY line toward the African coast, whence it runs on southward to Tristan d'Acunha. This ridge is a remnant of an Atlantic continent.(SDii333)

Ignatius Donnelly's seminal work, "Atlantis: the Antediluvian World", published in 1882, has a map showing this ridge and what was known of it in his day. Blavatsky, however, claims to have knowledge beyond that provided by the research of the good ship Challenger.

She says:

and, could it [the ridge] be traced further [past the island of Tristan d'Acunha], [it] would establish the reality of a submarine horse-shoe junction with a  former continent in the Indian Ocean. (Cf. chart adapted from the "Challenger" and "Dolphin" soundings in Mr. Donnelly's, "Atlantis, the Antediluvian World," p. 47) [The map on page 47 that she references, was omitted in later printings of Donnelly's book but is rescued from a 1900 edition and made available by the hot-link above.]

Before examining 20th century knowledge on this point, we should note her exact words. We may think casually that she is making a prediction. But then she might have said "the ridge will be found and it will go along this path ..." - as though she were visualizing the future scene with clairvoyance. Instead she said "could it be traced further ...". Her language suggests she has no specific knowledge on whether or not it will be possible to trace it further. Rather, she simply has knowledge of the subject matter.

And why would Blavatsky have any use for knowledge of some detail of the ocean bottom - a seemingly totally irrelevant item of knowledge? Because it is a remnant of the above-water "horse-shoe connection to the continent of Lemuria that forms another important element of her presentation of the most ancient prehistory.

This "horse-shoe" shape becomes relevant in observing the 20th century evidence, so two more quotes are offered. They show that in the teaching of Secret Doctrine, Lemuria is the Eastern side of the horse-shoe and Atlantis is the Western part of the horse-shoe. (After Atlantis rises, Lemuria sinks, roughly speaking.)

No confusion need arise as regards the postulation of a Northern "Lemuria." The prolongation of that great continent into the North Atlantic Ocean is in no way subversive of the opinions so widely held as to the site of the lost Atlantis, and one corroborates the other. It must be noted that the Lemuria, which served as the cradle of the Third Root-Race, not only embraced a vast area in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but extended in the shape of a horse-shoe past Madagascar, round "South Africa" (then a mere fragment in process of formation), through the Atlantic up to Norway. ... thus corroborating the whole "horse-shoe" doctrine already enuciated. (SDii333)

And similarly:

Undoubtedly a fact and a confirmation of the esoteric conception of the Lemuria which originally not only embraced great areas in the Indian and Pacific oceans, but projected round South Africa into the North Atlantic. Its Atlantic portion subsequently become the geological basis of the future home of the Fourth Race Atlanteans. (SDii781)

Twentieth century oceanographic results

So what does 20th century science say? It totally confirms her claimed knowledge about the continuation of the mid-atlantic ridge.

Tristan Da Cunha is a small island complex in the South Atlantic between Buenos Aires Argentina and the southern tip of Africa. Donnelly describes the ridge as terminating at this island group.

reaching from a point on the coast of the British Islands southwardly to the coast of South America, at Cape Orange, thence  south-eastwardly to the coast of Africa, and thence southwardly to Tristan d'Acunha. (Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis the Antediluvian World p 47-49)

The satellite map from "Discover Magazine" is available. (It is a 153KB file that takes a moment to expand and requires available disk space to do so.) (HELPFUL HINT: In order to have sufficient resolution to show the relevant details on a computer screen it was necessary to use a zoomed in version. The land masses on the map are shown in solid black. To see the eastern portion of the horse-shoe, position the vertical scroll box on the map about 3/4's of the way down and the horizontal scroll box completely to the right. The Cape of Good Hope, Africa will then be in the upper right hand corner and the Atlanto-Lemurian ridge can be seen snaking across the screen.)

If other maps are consulted they will show the ridge (then called the mid-ocean ridge) extending exactly as Blavatsky claimed. Its horse-shoe shape is quite evident. (BN will later obtain such a map and make it available here.) The mid-ocean ridge can also be clearly seen on globes that are readily availble - and in such a way as to again clearly vindicate her claim of knowledge.

Though not wholly satisfying, in lieu of a good map, the following description is offered from the Discover issue.

The midocean ridges themselves, where seafloor geology begins, are visible on the map, too. The Midatlantic Ridge snakes down the center of that ocean from Jan Mayen off Greenland to the latitude of Cape Horn; near Iceland, where its volcanic effusions are so prodigious that it becomes land, it coincides with the most fiery of gravity highs. Under South Africa, the Southwest Indian Ridge shoots into the Indian Ocean like a fizzling rocket, or perhaps like the trail of some giant and cartoonish deep-sea mole. (Discover Magazine March 1996, p 63)

The horse-shoe shape she is describing, is discovered in this century to be the fracture zone along the boundary between tectonic plates.

Since the importance to Blavatsky of this underwater feature is its relation to the prehistory of human life as presented by Theosophy, the confirmation of her assertion should lead to some degree of additional credence to her view of prehistory.

The Theosophical version of Atlantis - when it sunk

Blavatsky comments on Atlantis many times in the SD - far too many to accumulate here. Briefly, there was a major continent in the Pacific. It had been called Lemuria by a scientist proposing it, so that name was adopted by Blavatsky. Lemuria included present day Australia. Later a land mass arose in the North and South Atlantic, and is called Atlantis in deference to exiting historical traditions. Lemuria then sunk. Atlantis then sunk and other lands rose.

The large continent in the Atlantic did not sink all at once. Blavatsky tells us that the first signs of sinking began more than 4 million years ago. The major sinking occurred 869,000 years ago. Finally the last small remnant of an island, called Poseidonis, sunk some 12,000 years ago.

A quote on the sinking of the "main Atlantis" millions of years ago is:

This event, the destruction of the famous island of Ruta and the smaller one Daitya, which occurred 850,000 years ago in the later Pliocene times, must not be confounded with the submersion of the main continent of Atlantis during the Miocene period. Geologists cannot place the Miocene only so short a way back as 850,000 years; whatever they do, it is several million years ago that the main Atlantis perished. (SDii314 footnote)

We should note that these claims of Theosophy for an inhabited land mass in the Atlantic do not involve major vertical movements of the ocean bottom in recent times. The "main Atlantis" is claimed above to have sunk several millions of years ago. A more "recent" sinking of 850,000 years ago still gives significant time between then and now. The final sinking of 12,000 years ago does not need to be of much magnitude. And mid-atlantic seamounts are now found, relatively close to the water surface. (see below)

Blavatsky's most precise dating for the next notable sinking is:

The very commencement of the latter witnesses, during the Dvapara Yuga, the destruction of the accursed sorcerers; "of the island (Plato speaking only of its last island) beyond the Pillars of Hercules, in the Atlantic Ocean, from which there was an easy transition to other islands in the neighbourhood of another large Continent" (America). It is this "Atlantic" land which was connected with the "White Island" it is just 869,000 [years] since that destruction took place. (SDii147)

In other places she more commonly uses a figure of 850,000 years ago for the sinking.

... About 850,000 [years] since the submersion of the last large peninsula of the great Atlantis ... (SDii10)

... 850,000 years ago - at the time of the sinking of the last remnants of the great continent of Atlantis [Blavatsky's footnote: It must be remembered that the "last remnants" here spoken of, refer to those portions of the "great continent" which still remained, and not to any of the numerous islands which existed contemporaneously with the continent. Plato's "island" was, for instance, one of such remnants; the others having sunk at various periods previously.] (SDii250)

We may see the evidence of the "numerous islands" in the numerous seamounts evident today on the ocean bottom.

Next she comments on the last and final sinking some 12,000 years ago.

An impenetrable veil of secrecy was thrown over the occult and religous mysteries taught, after the submersion of the last remnant of the Atlantean race, some 12,000 years ago, lest they should be shared by the unworthy, and so desecrated. (SDii124)

"Atlantis" is the Fourth Continent. It would be the first historical land, were the traditions of the ancients to receive more attention than they have hitherto. The famous island of Plato of that name was but a fragment of this great Continent.

The last serious change occurred some 12,000 years ago, and was followed by the submersion of Plato's little Atlantic island, which he calls Atlantis after its parent continent. Geography was part of the mysteries, in days of old. Says the Zohar (iii. fol. 10a): "These secrets (of land and sea) were divulged to the men of the secret science, but not to the geographers." (SDii8)

Blavatsky adds that Plato purposely combined the story of the last little sinking 12,000 years ago with the older sinking of the larger area.

Plato, while repeating the story as narrated to Solon by the priests of Egypt, intentionally confuses (as every Initiate would) the two continents, and assigns to the small island which sunk last all the events pertaining to the two enormous continents, the prehistoric and traditional. (SDii266)

In a rather elaborate explanation, Blavatsky shows how Plato intentionally combined the sinking 9,000 years prior (for him) with the 850,000 year sinking in veiled language. 1,000 years was held symbolic of 100,000 years - so 9,000 years ago also meant 900,000 years ago - which is close enough.

Now if we compare the 9,000 years mentioned by the Persian tales with the 9,000 years, which Plato declared had passed since the submersion of the last Atlantis, a very strange fact is made apparent "first of all," we read in "Critias" that "one must remember that 9,000 years have elapsed since the war of the nations, which lived above and outside the Pillars of Hercules, and those which peopled the lands on this side." ... In "Timaeus" Plato says the same. The Secret Doctrine declaring that most of the later islander Atlanteans perished in the interval between 850,000 and 700,000 years ago, and that the Aryans were 200,000 years old when the first great "island"or continent was submerged, there hardly seems any reconciliation possible between the figures. But there is, in truth. Plato, being an Initiate, had to use the veiled lanuage of the Sanctuary, ... They of Plato's day, the initiated writers, at any rate, meant by a millennium, not a thousand but 100,000 years; ... Thus when saying 9,000 years, the Initiates will read 900,000 years, during which space of time -i.e. from the first appearance of the Aryan race, when the Pliocene portions of the once great Atlantis began graduallly sinking and other continents to appear on the surface, down to the final disappearance of Plato's small island of Atlantis... (SDii394-5)

Science in Blavatsky's day

Geology of the 19th century did not accept the idea of a major continent in the Atlantic because it held to a doctrine of gradualism, according to Bellamy.

The immediate success of Donnelly's work was naturally tremendous and world-wide. However, though it effectively stopped further fanciful speculation it did not evoke new research along the lines suggested. The reason was that Donnelly's time was not ripe for the unreserved acceptance of the hypothesis of an island, or minor continent, which was suddenly lost in the Atlantic, chiefly because the geophysical theories going at the time were unable to supply the physical presuppositions for such a loss. Donnelly championed Plato's statement that the end of Atlantis was due to a sudden terrestrial convulsion - and this was the era of gradualism in geology which admitted only of almost imperceptibly slow changes in the features of the earth's surface. (Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, by Ignatius Donnelly, 1949 edition, p. xiii-xiv)

By the turn of the century Blavatsky's Atlantis still could not receive scientific study. Bellamy continues,

When a new school of investigators slowly arose, some twenty years after the publication of Donnelly's Atlantis book, they concerned themselves chiefly with the cultural relationships which he had indicated, with more or less distant Atlantis echoes, and not with the subject of Atlantology proper, the problem of the Lost Land in the Atlantic.

Current evidence from the floor of the ocean

In a 1954 issue of Geological Society of America, Bulletin, Bruce Heezen and others reported on a seamount - an underwater mountain - that has been named Atlantis by geologists and is in the Atlantic Ocean. It has been found to have been an island about 12,000 years ago - exactly the time specified by Blavatsky! This abstract is given:

The Atlantis, Cruiser, and Great Meteor seamounts rise from a broad ridge or plateau which extends from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to 37°N. 32°W. southeast to Great Sea mount at 30°N. 28°W. The Atlantis Sea mount, briefly explored 1947 and 1948, was found by echo sounding and submarine photography to have a fairly flat bedrock summit area at about 180 fathoms covered in some cases by current-rippled sand. Its slopes are covered with sand or ooze symmetrically rippled at 400 fathoms and marked by slump features in 570 fathoms. A small piece of volcanic agglomerate was dredged from 400 fathoms on the north slope. About a ton of flat pteropod limestone cobbles was dredged from the summit area. One of the cobbles gave an apparent radiocarbon age of 12,000 years ±900 (J.L. Kulp). The state of lithification of the limestone suggests that it may have been lithified under subaerial [i.e. above water, on land surface] conditions and that the sea mount may have been an island within  the past 12,000 years. (Heezen, Bruce C., et al, "Flat-Topped Atlantis, Cruiser, And Great Meteor Sea Mounts" in Geological Society of America, Bulletin, 65:1261, 1954 (Protogonos issue 9))

In later studies, evidence was found for the remnants of a "sunken block of continent" in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. An article in New Scientist 1975 summarizes the result. (Anonymous, New Scientist, 66:540, 1975)

Although they make no such fanciful claim from their results as to have discovered the mythical mid-Atlantic landmass, an international group of oceanographers has now convincingly confirmed preliminary findings that a sunken block of continent lies in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery comes from analysing dredge samples taken along the line of the Vema offset fault, a long east-west fracture zone lying between Africa and South America close to latitude 11øN.

The article describes the first report of "shallow-water limestone fragments" from the Vema Fracture in the Atlantic:

Four years ago two University of Miami workers, J. Honnorez and E. Bonatti, first reported the recovery of shallow-water limestone fragments from the Vema fracture zone. This limestone contained minerals indicative of a nearby granitic source unlikely to occur on the ocean floor. Neither water currents, nor more esoteric transport systems, could explain the presence of these rocks so far from the modern boundaries of the continents. The two researchers believed that, instead, the granitic grains  must have been deposited close to their source.

Then the recent researchers are noted:

Now, with C. Emiliani of Miami, Paul Bronniman of the University of Geneva, M.A. Furrer of Esso Production Research, Begles, and A.A. Meyerhof, a consulting geologist from Tulsa, USA, they have carried out a more searching analysis of the dredge samples (Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 26, p.8)

Finally he notes the evidence for activity in less than 30 meters of water, and even some evidence for activity in soil.

The Limestones include traces of shallow-water fossils - foraminifera, green algae, bits of gastropods, and crab coprolites - implying formation in water, in one instance, less than 30 m deep Furthermore, the limestones have been recrystallized from a high to low-magnesium form of calcite. Oxygen and carbon-isotope ratios prove conclusively that this process must have taken place subaerially [on land surface] "through the action of meteoric water enriched in light carbon while passing through a soil zone..."A pitted limestone sample bears evidence of tidal action. Some 50 km east of the dredge site along the Vema fracture the team also recovered a thick-shelled, shallow-water, bivalve fossil from a depth of over 2000 m.

The coprolites in the sample indicate a Mesozoic age for the limestone which may well be the sedimentary capping on a residual continental block left behind as the [??] spread out into an ocean. The granitic minerals could thus have come from the bordering continents while the ocean was still in its infancy. Vertical movements made by the block appear to have raised it above sea level at some period during its history.

(The above information is from Protogonos Spring 1990, #9 which obtained it from Unknown Earth: A Handbook of Geologica Enigmas by William R. Corliss.)

Since many readers may have heard of the pangaea theory of science and since that might appear to preclude the view of the SD on Atlantis we offer the comment of Mark Jaqua in Protogonos:

Modern geology is of the opinion that all present continents were once part of a large super-continent which is labeled "Pangaea". The Pangaea hypothesis was first presented by Alfred Wegener in the 1920's and today is held by most. Whether the hypothesis stands up to further evidence and reasoning only time will tell. When one considers, as modern theory has it, that the Americas, Europe and Africa were initially joined, it seems to leave no room for a possible mid-atlantic continent. The pangaean continent is held to have begun separating some 200 million years ago, which is long enough ago to be consistent with the Theosophical teaching. Additionally it should be held in mind that while still consisting of "continental plates" large portions of the Americas or Europe/Africa may have spent long periods of time submerged. ... Continental drift theory holds that the crust plates that form the continents are initially set in motion by the uprising of a mountain chain. The Atlantic has a submerged mountain chain that runs its entire length, which supports the continental drif theory as well as the claims of Theosophy about Atlantis." (Protogonos Spring 1990, #9 p 24)

To reinforce the Protogonos article: The pangaean view holds that the Western Hemisphere and Europe-Africa began separating some 200 million years ago. Blavatsky claims the Atlantean continent began its first signs of sinking some 4 million years ago. Atlantis, in the Theosophical view, could not have risen above water "too many" millions of years before that, since Lemuria was first above water while Atlantis had not yet risen. This time-line gives plenty of time for the hemispheric separation to start, and, at a relatively much later time, for the Atlantean continent to have risen and sunk. So the Pangaean and Atlantean theories are not in conflict. One does not preclude the other.

There is a time difficulty remaining between science and Theosophy. Theosophy gives a much much longer history to humanity on earth than does science. Theosophy not only has Atlantis above water millions of years ago but also has it peopled by human beings. Darwinism can in no way accommodate such an ancient history for man. Geologists, under the views imposed upon them by another department of science - evolutionary theory - understandably reject the idea of an Atlantean continent millions of years ago peopled by human beings. However they ought to be more forthright in accepting the reasonableness of Plato's small island in the Atlantic in view of the above evidence. In a sense they have, in choosing to name one of the seamounts "Atlantis". (For all we know, they picked the right one.)

We find here the relatedness of the elements of the Theosophical view - a matter that comes up often. Briefly, Theosophy agrees that evolution occured but completely disagrees with Darwinism on the "origin of the species". Scientific evolutionary theory has been forced by the data to take steps that move away from Darwin's view of the origin of the species and in the direction of Theosophy's view. Beyond the standard view, there is weighty evidence accumulating in favor of Theosophy's view. In sum, this is looking like a great vindication for Theosophy in the making and it is occuring during our time. This subject will eventually receive much more fuller analysis at this site. So a person willing to consider all the Theosophical views and their degree of confirmation, not need have this time-line difficulty that constrains traditional science.


The "right" maps

The maps showing the fracture zone between the tectonic plates have some use for these purposes. They show the path of, and the reasonableness of, Theosophy's view of the Atlantean and Lemurian land connection. However, they do not persuasively reveal the information that shows the great reasonableness of Theosophy's assertion of a land mass in mid Atlantic. Without knowing the facts we might think the Atlantic ocean is simply "very deep" all the way between the bordering continents. Not so. What is needed is an east-west cross-sectional map showing the depth of the ocean bottom as one crosses the ocean. Since there are issues of what latitude to chose, seamounts etc, better yet is a topographic map of the ocean with continuous lines indicating points of equal depth.

Here is the cross-sectional map that Donnelly chose for the frontis-piece of his seminal book. (It appears in a 1900 edition but not in a 1949 "modern revised edition".)

This map makes the location and reasonableness of Atlantis glaringly obvious. It shows the clear existence of a large mid-ocean continental mass. Note that the horizontal axis has been greatly compressed relative to the vertical axis. Otherwise the map would have to be drawn on a very long roll of paper! As a result the slopes of Atlantis look much more "steep" than they are in reality. Then again, this compression of the horizontal axis brings the existence of the central continental land mass to our attention more vividly.

A warning is also due that this map is from 1900. However, even with adjustments that might arise from more detailed accuracy in this century, this map still reveals the basic facts.

CONCLUSION: Information from the ocean floor is clearly supportive of the geologic facts of Atlantis asserted by Theosophy.

Atlantis Sunk When?

the Exact Year

A. P. Sinnett had written to a master (in letter 23A) a number of questions. Here is question 4:

(4) To what epoch did the existence of the Continent of Atlantis belong, and did the cataclysmical change which produced its extinction come into any appointed place in the evolution of the round, — corresponding to the place occupied in the whole manvantaric evolution by obscurations?

He got back this answer in letter 23b:

"It [science] now teaches, as you know, that Atlantis, or the remnants of it lingered down to post-tertiary times, its final submergence occurring within the palaeozoic ages of American history! Well, truth and fact ought to feel thankful even for such small favours in the previous absence of any, for so many centuries. The deep sea explorations — especially those of the Challenger, have fully confirmed the reports of geology and palaeontology. The great event — the triumph of our “Sons of the Fire Mist,” the inhabitants of “Shamballah” (when yet an island in the Central Asian Sea) over the selfish but not entirely wicked magicians of Poseidonis occurred just 11,446 ago."

As far as I know this is the only instance of an exact year for the sinking of Atlantis given anywhere. If anyone else knows of an exact year asserted or presumed from any source for this event please let me know.

Now we need to translate "11,446 years ago" into an exact year. The letter from the master was written in October of 1882. There are some indications from myths that the event occurred in the spring and other indications that it occurred in the summer. (Some few myths give this indication of a month but none give an indication of a year.) So if we assume it occurred in the 9 to 10 months of the year prior to the writing of the master's letter, and if we note that the year "0" never occurred, then this translates into the year 9,565 BC.

In the Secret Doctrine, HPB has more than once indicated 12,000 years ago. Of course these two dates are compatible with the master's date being more specific.

So, Theosophy has an asserted year for the sinking of Atlantis and that year is 9,565 BC.

Now it happens that the book Cataclysm has calculated a proposed year along with a range for its estimate of the date of the event. It averages together 574 separate carbon fourteen dates to come to a grand average of 11,577 BP. (BP means "before present" and is defined as before January 1, 1950. It is used by scientists to eliminate "Christ" from the dating terminology - even though a "BC" factor entered into the definition of the term.) This translates to 9,628 BC, or only 63 years away from Theosophy's date.

To form their best estimate, the authors of Cataclysm then decide to round their BP date from 11,577 to 11,500 BP and offer a range of plus or minus 50 years. This new estimate of 11,577 BP translates into 9,551 BC. This new date is only 14 years away from Theosophy's date of 9,565 BC. This is astounding!

Let's put it simply. When science has averaged together 574 radiocarbon dates and then picked a slightly yet rounder number for its estimate of this event, it then comes to only 14 years from the date asserted by Theosophy in the year 1888!!

Can we say Theosophy has been confirmed?

And yet a little more. Since Cataclysm gives a range of plus or minus 50 years, Theosophy's date is well within this estimated range from science.

Okay, I'll say it. Theosophy's dating of the sinking of Atlantis has been confirmed. This is an extraordinary match that Theosophists should be aware of. We each need to evaluate the extent to which this vindicates the knowledge of Theosophy about Atlantis. When we consider how strongly science has objected to the reality of Atlantis then it gives all the more significance to this vindication - and all the more weight to the Secret Doctrine.

There is one more detail that is subject to interpretation. Sinnett asked the master about the "cataclysmical extinction" of Atlantis. The master did not reply "Atlantis sunk in year XX." Instead the master said "the great event occurred ...". It appears to me the master knew that much more had occurred than that an island had sunk. It appears to me that he knew a "great event" had occurred. It was more than the extinction of an island. And that would be much more in keeping with this analysis.

Reed Carson

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