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Did Plato's central Atlantic nation exist? Spain investigates
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 @ 8:06 PM

SOME of the earliest humans might actually have had a mid-Atlantic accent and a nation at war with Athens as described by Plato may really have existed – at least, recent findings by scientists at Granada University certainly give plenty of fodder for the imagination.

The TV documentary El Resurgir de la Atlántida ('The Re-emergence of Atlantis'), shows our fascination with the ‘lost continent’ of the ocean between Europe and the Americas remains strong even 2,300 years after Plato invented it (photo: DMAX)

The Ancient Greek philosopher, in his works Timaeus and Critias, spoke of 'Atlas Island' or 'Atlantis' and how what is now the capital of his home Mediterranean nation repels its attacks 'unlike any other in the known world', showing how Athens is a superior State and the epitome of perfection – in keeping with the 'ideal' as described in his famous Republic.

Plato sparked centuries of fake news with his Athens-Atlantis war allegory (photo: RaphaelQS/Wikimedia Commons)

Atlantis is merely allegorical, or invented to 'prove' how impeccable Athens is, but in addition to inspiring works of literature, including many of the Renaissance humanists – Francis Bacon's New Atlantis being one key example, and Sir Thomas More's Utopia mentions it – the notion of a country or countries between Europe and the Americas led to centuries of dubious scientific claims pointing to its existence in reality, and to many 'wise' scholars believing Plato's description to be a genuine event in history.

And Catalunya-born poet Jacint Verdaguer's 1877 epic, L'Atlàndida, describes it as a tyrannical coloniser of Europe which, nevertheless, brought civilisation to the old world, which ended up in crisis when the island sank.

Yet the latest research in south-eastern Spain points to the likelihood of land-masses in the Atlantic, now vanished – and is anything but dubious.


Before Plato's time...but maybe not before ours as a species

Whilst Plato claimed Atlantis sunk into the sea following its defeat at the hands of Athens around 9,000 years before his time – being about 11,300 years ago – scientists in Granada are looking at a time far further back.

The geo-chronology team led by Dr Fernando Bea and Dr Pilar González is working on the basis of 'micro-continents' in existence between 200 million and 3.2 billion years back, although their investigations to date reveal these might have been above the surface fewer than 600,000 years ago.

Léon Bakst's 1908 painting Terror Antiquus, based upon the sinking of Atlantis, is one of numerous artistic works inspired on the Ancient Greek legend (photo: Russian State Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

This would mean the Atlantic islands coincided in time with the human race, which is thought to have been around in its earliest form some three million years ago and completed its evolution into modern-day homo sapiens about 10,000 years ago.

The team leaders, who are faculty heads of mineralogy and petrology in Granada, and their colleagues examined oceanic rocks dragged up from the bed of the mid-Atlantic, all less than two or three million years old, but containing minerals known to be exclusively European – zircon – and which were much older, up to 3.2 billion years.


'Time capsule': Old-world minerals embedded in new-world rocks

Zircon is considered by mineralogists to be a 'real time capsule', since its elements contain codified information which becomes crystallised, trapping these in their purest states.

This information includes notable levels of radioactive elements such as Thorium and Uranium, which cause various lead particles to break off from them.


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