Sunday 26 June, 8pm
"I avoid using the word Atlantis in my books because most people when they hear the word Atlantis immediately think that they're dealing with the lunatic fringe.” (Graham Hancock, Horizon, BBCTV, 14th December 2000)
The tale of the lost city of Atlantis said to have disappeared into the sea has fascinated writers for millennia – yet mention of the fabled legend immediately earns authors the label of being a crank and open prey to the academic establishment. So here we go.
Graham Hancock, the most successful of recent writers on the fabled city of Atlantis, wrote of an advanced civilisation in Fingerprints of the Gods (1995) that, following a world wide catastrophe, that ended the last ice age, around 11,500 years ago, had left their wrecked homeland and went out to civilise the world. Hancock goes on to cite the civilisers of the South Americas and huge megalithic structures around the world, such as the pyramids both sides of the Atlantic, using precession of the equinoxes at various ancient sites to underline this date. Basing the conclusion of Fingerprints of the Gods on the work of Rand Flem'Ath, When the Sky Fell (1995), who had further developed the Earth Crust Displacement theory of Charles Hapgood; Atlantis was in Antarctica under two miles of ice.
Hancock's book became immensely popular, but the kick back was the onslaught of debunking he suffered and was challenged by academia to provide proof of his theory; where was this lost civilisation?
Hancock's response was Underworld: The Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age (2002) 700+ pages and a Channel Four TV series detailing a worldwide exploration for the underwater ruins of a lost civilization, following clues in ancient scriptures and mythology and scientific evidence of the flood that swept the Earth at the end of the last Ice Age. However, Underworld failed to convince the academics and Hancock gave up on his quest for the lost civilisation and resorted to writing fiction where he could be master of any creation he chose and free from academic criticism.
Of course the story from Homer's Iliad, telling of the forbidden love between Helen, wife of the King of Sparta, and Paris, son of Priam of Troy, resulted in a war that destroyed a civilization, was just legend until Heinrich Schliemann, with Frank Calvert, uncovered the original site of Troy, at Hisarlik, in Turkey. If Schliemann and Calvert had proved that ancient texts such as the Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid could reflect actual historical events, then we cannot dismiss the possibility that Plato's account of Atlantis could also have an historical basis.
Has the fabled lost city of Atlantis been located?
Now a television documentary, screened tonight, may have unearthed evidence of the lost civilisation. Using satellite photography, ground-penetrating radar and underwater technology, experts are surveying marshlands in Spain to look for proof of the ancient city. If this team of scientists can match geological formations to Plato's descriptions and date artifacts back to the time of Atlantis, we may be closer to solving one of the world's greatest mysteries.
Since writing the legend of Atlantis in 360BC, Plato's tale has captivated the world and many have dedicated their lives to locating the lost island. Plato believed Atlantis, existing around 9600 BC, lay in front of the ‘Pillars of Hercules’, an area now known as the Straits of Gibraltar. He described it as a large and powerful island, home to Gods and Kings, but following a failed invasion of Athens Plato tells how “in a single day and night of misfortune, the island… disappeared into the depths of the sea....... and vanished.”
While some ancient writers thought the stories were merely fiction, others believed it to be real. And the debate still rages today, with scientists, writers and scholars putting forward different theories about its location and what actually happened.
Armed with Plato’s descriptions, three teams set out to either support or disprove possible locations of Atlantis, with one team uncovering a strong lead; they discover a city off the coast of Southern Spain, which was lost to a tsunami 9,000 years ago. Using state-of-the-art technology, experts search the marshlands of Spain to try to uncover the location of the fabled lost city of Atlantis.
National Geographic - Finding Atlantis 1/4
1 of 4 videos - All rights reserved National Geographic ©
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