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Jiminez's avatar

Do you think there's any truth to the Atlantis myth?

Asked by Jiminez (1253points) March 23rd, 2009

I’m currently reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy if you know what that is…

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29 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

I would imagine with today’s radar and sonar technology, we would have seen some inklings of traces of Atlantis. The fact that we have not leads me to believe that it does not exist. However I do recognize that when it comes to the oceans, we haven’t explored them completely.

Staalesen's avatar

I guess some part of me really hope for it… I like to think there are things between heaven and earth we have not already discovered…

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

I think there are many possible explanations for Atlantis, but they aren’t as fantastic as popular myth would lead us to believe. I’d place my money for Atlantis on Santorini.

MadParty's avatar

I believe the site is called maybe com or org but in 2001 some seismologists claim to have discovered ruins 20 miles off the coast of cuba. which is in close proximity to the bermuda triangle, so there

ubersiren's avatar

@MadParty : Interesting, thanks.

fireside's avatar

I actually just saw an article on something that was spotted using Google Earth which has a gird like pattern of streets similar to the descriptions. (granted, the article in in the Sun)

I do think there is some truth to the myth of the former city, though I am doubtful about the myth of the underwater kingdom of merpeople.

Jiminez's avatar

@fireside I think the myth is that there was an above ground civilization (island? continent?) that perished somehow and sunk beneath the waves. Maybe due to a volcano, or an earthquake or something?

fireside's avatar

Yes, that particular myth I can handle.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

The Minoans were one of the dominate cultures in the ancient Mediterranean. They were heavily involved in foreign trade and had several settlements outside of their home on the island of Crete (according to wikipedia they might have even spread as far as Spain. I didn’t know that, and though it doesn’t have too much relevance to my point, I thought it was an interesting side note). One of these settlements was on the island of Santorini, which was destroyed by one of the largest volcanic explosions in recorded history. Thousands were displaced and thousands more died. Given their location and the fact that they were very advanced for their time, I think the Minoans make a plausible candidate for the historical basis for Atlantians.

daloonagain's avatar

Why yes, there is truth to the Atlantis myth. The shuttle is alive and kicking. However, the story that it is going to the space station is a myth. It will be flying up to service the Hubble telescope on it’s next mission.

I know that a lot of people don’t believe that man has been on the moon, or even in space, but I assure that the moon landing is not a myth. I know. I was there. I saw it with my own eyes.

So, I hope I have debunked that for you, permanently!

Qingu's avatar

I agree with @MrMeltedCrayon. I think most legends are probably based on a kernel of historical truth that gets exaggerated to mythic proportions over the years. The Minoans seem like a logical candidate for this re: Atlantis.

fireside's avatar

You know what happened, right?

They dug their tunnels underground for the Minotaur and destabilized the ground below them since they didn’t know enough about arches and keystones. Eventually the city collapsed into the tunnels and the Minotaur was crushed while the city flooded.

sounds good, anyway

Qingu's avatar

@fireside, I like your explanation, but it is unfortunately lacking in magic crystals.

fireside's avatar

@Qingu – What do you think they had the Minotaur mining down there in those tunnels?

resmc's avatar

Definitely possible. Years & years back [relative to my life, of course, so not quite as long ago as most would think], read a lot about the subject… was fascinating how many archaeological finds appear to be left out of the accepted consensus, because doing so would open up too many questions. Apparently the main assumption at stake was that civilization (of some sort) only rose once, and developed – in roughly a upward motion – into what we have today.

Easily, based on the prevalence of the flood myth in cultures very remote from one another, there’s some truth to that… but hard to know if there was one culture that was lost to that, or if there may’ve been several, possibly linked somehow through trade? Maybe we already have some knowledge of the society, maybe we don’t. The best argument i heard for the possibility is that, being so long ago, myth is the most likely way for such a major event to’ve been recorded. Of course, not necessarily accurately, as time went on. Wonder if we’ll ever know?

@fireside Kryptonite, obviously. XD

mattbrowne's avatar

Most myths have a real world connection, often it’s about cataclysmic events people in the distant past couldn’t explain. I think Atlantis is what we today call Santorini which is a Greek island.

Jiminez's avatar

@resmc Some think that the the Persian Gulf might be the result of a massive flood.* Ancient Sumeria was where some of the oldest cultural artifacts in the world are found. It’s possible that underneath all that water (and probably a few layers of sediment by now) there are more cultural artifacts to be found. Possibly even entire cities.


resmc's avatar

@Jiminez No idea where, but a bit more recently than all my reading on the subject, there was this fascinating doc on the flood & i believe the Mediterranean, tying ancient geology into the Noah’s Ark myth, of all things. It could be that this Persian Gulf thing is related to that. Have to run to class, am late probably (don’t even remember what time it is >.<), but am looking forward to perusing that later!

Qingu's avatar

About the Noah’s Ark flood….

Lots of cultures have “flood myths,” but the myth in Genesis is a specific kind of Mesopotamian flood myth that long predates the Bible. In the epic of Gilgamesh, written about a thousand years before the Bible, there is a flood story with many identical details to the one in Genesis. Another Mesopotamian myth, called the Atrahasis epic, has an even more fleshed-out flood story. The theology is different in Atrahasis (multiple gods, overpopulation is the problem instead of blood pollution, and the gods post-flood institute population controls instead of saying ‘go forth and multiply’), but the details are mostly identical.

Some people have suggested that the particular tradition of Mesopotamian flood myths (including the one in the Bible) stems from the flooding of the Black Sea. I don’t know about this, though, because if you actually read the flood story it doesn’t seem remotely like an actual flood.

The Babylonians and Hebrews believed the earth was flat, and that it was sandwiched between an ocean above the sky and an ocean below the ground. In Genesis, God opens the “windows of the sky” to let in the waters from the ocean up there, and opens the “cataracts of the deep” to let in the waters from down there. Similar details exist in the earlier Mesopotamian stories. So this isn’t really a flood—it is, literally, popping the “bubble” of Earth. (If you’ve ever played _The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, you can visualize what I’m talking about here in the last scene.)

A notable detail in all the Mesopotamian flood stories is that the ark has a roof sealed with pitch. The ark isn’t just a boat—it’s a submarine. It would have to be, because of the way the ancient people who told and wrote this story believed the Earth was shaped.

My point being, I think the flood stories in Genesis, Atrahasis and Gilgamesh are probably so far removed from any actual, physical event that it’s better to understand them as “myths” like creation stories, not “legends” like exaggerated tales of ancient cities and heroic battles.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – The flooding of the Black Sea is indeed a very likely explanation for the Great Flood myth. It’s consistent with science findings. The Bosporus acted as a natural dam at the end of the last ice age (when sea levels were 140 meters lower) but eventually the rising Mediterranean Sea created too much pressure and the “dam” broke. Divers have found the remains of primitive villages at the bottom of the Black Sea. How did they get there? Well, the only explanation is that when they were built there wasn’t any water around.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, again, I don’t think so. It happened quite some time before the earliest recorded Mesopotamian flood myth. And the “flood” in the myth itself does not actually resemble a real-life flood. It is more like a cosmic event.

It’s certainly possible that the descendents of villages around the Black Sea moved to Mesopotamia and their cultural memory transmitted the vague notion of a super-destructive flood, but I think the actual flood stories are so far removed from physical reality that they don’t even qualify as “legends.”

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Maybe you are right. Oral traditions are very powerful and can live for centuries before somebody creates a written record. The village at the bottom of the Black Sea is real.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

@Qingu: I think you underestimating the human imagination and our ability to exaggerate. People would have witnessed this flood. They would have seen the region they called home been literally wiped out with miles of water. And, as people do, they would talk about. I don’t see how it’s a huge stretch for story tellers to fill in gaps or sensationalize for the sake of a story. And given a few hundred years, these stories and oral traditions become ingrained in a culture. And it wouldn’t be the first time a story had been carried down in an oral tradition for long periods of time before being written down.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne and @MrMeltedCrayon, here’s another example just to demonstrate what I’m talking about. In the Hindu Vedas, there are a lot of myths about how the gods created the world by “churning” the ocean, in the same way that the early Aryans churned their milk. The ocean was identified with Soma, which was a hallucinegenic drug they took during religious rituals.

The idea of gods literally churning the world’s ocean is clearly connected to real-life rituals and events of the people who wrote this story. People had experience churning milk and taking weird drugs. But the story isn’t a legend based on real people churning small pots. Instead, the real-life experiences are used basically to provide color and context for a mythic, cosmic idea.

I’m saying that the Mesopotamian flood tradition works the same way. Everyone who lives near a river has experience with flooding. And the Black Sea flood may have provided a deeply ingrained cultural “experience.” But these real-life experiences don’t form a kernel of truth for the flood stories. Instead, they’re used as coloring so that the audience can better connect with a description of a cosmic event.

I don’t like characterizing cosmic myths as being based on historical events. I don’t think that’s how these stories actually get started. Legends, yes. But I think the flood story—like the creation story—was composed with a theological/explanatory purpose in mind first, and any historical connection only serves as color.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I like to think so but like someone else said, with todays technology I’m sure we would know so much more about it if it does exst. I feel the sae way about the Loch Ness monster!

resmc's avatar

@Quingu Very interesting. It’s so neat how ideas, traditions &tc. morph over time, and grow to be quite different from where they came from. Curious, too, how fluid – whether ether, water, or gas – tends to play a role in Creation Myths, about what existed before everything we know… is there some quality to water/air that inspires that? Both obviously are important to life, but why not Earth, which is equally vital?

And yeah, it is purely speculative, treading on the ground of linking myths to historical fact… just like, say, stereotypes; people may say both have a kernel of truth, but often the reality/truth behind it’s quite unlike the myth/stereotype it became. But, unlike most stereotypes, it’s fun to ponder knowing something you know you’ll probably never know :-)

Qingu's avatar

@resmc, there’s been a lot of theories about the significance of water in creation myths, because a lot of them (not just in Mesopotamia) deal with forming order from a pre-existent watery chaos.

In the Enuma Elish, Marduk forms creation from the corpse of Tiamat, the ocean-goddess. In Genesis, Yahweh forms creation from the “waters” that were there when he began. I believe similar stories exist in Egyptian and Canaanite mythology Some Hindu creation stories involve the churning of the ocean, as if it were milk, to create solid land and forms.

Someone—I forgot if it was Freud or Jung or maybe someone else—said that the reason water always figures in creation is because we all have these psychic memories of our liquidy existence in the wombs.

Maybe that’s true. But I prefer to think of these creation stories as earnest attempts at explanations for how the earth came into being. And if you put yourself in the shoes of ancient, pre-scientific people, these explanations actually make a lot of sense.

One important thing to consider is that the idea of creation ex nihilo — creation out of nothing—did not really exist in ancient times. People thought of the act of creation in the same way they thought about scultping—a sculptor “creates” a sculpture not by magically making it pop into existence, but by taking a piece of formless clay and shaping it into discernable forms. The creation stories (including the one in Genesis) work the same way: the gods are shaping formless chaos into discernable shapes, like the earth and the sky.

So I think it makes sense—from an ancient perspective—to identify water as the actual substance of this pre-existent chaos. Imagine how terrifying and chaotic the ocean looks to a culture that can barely sail ships on it. Water surrounds the world. It even seems to surround the sky (because rain falls from it) and the underworld (because if you dig far enough eventually you’ll find groundwater). From an ancient perspective, it makes perfect sense to see creation as this lucky, orderly “bubble” carved out of the swirling waters that surround it.

/religious studies nerd

resmc's avatar

Makes sense… tho perhaps there even may be some bit of validity to Freud/Jung/whoever – no rule that there’s only a single influence.

Creation ex nihilo’s very odd; it makes sense, on a much more abstract sense, that there may be an opposite to something – yet assuming that as the default origin of everything is terribly odd.

It’s definitely more palpable the view of creation as simply taking existing materials and ‘sculpting’ them into new forms, or even mixing forms themselves into new ones.

—Oddly, you bringing this up was useful, as tho in a cosmological sense i’d – years ago – gravitated away from accepting creation ex nihilo – that never soaked into my idea of what creative work should be. Even tho i work best (by far) with existing ‘materials’, it had hung over me – maybe osmosis of our culture’s assumption of ex nihilo as the default – as what was the ideal way to be creative, and caused [minor] some self-dissatisfaction & frustration. So thanks, despite not intended to be helpful that way :-)—

frostgiant's avatar

Atlantis is a myth? Could have sworn I’ve been there before. Isn’t it home to the Falcons and the Coca-Cola Corporation?

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