Dilettantes Believe They Found Atlantis off Spain (Again!)

This is why dilettantes need to stay away from history.  The main paragraph reads:

A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago, in mud flats in southern Spain.

First, they didn’t find Atlantis.  Atlantis is a fictional creation of Plato used as a means to express his perfectly ideal Greek city and its possible, eventual downfall.  When you consider that Plato wrote dialogues, not histories, it is difficult to presume it trustworthy.  Indeed the very etymology of the ‘dialogue’ (διάλογος) means “through reason” or “through words” implicating the necessity of the language over the historicity of the accounts. The dialogue of Euthyphro, for example, begins with the sentence “On Holiness, a tentative work, in the artifice of a dialogue of Euthyphro and Socrates.” In the Greek, the phrase “in the artifice of” is πειραστικός, meaning “fictional pretense/tentative”.  Plato is thus entirely explicit about its (lack of) historicity. That appended title may have been added by later editors, but not likely later than antiquity, so either way it is what Plato said or his early readers understood. I imagine this is how all of his works were understood in one manner or another (it would be odd if he only meant that for one, would it not?).

They might have found some ruins, sure.  And there are plenty of examples of small settlements and even larger cities that fell victims to tsunamis and earthquakes along shorelines throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.

Freund’s discovery in central Spain of a strange series of “memorial cities,” built in Atlantis’ image by its refugees after the city’s likely destruction by a tsunami, gave researchers added proof and confidence, he said.

via Lost city of Atlantis believed found off Spain – Technology & science – Science – msnbc.com.

More dilettantism.  We don’t have any ancient depictions of Atlantis to which we might compare these “memorial sites”.  It has always surprised me how quick people will jump on any image of circles in antiquity as a reference to Atlantis.  This is not stable enough to be confident about and certainly isn’t ‘proof’.

This sort of crap is no different then these loons who claim that Aliens built Atlantis.  You take an ideal culture and try to historicize it, then go out in search of artifacts to prove your conclusion.  How is this any different than Biblical archaeology?  It’s nothing short of fundamentalism.  And it isn’t new.

Many people (loons/kooks/conspiracy theorists) throughout ancient and modern history have thought they located this city (off Cyprus, Africa, Cuba, India, in the Caribbean, etc…), but it’s all bunk.  You can’t find something that never existed.  You can claim a site is anything you want (like the five Troy’s that exist) so long as enough people (i.e. other dilettantes and nonexperts) believe you.  That doesn’t make it correct, however.

This is precisely why I am writing my new book; stories like this sensationalize history rather than preserve it for humanity.  Just imagine the implications of such a “find” (but nobody wants to think about these).  A western (i.e. “white”) city which was perfect in every way, the ideal democracy where everyone was beautiful and attractive; what message does that send?  Think of the cultural and historical implications to the history of the ancient Near East and the great African civilizations, the dynasties of Asia and the Kingdoms of Egypt?  It’s nothing short of ancient Greek idealism and to presume it is more is a dangerous path to take.  It is as dangerous as those claiming that Israeli history is the same as “Biblical history”.  Or that there was such a thing as ‘Biblical’ Israel.

7 Responses

  1. And people who are going to watch the documentary will probably be very interested in buying my forthcoming historical book “Finding Nemo” (or “Finding Yahweh”, I don’t remember the title right now…)

  2. Thanks for the heads up, Antonio!

  3. […] Tom Verenna’s post on the latest discovery of Atlantis (collect them all!) made me think how much Atlantis resembles […]

  4. However, you are dismissing the actual findings in these mud-flats of Spain, which go to further demonstrate what little we actually know concerning our own archaeological history. You would do well to remember that modern archaeology is relatively new on the scene of western thought, and its fully-funded practicum even newer. To suggest that new discoveries in a field barely a century old is unlikely is ludicrous. One of the first major discoveries in archaeology (Troy, in Turkey) was developed and pursued for the purpose of recreating a certain historicity in ancient literature. Who’d have thunk it? Homer was actually, albeit poetically, writing about an actual historical event! As technology increases our ability to explore subterranean environments and the deep ocean, I have a hunch that the Mesopotamia “Cradle of Civilization,” accepted theory of human history is going to start appearing more and more the product of undeveloped science, rather than fact – sort of like what alchemy is to modern chemistry. Toodaloo.

  5. No one is dismissing any finds. They might have something, sure. But I think it is disingenuous, premature, and dangerous to label it “Atlantis”.

  6. […] how a few years back everyone was claiming to have found Atlantis?  In particular there was one “find” via Google Maps, if you keep track of these sorts […]

  7. […] are accurate enough to ‘locate’ anything?  It’s just like attempts to locate the real Atlantis or the so-called ‘Palace of Odysseus‘ (which is just bunk).  It is just more wishful […]

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