This is a research paper on Atlantis I did in school a couple of years ago. The images that accompany it can be found here
It is in the nature of humanity to believe in things that cannot be proven. Every civilization in history has legends and myths. The legend of Atlantis, a lost continent, has survived for over 2000 years, a myth found in many texts and movies. Writers have created whole pantheons for Atlantis. While there may have been an island that sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Plato’s Atlantis is hidden in the remnants of a destroyed civilization in the Mediterranean Sea.
Plato tells the readers of Timaeus “In a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men [the Greeks] in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in a like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea (Plato “Timaeus” 446).” In his dialogues, Atlantis is an island, ringed by water, ringed by earth, which is in turn ringed by water with one more ring of land surrounding the island, all in concentric circles (see figure 1). These islands were divided between the ten kings of Atlantis. The Atlanteans built a grand temple of gold and orichalcum (a metal second in value only to gold), dedicated to Poseidon. This temple, along with a magnificent castle, sat on a hill in the center circle. In order to have access to the center of the island, the Atlanteans constructed a canal: “Beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia [5.75 miles] in length . . . (Plato “Critias” 482)” (See figure 2).
The canal led to the development of a grand harbor, from which thousands of ships sailed for trade, exploration and empire building. Atlantis conquered all of the Mediterranean except for Greece (the nation that eventually defeated them). They had the strongest navy their world had ever seen, and a technological advantage over all of their enemies. Atlantis supposedly possessed hot and cold running water, plumbing, and many “modern” conveniences. Their technology made their lives easier, so they had many artisans and wonderful architecture (Plato “Critias” 483).
Even though Atlantis had this technology, they had a religious festival that utilized the most primitive of weapons. The ten kings of the island would hunt a bull using nooses, rather than impale it with spears or arrows, then sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, their patron and, according to Plato, their ancestor. After the sacrifice, the Atlantean monarchs would sit in judgment over their empire.
Atlantis met its end at the hands of the Athenians. The Athenian army had grown tired of the domination of the Atlanteans, and fought a bitter battle with them for dominion of the Mediterranean Sea. When the Greeks won, the Atlantean army returned to their island, which was racked by waves and earthquakes until it sank into the depths of the sea.
Plato tells a fine story, but some argue that it was simply an analogy for a utopian society that grew corrupt. Plato had invented other lands for the purposes of edification. Atlantis could be just like these other lands that only existed in Plato’s imagination. It has the hallmarks of an epic legend – a race of men that were the children of a god (Poseidon), advanced technology and a mysterious end. Also, he says, “They despised everything but virtue (Plato “Critias” 485).” To the Athenians, that would have seemed an optimal civilization. People still wonder if such a perfect place could have existed.
There are many reasons to accept Atlantis as real. First, we have the words of Plato himself. He states numerous times that it was a true story, something he never did for his purely fictional nations. In addition, he says that he heard the story from Solon, the great lawmaker of Athens, who heard it from the Egyptians. Solon was a great man, revered by the Athenians for his wisdom and diplomacy (Plutarch). Plato would not have...