The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Where is/was Atlantis? It's been speculated that Crete, Santorini, the Azores, even the Americas were the site of the legendary lost continent. But there's a new theory that proposes Ireland to be the prime candidate:
Geographer Ulf Erlingsson, whose book explaining his theory will be published next month, says the measurements, geography, and landscape of Atlantis as described by Plato match Ireland almost exactly.

"I am amazed no one has come up with this before, it's incredible," he told Reuters.

"Just like Atlantis, Ireland is 300 miles long, 200 miles wide, and widest across the middle. They both have a central plain surrounded by mountains.

"I've looked at geographical data from the rest of the world and of the 50 largest islands there is only one that has a plain in the middle -- Ireland."
It could be that Ireland was too obvious a choice. The British Isles were suspected to a possible site for the legendary Thule (also thought to be Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, among others); maybe historical investigators assign only one mythic designation per location.

I'm not as sold on the origins of the destruction of Atlantis:
Erlingsson believes the idea that Atlantis sank came from the fate of Dogger Bank, an isolated shoal in the North Sea, about 60 miles off the northeastern coast of England, which sank after being hit by a huge flood wave around 6,100 BC.

"I suspect that myth came from Ireland and it derives from Dogger Bank. I think the memory of Dogger Bank was probably preserved in Ireland for around 3,000 years and became mixed up with the story of Atlantis," he said.
I think it's not too likely that a legend like that would survive 3,000 years, despite the spectacular nature. Like many theories about Atlantis, Erlingsson's could be making the crucial mistake of trying to incorporate too many disparate theories into one all-inclusive one.

In any case, it's interesting. Historical investigations into geographic legends is a particularly fun sideline.