Is a strange circular formation in the western Sahara the lost city of Atlantis? Doug “Uncola” Lynn ponders this question and what it means for our understanding of history. From Lynn at theburningplatform.com:
This post will be a little “outside of the box” so to speak. It’s more of an afterthought, really. Therefore, it may not tie into current events and, specifically, the upcoming midterms and aftermath. Or, in a roundabout way, it could be exactly about those coming events. Regardless, as always, it is the reader’s choice to tag along while simultaneously, and at your whim, possessing the power of the click.
Of course, that’s just one of the bonuses of being an internet animal.
Another includes the occasional morsels discovered when hunting and gathering online. These may often be feel-good stories that reassure one’s belief in humanity. Other examples might include new scientific breakthroughs that, at the time, are only reported on the shadowy fringes of the interwebic blogosphere. Or maybe the tidbit is about a social, or health, tip that enriches one’s life. And, oftentimes, other postings are historical; even connecting antiquity with modernity in ways that resurrect the imaginations of childhood.
For instance, every time I click through another posting of Noah’s Ark being found or view scientists exploring what could be the ancient vessel that carried animals two by two, it takes me back to the old stories, and even visions of Spock Leonard Nimoy on Mount Ararat during the five year mission in search of where others have boldly gone before.
I sometimes wonder if the internet may, in fact, be the final frontier.
But, now, to my most recent morsel and the subject of this particular post.
Two years ago there were reports on the mysterious Eye of the Sahara (also called the Richat Structure, the Eye of Mauritania, or the Eye of Africa). It is a circular land formation that has remained hidden through the ages because of its obscurity at ground level. Part of the reason it has been hidden in plain sightover the millennia was due to its remote location in the western Sahara Desert. Another is because of the overall size of its inner rings; around 14.5 miles in diameter.
Although it was discovered in the early nineteenth-century and designated as the Richat Crater, it wasn’t until the Gemini IV mission in 1965 that the bullseye-shaped structure was seen in its entirety during a four-day orbit around the Earth.
Because the geographic anomaly can only be (fully) viewed from high altitude, Forbes Magazine last summer said it looked like a giant crop circle and that:
Astronauts love to observe the Eye of the Sahara from space because it looks like the landing site of a 40-kilometer wide flying saucer.
Then, last month, another article surfaced to claim the Richat Structure actually matched the descriptions of the Lost City of Atlantis that was recounted in the dialogues of Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher.
It turned out the article was reporting on the YouTube video of an enthusiastic young man who referenced a 2011 documentary on Atlantis as his inspiration.
This is the video:
For those who don’t have time to view the 21 minute presentation, the following includes a brief summary:
Using the exact words that Plato used to describe Atlantis in his dialogues Critias and Timaeus, the narrator compared the surrounding land features and location described therein with the land anomaly now known as the Eye of the Sahara.
It was claimed that Plato based his writings upon access to ancient Egyptian knowledge regarding an “advanced empire referred to as Atlantis”.
The city was understood to be technologically advanced, full of “noble and powerful people possessing vast wealth, luxury and knowledge, and even military superiority, and as described as being destroyed in a single day and night of misfortune which caused the island of Atlantis to disappear into the depths of the sea.”
Some contend the city disappeared in the aftermath of a vast earthquake and tsunami.
Nine-thousand years later, the Athenian statesman, Solon (638 – 558 BC), had an Egyptian high priest translate hieroglyphics that described Egypt as a former colony of the Empire of Atlantis. Solon’s notes were then kept safe in the family over the next six generations until his ancestral relative, Plato, recorded them near 2,400 years ago.
Using Solon’s dates, the city of Atlantis sunk around 11,600 years ago which, coincidently, corresponds to what is called the Younger Dryas climate catastrophe, or a widespread extinction level event hypothesized to have been caused by the distant impact of a comet. It is speculated the ensuing earthquake and tsunami destroyed Atlantis.
Plato described the lost city as follows:
There were alternate zones of sea and land, larger and smaller, encircling one another, there were two of land, and three of water which were turned as if with a lathe each having its circumference equidistant every way from the center.
– Plato, from “Critias”
The Greek philosopher furthermore cited the diameter of Atlantis as being 127 “stadia”. Since a stadia is known to be a measurement of 607 feet, this means Solon’s and Plato’s recordings closely correspond to the actual size of the Richat Structure in Mauritania.
Furthermore, Plato said the mountains which “sheltered the island to the north flowed with rivers” and that the city opened to the south towards the sea.
Just for fun, I checked it out myself via the Evil Entity’s “Earth” application:
As I zoomed in on the above location, I found myself wondering if I was actually seeing the Lost City of Atlantis – and if I was, I asked myself: “How cool is the internet?”
The narrator of the above YouTube video also pointed out how the entire area looked like it was formed by an ancient tsunami complete with striations going west to east from the Atlantic Ocean. These patterns also correspond to the erosion seen on the outer rings of the Richat Structure.
There were more connections and comparisons made between the writings of Plato and the Eye of the Sahara in the video, as well as speculation as to how plate tectonics may have raised its current location another 900 feet above Ice Age sea levels.
In any case, as I now envision the ancient city of Atlantis in my mind’s eye: I see the city bordered to the north with lush mountains and spectacular waterfalls and, to the south, a bustling seaport all at once ancient, exotic, and worldly; a spectacular civilization swallowed by the sea in a moment.
In “The Republic”, Plato honored ancient Athens as the ideal state, but it was the city of Atlantis that inspired the Renaissance writers Francis Bacon and Thomas More as well as other authors and poets throughout history. But no matter the writer, or the words, or whether utopias or dystopias were described, the City of Atlantis today symbolizes civilization lost.
In Timaeus and Critias, respectively, Plato defined the “World Soul” and told of the earth divided among the gods by allotment. He described the virtue of Atlantis in its rise and then how the Atlanteans became corrupt:
…but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts ; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power.
-Plato, from “Critias”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
…in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.
-Plato, from “Timaeus”
Indeed, the eras ebb and flow with the tides; yet the words remain, untouched by the sands of time. In modernity, just as in antiquity, there are similar rhymes as civilizations are divided, seemingly, by fickle gods. The sun rises. The sun sets. Nations rise and civilizations fall. And when everything is lost and all that once was sinks into the sea by the earthquakes and tsunamis of time and change, the words will still be there; awaiting discovery in the desert.
But if not the desert, then, hopefully, the internet.