Plato's legend of Atlantis has become notorious among scholars as the absurdest lie in literature. Atlantis Destroyed explores the possibility that the account given by Plato is historically true. Rodney Castleden first considers the location of Atlantis re-examining two suggestions put forward in the early twentieth century; Minoan Crete and Minoan Thera. He outlines the latest research findings on Knossos and Bronze Age Thera, discussing the material culture, trade empire and...
Plato's legend of Atlantis has become notorious among scholars as the absurdest lie in literature. Atlantis Destroyed explores the possibility that the account given by Plato is historically true.
Rodney Castleden first considers the location of Atlantis re-examining two suggestions put forward in the early twentieth century; Minoan Crete and Minoan Thera. He outlines the latest research findings on Knossos and Bronze Age Thera, discussing the material culture, trade empire and agricultural system, writing and wall paintings, art, religion and society of the Minoan civilization. Castleden demonstrates the many parallels between Plato's narrative and the Minoan Civilization in the Aegean.
Fired by the imagination a new vision of Atlantis has arisen over the last one hundred and fifty years as a lost utopia. Rodney Castleden discusses why this picture arose and xplains how it has become confused with Plato's genuine account.
Castleden, who has written ten other books on historical topics e.g., Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete, LJ 1/91, examines various events in ancient history and then attempts to prove that Plato used them to form the Atlantis tale for the purpose of creating a model world that Athenians could contemplate and learn from. He argues persuasively, offering much evidence, for instance, of similarities between Minoan civilization and the Atlantis legend. Ellis Deep Atlantic, LJ 10/1/96 also reviews sources from Plato to the present that have contributed to the story of Atlantis, revealing what mystics, scientists, film writers, and others have added to the legend. His most interesting revelation is that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a novel featuring an underwater Atlantis. Ellis also discusses archaeological evidence that some have used to "prove" that Atlantis existed. Castleden and Ellis write in styles suitable for adult readers, and their works are comparable to Marjorie Braymer's Atlantis: The Biography of a Legend 1983. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.Norman Malwitz, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY
Considers the evidence that Plato's account of Atlantis is historically true, rather than the lie it is widely held to be. The author advances the claim that much of what is known of Minoan civilization in the Aegean corresponds to Plato's descriptions of Atlantis, including the destruction of Minoan Thera by volcano. The author also distinguishes between Plato's writings about Atlantis and contemporary cultural visions of Atlantis as a lost utopia, the two of which are often confused. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Castleden (The Making of Stonehenge, not reviewed), working with Plato's Critias, historical and contemporary scholarly works, and his own speculation, seeks to identify the fabled island of Atlantis and set it within a greater political-literary context. As Castleden explains, the story of Atlantis dates from before Plato, back to the priests of Sais in Egypt and then into the mists. But it is a close reading of Plato's rendering on which Castleden bases his conclusions. Yes, Plato uses the island as a parable, as political satire to improve his fellow Athenians and tempt Syracusans with an ideal for the city-state, but there are so many identifiable elements in the storyþgeographically, geologically, in references to commerceþthat if these elements are put into historical perspective, if certain misreadings of ancient Minoan texts are accounted for, a stab can be taken at the island's identity. Castleden understands the pillars of Heracles to be situated at the Gulf of Laconia, and not the western end of the Mediterranean, and Atlantis to be an archipelago of Aegean islands, Crete and Thera (a.k.a. Santorini) most prominent among them. Plato, Castleden argues, conflated the two islands for his own allegorical convenience, and thus the confusion. The islandsþ particular geographical features bear out his description. Castleden buttresses his theory with a detailed examination of Cretan and Theran histories and cultures, drawing parallels to Plato. The theory is certainly plausible: His familiarity with the material is intelligently nuanced, and when he takes a leap in the darkþsuggesting understandable mistranslations by the Egyptians, sayþit is neverfar-fetched. Castleden's pseudoscholarly toneþthe book often reads like a script for Robert Stack's Unsolved Mysteriesþcan be a put-off, but the material is too fascinating for that to be much of an impediment, and the subject has survived far worse treatment. (For another view of Atlantis, see Richard Ellis, Imagining Atlantis, p. 630.) A fine synthesis of Atlantis-related research, with a good number of intelligent, provoking speculations and an insightful consideration of Plato's myth-making talents. (b&w photos, line drawings, not seen)
Rodney Castleden has been actively involved in research on landscape processes and prehistory for the last twenty-five years. He is the author of The Making of Stonehenge, The Knossos Labyrinth and Minoans.
1. 'All the island and many other islands also' 2. Preludes to discovery 3. Thera: the second rediscovery 4. The bronze age city of Thera emerges 5. Atlantean arts and crats 6. Theran food and trade 7. Writing and wall-painting 8. Art, religion, and society 9. The last days of Akrotiri 10. Atlantis Destroyed 11. Deconstruction of Atlantis