The Ties that Bind

In the 4th century BCE, Plato wrote his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, and compared the virtues of two cities—Athens and Atlantis. The story of Atlantis originated with Solon, Athenian law maker and his ancestor. Solon, while travelling the Mediterranean world and learning about the laws of the various cities was told the legend by Egyptians at Sais. The descriptions of Atlantis are detailed and give clues as to which civilisation it may refer to and the location. Yet these descriptors are not unique which makes it difficult to pin down precise whereabouts of Atlantis. In this post and those to follow I will draw on Plato’s Critias to extrapolate details which may point to this fabled island.

Santorini

Satellite image of Santorini today

‘And Poseidon, receiving for his lot the island of Atlantis, begat children by a mortal woman, and settled them in a part of the island, which I will describe.

Looking towards the sea, but in the centre of the whole island, there was a plain which is said to have been the fairest of all plains and very fertile. Near the plain again, and also in the centre of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia, there was a mountain not very high on any side.

Poseidon… enclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water, which he turned as with a lathe, each having its circumference equidistant every way from the centre, so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not as yet.’

thera 1500bce

The Jimes Expedition to Santorini http://www.whaton.uwaterloo.ca/waton/s987.html

Compare with a reconstructed map of Thera before the volcanic eruption 1500 BCE. You can see the outlines of the land that sat above the sea level.

The mountain

Larger land
Smaller land

Alternate zones of water
Of which 3 were mentioned

The following passage confirms the structure of the island, which is evidenced by the famous Akrotiri wall friezed.

‘First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis, making a road to and from the royal palace.

And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia in length, which they carried through to the outermost zone, making a passage from the sea up to this, which became a harbour, and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress.

Moreover, they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea, leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another, and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships; for the banks were raised considerably above the water.
Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth, and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth; but the next two zones, the one of water, the other of land, were two stadia, and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width. The island in which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia.
All this including the zones and the bridge, which was the sixth part of a stadium in width, they surrounded by a stone wall on every side, placing towers and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in.

The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the centre island, and from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side. One kind was white, another black, and a third red, and as they quarried, they at the same time hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock. Some of their buildings were simple, but in others they put together different stones, varying the colour to please the eye, and to be a natural source of delight.’

Stone of white, black and red all natural rocks found on Santorini.

Akrotiri marine fresco Athens Museum

Akrotiri marine fresco
Athens Museum

Such attention to detail has to come from somewhere, right?

Thank you for stopping by and reading.

As always, your comments are valued and welcomed.

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Historical fiction fantasist Luciana Cavallaro, a secondary teacher, meanders from contemporary life to delve into the realms of mythology. Subscribe to her FREE short story.

Sources:
Atlantis revealed
Timaeus and Critias, The Mysterious and Unexplained, Active Mind Site

13 thoughts on “The Ties that Bind

  1. As you bring out more and more details, the contours of the fabled island seem to be gaining in clarity. Will all the ties that bind build up to establishing the present day Santorini with a degree of finality, ruling out other possibilities? best wishes…Raj.

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  2. I am trying to think ahead and figure out if you will lead us to a conclusion that Santorini was once Atlantis. There is much to understand here. The discussion of the stones is interesting! I have read some of Plato’s dialogues but not all. There is much to learn and you help us do so in a clear way, which I appreciate!

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    • What a lovely compliment, thank you Christy.
      I am hoping to demystify the legend and provide strong facts which will lead to the location of Atlantis. Though much of what I have read and viewed do contradict each other. And many scholars/archaeologists don’t believe in an Atlantis. But then they were proved wrong with the legend of Troy ;D

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  3. Excellent post cara Luciana… You have pointed out plausible hypothesis and as I read your post I tend to believe (this I still don’t conclude it) that Atlantis might have been placed in Santorini.
    Many believe that Plato was basing his account of Atlantis on the history of the Minoan civilization, which would coincide well with many if the empirical facts you brought into this spotlight here…
    It is believed that about 3,600 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption devastated the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea near Greece. At the time, a highly advanced society of Minoans lived on Santorini. The Minoan civilization disappeared suddenly at about the same time as the volcanic eruption…
    All my best wishes to you and thanks for sharing your knowledge! Aquileana ⭐

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    • Mille grazie, cara Aquileana.
      You have summed it up beautifully. I also believe Plato was basing his ideal society on the Minoan civilisation. There are too many coincidental factors between Atlantis and the Minoans.
      ciao
      Luciana 😀

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  4. Last time I was in Santorini, my hotel balcony faced the Caldera. As I gazed at the view while sipping my morning coffee, it occurred to me that it is at least possible that the giant, water-filled hole I was staring at could possibly contain the lost city of Atlantis beneath its depths. Since it has been confirmed that there was a massive volcanic eruption around the time of the Minoan Civilization, the possibility that there is a lost city somewhere in Greece shouldn’t be discounted.

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    • It is a beautiful island. I agree, though there wouldn’t be much left of the remains of what was on the volcanic island. I do believe Akrotiri are the remains of what was a part of “Atlantis”.
      Thank you for visiting and your wonderful comment 😀

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  5. Bella, once again you have written an amazing post. It’s a wonderful exploration of Santorini. The details you describe are quite interesting. There are certainly a number of clues to be found in Plato’s story that points to the destructive Minoan eruption on Santorini as the most likely candidate for being the historic fact behind the story of Atlantis. I look forward to reading further exploration of this mysterious legend.

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    • Grazie Bella 😀
      I slept through a new documentary on Atlantis the other night, one that discussed the possible location is in Spain. It wasn’t the program that sent me to sleep mind! Compelling arguments made but am keeping open minded as to the location of Atlantis.
      x

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  6. Luciana,

    I love your series on the various theories as to where the lost civilization of Atlantis may have been located. It seems most likely Atlantis was located around the Santorini region that was destroyed during the catastrophic volcanic eruption about 1500 BC. This marks the beginning of the destruction of several other advanced ancient civilizations in Crete and Egypt by 1000 BC either through natural calamities or invasions. It makes sense the Greeks would refer back to Golden Age of Atlantis to relate to their own advancing society in Greece.

    You’ve done a great job on researching the theories regarding Atlantis. Have a great week!

    Regards,
    Linnea

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    • Hi Linnea

      Thank you! You are quite right with regards to other advanced civilisations of the time affected by the volcanic eruption of 1500 BC. It plunged the world into the first of many dark ages. I am currently watching a series on ancient Greek during the Golden Age, and it is possible Plato was discussing the rise of Athens during that period and perhaps a warning of hubris. But I still believe he based his theories on an advanced ancient culture and drawing parallels with what happened to that civilisation and that of Athens. I may be wrong though!

      Thank you
      Luciana

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