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Essay/Term paper: Atlantis

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Political Science

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Atlantis: We will never know Fantasy is a tough sell

in the twentieth century. The world has been fully discovered

and fully mapped. Popular media has effectively minimized

the legend and the fantastic rumor, though to make up for

this it has generated falsities not as lavish but just as

interesting. Satellites have mapped and studied the earth,

leaving only a space frontier that is as yet unreachable. But

standing out is a charming fantasy the modern world has yet

to verify or condemn: the lost continent of Atlantis. The

father of the modern worlds perception of Atlantis is Plato

(circa 428- circa 347 b.c.). (1) The Greek philosopher

spoke in his works Timaeus and Critias of a continent in the

Atlantic ocean larger than Africa and Asia Minor combined

which rivaled Athens as the most advanced in the world. (2)

According to the legend surrounding Platos dialogues, the

island of Atlantis was violently thrown into the sea by the

forces of nature, and its few survivors managed to swim

ashore and relate their story. (3) There the legend was

passed by word of mouth until an Egyptian priest related the

story to Solon, a character in Timaeus. The priest admired

the achievements of prehistoric Athenians, because when the

rulers of Atlantis threatened to invade all of Europe and Asia

the Athenians, on behalf of all Greeks, defeated the

Atlanteans to avoid enslavement. (4) The works of Plato

opened the floodgates to endless speculation on whether the

continent described was fact or fiction. Atlantis has since

been placed in Spain, Mongolia, Palestine, Nigeria, the

Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, Greenland and Yucatan. Every

nook and cranny of the globe has been hypothesized;

mountain peaks, desert lands, the ocean floor and even the

barren wasteland of Antarctica have been mentioned in

theories. (5) While some of these theories are compatible

with Platos works and are within relative reason, numerous

crackpot theories have been developed using the lost

continent as a basis. One of these theories, posted on the

computer internet where it has access to over fifteen million

people, talks in twenty-one pages of pre-historical lands with

names like Oz and Luxor. These world wide web pages list

over two hundred separate articles of proof for the existence

of Atlantis, as in the following: (6) Most all ancient

civilizations believed in the TITANS, the race of giant

humans that inhabited Earth long ago. Different races knew

them by different names. These 7 to 12 foot humanoids were

thought to be legendary until the excavation of over a dozen

skeletons 8 to 12 feet tall, around the world, shocked

archeologists. These skeletons were positively human. Some

of these skeletal remains are on Maui in lava caves near

Ulupalakua and Olowalu. The Spanish Conquistadors left

diaries of wild blond-haired, blue-eyed 8 to 12 foot high

men running around in the Andes during the conquest of the

Incas. A couple were reportedly captured but died en route

to Europe. If giant animals (dinosaurs) were possible then

why not giant men? And why are these goliaths populating

both Eurasia and the Americas? Only on a land bridge

created by the vast continent of Antarctica can there be a

sufficient bridge for the spread of these giants.(7) This text,

written by self-proclaimed Atlantologist Steve Omar,

represents Platos text taken to the extreme- using his ideas

as a basis for outlandish and unfounded ideas. These

unverified fantasies make a dubious complement to the other

dark side of the Atlantean fantasy: hoaxes. Atlantis has been

discovered many times, but most notably in the fall of

1912 by Dr. Paul Schliemann. Schliemann introduced

himself as the grandson of the famous Heinrich Schliemann,

the archeologist who discovered the ruins of ancient Troy in

1873. His discovery made front page news (The New

York American, October 1912.) and boasted of an

advanced civilization with aircraft, power-driven boats and

the like. Schliemann said his grandfather told him on his

deathbed of the familys secret: the location of Atlantis.

Schliemanns claims made waves, but didnt hold water;

when pressed for details, Schliemann was unresponsive and

eventually disappeared from public view. (8) Unfortunately,

the falsities concerning Atlantis frequently overshadow the

possibilities. The subject has gathered its share of honest

journalists as well. Ignatius Donnelly wrote the first extensive

study of the possibility of existence in 1882, and his views

have not been found to be false with twentieth century

technology. Donnelly believed in Atlantis, but believed it to

be worldly; his reasons for Atlantiss existence are unable

to be proven, but make sense. Some examples: -There is

nothing improbable in Platos narrative; it describes rich,

cultured and educated people but doesnt mention things of

fantasy like giants, hobgoblins etc. (9) -Plato speaks of hot

and cold springs in the center of Atlantis, a feature common

to islands with volcanic activity. Chances are Plato didnt

know this. (9) -Plato says in his stories that the Poseidon,

the Greek god of the sea, is always seen on a chariot with

horses because he was originally the god of Atlantis, where

horses were domesticated. But when Atlantis fell to the sea,

the Greeks believed Poseidon brought his horses with him.

(9) Responding partly to Donnelleys theories and partly to

the urge to discover, some 20th century archeologists have

used twentieth century technology to look for Atlantis. But

many have dismissed Atlantis as glorified myths of volcanic

eruptions in the island of Thera in 1450 b.c. The eruption

may have destroyed that island and caused a small

earthquake and tsunamis that ruined the civilization of Crete,

but didnt sink a continent. (10) Therefore, none of

Donnelleys theories can be proved without the actual

discovery of the continent. The legend of Atlantis is only a

huge collection of theories and guesses, but theories and

guesses also led to the discovery of the lost Roman cities of

Pompeii and Herculaneum, discovered after being buried

and preserved by the volcanic ash of nearby Mt. Vesuvius.

Because of this, the mystery of Atlantiss existence will

tantalize the world until the continent is either proven or

disproven. (11) 

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