Sardinia is an island full of mysteries that stretch long into the ancient past. There is a theory among several leading Italian scientists that the mythical island of Atlantis or Island of Atlas, as described by Plato in his works Timaeus and Critias, was based in Sardinia.
Plato’s Story Of Atlantis
The notion of a lost civilisation has been around for a long time, it’s not a new idea. The Greek philosopher Plato, the father of western philosophy, gives the most famous example of a lost civilisation in the form of Atlantis. The story that has captivated audiences for more than 2,300 years.
Plato describes Atlantis as a sea-fearing civilisation capable of exploring the world, with advanced knowledge in almost every area, it’s was prosperous and powerful. Later, in the recounting of the Atlantis story, Plato says that corruptions crept into the society, it started to become cruel and greedy. Atlantis began to impose its power around the world.
“For many generations, …they obeyed the laws and loved the divine to which they were akin…they reckoned that qualities of character were far more important than their present prosperity. So they bore the burden of their wealth and possessions lightly, and did not let their high standard of living intoxicate them or make them lose their self-control…But when the divine element in them became weakened…and their human traits became predominant, they ceased to be able to carry their prosperity with moderation.”
The universe struck Atlantis down in a giant cataclysm, wiping the civilisation from time itself, and leaving humanity to pick up the pieces. The remembrance of a great flood is an event noted in most of the worlds religions and civilisations. Also, the fear of a comet strike has stayed with us through the ages.
“But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods, and 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.”
Could the remnants of Atlantis be right in front of our eyes in the form of Sardinia, situated in the middle of the Mediterranean sea?
But firstly, is the story of Atlantis true or was it created by Plato to make a political or philosophical point? It was written after recent events such as the Trojan War, and Athens’ disastrous invasion of Sicily. Perhaps he used Atlantis to promote his ideas of the ideal society and to warn the Greeks about the consequences of corruption.
The story remains as controversial today, as it did during the period it was written.
When Was Atlantis Destroyed?
Plato repeatedly states that Atlantis is a true story, he even gives us the date of its destruction, at 9,000 years before the time of Solon, a great lawmaker from Athens (200 years before Plato). Solon visited ancient Egypt and met with priests at the temple of Sais, where the story of Atlantis was written on the temple walls. This date puts Atlantis approximately 11,600 years into the past.
The date that Plato gives fits perfectly with an episode in the geology of the planet known as Meltwater Pulse 1B is a period of a rapid rise in sea levels around 11,500 years.
But a city this old would predate any civilisation before it.
The whole of Sardinia is embedded with archaeological treasures, such as 7,000 discovered nuraghi fortresses built by the Nuraghic civilization 4,000 years. Sardinia was once covered almost entirely by forests and many thousands more nuraghi could be lost to time.
Sardinia has been described by Sergio Frau, a proponent of the Sardinia Atlantis hypothesis, ‘as a marine Pompeii submerged by mud’ which is a very eloquent and realistic account of the earth of Sardinia from my time here. It’s not clear if Sardinia reemerged from beneath the waves or if it was exposed to comet impacts in more recent times than Atlantis.
Where did Plato say Sardinia is located?
Plato writes that Atlantis was located in the Atlantic, beyond the pillars of Hercules, which is generally assumed to be the Strait of Gibraltar. The Pillars of Heracles was a name given by Plato describe the maritime boundary of the ancient greek world. There are many references indicating that the pillars of Hercules were never static, and they changed as the Greek world expanded.
At the time when Plato wrote the story of Atlantis, he may have in fact been referring to the Strait of Sicily, not Gibraltar. Paulino Zamarro author of From the Strait of Gibraltar to Atlantis has identified 13 pillars that were identified by classical authors include the Strait of Bonifacio which separates Sardinia and Corsica.
Sergio Frau insists Plato was referring to the Strait of Sicily, after decoding some of the writings of Homer and Hesiod. There are many other islands in close proximity such as Malta and Sicily.
The father of history Herodotus interestingly refers to Sardinia as the largest island in the world, especially when Plato writes that Atlantis is bigger than Libya and Asia Minor (modern Turkey) combined.
The ancient Greeks seem to have wildly exaggerated the size of Sardinia
Similarities between Atlantis and Sardinia
- Atlantis was inhabited by elephants – Fossil remains of dwarf elephants have been found across the Mediterranean including Sardinia.
- Atlantis produced trees and had an abundance of wood – Sardinia was once a huge forest but was systematically cleared to make raw materials, to make railways lines in mainland Italy.
- The city of Atlantis has hot and cold fountains – Sardinia has an abundance of hot springs, also many ancient sacred wells can be found such as the well at Santa Cristina.
- The people of Atlantis’s religious practices included the sacrificing of bulls – Bull horns are a symbol that can be found right across Sardinia, carved into tombs and caves
- Atlantis is a beautiful fertile island – Sardinia is a beautiful fertile island
- Atlantis had mountains in the north and along the coast, with a flat plane in the south – A similar description to the landscape of Sardinia.
There is an inscription in the temple of Ramesses III in Upper Egypt which tells of how foreigners in the north witnessed an earthquake, their land was swallowed by the sea. The sea god Nun sent a huge wave to swallow up the towns and villages. Could this land have been Atlantis?
Sardinia is filled with mystery’s and shares many similarities to Atlantis as described by Plato. But It could many more centries until we uncover the full story.
Maybe Sardinia was the home of Atlantis or maybe Atlantis still lies on the ocean floor or maybe it was all just a myth.