“The city and citizens, which you yesterday described as fiction, we will now transfer to the world of reality” -Plato
Take yourself back to 1613 B.C. to the island of Santorini, Greece. In that year (or plus/minus 13 years) an eruption occurred that deposited 30-60 cubic kilometers of magma onto the earth’s surface. The people there during this time, the Minoans, were theorized to leave before the eruption occurred due to warning signs like earthquakes. The Minoan city was completely wiped out and destroyed by this catastrophe, but almost perfectly preserved by hot ash fall.
Now imagine yourself as one of these Minoans on a neighboring island, close enough to see the entire explosion occur (like figure 1). All of this is coming from the gods to punish your highly advanced civilization for being too arrogant. There is a storm, loud and violent bursts, and a massive cloud of white filling up the sky–you are about to witness one of the largest explosions known to man: a caldera collapse
There was no science to explain what was happening so the people at the time turned to blame the gods. The eruption was so massive that, in my belief, it became a story and lesson taught and passed down for generations and eventually became a myth amoungst the Greeks.
“in a single day and night of misfortune, the city of Atlantis fell into the sea”
In 1613 B.C. the island of Santorini was destroyed by the largest volcanic eruption that can occur. Current Santorini depicts the possibility of how big the magma chamber was; the size of the inside of the island ~11km. In a caldera collapse, the entire magma chamber empties and then collapses into itself, bringing down the land above it and often resulting a tsunami. The catastrophe described with Atlantis is almost the same of a caldera forming eruption; the land collapsed, earthquakes shook, and a tsunami was generated. The eruption that occurred on Santorini is very similar to Plato’s descriptions. The Minoan eruption was modeled and predicted, from start to finish, to have occurred in less than 24 hours; one day and night of misfortune.
“Through the circles of land…”
Plato talks about the disappearance of a round island consisting of concentric rings. Present day santorini has a circular outline with a round domed island in the center. Scientists are not positive what the Minoan land looked like, and they have many different theories. The theory that supports Santorini being Atlantis the most is depicted in figure 2.
“Rocks of white, black and red”
Just the recognition of white, black and red rocks concludes that Atlantis was a volcanic island. These three colors come with major volcanic complexes such as Santorini. Present day Santorini has many beaches with each of these colors due to volcanic rocks such as white ash and pumice, black basalt and red oxidized cinders.
“The sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way.”
Plato discusses the ocean around Atlantis as being impenetrable and impassable due to a shoal of mud. During a caldera eruption lots of ash and pumice is deposited, which floats, creating pumice rafts that would have been impossible to sail through.
“What now remains compared with what then existed is like the skeleton of a sick man”
It is thought that the pre Minoan eruption land of Santorini was mostly filled in. After the eruption the land was completely destroyed by the collapse of the interior into the sea and the remaining land covered by meters of ash and pumice. Comparing the two different geographies it could be said that what was left behind was “like the skeleton of a sick man”.
“Lying with in the mouth of which speak”…”and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called in the fullest and truest sense, a continent.”
Plato explains that Atlantis was lying in a mouth of a sea. When I imagine a mouth of a sea I picture a wide “O” shaped sea surrounded by land, which Plato goes on to describe. He also adds that there is land surrounding it, big enough to call a continent.
“[The Gods] portioned out the whole earth”…”and provided themselves shrines and sacrifices, even so Poseidon took for his allotment the island of Atlantis”
Plato talked about the gods and that they owned the entire earth together, and how each had its powers to destroy a civilization within a day. He mainly focuses on Poseidon and his ownership of an island much like Santorini called Atlantis.
“In this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had ruled over the whole island and several others.”
Atlantis is described as an amazing and great empire that ruled over surrounding islands and continents. The Atlanteans were thought to be powerful and extremely wealthy, smilar to the Minoans. The Minoan city is known to be extremly colorful and full with frescos to pronounce and show off their wealth. They also traded with the mainland of Greece, Egypt, Asia, and as far west as Spain. Trading at great distances and wealthy countries also depicts the wealth of the Minoan people.
“In the sacred precincts of Poseidon there were bulls at large.”
The Atlanteans worshiped and sacrificed bulls to their god Poseidon. They had a major worship center in the middle of the island where they would bleed bulls for their offerings. There is evidence that the Minoan people also worshiped and sacrificed bulls. There were frescos and vases found with bulls painted on them along with a cast of bull horns. The Minoan civilization on Crete had a temple worship center full with frescos of bulls, supporting the fact Minoans worshipped bulls.
“They made of it an abode amazing to behold for the magnitude and beauty of its workmanship”
The Minoans were highly advanced for their time with the capability to run fresh water into every building. They also had a sewage system throughout the entire town connecting the bathrooms from home to home with a siphoning function that drew the smell down the pipes and away from the lavatory. The citizens of Atlantis were also described by Plato as extremely wealthy and ahead of their time.
After three weeks into the course my class had spent all of their time learning about the minoan eruption and drawing out stratigraphic columns. Finally on “ohh-shizz” day our teacher dropped the bomb that this entire eruption occurred from start to finish in less than 24 hours. That new overwhelming information that day put me into shock; my mind was trying to comprehend everything I learned in 3 weeks time into a 24 hour timeframe.
I got to thinking, if it is possible for all of this to happen, as Plato says, in a “day and night of misfortune”, the possibilities of what happened here are endless; this could be the lost city of Atlantis. It’s hard to say whether or not Santorini is Atlantis or not due to the little proof there actually is. Yet analyzing what information I do have from Plato and my class; the minoan eruption, artifacts found in akrotiri, descriptions of the location and shape of the island, my best bet is that Santorini is it.
1. Friedrich, W, 2009, Santorini- Volcano, Natural History, Mythology: Denmark, Narayana
2. Feature photo unknown source
3. Figure 1 reference 1
4. Figure 3 (white) https://carmensluxurytravel.com/2014/11/top-10-beaches-in-santorini/. (Back) http://thatbackpacker.com/2016/10/03/highlights-from-santorini-greece/ (Red) https://feel-planet.com/red-beach-santorini-greece/
5. Figure 4 http://yacht-maiden.blogspot.gr/2006/08/stone-sea-and-volcano.html?m=1
7. Figure 8 by C. Palyvou
8 Figure 9 unknown source