Legends most likely existed. Moreover, the civilizations that

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Last updated: August 22, 2019

Legends have surfaced in hundreds of cultures that told of a flood which destroyed most of mankind.

The most famous of accounting described in The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Bible’s Genesis. According to geologist, Sir J. William Dawson, “the flood record is preserved in some of the oldest historical documents of several distinct races of men and is indirectly corroborated by the whole tenor of the early history of most of the civilized races” (Dawson, pp. 56). Accordingly, the importance of these myths is the contribution they supply to geology, regarding data that can be retrieved and recovered.

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Interestingly, the term geomythology originated with scientist Dorothy Vitaliano. Which is, she states, the science of “seeking to find the real geological event underlying a myth or legend to which it has given rise” (Vitaliano pp.80). In fact, in The Epic of Gilgamesh and according to Genesis, there was an advanced society that thrived before the flood. In particular, the mythical Atlantis, which Plato (c.424–328 B.C.) wrote about in Timaeus, most likely existed.

Moreover, the civilizations that popped up around the same period, c.5000 BCE., could be the survivors of this great and noble civilization Atlantis. It seems reasonable to assume that Atlantis is a myth of true origin whose survivors are the founders of Mesopotamia, Egypt and other great civilizations, which is illustrated in possible Atlantis archaeological sites, and the myriad of flood myths from over 500 different cultures.   History gains its first understandings of Atlantis from nearly 2,400 years ago. The story of Atlantis is one of the greatest mysteries ever told. It begins more than 11,000 years ago when moral corruption caused the gods to destroy the city. In Timaeus, an ancient priest relays a flood story about the mythical Atlantis to Solon of Athens.

(Plato Timaeus. Book VII). In this tale, the Egyptian priest tells of a “mighty power,” a civilization that was situated in the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, Atlantis is where he traced the “genealogy of their descendants” (Plato Timaeus. Book VII). Moreover, the priest went on to say that Atlantis was, “a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia” (“Goodreads”). Furthermore, according to the Egyptian priest, this wasn’t the first flood that wiped the earth nearly of all its inhabitants, but one of many (Plato Timaeus.

Book VII). Finally, the survivors are often illiterate, and as such, humanity is forced to start all over again (Plato Timaeus. Book VII).

 For centuries, expeditions have been launched in search of this lost city. However, there is still no exact location for this lost continent. Plato’s words on the exact location of Atlantis have baffled historians, archaeologist, scientist, and geologist for centuries. In Timaeus, he writes, “the island was surrounded by the true ocean. And, it was when the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles” (Plato Timaeus. Book VII).

However, violent earthquakes and floods drowned the island in just one day and night. After that, the Atlantic became impossible to sail through, as a result of, “A shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island” (Plato Timaeus. Book VII).

Atlantis whereabouts are hard to be certain about when depending on ancient literature.   We do not know much about Plato, as he didn’t include himself in his writings. However, we can conclude he is a credible source of the little that we do know about him. He lived in Athens around 2500 years ago and came from a wealthy and aristocratic family. But, he turned his back on the civic administrative life that he was destined. Instead, he chose a different route in life. Being an incredibly wise, highly respected, individual, Plato had much influence on the ancient peoples. He understood that the earth was round and that the planets revolved around the sun.

He is the foundation of Western philosophy and the way modern peoples live their lives today. Even though the Atlantis story did not originate with Plato, if he felt it was important enough to tell us that Atlantis existed, we can surmise that he is a credible source.  As explores dream of finding this lost city, two islands that share the unique description of Plato’s Atlantis. Such as Tenerife Sea in the Atlantic Sea and Santorini in the Aegean Sea. Another critical thing to remember is at the heart of the mystery is Plato’s reference to The Pillars of Heracles. To which Plato wrote, Atlantis “is located outside the pillars” (Plato Timaeus.

Book VII). These Pillars of Heracles are thought to be The Straights of Gibraltar. The point where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.

If these clues are correct, then the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa, located in the Tenerife Sea, could be the remains of what is left of Atlantis after sunk by the gods. However, Santorini in the Aegean Sea is located within the concentric rings he also mentions.   To begin with, Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands: it lies in the Atlantic Ocean 700 miles South-West of Spain and 180 miles west of Morocco. On the Tenerife island in a region called Guimar, lay the remains of 6 pyramids from a culture that has long since mysteriously disappeared. The monuments, which are astronomically aligned, resemble the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser, which was constructed around c.4700 years ago.

Who built them and why remains to this day a mystery. Additionally, other evidence suggests, which Plato gives us, is the geographical evidence of “peaks” that continued after Atlantis sank into the Atlantic. These peaks could be the Canary Islands themselves. Furthermore, Dr. Thor Heyerdahl is a Norwegian anthropologist and explorer, who lives on Tenerife. He believes ancient sea fares once navigated the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and may have had contact with the Canary Islands Atlanteans many years before Plato’s time (Ambrose. pp.

125). If so, these explore could have been the source of the Atlantis tales.  Although there appears to have been an advanced civilization on Tenerife, another hypothesis, abound on where the lost city could be located. Such as the Greek Island of Santorini; one of the Cycladic islands of the Aegean Sea.

Santorini lies in the Aegean Sea just over 100 miles south-east of Athens. In the past, Santorini’s eastern Mediterranean landscape was very different. For example, c.

3500 years ago, the shape of the island was a crescent outer land ring with an opening leading into the sea. Inside the land ring was a circular volcano land mass that erupted in c.1550 BCE. The Santorini volcano eruption was one of the biggest cataclysmic events of prehistoric and historic times, triggering the demise of an entire civilization, exactly like the one in Plato’s story. Santorini has been thought of as Atlantis location for years. In Plato’s Critias, he describes Atlantis location, “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” (Plato Republic. Timaeus. Critias, 113).

Additionally, the defining features of Santorini’s natural resources match Plato’s description correctly, hot and cold hot springs and the red, black, and white stone that is native to the island.  Furthermore, Akrotiri discovered by Spyridon Marinatos lies at the south-eastern tip of Santorini, is the only Minoan archaeological site (unearthed under a thick layer of volcanic ash) that is still standing on the island. It’s clear Akrotiri matches Plato’s description of an advanced Bronze Age civilization. The streets are expansive, with homes that reach three stories high.

Also, besides the amazing architecture is evidence of an open minded egalitarian society with high technology, aqueducts, flushing toilets, hygiene, all of which was wiped out over-night.  Conversely, Plato’s Atlantis was destroyed 11,000 years ago, while the volcano of Santorini was 3,630 years ago. Some scholars suspect Solon may have misidentified the characters he read in hieroglyphics and confused the number 100 for the number 1000. Therefore, the eruption of Santorini’s volcano would coincide with the destruction of Atlantis. Meanwhile, local fishermen regularly find broken pottery in Santorini’s waters, evidence of an ancient civilization, but until their government allows an expedition to be mounted what lies beneath the waters will remain a mystery.  Parallel to Atlantis and its sinking are the Primeval flood stories that support its existence. Stories possibly passed down through generations by the survivors of Atlantis. Specifically, the flood that comes and destroys the world has written accounts in The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Book of Genesis in The Bible.

However, typically, all flood stories begin with a culture of people who displeased the gods with only a chosen few being saved to re-start the human race. Moreover, the chosen were directed to build an ark or large ship to house the chosen and selected animals that roamed the planet. Acting quickly and on borrowed time, once these efforts were accomplished, a great deluge of water flooded the earth killing all of its inhabitants to cleanse the earth in the act of divine retribution.   The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story, written on 12 large clay tablets in Cuneiform. The epic takes place in ancient Sumer, one of the first known settled regions of the Fertile Crescent.

The tale has a similar accounting of the flood as Genesis. However, The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest accounting of the flood history. The protagonist, Gilgamesh, upon his journey meets Utnapishtim who is probably the character of Noah in Genesis. In the accounting, Utnapishtim is given directives by the gods, in a dream, to build an Ark, saving himself, family, and chosen animals. Ultimately, Utnapishtim’s obedience brings him immortality.  As the story follows, the gods upset with how noisy humanity decided to destroy all of humanity with a great flood.

And, as a result, command Utnapishtim to build a boat, “O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu, tear down thy house, build a ship; abandon wealth, seek after life; scorn possessions, save thy life. Bring up the seed of all kinds of living things into the ship which thou shalt build. Let its dimensions be well measured” (Keller, pp.51). Once the rains begin, they last for “six days and nights,” when the storm was over, “All mankind had turned to clay.

The ground was flat like a roof” (pp.53). Consequently, the flood ended mankind, except for Utnapishtim, his family, and the animals survived on the Ark.  Similarly, Genesis recounts the flood as a result of God being upset by the wickedness and violence he saw on the earth, “And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:13). Conversely, Noah was a man who pleased God with his faithfulness and obedience.

As a result, God warns Noah and directs him to build an ark to save himself, his family and the creatures of the earth. As prompted, Noah begins a building project on an epic scale. He is given specifics on the dimensions of the ark and which animals to take.

Once finished, and Noah, his family, and animals are safely ensconced inside, God shuts the ark door. He then sends rains which last for 40 days and nights flooding the entire planet (Genesis 7:12). In consequence, Noah and his family are saved, however, every living thing outside the Ark is destroyed, “And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:23). The Genesis account of the flood lines up neatly with The Epic of Gilgamesh.

 These two flood stories have comparable themes suggesting they were derived from the same source. Such as, both boat and Ark landed in similar locations. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim’s boat landed on Mt. Nisir, while Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat in modern day Turkey. On Babylonian cuneiform text is the description of where Mt.

Nisir can be found, “It lies between the Tigris and the lower reaches of the river Zab, where the wild and rugged mountain ranges of Kurdistan rise sharply from the flat country bordering the Tigris” (Keller, pp. 55). Between the two boats, it is the Ark on Mt. Ararat that expeditions continually attempt to reach Noah’s fabled Ark.

These searches have been met with success. As recently as 2008, Chinese and Turkish explores found remnants of a wooden Ark high up on the treacherous peak of Mount Ararat. The dating of the wood suggests a time of 4,800 years old, which coincides with the Biblical timeline of Noah’s flood (Nissen, pp.

132).  Due to modern day meteorology, the flood myths and locations can be corroborated by science. The story of the flood in The Epic of Gilgamesh is highly detailed and well preserved, especially for such an ancient civilization as Sumer. Could the story have been handed down by a survivor of Atlantis? According to author Keller, the accounting of the flood must have been dependent upon an eyewitness to the event. As such, “only someone who had seen the desolation caused by the catastrophe, could have described it with such striking force” (pp. 54).

The author also sites such details as, “the unusual atmosphere…the appearance of black clouds and roaring noise…sudden darkness in broad daylight…and the howling southern gale as it drives the water in front of it” (pp. 54). Today, the meteorologist would call this event a cyclone or hurricane. These weather events are typical in tropical religions, coastal areas, and islands.

However, in the Atlantic, where Atlantis allegedly existed, they are called Hurricanes. And, “are capable of producing extremely heavy rainfall, often produce serious flooding, and generate huge waves over 30 feet high” (Ahrens, Samson, pp. 362). Which sounds identical to flood stories where waters swept in and caused massive devastation.

 However, it is well established that there are some opposing scientific views concerning the mythology of Atlantis, the literary accounts of the flood, and the location of the Ark. To the scientific mind, besides the apparent lack of evidence, if such a powerful Bronze Age civilization that sank to the bottom of the Atlantic then there would be ample evidence of its existence. As it stands, regarding geological evidence, scientist take Charles Lyell’s stance is that since evolution is a slow acting mechanism, it stands to reason that the events that occurred in yesteryears are also occurring in modern times.

Thus, a cataclysmic event, such as the destruction of Atlantis could not happen if the circumstances were not happening today as well (Sweeney, pp.37). In regards to the Ark, scientist says it is impossible to reach where the Ark is purported to have landed even on a good day.

Moreover, the only weight that can navigate the dangerous terrain of Mount Ararat is a backpack. To say the least, the scientific community is not looking for the lost continent of Atlantis anytime soon.  Nonetheless, migrations of Atlanteans survivors are documented fleeing the doomed continent before the volcano erupted. In the same way that Utnapishtim and Noah were warned of an impending flood, the Atlantean’s were also forewarned by “the four councils sent from above” (Mooney, J. 1992 reprint. History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees, pp.16). In particular, Cherokee lore speaks of their race “originating in a land toward the rising sun” and “near the sea coast,” however, they were able to escape a cataclysmic disaster, which took place during a time of “animal monsters,”.

After an indeterminable amount of time, they eventually landed in South America, finally finding their way to Tennessee. The Cherokee account is only one of hundreds.  As it stands, the evidence for the existence of Atlantis is still relegated to the archives of myth. Not until archaeologist find conclusively evidence to prove the existence of Atlantis will Plato’s myth become historical fact. Till then, Tenerife and Santorini Islands, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Biblical tales of Noah’s Ark are all considered unrelated evidence. Again, Atlantis is a legendary continent that disappeared to the Atlantic Sea floor.

And, according to myth, it was the closest mankind had come to creating a paradise on earth. It hosted a superior race of people with advanced technology, architecture, government, and laws. Additionally, the inhabitants of Atlantis were the most powerful in the world.

However, because of their lust for more power and civil wars, the continent was not to last. Wrathful Atlantean gods decided to destroy its legacy in a single cataclysmic event of which the modern world has never seen. Thus, the entire island sank into oblivion taking its history and all its people with it.

As can be seen, the common denominator between the flood myths is a race of people who have been exterminated due to angry gods displeased with some aspect of that culture’s actions or being. As a result, the cosmological backgrounds of these ancient peoples tell of a great flood that decimated all mankind except for a small group of chosen people. These stories are found in ancient text and folklore all over the world, since before Christianity.

Yet conflicting views between academics and scientist, and difficult to traverse archaeological sites containing what could be real evidence of Atlantis, in addition to, flood mythology, outside of literature makes Atlantis a lost city to history.             

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