Plato learned of Atlantis from his grandfather and clearly got a few things wrong in the story he wrote in 348 BC, which is hardly surprising since it was about 1, 300 years after the event and in those days much of history was passed down by word of mouth. Ever played Chinese Whispers? Just how warped can simple information get!
Plato suggested that Atlantis was larger than Africa and Asia combined, but other features such as the ‘island within an island’ concept (Thira’s central port area – see Nea Kameni on the map – was built in concentric circles for defensive reasons) and the worship of bulls fit the bill perfectly, also turning the Minotaur myth into something closer to reality.
The Minoans were a highly sophisticated seafaring culture, based in Crete but with an important outpost in Thira (now Santorini) since around 2, 500 BC. Even now archaeologists are excavating Akrotiri, a Minoan site in the south of Santorini that was buried in the massive volcanic eruption in 1640BC.
The volcanic explosion in 1640BC not only destroyed Thira’s society with its blast, pyroclastic flow and ash fall, but the collapse of the central core (at Neo Kameni) into the sea caused a massive tsunami that travelled across the Aegean and smashed into and over the north side of Crete, destroying Minoan fleets, buildings and killing thousands of people and ending one of the Mediterranean’s most dynamic and advance civilisations.
Interestingly in 426BC a series of earthquakes and resultant tsunami caused havoc along the coast near Athens, including trashing an island called Atalante where Athens supported a fort and harbour with warships. Bring all the threads together and what have you got? A thick and wooly yarn!
Well, that’s what we believe. More from the BBC on the Atlantis legend and Plato’s writings.