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Is Atlantis an Ancient Civilization?

Updated May 29, 2021
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Is Atlantis an Ancient Civilization? essay

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The story of Atlantis, a story almost everybody has heard about in the past. The story of an ancient civilization that was very well developed, and had an abundance of wealth, and power. But one day, some says from their own greed formed by too much wealth and power, some say from an massive natural disaster, they have sunken to the bottom of the ocean. It is a story that has been told everywhere in the world, and has even been remade to movies, TV Shows, and books.

But there is still a massive debate, or mystery on Atlantis. Is Atlantis real? Could an established civilization from a very long time ago that was destroyed either from themselves or by an natural disaster actually exist? Or is it just a really detailed part of a book written by an ancient greek philosopher name Plato?

The story of Atlantis was first heard about from Plato in the 438 B.C.(“The Lost”). Plato is an ancient greek philosopher and the teacher of Aristotle. His writing are usually involved with justice, beauty and equality, and his discussion also involve aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, epistemology and the philosophy of language.

He founded the academy in Athens which is one of the first institutions of higher learning in the western world, he dies in Athens in around 348 B.C.E.(‘Plato’) Plato saw a distinction between the body and the soul. He felt that a ‘philosophic mind’ could see the difference between outward limitations and the highest ideals of beauty, truth, unity and justice.

His philosophy hints that the limitations of the mental world and encourages a want in knowledge.(‘Meinwald’) His teacher was also an ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, who was admired by his followers for his integrity, self-mastery, profound philosophical insight, and his great argumentative skill, and he was the first Greek philosopher to seriously to explore the topic of ethics(“Kraut”).

The story of Atlantis started in 355 B.C from the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato has planned to write three books about the nature of a man, the creation of the world, and the story of Atlantis and other subjects, but only the first book was finished and the second book was cancelled halfway through, and the final book was never started.

In his book ‘Timaeus’, an account of Atlantis was told by a character named Kritias, which was in his family for many generations. According to Kritias, the story was originally told to his ancestor Solon, by a priest during Solon’s visit to Egypt(‘Atlantis’). Atlantis, described by Plato in his fable was very different from how it was conceived today as a peaceful utopia.

In Plato’s book, ‘Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology’ noted by professor of archaeology Ken Feder that Atlantis was a place that had been corrupted because of its wealth, power and arrogance, and was eventually lead to it’s civilization being sunken. Atlantis was a clear plot device made up by Plato, because there wasn’t any record of Atlantis found anywhere in the world at this time(‘Radford’). Most historians and scientists throughout history have come to the conclusion that Plato’s story of the lost kingdom of Atlantis was fictional.

According to this argument, the Greek philosopher invented Atlantis as his vision of an ideal civilization, and intended the story of its bad ending to be a cautionary tale of the gods punishing human. No written records of Atlantis exist outside of Plato’s dialogues, including in any of the other texts that have been left over from the ancient Greece. Furthermore, despite modern advances in oceanography and ocean-floor mapping, no trace of the sunken civilization has ever been found(‘Atlantis Myths’). Despite its minor importance in Plato’s work, the Atlantis story has had a large impact on literature.

The idea of Atlantis was taken up in many works of writers, such as Bacon’s New Atlantis and More’s Utopia. Plato’s little indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his day—and the supposed location of Atlantis—’beyond the Pillars of Hercules’, an area at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar.—has led to much non scientific speculation. As a result, Atlantis has become a base for a lot of advanced lost civilizations and continues to inspire fiction, from comic books to films(’10 Things’).

There are a lot of different claims to how Atlantis existed. One of the more recent Atlantean theories about the civilization that flourished on the Greek islands of Crete and Thera (now Santorini) more than 4,000 years ago: the Minoans, named for the legendary King Minos. Believed to be Europe’s first great civilization, the Minoans built a lot of great palaces, constructed roads and was the first Europeans to use a written language . At the height of their power, the Minoans suddenly disappeared from history. A belief in a link between this civilization and Plato’s Atlantis formed.

Historians believe around 1600 B.C., a massive earthquake and tsunamis destroyed the civilization(‘Atlantis Myths’). Another theory–that Atlantis was actually a modern version of what is now Antarctica–is based on the work of Charles Hapgood, whose 1958 book “Earth’s Shifting Crust” featured a foreword by Albert Einstein. According to Hapgood, around 12,000 years ago the Earth’s crust shifted, moving the continent that became Antarctica from a location much further north than it is today.

This more temperate continent was home to an advanced civilization, but the sudden shift to its current location doomed the civilization’s inhabitants–the Atlanteans was buried under ice. Hapgood’s theory surfaced before the scientific world gained a full understanding of plate tectonics, which largely reduced his “shifting crust” idea to the fringes of Atlantean beliefs.(‘Atlantis Myths’)In the late nineteenth century an American writer named Ignatius Donnelly actually published a book claiming that Atlantis was real and it really existed.

According to Donnelly, Atlantis was the very first civilization, and it was the reality behind the so-called myth of the Garden of Eden — in fact he said it was the basis for the myths and legends of other ancient cultures. Donnelly claimed that the Atlanteans were actually responsible for both the Egyptian and Mayan cultures. By the way, theories which tie the ancient Americans to the Egyptians and other Middle East civilizations were popular in the nineteenth century (of course you can see this in the Book of Mormon), but all of them have actually been proven to be without any historical or archaeological support(’10 Things’).

Inspired by Donnelly, many later writers expanded on his theories and added their own speculations as to where Atlantis may have been. One of these writers was Charles Berlitz, grandson of the founder of the well-known language schools, and author of many books on paranormal phenomena. In the 1970s, Berlitz claimed Atlantis was a real continent located off the Bahamas that in the “Bermuda Triangle,” a region of the Atlantic where a number of ships had supposedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Supporters of this theory point to the discovery of what look like man-made walls and streets found off the coast of Bimini, although scientists have evaluated these structures and found them to be natural beach-rock formations(‘Pruitt’). Another theory–that Atlantis was actually a modern version of what is now Antarctica–is based on the work of Charles Hapgood, whose 1958 book “Earth’s Shifting Crust” featured a foreword by Albert Einstein.

According to Hapgood, around 12,000 years ago the Earth’s crust shifted, moving the continent that became Antarctica from a location much further north than it is today. This more temperate continent was home to an advanced civilization, but the sudden shift to its current location doomed the civilization’s inhabitants–the Atlanteans was buried under ice. Hapgood’s theory surfaced before the scientific world gained a full understanding of plate tectonics, which largely reduced his “shifting crust” idea to the fringes of Atlantean beliefs(’10 Things’).

Inspired by Donnelly, many later writers expanded on his theories and added their own speculations as to where Atlantis may have been. One of these writers was Charles Berlitz, grandson of the founder of the well-known language schools, and author of many books on paranormal phenomena. In the 1970s, Berlitz claimed Atlantis was a real continent located off the Bahamas that in the “Bermuda Triangle,” a region of the Atlantic where a number of ships had supposedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Supporters of this theory point to the discovery of what look like man-made walls and streets found off the coast of Bimini, although scientists have evaluated these structures and found them to be natural beach-rock formations(‘Pruitt’).

One of the more recent Atlantean theories about the civilization that flourished on the Greek islands of Crete and Thera (now Santorini) more than 4,000 years ago: the Minoans, named for the legendary King Minos. Believed to be Europe’s first great civilization, the Minoans built a lot of great palaces, constructed roads and was the first Europeans to use a written language . At the height of their power, the Minoans suddenly disappeared from history. A belief in a link between this civilization and Plato’s Atlantis formed. Historians believe around 1600 B.C., a massive earthquake and tsunamis destroyed the civilization(‘Menzies”). The most believable theory about Atlantis came from the Greek archaeologist Angelos Galanopoulos in the late ’60s.

He theorized that around 1500 BCE, a massive eruption from a volcano destroyed the island of Santorini in the Mediterranean and probably wiped out most of the civilization on the Greek islands and regions of Greece. Angelos suggested this disaster is the one that sank Atlantis. He reasons that when the story was being translated, the Egyptian symbol for 100, which is a coiled rope was mistaken for the symbol for 1000 which is a lotus flower. This changes the date from 9000 years ago to 900 years ago. The only thing wrong with this explanation is that Plato specifically said the city was near the Pillars of Hercules, which are thought to be nowhere near Greece(‘Donnelly’).

There has always been a heated argument over whether is Atlantis a real buried civilization, or just simply a fairy tale. Some believe Atlantis is just a place from a book written by Plato to describe the morals of humanity, like Hogwarts from the book Harry Potter, or Wakanda from the movie Harry Potter, and they deny the existence of Atlantis because of the fact that even though there have been a large areas of the ocean discovered, there are still yet a solid trace of Atlantis found anywhere yet.

But some people still believe in the existence of Atlantis because technically Atlantis is not an impossible story, because none of the story written is impossible: A civilization that got destroyed by natural disaster is not something that can never happen, and there are still yet a large part of the ocean that humanity haven’t discovered yet, so it is not an impossibility that something can be found in areas of the sea that humanity hasn’t discovered yet.

There are always a debate on the existence of Atlantis. Some say it’s a urban legend, some say it’s just something a writer has written in a book, some say it’s real, each has solid backing, but for now the theory that has the most solid backing is that Atlantis is part of a story written by Plato. Is Atlantis an ancient civilization? Or simply a story written by the ancient writer Plato? For now it looks like it is just a story written by a writer name Plato, but there are still large parts of the Earth that is yet still undiscovered, who knows what we can find in those areas?

Work Cited

  1. “The Lost Continent: Atlantis.” The Seven Wonders – Hanging Gardens of Babylon, www.unmuseum.org/atlantis.htm.
  2. “Plato.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 19 Oct. 2017, www.biography.com/people/plato-9442588.
  3. Meinwald, Constance C. “Plato.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 8 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Plato.
  4. Kraut, Richard. “Socrates.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Socrates.
  5. “Atlantis.” Infoplease, Infoplease, www.infoplease.com/atlantis.
  6. Radford, Benjamin. “’Lost’ City of Atlantis: Fact & Fable.” LiveScience, Purch, 28 Feb. 2018, www.livescience.com/23217-lost-city-of-atlantis.html.
  7. “Atlantis.” Myths Encyclopedia, www.mythencyclopedia.com/Ar-Be/Atlantis.html.
  8. “10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About The Lost City Of Atlantis.” Listverse, Listverse, 12 July 2017, listverse.com/2017/07/12/10-things-you-probably-dont-know-about-the-lost-city-of-atlantis/.
  9. Pruitt, Sarah. “Top 6 Theories About Atlantis.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 Oct. 2015, www.history.com/news/top-6-theories-about-atlantis.
  10. Menzies, Gavin. The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History’s Greatest Mystery Revealed. Phoenix, 2012. (Book)
  11. Donnelly, Ignatius. ATLANTIS: the Antediluvian World. LULU COM, 2018. (Book)
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