Reviews

Joining the Dots: Plato’s Atlantis in the Central Mediterranean (2018) by Tony O’Connell

(editor of www.Atlantipedia.ie )

 

One could never accuse Tony O’Connell of lacking knowledge of his subject. Although his methods may be the antithesis of my own, it is always good to see a well-argued and knowledgeable case, indexed and with an extensive bibliography.

 

Joining the Dots is rather like a hard-copy summary of Tony’s Atlantipedia website. To this he adds his own views and conclusions based on the many books he has reviewed over the years. He says it is only fair that others should now review his own book just as he has criticized so many others!

 

The problem with relying mainly upon modern authors is that they are all conferred equal status. Without wishing to name particular authors, many of the books in Tony’s bibliography will be based on out-of-date science or will fall into the category of publisher-commissioned works. Such opportunities are usually offered to established authors or academics and follow the style: “give us 300 pages on Atlantis by July, etc…” Often such authors know little of their subject and some don’t even believe what they are writing. True researchers are then forced to read these marketing concepts, which are simply designed to look good in the bookshop.

 

Although I will have read (or at least speed-read) most of the books in Tony’s bibliography over my own thirty-plus years of research, I made the decision many years ago to be selective of which new books I study in detail. A researcher cannot examine all the modern authors as that would then leave no time to explore the foundation of ancient evidence and the best scientific papers.

 

It is difficult to say which of these sources have led Tony O’Connell to decide that the central Mediterranean would be the likely inspiration for Plato. This is really a variant of the Aegean theories. He concludes that Solon’s story is genuinely Egyptian, but rejects the conventional date, preferring a date in the second millennium BC associated with the ‘sea-peoples’ who invaded Egypt. One source of inspiration might be Dr Anton Mifsud who supplies a foreword; and who in 2000 argued for submergence around Malta and Sicily. Tony prefers ‘liquefaction’ due to tectonic collapse around the central Mediterranean and comments how costly it would be to investigate the sea bed.

 

Did I learn anything new from reading this book? I did not know that the Maltese ‘cart ruts’ are also found on the sea-bed so that is something I will research further. Also, the discussion of the dimensions of Plato’s ‘ditch’ is something I had not previously focused on. I would have liked to see more conclusions like these drawn from ‘pure’ ancient sources.

 

Following the ‘Match of the Day’ principle of two-good – two-bad, firstly the negatives. The reliance on modern discussion is a weak point. Secondly, as with the Aegean theories it fails the test that it is not contemporary with the beginnings of Egyptian civilization; and it’s not in the Atlantic Ocean – the island was called Atlantis not Mediterrainis!

 

Two good things to balance: this is a ‘real’ book that gives a solid entry for anyone who comes afresh to the problem. I wish I had seen such a thorough work when I began looking for research sources. Secondly, it is written by an author who believes what he writes. Big-five publishers and their agents – take note!

          (March 2019)

 

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Review of ‘In Search of Atlantis’ by Propagate Shows (History Channel)

 

Two hours of entertaining television styled as a reboot of the 1970s series of the same name, we see Zachary Quinto replacing Leonard Nimoy in the role of presenter.

 

The series aired in UK during February 2019, somewhat later than in USA. History Channel put-out the two Atlantis episodes within a stream of older related series. Zachary Quinto’s offering at least didn’t pretend to have a solution to it all, which puts it a distance above some of the competing efforts. The others are universally awful; but ‘In Search of Atlantis’ was not awful, it was just watchable entertainment and that was all it pretended to be.

 

I wouldn’t normally take much notice of television offerings on the subject but in this case I was invited last year to contribute to the episodes. The producers originally planned a feature on ‘Atlantis in Ireland’ and wanted to interview me standing near the Hill of Tara. Presumably they thought I was Irish due to the Celtic-sounding surname. At least the producers did bother to find my research, which is an improvement on some of the other shows that just seem to pluck theories from the air.  I had to say: ‘you do realise all I will be able to say is that Tara has nothing to do with Atlantis?’ Next thing I hear: they are not going to do Ireland and that was the end of that! So I was interested to see what they had included in their production.

 

Episode one began with a fairly routine introduction, followed by Zachary’s tour around assorted sun-spots of the Mediterranean guided by various enthusiasts and academic contributors. Firstly a diving expedition on Pavlopetri, Greece linked to the Santorini volcano (2000BC?) and a visit to Crete to discuss the Minoan links, with views of frescos, etc; and then on to visit Sardinia, which according to the contributor ‘checks more boxes’ (see also the O'Connell review above).

 

The second episode continued with a discussion of Atlantian ‘blood groups’ and the revelation that Zachary and his Spock ears were a sign of this select group; then a visit to North Africa to pursue the links with Mount Atlas. The episode concluded with Zachary’s commentary that Atlantis may have subsided into the sands of Morocco rather than into the ocean; and this was as close as we actually came to the Atlantic Ocean where the wretched continent was traditionally supposed to have sunk!

 

It is debatable whether any of these TV series contribute much to our understanding or whether they just reinforce academic skepticism and stimulate yet more strange fiction. At least they didn’t send Zachary Quinto to Antarctica in search of the lost Stargate! In any event, it was two hours of excellent entertainment and a good laugh.

 

                (April 2019)

 

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