Sir Daniel Wilson wrote an interesting series of ethnographic studies in the late 1800s, some of which focused on alternative history. Wilson examined claims about Atlantis, and he found them wanting, especially in the way they were used to support claims that Native Americans were not responsible for the pyramids of Mexico and the temples of Peru:
But Wilson reminds us that not all alternative claims are equally fallacious. The above passage was from his paper "The Lost Atlantis." His next article was about Vinland, the legendary colony of the Norsemen on Canada's Atlantic coast. At the time, its existence was questionable; that the Vikings had discovered America around 1000 CE was about on par with claims of Phoenician voyages. Both Atlantis and Vinland were known only from late mythic sources (Plato and the Sagas, respectively); both were supported by vague evidence relying heavily on supposed connections to Native American myths and rituals.
Wilson carefully evaluated the evidence, and showed that unlike the Atlantis myth, the stories of Vinland made specific, testable claims that were verifiable. The sagas made specific geographic claims that conform to known geography; old maps place Vinland where it ought to be. By contrast, the geography of Atlantis is completely fictitious; its story bears no relation to any known facts of ancient history. Wilson tentatively concluded that Vinland really existed, along with the Norse voyages. Half a century later, the remains of the colony were found.
No remains of Atlantis have ever been found.
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