It goes without saying that there is no evidence of a lost kingdom on the order of Plato’s fictitious city-state anywhere in the Sicilian Channel, nor anything that matches Plato’s details. The only part that comes even close is Plato’s claim in the Critias that the Law of Poseidon was “inscribed by the first kings on a pillar of orichalcum, which was situated in the middle of the island, at the temple of Poseidon” (trans. Benjamin Jowett). This pillar is not made out of any species of metal, orichalcum or otherwise, nor is it at the center of Sicily, in either its current or Ice Age size.
So why do fringe types—and often enough the mainstream media—reach for Atlantis to discuss something as straightforward and easily understood as “big old rock found underwater”? The metaphor isn’t necessary to understand the story, and it contributes nothing to it. The answer can only be that “Atlantis” conjures up ancient mysteries and fantastical adventure, while the truth doesn’t quite appeal to the romance of antiquity.