We can add another name to the growing list of famous and semi-famous people who have publicly declared their allegiance to Ancient Aliens. Today’s contestant is George Groves, a British boxer and amateur standup comedian, told the Telegraph yesterday that he’s a huge fan of Ancient Aliens and a believer in ancient astronauts:
I am a big fan of Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. I have been known to watch that just before I go to bed sometimes. I’m a believer in alien intelligence and that programme has taught me so much over the years. It’s very thought-provoking. Paddy [Fitzpatrick, his trainer] also watches it, and we’ve had many discussions on the subject.
The scary part is that Groves feels that Ancient Aliens has “taught” him things, given the notoriously poor quality of information on the show. By contrast, there was a thoughtful post by science fiction author Peter Cawdron outlining what we should expect to see if extraterrestrials really did visit in ancient times and why those markers don’t show up in the archaeological (or biological) record. It’s probably also the reason that most ancient astronaut theorists (excepting perhaps Erich von Däniken and Giorgio Tsoukalos) have moved away from nuts-and-bolts space craft and flesh-and-blood ETs toward a more nebulous concept of incorporeal inter-dimensional beings like those proposed by Jacques Vallée in Passport to Magonia.
Meanwhile, Helen Velissaris writes in today’s Neos Kosmos that Dr. Dora Constantinidis of the University of Melbourne believes that the archaeological site of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini (ancient Thera) might in fact be the lost continent of Atlantis. Constantinidis said that the site is a good match for Atlantis, but only if we allow that Plato was exaggerating all the details, particularly the date of the destruction, which Plato placed 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or around 9,600 BCE.
There has been recent debate as to whether that 9000 is accurate or it was misrepresented. It was more likely to have been 900 years which would have made it about the time of the destruction of Santorini.
Constantinidis said that she’d like Atlantis to be real to justify popular belief in it:
For it to have made such an impression, and it’s captured our imagination for thousands of years, you’d like to think that [it was real]. […] The more you look at the remains at Akrotiri, there are so many elements of the story that you can see in the wall paintings.
When asked what elements of Plato’s story were found in the wall paintings, Constantinidis replied that the most prominent were depictions of wealth, particularly “beautiful flounce skirts, beautiful colours, beautiful well designed clothes and jewellery.” Plato is silent on the sartorial choices of the women of Atlantis. What he does discuss are the architectural appointments of the island, as given in the Critias:
In the next place, they had fountains, one of cold and another of hot water, in gracious plenty flowing; and they were wonderfully adapted for use by reason of the pleasantness and excellence of their waters. They constructed buildings about them and planted suitable trees, also they made cisterns, some open to the heavens, others roofed over, to be used in winter as warm baths; there were the kings’ baths, and the baths of private persons, which were kept apart; and there were separate baths for women, and for horses and cattle, and to each of them they gave as much adornment as was suitable. Of the water which ran off they carried some to the grove of Poseidon, where were growing all manner of trees of wonderful height and beauty, owing to the excellence of the soil, while the remainder was conveyed by aqueducts along the bridges to the outer circles; and there were many temples built and dedicated to many gods; also gardens and places of exercise, some for men, and others for horses in both of the two islands formed by the zones; and in the centre of the larger of the two there was set apart a race-course of a stadium in width, and in length allowed to extend all round the island, for horses to race in. Also there were guardhouses at intervals for the guards, the more trusted of whom were appointed-to keep watch in the lesser zone, which was nearer the Acropolis while the most trusted of all had houses given them within the citadel, near the persons of the kings. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores, and all things were quite ready for use. Enough of the plan of the royal palace. (trans. Benjamin Jowett)
He gives many more details as well, but presumably Constantinidis would place these under the category of exaggeration. The problem for her claim of similarity is the same as the problem for other identifications of the “real” Atlantis: They work only be assuming that Plato was wrong about inconvenient details but right about convenient ones, though no one is willing to agree on which details to accept or reject.
But I am particularly struck by Constantinidis’s idea that she would like Atlantis to be real because it has “captured the imagination” of so many. So have unicorns and Star Wars, but this does not make either objectively real, no matter how many little girls dream of riding a unicorn or how many people claim “Jedi” as their religion. The alternative to Constantinidis’s hopes, of course, is the realization that people can and do believe in things that are untrue, or embrace myths and legends as though they were factual.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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