Ancient Origins published yet another entry in the endless list of places alleged to be the lost continent of Atlantis. Today’s candidate comes from the pen of Italian expatriate E. B. Ralbadisole, who now lives in Asia, claims to worship nature, and said that he became interested in Atlantis after receiving a supernatural vision of a lost Ice Age civilization. He places the fictitious lost city in the Kathiawar peninsula, in western India, specifically atop Mt. Girnar, and alleges that Atlantis did not sink into the ocean but was buried in a giant mudslide that inspired the Biblical Flood. Really.
His argument is overly complicated, relying on a number of assumptions and a conspiracy.
From above, Mt. Girnar has something of a ring shape because it is the remains of an exploded volcano. Ralbadisole claims that this answers to the ring shape of Atlantis, but by making the mountain only the capital of Atlantis, it allows him to use the whole of the Kathiawar peninsula as the island of Atlantis, thus preserving its proximity to the ocean.
He then argues that a conspiracy worked to replace the real Atlantis of the East with false claims that it was located in the West, based on an error that he believes (without evidence) mistakenly placed the Pillars of Hercules at Gibraltar instead of the Persian Gulf. He blames this on the Byzantine writer Cosmas Indicopleustes and the Renaissance mapmaker Mercator, whom he accuses of falsifying ancient maps by flipping them over and copying them backward:
The major alteration may have been conceived during the European Middle Ages, possibly to divert attention from India. During the Middle Ages, the Tribunal of the Inquisition was actively judging pagans and heretics who worshipped ancient religions. This theory postulates that the erratum went so far that the German-Dutch cartographer, Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594), named the ocean passing Gibraltar the “Atlantic Ocean”. It is possible that Mercator used a reversed Middle Ages map, confusing the historical reports and substituting what was in the East with Gibraltar. Although the research is still in progress, we have reason to believe, therefore, that in the ancient past, for the Ancient Greeks, the cultures of references were located toward the East - Mesopotamia and India.
As you can see from this paragraph, Ralbadisole has run thousands of years of history together and happily picked and chose what he wanted from them. Plato is quite clear that Atlantis was bigger that Libya (Africa) and Asia combined, which would not make sense if the continent it controlled was itself Asia. Similarly, the lands Atlantis was said to control stretch from the Atlantic eastward toward Greece, which again would not make sense with an eastern Atlantis. The geography in Plato’s Timaeus makes plain that the west is indicated. Other ancient authors agree. Pliny the Elder, for example, placed Atlantis near Mt. Atlas in Morocco, indicating the modern Atlantic Ocean.
Therefore, the conspiracy cannot have been the work of Mercator or even Cosmas, both of whom were far too late in time.
There is, however, a small grain of truth: The Greeks did indeed relocate some mythical events from the east to the west, but not in Plato’s day. Homer took the story of Aea, the magical dawn kingdom where the Golden Fleece resided, and moved it, along with other adventures of the Argonauts, from the eastern seas to the west, creating Circe’s island of Aeaea. The reason, though, was no conspiracy: After the Black Sea started to be explored, it was no longer as mysterious, so The Odyssey took the old tales and moved them to still-unexplored regions where monsters and magic might more plausibly live. It also helped Homer to more clearly set up his poem in opposition to the Argonautica, which he references more than once in his works. Similarly, the stories of Heracles were geographically relocated or sometimes reduplicated to map old stories once centered on Greece onto a broadening world.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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