When Rupert Murdoch bought National Geographic, there was deep concern among lovers of science that the Fox News magnate would send the magazine and its affiliated cable channel into the gutter. Murdoch’s son James, who now National Geographic and its TV channel through his management of 21st Century Fox, had his flunkies go on a media blitz promising that under his leadership, NatGeo properties would emphasize high-quality science with the production values of HBO. James Murdoch claimed that the new National Geographic Channel would be a high-end destination for wealthy viewers looking for real science. “It’s better shows, it’s bigger talent,” National Geographic Channel CEO Courteney Monroe told Business Insider.
So naturally the new and improved NatGeo hired Holy Bloodline conspiracy theorist Simcha Jacobovici for a splashy new documentary about finding the “real” Atlantis. In Sardinia.
According to The Star, the documentary is a sequel to the terrible 2011 Finding Atlantis documentary that aired on NatGeo. That film, which I reviewed at the time, claimed that Atlantis was located in Spain, earning the ire of Spanish archaeologists, who felt that their legitimate work on Bronze Age Spain had been hijacked by a religious crank who dropped in, spouted nonsense about Atlantis being the source of King Solomon’s wealth, and claimed credit for their work.
According to the Sierra Vista Herald, Jacobvici is working with Titanic director James Cameron to hunt Atlantis off the coast of Sardinia, and the resulting film will air in December.
“Finding the historical and archeological truth behind the Atlantis myth has always been a fascination of mine,” Cameron said in a press release. “Our exploration team will investigate several new theories about where the real Atlantis was, who these mysterious people were and what disaster wiped them from the Earth over three millennia ago.”
Note the telling choice of language: Atlantis, to Cameron’s mind is real—but is a Bronze Age civilization that ended in the Bronze Age collapse around 1200 BCE. Before they even started, Cameron and Jacobvici have already abandoned a literal reading of Plato, who placed Atlantis’ destruction around 9600 BCE. That’s not a great start.
Regular readers will remember that Sardinia is the birthplace of Italian journalist Sergio Frau, who has pushed the claim that the island was the real Atlantis for the past two decades. Additionally, last year, a large rock assumed to be an ancient megalith was photographed underwater off Sicily, prompting speculation that Atlantis was located in the general vicinity of the western Mediterranean.
Atlantipedia reports that Frau was not approached to participate in the documentary despite being the only Sardinia-as-Atlantis theorist to have presented his research to the United Nations.
According to the Herald, Jacobovici brought Robert Ishoy, a former Army intelligence specialist, who makes many of the same claims as Frau, specifically that Plato’s Pillars of Heracles were the Straits of Messina and not Gibraltar, and that Sardinia matches Plato’s description of Atlantis in every detail except those that are inconvenient.
“It really comes down to just Plato,” Ishoy said. “Plato was the only true historic work that we have that talks about Atlantis. Everything else after that is speculation. So you really only have Plato.” Except, of course, when you offer special pleading to dump the parts you don’t like. In Ishoy’s case, he doesn’t like Plato’s timeline and therefore chops 8,400 years off of it to better fit Atlantis into the Bronze Age narrative he wants to tell. One might also note that there are not elephants on Sardinia, as Plato said of Atlantis, at least none that were alive after the Ice Age. Ishoy, though, counts the Ice Age dwarf elephants as part of Sardinia’s fauna, despite placing Atlantis 30,000 years after they were all dead!
Ishoy further identified Plato’s copper-like metal orichalcum with obsidian, which is neither the same color nor a metal, because both were mined and both were valuable.
Ishoy proposed his Atlantis theory as a college student in the 1980s as part of a paper he wrote for his bachelor’s degree. He posted that paper to the internet in 2001. Apparently posting a poorly researched college term paper online is all one needs to do to become a cable TV expert nowadays.
To build off the publicity of the new documentary, two months ago Ishoy launched a company, the Society for Historical Exploration, which had been in development for several years and which is actively soliciting donations to fund research into history. His team includes a real anthropologist, historian, and archaeologist. His company has attracted about $1,800 in donations as of this writing.
He said, moreover, that he believes that the Bronze Age civilization of Sardinia was the equal of ancient Egypt, even though the Nuragic ruins that remain are not on the same scale as the pyramids and temples of Egypt.
“In my opinion, this civilization rivals ancient Egypt. That’s how massive it was,” Ishoy told the Herald. “And yet there’s almost nothing known about them on this island of Sardinia. And I believe it ties into Atlantis, because this is the civilization that I associate with Plato’s description.”
Ishoy now calls himself “the person who discovered Atlantis” despite having done no such thing.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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