Have you ever wondered about the architecture of Atlantis? Have you ever stopped to ask what style of decoration adorned the temples of Plato’s fictional continent? If so, you’re like Scott Ogburn, a professor of landscape engineering in the Mechanical Engineering department at Temple University. Ogburn, who holds a PhD in “sacred architecture,” will be presenting a lecture to the Mutual UFO Network group in Strafford, Pennsylvania next week to share his views about the principles of sacred architecture he believes are at work in Atlantis.
Here is how MUFON describes Ogburn’s upcoming talk in a press release sent out yesterday:
Dr. Ogburn draws from Plato’s dialogues in “Timaeus” and “Critias” (written approximately 300 B.C.) where Socrates learns of the lost island of Atlantis and its people, “almost certainly” to have existed 9000 years before Plato. He shows artists’ renditions of the city and contrasts the architecture of existing wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, the Osirian Temple at Abydos, the Gateway of the Sun in Peru, and the ruins of Puma Punku. Were they built during Atleantean (sic) times?
I haven’t been able to find any information on Ogburn’s views on Atlantis, and he doesn’t seem to have published anything about Atlantis so far as I can tell. In fact, other than a mention of a 2009 lecture on Mayan sacred architecture, I haven’t been able to find much of anything on Dr. Ogburn or his views on sacred architecture. I tried searching ProQuest to find Ogburn’s dissertation for his PhD in sacred architecture from Atlantic International University, but ProQuest returned no results for Ogburn. According to the press release, Ogburn in interested in archaeoastronomy and the influence of the stars on architecture.
Obviously, there is no certainty that anything resembling Atlantis actually existed c. 9600 BCE, or at any other time. Further, Plato was rather too stingy with his details to draw many conclusions about the architecture of Atlantis. In the Critias, for example, he describes the architecture of the Atlanteans this way:
On the north side they had dwellings in common and had erected halls for dining in winter, and had all the buildings which they needed for their common life, besides temples, but there was no adorning of them with gold and silver, for they made no use of these for any purpose; they took a middle course between meanness and ostentation, and built modest houses in which they and their children’s children grew old, and they handed them down to others who were like themselves, always the same. (trans. Benjamin Jowett)
He offers his longest architectural description in detailing the temples:
The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise:--in the centre was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon, which remained inaccessible, and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold; this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light, and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions, to be an offering to each of the ten. Here was Poseidon's own temple which was a stadium in length, and half a stadium in width, and of a proportionate height, having a strange barbaric appearance. All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum; and all the other parts, the walls and pillars and floor, they coated with orichalcum. In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot-the charioteer of six winged horses-and of such a size that he touched the roof of the building with his head; around him there were a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins, for such was thought to be the number of them by the men of those days. There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons. And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives, and there were many other great offerings of kings and of private persons, coming both from the city itself and from the foreign cities over which they held sway. There was an altar too, which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence, and the palaces, in like manner, answered to the greatness of the kingdom and the glory of the temple.
Presumably the reference to the “barbaric” appearance of the temple is Ogburn’s warrant for relating it to the megalithic architecture of Egypt and the Andes, though he might have done better to connect the silver-covered temple to the gold-bedecked temples of Cuzco.
I suppose it’s interesting that the five sites Ogburn plans to discuss in the lecture are five sites attributed to a “lost civilization” by Graham Hancock and others, and are five sites that have a superficial resemblance in that they are monumental structures using megalithic architecture. The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx need no introduction. The Osirion at Abydos was a particular obsession of Graham Hancock, who wished to reassign the structure from its conventional attribution to Seti I to 10,500 BCE because of its archaizing style and resemblance to the Valley Temple of the Sphinx. By the Gateway of Sun, I assume he means the one at Tiwanaku in Bolivia, another megalithic carving. Puma Punku, located nearby, is of course the monumental site ancient astronaut theorists like Giorgio Tsoukalos have declared the only alien-built city on earth, despite conventional attribution to the Tiwanaku culture in the first millennium CE.
The question is whether Ogburn simply uses the idea of Atlantis to interest audiences in the broader concept of sacred architecture, or whether he has followed the path of Graham Hancock and Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend and instead has concluded the existence of a prehistoric civilization from the fact that similar cultures, working with similar materials, arrived at similar solutions.
No matter which way the answer lies, it’s especially interesting that MUFON would be sponsoring a lecture on Atlantis since, superficially, Atlantis has nothing to do with flying saucers. But a look at the Pennsylvania MUFON group’s upcoming events finds presentations on ancient mysteries, weird energy, and (but of course!) the Watchers (Fallen Angels) from 1 Enoch and Genesis 6:1-4, courtesy of our friend L. A. Marzulli. Such topics may not share a physical connection in objective reality, but they are certainly all part of the same developing mythology of the occult history of our 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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