Emily Vermeule

Emily Vermeule (1928 - 2001) was a world-renowned classicist specialising in ancient and modern Greek languages who in 1967 accompanied James W. Mavor on an international expedition to find Atlantis that led to the discovery of the Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri on Santorini (Thera). Vermeule originally was open to the existence of Atlantis and took a neutral approach to the Minoan hypothesis, but later modified her position to doubt its existence and criticised archaeological reports on Akrotiri or Thera for mentioning Atlantis.


  • B.A. Greek and Philosophy, Bryn Mawr College.
  • M.A. Classical Archaeology, Radcliffe College.
  • Ph.D. Greek, Bryn Mawr College.
  • Litt.D. Humanities, Bates College.


  • Vermeule, E. (1967). "The Promise of Thera". The Atlantic. Dec. 83-94.
  • Vermeule, E. (1971). "The Santorini Volcano: A Review Article". Archaeology. 24(2): 130-135.

A Minoan Pompeii and the Lost Atlantis

In 1967 the Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri on Santorini (Thera) was discovered by an international expedition led by Mavor, including Vermeule; financially backed by the Archaeological Society of Athens who donated $2000. The excavations were supervised by Spyridon Marinatos. Later that year, Mavor with Vermeule held a press conference about the excavations ("A Minoan Pompeii and the Lost Atlantis") at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Vermeule the same year published an article about the expedition and her thoughts on Atlantis:

"It may even be true that when Thera sank under the sea with roaring and darkness it helped create one of the world's great myths of nostalgia. Yet in practical terms of excavation Plato has been a nuisance. The promise of Thera is vivid now as it was a hundred years ago. The island may answer questions scholars have asked for years... If they find lava-and-olive wood houses instead of the marble temples of Atlantis, that is the truth, to be protected at any cost. If the work goes forward with proper care, whatever lies sealed under the ash will be reward enough." (Vermeule, 1967)

Her neutrality about the existence of Atlantis had changed by the 1970s, for example in a book review she notes it is "refreshing" to read a book about Santorini "without a single mention of the lost Atlantis" (Vermeule, 1971).