Map of the Aegean, with major Bronze Age sites. Thera (the site Akrotiri) is 100 km north of Crete.

The Minoan hypothesis or Thera-Cretan theory is a discredited idea that identifies Atlantis with Bronze Age Crete or Santorini (Thera) and argues Atlantis was an ancient Aegean civilisation, i.e. Atlanteans as Minoans, opposed to the scholarly consensus Atlantis is Platonic fiction and never existed. In the 1960s and early 1970s the Minoan hypothesis became somewhat fashionable among geologists, archaeologists and classicists, mainly because the discovery of Akrotiri on the Aegean island of Santorini was the result of James W. Mavor's international expedition in 1967 to discover Atlantis; some world newspaper headlines (incorrectly) at the time reported that Atlantis had been discovered.

By the mid-1970s the Minoan hypothesis lost most of its support after it was critiqued, rebutted and falsified in scholarly publications; John V. Luce and Dorothy B. Vitaliano both vocal proponents of the Minoan hypothesis revised their views in 1975 to argue Atlantis is imaginary, but Plato modelled aspects of Atlantis on Minoan Crete. The latter viewpoint is non-controversial among most modern classical scholars; it should not be confused with the Minoan hypothesis.


The identification of the Minoan civilisation with Atlantis goes back to the early 20th century. It went largely unnoticed until Spyridon Marinatos' archaeological excavations on Crete (1930s), from which he proposed the Theran eruption wiped out the Minoans. After the Second World War, the Minoan hypothesis gained support among some scholars, especially throughout the 1960s. There are three variants of the Thera-Cretan theory:

  • Atlantis was Crete.
  • Atlantis was Thera.
  • Atlantis' metropolis was Thera, but the plain of Atlantis, Messara on Crete.

Kingdon T. Frost and James Baikie

In 1909, Kingdon T. Frost was the first to identify Atlantis with Minoan Crete (in his own words: "the long lost Atlantis is neither more nor less than Minoan Crete"), but did so anonymously in a newspaper article.[1] Four years later he identified himself as the author in the Journal of Hellenic Studies where he outlined his theory in more detail.[2] In both his articles, Frost takes Plato at face value when he says the story of Atlantis was heard by Solon in Egypt and adapted into an unfinished poem. Although Solon did not finish his epic, he told the story to his relative Dropides, who passed it down orally through his family (whom Plato descended). In other words in Frost's view the Atlantis tale is an authentic tradition that contains a core of history; Plato was a recipient of this story via Solonian oral pedigree. Although Plato describes the story having been recorded by the priests, he points out that Solon is not said to have seen a written record despite the Egyptians asserting they will show him at a later time (questionable since this doesn't take place during the story). Plato doesn't either say the Egyptians consulted or read from their sacred documents when speaking with Solon, instead relying from their memory:

"If Solon could have conversed with the priests there would have been no need for him to read the records himself and there is no suggestion that he did so (emphasis added)." (Frost, 1913)

Frost recognises the importance of this oral tradition because if there was a written text passed to Solon, there would be no discrepancies between Minoan Crete and Atlantis because writing is fixed (excluding interpolations), rather than heavily altered through retelling by word of mouth. There are of course many descriptions of Atlantis that don't match Minoan Crete and to explain these Frost argues the story was modified as it was re-told over time accidentally and/or intentionally. He therefore takes the source (Egypt), its transmission (by the route Plato outlines) and Solonian oral pedigree of the tale, literally. According to Frost, Solon and Plato modified the story:

  • Solon and Plato added their own embellishments to the Atlantis story, including imaginary descriptions of the metropolis on Atlantis to make it more appealing; the dimensions of Atlantis were also magnified.
  • Solon mistranslated or misunderstood some Egyptian words he heard, thus garbling aspects of the tale by mistake and moving the position of Atlantis westward, from the Mediterranean Sea, to Atlantic Ocean.
  • Solon and Plato adapted the Atlantis tale for their own use (e.g. politics, morality and philosophy).
  • Plato was the first to record the story and so he changed the narrative setting into a Socratic dialogue.

Nonetheless Frost maintains beneath these distortions is a kernel of history - an Egyptian folk memory of Minoan Crete. In this sense Atlantis truly existed, but far less splendid than how it was exaggerated over time via retelling (with added imaginative features). Frost predated Spyridon Marinatos' archaeological excavations on Crete in the 1930s, after which it was proposed a volcanic cataclysm destroyed Minoan civilisation on Thera and Crete. Frost (1909) came up with the idea that Minoan civilisation was not destroyed by a natural disaster, but by an invasion of Mycenaeans from the mainland of Greece (Mycenaeans had taken control of the Minoan major city Knossos, c. 1450 BCE), so "when Knossos was sacked, the sudden destruction of the ruler of the seas...concerned the Egyptians". In 1910, the Egyptologist James Baikie supported the Atlantis-Minoan identification in his book The Sea Kings of Crete; at the time he was unaware Frost was the author of the 1909 article because it was printed anonymously (but in a footnote Baikie credits the latter source as the first to identify Minoan Crete with Atlantis).

Frost and Baikie both came to realise the main problem with the Minoan hypothesis is Plato says Atlantis sat in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Pillars of Heracles (a marker of the extreme west), not inside the Mediterranean Sea, i.e. the location of Crete in the Aegean. Their solution is Solon must have misunderstood what he heard when speaking with the Egyptian priests, or that Solon/the priests purposely changed this detail in the oral tradition, to reflect contemporary knowledge (their geographical horizons had widened since the Bronze Age):

"...doubtless this statement is due to Solon's misinterpretation of what was said by his Egyptian informant, or the the Saite priests endeavour to accommodate his ancient tradition to the wider geographical knowledge of his own time." (Baikie, 1910: 258)

Edwin S. Balch

In 1917, the geographer Edwin S. Balch defended Frost's identification of Atlantis as Minoan Crete:

"The theory that Plato's Atlantis was Minoan Crete, on the contrary, seems to stand up very well before recent archaeological discoveries. At any rate it deserves to be more widely known, for it certainly seems to meet fairly completely the facts which the old Egyptian priest was trying to tell Solon and Solon to tell Plato of the destruction of what seems to have been the then already nearly forgotten civilization of Minoan Crete." (Balch, 1917)

In his article published in the Geographical Review, Balch adds very little to the Minoan hypothesis, but stresses discrepancies accumulated in the Atlantis story through the "verbal version" of it transmitted (orally) from Solon.

Spyridon Marinatos


Spyridon Marinatos

Frost's theory largely went unnoticed until Marinatos in 1932 discovered pumice at Amnissos on Crete and wrote an article first suggesting the volcano on Thera (about 100 km north of Crete) was responsible for the destruction of Minoan civilisation, c. 1500 BCE: the volcanic explosion destroying Thera, with after-affects such as ash fall, tidal waves and earthquakes impacting Crete (Marinatos, 1939). With the outbreak of the Second World War, Marinatos could not carry out further excavations, but continued archaeological research after the war had ended. On Nov. 24 1948, he delivered a lecture "The Problem of Atlantis" at the Greek Anthropological Society:

"The catastrophe of Thera, accompanied by tremendous natural phenomena and the simultaneous disappearance of the Cretans from Egypt gave rise to the myth of a submersion of a large and prosperous island... Sea Peoples, who attacked Egypt on several occasions from 1300 BC to 1167, when they were defeated... added to the legend as invasions of 'Atlanteans'." (Marinatos, 1948)

Two years later Marinatos published a scholarly article in Cretica Chronica, arguing for the Minoan hypothesis:

"The Egyptians must undoubtedly have learnt of an island becoming submerged and this was Thera, but being so small and insignificant they did not know of it. They transferred this event to Crete, the island so grievously struck and with all contact they suddenly lost." (Marinatos, 1950)

Similar to Frost, Marinatos emphasises the oral nature of the Atlantis story ("handed down...from mouth to mouth") and the modification of the tale through retellings, but somewhat differently argues the priests muddled aspects of the tale with separate traditions from their own Egyptian myths, meaning the story "grew from the fusion of various disparate episodes". In Marinatos' view the main historical core in the story proposed by Frost (1913) remains intact, i.e. Minoan Crete was Atlantis, but utopian-esque features stem not from Solon or Plato's embellishments, but from the Egyptian tradition of the Shipwrecked Sailor (a "tale of a supremely happy island"). Marinatos also argues the Atlantis story's portrayal of Atlanteans as maritime invaders (not applicable to Minoans who were more peaceful) is an Egyptian historical reminiscence of the Sea Peoples who had invaded Egypt.

Wilhelm Brandenstein

In 1951, Wilhelm Brandenstein repeated much of Marinatos' theory although he gave neither Marinatos or Frost much credit. For this he was criticised since it's unlikely he independently came up with the Minoan hypothesis: 

"Professor Brandenstein mentions Mr. Frost-but only in one brief reference in his text (p. 60), and in a note (p. 103) which damns his article with faint praise and then adds that he only learned of its existence after he had written his work. The fact remains that Mr. Frost ante nos nostra dixit: in other words, he had stated the essence of Professor Brandenstein's view... years ago." (Barker, 1953)

Angelos G. Galanopoulos and James W. Mavor

In the 1960's the Minoan hypothesis was developed by the Greek seismologist Angelos G. Galanopoulos who put forward a new argument: that the metropolis of Atlantis was Thera while the great plain on Atlantis, Messara on Crete.[3] This idea was supported by Edward Bacon and James W. Mavor, but rejected by the classicist John V. Luce who like Marinatos and Frost stuck with identifying Atlantis with Crete, not Santorini (Thera).[4] In contrast, the classical scholar Rhys Carpenter (1966) identified Atlantis with Thera, but criticised Galanopoulos, Mavor and even Luce for reading Plato too literally; in Carpenter's opinion there was no metropolis or plain and these were imaginary features added by Plato as embellishments (Carpenter, 1970). In Discontinuity in Greek Civilisation, Carpenter notes the Atlantis story "derived from genuine oral family tradition" (via Solon in Egypt) and Atlantis "was no other than Santorini". However, in his view Plato intentionally re-located Atlantis from the Mediterranean:

"Like the Homeric Troy inflated too large for Tiny Hissarlik, Atlantis grew in Plato's thoughts into a continent too large for the Mediterranean... beyond Gibraltar Strait." (Carpenter, 1966: 20)

Galanopoulos and Mavor instead thought the age and dimensions of Atlantis were accidentally magnified by the Egyptians or Solon, not by Plato on purpose, as an embellishment; Galanopoulos came up with the idea that the size of Atlantis and its age were exaggerated by a factor of 10. The latter was supported by Luce, who argued:

"Solon, or the priests, could have mistakenly multiplied some actual dates and linear measurements by ten. If the oblong plain round the palace was only 300 by 200 stadia (not 3000 by 2000), it would fit the actual dimensions of the Messara plain near Phaistos... If the priests were working with a date of 900 years (not 9000), the disappearance of Atlantis falls about 1490 BC." (Luce, 1969: 140)

To explain how Atlantis was moved from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, Luce (1969) argues that when Solon spoke with the Egyptians they told him Atlantis lay in the "far west", but he moved it to reflect the geographical knowledge of the Greeks of his own time period (the original geography instead reflected "the Egyptians of the Bronze Age, and their geographical horizons were exceedingly limited", i.e. the furthest west being Crete). In the late 1960s, Mavor had spoken to Marinatos who confirmed he still supported the Minoan hypothesis, although he didn't agree with Galanopoulos' and Mavor's identification of Santorini (Thera) with the metropolis of Atlantis:

"[Marinatos]: The Egyptians had intimate connections with the Cretans, but they were not, as the Cretans, seafaring people and had only a vague idea of what happened outside Egypt... They knew there was an island in the middle of the great sea... suddenly they heard that an island had sunk beneath the sea. At the same time they lost contact with Crete for many years. Crete was of course still there, but the Egyptians... believed it was the island that had disappeared." (Mavor, 1969: 206)

In 1967 the Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri on Santorini (Thera) was discovered by an international expedition led by Mavor (including the Egyptologist Edward Loring) financially backed by the Archaeological Society of Athens who donated $2000; excavations were supervised by Marinatos. Later that year, Mavor with the renowned classicist Emily Vermeule held a press conference about the excavations ("A Minoan Pompeii and the Lost Atlantis") at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The discovery of Akrotiri on Thera won over academics to the Minoan hypothesis, for example the classicist Peter Andrews (1967), the geologist Dorothy B. Vitaliano (1968), science writer Willy Ley (1969) and Nikolaos Platon (1971) archaeologist and former Director of the Archaeological Heraklion Museum. While not proponents, other scholars of this period were still sympathetic to the Minoan hypothesis; Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology (University of Bristol) John M. Cook in his article "Flames over Atlantis" (1970) remarks that "there is always a sporting chance" the Thera-Cretan theory might be true. Nicholas W. Tschoegl promoted the Minoan hypothesis at the California Institute of Technology.

Thera Atlantis

The metropolis of Atlantis, imposed on a map of the volcanic island of Thera by Galanopoulos.

Newspapers across the world in the late 1960s misleadingly reported Atlantis had been discovered on Santorini.[5] However Vermeule (1967) was hesitant to identify the metropolis of Atlantis with Thera, while Marinatos and the Archaeological Society of Athens "disdained any exaggerated attempts" to connect the Akrotiri excavations to Atlantis. Although a proponent of the Minoan hypothesis, Marinatos did not identify Thera with Atlantis, but Crete; he complained Mavor's fixation with Atlantis was sidetracking archaeological research and his final article barely mentions Atlantis as if he was fed up with it.[6]

Therefore the Minoan hypothesis was popular, albeit for a short period of time; in 1969 three books were published by Thera-Cretan proponents: The End of Atlantis by John V. Luce (published in the US as Lost Atlantis), Voyage to Atlantis by James W. Mavor and Atlantis: The Truth Behind the Legend co-authored by Angelos G. Galanopoulos and Edward Bacon. Because of his academic credibility, Luce's book (its foreword written by none other than the eminent archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler) was well received by nearly all classical scholars at the time, even by those who were sceptical, e.g. Moses Finley (1969) in a review outright rejects the Minoan hypothesis despite praising Luce as a "competent and cautious classical scholar" and recommends The End of Atlantis to readers.

In 1976 the Minoan hypothesis was heavily criticised in a journal article by the classicist and expert on Plato Christopher Gill.[7] A year prior, panel discussions delivered at a symposium "Atlantis: Fact or Fiction?" (1975) sponsored by the Department of Classical Studies at Indiana University rebutted all claims of the Minoan hypothesis from which it arguably never recovered (the first discussion "Plato’s Atlantis: A Mythologist Looks at Myth" was by Sigmund C. Fredericks, the second "Atlantis and the Minoan Thalassocracy" by Jesse R. Fears, both specialists in classics). Luce delivered a discussion at the symposium, substantially modifying his position, more or less abandoning the Minoan hypothesis; Vitaliano, also presented a discussion and distanced herself from her previous views concerning Atlantis, similar to Luce. The symposium's consensus was Atlantis is fiction.

John V. Luce and Dorothy B. Vitaliano

The discussions were published as essays a few years later in book form (Ramage ed., 1978). Luce's essay "The Sources and Literary Form of Plato's Atlantis Narrative" differs in many ways to his The End of Atlantis (1969):

  • Luce (1978) no longer argues Solon acquired the Atlantis story as an oral tradition in Egypt, further denying the Solonian oral pedigree and transmission of the tale by word of mouth (by the route Plato describes, down through the family of Dropides): "The line of transmission by hearsay from Solon to Plato... I now feel, very much open to doubt". Instead Luce proposes it was Plato himself who travelled to Egypt and "gathered some historical information... by inspection of monuments and by conservation with temple-spokesman".
  • Luce (1978) argues after Plato personally inspected Egyptian reliefs and inscriptions, these "furnished Plato with the nucleus of his Atlantis theme, the idea of... an island empire of the West". Luce thus asserts Plato made up the Atlantis story, "accumulating materials rather than fabricating them", opposed to the story being an authentic oral tradition passed on to him that he embellished.[8] Rather though than Plato making up the Atlantis story out of whole cloth, he based his story on inspirations, his own experiences in Egypt and information he acquired from deciphering Egyptian monuments; these served as models to create a mental picture of Atlantis. Luce points out that Plato incorporated into his vivid description of Atlantis features from other sources, including "recognisably Libyan features" (Carthage?) and traits of Babylon and Ecbatana.
  • Luce (1978) substitutes Plato for Solon and no longer maintains the oral nature of the Atlantis tradition as described by Plato, hence he denies that Solon or the Egyptians accidentally multiplied the age of Atlantis, or its dimensions by a factor of 10, that he originally argued (like Galanopoulos) in The End of Atlantis.

Whether Plato acquired historical information about the Minoans (when in Egypt), Luce was now less certain, writing it "is to venture on less firm ground", although he still favoured the idea Plato based his Atlanteans on the Minoans and Atlantis on Crete (that he learnt about from inscriptions); Gill notes in his Plato: The Atlantis Story:

"Luce himself now gives a much more cautious statement of the theory and seems doubtful that Solon transmitted the story... Ramage (1978) add further reasons for scepticism." (Gill, 1980: xii)
Luce had by this point abandoned the Minoan hypothesis and seems have shifted greatly towards arguing Atlantis is fiction, but that Plato was inspired by Minoan civilisation when wrote the story of Atlantis. Gill adds that there is little objection to the idea "Minoan Crete was one of the models Plato used to create his fictitious Atlantis" but this of course does not make Minoan Crete itself, Atlantis. Gill distinguishes the latter to the Minoan hypothesis that says Atlantis was Crete (or Thera), a real-world identification, via arguing the Atlantis tale is an oral tradition containing an Egyptian folk memory of Minoan civilisation. This distinction became apparent to Vitaliano who in her essay "Atlantis from the Geologic Point of View" abandons the Minoan hypothesis for the viewpoint Atlantis stems from the imagination of Plato, but he could have been inspired by stories of Minoans:
"Plato might have derived some of his ideas from Minoan Crete in one way or another, but such a derivation is far too roundabout for Atlantis to qualify as a legend which presents a distorted view of an actual event... Atlantis must be considered just another of the myths of Plato." (Vitaliano, 1978)

In 1980, the classical scholar Phyllis Y. Forsyth published Atlantis: The Making of Myth that popularised the aforementioned idea that while Atlantis is Platonic fiction, Plato used Minoan Crete as one of his models:

"From Minoan Crete, Plato could easily have derived the concept of an island suddenly destroyed by a violent act of nature; memories of Minoan Crete, whether Egyptian or Greek... preserved some knowledge of that island's political affairs, geographical features, natural resources and religion... even if Minoan Crete was the main model for Atlantis, it was nevertheless a limited model. Plato clearly supplemented features derived from Crete with features derived from other sources. In other words, his Atlantis was a conflation, an amalgam of different elements." (Forsyth, 1980: 168)

This theory Plato modelled aspects of Atlantis on Minoan Crete has won over many classicists, but as Forsyth warns it should not be confused with the Minoan hypothesis of Frost, Galanoupolos or Mavor (and formerly Luce) that says Atlantis was Crete or Thera "in a literal sense"; Forsyth argues Crete or Thera can only be reasonably "seen as Atlantis in a figurative sense".[9] In 1982, reviewed Forsyth's book, agreeing with her overall conclusion:

"Can we get back from Akrotiri to Atlantis? No, if that means taking Thera as literally the Atlantis of Plato. Yes, if Thera can serve as Atlantis in a 'figurative sense.' By this she appears to mean that Thera was an example of an advanced civilisation suddenly overwhelmed by a natural disaster, that as such it would fit naturally into Plato's scheme... I concur, as also with her further point that Plato elaborated his picture by including elements drawn from a variety of other sources." (Luce, 1982)

Jacques Cousteau

The oceanographer Jacques Cousteau organised two expeditions to the Aegean in the late 1970s to investigate possible underwater archaeological evidence for the Minoan hypothesis. The first expedition (1976) resulted in failure, in the words of Cousteau: "there is nothing to be found off Santorini".[10] The second expedition (1978) was the basis of a documentary Calypso's Search for Atlantis, but also was unsuccessful in finding anything.

Christos G. Doumas and Zdenek Kukal


Christos G. Doumas

After Marinatos died in 1974, Christos G. Doumas took charge of the excavations at Akrotiri. Doumas in his book Thera, Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean (1983) makes it clear he rejects Marinatos' Minoan hypothesis, instead arguing Atlantis is fiction, not an authentic oral tradition. Nonetheless he accepts Forsyth's and Luce's (revised) view that Plato could have been inspired by the Minoans and the Thera eruption when putting together the story, noting: "it is not improbable that Plato used these real events {i.e. Theran eruption} as the nucleus of his myth".

Zdenek Kukal a geologist at the Geological Survey of Czechoslovakia wrote a book that concluded Atlantis is imaginary, but that Plato might "have heard of about the volcanic explosion that destroyed Thera" (Kukal, 1984: 193).[11]

Charles R. Pellegrino

Despite archaeologists and classicists debunking the Minoan hypothesis, it managed to keep a small number of dogmatic proponents; Galanoupolos in 1981 continued to identify the metropolis of Atlantis with Thera by a literal topographical reading of Plato.[12] So too did Mavor (1985) who later updated his Voyage to Atlantis (with a new epilogue) in 1990; the second book edition ignores all scholarly studies that refuted the Minoan hypothesis over the past two decades. In 1991, the Thera-Cretan theory was revived by Charles R. Pellegrino, a marine biologist. Pellegrino has been criticised by the classicist Peter James:

"Unfortunately the same hackneyed claims about Thera are still being peddled." (James, 1995: 83)


  • Did Solon visit Egypt?

Kingdon T. Frost the originator of the Minoan hypothesis acknowledged that if Solon did not travel to Egypt, the Atlantis story must have been invented by Plato, i.e. he fabricated the Egyptian source and its oral transmission:

"...could Solon have gone to Egypt... If not the whole story must be fiction. "(Frost, 1913)

Frost cites Herodotus and Plutarch as historical evidence Solon's trip to Egypt occurred. However, both these sources are not to be relied upon. Plutarch (c. 100 CE) quotes a fragment from a poem by Solon that mentions the Nile Delta, but this does not mean Solon held first-hand knowledge of Egypt; the poem fragment neither mentions anything about Atlantis (so it shouldn't be identified as Solon's Atlantis epic). While Herodotus (c. 440 BCE) says Solon visited Egypt, the chronology is impossible and this led the classicist Alan B. Lloyd to assert:

"Herodotus' statements on the travels of Solon in general and the Egyptian visit in particular are chronological nonsense... evidence for Solon's visit to Egypt does not exist." (Lloyd, 1975: 56-57)

  • Could the oral transmission have occurred?

In 1969, Luce accepted the Solonian oral pedigree of the Atlantis story as straightforward, but later retracted this after realising the transmission is chronologically impossible if Critias the younger, a descendant of Dropides (a recipient of the story in the oral pedigree), is the infamous oligarch of the same name, i.e. Critias the "tyrant", rather than his grandfather (Luce, 1978). There is no reason to doubt (contra Luce) that Critias the younger is the oligarchical "tyrant", meaning the oral transmission could have never taken place, and Atlantis is Platonic fiction.

  • Arguments from silence.

If the Atlantis story is an authentic oral tradition that passed from Egypt to Greece, it should appear in Egyptian mythology, but no recorded ancient Egyptian tradition mentions Atlantis. Independent Greek sources prior to, or contemporary of Plato would also be expected to reference Atlantis since the story was supposedly passed down through the family of Dropides over multiple generations, giving it enough time to be heard by plenty of people:

"If we accept Plato's statement that the story of Atlantis was passed down by family tradition... then we must also accepted the implication that this tale was bruited about..." (Fredericks, 1978)

Even if it is argued the Atlantis story as a family story was restricted orally to those consanguineous members in the line of transmission (that they told no one, not even their close friends), this doesn't explain why it was not recorded by any of Dropides descendants in the line of transmission, until Plato. So the fact Plato is the sole primary source for the tale is why there is an argument from silence against its authenticity as an oral tradition:

" the absence of any evidence from Egyptian sources, the silence of Thucydides, Herodotus, Isocrates... seems conclusive. Plato's story does not reflect a historical tradition derivded from Egypt, or Solon or from anywhere or anyone else. It is a poetic invention of Plato." (Fears, 1978)

  • Discrepancies between Atlantis and Minoan civilisation.

A lot of discrepancies exist between how Plato describes Atlantis and Minoan Crete (or Thera). If the Atlantis story is an oral tradition it is to be expected there will be many discrepancies because passing on a tale by word of mouth is unreliable; over generations, details and aspects of the story would have changed through retelling(s). However, an argument against the Minoan hypothesis is Plato's description of Atlantis barely resembles Minoan Crete in any major feature or detail: "resemblance between the two locations is... very slight" (Gill, 1980: xi).

  • Minoan civilisation was not destroyed by a natural catastrophe.

Marinatos' and Galanopoulos' Minoan hypothesis rests on the Minoan civilisation having been destroyed by the Theran eruption or its after-affects such as ash-fall, tsunamis and earthquakes. However by the late 1970s it was discovered that Minoan civilization on Crete was not destroyed until c. 1450 BCE (still compatible with Frost's proposal that a Mycenaean invasion led to the downfall of Knossos), some fifty years before the Theran eruption:

"There are chronological problems in accepting Marinatos' theory that the eruption of Thera caused the decline of Minoan civilisation... pottery suggests that the eruption occurred about 1500 B.C., whereas the widespread destruction of palaces in Crete took place about 1450 B.C." (Gill, 1980: x)

Luce (1969) attempted to solve this difficulty by revising the estimates of the Theran eruption to c. 1470 BCE, but at the Third International Conference, Santorini in 1989[13] a scientific consensus was reached that ash-fall on Crete from the Theran eruption would have been minimum (with no affect on crops or vegetation, that could have led to starvation); tsunamis would have caused limited destruction to coastal areas, not reached inland palaces. Even if using Luce's revised dating estimate: the Theran eruption did not destroy Bronze Age Minoan civilisation.

  • Did the ancient Egyptians have knowledge of Bronze Age Crete or Thera?

Gill questions whether the ancient Egyptians had detailed knowledge of Thera or Crete during the Bronze Age, if any knowledge at all. If they didn't, the Minoan hypothesis is easily falsified. It is questionable whether there was Minoan-Egyptian contact (i.e. trade was indirect via Cyprus or Phoenicia, rather than direct) and the identification of Keftiu with Crete in Egyptian records is not proven; arguably Keftiu instead refers to somewhere in Syria-Palestine. Regardless, Keftiu is only briefly described and there is no mention of the Theran eruption:

"Can we find... the story of Atlantis (under the name Keftiu)? In fact, the Egyptian records have little to say about Keftiu at all, and contain nothing which would suggest it was a threatening maritime power. The sum total of the evidence Luce cites gives no description of Keftiu at all... There is no evidence that the Egyptians knew about the eruption at Thera..." (Gill, 1980: xi)

Notes and references

  1. "The Lost Continent". The Times. Feb. 19, 1909.
  2. Frost, K. T. (1913). "The Critias and Minoan Crete". J. Hell. Stud. 33: 189-206.
  3. Galanopoulos, A. G. (1960). "On the Origin of the Deluge of Deucalion and the Myth of Atlantis". Greek Archaeological Society. 3: 226-231; see also Galanopoulos & Bacon, 1969: 131 and Mavor, 1969: 29: "Galanopoulos interprets Plato's story as descriptive of two islands". The latter is denied by Luce (1972).
  4. "I do not look for the lost Atlantis under the surface of Thera bay. Thera was in no sense the metropolis of Crete and cannot be identified with the metropolis of Atlantis" (Luce, 1969: 157).
  5. "Moat Believed to be Part of Atlantis is Found in Aegean Sea". The New York Times. Sep. 4, 1966.
  6. Marinatos, S. (1972). "Thera: Key to the Riddle of Minos". National Geographic. 141(5): 702-726.
  7. Gill, C. (1976). "The Origin of the Atlantis Myth". Trivium. 11: 1-11.
  8. In The End of Atlantis, Luce makes it clear he originally believed the Atlantis story was an oral tradition that was passed to Plato: "garbled before it reached him" (Luce, 1969: 20) i.e. "The information in the form that Solon imposed upon it was transmitted to Plato... orally" (Luce, 1969: 147); Solon acquired this story in Egypt: "The overall case is Solon acquired in Egypt a genuine, if somewhat garbled, tradition of Minoan Crete... descended to Plato by the route he indicates in his own family" (Luce, 1969: 140). It should be recognised that Luce never denied from the start that Plato "embellished the account with various details gathered from his own reading or personal experience" (Luce, 1969: 147) to fit his philosophical purposes, i.e. Plato's "imagination got to work on the details" (Luce, 1969: 140); in Luce's view these distortions bury, but do not remove the story's historical kernel of truth, and so Luce (1969: 20) argues for a core of history.
  9. Forsyth, 1980: 157; Forsyth also disagrees with Galanoupolos' theory the metropolis of Atlantis and its plain belonged as two separate islands: "Plato's ancient metropolis and royal city are one and the same".
  10. "Cousteau 'sinks' Atlantis legend". The Canberra Times. Nov. 24, 1976.
  11. Kukal, Z. (1984). Atlantis: In Light of Modern Research. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  12. Galanoupolos, A. G. (1981). New Light on the Legend of Atlantis and the Mycenaean Decadence. Athens.
  13. Hardy, D, A. et al (eds). (1990). Thera and the Aegean World III: Proceedings of the Third International Congress, Santorini, Greece. London: The Thera Foundation.