In this Timewatch special, historian Bettany Hughes unravels one of the most intriguing mysteries of all time - did Atlantis really exist?
Dr. Hughes presents a series of geological, archaeological and historical clues to show that the legend of Atlantis was inspired by a real historical event – the greatest natural disaster of the ancient world – the eruption of Thera on the Aegean island of Santorini. In this documentary Dr. Hughes traces the origins of the Atlantis myth and presents evidence that the Thera eruption inspired Plato’s account of this mystical land.
Two thousand four hundred years ago Greek philosopher Plato wrote of an ancient island civilization of unparalleled wealth and splendour, which was struck by earthquakes and floods and was swallowed up by the sea in one grievous day and night.
The island of Santorini was destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption over three thousand years ago. On the island of Santorini is the prehistoric city of Akrotiri that many historians believe is the inspiration behind Plato’s Atlantis.
Akrotiri is the name of an excavation site of a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the Greek island of Santorini, associated with the Minoan civilization due to inscriptions in Linear A, and close similarities in artefact and fresco styles. The excavation is named after a modern Greek village situated on a hill nearby. The name of the site in antiquity is unknown. It was buried by the widespread Thera eruption in the middle of the second millennium BC; as a result, like the Roman ruins of Pompeii after it, it is remarkably well-preserved. Frescoes, pottery, furniture, advanced drainage systems and three-story buildings have been discovered at the site, whose excavation was started in 1967 by Spyridon Marinatos. Certain historians hold this settlement, as well as the disaster that left it unknown to most of history, as the inspiration behind Plato's story of Atlantis, as mentioned in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias.
Especially intriguing is Dr. Irving Finkel's research on the durability of oral history before it enters the written record. Dr. Irving Finkel agrees that Plato’s tale of Atlantis could have been based on the handed-down knowledge of the Theran eruption. (In a similar manner we can perhaps surmise that the biblical account of Noah’s flood could also be traced to an oral history of an actual catastrophic event).
In today’s exciting video we are going to examine the tantalizing geological and archaeological evidence that supports the conjecture that the destruction of Santorini inspired the myth of Atlantis.
Atlantis: The Evidence, a Timewatch Special
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