Meet Me in Atlantis

Meet Me in AtlantisMeet Me in Atlantis, Mark Adams

What if—bear with me here—what if someone wrote a book about Atlantis that 1) was objective and not crazily hyperbolic about definitely finding Atlantis/proving the whole story is aliens/talking about time travel, 2) was skeptical yet still managed to treat Atlantis hunters objectively and with respect, and 3) was a ton of fun while discussing Plato in depth and debating the translation of ancient Greek. Crazy, you say? Mark Adams thought it was just crazy enough to work.

This was a really fun read. Adams begins by summarizing where, exactly, the mythology comes from (details that I had actually not known before): in two of Plato’s last dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, in which Plato also discusses in detail the creation of the world and the World-Soul.  As part of this discussion, his speakers also mention a past society with the following details:

  • It was a nesos, usually translated as “island”
  • It was an advanced power that sent warriors to attack Athens and Egypt 9000 years before the time Plato was writing (so about 11,000 years ago now)
  • It had a large central plain and concentric circles of some sort
  • It had a ton of really huge canals, just really enormous, and one canal leading in and out of the canals
  • It was beyond the Pillars of Heracles, probably the Strait of Gibraltar
  • They had a giant temple to Poseidon
  • They were completely wiped out through an earthquake/flood combo and were swallowed up by the waves never to be seen again.

Got all that? There’s a lot more measurements (so many measurements) for all of the canals, the size of the plains, etc. and information about how many kings there were in Atlantis, and how they had a whole thing about sacrificing bulls (leading some people to think they were Minoans), but that’s less important. Oh, and how Plato, while swearing this is totally true, has his speaker relay it as something he heard from a friend who heard it from his completely real Canadian girlfriend this Egyptian priest he knew who swears it happened.

Adams tackles all of this and sorting through what it call could possibly mean from every angle, and with a great deal of wit and objectivity. He speaks with archeologists and anthropologists, philosophers and Plato experts, and the world’s leading Antlantologists—Atlantis hunters and experts. What I loved most about this book is that he approaches basically all of the theories with the same fresh, skeptical eyes. He looks into numerous possible locations for Atlantis with enthusiastic Atlantis searchers. He talks about the numerous earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis that have wracked the Mediterranean and could be the foundations for a myth, examines other flood stories, and talks about the many other unsolved mysteries of the time, like who were the Sea Peoples? He examines Plato’s obsession with Pythagoras and whether the whole thing is an elaborate number code, and even discusses the possibilities of people sailing from the Americas with an open mind examining all the evidence. It was incredibly refreshing to read something that treated many viewpoints as potentially valid and didn’t dismiss anything out of hand! (Well, except aliens and time travelers. He was rather dismissive there.)

And the book was incredibly well informed! I learned a lot. Not just a lot of crazy theories, I mean a lot of actual history and philosophy and anthropology. I have joked that I’ve probably reached about the limit of what History Channel and Science Channel documentaries and popular books will teach me about the world—I probably need a real course of study to learn more. But this book had all sorts of trivia I didn’t know about before. Did you know that Malta has what are possibly the earliest free standing stone structures we know of? I didn’t, because who knows anything about Malta except they had the Knights of Malta and a bunch of falcons? But I’m so glad I know about it now. (I’m going to try to work it into conversation at the next party we go to.) I didn’t know Plato was interested in Pythgoras’ weird numbers cult and may have worked bits of it into his works. And I actually didn’t know about how many times Mediterranean cities were wiped out by catastrophe! I wonder if it was a particularly unlucky region, or just one of the few that left enough clues that there was something before the flood.

All in all, there is a lot to recommend this book. Mark Adams is an engaging writer, and I breezed through this book. I was amazed at how much it taught me, and how fascinating the Atlantis mythology is. I’m not sold on the Atlantis hunt (and Adams isn’t really trying to sell anyone on it, either). It seems to me the kind of thing that has a kernel of truth but is probably a composite of destroyed civilizations. But it definitely pulled me in to the mystery, and kept me entertained for the journey.

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