Briton finds Atlantis in Turkey

A BRITISH archaeologist has found what he believes to be the original lost kingdom of Atlantis - not in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where legend has always placed it - but in the interior of Turkey.

Using six classical sources, Peter James, a London specialist in Near Eastern ancient history, has reconstructed what appears to be the original quasi-historical legend on which the Atlantis story was based. An ancient Anatolian legend suggests the original "Atlantis" was a real city, Tantalis, in the west of Asia Minor, which was destroyed by an earthquake and flooding after 1400 BC.

A preliminary survey of the area has revealed the location of the now dried-up lake which, Mr James believes, covered the site, about 30 miles inland from the modern port of Izmir. After piecing together the legend from passages in the works of classical authors Pausanias, Pliny, Pherecydes, Pindar, Democles and Aristides, Mr James has concluded that Atlas, the key figure in the Atlantis legend, was based on a semi-legendary Anatolian king called Tantalus who ruled over a doomed city once known as Zippasla or Sipylus, which was renamed Tantalis in his honour.

In the traditional story, as told by the 6th century BC Athenian poet Solon and repeated by Plato, the fabulously wealthy Atlantis was destroyed by earthquake and flood because its rulers, the successors of Atlas, had offended the gods. Mr James believes that Solon was merely adapting the Tantalis story. He passed within a few miles of the site during his travels in Asia Minor and would have had ample opportunity to collect local folklore. It is not clear why Solon relocated the action 2,000 miles westwards to the Atlantic. Mr James, who reveals his findings in a book to be published this week*, suspects the move was necessitated by the Greek belief that Atlas - their version of Tantalus - lived on the Atlantic coast, or on an island in the ocean.

The Greeks believed that, for his defiance of the gods, Atlas was sentenced to hold up the sky for eternity and was transformed into a mountain. King Tantalus was also sentenced by the gods to hold up the sky for ever, though by other accounts he was crushed under a mountain. Many other aspects of the Atlas and Tantalus legends are also virutally identical.

Detailed exploration of the probable site of Tantalis is being planned by Mr James, a former post-graduate archaeological researcher at University College London. But the work will have to wait until the Turkish government gives permission for it to start. If Mr James's theory is correct, then the original Empire of Atlantis on which the legend was based would have been a 15th century BC Hittite vassal kingdom ruled from Zippasla, which broke loose from Hittite control in around 1400 BC and set up its own empire.

This Anatolian proto-Atlantis - with its capital at Zippasla/Tantalis - controlled an empire stretching from the Aegean Sea to central Anatolia and may even have included parts of Cyprus and part of what is now Israel. The empire lasted for around 50 years before being reabsorbed into Hittite territory. Its spectacular wealth came from a gold-rich river, and extensive mines.

"After re-assembling the Tantalis legend I was amazed at its striking resemblance to the Atlantis story," said Mr James. "For more than 2,000 years Plato has been accused of making the entire Atlantis story up. Now for the first time we know that his source, Solon, was working from a pre-existing and genuine tradition."

*'The Sunken Kingdom, the Atlantis Mystery Solved' by Peter James, Jonathan Cape pounds 18.99.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam