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
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

CRM Developer (MS Dynamics 2011/2013, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: CRM MS Dynamic...

IT Teacher

£22000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: ICT TeacherLeedsRandstad ...

Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution