Atlantis: We will never know Fantasy is a tough sell
in the twentieth century. The world has been fully discovered
and fully mapped. Popular media has effectively minimized
the legend and the fantastic rumor, though to make up for
this it has generated falsities not as lavish but just as
interesting. Satellites have mapped and studied the earth,
leaving only a space frontier that is as yet unreachable. But
standing out is a charming fantasy the modern world has yet
to verify or condemn: the lost continent of Atlantis. The
father of the modern worlds perception of Atlantis is Plato
(circa 428- circa 347 b.c.). (1) The Greek philosopher
spoke in his works Timaeus and Critias of a continent in the
Atlantic ocean larger than Africa and Asia Minor combined
which rivaled Athens as the most advanced in the world. (2)
According to the legend surrounding Platos dialogues, the
island of Atlantis was violently thrown into the sea by the
forces of nature, and its few survivors managed to swim
ashore and relate their story. (3) There the legend was
passed by word of mouth until an Egyptian priest related the
story to Solon, a character in Timaeus. The priest admired
the achievements of prehistoric Athenians, because when the
rulers of Atlantis threatened to invade all of Europe and Asia
the Athenians, on behalf of all Greeks, defeated the
Atlanteans to avoid enslavement. (4) The works of Plato
opened the floodgates to endless speculation on whether the
continent described was fact or fiction. Atlantis has since
been placed in Spain, Mongolia, Palestine, Nigeria, the
Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, Greenland and Yucatan. Every
nook and cranny of the globe has been hypothesized;
mountain peaks, desert lands, the ocean floor and even the
barren wasteland of Antarctica have been mentioned in
theories. (5) While some of these theories are compatible
with Platos works and are within relative reason, numerous
crackpot theories have been developed using the lost
continent as a basis. One of these theories, posted on the
computer internet where it has access to over fifteen million
people, talks in twenty-one pages of pre-historical lands with
names like Oz and Luxor. These world wide web pages list
over two hundred separate articles of proof for the existence
of Atlantis, as in the following: (6) Most all ancient
civilizations believed in the TITANS, the race of giant
humans that inhabited Earth long ago. Different races knew
them by different names. These 7 to 12 foot humanoids were
thought to be legendary until the excavation of over a dozen
skeletons 8 to 12 feet tall, around the world, shocked
archeologists. These skeletons were positively human. Some
of these skeletal remains are on Maui in lava caves near
Ulupalakua and Olowalu. The Spanish Conquistadors left
diaries of wild blond-haired, blue-eyed 8 to 12 foot high
men running around in the Andes during the conquest of the
Incas. A couple were reportedly captured but died en route
to Europe. If giant animals (dinosaurs) were possible then
why not giant men? And why are these goliaths populating
both Eurasia and the Americas? Only on a land bridge
created by the vast continent of Antarctica can there be a
sufficient bridge for the spread of these giants.(7) This text,
written by self-proclaimed Atlantologist Steve Omar,
represents Platos text taken to the extreme- using his ideas
as a basis for outlandish and unfounded ideas. These
unverified fantasies make a dubious complement to the other
dark side of the Atlantean fantasy: hoaxes. Atlantis has been
discovered many times, but most notably in the fall of
1912 by Dr. Paul Schliemann. Schliemann introduced
himself as the grandson of the famous Heinrich Schliemann,
the archeologist who discovered the ruins of ancient Troy in
1873. His discovery made front page news (The New
York American, October 1912.) and boasted of an
advanced civilization with aircraft, power-driven boats and
the like. Schliemann said his grandfather told him on his
deathbed of the familys secret: the location of Atlantis.
Schliemanns claims made waves, but didnt hold water;
when pressed for details, Schliemann was unresponsive and
eventually disappeared from public view. (8) Unfortunately,
the falsities concerning Atlantis frequently overshadow the
possibilities. The subject has gathered its share of honest
journalists as well. Ignatius Donnelly wrote the first extensive
study of the possibility of existence in 1882, and his views
have not been found to be false with twentieth century
technology. Donnelly believed in Atlantis, but believed it to
be worldly; his reasons for Atlantiss existence are unable
to be proven, but make sense. Some examples: -There is
nothing improbable in Platos narrative; it describes rich,
cultured and educated people but doesnt mention things of
fantasy like giants, hobgoblins etc. (9) -Plato speaks of hot
and cold springs in the center of Atlantis, a