the legend of Atlantis

The legend of Atlantis, or of a city sinking into the sea, shows up in a lot of cultures. Like…Disneyland. And Hollywood.

In a geology class I took a few years ago, I heard that it’s possible this legend rose out of a volcanic eruption.


I Googled and found a number of articles on it. Here’s one.

Santorini is a circular group of islands in the southern Aegean Sea belonging to the Cyclades island chain.

Evidence shows that Santorini’s largest island, Thera, was inhabited by civilizations all the way back to the 13th century BC. In the Bronze Age, the Minoan civilization existed there with a thriving economy (unlike ours) thanks to intensive trade throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Their city on Thera, discovered beneath a thick layer of pumice, appears to have been a large and vibrant city.

Boxing boys from Thera. Civilization=sports

The whole island chain was formed by a series of volcanic events. In the late Bronze Age, however, a cataclysmic eruption (a Plinian eruption, to be exact) collapsed the central highland.

Before (probably something like this)


After this eruption, trade with these Minoans stopped. Solon (640-560 BC), a great sage a lawgiver from Athens, visited Egypt and was told by an Egyptian scholar about the overnight disappearance of a great island empire.

Solon’s account was written by Plato, who had received the story from a man named Critias, through his great grandfather who had received the story from Solon (and his uncle’s girlfriend’s dog’s mother…).

Quoting Critias, Plato wrote:

“Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent… But, there occurred violent earthquakes and floods, and in a single day and night of misfortune…the island of Atlantis…disappeared in the depths of the sea.”

Check out some of my personal favorite adaptations of the legend 😉 Cheers!


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