Jürgen Spanuth’s Atlantis of the North

One of the things about browsing through independent bookstores which you can never capture by shopping on the internet is the thrill of stumbling across something completely unexpected, which is what happened when I found a copy of Jürgen Spanuth’s Atlantis of the North, tucked away in the aisles of Scarthin Books. The origin and location of Atlantis has been the subject of intense academic debate for many years, and Spanuth presents a controversial thesis outlining a new theory on the history of this semi-mythical place which shook the archaeological and historical community to its core on its publication in 1976 (or at the very least, rattled a few cages).

Atlantis of the North takes the “Atlantis Narrative” discussed in Plato’s Timaeus as derived from Solon over 2000 years ago as the basis for its investigation, tying it to, amongst other things, archaeological discoveries of the “amber-rich islands” of Heligoland and Jutland, Egyptian King Rameses III’s description of warriors from the North and Homer’s epic The Odyssey. His conclusions differ radically from popular opinions, which almost overwhelmingly place Atlantis in the Meditteranean.

Every bit as interesting as Spanuth’s treatment of the evidence pointing to the location of Atlantis is the chronology around its existence: he argues that its destruction came much more recently than is generally accepted, citing around 1200BC as opposed to the generally held view that Atlantis was  destroyed around 9000 years ago. This is based on the evidence for a great catastrophe around that time, in which huge volcanic eruptions and earthquakes devastated much of the world, and may well have been precipitated by the earth passing through the tail of Halley’s Comet.

It’s fascinating stuff, and even though a layman such as myself can’t help but be somewhat overwhelmed by all the theories and speculation out there (a quick look at the Wikipedia page, Location hypotheses of Atlantis, is enough to give you a good impression of the lengthy reading list in store for anyone who really wants to get stuck into this), it’s still entertaining to “join the fray” with the other amateur theorists. After all, no matter how vague the evidence and hazy our understanding of ancient history has become through the fog of time, contemplating the origins of mankind never grows dull.

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