Finding Atlantis

  • Share
  • Read Later

I see Atlantis is back in the news, as it ever will be, from time to time. Atlantis is bound to pop up again on irregular occasions in one place or the other. Cuba, this time. I had figured that all the current news out of Cuba would be sussed from Fidel via Barbara Walters, or would have come from the Bay of Pigs conference with all of those Best and brightest attendees. But no. Atlantis, again, grabbing the spotlight and our collective imagination.

This time, the theorists say they weren't even looking for the Lost Continent. They were bounty hunting for sunken galleons and such (they say they've found one of those, too, and it's going to make them rich). Then when they peered at this sonar photography being sent up from the extreme deep — lo, there were massive stones in geometric patterns and . . . yes!. . .the outline of a city and . . . with an entire community surrounding, all on a vast undersea plain off the west coast of Cuba. I've read a few accounts of the find, now, and have been intrigued by two things. First, the team that did the finding is being very careful not to use what The Washington Post reporter cutely called "the A word." So the finders aren't fanatics, it seems, even if they've got the rest of us in a lather. And second: The esteemed and very serious minded American explorer and scientist Sylvia Earl has said that she has perused the evidence and finds it intriguing. In fact, she says, she hopes to go to Cuba next year, make one of her deep dives, and see what's up.

I'm betting she doesn't find Atlantis. But, then, I've got a stake in her coming up empty. I looked into this whole bygone civilization business a few years ago when doing researches for what became, in 1999, a Simon & Schuster book titled Atlantis Rising: The True Story of a Submerged Land, Yesterday and Today. I talked to scientists from the recently deceased paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould to the great naturalist Bil Gilbert. I investigated the old hoo-hah espoused by such as Ignatius Donnelly, Jules V erne and Arthur Conan Doyle, and looked into the sounder theories of bygone thinkers such as Rachel Carson and J.V. Luce. I developed a Deep Throat source at the venerable Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and, frankly, I myself got in a bit too deep.

At the end of the day, I was a Santorini man — Santorini, the once vibrant island community in the Aegean north of Crete, where many centuries ago a mammoth volcano did, without question, destroy an advance civilization. That's certainly what Plato had in mind when he lectured on Atlantis. Or, at least, that's what I came to conclude.

So I can't buy into this Cuba stuff. I can't and I won't.

But I'm happy to see Atlantis back in the news, and not just because one or two more fans of mythology might spend a farthing at Amazon for every Atlantis book still in print. I enjoy talking and thinking about the Place — what it might have been like, what it was like.

Back when my book came out, I scribbled a bit in this electronic space about it. My friends here at thought it might be interesting to resurrect that piece. Here it is: a small bit from the contrarian side to the latest hot theory.

And, oh yes, as they say: Atlantis Quondam Insula Et Futura.

Read the Story