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A perilous tale about the lost city of Atlantis is revived.



The legend of Atlantis has endured for millennia, a remarkable longevity for a tale that was originally told 2,300 years ago. The story of the birth of a great, ancient civilization and its calamitous demise was first described by Plato, and since then, it has given rise to a wide variety of interpretations.


While all of its iterations have been fascinating and enjoyable, none have generated as much controversy as its most recent appearance in the Netflix series Ancient Apocalypse.


The show, which is hosted by author Graham Hancock, contends that the destruction of an advanced civilisation by floods brought on by a massive comet that crashed on Earth is what gave rise to the myth of Atlantis.


Hancock claims that after the catastrophe, survivors moved over the planet, which was previously populated by basic hunter-gatherers, carrying with them knowledge of science, agriculture, and grand structures. It is said that these folks, who are nearly godlike, owe us everything.


Hancock, who has been advocating these ideas in his books for decades, adds insult to injury by claiming that archaeologists have purposefully concealed this dire prediction of the spread of civilization. He also accuses mainstream academia of having a "extremely defensive, arrogant, and patronizing" attitude.


To the dismay of archaeologists who, for their part, have criticized Ancient Apocalypse on the grounds that it offers little evidence to support its lofty claims and for promoting conspiracy theories masquerading as science, these stark assertions have helped the series rise to the top of viewing lists on both sides of the Atlantic.


Hancock's fundamental argument was labeled as "flawed thinking" by Flint Dibble, an archaeologist at Cardiff University. As he asserts, archaeologists don't despise him. In an article published in The Conversation last week, Dibble claims, "It is just that we strongly believe he is mistaken.


The intriguing debate involves a variety of problems, the most fundamental of which is why the Atlantis myth has endured in popularity for such a long time in comparison to other ancient stories. What draws readers to the story's main attraction?


We only need to look at the writings of Tolkien, CS Lewis, HP Lovecraft, Conan Doyle, Brecht, and a host of science fiction authors to find the answers. All of these authors have found the myth to be an unstoppable source of inspiration.


These have included the Sahara, the Antarctic, and countless locations in between as potential locations for this vanished civilization.


Hancock is hardly the first person to claim that the collapse of a once-proud civilisation triggered the emergence of culture elsewhere. Ignatius Donnelly, a controversial US congressman and well-known author, published Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882. In it, he made the case that a highly developed culture had been wiped out by a flood 10,000 years ago and that its survivors had spread around the globe teaching the rest of humanity the secrets of farming and architecture. That sounds familiar.


Later came the Nazis. Many firmly believed that a white Nordic superior race—those with "the purest blood"—had originated in Atlantis. In order to find out where Atlanteans went when the flood devastated their home country, Himmler established an SS section called the Ahnenerbe, or Bureau of Ancestral Heritage, in 1935.


And this helps to explain why the legend of a long-lost civilisation is so helpful. It is a straightforward tale of ascent and descent that can be used to further a variety of objectives. Plato intended for his story to be an allegory. The gods destroyed Atlantis because they were enraged by the hubris shown by its inhabitants. In other words, try not to grow too large for your boots.


Hancock, who calls himself a journalist to avoid being referred to as a pseudo-scientist, raises the stakes of the story to a new level of controversy by claiming that those who survived such a flood were the ones who inspired the great works of other civilizations, from Egypt to Mexico to Turkey to Indonesia. As Dibble notes, these assertions support white nationalist ideologies. They deprive native people of their rich cultural legacy and instead credit foreigners or white people. In essence, the show promotes "race science" theories that have been disproved for a long time.


The collapse of the Greek island of Santorini and its influence on Crete are thought to be the likely location of the first Atlantis, and this theory places the blame on volcanic eruptions rather than errant comets, as Hancock contends.


Additionally, while Ancient Apocalypse claims that destruction took place 12,000 years ago, the majority of proponents of the alternative theory think it happened around 1630 BC when the island of Santorini erupted in one of the most destructive volcanic events in recorded human history.


The Minoan civilization, which then thrived on the island of Crete, would have been wiped out by the fourteen cubic miles of rock that were launched into the atmosphere, causing massive tsunamis and a hail of ash.


More than a thousand years later, in the time of Plato, this cataclysm was still remembered. Little did he know that his brief description of a long-lost civilization would have such a powerful – and frequently contentious – impact throughout time. He attributed it to a civilization he called Atlantis.

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