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John Michell Mysteries


ARCHIVE for Thursday 20th December 2001 - The lost world of Atlantis

There was once a huge island-continent called Atlantis. Its capital, Atlantis city, was a centre of world trade. It lay in the Atlantic, outside the Straits of Gibraltar. Travellers from the Mediterranean crossed it on their way to America.

Suddenly there was a great natural disaster. Atlantis was broken up by storms and earthquakes, and the whole island sank beneath the waves. This story was written down by Plato in about 350 BC. It was an old story even in his time. It came, he said, from the temple records of ancient Egypt. Atlantis was a rich and mighty power. It invaded the countries around it, and its armies advanced as far as Greece. There they were defeated by the brave Athenians. The Atlantean empire fell - and then came the catastrophe.

It may have been a falling comet that destroyed Atlantis and devastated a great part of the world. But Plato gave no details. He just said that Zeus, the chief god, was behind it. And he made the story into a moral tale, saying that the fall of Atlantis was because its citizens had become wealthy and decadent.

It was not till modern times that people began looking for Atlantis. One of the first was our prime minister, William Gladstone. In 1882 he read a book called Atlantis, The Antediluvian World. Its author was a radical American politician, Ignatius Donnelly. No one since Plato had written seriously about Atlantis, and the book caused a sensation.

Gladstone ordered the Royal Navy to explore the Atlantic. The islands of Azores looked to him like peaks of the drowned continent. Unfortunately, the Treasury refused to allow him funds for the expedition.

Since then, discoveries of Atlantis have been claimed all over the world. Thousands of books have been written in dozens of languages. Thousands of ancient ruins have been identified as Plato’s lost city.

Many of the books on Atlantis are fantastical. Some say that the Atlanteans were the original people. They were giants before they grew decadent. They developed a technology, fuelled by the earth's living energies. But they went too far into black magic, and the system destroyed them.

I have no doubt that Plato’s story was old and genuine. But he was a teacher, and he adapted it to his own purpose. He made it into a good lesson - that pride goes before a fall. His Atlanteans were smitten, with a comet perhaps, because the gods thought they were asking for it.

England's Atlantis
There are lost lands all round the British coastline. Most famous is Lyonesse off Comwall. It stretched 50 miles from Lizard Point to the Scilly Isles. Fossilised trees and other relics have been dredged up from the sea bed. St Michael's Mount, now an island, was its trading centre in Roman times.

John Michell

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John Michell is a prolific author. Below are just two of John's books which might interest you. We have arranged with our friends at The Daily Mirror for website visitors to order books mentioned on this site.

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Unexplained Phenomena, A Rough Guide Special
(co-author Bob Rickard, rrp £12.99) at the special Mirror Direct price of £9.99 + p&p.
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
(Thames & Hudson, rrp £8.95) for the Mirror Direct special price of £6.95 + p&p.
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