Whence came the story of Atlantis?

It has been suggested that a timeline of ancient authors who wrote about Atlantis would contribute to the material presented in this website. In compliance with the suggestion, I am including the following timeline. The sources (Plato is not the source) of the Atlantis story are sometimes hazy, but many in the list below are quite solid.

When perusing the list below it might be well to keep in mind that to Philo the island mentioned by Plato was called Atalantes. The "Atlanteans" mentioned by Herodotus and Diodorus were Atlantes to Herodotus, but Atlantoi to Diodorus only four hundred years later. Also we find that the Aletae of Sanchuniathon were Auritae to Manetho nine hundred years later.

It is foolish to expect all references to Atlantis and Atlanteans to be spelled to our liking. The Berbers of North Africa had place-names like Attala, while the Sanskrit writings tell us of an island in the Atlantic called Atala. It is my contention that these are merely different forms of the Greek "Atlantis".


470 A.D. Proclus Com. On Timaeus Preserves Crantor's account (now lost) of his trip to Sais, Egypt to see the temple records reported by Solon
370 A.D. Marcellinus Res Gestae On the disappearence of landmasses: "in the Atlantic sea, off the coast of Europe, a large island was swallowed up."
300 A.D. Arnobius Adversus Gentes Writes of the destruction of Atlantis as if it were an accepted fact of history.
100 A.D. Plutarch Orb of the Moon Claims that the Atlantic was shallow and unnavigable because of the subsidance of the island of Atlantis.
10 A.D. Philo Judaeus Incorruptibility The Island of Atalantes in Plato's Timaios was overwhelmed by floods and earthquakes and suddenly disappeared.
8 B.C. Diodorus Library of History Describes a race of "Atlanteans" living in Libya (North Africa), whose former deities originated in the Atlantic.
25 B.C. Strabo Geography Expressed the opinion that possibly Plato's story about the island of Atlantis was not a fiction.
c. 100 B.C. Marcellus Ethiopic History Canary Islanders preserved traditions of Atlantis, which they alleged had once governed all the islands in the Atlantic.
100 B.C. Aelian De Natura Animalium "Dwellers by the ocean" say the ancient kings of Atlantis traced their descent back to the god Poseidon.
250 B.C. Manetho Old Chronicle Lists the ten god-kings, (which he called the "Auritae") who, during the Reign of the Gods, ruled a "foreign country".
300 B.C. Crantor Com. on Timaeus Priests of Sais show Crantor the temple columns from which Solon derived his knowledge of the story of Atlantis.
320 B.C. Theopompus Meropis Priests of Phrygia tell him of a continent of great size in the far west inhabited by both peaceful and warlike people.
340 B.C. Bhavishya Purana Mentions Atala, the "White Island" across a sea of saltwater in the West, inhabited by Magas who worship Surya, the Sun.
350 B.C. Plato Timaeus/Critias Plato relates the now familiar story of Atlantis and its final destruction by earthquakes, floods and subsidance.
450 B.C. Herodotus Histories The ocean now called the Atlantic he calls "the Atlantis Sea". Also describes a tribe of "Atlanteans" living in North Africa.
460 B.C. Hellanicus Atlantis Hellanicus wrote a chronology entitled "Atlantis" (of which only fragments remain) mentioning Poseidon and Atlas.
590 B.C. Solon Atlantica (lost) Solon began his epic poem "Atlantica" based on the story of Atlantis he had gotten from the priests at Sais, Egypt.
600 B.C. Mahabharata Karna Parva Describes a ten-year war at the end of which the island of Atala and all its inhabitants sank into the "Western Ocean".
735 B.C. Hesiod Theogeny Tells us of the Titans who, after losing a ten-year war, were imprisoned beneath the waters of the Ocean in the far West.
800 B.C. Homer Iliad Refers to the imprisonment of the Titan Cronos at the "far end of the earth" beneath the "waters of the restless sea."
1190 B.C. Sanchuniathon Phoenician History Calls ancient god-kings of former times the "Aletean kings". Gives Phoenician legends of Thoth, Cronos, Atlas and Zeus.
1300 B.C. Turin Papyrus King-List Lists the ten god-kings whose reign over a foreign country ended 9850 B.C., followed by the reign of the demi-gods
c. 2000 B.C. Vishnu Purana Locates Atala, the White Island, in the "Western Ocean" at same latitude as Canary Islands in the Atlantic.
c. 2500 B.C. Palermo Stone Royal Canon Lists the last eight of the ten god-kings, including Cronos (Seb), Osiris, Set and possibly Thoth.
c. 4000 B.C. Egyptian Book of the Dead King Thoth ruled an Island in the West which was destroyed by water, and brought the surviving rulers eastward to Egypt

In the Americas we encounter place-names like Atlán (Isthmus of Panama), Aztlán (Aztec mythology), Atitlan (Guatemala), Mazatlan (Sinaloa), Azatlan (Lake Michigan), and Aztalan (Wisconsin). The Americas are rife with such names; and while we should not assert that each and every one refers to Atlantis, neither should we jump to the conclusion that none of them have any connection at all with Atlantis.

Scholars use these natural variations to claim that Plato invented Atlantis as a morality tale. Only recently I observed a Ph.D. assert that "Plato coined the name Atlantis," when he should have known better. Both Hellanicus and Herodotus used the name (the same identical form) a hundred years earlier than Plato. I wonder who coined the phrase, "Don't bother me with the facts; I've done made up my mind!"

Anyway, I suggest keeping these considerations in mind while perusing through the above references—I haven't chosen them lightly.

  • TOP of Page

  • Atlantek Software Inc., Version 1.3
    URL: http://www.atlantisquest.com
    Last update: 20 Apr 2007.