The real Atlantis? Lost cities and lost continents
The recent discovery of what might be a lost continent off the coast of Brazil has stoked imaginations and fascinated geologists.
Granite formations some 1,500 km (950 miles) southeast of Rio de Janeiro may be remnants from a continent that sank when Africa and South America separated and the Atlantic Ocean was formed some 100 million years ago.
According to geologists, as a result of tectonic movements, a land mass which was once above sea level could have sunk into the ocean during the separation of Pangaea, the name given to the giant landmass that existed at the end of the Paleozoic era and whose division formed the continents today known.
Among the questions being posed is if this “lost continent” could in fact be the Atlantis that Plato wrote about, though I don’t think any scientists are asking that one. Besides, most interpretations of the location of Atlantis are in the Mediterranean, around Crete, Cyprus or Santorini – not the southern Atlantic, which was just too far from the classical civilizations to have been written about by Plato or anyone else.
However, one classical Mediterranean city is being explored in its own watery grave. Thonis, aka Heracleion (not to be confused with the capital of Crete) mysteriously vanished 1,200 years ago into the Bay of Abu Qir off the coast of Egypt. Divers have found the remains of 64 ships, 700 anchors, gold coins and other relics. Massive statues of gods and inscriptions in both Ancient Greek and Egyptian have already been hoisted out of the water. The city was discovered when a French archaeologist was looking for 18th century naval battle wreckage and as a bonus hit upon the remnants of a legendary late classical Egyptian civilization.
For more on the story including pictures of Thonis-Heracleion, see this piece in the Telegraph.
Read more about the Brazilian Atlantis and other lost landmasses in National Geographic.