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Atlantis (ətlăntĭs, ăt–), in Greek legend, large island in the western sea (the Atlantic Ocean). Plato, in his dialogues the Timaeus and the Critias, tells of the high civilization that flourished there before the island was destroyed by an earthquake. The legend persists, and societies for the discovery of Atlantis remain active. Plato described Atlantis as an ideal state, and the name is considered synonymous with Utopia. Francis Bacon called his account of the ideal state The New Atlantis.


See Z. Kukan, Atlantis in the Light of Modern Research (1984); C. Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991); E. Zangger, The Flood from Heaven (1992).

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The following article is from Conspiracies and Secret Societies. It is a summary of a conspiracy theory, not a statement of fact.
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A 1933 map depicts the location of Atlantis during the time of the Ice Age, when the water levels of the oceans were much lower.


Atlantis was a great lost civilization that possessed a technology superior to our own and a Golden Age that has inspired dozens of secret societies and thousands of dreamers, poets, mystics, and maverick archaeologists.

In 1882 Ignatius Donnelly (1832–1901) published Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, arguing that all civilization is an inheritance from Atlantis. Listing numerous parallels between ancient cultures spaced far away from each other, Donnelly argued that the traits they held in common resulted from contact with Atlanteans, members of the ancient civilization who escaped destruction during its catastrophic final days and managed to impart their knowledge to other peoples of the world, helping civilize primitive societies, passing on the secret of written language, and supervising construction of some of the world’s grandest and most mysterious structures. The pyramids of Egypt and the Americas, the Sphinx in Egypt, and the megaliths of western Europe are among the structures attributed to the genius of the Atlanteans.

In the years since Donnelly published his controversial book, believers have credited the Atlanteans with having had the technology to generate electricity, build flying machines, and harness nuclear power for energy and warfare—all more than nine thousand years before such things came into being in modern society. Some claim that the Atlanteans were knowledgeable about a formidable death ray, secrets for levitation, and pure forms of energy through crystals. Many Atlantis enthusiasts firmly believe that the inhabitants of the lost continent had cosmic connections with extraterrestrials and may actually have been a colony established on Earth by alien explorers.

In the late 1960s undersea divers researching the region near Bimini Island in the Bahamas discovered what appeared to be roadways, walls, and buildings under the water in the exact location prophesied by Edgar Cayce (1877–1945), a widely admired psychic whose “life readings” for clients revealed that many of their present-life psychological traumas resulted from terrible incidents that the individuals had experienced in past lives. Many of their problems, according to Cayce, were due to the sufferings they had experienced as people who lived in Atlantis.

Cayce helped to popularize a modernized view of Atlantis as a superior civilization that had developed airplanes, submarines, X rays, antigravity devices, crystals that harness energy from the sun, and powerful explosives. He theorized that a terrible explosion in 50,000 B.C.E. split Atlantis into five islands; another rupture occurred in 28,000 B.C.E. and a third around 10,000 B.C.E. Cayce claimed that he himself had been an Atlantean priest around 10,500 B.C.E., had foreseen the coming destruction, and had sent some of his followers to Egypt, where they directed the building of the Sphinx and the Pyramids.

In 1940 Cayce predicted that remnants of Atlantis would rise again near the Bahamas in the late 1960s. In 1967 two pilots photographed a rectangular structure in the ocean off the coast of Andros, the largest island of the Bahamas. Another configuration of stone, in the shape of a “J,” was found by divers off the island of Bimini. The J-shaped formation was believed to be a road of stone. Extensive diving expeditions became common in the area, and some divers claimed to have seen remnants of temples, pillars, and pyramids.

Atlantean enthusiasts insist that there is an organized cover-up on the part of the political, religious, and scientific establishments to keep proofs of Atlantis from the general population. If the existence of the ancient advanced civilization were officially acknowledged, they assert, the current hypotheses concerning the history and development of humankind would have to be completely revised. Acceptance of a prehistoric supercivilization would make the current understanding of history obsolete. To find irrefutable evidence of a great worldwide culture that thrived while the rest of humankind was struggling to exist on a primitive level would demolish conventional knowledge of the progress of civilization.

Atlantis was first described in the works of the Greek philosopher Plato (427–347 B.C.E.), who depicted it as a world of perfect order, a model society. In two of his dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, he provides a description of the island continent and how Atlanteans conquered all the known world except for Athens. Critias, named after the primary speaker in the dialogue, Plato’s great-grandfather, presents a history of Atlantean civilization and describes the ideal society that flourished there. Critias notes that the stories were originally passed on by an ancestor, Solon (615–535 B.C.E.), a politician and poet who traveled widely.

Solon was informed by Egyptian priests in the city of Sais, located in the Nile Delta, that there was once a land even older in history than Egypt, which the Greeks acknowledged as being centuries older than their own society. The priests described a large island continent called Atlantis that had prospered some eight thousand years earlier and was located beyond the Pillars of Hercules, the Greek term for the rocks that form the Strait of Gibraltar, the westernmost point of the Mediterranean Sea. Beyond the strait is the Atlantic Ocean. The primary city, also called Atlantis, was located in the center of a series of concentric rings that alternated between strips of water and land. The water rings served as canals for trade and helped form a series of natural defenses that made an invasion of Atlantis extremely difficult.

Although Atlantis had a powerful army of professional soldiers, the culture promoted learning, through which advances in engineering and science made the land bountiful, beautiful, and powerful. In addition to magnificent architectural structures, a network of bridges and tunnels linked the rings of land, and clever uses of natural resources provided security and abundance. Many groves provided solitude and beauty, racetracks were used for athletic competitions, and irrigation systems ensured great harvests.

In Plato’s account, the people of Atlantis eventually became corrupt and greedy, putting selfish pursuits above the greater good. They began invading other lands with the idea of world domination. Angered by these developments, the sea god Poseidon set about destroying the civilization, battering the continent with earthquakes and floods until Atlantis was swallowed up by the ocean.

The common description of the destruction of Atlantis has been linked by some to other cataclysmic events—stories of a great deluge in the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh and flood myths in other societies. Some contend that the end of the Ice Age between 12,000 and 10,000 B.C.E. likely resulted in rises of water levels in various parts of the world and that earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and climate changes, either incidental or associated with the Ice Age, occurred during the time identified with the destruction of Atlantis.

Enthusiasts of the lost continent were tantalized in December 2001 when explorers using a miniature submarine to probe the sea floor off the coast of Cuba announced their discovery of stone structures deep beneath the ocean surface that were suggestive of ruins left by an unknown civilization thousands of years ago. Representatives of the Canadian-based Advanced Digital Communications, together with experts from the Cuban Academy of Sciences, said that the structures, at a depth of around 2,100 feet, were distributed as if remnants of an urban area. Estimates of the age of the ancient city under the sea were somewhere in the vicinity of 6,000 years, about 1,500 years earlier than the great Giza pyramids of Egypt. Whether this intriguing site proves to be Atlantis or evidence of a land bridge that once linked Cuba to mainland South America, it is certain to be controversial.

Conspiracies and Secret Societies, Second Edition © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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A detail of the mythical “Lost City” from a map belonging to Nicola Sanson, c. 1600. Reproduced by permission of Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Atlantis, asteroid 1,198 (the 1198th asteroid to be discovered, on September 7, 1931), is approximately 2.8 kilometers in diameter and has an orbital period of 3.4 years. Atlantis was named after a mythological continent, said by Plato to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean, that was destroyed by cataclysmic earthquakes. According to Martha Lang-Wescott, the location of Atlantis indicates where one experiences a sense of imminent doom, as well as a willingness to “pay for” real or imagined errors or unworthiness from the past. This asteroid’s key words are “expiation” and “ethics.” Jacob Schwartz adds “the use of karma to rationalize events” to the astrological significance of Atlantis.


Lang-Wescott, Martha. Asteroids-Mechanics: Ephemerides II. Conway, MA: Treehouse Mountain, 1990.
Lang-Wescott, Martha. Mechanics of the Future: Asteroids. Rev. ed. Conway, MA: Treehouse Mountain, 1991.
Schwartz, Jacob. Asteroid Name Encyclopedia. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1995.
The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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Painting representing the submerged, lost city of Atlantis. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Many believe that Atlantis once existed as a huge island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet research done by Dr. W. Maurice Ewing, oceanographer and professor of geology at Columbia University, seemed to show that the floor of the Atlantic has never been above water. Ewing made the statement after an expedition aboard the Devin Moran in 1953. He said, “The rocks under every part of the ocean are completely different from those under the continents … The continents are distinct entities and the ocean floor was never above water.” Despite this, a few years later Dr. Rene Malaise of the Riks Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, and his colleague Dr. P. W. Kolbe, presented evidence to prove the sinking of the Atlantic Ridge. A core sample taken from a depth of 12,000 feet showed evidence—in the form of the tiny shells of diatoms; miniscule marine animals—that what was now the ocean floor had once been a fresh water lake above sea level. Certainly the Atlantic seabed is notoriously unstable. There are many recorded instances of islands appearing (e.g. Surt sey, just west of Iceland, in 1963) and disappearing (e.g. Sambrina, in the Azores, in 1811).

The debate continued and still continues. In 1963, Professor Georgly Lindberg of the former Soviet Union’s Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences, issued the statement, “The hypothesis that there is a North Atlantic continent presently submerged beneath 4,500 to 5,000 meters of water is confirmed by new findings.”

The classic work on Atlantis, Atlantis, the Antediluvian World, was published in 1882 by Ignatius Donnelly, a former Lieutenant-Governor of Minnesota, and revised and edited by Egerton Sykes in 1949. In this work, Atlantis is presented as having been a huge island continent where humanity rapidly developed from primitive life to sophisticated civilization. It was, in fact, the cradle of civilization as we know it today. The theory is that Atlantis was destroyed in three cataclysms, with the final one occurring about 10,000 BCE. Many Atlanteans escaped the destruction by fleeing in boats to the surrounding lands. It is said that this explains the many similarities found today in places geographically distant from one another: for example, the pyramids of Egypt and South America, with both peoples practicing mummification. Donnelly makes the point that the same folk traditions, arts, religious beliefs, sciences, personal habits and social customs can be found in cultures on both sides of the Atlantic.

About 600 BCE, an Athenian named Solon visited Egypt and spent a lot of time discussing the history of the region with priests and philosophers. The wise men claimed that there had once existed a great kingdom to the west of Egypt, beyond the Pillars of Hercules. They said it was “a land larger than Asia Minor and the whole of Libya—in other words, larger than the continent of Africa and the Middle East combined. Solon started to put all this information into verse form on his return to Athens, but died before completing it. Two hundred years later, Plato put Solon’s verse into narrative form. Two of these dialogues, Critias and Timæus, speak of a land that was far advanced as a civilization but which was destroyed by the forces of nature. Plato’s work sparked a great interest in this long-lost continent; an interest that still exists and even burgeons. Lewis Spence founded and for several years edited The Atlantis Quarterly, reporting on archaeological findings, occult studies, evidence, and folklore.

Plato identified the destruction of Atlantis as “the great deluge of all.” It certainly seems to explain many of the flood legends—for example, the Bible‘s Noah and his ark (Genesis 6-8), the earlier Chaldeo-Babylonian Gilgamish epic, the Arameans, various ancient Egyptian tales, the Satapatha Brahmana version in the Rig-Veda, and so on.

Evidence of the existence of this lost continent has been discovered in many places. None seems conclusive but, taken together, there seems a strong argument for the truth of the legend. German archaeologist Jurgen Spanuth found what he described as a “walled city” under 50 feet of water five miles off Heligoland in 1954. Gaston Jondet, an engineer, discovered a complete harbor, approximately 250 acres in size, off the mouth of the Nile River, during World War I. The French bathyscaphe Archimède reported seeing what seemed to be a flight of steps carved in the continental shelf off Puerto Rico. In 1968 a commercial pilot spotted from the air what appeared to be several underwater buildings near the Bahamas. This led to the discovery of the “Bimini Road,” some three quarters of a mile long and composed of huge stone blocks fitted together. In 1975, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) sponsored the Poseidia 75 expedition to investigate this find. The ARE had a special interest in it because they are dedicated to the study of Edgar Cayce’s teachings. Cayce mentioned Atlantis in a large number of his readings given between 1923 and 1944. He predicted that Atlantis would “rise again” in 1969.

Cayce was not the only psychic to connect with Atlantis. Judy Knight (Judith Darlene Hampton) claims that the entity she channels, “Ramtha,” lived thirty-five thousand years ago on the lost continent of Lemuria, a sort of Pacific Ocean equivalent to Atlantis. The well known and respected author Dion Fortune (Violet Mary Firth) believed that she had—and through regression exhibited memories of—a past life in Atlantis, where she was a priestess. Certain of the Theosophical information taken from the Akashic Records give details of Atlantis. Helena Blavatsky claimed that The Book of Dyzan was an Atlantean work that had somehow survived the destruction and found its way to Tibet. Philosopher Rudolf Steiner agreed with Blavatsky in believing that the Atlanteans were descendants of the earlier Lemurians. The journalist and automatist Ruth Montgomery has produced information about Atlantis through her automatic writing.


Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna: The Secret Doctrine. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1888
Cayce, Edgar: Edgar Cayce on Atlantis. New York: Paperback Library, 1968
Donnelly, Ignatius: Atlantis, the Antediluvian World. New York: Gramercy, 1949
Earll, Tony: Mu Revealed. New York: Paperback Library, 1970
Scott-Elliot, W.: The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria. London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1968
Steiger, Brad: Atlantis Rising. New York: Dell, 1973
Stemman, Roy: The Supernatural: Atlantis and the Lost Lands. London: Aldus, 1975
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) An expeditionary ship with sail and motor propulsion, belonging to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA). The Atlantis was built in 1932 in Norway. Its displacement is 575 tons, and its length is 48 m. It has two laboratories for physical, chemical, and biological research. The principal region of its operation is the North Atlantic and its adjacent seas.

(2) Atlantis-II, a scientific research ship belonging to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA). The Atlantis-II was built in 1962. It has a displacement of 2,110 tons, a length of 64 m, a beam of 13.4 m, and a speed of 13 knots (approximately 25 km per hour). It can sail without refueling for 8,000 miles (14,816 km). It has four scientific laboratories and is equipped for meteorological, oceanographic, geological, geophysical, and biological research. Since 1962, Atlantis-II has been used to conduct expeditions in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, as well as in the Mediterranean and Red seas. Between 1964 and 1968, Atlantis-II completed a trip around the world.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


submerged legendary island kingdom; never located. [Classical Folklore: Walsh Classical, 37]


legendary island; inspired many Utopian myths. [Western Folklore: Misc.]
See: Utopia


fabulous and prosperous island; legendarily in Atlantic Ocean. [Gk. Myth.: Leach, 89]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(in ancient legend) a continent said to have sunk beneath the Atlantic Ocean west of the Straits of Gibraltar
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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