Richat Anomaly: Atlantis?
“Through every rift of discovery some seeming anomaly drops out of the darkness, as a golden link into the great chain of order”. (Edwin Hubbel Chapin)
“The past is not yet settled”. (Graham Hancock)
For thousands of years now, the mystery of the legendary lost city of Atlantis has captured imaginations and inspired many world-wide searches for sunken remants of a once great civilization. Skeptics would do well to remember that the search for Homer’s fabled city of Troy was actually found by 19th century archeologists in northwestern Anatolia, in modern- day Turkey, at a site known as Hisarlik.
It seems logical that the search for a highly sophisticated society that chartered the globe from their capital city on the Island of Atlantis, would be found underwater. Until recently, no one thought to look for traces of Atlantis in the desert. This began to change after 1965 when astronauts flying over West Africa’s Sahara Desert in their Gemini IV mission, photgraphed a mysterious circular geologic anomaly in a remote, rarely visited area of west central Mauritania.
Viewed from from space, this Richat Structure appears as a circular feature with a blue tinged bullseye formation also known as the “Blue Eye of Africa” or “Giant Eye of the Sahara”, within an otherwise featureless expanse of desert. Intially thought to be the site of an asteroid impact, it is now considered by some to be a severely eroded, collapsed salt dome, formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. More interesting, to me at least, is that researchers seeking evidence of the fabled Atlantis have found a remarkable similarity between the Richat analomy and Plato’s description of the lost city.
For some, the story of Atlantis and its cataclysmic fate comes to us from the Greek philosopher Plato (b.428 BC), as a mere allegory and cautionary tale of political corruption. Atlantis had ceased to wear its prosperity with moderation and undertook a failed pursuit of wealth and power as a cruel and avaricious culture obsessed by a desire to conquer and consume. Nevertheless, Plato repeatedly stated that this was a true story and therefore others remain convinced that this highly advanced, global civilization actually existed and that its location will eventually be found. In two of his Socratic dialogues, Critias and Timmaeus, Plato writes the story of Atlantis as recounted by his ancestor Solon (c.638-558 BC), an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet, thought to have laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. In his later years, Solon journeyed to Egypt in 600 BC to find out more about the history of civilization and culture. In those times, the Nile kingdoms had the largest historical documents available. According to those records and the priests at the Temple of Sais, located in the Delta, Egypt had once been a colony of the seafaring Atlantean civilization. Material from these hieroglyphic records, written on the temple walls, was published six generations later by his descendant. (A. Andrews, Greek Society,1967, p.197)
According to Plato, the Atlantean Empire was comprised of 10 kingdoms and its Island capital city, and was arranged in concentric, alternating rings of land and water; two of land and three of water, encircling one another; and a channel opening toward the south that led toward the sea. The size and dimensions of this description are remarkablely similar to the Richat formation. The diameter of the city’s outer ring measured 127 stadia, in today’s terms 23.49 km and the diameter of the outer circle of the Richat formation measures 23.50 km. There was said to be a spring of fresh water in the city’s center and a spring has also been located at the center of the Richat rings. The anomaly is also located southwest of the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar) mentioned in Plato’s description, below the Atlas mountain range in a vast central oblong shaped plane to the south.
While the Ricart formation is inland, it is also possible, even likely, that this portion of the Sahara might have laid under the ocean, since much of this desert is comprised of sand from the Atlantic. Plato also wrote that, “in a single day and night of misfortune, Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea”. After the catastophe, Atlantis was no longer accessible by ship.
When sunk by a cataclysm, there also came an impossible barrier of mud; suggesting that the city became landlocked. (visiting atlantis.com)
In reference to this catastrophe, in Timaeus, Plato reports that an Egyptian priest from whom he had received the story, spoke of a celestial cataclysm. This priest continued to offer that there have been, and will be, many calamities which can destroy mankind; the greatest of them by fire and water, as there is at long intervals, variations in heavenly bodies, with consequent widespread destruction, which some have suggested may refer to a comet or asteroid impact. Plato’s texts place the destruction of Atlantis in 11,600 B.C.which coincides with the Younger Dryas theory that suggests that fragments from a giant comet is said to have hit the Earth around that time, which caused an Ice Age and other climatic upheavals, resulting in earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis of epic proportions. In regard to that date, it is also interesting to note that a huge collection of artifacts have been found in and around the Richat structure dating to about 12,000 B.C.; along with remains of elephants which Plato said were numerous in Atlantis. (Graham Hancock, Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilizations).
As a historian, it does not seem all that farfetched to speculate that Atlantis was as real as Homer’s city of Troy, nor does it make sense to assume that we have a total and complete knowledge of every human civilization that has existed on our planet; or that such information is no longer relevant to our current situation. Even if Atlantis is nothing more than a cautionary tale of moral decay and political corruption, Plato’s description of that antediluvian empire could well apply to 21st century America. As new discoveries continue to appear, such as the re-dating of the Great Sphinx of Giza, the uncovering of Gobekli Tepe, which dates circa 10,000-14000 BC and even earlier, some 7,000 or more years earlier than Stonehenge; the “past” keeps changing here in the present and will continue to do so well into our future.
With these oncoming revelations, as psychonaut Terence McKenna foresaw, “history then becomes a white knuckle ride”.