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'Lost Continent' of Atlantis Stirs Debate; Scholars Gather to Debate Merits of Sardinia Theory

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ROME, Italy -- Top scholars have gathered in Rome this week to discuss the exciting and controversial idea that Sardinia is the lost island of Atlantis.

The theory, developed in a book by the Italian journalist Sergio Frau, has drawn international acclaim but also fuelled heated criticism.

Despite selling 30,000 copies in Italy, a detailed 20-point appeal by 250 academics has dismissed the book, claiming it sensationalizes Sardinian history.

But the theory received a major boost last year, when the United Nations cultural heritage body UNESCO organized a symposium on the issue in Paris, suggesting the idea was worth serious consideration. Academics, archaeologists, geologists and historians from across Italy are now meeting in Rome's Accademia dei Lincei to look at the theory in closer depth and discuss possible paths of future research.

The meeting has also been timed to coincide with the opening of an exhibition on Frau's ideas, originally shown in Paris last year. "Atlantika" uses Frau's book, "The Pillars of Hercules", as a springboard for exploring theories and ideas on the legendary island and its whereabouts. Neither the location nor the existence of Atlantis have ever been confirmed.

The first documented mention of the island dates back to ancient Greek philosopher Plato - circa 427-347 BC - who said it was destroyed by a natural disaster, possibly a tsunami.

Traditional theories have placed it somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean because Plato said it was beyond the Pillars of Hercules which, according to another ancient writer, Erathosthenes, were at the Strait of Gibraltar.

But Frau believes Erathosthenes, a librarian and geographer who lived in Alexandria in the third and second centuries BC, got it wrong and that the Pillars of Hercules were actually on Sicily.

Frau had his brainstorm after seeing a print of two maps of the Mediterranean as it was in the Bronze Age.

One showed Tunisia and Sicily almost touching; the other, of the Straits of Gibraltar, was remarkably similar.

Frau thinks Erathosthenes moved the pillars because in the 120 years between Plato's era and his, the Greek world changed dramatically, and the strait between Sicily and Africa was no longer at the outer reaches of the Empire.

Furthermore, geological shifts and rising sea levels widened the distance between Tunisia and Sicily, contributing to Erathosthenes' mistake and reinforcing it over time.

If the Pillars of Hercules really were in Sicily, Sardinia would be the obvious location for Atlantis.

Frau's research has revealed that the Nuragic civilisation - named after the Nuraghes (stone towers) that were built on the island - flourished on Shardana (Sardinia) between 1400-1200 BC.

A catastrophic event, possibly a tsunami, is thought to have wiped the Nuragic people off Sardinia during the Bronze Age, around 1178-1175 BC.

Although Plato dated Atlantis to 9,000 years before his time, many historians think he meant 900 years, basing their judgments on his descriptions of the writing and bronze to be found on the island.

Furthermore, if the Pillars of Hercules were moved to the Straits of Sicily, Frau argues that many classical writings become more accurate in geographical terms.

For example, Herodotus writes of Corsica and the ancient city of Tartessos in one story as if they were near one another. If Tartessos were beyond the Pillars of Hercules in Gibraltar, the journey from there to Corsica would take more than a month by boat.

Another writer, Dicearcus, says that the end of the Adriatic is further from Greece than the Pillars of Hercules. "Malta and Gozo square up with this description, but not Gibraltar," Frau said.

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Reader Comments

14 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

This theory has been greatly debated in the forum at recently. According to Plato, Atlantis faced Spain. Gades = Cadiz = Spain. Sardinia could be the long lost location of Atlantis.
   comment# 1   - Marie · Surrey, Canada · Oct 15, 2006 @ 1:36am

There is another theory close to this one, which claims that Sicily is the place the pillars.
   comment# 2   - Samantha · NY · Oct 16, 2006 @ 9:12am

Fanno bene, tutti, a definire il Grande Genio "l'ispirato Frau". Fanno bene perché in effetti Frau si è "ispirato" ad uno scritto preesistente. Aveva avuto (così ho letto in Rete) l'idea della Sardegna=Atlantide da un tale Paolo Valente Pòddighe. Quindi s'era pure ispirato agli scritti del prof. Massimo Pittau, che io stesso ho contattato per telefono. Ma... gli mancava il tassello più importante, sennò col cavolo che riusciva a risistemare la Sardegna al di là delle Colonne d'Ercole. Ed ecco il miracolo. Costantino vede la Croce. In hoc signo vinces! E Frau legge di un tale Rosario Vieni che il 15 aprile 2001 comunica (su La Nazione) di avere individuato nel Canale di Sicilia il sito delle Colonne d'Ercole; non per rara illuminazione, ma in seguito a studi severi ed attenti. Lo stesso Frau scriverà a Vieni dicendo "la tua splendida intuizione". Insomma, adesso sì che la Sardegna poteva essere collocata oltre le Colonne d'Ercole. Detto fatto! Gli amici giusti, i potenti altrettanto giusti ed organici ovviamente, ed il gioco è fatto. Per "distrazione" (termine giuridico quanto mai esatto!) dimentica però di citare l'autore del saggio, saggio che appare in Rete e poi a stampa PRIMA che Frau pubblichi il suo libro-mattone. Saggio che è stato letto da personaggi importantissimi che, al solo nominarli, a Frau tremerebbero "le vene e i polsi". D'altra parte, il poverino, lo capisco: se avesse citato la fonte, come faceva a proporsi come UGGG, l'Unico Grande Giornalista Genio dei tempi nostri? Comunque io, Rosario Vieni, ringrazio Frau: STA FACENDO ALLA MIA TEORIA UNA PUBBLICITA' COME MAI AVREI IMMAGINATO. Salutissimi rosario vieni p.s. E' una notizia piccantina, non Vi pare?
   comment# 3   - rosario vieni · pistoia,italy · Nov 1, 2006 @ 12:42pm

I am grateful that Mr. Frau has gained attention to this theory worldwide. However, I must point out that the basis of his theory was written by myself long before his book was published. Check out my website at This web site was online for at least 2 years before Sergio Frau published his book.
   comment# 4   - Robert Ishoy · North Las Vegas, NV USA · Mar 4, 2007 @ 7:16am

Egr. prof. Rosario Vieni, il suo interessantissimo articolo "11500 anni fa", per sua stessa ammissione è pubblicato in internet a dicembre del 2001, mentre ne dava notizia il quotidiano La Nazione il 15 aprile 2001. Il 30 marzo 2002, il quotidiano la Repubblica, pubblica il primo articolo-anticipazione del libro di Sergio Frau "Le Colonne d'Ercole - Un'inchiesta". La prima edizione del libro è uscita subito dopo, se non ricordo male nel mese di maggio 2002. C'è qualcosa che non quadra nella Sua polemica. Praticamente Lei afferma che Frau ha copiato la sua idea, ma non ci spiega come avrebbe fatto lo stesso Frau a scrivere in tre mesi (se ci riferiamo al dicembre 2001, pubblicazione su Episteme) o in 11 mesi (se ci riferiamo all'articolo su La Nazione, aprile 2001) tutto quel malloppo di pagine puntigliosissime. Non le sembra che la cosa sarebbe credibile solo e soltanto immaginando che Frau abbia le capacità mnemoniche e operative del computer Hal9000 protagonista del famoso film Odissea Nello Spazio? Cordialmente
   comment# 5   - Remo · Nuoro, Italy · Apr 20, 2007 @ 11:09am

Very interesting theory. I am currently doing research on Atlantis, and now my research is messed up. I was leaning towards Antartica or off the coast of Spain. Now I have another theory to consider.
   comment# 6   - Ally · New York, New York · May 9, 2007 @ 7:42pm

the lost continent of atlantis was in Greece as is told by the 7 wonders of the ancient Greek world. See the list of the 7 places.
   comment# 7   - mack redditt · oakland,california usa · May 17, 2007 @ 4:45pm

antarctica is still a theory worth looking into
   comment# 8   - Illwill · louisville ky · Oct 2, 2007 @ 5:09am

ATLAS-NAME: Can't PHILOLOGY-scholars READ anymore ? ATLANTIS is a possesional Pronoun PLATO's original GEO-Name was ATHE-Land. in Egypt: Chittim/ Tenehu, assyrian HATI-Land, HINDI: HASTINA-Pura/ PHULASTYA= Elephant Land, PILLARS' are no STELLAE nor MOUNTAINS, etymologically PILLARS mean:ELEPHANTS from old Persian PHUL(=SEAwaterSpirit.) SYNONYM Names, for 'Atlantis' are: AD-Land in ADEN-, AYHODIYA/-HOD-RIYA,BARATH,BATINEA,HESPERIS/=Spain!HUD,HATI, HAD-RAMAUT, HYPERBORIA, HYPERIA, PALLENE,etc. A-LOCATION: Herodotus says'ATLAS-SEA' is the Mare ERYTRAEUM= GULF-of-ADEN, would he lie ?? EVANOR got Atlantis/Aden on the S-WEST-extremety of ASIA-MAJOR(= Hadramaut.) Asia-Minor & Lybia were in Plato's day in EAST-AFRICA TIME=-LINE , in 900 bc CECROPS became King over Pseudo-ATHENS, he ruled 50 years ( 900-855 bc.)A-DESTRUCTION, occurred in the 2nd year of: son EURYTHEUS thus in 853 bc: SEA-LEVEL-Rise: from 9.000-855 bc:100 M.,from 855-755 bc:50M. in 853 bc Salmanaser besieged Atlantis(= ras-Aden, which was named KAR-KAR then.)This King killed-off all 1.000 'Pillars'=White-Arabian-Elephants in Atlantis, because these Sea-Horses of POSEIDON caused the recurrent Earth-Quakes FUNCTION of ELEPHANTS in ATLANTIS was TSUNAMI- Guardians: Honorary name: El-of-PHANT= GOD-of-PONTOS( Pontos = original name oGulf-of-ADEN/ Mare-Erythraeum ATHE=name o Acropolis of ras-ADEN, ATHINI=new-Atlantis 1075=TITANOmachia/855=GIGANTOmachia HERACLES fought
   comment# 9   - BlueHue, is my desillusioned in mankind pseudonym · Polly-Tech.Univ.DELFT, Holland, city of painter VE · Oct 29, 2007 @ 1:33pm
- Editor: got that?

Se il caro Remo vorrà scrivermi al mio indirizzo e-mail, sarò lieto di spiegargli come ha fatto Frau in pochi mesi eccetera eccetera. Il mio indirizzo è: r.vieni at Saluti RV
   comment# 10   - Rosario Vieni · Pistoia · Nov 7, 2008 @ 2:16pm

I find the Sardinia Atlantis idea very plausible, demanding in depth further scrutiny. With Google Earth satellite software, I show organized, concentric circle habitations all across the FLOORS of the Mediterranean. The straits between Sardinia and Tunis are very narrow, show ancient canal type structures, show massive mud inundations, show concentric circle countries, with converging roads/canals. I discuss these issues in my internet article on Architecture Week's Fireside Forum, Ancient Underwater City-scapes, Visible with Google Earth? The URL lookup is What hasn't been mentioned are the nearby etymology naming similarities... Zalita, Galita, Italia, which I believe are part of the Ahh-tee prefixing structure of the Atlantis name. The name of Atlantis has many cousins, such as "A-u-t" the Egyptian name of Osiris and Set, "Ha-i-tee" Sun and Moon, "Ah-ten" Sun Disk, "Ah-tee-los" Light of Aten, Ah-tee-na Athena, and of course Atlas. All of these names dance around the possibility of associated with Atlantis. "Ahh-tee-land-God"
   comment# 11   - Ed Ziomek · Stamford, CT, USA · Mar 16, 2009 @ 2:00pm

It is better to classify the peopling of East Africa and Africa in general by considering what African have before the Integration with those from far east during early trade conduct rather than claiming that Africans had no history of there own while at the same time the had there own culture that they practiced.
   comment# 12   - kabogo michael · Iringa Tanzania · May 18, 2009 @ 10:25pm

Though Sardinia was part of the Atlantis confederation, it was not Atlantis. There is no evidence at all of any cataclysm hitting ancient Sardinia. Atlantis was an island off Portugal that exploded and sank in the 17th century BC. (See Roots of Cataclysm, Algora Publ.NY, 2009.)
   comment# 13   - Richard Welch · Everett WA USA · Dec 20, 2009 @ 3:45pm

Looks like this topic will be talked about for some time. The City of Atlantis was located in Sardinia, A look at google maps will show the southeast corner of the island had seperated and slid under the sea. The cause of the sepaeration could have been earthquate or water erosion due to depth of Mediterrean Channel. If you can imagine that chunk of land being raised and placed back it would easily provided the southern coast of Sardinia a circular harbour. Look how straight the southeast coast line is compared to the rest of the island. Nice even cut line, that piece of land could very easily slipped off within a day and nite. And, I believe there were survivors who went on to settle in Italy.
   comment# 14   - Anthony Rice · Columbus, Ohio · Feb 23, 2010 @ 7:23am
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