In 1967, ""the most important archaeological event since the discovery of Pompeii"" occurred on the island of Santorini, or...

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ATLANTIS: The Biography of a Legend

In 1967, ""the most important archaeological event since the discovery of Pompeii"" occurred on the island of Santorini, or Thera, 60 miles north of Crete. The destruction of Cretan civilization is now attributed to volcanic action on Thera, where fabulous and extensive relics of Minoan civilization have been uncovered. According to Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, who heads the project at Thera, this island, together with Crete, could be the legendary Atlantis which Plato described according to tales of the Egyptians. But, says Marinatos, described by Braymer as the ""unrelenting foe"" of ""the romantic Atlantis,"" the Atlantis question is secondary and separate from the real importance of the find. Braymer applauds his statement, but most of her book plays up the romantic legend, sometimes only to knock it down. ""Who were these Indians?"" she asks repeatedly in italics, describing the Mayan civilization found by the Spanish, then describes at some length the work of the Spanish Bishop Landa and its later interpretation by Charles Brasseur, who maintained that the Mayans were Atlantean refugees. Next come: Ignatius Donnelly, who linked the end of Atlantis to the flood myths common to ""all nations and all literature""; the fake announcement by a fake grandson of Heinrich Schliemann (only at the end of the chapter do we learn that Paul Schliemann is not his real grandson); later scholarship discrediting the Mayan connection; and more support for the Crete-Thera connection--including some calculations that would fit Plato's distances and times if all Plato's figures were divided by ten! The rest is a straightforward if dazzled description of the findings on Thera. For those who feel the tug of Atlantis, ""the most mysterious and charming of any lost land imaginable,"" this will probably satisfy the romantic side while keeping one foot on dry factual land. The handsome book design and classy Greek cover can appeal to both orientations.

Pub Date: April 21, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983