A bold and imaginative attempt to understand the destruction of the legendary city of Atlantis, the creation of Mesoamerican civilization, and the end of the last Ice Age.
Collins (Gods of Eden, not reviewed) discusses the truth behind the Atlantis myth, first described in Plato’s Timaeus and Critias. The author disputes the standard view that Plato created the tale of Atlantis as a parable on divine wrath for decadent civilizations and argues instead that the philosopher was transcribing an essentially factual account. Collins believes that Atlantis did, in fact, exist, that its remnants can be found in the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas, and that it had trading ties as far away as Egypt (where indigenous American goods such as cocaine and tobacco have been found in ancient mummies). He speculates that Atlantis was destroyed by a comet that struck the island and set off a chain reaction of floods and earthquakes, and that this event not only became the source of the flood myths so prevalent in ancient cultures, but also caused the last Ice Age to come to an end. Refugees from Atlantis traveled throughout the Americas, serving as a ruling elite wherever they went until they were eventually assimilated into the local cultures. Legends of the destructive cataclysm and the lost empire traveled back to the Old World via a triangular trade between the Phoenicians (and later the Carthaginians), the Olmec of Mexico, and the Chavin of Peru. The author considers many similar creation myths from Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and makes a concerted effort to tie up their loose ends—with varying degrees of success.
Woefully lacking in evidence and full of allusion, inference, and supposition, Collins’s study will satisfy only the most devoted Atlantophiles. (16 pp. b&w photos)