UNEARTHING ATLANTIS: An Archaeological Odyssey by Charles Pellegrino

UNEARTHING ATLANTIS: An Archaeological Odyssey

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From paleobiologist Pellegrino (Her Name, Titantic, 1987, etc.), a provocative account of the unearthing of what may prove to be the original model for Atlantis. Plato described Atlantis as an advanced civilization on a continent west of Gibraltar, drowned by angry gods when its citizens grew overly arrogant and proud. For the past 20 years, archaeologists on the Aegean island of Thera have been unearthing the remains of a strikingly beautiful 3,500-year-old Minoan city--perfectly preserved beneath a thick layer of volcanic rock--whose multistoried apartment complexes, indoor plumbing, and spectacular murals offer a window into a sea-faring, free, and cultured society that remarkably mirrors Plato's description. Pellegrino provides substantial evidence to show that the enormous volcanic explosion that ended the city's life nearly 4,000 years ago may also have caused the fall of the Minoan culture on Crete and elsewhere, the subsequent rise of the Greeks, and the plagues of Egypt and the exodus of Moses and his people as related in the Bible. Substantially more powerful than the Mount St. Helens eruption of 1980 and the PelÉe explosion of 1902 combined, Thera's volcanic awakening was sufficiently cataclysmic to leave ash deposits in California. All that remains of the island itself is an undersea crater, an arc of fragments, and the abandoned streets of a town remarkably like those of today. In sticking to archaeological and historical facts, Pellegrino successfully avoids the wide-eyed gullibility of earlier writers on Atlantis, while maintaining a sense of honest wonder at the notion that, had their civilizations not been destroyed, the Minoans may easily have colonized the asteroids by now. A useful cautionary tale for a culture that has manufactured its own apocalyptic powers--and a fascinating journey through space and time, replete with memorable images and stimulating ideas.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1990
Publisher: Random House