Ep15 – Show Notes – Plato, Euhemerism, a Global Superflood?

Today on Spectral Skull Session Part II of our investigation into Atlantis.

In the last episode I summarized what Plato says about Atlantis in  the two dialogues where he mentions it: Timaeus and Critias. The main points that came out of that discussion were:

  • Atlantis was an island inhabited by 10 human families who were descended from Poseidon.
  • They mastered agricultural, irrigation, and plumbing, including hot and cold water plumbing, but were not otherwise technologically advanced.
  • They were initially a simple people. They had collective wealth but prefered to live plainly. And that changed later in Atlantis’ history as the divine blood became diluted.
  • Atlantis waged a kind of world war against Athens, but they were ultimately defeated. The Gods punished Atlantis by sinking it into the ocean.
  • After Atlantis sank into the sea, the place where it had been becoming impassable to ships.

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In this episode, I want to move beyond the details of Plato’s story to ask, “did Atlantis really exist?” And ultimately, the answer is going to be a qualified ‘yes.’ So, hold on to your butts because we are about to tunnel through lore and legend, straight through the aeons of time and back to the edge of the ice ageThis is Spectral Skull Session.

So, it’s fun to think about Plato’s story of Atlantis and ask yourself, “how would I prove this?” if you think it’s true, what do you do?

You can’t interrogate Plato – because he’s dead.  But you can scrutinize Plato’s writings closely. It’s worth taking a moment to consider the arguments made for and against taking Plato’s story of Atlantis seriously.

On the one hand, most people have historically regarded Plato’s story of Atlantis as a mere legend, created by Plato to bolster the argument in Republic. The Republic is Plato’s best-known work, and in it, he describes the ideal city and spells out the policies that would be required to preserve it, so that justice and happiness could endure. Near the end of Republic, Plato describes a cyclical way in which cities break down. He describes a process of moving from rule by philosophers to rule by military leaders, to democracy, to tyranny. Now, the story of Atlantis as a story of a divine people who live peacefully but eventually fall to ruin, sounds like another version of what he says in Republic. So, clearly Plato is using Atlantis to reinforce his agenda. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say Plato is reinforcing his theory of cyclical civlizations. Rememeber in the last episode, I mentioned that we’re told the reason why the story of Atlantis was lost was because human civilization is routinely plowed under by super-floods and space fires. Now, in Republic we get a story about how civilizations fall to ruin as their political order naturally decays over time. A central theme of Plato’s works here, if we group Republic with Timaus, seems to be the transient and cyclical nature of civilization.  There’s definitely anther theme that harmonizes with Republic here too – the importance of biological purity. In the Republic, Plato tells us that in the ideal city the best quality children are moved into the ranks of the ruling class, and the winners of races and contests are bred together to improve the quality of the cities stock. In Critias, we hear that the dilution of Poseidon’s blood line played a causal role in the degeneration of Atlantean society. So, there are definitely some historical and political lessons being taught here.

So the argument that is raised by Plato scholars for rejecting Atlantis as a mere myth goes like this: The Atlantis story is a story Plato would have wanted his audience to believe, because it serves as an example that supports his political vision. Therefore, we should not trust it.

I think that this is a bad argument. If we accept it, then anytime someone offers us empirical evidence to support their view, we should doubt the evidence.

I would think it could just as easily be that Plato got his idea of cyclical civilizations from hearing ancient stories about catastrophes like this one. So, just because this story fits into Plato’s agenda doesn’t mean we should discredit it as a fictional story.

Now, here is a somewhat better argument for dismissing Atlantis as fiction: People rightly point out that Plato is a trickster. He writes in allegory, often telling stories such as the parable of the cave, the ladder of love, the ring of gyges, the city in speech, to make his points.

The Cave for example is a story about people deep underground who are chained to a wall underneath the mouth of the cave, while opposite from them they can see shadows cast from a fire. They think the shadows represent real things. Indeed, they think shadows are what reality is. But they’re just watching a puppet show. And when one of them escapes and gets out of the cave he is astonished to see what reality is really like – with colors and three-dimensions. He goes back and tries to tell the other prisoners what he’s seen and they laugh at him. They point out that he isn’t even very good at interpreting the shadows anymore – being up in the light has changed the way he perceives information and thinks – and they take this as evidence that he’s a demented fool.

This is Plato’s most famous allegory. Plato uses it to try to defend the life of the philosopher. He says that the philosophers can access a higher reality, and see things as they really are. But, the philosopher isn’t good at winning people over who haven’t gone where he has gone with his mind. If you haven’t visited the higher realm of reality yourself then you can’t even imagine what is up there, and you’ll take anyone with knowledge of that realm to be a fool. Plato’s agenda here is probably showing, remember he ran an Academy and we can see his texts as introductions to his work that would hint at a secret teaching which the Academy could reveal to you.

Besides being a thrilling story that reinforces the Occult orientation to reality – by suggesting that there are higher realms of reality and that this world is only a shadowy reflection of the deeper reality, I am telling you the Parable of the Cave to make a point: Not only does Plato uses a lot of parables, allegories, and other story-telling devices, to make his points, but the very subject matter he writes about – hidden realities inaccessible to the masses – reinforce this idea that he is a trickster who cannot always be taken at face value.

But, I want to step in here with a thought of my own now – when Plato tells a story, he tells us that it is just a story. He doesn’t present a story as being true, like he does with Atlantis. Yes, Plato makes extensive use of parable and allegory, but when he does he has Socrates or someone else explicitly warn us to be wary of the story.

I actually ran this thought by a Plato scholar at a local University just before working on this podcast. He reminded me that there is a dialogue where Plato talks about reincarnation that sort of breaks the pattern. In the story, Meno, the elderly Socrates is talking to a younger debater and aspiring military leader, Meno. In order to convince Meno to take his studies seriously, Socrates tries to convince him that we have all possible knowledge already inside of us and we just need to unlock it. How could this be? Well, Socrates says, he’s heard “many wise men” and also some “inspired poets” talk about how when we die our souls go to an underowlrd. The worst among us are thrown into Hell. The best are made immortal Gods. And most of us get sent back to be reborn.

So here is a story that Socrates tells to make a point, and he doesn’t preface it as a work of fiction. In fact, he flat out says he thinks it is both “true and beautiful” Although he does say later on that he isn’t completely confident about every detail of the story.

But, my Plato scholar pointed out: it’s not like this is a fictional story. Plato might well have believed in it himself. He may have believed in reincarnation. I would direct the listener to episode 11 of spectal skull session – Psychedelic Mystery Beer Cults – where Chris and I discuss how the ancient Greek world was held together by some kind of mysterious rite. It has been argued recently, that the ancients undertook some kind of very powerful ritual that gave them direct access to the reality of life after death, possibly including reincarnation.

So, the story of Meno is NOT an example of Plato trying to pass a BLATANTLY false story off as true.

Now, also consider that he does the same thing in Timaeus. We talked in the last episode about how in Timaeus, the astronomer, Timaeus gives his very trippy account of the origin of the cosmos, including that it was crafted by a demiurge or divine craftsman, and that the fundamental building blocks of reality are triangles. Plato’s figure Timaeus is very careful to point out that this is a “likely story” –  a story he says has as much likelihood as being true as any other story about the heavens.

So, here again, We see Plato when he uses a STORY to make a point, he also mentions that he isn’t committed to the literal truth of the story.

This, as far as I know dear listener, is how Plato uses myths. He warns us that they are myths. But in the texts on Atlantis, Plato has his characters tell us no less than 20 times that they are repeating a true story.  Critias repeats OVER and OVER that he is telling the truth.

So, of these two arguments for not taking Atlantis seriously – the argument that it fits an agenda and the argument that Plato often uses allegory – neither argument works in my opinion. The agenda-fitting argument doesn’t work, because Plato’s agenda may have been set by his exposure to stories of cyclical destruction. The allegory argument doesn’t work – because Plato warns us when he is using allegory.

And another thing that points to the veracity of the text, I got this thought from Sisrob, who is a Plato scholar on Reddit. Sisrob pointed out how weird it is that Plato goes into so much detail about Atlantis, if is just an parable. Why describe the shape of the island, the moats, the plumbing, the temple of Poseiden, why do all that if it’s just a fake story that illustrates a point?

So, those are some reasons why I think we should be OPEN to taking Plato as telling a true story. Here is why I think we should think this way: look, even if Plato is telling the truth, it’s still the case that he got this story from someone who got it from Solon who got it from the Ancient Egyptians who happened to have records going back 9,000 years. They may have fumbled a lot of the details in that time. So, just because we say “look, it’s possible that Plato is reporting something that he really heard, does not mean that the full story that Plato records is literally true.”

Ok, So that is all the time I think we have to interrogate Plato’s text itself.

What are other methods for finding out the truth about Atlantis? Well, you might look to see if the story of Atlantis or something similar to Atlantis appears anywhere else. Do other people have ancient stories about decadent civilizations being destroyed  by floods precipitated by angry Gods?

Well, it turns out that they do. Many of our listeners will be familiar with the Book of Gensis, which contains the story of Noah. Noah was a holy man who narrowly escaped a flood sent by Elohim who was angry at the wickedness of men.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.  So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.

Elohim warns Noah – build an ark, I’m flooding this place. Noah buids the arc, he collects two of each kind of animal. And he, his wife and kids and their spouses all spend 40 days floating.

So there is another famous flood story.

And folks, as much as I would LOOOVE to take credit for noticing this parallel between Atlantis and Genesis. I cannot take responsibility.

There is a man Ignatius Donnelly. He wrote THE book on Atlantis way back in 1890. It is titled “Atlantis: The Antediluvian World,”  Ignatius Donnelly.This is supposed to be THE book for Atlantis scholars.

Donnley points out that many many civilizations have a flood story:

For example, the native Mexican historian, Ixtlilxochitl (X-T-CHOTIL),  describes the Toltec legend of the Flood:

It is found in the histories of the Toltecs that this age and ‘first world’, as they call it, lasted 1716 years; that men were destroyed by tremendous rains and lightning from the sky, and even all the land, without the exception of anything, and the highest mountains, were covered up and submerged in water ‘fifteen cubits’ (caxtolmolatli); and here they added other fables of how men came to multiply from the few who escaped from this destruction in a “toptlipetlocali;” that this word nearly signifies a close chest; and how, after men had multiplied, they erected a very high “zacuali,” which is to−day a tower of great height, in order to take refuge in it should the second world (age) be destroyed. Presently their languages were confused, and, not being able to understand each other, they went to different parts of the earth.

“The Toltecs, consisting of seven friends, with their wives, who understood the same language, came to these parts, having first passed great land and seas, having lived in caves, and having endured great hardships in order to reach this land…. they wandered 104 years through different parts of the world before they reached Hue Hue Tlapalan, which was in Ce Tecpatl, 520 years after the Flood.” (“Ixtlilxochitl Relaciones,” in Kingsborough’s “Mex. Ant.,” vol. ix., pp. 321, 322.)

Other indigenious people of Mexico have a story about a man named CoxCox or Texpi, who saved his wife from a terrible flood by making a raft out of bark.

Donnelly points out that the Ancient Sumeriam poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh, ALSO has a flood story in it. And so did certain ancient Babylonians, Chinese, Norse, plus the Irish and Hawaiians, just to name a few.

In fact, Donnelly claims that everyone has a world destroying flood myth, EXCEPT the Egyptians. And he says, look, they probably didn’t need a world destroying flood myth because they had the actual story, the story of Atlantis.

The point of all this discussion being: why are all these different people talking about massive, in some cases, civilization destroying floods? Well, maybe a big civilization destroying flood actually happened.

Honestly, I don’t know what the other reasonable possibilities could be: I guess it could be that floods just happen a lot, and maybe the idea of a world destroying flood is easy for anyone to come up with. I do recall living in the Missisippi valley region during the great Flood of ’93 that was a 500 year flood – a flood so bad that it is only supposed to happen every 500 years. And I remember thinking “what if it just keeps coming?” I was a small person at that time. So maybe people just naturally glom onto this horrifying idea of a world destroying flood.

Another possibility is that there was one really bad flood somewhere, and this flood inspired all the flood stories around the world. Maybe it was a really good story so it circulated. But if that’s the case, then I would say that we’re close enough for Atlantis to be true – if some civilization somewhere got flooded, and this is the reason why Plato wrote the myth of Atlantis, then I would say boom, Atlantis is true.

Ok. So there is a lot in Ignatius Donnelly’s book. I won’t go into it all. It’s a very old book, so you can get it for free off the internet which is how I got it. It should be noted that Donnelly makes some very bold claims in this book. For example, he claims that Atlantis was a kind of universal progenitor civilization. He thinks that the reason why the Egyptians and the Mayans in central America both build pyraminds is because they were both colonies of Atlantis.

I will say one more thing. Donnelly thinks the pillars of Hercules had to be the straits of gibralter, and he thinks Atlantis was the Azores. The Azores are these islands controlled by Portugal in the middle of the Atlantis ocean. They are very beautiful, volcanic islands. And yes they do have hot springs! Donnelly says, this connects the Azores as they exist today with the story of Atlantis, becase the Atlantenas are specifically mentioned by Plato as having hot and cold water.

maybe Atlantis was in the Azores. But, Donnelly talks about nautical ocean floor measurements in his book as evidence – he says that there’s a lot of shallow water around the Azores and that could be where Atlantis was. That’s why it’s described as being muddy after Atlantis sinks.

However, dear listener. I looked this up on Google Earth. And I looked at the ocean depth around these islands. There is, indeed, shallow water in a very large triangular formation around the Aozres. Large enough to contain a very nice sized country – like a France or Germany type nation if it were dry land. However, even between the islands I came up with measurements like 1,000 foot deep. That struck me as pretty deep.

So, I think the Azores should be considered one possible location for Atlantis. But the depth of the water – 1,000 foot speaks against it. Looking at Google maps, I am more partial to the Bahamas as the likely locaton of Atlantis, because the water around the Bahamas tends to be only a couple hundred meters deep.

Why do I think 1,000 feet is likely too deep to be the location of Atlantis?Well that brings me to our last source we will be discussing today. He is the contemporary King of the Atlantis researchers – Graham Hancock.

Graham Hancock is alive today, he is a journalist who has published a number of books arguing for advanced prehistorical civilizations. Hancock’s central thesis is that the Atlanteans did exist, and they were an advanced super-civilization.

But his main argument is that Atlantis was in the Azores. And he thinks it was a big island. In his view, the Azores islands as they exist today are the tips of the Mountains of Atlantis.

Well here is the thing with that. I looked at a map of the Azores on Google Earth, and the water between the islands is between 1,000 and 2,000 meters deep. Now, Ignatius Donnelly claims that a volcano could have sunk the islands, but that seems implausible to me.

So, what I think we should be looking for when we look for Atlantis, is some place that is between 10 and 100 meters underwater. It should be a place that was only submerged in the past 15,000 years.


I need to give the audience some informational background in order to explain Graham Hancock’s argument.

First of all, it is important to note that the most recent Ice Age began 2 million years ago and persisted until about 11,000 years ago. Meanwhile, modern humans have existed for over 100,000 years. We are pretty sure about this – they’ve found cave paintings that are 70,000 years old. This suggests that intelligent humans, capable of tools, creativity, and abstract thought, were roaming around the planet. In fact, for most of the existence of the human race, we were ice age dwelling people.

And so, there is a broad consensus that the end of the ice age was the triggered for the development of civilization. Before that it was too cold and dry over too much of the planet and civilizations could not be initiated. And at the tail end of the ice age was a weird little period called the Younger Dryas old spell.  This was a series of cataclysms. The Younger Dryas cold spell began with a catastrophic global flood, that scientists call “Meltwater Pula 1A,” it was followed by wild fluctuations in temperature, then extreme cold, this lasted a couple thousand years. At the end of the Younger Dryas there was ANOTHER global flood – Meltwater pula 1B. And then the Earth began warming up to a state more of less like what it is today.

The Younger Dryas period was a mass extinction event – there were massive die-offs of flora and fauna around the globe. And between the two meltwater pulses, the ocean rose 28 meters. Hang on to that number – 28 meters.

And some researchers have been claiming that these floods – there were two of them and they came about 1,000-3,000 years apart.  They’re called meltwater pulse 1A and 1B. The first was somewhere around 14,200 years ago. The second was around 11,350 years ago. Each one involved a sudden and catastrophic increase in global sea levels due to the melting of glacial ice.

Meltwater Pulse 1A  happened between 13,500 and 14,700 years ago.

Meltwater Pulse 1B happened between 11,500 and 11,200 years ago

28 meters, for you Americans out there, that’s 91 feet. If the sea level rose 28 meters today. Miami, Manhatten, St. Petersburg  would be completely underwater

So the consensus about archeologists seems to be that – for most of the time humans have been on this planet things were too inhospitable for us to build cities. Things were too difficult during the Ice age, and they even worse at the very end – the Younger Dryas Cold Spell. So this is why civilization only emerges recently, despite the human race having been around for over a 100,000 years.

Everything I am telling you so far is not occult or esoteric, it is not alternative history. This is just the consensus picture.

Consistent with this idea that human civilization could not have come into existence until after the Ice Age ended, the bulk of the evidence has, until recently, suggested that civilizations are all less than 10,000 years old.

So our first records of the Ancient Egyptians go back to 3,150 BCE.

For reference, Stonehenge is supposed to have been built in 3,000 BCE.

Norte Chico in Peru is believed to have been built in 4,000 BCE, but we don’t have written records.

The Mesopotamians in Iraq started with agriculture 6,500 years ago. But we don’t really have any written records from those early days.

The Jiahu in China go back 7,000

The Ain Ghazal in Jordan got started around 7,200 years ago.
They found the ruins of a town in Turkey, 7,500 BCE. So that would put it about 10,500 years ago.

So the point here is that we have little evidence of civilization 10,000 years ago. When you go back 10,000, everything tapers off. Suggesting that is when civilization essentially “got started”

And some researchers have been claiming that these floods – there were two of them and they came about 1,000-3,000 years apart.  They’re called meltwater pulse 1A and 1B. The first was somewhere around 14,200 years ago. The second was around 11,350 years ago. Each one involved a sudden and catastrophic increase in global sea levels due to the melting of glacial ice.

Meltwater Pulse 1A 13,500 and 14,700 years ago

Meltwater Pulse 1B 11,500 and 11,200 years ago

28 meters, for you Americans out there, that’s 91 feet. If the sea level rose 28 meters today. Miami, Manhatten, St. Petersburg  would be completely underwater

There is one weird exception, there’s this site in Syria, Goebkli Teppe that is 12,000 years old.  And it seems to be an astrological site, possibly some kind of Temple. They’ve found 43 megaliths at this site. These are mainly T-shaped pillars of soft limestone up to around 16 feet in height. They were excavated and transported from a stone quarry on the lower southwestern slope of the hill

This site, Goebkli Teppe, is where Graham Hancock’s work inserts itself into the consensus story. Hancock points out that IF Goebki Teppe is 12,000 years old, then we have proof that human civilization could have gotten started DURING the ice age.

And if human civilization got started DURING the ice age, then it is almost a guarantee that some human city was destroyed by the catastrophes of the Younger Dryas- either meltwater pulse 1A or 1B.

So, Graham Hancock points to the geological record – this indisputed record of global superfloods – and then he points back to Plato’s story of Atlantis. Remember how we said that Plato got Atlantis from Solon who got it from Egtptians who recorded it 9,000 years prior? Well, if you add 2,021 that’s our current year, to 9,000, and then another 100 years for Solon, you end up with a dating for Atlantis that brings it right back to the end of the Ice Age and around Meltwater Pulse 1B.

So that is, in my judgement, Hancock’s best argument for Atlantis being a true story.

Now, he doesn’t stop there. Postulating the existence of a global super-civlization before the Younger Dryas, Hancock wrote a book “Underworld” where he cataloged some of the ruins around the world that are submerged at a depth of less than 50 meters. Recall the world’s oceans are believed to have risen about 28 meters during Younger Dyras.

One of these ruins that I find fascinating is Yonaguni Jima, located off the shore of Japan. This appears to be a massive zigguerat and Temple-complex, the highest platform of which is submerged about 10 meters underwater.

Now, Graham Hancock gets push back on all of this work. People dispute whether Yonaguni Jima is manmade or whether it is a natural formation. It’s also important to note that structures can sink for localized reasons – because the ground level in that area is changing.

So this is probably why in his various books arguing for a universal progenitor civilization, Graham Hancock brings in other sources of evidence. For example, he argues that various ancient structures around the world are oriented point towards the constellation Orion, or at least where Orion would have been tens of thousands of years ago. The widespread orientation of structures to an ancient location of Orion is supposed to be evidence that the same civilization built these structures.

Hancock also brings in astronomy – pointing to evidence that the younger Dryas was caused by a comet that hit Greenland, and trying to bring in orbial periods to make sense of the Younger Dryas cold spell – he makes the case this large comet was on a path that intersected with Earth, and it broke up due to Earth’s gravitational field. The pieces kept moving in orbit, and each successive time they swang around they rammed into Earth again, and this is why the Younger Dryas was thousands of years of cold and wet.

He also argues the Sphinx is older than recognized… it’s actually supposedly a relic from pre-Ice Age Civilization.

He has a wide variety of lines of argumentation. I won’t go into them here. The big criticisms Graham Hancock gets are that he’s not an academic researcher and his work reeks of pattern-seeking. So there’s so many ancient structures out there that you can form a hypothesis – like “Ancient Structures are oriented to Orion” and then if you only pay attention to a subset of the Ancient Structures, you can build your case.

So, I would like to give a quick tentative defense of Graham Hancock’s work. He’s a journalist, not a scientist or historical scholar. I think it’s perfectly fine to pursue novel truth outside of the Academy. And I think that investigative journalism like the work Hancock does fits into the journalistic tradition – journalists find interesting patterns that present themselves in a way that a literate person can perceive them with a single book’s worth of reading.  The journalist uses books and articles to point and say “hey look at this pattern here, look at this interesting important thing no one else is seeing.” And if other people see it too and feel compelled to do so, then they can bring their own methodologies to bear on the subject matter.

We’re nearing the end of this episode, so I want to give you my sense of what we can take from the Atlantis story.

I’ve presented you with Plato’s story, Donnelly’s story about a civilization located in the Azores, and Graham Hancock’s story about a universal progenitor civilization destroyed by the ice Age.

And my own view is that the basic evidence supplied by scientists, and put together by Graham Hancock, combined with Ignatiu Donnelly’s notes on the universal flood story, supports some version of Plato’s story.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Plato says Atlantis was flooded a little over 11,000 years ago.
  2. The Scientists agree that there was a cataclysmic flood 11,000 years ago.
  3. Ancient Civilizations around the world have stories about a cataclysmic flood.
  4. The ruin of Gobelki Teppe suggests that human beings could have built cities during the Ice Age.

These points together suggest to me that yes, probably there was at least one city built during the ice age. It was destroyed by a massive flood. And the survivors of that flood told tales that were passed around for the rest of human history.

If stories of an urban flood are what caused Plato to tell HIS story about Atlantis, then I say “good enough” I don’t care if they were really named Atlantis. I don’t care if they had plumbing or if they were descended from poseidein. I’m content to have my mind blown by the very plausible possibility of a prehistoric urban center that was drowned by glacial meltwater.

Thank you for listening to the Spectral Skull session.

Tune in next week. We will be talking about the novelist, alleged black magican, and counter-cultural icon Robert Anton Wilson, and his struggle with psychic messages, paranoia and conspiracy theories during the heady days of the early 1970s.

Until next time, I am Dane

Stay Strange and Stay Sane


Donnelly, Ignatius. Atlantis: The Antideluvian World

Hancock, Graham. Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization

Joe Rogan Experience, episodes No. 551, No. 725, No. 872, No. 961, No. 1284.

Plato, Critias

Plato, Timaeus

City Archives, Atlantis 11,500 B.C.E. [accessed via Library of Alexandria website circa 48 B.C.E ] *???*

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