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Archaeology of the North Sea

Britain, Shetland Islands and Scandinavia

Archaeology of the North Sea has been studied again recently. Several major archaeological finds were made in recent years in areas under the North Sea. In 2007, archaeologists uncovered a huge, prehistoric “lost country”, from the east coast of Britain, to the Shetland Islands, and to Scandinavia.

In the story, Athens was able to repel the Atlantean attack, unlike any other nation of the (western) known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of Plato’s concept of a state. At the end of the story, Atlantis eventually falls out of favor with the gods and famously submerges into the Atlantic Ocean.


Despite its minor importance in Plato’s work, the Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature. The allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Bacon’s New Atlantis and More’s Utopia. On the other hand, 19th-century amateur scholars misinterpreted Plato’s account as historical tradition, most notably in Donnelly’s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Plato’s vague indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his day—and the alleged location of Atlantis—”beyond the Pillars of Hercules”—has led to much pseudoscientific speculation. As a consequence, Atlantis has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations and continues to inspire contemporary fiction, from comic books to films.

“Countries have lost their culture because what they wanted was money. Money became the running theme in every country and culture was sacrificed.”Yoko Ono

While present-day philologists and historians accept the story’s fictional character, there is still debate on what served as its inspiration. The fact that Plato borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors—most notably the story of Gyges—from older traditions has caused a number of scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War. Others have rejected this chain of tradition as implausible and insist that Plato designed the story from scratch, drawing loose inspiration from contemporary events like the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC or the destruction of Helike in 373 BC.

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