The Morien Institute - Atlantis Research

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ice age, before which many ancient societies like Atlantis flourished all over planet Earth on what are now sunken lands.

The Great Atlantis Debate

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Atlantis! Is it myth? Was it reality? Or is the word 'myth' being used far too often as just a convenient term of denigration by some in the scientific community who perpetuate erroneous views of prehistory, and who shun debate? The myths and legends of so many peoples contain a multitude of stories about great floods and inundations, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, cataclysms and catastrophes which destroyed the paradise islands, continents and cities of their ancestors, that they have long been suspected of having a common origin.

Since the publication of "Atlantis: The Antediluvian World" by Ignatius Donnelly in 1882, there have been hundreds of books and articles written about the subject, and to this day the legends of Atlantis and Lemuria continue to facinate young and old alike throughout the world. The legend of Atlantis which Plato preserved in writing, originated from Egyptian sources - priests who claimed to have had access to the written records of the lost island, city, continent, of Atlantis.

Dating the destruction of Atlantis to around 9,600 BC, (11,600 years ago) Plato wrote of their elaborate system of canals used for the irrigation of their lands, and of the high culture there. It was from this date that some now believe the refugee survivors of the 'Atlantean event' introduced agriculture to the rest of the world, though it was not until the last 50 years, and following the development of radiocarbon dating, that this date for agricultural beginnings has been more generally accepted by archŠologists.

But could these findings, all above sea-level, be just evidence of the pityful efforts by a few survivors of the cataclysms that we now know marked the end of the last Ice Age? Have our archŠologists and prehistorians made a huge boob by considering only the remains of those lucky enough to have been able to flee to higher ground? And, more importantly, have they based the whole history of human civilisation on this small portion of the land mass that was left above sea-level after the end of the last Ice Age?

Geologists, now using sophisticated computer programs, can re-create the ancient sea-levels graphically, and so are able to pinpoint the areas of land that were above sea-level before the end of the last Ice Age. They have identified two specific periods of rapid sea-level risings at around 14,000 years ago and, most importantly, at around 11,600 years ago - at exactly the time that Plato gave for the inundation of the ancient civilisation he referred to as Atlantis.

More recently, oceanographers conducting sea pollution studies in the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay) off the coast of Gujarat, northwestern India, have found two large underwater cities that are each about the size of Manhattan. While underwater exploration in the past year has shown that archŠological urban remains similar in size exist some 2,200 feet underwater off the coast of Cuba stretching towards the Yucatan peninsular of Mexico. How many more ancient cities are waiting to be discovered underwater on the continental shelves around the world?

How did Plato know this precise date? Were the records kept by the Egyptian priests really 9,000 years old? The best place to start would be from the writings about Atlantis of Plato himself, which he wrote in the form of dialogues between his teacher, Socrates, Timaeus, Critias (Plato's great-grandfather) and Hermocrates. Take a look at what he had to say before you proceed further down this page.

Image of a bust of Plato

extracts from the Benjamin Jowett translation of
The Timaeus Dialogue

extracts from the Benjamin Jowett translation of
The Critias Dialogue

The purpose of this page is to introduce some of the many theories about Atlantis, and about the evidence that is accumulating of a global catastrophe around 9,600 BC that brought cataclysmic floods, dramatic climate changes, and as some now believe, the collapse of the 'antediluvian world'. This cycle of catastrophe, survival, and the rebuilding of new civilisations from the ruins of the old, is a pattern many believe has been repeated throughout prehistory. In the third millennium BC numerous Bronze Age societies around the world collapsed around the same time. Major upheavals, abrupt climate changes, and the decline of the agricultural base, were followed by the hurried abandonment of places of long term habitation and mass migrations by refugee survivors to other lands. How many times has this happened before or since?

Over the last twenty years individual scientific researchers have stepped outside the 'standard paradigms' of their respective disciplines, and begun the process of reviewing the many archŠological anomalies, and the climatological and geological inconstistencies that have for far too long been ignored by mainstream scientists. Although they don't all agree on certain aspects, nevertheless their efforts are developing a clearer view of prehistory - one that refuses to look at the history of human civilisation on our planet from the 'isolationist' persepctive. The Earth does not 'stand alone', unaffected by 'events' in the solar system in which it exists.

Consensus is developing that the history of human civilisation can only be fully understood in the context of a relatively recent dynamic history of our solar system. Collectively they have become known as the British School of Coherent Catastrophism, (BSCC), and while it is impossible to sum up their 'neo-catastrophist paradigm' in a few short words, it is nevertheless true to say that it centres on the growing appreciation that at various stages during the past 20,000 to 30,000 years, and further back into remote antiquity, our planet Earth has seen a number of disastrously abrupt climate changes whose causes appear to have been cosmically-induced.

During the past fifteen years there has been nothing short of a massive shift in the the ways many scientists have begun to look at prehistory, and since the events of July 1994, when the fragmenting comet, P/Shoemaker-Levi 9, collided with the planet Jupiter, this change has gathered momentum. The end of the last Ice Age 10,000 - 12,000 years ago, was a time when abrupt climatic and environmental changes took place, and it now seems that this 'event' has been repeated many times to a greater or lesser degree, before and after this epoch, in particular during the period of the Bronze Age. The situation is summed up well by Social Anthropologist, Dr. Benny J. Peiser, of John Moores University, Liverpool:

"At some time around 2300 BC, a large number of major civilisations collapsed. At the same time, there is widespread evidence for abrupt and widespread environmental catastrophes. Sudden sea-level changes, catastrophic inundations, widespread seismic activity and earthquake damage, changes in glacial features and a signal for an abrupt climatic downturn have been detected at c. 2350. A survey of some 500 excavation reports, research papers and scientific abstract on late 3rd Millennium BC civilisation collapse and environmental change show a distinct patttern of environmental and social upheaval at this time." [1]

Some recent studies, while attempting to integrate the archŠological, climatological and geological records, have surprisingly ignored tree-ring and ice-core data, and there is still an entrenched anti-catastrophist mentality prevailing amongst many academics in the historical sciences generally. But that, too, is rapidly changing:

"Over the past fifteen years, an alternative agent for natural disaster has been much discussed and a growing number of scientists are beginning to regard it as the most probably single explanation for widespread and simulataneous cultural collapse, not only during the Bronze Age but at other times as well. The new theory has been advanced largely by British scientists such as Victor Clube and Bill Napier, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Mark Bailey, Duncan Steel, and Gerrit Verschuur. The theory maintains that massive cultural and historical disasters were caused by the impact of meteor showers and other types of cosmic debris on the Earth." [2]


an image of a comet or asteroid impacting the Earth from an original painting by Don Davis, NASA
a painting by Donald E. Davis for NASA


The evidence the BSCC is accumulating has been greatly helped by the dendrochronological (tree-ring) records, which are able to determine 'exact dates' of abrupt climate changes by virtue of the fact that each tree-ring represents the growth of a particular tree in a single year. The leading scientist in this field, Mike Baillie, an archŠologist, at Queens University, Belfast, in the north of Ireland, developed the computer program that allows any piece of wood recovered during archŠological excavations to be precisely dated by it's tree-ring pattern.

The dendrochronology record stretches back some 8,000 years, and throughout that period Baillie has noted numerous 'narrowest tree-ring events' that indicate poor annual growth. From this data Baillie has produced several dates throughout the last 5,000 years in which the climate abruptly changed, and he correlated these with ice-core records, marine and lake sediment records, pollen and paleo-climatic records. He also looked for hints in the ancient traditions and mythologies of many cultures, specifically looking for cometary and other celestial-body imagery which he, and others in the BSCC, regard as representing the accurate observations of ancient skywatchers.

The dates that emerge from the 'narowest-ring events' evident in the tree-ring records also correlate well with episodes of increased meteoric activity along the model proposed by astronomers of the BSCC. This model suggests that a large comet entered our solar system at some point during the last 20,000 years, and following a close encounter with the planet Mercury, disintegrated, with the Earth periodically experiencing celestial bombardments resulting from the encounters with the trails of debris left behind by this comet over the past sveral thousands of years.

Baillie chronicled these in his book, "Exodus to Arthur", leaving little room for doubt that the main causes of these abrupt climate changes, and accompanying tectonic and sea-level upheavals, were periods of bombardment by cometary debris. At the end of the book he summed up the new understanding of human history as seen by most BSCC scientists:

"The only remaining question is whether there has been just one close-approach comet, or several, in the last 5,000 years. The candidate dates are 2354 BC, 1628 BC, 1159 BC, 207 BC, 44 BC and AD 540." [3]

an image of tree-rings linking to the International Tree-Ring Database

The Morien Institute has several ongoing projects focussing on some of the dates given by Baillie and Peiser. One of these is the circa 2350 BC period which saw the collapse of so many early Bronze Age civilisations around the world, from Egypt, Israel and the Undus Valley to China. Another is the c. 1159 BC period which saw the collapse of the late Bronze Age civilisations of the Aegean and the Near East. Whilst a third, and historically important 'event', is the c. AD 536 - 545 period which saw the final death throes of the Roman Empire, ushering in the European Dark Age that gave us the Arthurian Romances which are so full of cometary imagery.

Baillie in particular has shown that the legends of the arthurian 'wastelands' are likely to be memories of the last great encounter the Earth had with cometary debris bombardment as suggested in the tree-rings for AD 536 - 545.

The joint research of the late Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe of the University of Wales at Cardiff, which proposes that an ocean impact of a comet-sized object was the probable cause of the cataclysmic ending of the last Ice Age, has found a ready audience amongst those otherwise traditional academics who are beginning to listen to the arguments of the 'coherent Catastrophist' school of thought. The detail of the model proposes that a celestial body of sufficent volume to vaporise and eject billions of gallons of sea-water into the upper atmosphere, thereby causing an almost instant 'greenhouse effect', impacted a major ocean around 12-13,000 years ago.

As the 'main greenhouse gas' is without doubt 'water vapour', and as this date is consistent with the patterns of periodic encounters with the remnants of a giant comet proposed in the 'windows of probability' models put foward by the BSCC, the hypothesis that regular ancient bombardments of meteorites and asteroids caused the end of the last Ice Age deserves a fairer hearing than some academics seem prepared to give it.

The Morien Institute takes the simple view that much more evidence of prehistoric civilisation in many parts of the world, dating from well before the sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age, will come to light in the near future. Some will no doubt claim their discoveries are the site of 'the true Atlantis'. Others may claim to be able to locate the actual site of the biblical Noah's Flood. But most people will simply marvel at the extent of prehistoric Ice Age civilisation that was destroyed in the many periodic cataclysms our fragile and vulnerable planet has suffered within the last 20 millennia or so - since the break-up of a giant comet whose remains today are to be found in Encke's Comet, the asteroid Hephaistos, and in the daytime Taurid meteors. Do our cherished beliefs about the history of human civilisation need to be radically reviewed?

So many 'blank' spaces exist in the prehistoric record that the Morien Institute is building an information resource that Atlantis skeptics and advocates alike can use to explore these facinating epochs of our distant past. As more and more ancient ruins are discovered all around the world on the continental shelves that were submerged during the abrupt end of the last Ice Age, our main News Page carries reports that are updated daily.

In our Marine ArchŠology News Archive are links to other web sites where you can review some of the many and varied theories about the lost continents, islands, or cities of Atlantis. Some may well stretch credulity, and some are highly thought-provoking, but others are closer to the truth than 'official interpretors' of prehistory acknowledge ...

June 2002
Morien Institute

illustrated interview with
Dr Paul Weinzweig
of Advanced Digital Communications,
Havana, Cuba,
the discovery of:

"Megalithic urban ruins discovered off the coast of Cuba"

please left-click to go directly the interview with Dr Paul Weinzweig

Underwater Megaliths
off the coast of Cuba

The Underwater Pyramid
Structure at Yonaguni

October 2002
Morien Institute

illustrated interview with
Professor Masaaki Kimura
of the University of the Ruykyus,
Okinawa, Japan,
the discovery of:

"Megalithic structures found underwater off the coast of
Yonaguni-jima, Japan"

please left-click to go directly the interview with Professor Masaaki Kimura

"Atlantis of the West: The Case For Britain's Drowned Megalithic Civilization"
Paul Dunbavin

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition

"Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia"
Stephen Oppenheimer

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition

"Cataclysm: Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catastrophe in 9500 BC"
D. S. Allan & J. B. Delair

an image/link direct to this product at
US edition only
but available worldwide

The Mysterious Origins
of Civilization"

Graham Hancock & Santha Faiia

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition

"Atlantis and Earth's Shifting Crust"

VHS NTSC version
(USA and Canada)

Japan's Mysterious Pyramids: VHS
History Channel

"Do undersea relics near Okinawa offer proof of a sophisticated civilization during the last ice age?"

"Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective"
Ulf Erlingsson

an image/link direct to this product at
EU English Edition


  Web The Morien Institute


... exclusive ...

October 2002 Morien Institute illustrated interview with Professor Masaaki Kimura of the
University of the Ruykyus, Okinawa, Japan, about the discovery of:

"More megalithic structures found off the coast of Yonaguni-jima, Japan"

please left-click to go directlt the interview with Professor Masaaki Kimura


please take a look at our Ancient Mysteries Bookshoppe for a wide selection of books
that challenge orthodox views of prehistory on every continent

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