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(Lesson #5)


"The Lost Continent of Atlantis"

Have you ever heard of the lost continent of Atlantis? Where was the lost continent of Atlantis? Historians have speculated that it was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, off of the coasts of both Spain and France, and also in the western Mediterranean Sea. We do not know for sure where it was, but in 1956 a Greek seismologist by the name of Angelos Galanopoulos suggested that the great continent was located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. More specifically south of Greece on the island of Santorini, which was called Thera in 1650 B.C. He believed a great volcanic eruption was the end to this wonderful civilization.


Plato, a great Greek poet and historian, was fascinated with an ancient Egyptian story of a fantastic civilization which was lost during a terrible catastrophe. 
Plato called this civilization Atlantis. He depicted Atlantis as the greatest civilization of its time. The people were famous for their beauty and their culture. Plato wrote about this beautiful place one thousand years after it was destroyed. His writings were based on ancient Egyptian writings and his translation of the language was questionable.  
Plato made a mistake in his math!!! He claimed the lost continent to be about ten times the size that it actually was. He also put the time of the calamity to be about 9000 years before the rise of the great Athenian empire, which was about 10 times earlier than it could have really occurred. Historians now believe that Atlantis was destroyed about 900 years before Athens. A factor of ten was the problem with Plato's accounts, ten times too large and ten times too early.  
What happened to wipe this superior civilization off the face of the Earth? A great volcanic eruption was the cause. A volcano named Santorini exploded with such fury that it not only blew most of the island into the heavens but also caused a huge tsunami that wiped out many of the neighboring civilizations.  
When Santorini erupted, much of the volcanic cone exploded into the atmosphere and over 32 square miles of the island was destroyed. What happened next was the formation of a caldera. A caldera is a bowl shaped depression caused by the magma chamber under the volcano emptying during an eruption and the volcano falling into the magma chamber because of its own weight. When the caldera formed, a series of tsunamis produced by the crashing of the top of the volcano wiped out many cities and towns in the eastern Mediterranean. This tsunami was reported to have reached the height of over 300 feet. The explosion was heard as far away as Sweden, and the earthquakes produced knocked down walls in Crete over 100 miles away!! Historians believe these giant sea waves were what caused the mysterious end of the great Minoan civilization in the Mediterranean. 
Archaeologists have recovered artifacts from the island lately that show a great ancient civilization was present on Thera about 3800 years ago. The artifacts have come from the sunken part of the island far under the surface of the sea. This evidence helps us to believe that Santorini may be the "Lost Continent of Atlantis"!!!!


  1. What caused great civilizations in the Mediterranean to disappear about 1650 B.C.?


  2. What is a caldera?


  3. What caused the production of a huge tsunami over 300 feet tall?