Where was Atlantis? Sundaland fits the bill, surely!
by Dr. Sunil Prasannan
Dr. Sunil Prasannan takes a brief time-out from his NMR spectroscopic studies to suggest a Southeast Asian location for Atlantis as described in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias.
OK, so I'm an orthodox scientist, but don't let that
bother you - I'm really an OK guy! As I have already explained on the
Mysteries message board, I don't intend this to be an
exhaustive essay, but as I have been asked for more detail, I will gladly
provide it. Neither do I wish to pretend I am the first to hypothesise a
Southeast Asian location for Atlantis .
In the first instance, I think it pertinent to remind readers of
the passage in Graham Hancock's best-selling Fingerprints of the
Gods, where a research assistant of his resigns over not being able to
find a suitable candidate location for a lost civilization, given certain
criteria that such a civilization would have needed to be viable. I will
reproduce the passage, quoted in the resignation letter, below:
"So, if you are looking for a hitherto
undiscovered civilization of great originators, who made it on their
own, separate from any of the ones we already know, you are not
looking for a needle in a haystack. You are looking for something
more like a city in its hinterland. What you are looking for is a vast
region which occupied a land area at least a couple of thousand miles
across. This is a landmass as big as the Gulf of Mexico, or twice the
size of Madagascar. It would have had major mountain ranges, huge river
systems and a Mediterranean to sub-tropical climate which was buffered
by its latitude from the adverse effects of short-term climate cooling.
It would have needed this relatively undisturbed climate to last for
around ten thousand years.... Then the population of several hundred
thousand sophisticated people, we are to believe, suddenly vanished,
together with their homeland, leaving very little physical trace, with
only a few surviving individuals who were shrewd enough to see the end
coming, wealthy enough and in the right place, with the resources they
needed to be able to do something about escaping the cataclysm."
So, a major requirement is a large enough area that would have
supported an entire lost civilization, but at the same time, this area
would have left no visible trace of its existence. Of course, the above
statement, as well as Fingerprints itself, were written before the
latest developments in 'inundation mapping' were widely available, this
being the computer simulation, using all known variables, of sea-levels in
epochs past. As mentioned in Graham's latest book, Underworld, the
land area thought to have been lost during the meltdown at the end of the
Ice Age would have been something like 25,000,000 square kilometres,
assuming a ball park figure of 100 metres of sea-level rise . Much of
this would have been relatively narrow strips of land parallel to modern
coastlines, such as those off much of Africa, but in other places, such as
the Persian Gulf and off the coast of NW India, significant areas were
inundated. But would there have been anywhere in the world where a
continent-sized, or near-continent-sized, landmass would have been lost
Sure there was! The Sunda Shelf off modern Indonesia, Malaysia and
Indo-China, which at LGM (last glacial maximum, about 16,000 years ago)
would have been a gigantic plain, 'Sundaland' (not to be confused with the
English town on the river Wear!), linking together the three countries
above into a single peninsula-shaped landmass twice the size of India
(itself 3,000,000 sq. km. in area today) . Mention also has to be made
of the considerable land bridge joining nearby New Guinea with modern
Australia, forming 'Sahul', or 'Greater Australia', which would also have
incorporated Tasmania .
As for mountains and rivers, yes, Sundaland would have had them in
abundance, the mountains of course still with us today due to their
loftiness, in Sumatra, Java and Borneo in particular . Underwater
mapping of the Sunda Shelf reveals that modern rivers in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Indo-China would have been extended and would often combine
to form much bigger rivers in the area inundated . And of course, being
smack-bang on the equator, this region must surely have enjoyed a warm
climate, for thousand of years either side of LGM. So this must have
seemed like a veritable Garden of Eden to the multitude of people who
would surely have taken advantage of this Ice Age refugium to settle long
term and develop any civilized culture, and consequent technology.
How does the Atlantis story come into all this? Well, we know that
the Greek philosopher, Plato, wrote the only known account referring
directly to Atlantis. In his dialogues, Timaeus, and Critias
[widely available on-line, such as at 8], dating from about 360BC, he
tells the story of how the much earlier Greek philosopher, Solon, visited
Egypt in about 600BC, and learnt of Atlantis from a priest. One of the key
features in the priest's description of Atlantis was its size, being some
sort of landmass (whether 'island' or 'continent') 'bigger than Libya and
Asia combined', that was lost 'in a single day and night of misfortune'.
Of course, in Classical times, Asia was simply Asia Minor (modern Turkey),
and Libya was the northern Mediterranean coast of Africa. And, of course,
size has been alluded to above as a prerequisite for a landmass supporting
a lost civilization. I have already provided evidence for Sundaland as an
ideal candidate location for a lost civilization (and I am in no
way suggesting it was the only location for antediluvian
civilization), but is there anything in Plato's works to suggest that it
was the lost civilization known as Atlantis?
I suppose the best way to go about this is to simply pick out
passages in Timaeus or Critias, not in any particular order,
and rationalize them in terms of Sundaland and/or modern Indonesia and its
neighbours. So, above I have already hinted at the size given for Plato's
Atlantis, and I shouldn't really have to repeat hereafter the observation
that the inundated areas of Sundaland formed perhaps the largest
continuous stretch of territory inundated at the end Ice Age. So the line:
"larger than Libya and Asia [Minor] combined"
is highly applicable to Sundaland. Is there any other information
Plato gives for the location of Atlantis? Yes:
"this island was the way to the other islands; and from
these you may pass to the to the opposite continent, which encompasses
the true ocean" 
The 'way to the other islands' could be a reference to Oceania,
including, of course, the enlarged 'Sahul', greater Australia, which would
have combined Oz, Tasmania and New Guinea. Also, Plato (or rather, Solon's
priestly guide) could have had the myriad Polynesian islands in mind too.
Finally, of course, 'the opposite continent' must be a reference to the
Americas, which if you stop to think about it, is 'opposite' whether you
sail west from Europe or Africa, or eastwards from Asia. Clearly,
irrespective of any controversy regarding the location of Atlantis, this
demonstrates pre-Columbian knowledge of there being an American continent.
But, Sunil, you may ask, what about the 'Pillars of Heracles' that are
also mentioned in both Timaeus and Critias? This is
something that I feel needs much deeper interpretation, for reasons I make
clearer near the end of this piece. Therefore, if you'll bear with me, I
will skip this reference for now.
So what about the when and how regarding the demise of Atlantis?
Apparently, this was said to be the time frame between Solon's visit to
Egypt, and the cataclysm that destroyed Atlantis:
"nine thousand was the sum of years that had
Uncannily, this statement does tie in well with the latest
scientific research into the meltdown at the end of the Ice Age . The
bulk of the submerged Sunda Shelf was inundated relatively rapidly between
14,000 and 11,000 years ago . Whilst much of the territory would have
been lost in the first of three 'global superfloods', 14,000 years ago,
almost all the antediluvian continental shelf would have been inundated
during the second flood roughly 11,000 years ago . The only
significant event of the third superflood of approximately 7,500 years ago
would have been the opening of the Strait of Malacca between Malaya and
Sumatra . If we forgive him for omitting the first flood, either
Plato's observation of events 11,600 years ago is just a fluke, or we
could justifiably speculate that the Egyptians did keep records, or at
least traditions, that dated back to the epoch of 9,600 BC. In fact, there
is an allusion to the three superfloods in Plato's account, for the
Egyptian priest tells Solon:
"you remember a single deluge only, but there were many
previous ones" 
So perhaps such records did exist! Plato clearly alludes to
unfavourable maritime conditions caused by underwater debris and obstacles
in the region of the sunken Atlantis landmass after its demise, both in
"...the sea in those parts is impassable and
impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was
caused by the subsidence of the island." 
and again in Critias:
"[the sea] became an impassable barrier of mud to
voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean."
The present day South China Sea in the vicinity of the sunken Sunda
Shelf is very shallow for such a large expanse of water, being never much
deeper than 50 to 60 metres . This is in sharp contrast to the
precipitous depths of the Atlantic or the Pacific. We could speculate that
along with catastrophic flooding, seismic activity could have occurred,
which would have introduced significant amounts of volcanic ash and debris
into the newly formed South China Sea. Krakatoa, of 1883 explosion fame
, could well have been involved, this volcano having once stood
proudly between Sumatra and Java.
OK, you might say, but is there any more specific information in
the Dialogues to suggest a Southeast Asian location for Atlantis? In
Critias, there is much to suggest the climate was lush and
tropical, for instance:
"that sacred island that then beheld the light of the
This could be an archaic version of the modern English 'seeing the
light of day', ie. to exist (before the flood, Sundaland saw the light of
day, afterwards it no longer did, because it was underwater), but suppose
it could refer to the altitude of the sun above of the horizon. An
alternative translation of the same phrase is given below:
"that sacred island, then still beneath the sun"
If a tropical latitude was implied by Plato, this could explain his
choice of words, because the sun would be very much higher in the sky at
midday than in the temperate region of the Mediterranean. Indeed, at the
equator, which neatly bisects the Indonesian region, the sun appears
directly overhead! I admit, I am only speculating here, but what else in
the Dialogues could point to a lush, fertile environment?
"the island itself provided most of what was required by
them for the uses of life....also whatever fragrant things there are now
in the earth, whether roots, or herbage, or woods, or essences which
distil from fruit and flowers grew and thrived in that land"
Quite a paradise it seems, doesn't it?! Exotic fruits and
vegetables, herbs and spices too. Another, perhaps bigger clue to a
tropical, and not temperate, climate is given below:
"Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth
- in winter having the benefit of the rains of the heavens, and in the
summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the
Surely this suggests a climate driven by a seasonal monsoon, as is
the case in much of southern and Southeastern Asia today? By 'winter',
Plato refers to the wet season, and 'summer' would refer to the dry
season. Of course, there must have been some difference from the pattern
today, due to slight cooling during the Ice Age, and the extra landmass
that Sundaland presented to any weather system coming in off the ocean.
Also, it is clear from the above passage that the Atlanteans devised
effective irrigation schemes, an issue that I'll return to below.
Apparently, the land that was Atlantis was extensively forested,
because Plato makes a number of references to the number of trees, as well
as the resultant amount of timber available to the Atlanteans:
"there was an abundance of wood for carpenters"
and slightly later:
"and much wood was available of various sorts, abundant
for each and every kind of work." 
and even in a 'grove' in the capital city:
"[there were] all manner of trees of wonderful height and
beauty owing to the excellence of the soil" 
The latter passage surely conveys the picture of a region dominated
by tropical rainforest, does it not? We know the Indonesian islands today
have Asia's largest total rainforest area, some 113 million hectares (279
million acres) in 1990 . And Malaysia's rainforests cover some 63% of
its total area of 330,000 sq. km. (128,000 sq. miles) . Of course, the
figures today would be significantly smaller, due to extensive logging,
but who knows just how extensive the forests would have been on the plain
now forming the Sunda Shelf, that was flooded at the end of the Ice Age?
He also makes a curious, but rather specific, reference to
'elephants' roaming the lost Atlantis:
"there were a great number of elephants in the island;
for there was ample provision for food for all sorts of animals, both
for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers, and also those
which live in mountains and on plains, so there was for the animal that
is the largest and most voracious of all." 
Maybe it's my Indian origins (I was born in Kerala after all), but
the very mention of elephants immediately brings southern and Southeastern
Asia, and Africa too, to mind. Although, I do concede, Africa would
include the Atlantic seaboard of Morocco, and Mastodons were around in
Florida at the end of the Ice Age, though the latter didn't outlive it.
However, bearing in mind what Plato wrote about the climate and vegetation
(see above), it is clear conditions were lush enough to support a large
population of pachyderms. And although no exact species are specified,
many other kinds of animals are mentioned, and those 'that live in lakes
and marshes and rivers' could have included crocodiles and the like.
Also intriguing is the physical description of the landscape, which
does paint a reasonably accurate picture of the Sundaland region as it
would have been during the Ice Age:
"The whole country was said by [Solon] to be very lofty
and precipitous on the side of the sea, but the country immediately
about and surrounding the city was a level plain...smooth and even, and of an oblong shape" 
Sundaland, as it was, would have had high mountains along the south
coast, in the present day islands of Sumatra and Java, and also in the
east, in Borneo, and all three regions would have been immediately bounded
by the main ocean, but the central portion, now forming the submerged
Sunda Shelf, would indeed have been a flat plain . A further
geographical feature is described, namely:
"near the plain again, in the centre of the
island....there was a mountain not very high on any side"
Could this be a reference to the present day island of Natuna
Besar, part of Indonesia, but halfway between peninsula Malaya (west
Malaysia) and northern Borneo (east Malaysia)? The highest point on the
island is 959 metres above sea level , and adding a maximum 100m for
the lower sea level during the Ice Age would not make it much higher than
1060 metres, comparable to Mount Snowdon in Wales, UK . This would
make it 'not very high' if compared to the much loftier peaks in Malaya,
Sumatra, Java and Borneo, regularly soaring to well over 2,000 or even
3,000 metres in height above the modern sea level. While there are other
much smaller (and flatter) islands in the vicinity, Natuna Besar surely
must be the best candidate for the mountain described in Critias.
This is as much as I feel I need to discuss regarding the
environment and climate. What about human activity? Is there any sign of
any technology applied by the Atlanteans? Well, it seems there a number of
activities described in Critias, and that we could reconcile with a
Southeast Asian location for the civilization described. The first of
these is the construction of an effective and extensive irrigation system,
as described in passages such as that below:
"The depth, and width, and length of this ditch were
incredible, and gave the impression that a work of such extent, in
addition to so many others, could never have been artificial....Further
inland, likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut
from it through the plain, and again let off into the ditch leading to
the sea." 
Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer, in his Eden in the East, suggests
that there are visible signs of settled agriculture in the Southeast Asian
region at least as early as those in the Middle East. For instance, the
cultivation of rice, which needs a fair amount of irrigation, seems to
have been undertaken in the Malay Peninsula as early as 9,000 years ago,
about 2,000 years before the first signs in India or China . A similar
date is given for the extensive drainage of swamps by the New Guinea
Highlanders to grow crops such as taro . Although the latter site is
not in Sundaland, it is not terribly far away, and we could speculate that
it was descendants of refugees from the flooded Sunda Shelf who could have
been responsible for these very early signs of irrigation in the
Asia-Pacific region. Of course, the Malay and New Guinea sites are both
above water; no underwater archaeology has been undertaken
on the Sunda Shelf. How can we rule out even earlier dates here?
Another aspect of human endeavour is an allusion to a vast trade
network in the region:
"For because of the greatness of their empire, many
things were brought to them from foreign countries....meanwhile they
went on constructing [their] harbours and docks" 
Is there any evidence of Southeast Asia being a hub of oceanic
commerce in deepest antiquity? According to Stephen Oppenheimer, yes -
kinda! The evidence available, sadly, doesn't go as far back as the epoch
of 11,500 years ago, but what is known is that there are definite signs of
a cultural and genetic diffusion from Southeast Asia dating from at
least 7,000 years ago, the epoch of the third global superflood .
For instance, there are 6,000 year-old statuettes found as far apart as
Mesopotamia and New Guinea depicting rather Oriental looking ladies with
slanting eyes, and a type of skin scarification (performed ritually) found
today only in Oceania . So there must have been available the kind of
ships capable of sailing right across the Indian Ocean. After all, the
Malagasy people of Madagascar speak an Austronesian language related to
modern Indonesian . Populations as far apart as Polynesia, Korea,
Australia, India and the Middle East show both nuclear and mitochondrial
DNA links with the population of Southeast Asia . An example is
Thalassaemia, an anaemia associated with resistance to Malaria, which is
endemic in a vast arc of territory stretching from the Western
Mediterranean and Southern Africa right across to northern Australia and
farthest Polynesia . This suggests some degree of settlement by
peoples from Sundaland in the areas mentioned above.
Also consideration has to be made of the 'Sundadont' teeth
mentioned by Graham Hancock in Underworld, found in the deepest
habitation layer in Mehrgarh, in Pakistan, the oldest known settlement in
the Indian subcontinent (7,000BC) . However this type of shovel-like
incisor, associated with Southeast Asian populations, died out by the time
of the next habitation layer. I, like Graham, suggest that the 'Sundadont'
people who founded Mehrgarh could have moved inland to western Pakistan
from the flooding of the wide continental shelf off northwestern India
between 14,000 and 7,000 years ago . Interestingly, the inundation
maps for the second global superflood of approximately 11,000 years ago
show little change from the situation following the first of
approximately 14,000 years ago . Of course that would mean that there
were Southeast Asians living on India's northwest coast before the epoch
of 9,500BC, but because the Mehrgarh teeth were in actual fact not true
Sundadont, but 'Sundadont'-like , a degree of intermarriage
could perhaps have occurred with the native Indian tribes, who have the
'European' dental complex, by the time of their final migration inland.
Another tantalising piece of evidence is the Cantino Map of c.1502 .
This early Portuguese map of the world shows what can only be a fair representation of Southeast Asia (and India) as it would have appeared during the Ice Age - namely a massive peninsula approximating to the Sunda Shelf. As the Portuguese only reached Malacca on the Malay Peninsula in 1509 , obviously someone must have had the need, and ability, to map the Indonesian region upwards of 7,000 years ago. And, of course, knowing that there are underwater structures off
the coast of India (such as Poompuhur ), as well as off Taiwan (such
as Yonaguni ), that were likely to have been above water 11,000 years
ago, demonstrates there would indeed have been plenty of scope for a
trading network centred on southeast Asia in such a distant epoch.
The third major application of technology seems to be that of both
mining of metal ores, and the manufacture of metal alloys. In
Critias, Plato informs us:
"they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found
there, solid as well as fusile" 
and, also, that the citadel in the capital city was coated in
various kinds of metals:
"The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the
outermost zone, they covered with a coating of bronze, and the circuit
of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed
the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum."
I wish not to be drawn on exactly what 'orichalcum' was. I
understand it was some sort of brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) .
But the mention of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin), and tin itself,
suggests that the Atlanteans had a considerable amount of both copper and
tin available, considering the observation they were covering whole walls
with them. And are not modern Indonesia and Malaysia two of the world's
largest producers of tin, as well as having significant copper reserves,
along with several other metals?  As far as tin goes, only Brazil and
China produce more. Much of Indonesia's tin is extracted from offshore
'placer' deposits, and in fact, it is thought that about 40% of
Indonesia's potential reserves are actually offshore, on the Sunda
Shelf!  The neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Thailand also
have significant tin deposits, including 'placers'. In fact, the three
Southeast Asian countries produce approximately one third of all the tin
metal in the world .
Following on from the description of the citadel above is the
curious passage describing the layout of the capital:
"Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was
cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth, and the zone of land which
came next of equal breadth; but the next two zones, the one of water,
the other of land, were two stadia, and the one which surrounded the
central island was a stadium only in width......All this including the
zones and bridge, which was the sixth part a stadium in width, they
surrounded by a stone wall on every side, placing towers and gates on
the bridges where the sea passed in." 
How can this not be interpreted as a mandalic construction, similar
to (for example) Angkor Wat in Cambodia, a massive temple which consists
of internesting rectangles surrounded by a moat and connected to the
surrounding country by causeways ? Could the 'sea' and 'bridges' Plato
described have really been a moat and causeways similar to those of Angkor
and its surrounding temples? The mandala motif seems to be a hallmark of
Indian and Southeast Asian temples built to Hindu or Buddhist
specifications. But what really got the hairs raised on the back of my
neck, even a chill down my spine, is the location of Angkor - because
11,600 years ago, Cambodia would have been an integral part of the
antediluvian Sundaland landmass! So what, you might ask, given that Angkor
was built sometime between the 9th and 13th centuries AD , some 10,000
years after the demise of Atlantis as rendered by Plato? We know that the
'modern' sites of Angkor and its neighbours were actually built on
'primeval mounds' dating back to the deepest antiquity, probably dated by
the so-called 'Draco correlation' high-lighted by Graham in his
Heaven's Mirror to 10,500 BC . Let's assume this correlation is
both correct with respect to the constellations and in the correct
time-frame - could it have been survivors of the flooding of the
lower-lying regions of Sundaland to the south of Cambodia who first began
venerating the 'primeval mounds'? Speculation, speculation, speculation, I
know, but I'm going to return to this theme later!
Well, this is as much of the descriptions of Atlantis in the
Dialogues that I feel I need touch on. At this stage, I'm not suggesting
that it definitely was Sundaland, but hopefully I have illustrated how the
data fits Southeast Asia very well.
However, there is one other thing, and that is I have to point out
a weird inconsistency in Plato's account that I feel needs to be put in
context with respect to Atlantis' location. We are led to believe that
there was a war between Atlantis (which had conquered Egypt) and the Hellenic city-state of Athens,
which would of course mean that Athens would have to be as old as Atlantis
before inundation in 9,600 BC. An example from Timaeus is given
"and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the
excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was
pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the
And yet, somewhat earlier in Timaeus, the Egyptian priest
pointedly ridicules Solon (and by implication all Greeks) by telling him
"O, Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but
children, and there is not an old man among you" 
What on earth could be going on here? Why this complete and utter
contradiction regarding the venerability of the Hellenes? But, we needn't
speculate too much, because in Critias, Plato seems to partially
explain what could be going on:
"you must not be surprised if you should perhaps hear
Hellenic names given to foreigners. I will tell you the reason of this:
Solon, who was intending to use the tale for his poem, enquired into the
meaning of the names, and found that the early Egyptians in writing them
down had translated them into their own language, and he recovered the
meaning of several names and when copying them out again translated them
into our language." 
Could it have been the case that what actually happened was that
Solon had 'Hellenised' a tale originating in Egypt, transposing 'foreign'
places for those of a more Mediterranean setting? Moreover, we have to
consider Plato's own role, given that the era of 360BC was one of
increasing Greek confidence. The story of a 'war' in the Mediterranean region itself could be apocryphal, giving a jingoistic edge to the whole saga. I think the
following line in Timaeus suggests this to a high degree:
"Athens was first in war and in every way the best
governed of all cities" 
After all, orthodox history tells us the only civilizations on the
northern side of the Mediterranean dated from about 2,000BC at the
earliest, these being Mycenae on the Greek mainland and the earlier Minoan
civilization on Crete . Neither could possibly have been around 11,600
years ago. The only likely candidate would have been the mysterious
civilization on Malta, though this island, which at the end of the Ice Age
would have formed a lengthy land bridge stretching all the way to Italy
via Sicily , would surely have been too far west to have been
considered a 'primeval Athens'. Which brings me neatly back to the four
words I so eloquently avoided in my explanation earlier in this essay for
the location of Atlantis. Yes, that's right: the Pillars of Heracles!
Plato writes in Timaeus that Atlantis was:
"situated in front of the straits which are by you called
the Pillars of Heracles" 
This would obviously be the present day Strait of Gibraltar, if put
in a Greek, Mediterranean context. But if there was a degree of borrowing
undertaken by either Solon or Plato, as alluded to in the passages quoted
immediately above, where else could 'Pillars of Heracles' have been
situated? There are two other straits situated in the Middle East, both to
the east of Egypt and Greece, both joining smaller seas with the main
Ocean (Indian Ocean in this case). These are the Strait of Hormuz at the
eastern end of the Persian Gulf, and the Bab-el-Mandeb, at the southern
end of the Red Sea . Since the latter is situated so much closer to
Egypt, I suspect that the Bab-el-Mandeb could have been the 'Pillars' in
the original, assuming the Egyptians referred to them as such - they
certainly wouldn't have named them after the Greek hero Heracles! However,
it is possible it wouldn't have been completely navigable 11,600 years ago, because it is
relatively shallow in parts . Which then points at Hormuz, which
according to the data of Kurt Lambeck  would have been a small inlet,
not a strait, 16,400 years ago, but would have opened up completely by
10,600 years ago, only a millennium after the date in question. So we
could assume it was navigable 11,600 years ago. But what about Atlantis
being 'in front' of the straits? Indonesia and its neighbours are not in
front of either Hormuz or the Bab-el-Mandeb, are they? Actually, I think
it pertinent to consider the original Greek rendering of the phrase, which
I'm reliably informed is:
"huper HÍrakleias stÍlas" 
'Huper' in time came to be rendered as 'hyper', and is a prefix we
recognise in modern English as meaning 'very much of', 'excessive', etc.,
as in hypertension, hypermarket, and so forth . The original Greek
meaning of 'hyper' in the above context as an adverb is something on the
lines of 'beyond', or 'further out' . So the real meaning is probably
nearer 'beyond the Pillars of Heracles' - i.e. some considerable distance
away from the Strait, and not right next door to it. So, I hope
I've illustrated that this does not in any way contradict a Southeast
Asian location for Atlantis. Even Plato's insistence that:
"this power came forth from the Atlantic"
isn't fatal to this theory, because we have no evidence that the
Greeks thought that there was more than one 'Ocean Sea'. The Phoenicians
rounded the Horn of Africa as early as 595 BC , some 250 years before
Plato's Dialogues, so I'm sure the Greeks would have been aware of this.
They had their 'oikumene', or known world, encircled by what they thought
was an all-encompassing ocean. After all, wasn't 'the Ocean' exactly what
Alexander the Great (who came to power in Greece not too long after
Plato's time) sought in his arduous adventures as far eastward as India
? 'Beyond the Pillars of Heracles' would therefore have meant anywhere
in this 'Ocean Sea'.
Also, another big clue is given in the source of the Atlantis story
- ancient Egypt itself. Now, what could possibly link ancient Egypt with
Southeast Asia? Well, is it not the case that the Egyptians considered
their 'paradise', or 'primeval homeland', where their civilizing heroes
such as Thoth and Osiris originated, as being far away to the East, 'in
the sea of the Rising Sun' ? And this brings me back to the subject of
Angkor Wat in modern Cambodia, which as I've speculated earlier in this
essay could have been originally 'ear-marked' by refugees escaping the
flooded plains to the south. Graham Hancock suggests in Heaven's
Mirror that if a meridian (line of longitude) is drawn through Giza in
Egypt (the site of the Pyramids), Angkor is almost exactly
72o east of it . But suppose that the Giza
site had been chosen by the 'civilizers' of the Egyptians because it was
72o west of a meridian running through
Angkor....Oh, no! I'm beginning to sound like Graham himself now! I
knew I shouldn't have started reading his books! Only kidding :)
Still not convinced? Well, consider the following description of
the Egyptians' 'Abode of the Blessed':
"situated away beyond a large expanse of
Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, the eminent Egyptologist, noted this
regarding how to reach the said 'abode':
"the Egyptians believed that this land could only be
reached by means of a boat, or by the personal help of the gods"
And intriguingly (very!), in an almost Plato-esque fashion, that it
"rectangular in shape, and that it was intersected by canals supplied from the stream by which the whole region was enclosed" 
So what could Plato's account of a 'war' be based on? Wallis Budge reasoned that the Egyptian legend of the god Horus avenging his father Osiris, by defeating his 'evil' uncle Set could have been based on historical events, given that Horus was aided by followers rendered as 'blacksmiths':
"It is, of course, impossible to say who were the blacksmiths that swept over Egypt from south to north, or where they come from, but the writer believes that they represent invaders in predynastic times, who made their way into Egypt from a country in the East, by way of the Red Sea.....They brought with them the knowledge of working in metals and of brickmaking, and having conquered the indigenous peoples in the south [ie. the city of Edfu] then proceeded to conquer and occupy other sites" 
So could this have been the 'war' which engulfed Egypt that Plato based his account in Timaeus on? And what of Critias, which the philosopher never finished, but left incomplete with this intriguing passage regarding the Greek god Zeus' response to the Atlanteans' increasingly decadent lifestyle?
"Zeus, the god of gods, who rules according to law, and is able to see into such things, perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they might be chastened and improve, collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, which, being placed in the centre of the world, beholds all created things. And when he had called them together, he spake as follows..." 
Can we speculate that Plato had in mind the following utterance by the god Thoth in the Egyptian Book of the Dead when he wrote the above?
"They have fought fights, they have upheld strifes, they have done evil, they have created hostilities, they have made slaughter, they have caused trouble and oppression....[therefore] I am going to blot out everything which I have made. This earth shall enter into the watery abyss by means of a raging flood, and will become even as it was in primeval time." 
Then we have the mentions in Plato's Dialogues of a large land
mass, disappearing for ever under the flood; a shallow sea left in its
place; lush, fertile soil; tropical climate; herds of elephants; an
abundance of metals; early engagement in agriculture and irrigation;
construction of mandalic edifices; an extensive trading network....
Is this a case of coincidence? Or does Sundaland actually fit the
Take your pick!
Thanks for reading.
Sunil Prasannan"My world is filled with oceans, oceans of fantasy" - Boney
1. http://www.atlan.org/(webmaster Arysio
Nunes dos Santos)
2. Graham Hancock, Fingerprints of the Gods,
Century Books, 2001 (reprint), pp.487-488.
3. Graham Hancock,
Underworld, Penguin Books, 2002, p.53.
4. Stephen Oppenheimer,
Eden in the East, Phoenix Books, 1999 (reprint), p.10.
6. Rand McNally Illustrated Atlas of the
World, Rand McNally & Co., 1994, pp.166-167.
Digest Atlas of the World, Readers Digest Association Ltd., 1989,
(webmaster Bradley Keys)
9. Timaeus as reproduced in 8.
11. Critias as reproduced in 8.
12. Discussed at
length in Underworld, chapter 3.
13. Ibid., p.52.
Eden in the East, pp.82-83.
15. Ibid., p.83.
Timaeus as reproduced in 8.
18. Critias as
reproduced in 8.
19. Rand McNally Illustrated Atlas of the
20. Fingerprints of the Gods, op.
21. Critias as reproduced in 8.
and Critias, Penguin Classics, 1977, p.39, as reproduced in Graham
Hancock, The Sign and the Seal, Arrow Books, 1997 (Reprint),
23. Critias as reproduced in 8.
28. ITN Factbook, Michael
O'Mara, 1990, p.252.
29. Ibid., p.330.
30. Critias as
reproduced in 8.
32. Rand McNally Illustrated Atlas
of the World, pp.166-167.
33. Critias as reproduced in
34. Readers Digest Atlas of the World, p.111.
Road Atlas of Great Britain, Geographer's A-Z Map Co. Ltd., 1998,
36. Critias as reproduced in 8.
37. Eden in the
38. Ibid., p476.
39. Critias as
reproduced in 8.
40. Eden in the East, pp.476-478.
42. Ibid., p.154.
43. Ibid., pp.208-211.
45. Underworld, op. cit., pp.179-180.
47. Ibid., pp.262-263.
48. Ibid., p.180.
50. Ibid., p.460.
51. Ibid., chapter 14.
52. Ibid., chapter 27.
53. Critias as
reproduced in 8.
55. The Oxford English Dictionary,
2nd Edition, Clarendon Press (Oxford), 1989, Volume X, p.929.
57. Times Atlas and Encyclopaedia of the
Sea, Times Books, 1989, p.113.
58. see 56.
as reproduced in 8.
60. Graham Hancock, Heaven's Mirror,
Penguin Books, 1999 (reprint), p.122.
61. Ibid, p.128.
63. Timaeus as reproduced in 8.
Critias as reproduced in 8.
66. Timaeus as reproduced
67. Times Atlas of World History, 4th Edition, Times
Books, 1993, pp.66-67.
68. Underworld, chapter 15.
Timaeus as reproduced in 8.
70. Rand McNally Illustrated
Atlas of the World, pp.160-161.
71. Ibid., p.160.
Underworld, op. cit., pp.44-45.
73. Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon of
Classical Greek on-line.
74. Merriam-Webster on-line
75. see 73.
76. Timaeus as reproduced in
77. Robert H. Fuson, Legendary Islands of the Ocean Sea,
Pineapple Press, 1995, p.9, cited in Underworld, p.480.
John Keay, India: a History, Harper Collins, 2001, p.71.
Eden in the East, pp.349-350, p.405.
80. Discussed at length in both
Underworld (chapter 30) and Heaven's Mirror (chapter 14).
81. Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, Osiris and the
Egyptian Resurrection, Medici Society Ltd., 1911, Volume I, p.98.
82. Ibid, p.98.
83. Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Heaven and Hell, Dover Publications Inc., 1996 (republication of 1905 original), Volume III, p.43.
84. Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Dover Publications Inc., 1969 (republication of 1904 original), Volume I, p.485.
85. Critias as reproduced in 8.
86. Quoted in Wallis Budge's From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt, Oxford Uni. Press, 1940, p.198, cited by Graham Hancock in The Sign and the Seal, Arrow Books (1997 reprint), references to chapter 13, p.563.