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Established 16/3/2000

Scepticism over academic's Atlantis theory

Reported on Ireland On-Line news, August 12th, 2004:

The Hill of Tara may have been the capital of the ancient Atlantis, according to the new theory.

A Swedish academic who believes Ireland is the ancient land of Atlantis flew into Dublin today amid a storm of controversy about his theories.

Dr. Ulf Erlingsson is on a three-day tour of the country to prove the Emerald Isle is actually linked with the utopian empire which was believed to have been destroyed by a flood-wave 12,000 years ago.

He will visit Newgrange and Knowth passage tombs and the Hill of Tara in Co. Meath which he claims were actual remnants of Atlantis as described by Greek philosopher Plato.

Whether Atlantis actually existed or not has provoked heated debate among scientists and archaeologists for centuries. The myth spawned several wild theories and even sparked a 1970s TV series and more recently ­ a 2001 Disney movie.

But a University College Galway academic dismissed Dr Erlingsson's theories as "bizarre"and added that it was "impossible to compare a mythical planet which may never have existed with a living, breathing country".

Geography Department head Prof Ulf Strohmayer went on: "Mythical places like Atlantis are only there to satisfy some longing in the human psyche for a utopia-type land. We create them to tell ourselves that if we screw up on this planet human life will still live on in a better place somewhere else."

But Dr. Erlingsson, aged 44, hit back: "I expect to have my knockers. But we must assume that I am right until others can prove I am wrong." Dublin archaeologist Dr. Ruth Johnson described Dr. Erlingsson's views as
"interesting" and "definitely revisionist".

But she added: "It's like the Holy Grail or Noah's Ark ­ people will always try to prove they existed by linking them with actual places."

Plato wrote that Atlantis supported a sophisticated, modern civilisation while the rest of the world was still stuck in the Stone Age. Scientists have already claimed that Atlantis could be at the bottom of the
mid-Atlantic Ocean or somewhere in the Aegean Sea.

But Prof Erlingsson claims in his book 'Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land' that Plato's description of Atlantis matches Ireland perfectly. He said: "Just like Atlantis, Ireland is 300 miles long, 200 miles wide, and widest over the middle. No other island on earth comes closer than Ireland to this description."

Prof. Erlingsson, who has a PhD in Physical Geography from Sweden's Uppsala University, specialises in geological processes, underwater research and natural disasters.

The following clarification was later published by on August 18th:

Clarification on 'Scepticism over academic's Atlantis theory'

19/08/2004 - 14:18:08

On 11/08/2004, we published an article relating to a visit to Ireland by Dr Ulf Erlingsson, who has commented on a possible link between the geography of Ireland and that of Plato's Atlantis. Dr Erlingsson has since contacted us to clarify his position on the subject as follows:

"Atlantis is a literary construction by Plato. The existence of Atlantis has never been proven. On the contrary, we know for a fact that it was a utopia, something that I point out on page 1 in my book Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land. I quote: "Nobody by his right mind is denying that part of Plato's story about Atlantis is fiction."

"The purpose of the book is, however, to test Plato's other claim, namely that he based the utopia on a real, historic place.
"In the book I erect and test the hypothesis that Plato based the description of Plato's Atlantis on the geography of Ireland, and find that with 99.98% probability the hypothesis is true. I do not believe that he based the city of Atlantis on anything on Ireland, but do speculate that he may have partly based the description of certain temples on Newgrange and Knowth, and that the hill may be inspired by Tara.
"The scientific value of this research is of course not that Atlantis has been 'found' (can you find something that has never existed?), but that it begs the question how Plato could be familiar with the Irish reality. As with all scientific hypotheses, this one must now be subjected to a critical review by peers."

Ireland is not Atlantis, insists museum

The National Museum of Ireland today dismissed a Swedish academic’s controversial theory that Ireland is the long-lost kingdom of Atlantis.

The 127-year-old State institution said there was “no archaeological evidence” to support the claims of Dr Ulf Erlingsson which are contained in a new book.

The geologist, 44, has linked Newgrange passage tomb and the Hill of Tara with ancient remnants of the mythical Atlantis- first described by Greek thinker Plato.

But National Museum director Dr Patrick Wallace said today that there was no archaeological basis to associate Ireland with the utopian land.

Dr Wallace explained: “We can say that we know of no archaeological evidence which would support Mr Erlingsson’s theory.”
However Dr Wallace said his museum staff “were not in a position to assess” the geological basis of the Swede’s claims.

The existence of Atlantis has puzzled scientists for generations with some claiming it was in the mid Atlantic or in the Aegean Sea.
The myth also sparked a TV series, The Man from Atlantis starring Patrick Duffy, in the late 1970s and a 2001 Disney movie.
Dr Erlingsson claims in his book, Atlantis From a Geographer’s Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land, that Plato’s description of Atlantis matches Ireland perfectly.

Click here for an interesting treatise on Atlantis. Its authors maintain that Atlantis was NOT in the Atlantic Ocean.

Was Ireland Atlantis? Have your say | Dr. Erlingsson reacts to skepticism
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