In September 2006 this author published an internet article suggesting that the location of the lost and submerged city of Atlantis may have been around the ancient city of Dwarka in southern coastal portion of ancient Indus valley civilization. Since then the content of the article has become a subject of discussion in several internet forums and also become a part of the excellent comprehensive 500 page book on Atlantis by Tony O’ Connell (Atlantipedia, ISBN: 978-190802046). More than seven years have passed since that article and on reflection some specific statements of that article are in need of revision. However, the main assertion of the Article that Lost city of Atlantis may be identified with Dwarka stands reinforced with further findings since then, in particular the archeological findings at Bhirrana that push back the date of Indus Valley Civilisation by some 2000 years. Specific references are not given here or the article would become too scholarly to be a blog post. They may be located easily by a Google search. For the new reader may I reproduce the original article here without any editing.
In Search of Atlantis
Around 355 BC Plato described an ancient, exotic island kingdom catastrophically buried beneath the sea when its once-virtuous people angered the gods with their indulgence in sin and corruption. The city of Atlantis was a marvel of architecture and engineering. The city was composed of a series of concentric walls and canals about 9000 years before the time of Plato. When the people of Atlantis became corrupt and greedy, the gods decided to destroy them. A violent earthquake shook the land, giant waves rolled over the shores, and the island sank into the sea, never to be seen again. In Plato’s book, Timaeus, a character named Kritias describes that an account of Atlantis has been in his family for generations. According to the character, an Egyptian priest told the story to his ancestor, Solon.
The first thing to realize is that it would be surprising if the description of Atlantis by Plato is precise and accurate, not because Plato was not accurate, but because the story had been passed down through thousands of years, initially verbally and not through writing. This description reached Plato through Egyptian Priests. It would be difficult to pin down the exact date of the submergence of Atlantis for the same reason. However there is little doubt that any truth in the story would be prior to 3300 BC. There is no instance of writing of full descriptions prior to 3300 BC. Some evidence of writing brief description with pictorial symbols of consignments is all that exists in the form of writing from a period before 3300 BC. The names, sizes and time spans are possibly inventions or modifications as the story was handed down the centuries.
The essence of the story, that of an ancient well-planned and prosperous city that preceded known civilizations on earth may however be true. In fact archeologists and historians have postulated the existence of such a civilization. Planned cities and other technologies suddenly began to spring up in the Indus valley, Mesopotamia and Egypt in the period 3500-3000 BC as if they had dropped from the sky. Since design and construction of these cities involved engineering skills that take time to develop it has been suspected that they came from an already developed civilization that has not yet been discovered. Various suggestions have been made as to where Atlantis might be located ranging from the Antarctica to South America and even other planets.
A relevant line of enquiry is to find where the Egyptian priests got the story of Atlantis. The most probable direction is Sumer or Ancient Mesopotamia. There is also the possibility that the first dynastic priests of Egypt were in fact Sumerian-Akkadians. The first dynastic Pharaoh of Egypt – Menes united upper and lower Egypt, and constructed a new capital at Memphis by diverting a part of the Nile. The engineering skills required for all this appears to be from Mesopotamia as well. It takes considerable time and apprenticeship to develop the required engineering skills even if one is very brilliant. There is no evidence of these skills existing in Egypt prior to Menes (or Manas, the Egyptians did not write vowels and these have to be guessed). Menes as well as his priests and engineers were probably all Mesopotamians although of the work force was local. In any case, even if it is contested that Menes and his engineers were not from Mesopotamia, it cannot be contested that ancient Egypt had several links with ancient Mesopotamia that went beyond just trade.
Further, the likelihood of the Atlantis stories being of Sumer origin is strengthened by the fact that the submergence of ancient cities was a strong part of the Sumerian mythology. It dominates their historical tradition. The destruction of the ancient city as a result of sin was also a part of their beliefs. Therefore, there is a strong probability that the ancient city of Atlantis is an ancient submerged city of the Sumerians.
If one traces the origin of the story of Atlantis to Sumerians one may enquire as to who the Sumerians were and where they came from? They were not local people because they spoke a language foreign to the parts. For a long time it was thought that their language was an isolated one, unrelated to other languages. However, the picture has now changed as a result of further studies. The study of their language along with anthropological examination of Sumerian skeletons helps to trace out their origins.
It has been found that the Sumerian language is an Austric language spoken by a group of ancient Australoid people found in India, South East Asia and Australia (The Austric Origin of the Sumerian Language, Language Form, vol. 22, no.1-2, Jan.-Dec. 1996.). An examination of ancient Sumerian skulls has further confirmed that the ancient Sumerians indeed belonged to the Australoid race. An evolved branch of the same tribe appears to have established the Indus civilization as well as the Sumerian one after the submergence of their coastal cities. In North-western India they would have encountered Neolithic people of Indo-European origin with which manpower they established the Indus cities. An analysis of skeletal remains from Indus valley confirms this mixture. The Sumerian language persisted side by side with local languages as with the official language of the rulers being Sumerian. In the Indus valley, Sumerian would have persisted along with local Aryan languages. So far scholars have been trying to decipher the Indus script based on a comparison with Dravidian and Aryan languages, and failed. A more fruitful attempt may be made if they used Austric for this purpose. Just as in Mesopotamia, ancient Sumerian was eventually replaced by the language of the majority (Akkadians) in the Indus valley it would have been replaced eventually by an Indo-Aryan language.
If we assume for the moment that the Sumerians originated on the west coast of India and that their ancient capital city was submerged then we have to enquire if any such evidence has been found. The recent discovery made in the Gulf of Cambay, made some sit up and watch with interest. It clearly established the existence of an ancient civilization that was submerged in the sea. The methodologies adopted to study this find, were novel and different, wherein advanced marine technologies and the most modern scientific applications of various disciplines were put to use. Most of the structures that were discovered in the Gulf of Cambay had many similarities to the Citadel, Great Bath, grid pattern habitation, granary, etc. of the Harappan civilization. But many of the artifacts and typology were different and distinctive and with the presence of many micro tools appeared to be much older than the Harappan. The northern metropolis has well made pottery pieces, wattle daub etc. from about 7506 BP onwards. It indicates well-organized city living. Hence it is possible that this metropolis came up after 8450 BP but much before 7506 BP. After the submergence of the southern metropolis, the ancients appear to have shifted and founded the northern metropolis. This wonderful twin prehistoric metropolis of Cambay lasted from about 13000 BP to about 3000 BP making it the most ancient and largest city civilization not only in Asia but also in the entire world. Scientists described, in a manner similar to Plato, the submergence of the city due to violent earthquakes and ensuing floods. The existence of a submerged circular harbor as described by Plato has also been found in a neighboring site. What is more the area has gold, elephants and coconuts just as in Plato’s Atlantis. The existence of other cities in the region may yet be discovered through further undersea explorations.
An important question to ask is if Atlantis indeed existed in the Indian Sub-continent then there should be some records of it in India itself since India has had a written literature from ancient times. In Mahabharata, an ancient and well know Hindu Scripture there is a specific account about the submerging of a city by the sea which reads thus:
“The sea, which had been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the city. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. Even as they were all looking, Arjuna saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. Arjuna took a last look at the mansion of Krishna. The sea soon covered it. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the beautiful city that had been the favorite haunt of all the Pandavas. Dwaraka was just a name; just a memory.”
The significant thing to note here is that the city is described by Arjuna of Aryan origin as a city of Krishna who was dark like the dark Sumerians. Thus based on this study the author feels that ancient Atlantis is a city submerged of the west coast of India. Not all the evidence and arguments for this analysis could be presented here because of the brevity of this article. The actual capital city of Atlantis is probably not yet discovered and may require further exploration of the coastal region.
1. An ancient Harbour at Dwarka – Study based on recent underwater explorations, by Gaur A.S. et al, Current Science, Vol. 86, No 9-10, May 2004