March 13, 2011

Has The Lost City Of Atlantis Been Found?

An international team of researchers may have finally located the true site of Atlantis - the legendary city believed destroyed by a tsunami thousands of years ago - in southern Spain.

"This is the power of tsunamis," said University of Hartford professor and archaeologist Richard Freund, head researcher for the team, in an interview with Reuters.

"It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about," he said.

The lost city of Atlantis is one of the world's most famous mysteries, and scientists have debated for thousands of years whether the city truly existed.

Greek philosopher Plato wrote about Atlantis some 2,600 years ago, describing the city as  "an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules," as the Straits of Gibraltar were known in ancient times. 

Using Plato's detailed account of Atlantis, searches have focused primarily on the Mediterranean and Atlantic regions as the most likely sites for the city.   Tsunamis in these regions have been documented for centuries, Freund said, with one of the largest being a 10-story tidal wave that hit Lisbon in late 1755.

Plato's "dialogues" from around 360 B.C. are the only known historical sources of information about Atlantis.  Plato wrote that the island he called Atlantis "in a single day and night... disappeared into the depths of the sea."

To solve the mystery of Atlantis, the researchers used a satellite image of a suspected submerged city to find the site just north of Cadiz, Spain. It was there, submerged under the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park, they believe the ancient, multi-ringed metropolis of Atlantis once existed.

In 2009 and 2010, the team used a combination of satellite photography, ground-penetrating radar and underwater technology to survey the site.

Freund said his discovery in central Spain of a bizarre series of "memorial cities" built in Atlantis' image by its refugees after the city's likely demise by a tsunami, gave the team further evidence and confidence.

Residents of Atlantis who did not perish in the tsunami fled inland and built new cities there, he said.

Although it is difficult to be entirely sure that the site in Spain is truly Atlantis, Freund said the "twist" of finding the memorial cities increased his confidence that Atlantis was indeed buried in the mud flats on Spain's southern coast.

"We found something that no one else has ever seen before, which gives it a layer of credibility, especially for archeology, that makes a lot more sense," he said.

The researchers are planning additional excavations at the site where they believe Atlantis is located, and the "memorial cities"  believed built by Atlantis' refugees in central Spain, 150 miles away.  The scientists hope the additional research will allow them to better study the geological formations, and to date artifacts.

The team's findings will be broadcast this Sunday, March 13, in a new National Geographic Channel documentary, Finding Atlantis, which will air at 9 pm ET/PT.  


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