The island of Atlantis was first described by Plato in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, as lying "beyond the Pillars of Heracles." Atlantis was a naval power which conquered parts of western Europe and Africa 9000 years before Plato—approximately 9400 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, ancient legends say that Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune."
The legend of Atlantis, the country that disappeared under the sea, may be more than just a myth. Recent research reported by the BBC suggests that Europe's earliest civilisation on the Greek island of Crete was destroyed by a giant tsunami.
Until about 3,500 years ago, a spectacular ancient Minoan civilisation was flourishing in the Eastern Mediterranean with magnificent palaces, paved streets and sewers, while most Europeans were still living in primitive huts. The Minoans were sailors and traders, and most of their towns were along the coast, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of a tsunami.
But around 1500BC the Minoans -who gave birth to the myths of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth- abruptly disappeared.
But what caused the tsunami? The scientists have obtained radiocarbon dates for the deposits that show the tsunami could have hit the coast at exactly the same time as an eruption of the Santorini volcano, 70 kilometers north of Crete, in the middle of the second millennium BC. Recent scientific work has established that the Santorini eruption was up to 10 times more powerful than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. It caused massive climatic disruption and the blast was heard over 3000 miles away. the collapse of Santorini's giant volcanic cone into the sea during the eruption was the mechanism that generated a wave large enough to destroy the Minoan coastal towns and spawn the ancient legend of Atlantis.
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