Where was Plato's Atlantic Island

The Mediterranean Sea - The Strait of Gibraltar on Bottom Left - Source: Wikimedia Commons – NASA

Ever since Plato wrote the Atlantis story over two thousand years ago, many different sites have been claimed as his “Atlantic island”. Several of these locations include the continents of North and South America; the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia, Santorini and Cyprus; the Black Sea; North-West Africa; southern Spain; the Bahamas, the Canary and Azores Islands in the North Atlantic; the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; Greenland; the submerged landmass of Sundaland in South-East Asia; and even the continent of Antarctica. Plato’s Caribbean Atlantis rejects all of these sites.

Plato repeatedly locates the Atlantic Island in the Atlantic Ocean. Although many location theories for the Atlantic Island place it within the Mediterranean, Plato makes clear distinctions between the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the lands on either side of the Atlantic.

Plato – “He (Poseidon) named them all (his sons); the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantic.”

The North Atlantic and Surrounding Landmasses
The North Atlantic and Surrounding Landmasses - Source: Google Earth

Plato -“for this sea (the Mediterranean) which is within the Straits of Heracles (Gibraltar) is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea (the Atlantic Ocean), and the surrounding land (Europe, Africa and the Americas) may be most truly called a boundless continent.”

Plato – “This power (the Atlantean Empire) came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean…there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles”…“and (the Atlantic Island) was the way to other islands, and from these you may pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean.”

Plato’s phrase “in front of the straits” is often taken to mean the Atlantic Island was close to the Mediterranean’s entrance at the Strait of Gibraltar. A more likely meaning is that the Atlantic Island was “opposite” the Strait of Gibraltar – meaning it was not far to the south or north of the Strait.