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Atlantis: secrets of the real lost city Historian Bettany Hughes lays out her research into the myth of the lost city ahead of the launch of the BBC One series Atlantis tonight. 6:00PM BST 28 Sep 2013. In March of 2011 I was due to fly to Japan with a film crew. We knew there had been earthquakes but the trip still seemed feasible. Mid-journey the first pictures of the tsunami that would lead to the evacuation of Fukushima began to appear on our phones and iPads. The images were so monstrous they were hard to credit. Our flight was aborted. The suffering of the Japanese has been immense – but it is a kind I have seen documented before. Around 1620BC the Greek island of Thera (now known as Santorini) blew sky high. Thera is in fact one giant volcano and its Bronze Age eruption was the greatest geophysical event in the human experience. Forensic investigation of the seabed over the past five years tells us the eruption was 400 times the scale of the recent Icelandic explosion, detonating with a force 40,000 need help writing my paper labor rights and reform that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The acidic ash cloud that followed restricted tree-growth as far afield as Ireland. Extruded volcanic material from the eruption – 150 billion tonnes of the stuff – is still turning up in archaeological digs from Eastern Turkey to Jordan. The explosion also set in train scores of tsunami waves, 27 feet high, travelling at 200 miles per hour, that pounded the Cyclades, Crete, the Levant and the European mainland. Over a period of between one to three days the entire population of Thera was wiped out, along with at least 75 per cent of the region’s coastal population. And what a population. The inhabitants of Thera were, quite simply, awesome. We know this because the volcano preserved as it destroyed, with a fall of ash and pumice – in places it was 30 metres thick – smothering streets, houses, towns. The city of Akrotiri, first excavated in the 1960s and now yielding new treasures, is an unwitting time capsule that also reveals technological marvels including homes built using anti-earthquake engineering. Walls are whitewashed, and rooms decorated with paintings whose nonchalant naturalism is breathtaking. The Therans were not short of cash either – their women sport heavy, gold hoop earrings and necklaces made of cornelian, men are rowed in ships covered with gauzy sun-shades and garlanded with flowers. The island had not much fertile land, not much water – top essays editing services online it was strategically situated between Asia, Africa and Europe, and the Therans made ''beyond the horizon’’ their business. One wall painting, the Marine Frieze, shows a newly invented kind of sailing ship breaking into uncharted waters. Around the edge are lions, date palms, and African antelope. This was a culture that interacted with the outside world. Thera would have been a legend in its own lifetime. The apocalypse that destroyed it could not possibly have escaped the human radar. It would have become a story passed down the generations. I believe we find ghostly memories of it in one of the most famous myths of all, Plato’s account of the lost city of Atlantis; ''Listen to a tale which, though strange, is wholly true… these histories tell of a mighty power… that was swallowed up… in the span of one day and night… by the sea… and vanished.’’ The philosopher Plato was a mischievous genius who loved to stalk through Top essays editing services online narrow streets and port district to pick up travellers’ tales and weave these into philosophical fictions. His story of Atlantis is a moral fable that warns of ambition and overweening pride, and he was, in fact, pointing up the failings of his own alma please write my essay for me perfume – the ''Golden Age’’ city of Athens that had raised both him and an empire. The similarities between Plato’s account and the hard facts of the Theran eruption are too striking to be coincidental. Many of the specific details in the philosopher’s Atlantis story are the kind of vivid, episodic, visual memory passed down orally through the centuries. Plato describes the Atlantean buildings as being red, black and white – as indeed the masonry at Akrotiri strikingly was (and still is); and also talks about the city encircled by rings of land – the formation of the collapsed volcano. One of his most intriguing lines is explained by geological fact. After the island’s destruction, Plato said: “That spot in the ocean has become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked by the shoal mud which the island created.’’ Volcanoes of Thera’s magnitude spew out rafts of floating pumice that can stretch for seventy or so miles and reach up to 10 feet deep, making the seas all around unnavigable. Of course there is a great deal in Plato’s account that is sheer fantasy but the acuity of his central thesis – that all great civilisations fall – has captured the imagination of generations. The result has been legion, and quite frankly, bonkers theories about the lost Atlantean civilisation. My favourite is probably Olaus Rudbeck’s who (as well as discovering the lymph system) spent 30 years in the 17th century writing 3,000 pages to prove Atlantis was in buy essay online cheap note 0001914885 Sweden. That’s not forgetting Ignatius Donnelly, a bankrupt American lawyer, who claimed Atlantis was in the mid-Atlantic ridge and was the foundation of all human civilisation. He even persuaded William Gladstone to mount an expedition to discover its remains, until the Treasury suggested this was not a wise use of British taxpayers’ money. Whether or not you believe the evidence of Bronze Age Cycladic culture, which is slowly being chipped back out of the pumice, proves that Thera is the lost city of Atlantis – it is undeniable that this is a lost world. Tsunamis, earthquakes and eruptions are horrific enough for us who understand the science. For the prehistoric population of the Mediterranean these were diabolic, supernatural works. Their psychological impact changed what it meant to be human. No corpse from the eruption has survived, yet across 3,500 years the suffering of the Therans still feels achingly close. Plato's myth, and its Bronze Age inspiration, speak to us today. Great men, great cities will fall; and we are nothing but matchwood when it comes to the rage of nature. Atlantis is on BBC One at 8.25pm tonight.