The Souss-Massa hypothesis is distinct from the abundance of other Atlantis location hypotheses in three aspects:
- A formal unbiased method was used to find the most probable Atlantis location on the globe.
- The hypothesis can be investigated with statistical methods and is statistically significant.
- The hypothesis has proven to have predictive power as it led to the discovery of unique geographical landmarks and an areaeological site that can directly be related to Plato’s account.
The Souss-Massa hypothesis has explanatory power too, in particular on how Plato actually worked to create the Atlantis myth. So, let’s start with Plato…
Plato – the mastermind of mythology
In his later years, Plato set out to create an everlasting myth that would encourage future generations of Athenians to never forget the heroic past of their ancestors. In this way he wished to ensure that the great legacy of Greece would be preserved for many generations to come.
In Plato’s opinion any powerful myth necessarily had to be based on true historical events. Otherwise it would be just a fairy tale as told to children. He therefore used actual geographic locations and true historical events to create the myth of Atlantis.
The result was an epic story of war between Athens and Atlantis. In this myth everything is idealized, be it the town of Athens, the heroic Greek warriors or the splendid capital of Atlantis. Evil also appears in idealized form: The Atlanteans were doomed by the gods for their immoral acts, their main temple had a “barbaric” architecture and they attack Greece in super-massive numbers.
With the help of the literary technique of idealization Plato intended to approach truth itself as it exists in the sphere of the gods. This is why the Atlantis myth is not a plain lie or spiritless invention but rather purified truth. And that is why the Atlantis myth received so much attention up to current day.
What to search for and how to do it?
On the other hand it means that we should not seek the ideal Atlantis in the real world. We will never find it. Instead we should seek the truth kernel of the myth – a prehistoric civilization that fits Plato’s account in the best possible way.
To do so, we can extract all features and landmarks by which Plato characterized the country and culture of Atlantis and map them onto the Globe. If we can identify a region with a significant accumulation of such attributes then this is probably the real-world foundation of the Atlantis myth.
Michael used this approach and developed a formal method to map landmarks and other attributes of Plato’s Atlantis onto the globe. He named this method geographical hierarchical constraint satisfaction (GHCS) and wrote a geo-mapping app to test it on the computer.
Some results of Michael’s research
Michael demonstrated that there is indeed a region on the globe with an overwhelmingly high density of Atlantis-like attributes – the Souss-Massa basin in southwestern Morocco. In addition he showed that the density of such attributes in this particular region is statistically significant.
Surprisingly, Michael’s location hypothesis led to two amazing discoveries both of which bear a strange and suspicious resemblance to Plato’s description of the capital city of Atlantis.
- The Tagragra anticline: A large circular geomorphological structure which resembles a meteorite impact crater and fits very well the dimensions and the distance from the ocean that the capital city of Atlantis allegedly had. Moreover it contains ruins of a city that was abandoned in time immemorial.
- A series of grottos at the shore of the Atlantic ocean which are reminiscent of roofed docks carved into the bedrock and similar to those described by the philosopher.
Both the crater with its prehistoric ruins and the dock-shaped grottos are distinctive landmarks that could well have appeared in an ancient travelogue or in a Phoenician periplus. It seems possible that Plato fused these same landmarks into the idealized image of the capital city of Atlantis.
Michael’s research does not only shed light on the prehistory of Morocco and on the way Plato might have worked but also on a misinterpretation of the original Greek text that became common sense: In ancient Greek the words “Atlantis nesos” (Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος) do not necessarily mean “island of Atlas” but can also be translated as “coastal empire of Atlas”. This mistranslation is to blame for the fact that Atlantis is usually referred to as a submerged island and not as a coastal empire destroyed by natural disasters.
Michael always hoped that the archaeological site in the Tagragra anticline and other sites in the Souss-Massa basin should be protected and archaeologically investigated. He was certain that thorough scientific exploration of these sites would lead to outstanding discoveries and that the Souss-Massa basin could become one of the archaeologically most interesting regions in the world.