Whether by asteroid, volcanic eruption, tsunami, or a divine act of the gods, the mysterious “lost city” of Atlantis was destroyed on this day in 8498 BCE, according to Greek philosopher Plato.
Plato introduced his contemporaries to the mystifying land around 350 BCE in his dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, in which he wrote about a magical island in the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantis was described as a land of brilliant architectural and engineering feats, including awe-inspiring palaces, harbors, temples, and docks. The capital city of Atlantis was said to have been built on a hill surrounded by rings of water, which were joined by tunnels large enough for a ship to sail through. An impressive network of canals connected the rings of water to the ocean.
Plato described the lavish properties of Atlantis in rich detail, including their hot and cold fountains, and dining halls and stone walls covered with precious metals. According to the philosopher, Atlantis was a naval power in front of the Pillars of Hercules that defeated many other ancient lands and soon controlled much of Western Europe and Africa by 9600 BCE. As Plato’s legend went, Atlantis attempted to invade Athens and upon its epic failure in conquering Ancient Greece, the lost island sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune.”
Centuries later, German inventor Otto Muck proposed that Atlantis was an island in the Azores whose “misfortune” was to be struck by an asteroid crashing into Earth on 5 June 8498 BCE, around 8 PM at night. Others, like Greek archaeologist Angelos Galanopoulos, have theorized that a massive volcanic eruption sank the island of Atlantis, or that a colossal tsunami wiped it away. And still others doubt the existence of Atlantis at all, suggesting it was mere legend Plato spread to appeal to Greek patriotism.
Still, archaeologists have searched for this lost land around the world, with various researchers claiming it lies near the Andes Mountains in Bolivia, off the coast of Florida near Bimini Island, and most recently, just north of Cadiz, Spain. The search continues and the Lost City of Atlantis remains a mystery to this day.