March 16, 2011

Atlantis update

Filed under: Media — acagle @ 8:42 am

ArchaeoBlog: Watching the lame archaeology TV shows so you don’t have to.

Has to do with this story. The show was on last night (NG channel) so I decided to give it a whirl. Last night I was pretty down on it overall, but this morning I’m a bit more positive on it. In some ways, it was the same typical lame-o archaeology show: Make it sound like something New! and Exciting! is being discovered, only to present a bunch of really boring and iffy stuff, but still make it sound Really Significant. In some ways it lived up to that. They kept showing the sat photos of the area where we are supposed to see something like rings; I couldn’t see a damn thing. Even after they overlaid some lines on it and then removed them I couldn’t pick anything out. But, eh, whatever.

That was almost it. They did some electrical resistivity stuff and that kinda sorta maybe showed some patterning; interesting, but not terribly convincing. They also went offshore — I still can’t figure out precisely why — and found what looked vaguely like worked stone, but even they seemed to think they were probably natural. . .but they could have used naturally-produced formations in their architecture! Thin gruel. I think their argument was that a tsunami may have wiped the place out but carried some of the stone back out to sea. I’m dubious of that.

Artifacts? A couple of figurines on the surface which seemed to date to 2,000 years after the place was occupied — i.e., Atlantean times — but could have represented gods who were worshiped at the earlier time? Stratigraphically, it didn’t make much sense if the actual city was buried several meters down. I was rather surprised they didn’t do a bunch of coring (although I think they did some); that would undoubtedly have brought up quite a few datable objects if it was a true city. There’d be junk all over the place.

All that said, they weren’t all that loopy about it. Instead of positing the place as an actual “Atlantis” they were more hypothesizing that it was actually a city known by a couple of other names that had never been located. Not a big progenitor state, but a real city (the name escapes me right now and I can’t find it anywhere on the Interwebs right now) that was known about elsewhere. That scenario has always seemed more likely to me anyway, be it Knossos or Santorini or this place: the legend is based on a real place but not known by ‘Atlantis’.

They also showed a site a couple hundred kilometers away that was interesting, but I’m not sure how relevant it is. They thought it was a purely(?) ceremonial site that was built to mimic the ‘lost’ city and posited that it was built to memorialize it. Again, I didn’t really see the patterns they were talking about. One very neat thing was a glyph that was supposedly at the entrance to the place that showed a ringed something. Could have been a city, but maybe not.

So, I dunno. It was interesting and not really all that out there but not terribly convincing. You could say “just excavate” but it’s apparently mostly waterlogged not very far down so just sinking some test pits is probably out of the question, unless you have gobs of money to throw around. You could probably solve a lot of problems just by doing extensive coring. That way you could date the sediments at various depths to find out when it was filled in and how, and at least have some artifacts to show. As it is, it really doesn’t rise much above anything else that’s been proposed (except for the more fruity ones, of course).

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