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Recent aerial photos of marshy Andalusian parkland show a 3,000-year-old lost city that may have links with the legendary city of Atlantis, say archaeologists from Spain’s Higher Council for Scientific Study (CSIC).
Archaeologists trace the settlement in Donaña National Park back to the civilization of Tartessos, an extravagantly wealthy civilization which flourished from 11th – 6th century BC, predating the Phoenicians in the southern Iberian peninsula. Tartessos, ruled by a legendary king Arganthonios, dominated lucrative gold and silver trade routes with the Greeks and Pheonicians during the Bronze Age.
The aerial images of broad circular and rectangular forms pinpoint the settlement at an area where the Guadalquiver river flows into the Atlantic. Archaeologists have found evidence of Tartessian civilization on the other side of the river; as Sebastian Celestino, the archaeologist leading the project told the newspaper El Pais: “If they existed on the other side, they must also have been here (in Donaña).” This location of Tartessos is supported in literary accounts by Greek geographers such as Strabo.
The buzz around this find is particularly great, because Tartessos has been linked to the legendary city of Atlantis. So the story goes: sometime around the 6th century, the Tartessos civilization vanished. Some say it was destroyed by the Carthaginians, others say it was refounded elsewhere under the name Carpia. Others, though, say Tartessos may have been wiped out by a tsunami, much like the lost, opulent city of Atlantis, of which Plato writes: “In a single day and night … the island … disappeared into the depths of the sea.” Tartessos was certainly renowned for its wealth and the geography lines up perfectly (Plato wrote that Atlantis was beyond the straits of Gibraltar): could Tartessos be Atlantis?
While Celestino wants to avoid speculation, he seems convinced that Tartessos demise was indeed the result of a tsunami: “There were earthquakes and one of them caused a tsunami that razed everything and which coincided with the era in which Tartessian power was at its height.”
For the time being, it will remain unclear whether the CSIC has found the lost city described by Plato as built of gold, silver and ivory. Georgeos Diaz-Montexano, a Cuban archeologist who has spent the past decade-and-a-half searching for the submerged city, believes it’s only a matter of time. “Evidence is mounting that suggests the story of Atlantis was not mere fiction, fable or myth, but a true story as Plato always maintained,” he told The Telegraph. “Atlantis is not exactly where the CSIC is looking, but it is close.”
Check back for updates on the Tartessos find.