Few stories capture our imagination as vividly as the legend of Atlantis, a lost civilization on a vast island in the Atlantic Ocean west of Gibraltar (or elsewhere, according to varying accounts) swallowed by the sea more than 10,000 years ago.
The story traces back to two dialogues of Plato involving someone who claimed to have heard it from his grandfather, who heard it from his father, who heard it from an Athenian statesman, who heard it from an Egyptian priest. It is possible Plato made the whole thing up as a metaphor about perfect vs. imperfect societies, but one of his students took it literally and since then things have never been the same.
Somewhat less known is the legend of Mu, a lost continent in the Pacific Ocean that was supposedly once home to an ancient civilization whose knowledge gave birth to all other great civilizations around the world. Like Atlantis, Mu is said to have been destroyed in some geological catastrophe.
Scientists rightly consider it absurd that an entire continent could just disappear. But is it possible individual civilizations may have become submerged due to climate change, and vanished without a trace? Authors like Graham Hancock and others say yes, citing a scientific estimate that the world’s oceans rose 400 feet as the result of global warming and glacial melting at the end of the Ice Age. Perhaps this is the origin of the Great Flood tale that appears in cultures around the world.
Obviously, finding the submerged remains of a forgotten civilization, or an ark buried under the snow atop the mountains of Ararat, would go a long way toward proving Hancock’s theory. That has not happened yet, but there are already more than a dozen sites around the world where – for various reasons – former cities (or places like the Yonaguni Monument that look as if they could have been cities) lie underwater today. Further and more dramatic discoveries are certainly possible in the future.