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In a blog about maps, history, and mythological places, it was only inevitable that Atlantis would come up. For centuries, scholars and explorers alike have been fascinated by the description of the lost island/continent in Plato’s writings, searching in vain for where it had sunk into the ocean. Plato originally placed Atlantis in the Atlantis Ocean (which makes sense, since they were both named after the mythical hero Atlas) to the west of the Strait of Gibraltar.  But people have also suggested a diverse array of other possible locations, including the Greek islands, Cuba, and even Indonesia.

Athanasius Kircher’s 1669 depiction of Atlantis in between America and Africa (south is on the top).

This month, Atlantis has been “found” again, this time 1800 miles off the southeastern coast of Brazil. A Japanese submarine, while exploring the ocean floor, discovered evidence of what could be a massive sunken continent. The Brazilian Geological Service studied the rubble the submarine dredged up and found granite, which indicates the edge of a continental shelf. However, this happened very far from the coast of Brazil, so it could mean that the scientists found part of a continent on the ocean floor.

This is really incredible news, but it also does not mean that the scientists found Atlantis. For one thing, they did not find any remnants of a human civilization in the ocean. I hate to burst the bubble of the dreamers out there, but this very likely is just another landmass that sunk into the water over time as the plates of the earth moved.

But most importantly, the story of Atlantis is really just a story which Plato told to make a philosophical point, rather than a historical fact he was reporting. In fact, it seems most people at the time realized this. Not until the modern age did people begin to take the Atlantis story seriously and start searching in earnest for its location.

What we can take away from this bit of news, though, is that even though the surface of the earth has been all mapped out, much of the ocean floor remains a mystery, especially at great depths. For an armchair explorer such as myself, it is heartwarming to know that there are still discoveries to be made even here on our own planet.

For more information on this news, see the following link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/10/atlantis-discovered.html

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