Now that I have your attention, there is a kind of connection between Donald Trump’s presidency and the legendary, sunken city of Atlantis. The fact is that many of Trump’s supporters are also believers in the Bible and, in the course of making my film “Atlantis Rising”, which gets its world premiere on the US National Geographic Channel (January 29th, 9pm/8pm C) I learned that what popular culture calls “Atlantis”, historians call “Tartessos”. It seems that “Tartessos” is none other than the lost Biblical City of “Tarshish”.
“Atlantis Rising” is executive produced by my associate Yaron Niski and legendary filmmaker and underwater explorer, James Cameron. Many people don’t realize it, but all versions of the Atlantis story have their roots in a single source – the 4th century BC Greek philosopher, Plato. In two of his works, Timaeus and Critias, Plato describes a legendary port that ruled an empire extending from the Atlantic to the eastern Mediterranean. He calls this city “Atlantis” and describes its advanced technology, innovative architecture and powerful navy. He says that this incredible city was destroyed by a massive, natural disaster and that, thousands of years ago, it sunk beneath mud and water. We asked ourselves: is there history behind this myth?
In pursuit of the answer, we traveled to Santorini, Malta, Sardinia, southern Spain and the Azores. We mounted the most thorough and expensive expedition in history, traveling over land, in the air and across the seas. What we found is nothing less than incredible. I can share one revelation right now.
If they existed, the people of Atlantis did not call themselves “Atlanteans”. Rather, it seems that they called their city “Tartessos” and archaeologists have discovered its still undeciphered script and long lost symbols. Intriguingly, the Hebrew Bible speaks of a mighty city called “Tarshish”. In the famous story of the prophet Jonah, it is to “Tarshish” that he sails to from the port of Jaffa. As he gets closer to his destination, Jonah gets caught in a mighty storm and, like Atlantis, he finds himself lost beneath the waters. He is then rescued by God. Like Plato’s Atlantis, the mighty city of “Tarshish” is described in the Bible as being powerful, wealthy and possessing a great navy. Also, like Atlantis, “Tarshish” seems to disappear overnight. One moment it’s there, in the pages of the Bible, and the next moment it’s gone, as if wiped off the face of the Earth.
Did any Atlanteans/Tartessians survive? The Bible tells us that there was contact between the people of “Tarshish” and the people of Israel (1 Kings 10:22). When their city was destroyed, did some Atlanteans/Tartessians continue to live among the Israelites? Are there echoes of their beliefs that can still be heard in the Bible? To find out the answers, everyone interested in Atlantis or the Bible will have to watch my film while recovering from the post-inauguration hoopla.