You can have most any “fringe” beliefs or interests and still disguise yourself as an upstanding, yet adorably eccentric, member of normal society, but Atlantis is the point of no return. Once you start talking about Atlantis, you’re done for. So, let’s talk about Atlantis. According to Plato, The lost city of Atlantis was an ancient island superpower ruled located in the eastern Atlantic ocean—which was named after the lost city. Atlantis was, according to Plato, a stunningly gorgeous and opulent place, built upon concentric circles of land and water. It was wealthy and powerful beyond measure until, in the course of one day and one night, the whole thing went sideways and a cataclysm wiped the city of Atlantis off the map and out of the history books. According to some esoteric traditions, Atlantis was the birthplace of the so-called “Mystery Schools” that wove their way through western philosophy after the city’s destruction.
The accepted explanation for Plato’s story of Atlantis, however, is that it was just a story, meant to teach a lesson of morality and show Plato’s philosophy on governance. Still, there are countless people who believe that Plato was talking about a real place that was destroyed by a real cataclysm. Plato himself says, in effect, “I know this sounds like nonsense, but I swear I ain’t lyin’.” But we’ve never found evidence, and now that we can image the sea floor, and have found evidence of sunken cities, shouldn’t the fact that we haven’t found Atlantis put this whole thing to bed? Well, what if we haven’t been looking in the right places? What if the ruins of the island-bound seafaring superpower were sitting, right under our noses the whole time, in the middle of the Sahara desert?
An Idealistic Depiction of the Atlantean Mystery Temple by J. Augustus Knapp for the book The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall (1928).
It sounds like a stretch. Yet, that’s what a new video by YouTube channel Bright Insight is proposing, building off the work done by George S. Alexander and Natalis Rosen in the documentary Visiting Atlantis. In a 20 minute long video that’s surprisingly clear, sober, and well edited Bright Insight lays out the case for the Richat structure—also known as the eye of the Sahara—being the true location of Atlantis.
The Richat structure is an earthen structure of unknown origin in Mauritania, on the northwest coast of Africa. It consists of concentric circles of raised ground, bordered by mountains to the north and facing the sea to the south. It’s very big. It also happens to be almost the exact same size as the measurements Plato gave for Atlantis (depending on how you interpret ancient Greek units of measurement).
Plato states that the city of Atlantis was 127 stadia in diameter. According to Dictionary.com, one stadia is approximately 607 feet. This is the conversion used in the video, which works out to 127 stadia equaling 77,089 feet and 23.49 kilometers. Measuring the Richat structure in Google Earth gives a diameter of between 22 and 24 kilometers. That’s pretty close to the measurements for Atlantis. However, other sources say that a stadia is between 607 and 630 feet, which doesn’t seem like a big difference until you realize that 27 feet of variance per stadia, multiplied by 127 stadia, comes out to 3429 feet. While that’s the upper end of the possible variance, it has to be said that the Richat structure would fit the bill a bit less if it was three quarters of a mile too small. It’s not a lot, but it sure wouldn’t be perfectly exact.
Bird’s eye view of the Richat structure.
The surrounding areas match the description of Atlantis fairly note-for-note as well. Plato describes the city as being bordered to the north by mountains notable for their great number and beauty. The Richat structure is indeed ringed by mountains to the north. In the video, mention is made of geologic surveys which show that the mountains to the north of the Eye of the Sahara had waterfalls falling from them when the Sahara desert was not yet a desert, which would be fairly noteworthy.
Further arguments made include the timeline of the fall of Atlantis matching up pretty nicely with the proposed date of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis, which argues that the impact of a comet or asteroid triggered the Younger Dryas period of rapid and sudden climate change and sea level variation.
It’s an interesting proposal and a surprising one. Usually when you watch a YouTube video on subjects like the lost city of Atlantis, you come out of it measurably dumber for having done so. It is hard to believe that if there’s an argument this convincing to be made (ignoring whether or not it’s true), I somehow haven’t heard of it before. That generally means something is either being deliberately suppressed, or is easily and thoroughly debunked. Unfortunately, it’s usually the latter. Without the credentials to make a real judgement, I’ll say this: I’m certainly more interested in the topic of Atlantis than I was before, and I’m really glad to know there are people on YouTube who appreciate production value.