Monday, March 2, 2009

Manic Monday Apocalypso: Atlantis

The Sun ran this story on Atlantis a bit ago. Basically, people fooling around with Google have found a pattern that looks like a city, and it's about where Atlantis ought to be. (I guess. I always figured Atlantis was in the Mediterranean.)

Of course, it's not really Atlantis, as is obvious if you look at it for a while. First of all, it's way too big. I mean, it's huge. Second, the "streets" don't respect the terrain at all. It's nice to have straight streets, but they seem to straight even when going over hills and the like.

But real or not, Atlantis is just another reminder of how fleeting civilization is. In the first volume of Story of Civilization, Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant skims through the entirety of world history up to Greece and spends some time on India, China and the Middle East. One thing that stood out for me was a great empire that apparently ruled the "known world" (i.e., the Middle East) for over 200 years.

I don't remember the name of the civilization; Durant only spent a couple of paragraphs on it. The only reason we know about it is a passing reference in some contemporary writings and a few artifacts. The desert swallowed it, just as the jungle swallowed that huge civilization that used to occupy where the Amazon is now, and the seas claimed that ancient Indic civilization they just turned up.

It's not so much Atlantis being present or not that matters, than it is keeping in mind that we know only a fraction of history, and what we know is a constant reminder of the fragility of civilization.


  1. OT: thanks for recommending "Miss Pettigrew..." We watched it last night and really enjoyed it.

  2. Yeah, nice touch on that film. Just right.

  3. On Pettigrew, we enjoyed it, also, and thanks for the recommendation. Like a '30's comedy in color.

    History is what's left after most of what happened has been forgotten. Kings would get it carved in stone in order to have the last word. Now that more and more is being stored digitally, we approach the complementary state, where nothing will be forgotten. The problem with that will be to make sense of so much information.

    And then there's the whole (unknown) first part of the history of life on Earth. Larry Niven's story, The Green Marauder, is a reminiscence of that period. Now that's an ecological catastrophe!


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