Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, Main, z52
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Is the Biblical city of Tarshish the fabled city of Atlantis?

The Strait of Gilbralter near the location of the fabled City of Atlantis Credit: joko facile/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Straits of Gibraltar near the location of the fabled City of Atlantis Credit: joko facile/Flickr/Creative Commons

Some believe the mythical city of Atlantis is just that — a fable. The city was only mentioned once in ancient writings by fourth century Greek philosopher Plato (428 BC to 348 BC) who wrote of a traveler Solon who had visited the sea-faring city and described it as an advanced and wealthy civilization.

But others are not convinced it is a myth.

In a documentary, Atlantis Rising, produced for National Geographic, famed film-maker James Cameron (the movie Titanic) and journalist/archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici claim they have unraveled the mystery surrounding the ancient city.

Plato said Atlantis was covered with mud and water and sank, leading the duo to conclude it was probably hit by a tsunami. But the philosopher also provided a clue to the city’s site describing it as being past the “Pillars of Hercules.” Cameron and Jacobovici believed these pillars referred to the Straits of Gibraltar.

In an interview with Breaking Israel News (BIN), Jacobovici said this would put it along the coast of Spain, Portugal or the Iberian Peninsula.

Though Atlantis is not specifically mentioned in other ancient records, that should not surprise us as the Greeks did have the annoying habit of renaming cities and people in their stories. Based on its location, they concluded that Atlantis was none other than the ancient city of Tartessos, a city mentioned in the Bible as Tarshish.

Similar to Atlantis, archaeologists have not found Tarshish. However, there are several references to the city in ancient writing and other archaeological sites that put it in the same area.

From a Biblical perspective, Tarshish was the city that Jonah fled to when he refused to obey God and preach a message of repentance to Nineveh fearing it might escape God’s judgement.

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3 NASV)

In the other three references, we find a connection with King Solomon suggesting the city at one point was an ally of the Israeli King:

Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. (Psalm 72:10 NASV)

A verse out of Ezekiel describes the wealth of the city that fits Plato’s description of Atlantis:

12 “Tarshish was your customer because of the abundance of all kinds of wealth; with silver, iron, tin and lead they paid for your wares. (Ezekiel 27:12 NASV)

But the last verse describing Tarshish or Atlantis may actually hint of the sudden destruction that came upon the city:

For, lo, the kings assembled themselves,
They passed by together.
They saw it, then they were amazed;
They were terrified, they fled in alarm.
6 Panic seized them there,
Anguish, as of a woman in childbirth.
With the east wind
You break the ships of Tarshish. (Psalm 48:4-7 NASV)

But it was Jacobovici’s interview with Spanish Researcher Georgeos Diaz Montexano who spoke of archaeological work at 3,500-year-old Spanish shrines that provided the most interesting revelation.

Jacobovici said in an interview with BIN:

“Montexano believes that after the tsunami destroy Atlantis or Tarshish, the refugees made these shrines to commemorate the destruction of their city and to pray to their gods that Atlantis would rise again.”

The wall carvings depict a massive city with canals similar to Plato’s description.

But then Montexano showed Jacobovici a damaged image of one of the carvings that he believed depicted an ancient bull the people were praying to for Atlantis’ restoration,  Jacobovici said this image was clearly the Jewish Menorah.

If so, it would confirm the city’s connection to King Solomon who built the Jewish temple and if  there was a Jewish population living in Tarshish, it would also explain why Jonah chose to flee there.


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