Book Review: The Lost Empire Of Atlantis

The Lost Empire Of Atlantis: History’s Greatest Mystery Revealed, by Gavin Menzies

Starting with 1421 [1] and then 1431, Menzies is an author who was on the path of squandering considerable promise as a popular (if unconventional) historian with an increasing focus on China and speculation about it. Although, as a result, the author does not have the most credibility when it comes to solving historical mysteries, this book does a good job at showing the author’s love of exploring strange stories and seeking evidence to support unconventional theories by taking on the Atlantis myth. This could have been a disastrous exercise in speculation that would have further reduced the author’s credibility to speak about history rather than imagination, but surprisingly enough, the author manages to discover evidence of the global trade of the Bronze age through Minoan exploration of important sources for copper and tin and of the spread of the X2 haplogroup into the Hebrides, southern Spain, coastal India, and Great Lakes regions of North America and Finland, close to the amber sources also traded by the Minoans, all of which raises this book considerably above the normal standard for unconventional historical explorations, making this a worthwhile read for the student of ancient history.

This book is more than 300 pages long and is divided into 41 short chapters of less than 10 pages apiece. The book is also divided into six sections that discuss the author’s journeys as well as his reconstruction of the lost Minoan empire and its extent. The book begins with acknowledgements, a list of illustrations and diagrams, as well as a list of plates and maps. After that the author discusses Minoan civilization (I), including his search of Crete and Santorini, the text of ancient scholars, and the DNA trail of the Minoans through the X2 haplogroup. The author looks at the Near East in exploring the connections between Crete and India as well as Assyria and the ship in the desert (II). The author then looks at the possibility of the Minoan exploration of North America, especially in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River areas (III). The presence of henges around Europe and Africa allow the author to discuss the relationship between the various stone circles and their locations and Minoan trade efforts (IV). The author explores the reaches of empire and the proof he has for his ideas (V), and finally the book ends with a discussion of the legacy of the Minoan trade empire (VI), after which there is a timeline, an epilogue about Plato, as well as a bibliography and index.

How is it that one goes about trying to draw connections between the behavior of people? This is by no means as straightforward a task as one would think, because the Minoan language (best shown by Linear A) is not a language that is widely understood nor easy to read. What kind of similarities or connections are sufficient to make a connection between the Mionans and various parts of the world where the ores for copper and tin could be found to make the bronze that was their main trading chip when it came to establishing dominance over the coastal regions of the Mediterranean and other areas. The author manages to control the tendency to wildly speculate within reasonable means by showing how a fondness for following ocean currents in the Atlantic and Indian oceans and establishing coastal and riverine bases with the use of stone circles to provide knowledge of when to go out to sea, and some intriguing evidence regarding the presence of North American tobacco beetles and Baltic amber and high-grade Great Lakes copper and European voles where they would not be unless someone brought them as evidence for the extent of the Minoan empire in the period before the Thera explosion and the fall of Crete to the Sea Peoples in the Bronze age collapse. The result is a worthy history that ties in well to other explorations of the Bronze Age to demonstrate that global trade is by no means only a recent phenomenon.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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