Atlantis is an Island which features in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias. It is said to have existed about 9000 years before the birth of Solon. According to Plato, Atlantis was a successful and wealthy Island, eventually destroyed by its greed. Despite the broad acceptance that Atlantis is fictional, it has exerted a high level of influence on culture, history and conspiracy theories. Various locations have been touted as 'Atlantis', and many are keen to locate the legendary island.
Atlantis does not exist
The majority of historians and scientists do not believe Atlantis existed. They believe that Atlantis was created by Plato to illustrate how a society could herald its own downfall. He was not referring to any real historical or geographical event.
Atlantis does not exist
The legend that Atlantis is real was only popularised in the 19th Century by a writer named Ignatius Donnelly. His book on Atlantis spawned debate and discussion surrounding the legendary island. Today, the vast majority of historians and scientists are in agreement that Atlantis does not refer to a specific geographical location.
Various islands have been touted as 'Atlantis' in the past century. Some explorers and historians have come up with 'proof' of their claims, which is for the reader to deliberate on. Two of the most popular locations frequently cited as being 'Atlantis' are Antarctica and Santorini.
Atlantis is Santorini
Some researchers believe that the destruction of Atlantis may refer to the destruction that occurred on Santorini, which decimated the successful Minoan civilisation.
The historical-critical approach to Atlantis as a real place
Atlantis was meant a real place although it looks quite unreal in modern eyes. Let us start: The mythical parts of the story are typical foundation myths of cities. Also Athens and Rome have such myths but are nevertheless real cities. Furthermore, Plato himself still believed in gods. Plato also believed in a cyclical pattern of human history as we find it not only in the Atlantis story. Furthermore, the 9,000 years of Atlantis do not take us back into the stone age, nor are we allowed to "forget" a zero and to write 900. The correct interpretation is within the context of Plato's time, and there we find that all ancient Greeks had a wrong idea of the age of Egypt (from where the Atlantis story allegedly is). Egypt was considered 11,000 and more years old, which is wrong of course, but nevertheless not an invention, but a mistake. So, the 9,000 years point to a date after the real foundation of Egypt, i.e. after 3,000 BC. And so on, and so on. If you read the Atlantis story literally, you end with fantasies, or with the idea that Plato invented it. But if you know the historical context, if you know what typical mistakes existed in Plato's times, then you see that it is meant to be a real place. The question remains: Which one? Surely a place and a civilization we already know. The search for the historical-critical Atlantis goes on e.g. on page Atlantis-Scout.