Atlantis: The Andes Solution: The Discovery of South America as The Legendary Continent of Atlantis

Atlantis: The Andes Solution: The Discovery of South America as The Legendary Continent of Atlantis

By J. M. Allen
New York: St.. Martin's, 1999. Hardback, 188 pages.

"Perhaps one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of our time is the site of the lost island of Atlantis." With this opening sentence, J. M. Allen establishes the common ground between his work and that of hundreds of other authors.

Plato's account of Atlantis describes the size and location of the island, as well as many of its geographical features. Despite the efforts of many fervent believers, no location on earth has been found to answer to all the details in the Atlantis story. J. M. Allen believes he has found Atlantis in the high plain or altiplano of Bolivia.

The book is illustrated with black and white aerial photographs that lend credence to the existence of a civilization in the area at some early time. Perhaps the most entertaining part of the book is the author's account of his trip into the desert to examine close up the features he had previously viewed only in aerial photographs. This account includes his experience with the local bureaucracy, which stands as a warning to the unprepared tourist in Bolivia.

Allen tends to wander from his topic. The book includes, for example, discussions of the conquest of Central and South America by the Spanish, great under, ground tunnels said to exist in South America, early exploits of the Phoenicians, the effort to measure longitude accurately, the sea-going reed boats of the Sumerians, and the explorer H. P. Fawcett. Though unrelated to either the Atlantis story or to the vanished civilization of the altiplano, these vignettes are interesting and entertaining.

Allen makes the capital of Atlantis an island near the shore of a now dried-up inland sea, high in the Bolivian Andes, ignoring the clear statement in Plato's story that the island city was in the sea. This contradiction is explained (without supporting evidence) by stating that Plato's description is impossible and that the location must have been an inland sea.

A review of this book, "Atlantis of the Altiplano: The Latest Theory Regarding an Ancient Mystery" (Mercator's World, March-April 1999) is illustrated with three colored maps, one of which is from a nineteenth century work by the Theosophical Publishing Society, London. The reviewer also visited the site and recorded his own impression that there is evidence of previous habitation in the area of this high mountain plain. But it could be that of a local prehistoric civilization, rather than anything supporting the Atlantis story. Similarly, John Blashford-Snell, in the foreword to Allen's book, concludes, "I am confident that the remains of a hitherto unidentified culture may well be discovered in this region," without committing him, self to its putative Atlantean connections. In spite of its weakness, this book can, rains much of value. There are those who feel that the mysteries of the Atlantis story will be solved one day, if only we look hard enough. J. M. Allen is to be applauded for continuing the search.


January/February 2000