Bimini Island, Bahamas

Deep under the waters of an island off the Bahamas, an old stone road seems to lead to nowhere. Or does it lead to Atlantis?

Three divers discovered the road back in 1968 while diving off  North Bimini Island in the Bahamas. The Bimini Road (AKA Bimini Wall) is an underwater rock formation that is a half mile (0.8 km) linear feature made up of limestone blocks.

Was it once a wall, road, pier, breakwater, or other man-made structure? To the divers and others at that time the 18 stones appeared to be manmade and evenly spaced out to create a walkway to the island or to a submerged island and structures.

Did the road lead to Atlantis?

Atlantis (Ancient Greek for “island of Atlas”) is a fabled island mentioned in Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias. Plato meant it to represent a naval power that attacks “Ancient Athens.” That Ancient Athens itself was his pseudo-historic ideal state in The Republic. In his story, Athens is able to repel the Atlantean attack, proving Greek superiority.

Plato’s story concludes with Atlantis being punished by the gods and submerged into the Atlantic Ocean.

 

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Athanasius Kircher’s map of Atlantis, placing it in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, from Mundus Subterraneus 1669, published in Amsterdam. The map is oriented with south at the top.

Some ancient writers viewed Atlantis as fictional or metaphorical myth, while others believed it to be real. Aristotle, Plato’s student, wrote that Atlantis was an invention used to teach philosophy.

Modern researchers have found that after some storms most of the blocks were now revealed to be clearly resting on either the underlying bedrock or on smaller stones on the seafloor. This would indicate that the limestone rocks of Bimini Road were a natural part of the seafloor’s foundation. For any archaeological research, this would mean that the earlier theory held by Atlantologists that the blocks visible were only the top of a more complex stacked structure was not the case.

The stones were irregular in size and shape and the “pathway” was also much shorter than the original divers had calculated. Furthermore, the stones had no marks from tools, a characteristic normally found in manmade structures.

Atlantis was once held up as a “utopia” (from “no place”), a term was coined by Sir Thomas More in his sixteenth-century work of fiction Utopia. More was partially inspired by Plato’s Atlantis and by travelers’ accounts of the Americas.

Thomas More was describing an imaginary land set in the New World, but some who heard of his writing (but probably did not read it) took it to be real.  A similar theme occurs in Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis which talks of the possibility of an idealistic land in the Americas which Bacon describes similarly to Plato’s island.

For a time, there was also a theory that the Mayan and Aztec ruins could possibly be the remnants of an inland Atlantis.

The consensus among geologists and archaeologists today is that the Bimini Road is a natural feature composed of beachrock that have broken into rectangular, polygonal, and irregular blocks

Atlantean ruins in “The Dig”

I know from my visits to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas that the mythology is still alive though. There is a Bimini Road restaurant there, but also an entire exhibit called “The Dig” that allows you to walk through and observe “artifacts” from the Atlantean people and the “ruins” of their civilization now underwater.

There is even an Atlantean diving suit which looks a bit like something out of one of the Alien films. It is a fun walk through. Kids love it. And grown-up kids sometimes need some fantasy too.

Atlantean diving suit

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