GERMAN DISCOVERS ATLANTIS IN AFRICA; Leo Frobenius Says Find of Bronze Poseidon Fixes Lost Continent's Place; Near Gulf of Guinea
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. (); January 30, 1911, Section, Page 1, Column, words [DISPLAYING ABSTRACT]
Leader of German Expedition into Togo Hinterland Declares Famous Region of Greek Legend is there.
BERLIN, Jan. 29. -- Leo Frobenius, author, leader of the German Inner-African exploring expedition, sends word from the hinterland of Togo, according to information reaching THE NEW YORK TIMES correspondent, that he has discovered indisputable proofs of the existence of Plato's legendary continent of Atlantis.
He places Atlantis, which he declares was not an island, in the northwestern section of Africa, in territory lying close to the equator.
The explorer bases his assertions principally on the discovery of an ancient bronze, the head of a man. It is a work of high artistic merit, he says, and dates back to the period ages before the day of Solon, when tradition peopled the legendary continent with a mighty nation which only the Athenians could conquer.
The bronze bears the insignia of Poseidon, the Greek equivalent of Neptune, and this fact is thought by the discoverer to bear out the tradition of an invasion of Atlantis by Athenians. Besides this Poseidon was by legend connected with the founding of the state.
The head of the bronze is hollow, and this construction helps establish the period of the work. It is entirely devoid of Negro characteristics and there is no doubt that it cannot have been of local casting. The features are faultless mold, finely traced, and of slightly Mongolian type.
Frobenius asserts that there is other evidences sufficient, to justify his claim that this age has discovered the lost continent of Atlantis, which the Athenian Solon is said by later writers to have believed existed 9,000 years before his time.
Leo Frobenius has been known as an ethnologist, and the expedition which he led into Africa has had for one of its main objects the study of race types and origins. He is a son-of Hermann Theodor Wilhelm Frobenius, a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the German Army, who is also an author. He has collaborated with his father on several occasions. The lost continent of Atlantis, some times believed to contain the Elysian Fields, and always called an island, has been the subject of some dispute. Some students of Greek have believed it to be an authentic tradition handed down through the pens of Greek writers, while others think it a creation of fancy on the part of writers themselves.
Plato is the first writer to mention it and tell its history. He gives its story as told to Solon, the Athenian lawyer, by an Egyptian priest, who had found it in records that went back further than anything the Athenians had. He mentions it in the “Timoeus,” and in the “Critias” indulges in a description of it, wherein it is certain that he at least added to the story from his own imagination.
Nothing has been brought forward in the way of historical substantiation of its existence. As much as has been definitely told of the legend is given in the “Timoeus.”
“The most famous of all Athenian exploits,” Solon is represented as having been told, “was the overthrow of the island Atlantis. This was a continent lying over the Pillars of Hercules, in greater extent than Libya and Asia Minor put together, and was the passage to other islands and to another continent, of which the Mediterranean Sea was only the harbor; and within the pillars the Empire of Atlantis reached to Egypt and Tyrrhenia. This mighty power was arrayed against Egypt and the Hellas and all the countries bordering the Mediterranean. Then did your city bravely, and won renown over the whole earth. For at the peril of her existence, and when the other Hellenes had deserted her, she repelled the invader, and of her own accord gave liberty to all the nations within the Pillars. A little while afterward there was a great earthquake, and your warrior race all sank into the earth, and the great island of Atlantis also disappeared into the sea. This is the explanation of the shallows which are found in that part of the Atlantic Ocean.”
In spite of the apparent limitations as to the possible spots to seek for the lost continent, as they are indicated by the descriptions of Greek literature, there has never been any one location assigned that would suit all the Greek scholars. There have been many attempts to fix the location of the mythical land, the Canary Islands, the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Azores, and even the continent of America having been said to be the land meant by the ancient writers. Archaeologists and Greek scholars in this city were unwilling yesterday to discuss Frobenius’s story. They said that it was impossible to judge or express an opinion on the small data that had been received here, and pointed out that the matter was so obscured by myth and legend that it would be almost impossible to prove anything about it.
“If Leo Frobenius says he has discovered Atlantis,” said Prof. James Rignall Wheeler, Professor of Greek Archaeology and Art at Columbia University, “I suppose that he believes that he has. But it would seem difficult to prove anything one way or other about his find.
The finding of Atlantis has become a common occupation, and they look everywhere for it, the Azores Islands being the latest favorite. You cannot, however, give a scientific opinion on the meager data contained in a press dispatch.”
Togo or Togoland, where the expedition led by Frobenius was operating, lies between Dahomey and Ashanti on the gold coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It is a German possession with an area of about 33,000 square miles. The surface consists mainly of a hilly region, but the coast is low, sandy and unhealthful. Agriculture is largely followed by the natives, the chief products being maize, yams, ginger, tapioca, and bananas. The population is estimated at 2,500,000.
New York Times; Published: January 30 1911
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