All posts by Dhani Irwanto

About Dhani Irwanto

Dhani Irwanto is a hydro civil engineer and better known as a planner and an expert in hydrology, hydraulic structures, dams and hydropower, the profession involving inter-disciplinary that has lived for more than 29 years. He is currently an owner and director of a consulting firm located in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. Environment, social life, culture and tradition in the regions where he grew up encourage him to deepen his knowledge about history of nations and civilizations. Armed with his knowledge and the existing references as well as site observations together with the projects he undertook, he conducted in-depth research of topography, bathymetry, geology, hydrology, climatology, oceanography, geophysics, hydraulics, metallurgy, agriculture, biology, civilization, mythology, folklore, culture, linguistics, history and archaeology correlated to history of civilization.

Aurea Chersonesus is in Sumatera

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 8 June 2017

The 2nd century Ptolemy’s Geographia, based on the work by Marinus of Tyre a century earlier, contains a region named Aurea Chersonesus, meaning the Golden Peninsula in Latin (Χρυσῆ Χερσόνησος, Chrysḗ Chersónēsos in Ancient Greek). The Aurea Chersonesus is also shown on the mappa mundi of Andreas Walsperger, made in Constance around 1448.

It is not known if Ptolemy had any maps in his original Geographia. In any case, Renaissance scholars managed to reconstitute a series of maps from the tables of locations compiled in Geographia. The earliest surviving maps of these works came from the end of the 13th century. The first printed edition of Geographia with the reconstituted maps was published in Rome in 1477, thereby becoming the first ever printed atlas of the world. Ptolemy, like many early geographers, believed the Indian Ocean to be a closed sea and maps based on Ptolemy’s work show Aurea Chersonesus to be located within a closed basin, though by the 8th century, Arab geographers were aware that the idea of the Indian Ocean as a close basin was mistaken.

The series of maps contain twelve maps on Asia, in which the eleventh map (hence the name Undecima Asiae Tabula) depicts India Extra Gangem (India beyond the Ganges River) and Sinae (China). There is a region on the map labeled Aurea Chersonesus. As the name implies, the mapmaker drew the region as a promontory protruding from the land labeled India Extra Gangem, and Barussae – a renowned port town of Barus in the western coast of Sumatera – is plotted as a group of small islands even though Ptolemy writes it as a cannibalist common place (quinw). Aurea Chersonesus is then typically acknowledged to be the Malay Peninsula. However, the author argues that Aurea Chersonesus is a place in western Sumatera called Tanjungemas renowned for its gold mines in the ancient time, as discussed below.

The names and coordinates of various geographical features and settlements of the Aurea Chersonesus are given in Ptolemy’s Geographia, including towns and rivers. Ptolemy’s views concerning the geography of southeastern Asia was derived mainly from the works of his predecessor Marinus of Tyre, who had quoted the knowledge from the sailor Alexander who had visited the Aurea Chersonesus. Of course, we can not expect a good accuracy of the coordinates because of the method of their measurements and most of them are derived from the information without knowing the exact locations. The latitudes of the places around the Aurea Chersonesus are only a few degrees from the equator, either south or north, or considering the method for measuring the latitudes in the time, it can be generally said that the region is in the proximity of the equator. Ptolemy could have been confused with the north or south latitudes of the places since he knew only the maximum hours of the day.

There is a region in Sumatera named Tanjungemas, literally means the Golden Peninsula, now the name of a district in Tanahdatar Regency in the West Sumatera Province of Indonesia. The region is in the latitudes of between 0º 24” and 0º 33” south of the equator, so that it is in the proximity of the equator. The region is renowned for its gold mining in the ancient time and supposedly located in the land of origin of the Malays. Its location is in the upper Batanghari and Inderagiri Rivers where the miners allegedly use them to transport the product to the eastern coast of Sumatera.

Location of Tanjungemas

Figure 1 – Location of Tanjungemas

The region was in the proximity of the capital city of Malayapura Kingdom (Letter Kingdom of Malay, also known as Pagaruyung Kingdom) founded by Adityawarman and presided over the central Sumatera region between 1347 and 1375, most likely to control the local gold trade. A Portuguese Tomé Pires in Suma Oriental mentions a gold-rich area referring to this region in some time between 1513 and 1515. The first European to enter the region was Thomas Dias, a Portuguese employed by the Dutch governor of Malaka, who travelled from the east coast to reach the region in 1684. The primary local occupations at the time were gold panning and agriculture, he reported. The British Governor-General of Bencoolen Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles visited Pagaruyung in 1818, reaching it from the west coast.

Assuming that Tanjungemas is supposedly the Golden Chersonesus, the author identifies various geographical features and their coordinates mentioned in the Geographia written by Ptolemy. Marinus apparently obtained the information from three separate notes of the regions, those are the mining, the eastern coast, and the piracy prone regions, that made Ptolemy to plot them in different scale because of the inaccuracy of the data, and to give exaggeration on the mining region. Hence, three separate identifications are made, as follows.

The region of Aurea Chersonesus contains places names, a trading place (emporium), rivers (fluvius) and promontories (promont). The plot of their coordinates given by Ptolemy are shown on Figure 2.

  1. Balonca, place → Batusangkar

Batusangkar is the capital of the Tanah Datar Regency in West Sumatera Province, known as “the city of culture”. The town is near the former seat of the Minangkabau royalty established by Adityawarman, the king of Malayapura (Letter Kingdom of Malay) in Pagaruyung in the 13th century, represented by the reconstructed Pagaruyung Palace. The town has the richest stone inscriptions in Sumatera left by Adityavarman. There was a Dutch outpost in the town established during the Padri War (1821 – 1837) known as Fort van der Capellen, built between 1822 and 1826.

  1. Tacola, emporium (trading place) → Tikalak, Singkarak

Singkarak is a district in the Solok Regency of West Sumatera Province, located on the shore of Lake Singakarak. Tikalak is a village near the main settlement of Singkarak District, also on the shore of Lake Singkarak. Ptolemy mentions that the maximum hours of the day at Tacola is 12¼ or about 0º 50’ in latitude. Singkarak and Tikalak have latitudes of about 0º 40’ south of equator.

  1. Cocconagara, place → Nagari Solok

Solok, or previously known as Nagari Solok, is a town in the Solok Regency of West Sumatera Province.

  1. Palanda, fluvius (river), place → Batang Lunto, Sawahlunto

The names of Batang Lunto and Sawahlunto apparently came from the root name Lunto, a place in the bank of the junction of Ombilin River and Batang Lunto River. Batang Lunto (batang means “river”) is a tributary of Ombilin River where supposedly irrigate the surrounding rice fields, hence named Sawahlunto (sawah means “rice field”).

Sawahlunto is one of the mining towns in West Sumatera. It was first established as a town in 1882 by the Dutch along with coal mining operations. Coal was discovered in the mid-19th century by a Dutch geologist De Greve. Sawahlunto was a regency and is now a town in the West Sumatera Province.

  1. Chrysoana/Chrysoanu, fluvius (river) → Sungaimas, Selo River and upper Ombilin River

Chryse in Greek means “gold” and soana is allegedly from sungai, means “river”, hence Chrysoana means the Golden River. The western side of Tanjungemas is bordered by Selo River, and a segment of Ombilin River between its junctions with the Batang Lunto and Selo River. These rivers were apparently named Sungai Emas, meaning “Golden River”, as the name is bore by a village named Sungaimas (also meaning “Golden River”) located on the bank of the Selo River near the town of Batusangkar.

  1. Tharra, place → Muara

Muara or later known as Muara Sijunjung is a capital town of Sijunjung Regency, West Sumatera Province, located on the bank of Kuantan River where it branches out into three rivers in the town. It was allegedly the entry point to navigate to Tanjungemas after the land route from the last navigation point in the upper Batanghari River at Padangroco, mentioned by Ptolemy as Attibam fluvius (river).

  1. Attibam, fluvius (river); Sarabes, estuary → upper Batanghari River; Muarasabak

Ptolemy writes that there was a separate river apart from the Chrysoanu fluvius (Selo and upper Ombilin Rivers) and the Palandas fluvius (Batang Lunto River) around the region of Aurea Chersonesus (Tanjungemas) named Attibam fluvius, geographically located south of Tharra (Muara Sijunjung). This river is apparently the upper Batanghari River (see Attaba fluvius hereafter) at around Padangroco. Furthermore, he writes that it was a part of a large river flowing southeastward (the Batanghari River) which emptied at Sarabes (Muarasabak, see Zabaæ and Attaba fluvius hereafter).

Archaeological records show that people accessed Tanjungemas through Batanghari river as it was more navigable than the adjacent Inderagiri River. The uppermost point of the navigation was at Padangroco, allegedly a resting place – where later on Adityawarman built some temples in this area – before continuing through a land route to Muara Sijunjung. The estuary of the Batanghari River on the eastern coast of Sumatera, known as Muarasabak, then developed into a busy trading port, the center of the 7th century Malayu Kingdom (Earlier Kingdom of Malay) and the center of the Buddhist education, as evidenced by archaeological records, inscriptions and chronicles of the Indians, Chinese and Arabs.

  1. Promontorium (promontory) → promontories on the coast of Lake Singkarak

Ptolemy mentions two promontories around the Aurea Cheersonesus region. They apparently the place names prefixed with “tanjung” (means “promontory”) along the eastern coast of Lake Singkarak, such as Tanjungbatutebal, Tanjungbuluh, Tanjungaur, Tanjungtabing and Tanjungmuara.

Tanjungemas 1a

Figure 2 – Places in the region of Tanjungemas. Inset is the plot of places given by Ptolemy with his coordinate system. Numbers are related to the explanations in the text.

The region of the eastern coast consists of place names, a river (fluvius), a bay (sinus), a social body (civitas) and a trading place (emporium). The plot of their coordinates given by Ptolemy are shown on Figure 3.

  1. Perimula, place; Perimulicus, sinus (bay) → Berhala Island, Bay/Strait of Berhala

Berhala  is now the names of a strait and a bay, and two small islands off the eastern coast of Sumatera near the city of Jambi.

  1. Coli, civitas (social body of citizens) → Kuala, Kualatungkal

There are several places named with a prefix Kuala (means “estuary”) on the coast of Berhala Bay. The most prominent one is Kualatungkal, which is an ancient town mostly occupied by the Banjar people from Kalimantan.

  1. Attaba, fluvius (river) → Batang Sabak, Batanghari River

There is a delta at the estuary of Batanghari River named Muarasabak, meaning the estuary of Sabak. It implies that the Batanghari River was previously called Batang Sabak (batang means “river”). See also Zabas hereafter.

  1. Maleucolon, promontorium (promontory) → Sungailokan, Tanjung Jabung

Tanjung Jabung (tanjung means “promontory”) is a promontory at the eastern coat of Sumatera which ends the Berhala Bay (Perimulicus sinus) on the south. There is a village there named Sungailokan.

  1. Sabana, emporium (trading place) → Jambi city, also see Sobani fluvius hereafter

Jambi is the capital city of Jambi Province located on the eastern coast of central Sumatera on the bank of Batanghari River. It was the site of the Srivijaya Empire that engaged in trade throughout the Strait of Malaka and beyond. Jambi succeeded Palembang, its southern economic and military rival, as the capital of the kingdom. The movement of the capital to Jambi was partly induced by the 1025 raid by pirates from the Chola region of southern India, which destroyed much of Palembang.

The Jambi provincial administration is striving to have the ancient Muarojambi temple site at Muarojambi village not so far from the city of Jambi, recognized as a world heritage site. The site was a Buddhist education center that flourished during the 7th and 8th centuries and the temples are made from bricks similar to those used in Buddhist temples in India. The Nalanda inscription (860 CE) talks about king Devapaladeva of Bengala (Pala Empire) who had granted the request of Sri Maharaja of Suvarnadvipa  (Sumatera), Balaputra, to build a Buddhist monastery at Nalanda (present day Bihar state of Northeastern India).

Jambi is mentioned in Chinese chronicles in the era of Sung Dynasty as Chan-pi (Slamet Muljana, 2006). The history of the Sung Dynasty describes that the king of San-fo-tsi (Suvarnabhumi , “the Land of Gold”) resided in Chan-pi. The messenger from Chan-pi came for the first time at the Emperor’s palace in 853 CE. The second messenger came also in 871 CE. This information incarnates that Chan-pi has appeared confined to China in those years. A Chinese chronicle by Ling Pio Lui (890 – 905 CE) also mentions Chan-pi to send a trade mission to China. Earlier from a Tang Chinese monk, Yijing, wrote that he visited the Buddhist education center in 671 CE for six months to learn Sanskrit grammar and Malay language. In the year 687 CE, he stopped in again on his way back to Tang China and stayed there for two years to translate original Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. He describes that the place was a center of Buddhism where foreign scholars gathered.

Tanjungemas 2a

Figure 3 – Places in the region of eastern coast. Inset is the plot of places given by Ptolemy with his coordinate system. Numbers are related to the explanations in the text.

The piracy prone regions consist of place names, rivers (fluvius), a social body (civitas) and a trading place (emporium). It appears that these places are located along the Batanghari River which prone to piracy. The plot of their coordinates given by Ptolemy are shown on Figure 4.

  1. Zabæ, civitas (social body of citizens) → Muarasabak

According to Ptolemy, Marinus had quoted the sailor Alexander as journeying from the Golden Chersonese (Tanjungemas), ran from west to east, for a period of twenty days, until a port called Zabæ was reached. From this point, he declared, ships sailed southeastward for a still longer period until the town of Cattigara (unidentified place) was reached. Ptolemy mentions that its maximum hours of the day is more than 12¼ or about 1º in latitude. Apparently, Zabæ is the present-day Muarasabak (from muara, “estuary”, and Sabak), a delta at the estuary of Batanghari River, supposedly a busy trading port in the ancient time. Its latitude is about 1º south of equator.

So many archaeological artifacts were found in Muara Sabak, such as ancient boats, settlements, golden figurines and tombs, also potteries, ceramics, beads and pebbles thought to date from the Song Dynasty (11th to 13th centuries CE). The Arab chronicle by Abu Zaid Hassan (916 CE) mentions the place as Zabag or Zabaj where there was an emperor of Sribuza (Srivijaya) there. Other Arab explorers and chronicles also mention it: Mas’udi (10th century), Ibn Serapion (ca 950 CE), Aja’ib al-Hind (ca 1000 CE), Mukhtasar al-Aja’ib (ca 1000 CE), Al-Biruni’s India (early 11th century), Marwasi (ca 1120 CE) and Al-Idrisi (mid-12th century). Several 16th to 17th century maps mention it as Saban or Sabi.

  1. Acadra, place → Kotokandis

Kotokandis is a village on the bank of the junction of Batanghari River and its delta. There are ruins of Buddhist temples and finding of a Hindu bronze figurine of Dipalaksmi here and the adjacent Simpang village. There are also ancient tomb sites believed by the local people as the tombs of Orang Kayo Hitam, Putri Mayang Mangurai and Orang Kayo Pingai, the founders of the Jambi Sultanate.

  1. Thipinobasti, emporium (trading place) → Suakkandis

Suakkandis, previously known as Muarakumpeh, is a village on the bank of the junction of Batanghari River and its tributary, the Kumpeh river. Suakkandis was supposedly an ancient trading port where at present the majority of the population are fishermen. The Dutch used it as a trading post to control logistics to Muarasabak in the era of colonialism.

  1. Sobani, fluvius (river) → Lesser Jambi Stream, Muarojambi

There is a place on the bank of Batanghari River near the city of Jambi named Muarojambi, meaning the estuary of Jambi Stream. A small stream is there named Sungai Jambi Kecil, meaning “Lesser Jambi Stream”. Muarojambi is renown for the large Buddhist temple complex, supposedly used as the Buddhism learning center mentioned in ancient texts.

  1. Pagrasa, place → Lubukrusa

Lubukrusa is a small village on the bank of Batanghari River westward of Jambi city. There is a tributary named Danaubangko River across this village so that it was prone to piracy.

  1. Samarade, place → Muaratembesi

Muaratembesi is a district on the bank of the junction of Batanghari and Tembesi Rivers so that it was prone to piracy. Muaratembesi is supposedly the center of the 6th to 7th centuries Malayu Kingdom (Earlier Kingdom of Malay). There is a ruin of a fort built by the Dutch here.

Tanjungemas 3a

Figure 4 – Places in the region of piracy prone. Inset is the plot of places given by Ptolemy with his coordinate system. Numbers are related to the explanations in the text.

Greek knowledge of lands further to their east improved after the conquests of Alexander the Great, but specific references to places in Southeast Asia did not appear until after the rise of the Roman Empire. Greek geographer Eratosthenes (ca 276 –  195/194 BCE) and Roman geographer Pomponius Mela (43 CE ) had written about Chryse Insula (“Land of Gold”). Roman philosopher Pliny (23 – 79 CE) in Natural History referred to Chryse as both a promontory and an island. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE) refers to an island of Chryse, located furthest extremity towards the east of the inhabited world and lying under the rising sun itself. Dionysius Periegetes (about the end of the 3rd century) mentioned that the island of Chryse was situated at the very rising of the sun. Avienus (4th century CE) referred to the Insula Aurea (“Golden Island”) located where the Scythian seas give rise to the dawn.

The island of Chryse or Aurea argued by some in modern times as meaning Sumatera and equate it with Suvarnabhumi (“Land of Gold”) and Suvarnadvipa  (“Island of Gold”), while including or excluding the Malay Peninsula. Many ancient sources such as the Mahavamsa (between 543 BCE and 304 CE), some stories of the Jataka tales (around the 4th century BCE) and Milinda Panha (between 100 BCE and 200 CE) mention Suvarnabhumi. An inscription found at Padangroco (1286 CE), states that an image of Buddha Amoghapasa Lokeshvara was brought to Dharmasraya (Letter Kingdom of Malay) on the upper Batanghari River, transported from Bhumijava (Java) to Suvarnabhumi  (Sumatera), and erected by order of the Javanese ruler Kertanegara. The inscription clearly identifies Suvarnabhumi as Tanjungemas, or Aurea Chersonesus by Ptolemy, which is located in Sumatera. A Majapahit chronicle Nagarakretagama (1336 CE) mentions Suvarnabhumi to refer Sumatera.

An Indian text Samaraiccakaha (8th century CE) describes a sea voyage to Suvarnadvipa. These pointing out to the direction of western part of insular Southeast Asia. Buddhist Bengali religious leader and master Atisha, Indian Brahmin Buddhist scholar and a professor of Nalanda Dharmapala, and the South Indian Buddhist Vajrabodhi had visited Suvarnadvipa which refer to the Buddhist learning center in Sumatera. An influential Indian Buddhist philosopher Dharmakirti who worked at Nalanda, a Srivijayan prince of the Sailendra dynasty, born around the turn of the 7th century in Suvarnadvipa. All of these clearly identify Suvarnadvipa as Sumatera.

A passage may be cited from Josephus in his Antiquity of the Jews (93/94 CE) in speaking of the pilots furnished to Solomon by Hiram of Tyre. Solomon gave his command that they should go along with his stewards to the land that previously called Ophir, but then the Aurea Chersonesus, to fetch gold. From this he makes a definite statement, that Ophir and the Aurea Chersonesus are one. The 16th to 17th century maps mention Mount Ophir, which is the present-day Mount Talamau, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Tanjungemas. These are other evidence that the Aurea Chersonesus and Ophir are Tanjungemas.

While textual evidence may be ambiguous, there are plenty of physical evidence to indicate that Sumatera was the site of a flourishing gold mining industry in pre-historic times. When New Age European explorers and traders came to the island, they found widespread abandoned alluvial and underground gold workings. The extensiveness of some of these workings suggests the presence of a very large, organized workforce. Some of the larger sites include Lebongdonok in Bengkulu, where large grinding stones and classical gold coins have been found, underground excavations in palaeo-alluvials covered by volcanic deposits in Jambi, and Salido in West Sumatera. There is also archaeological evidence indicating that gold was melted and worked at Kotacina, which was a major trading center between the 12th and 14th centuries, located 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) southwest of Belawan in northeast Sumatera. Srivijaya Empire’s wealth and fame were mainly due to the reserves of gold found within its kingdom. In the 14th century, a senior minister of Majapahit Empire Adityawarman founded the Malayapura Kingdom centered near Tanjungemas and presided over the central Sumatera region, most likely to control the local gold trade.

In conclusion, we can assumed that Aurea Chersonesus, Chryse Insula, Aurea Insula, Suvarnabhumi, Suvarnadvipa and Ophir refer to the same island, that is Sumatera, and specifically Tanjungemas is the most renowned in pre-historic times.


Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2017. All rights reserved.

Lemuria and Mu

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 5 March 2017

Lemuria and Mu are sometimes distinct and sometimes interchangeable names for a legendary lost continent, which, according to its proponents, existed in the Atlantic, Indian or Pacific Oceans and had many of the attributes associated with Atlantis. The mysterious lost lands of Lemuria and Mu were conceived of during the 19th century, when the theory of evolution was introduced and was among the advances in the sciences that challenged conventional ways of understanding life. Archaeological discoveries among the ruins of the Egyptians, Maya and other societies were forcing new interpretations of history, and radical forms of mysticism, such as theosophy, were becoming popular.

Lemuria is the name of a hypothetical “lost land” variously located in the Indian or Pacific Oceans. A German naturalist Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (1834 – 1919), proposed that a land bridge spanning the Indian Ocean separating Madagascar from India could explain the widespread distribution of lemurs, small, primitive tree-dwelling mammals found in Africa, Madagascar, India and the Southeast Asian archipelago. Haeckel also suggested that lemurs were the ancestors of the human race and that this land bridge was the “probable cradle of the human race”. The name Lemuria originated with zoologist Phillip Lutley Sclater (1829 – 1913) in 1864 to gave the hypothetical continent in an article The Mammals of Madagascar in The Quarterly Journal of Science.

Lemuria then entered the lexicon of the occult through the works of Russian occultist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831 – 1891). In her massive tome The Secret Doctrine (1888), Blavatsky describes a history originating millions of years ago with the ‘Lords of Flame’ and goes on to discusses five ‘Root Races’ which have existed on earth, each one dying out in an earth-shattering cataclysm. The third of these Root Races she called the ‘Lemurian’, which lived a million years ago, and who were bizarre telepathic giants who kept dinosaurs as pets. The Lemurians eventually drowned when their continent was submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. The progeny of the Lemurians was the fourth Root Race, the human Atlanteans, who were brought down by their use of black magic, their continent of Atlantis sinking beneath the waves 850,000 years ago. Present humanity represents the Fifth Root Race. Blavatsky also describes survivors of the catastrophic destruction of Lemuria escaping to become the ancestors of some of the Aboriginal tribes of Australia. She maintained that she took all of her information regarding Lemuria from the Book of Dzyan, supposed to have been written in Atlantis and shown to her by the Indian adepts known as the ‘Mahatmas’.

According to L Sprague de Camp, Blavatsky’s concept of Lemuria was influenced by other contemporaneous writers on the theme of lost continents, notably American congressman Ignatius L Donnelly, American cult leader Thomas Lake Harris and the French writer Louis Jacolliot. What Blavatsky and other occultists since have suggested concerning Lemuria could be partly interpreted as an ideal spiritual condition of the soul, a kind of spiritual-historical vision. Nevertheless, there are some psychics and prophets who even today regard the existence of ancient Lemuria as a physical reality.

Mu is the name of a suggested lost continent whose concept and name were proposed by 19th-century travelers and writers Augustus Le Plongeon and Alice Dixon, who claimed that several ancient civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Mesoamerica, were created by refugees from Mu – which he located in the Atlantic Ocean. Le Plongeon and Dixon constructed an imaginative “history”, with the Maya sites in Yucatán being the cradle of civilization, with civilization then traveling east first to Atlantis and later to Ancient Egypt.

In his books Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayans and Quiches (1886) and Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx (1896), Le Plongeon interpreted part of the text of what was then called the Troano Codex (also known as the Madrid Codex), as revealing that the Maya of Yucatán were the ancestors of the Egyptians and many other civilizations. He also believed that an ancient continent, which he called Mu, had been destroyed by a volcanic eruption, the survivors of this cataclysm founding the Maya civilization. Le Plongeon actually got the name “Mu” from Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, who in 1864 mistranslated the Troano Codex using the de Landa alphabet. Researchers who have tried to use the de Landa alphabet have reported that it is completely erroneous. Le Plongeon’s credibility was badly damaged by this attempted translation of the Troana Codex. Recent research into the Mayan “alphabet” has shown it to not consist of hieroglyphics but logograms. Recent translations of the Troano Codex have shown it to be a treatise on astrology. Actually, the existence of Mu was already being disputed in the Le Plongeon’s time.

This concept of lost civilization of Mu was popularized and expanded by American Colonel James Churchward, who asserted that Mu was once located in the Pacific, with his publication of The Lost Continent of Mu in 1931. He claimed that the lost continent of Mu had once extended from an area north of Hawaii southwards as far as Fiji and Easter Island. According to Churchward, Mu was the original Garden of Eden and a technologically advanced civilization which boasted 64 million inhabitants. Around 12,000 years ago Mu was wiped out by an earthquake and submerged beneath the Pacific. Apparently Atlantis, a colony of Mu, was destroyed in the same way a thousand years later. All the world’s major ancient civilizations, from the Babylonians and the Persians, to the Maya and the Egyptians, were the remains of the colonies of Mu.

Churchward claimed he received this sensational information when, as a young officer in India during a famine in the 1880s, he became friendly with an Indian priest. This priest told Churchward that he and his two cousins were the only survivors of a 70,000 year old esoteric order which originated on Mu itself. This order was known as the “Naacal Brotherhood”. The priest showed Churchward a number of ancient tablets written by the Naacal Order in a forgotten ancient language, supposed to be the original language of mankind, which he taught the officer to read. Churchward later asserted that certain stone artefacts recovered in Mexico contained parts of the Sacred Inspired Writings of Mu, perhaps taking ideas from Augustus Le Plongeon and his use of the Troana Codex to provide evidence for the existence of Mu. Unfortunately, Churchward never produced any evidence to back up his exotic claims, he never published translations of the enigmatic Naacal tablets, and his books, though they still have many followers today, are perhaps better read as entertainment than factual studies of Mu.

The Lemuria and Mu theories disappeared completely from conventional scientific consideration after the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift were accepted by the larger scientific community. The theory affirms that moving plates of the Earth’s crust supported on less rigid mantle rocks causes continental drift, volcanic and seismic activity, and the formation of mountain chains. Geologists regard the theory of a sunken entire continent beneath the Pacific and Indian Oceans as an impossibility. If the massive foundations of a continent to be blown apart by volcanic action, its enormous base rocks would be seen today on the ocean floor. Madagascar and India were indeed once part of the same landmass, but plate movement caused India to break away and move to its present location would take millions of years. They also point out that theories of lost lands in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans mostly originate in the 19th century, when knowledge of the area was limited and well before the ocean floor had been mapped.

Lemuria and Mu existence is now considered to have no factual basis. The very facts that the theory was conceived to explain are now seen to be false. They are today considered to be fictional places, and books on the subject are generally found in the religion and spirituality sections of book stores. The vast land submergence and the population dispersal, occurred during and after the sea level rise of the Last Glacial period, are indeed now widely accepted by the larger scientific community, but the 19th century approach of Lemuria and Mu to prove the existence is outdated and has no factual basis.

LGM Ocean Map

World ocean map in the height of the Last Glacial Maximum period. Sundaland is the only inhabitable landmass which now partly disappear.


Austronesian Language Family

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 16 January 2017

The Austronesian language family stretches halfway around the world, covering a wide geographic area from Madagascar to Easter Island, and from Taiwan and Hawai to New Zealand. The family includes most of the languages spoken on the islands of the Pacific with the exception of the indigenous Papuan and Australian languages.

Austronesian languages are spoken in Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Indonesia, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mayotte, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna. The total number of speakers of Austronesian languages is about 386 million people, making it the fifth-largest language family by number of speakers, behind only the Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Niger-Congo and Afroasiatic languages.


Figure 1 – Spread of Austronesian language family

The existence of the Austronesian language family was first discovered in the 17th century when Polynesian words were compared to words in Malay. Otto Dempwolff was the first researcher to extensively explore Austronesian languages using the comparative method. Another German, Wilhelm Schmidt, coined the German word austronesisch which comes from Latin auster (south wind) and Greek nêsos (island). The name Austronesian was formed from the same roots. The family is aptly named, as the vast majority of Austronesian languages are spoken on islands: only a few languages are indigenous to mainland Asia.

With 1268 languages, Austronesian is one of the largest and the most geographically far spread language families of the world. Austronesian and Niger-Congo are the two largest language families in the world, each having roughly one-fifth of the total languages counted in the world. The geographical span of Austronesian languages was the largest of any language family before the spread of Indo-European in the colonial period, ranging from Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa to Easter Island in the eastern Pacific.

Despite extensive research into Austronesian languages, their origin and early history remain a matter of debate. Some scholars propose that the ancestral Proto-Austronesian language originated in Taiwan (Formosa), while other linguists believe that it originated in the islands of Indonesia.

The Austronesian language family is usually divided into two branches: Formosan and Malayo-Polynesian, with the latter is by far the largest of the two. Malayo-Polynesian is traditionally divided into two main sub-branches: Western and Central-Eastern.

The Western sub-branch includes 531 languages spoken in Madagascar, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, parts of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Micronesia (Chamorro and Palauan, represents over 300 million speakers and includes such widely spoken languages as Javanese, Malay, and Tagalog. The Central-Eastern sub-branch, sometimes referred to as Oceanic, contains around 706 languages spoken in most of New Guinea and throughout the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia but excluding the aboriginal Australian and Papuan languages, represents only under 2 million speakers.

The seven largest Austronesian speakers are: Javanese (~100 million), Filipino/Tagalog (~70 million native, ~100 million total), Malay (Malaysian/Indonesian) (~45 million native, ~250 million total), Sundanese (~39 million), Cebuano (~19 million native, ~30 million total), Malagasy (~17 million) and Madurese (~14 million). Twenty or so Austronesian languages are official in their respective countries.


Javanese language is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Its closest relatives are Malay, Sundanese, Madurese and Balinese languages. It is the most spoken Austronesian language, and the tenth largest language by native speakers in the world, and the largest language without official status in the world. Javanese is considered to be one of the world’s classical languages, with a literary tradition that goes back over a thousand years.

Javanese is the native language of more than 100 million people. Javanese is spoken by over 75 million people in the central and eastern parts of the island of Java. There are also pockets of Javanese speakers in the northern coast of western Java, mainly around Banten and Cirebon. Approximately 7.5 million Javanese speakers reside on the island of Sumatera in the North Sumatera Utara and Lampung (southern Sumatera) provinces. It is also spoken in Malaysia (concentrated in the states of Selangor and Johor), in the Netherlands and in Singapore. In addition, there are Javanese settlements in Papua, Sulawesi, Maluku, Kalimantan and Sumatera. Javanese is also spoken in the former Dutch colony of Surinam and New Caledonia.


Figure 2 – Spread of Javanese language in Java
(Source: Ethnologue, Languages of the World, Javanese)


Figure 3 – Spread of Javanese language in Sumatera
(Source: Ethnologue, Languages of the World, Javanese)

Javanese is one of the Austronesian languages, but it is not particularly close to other languages and is difficult to classify. Most speakers of Javanese also speak Indonesian, the standardized form of Malay spoken in Indonesia, for official and commercial purposes as well as a means to communicate with non-Javanese-speaking Indonesians.

Scholars recognize four stages in the development of Javanese language: Old Javanese (up to the 13th century), Middle Javanese (up to the 15th century), New Javanese (up to the 19th century), and Modern Javanese (present-day Javanese).

The Javanese language can be traced back to at least 450 CE via the Sanskrit Tarumanegara inscription, although accounts regarding the origins of the Javanese people and their language are largely speculative. The oldest attestation of a work composed entirely in Javanese is the Sukabumi inscription located in the district of Pare in the Kediri regency of East Java, a work that dates from 804 CE, which is a copy of the original, dated 120 years earlier. The 8th and 9th centuries marked the beginning of the Javanese literary tradition, punctuated by the Buddhist treatise Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan and a Javanese rendition of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. In 1293, the eastward expansion of the Hindu-Buddhist-Eastern Javanese empire known as Majapahit resulted in the spread of the Javanese language and writing system to Bali and Madura. Around the middle of the 14th century, Javanese replaced Balinese as the language of government and literature in Bali.

The Majapahit Empire saw the rise of Middle Javanese as effectively a new language, intermediate between Old and New Javanese, though Middle Javanese is similar enough to New Javanese to be understood by anyone who is well acquainted with current literary Javanese.

The Majapahit empire fell to Islamic forces around the turn of the 16th century, signaling the end of the Hindu Javanese empire. This ushered in the rise of the Islamic Javanese empire known as Mataram Sultanate, which was originally a vassal state of Majapahit. The 16th century saw the emergence of the New Javanese language. As the empire conquered a number of Sundanese areas of western Java, the Javanese language and culture spread westward. In its wake, Javanese became the dominant language, absorbing and heavily influencing languages like Sundanese, as was the case with Balinese in the 14th century. It was also the court language in Palembang, South Sumatera, until the palace was sacked by the Dutch in the late 18th century.

In later years, contact with Dutch colonizers and other Indonesian ethnic groups influenced the character of the language in numerous ways, the most notable being the influx of foreign loanwords.


Tagalog language is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family with more than 70 million speakers (28 million speakers as first language) in the Philippines, particularly in Manila, central and southern parts of Luzon, and also on the islands of Lubang, Marinduque, and the northern and eastern parts of Mindoro. Being Malayo-Polynesian, it is related to other Austronesian languages, such as Javanese, Malay (Indonesian and Malaysian), Sundanese, Cebuano, Malagasy and Madurese. It is the second most spoken Austronesian language after Javanese and before Malay. Tagalog speakers can also be found in many other countries, including Canada, Guam, Midway Islands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and USA.


Figure 4 – Spread of Tagalog language
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Tagalog was originally native to the southern part of Luzon, prior to spreading as a second language over all the islands of the Philippine archipelago, due to its selection as the basis for Filipino, the national language of the Philippines, and to the fact that Tagalog is spoken in the capital of Manila. From 1961 to 1987, Tagalog was also known as Pilipino, before it was changed to Filipino. Filipino has been influenced, principally in vocabulary by the languages with which they have come into contact: Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, English and Spanish.

The first written record of Tagalog is the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, which dates to 900 CE and exhibits fragments of the language along with Sanskrit, Malay, Javanese and Old Tagalog. The first known complete book to be written in Tagalog is the Doctrina Christiana (Christian Doctrine), printed in 1593.


Malay language, spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, parts of Thailand and southern Philippines, is a major language of the Austronesian language family. Over a period of two millennia, from a form that probably consisted of only 157 original words, Malay has undergone various stages of development that derived from different layers of foreign influences through international trade, religious expansion, colonization and developments of new socio-political trends. Within Austronesian, Malay language is part of a cluster of numerous closely related forms of speech known as the Malayan languages, which were spread across Malay Peninsula and the archipelago by Malay traders from Sumatera.

Modern Malay language has various official names. In Singapore and Brunei it is called Bahasa Melayu (Malay language); in Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian language); and in Indonesia, Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language); where the latter contributes about 60% of the total of all speakers. However, in areas of central to southern Sumatera where the language is indigenous, Indonesians refer to it as Bahasa Melayu and consider it one of their regional languages.


Figure 5 – Spread of Malay language
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The oldest form of Malay language, the Ancient Malay or Proto-Malay language, was descended from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by the earliest Austronesian settlers in Southeast Asia, that derived from Proto-Austronesian which began to break up by at least 2000 BCE. Proto-Malay language was spoken in Kalimantan at least by 1000 BCE and was, it has been argued, the ancestral language of all subsequent Malay dialects. Linguists generally agree that the homeland of the Malayic-Dayak languages is in Kalimantan, based on its geographic spread in the interior, its variations that are not due to contact-induced change, and its sometimes conservative character. Around the beginning of the first millennium, Malayic speakers had established settlements in the coastal regions of modern-day South Central Vietnam, Tambelan, Riau Islands, Sumatera, Malay Peninsula, Kalimantan, Luzon, Maluku Islands, Bangka-Belitung Islands, and Java.

With the penetration and proliferation of Dravidian vocabulary and the influence of major Indian religions, Ancient Malay evolved into the Old Malay language. The oldest uncontroversial specimen of Old Malay is the 7th-century-CE Sojomerto inscription from Central Java, Kedukan Bukit inscription from South Sumatera and several other inscriptions dating from the 7th to 10th centuries discovered in Sumatera, Malay Peninsula, western Java, other islands in the archipelago, and Luzon.

Malay evolved extensively into Classical Malay through the gradual influx of numerous Arabic and Persian vocabulary, when Islam made its way to the region. Earliest instances of Arabic lexicons incorporated in the pre-classical Malay written in Kawi was found in the Minyetujoh inscription dated 1380 CE from Aceh. Pre-Classical Malay took on a more radical form as attested in the 1303 CE Terengganu inscription and the 1468 CE Pengkalan Kempas inscription from Malay Peninsula. Initially, Classical Malay was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Malay kingdoms of Southeast Asia. The language spread through interethnic contact and trade across the archipelago as far as the Philippines. This contact resulted in a lingua franca that was called Bazaar Malay (melayu pasar, market Malay). It is generally believed that Bazaar Malay was a pidgin, a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common.

From 19th to 20th century, Malay language evolved progressively through a significant grammatical improvements and lexical enrichment into a modern language with more than 800,000 phrases in various disciplines.

Role of Austronesian-speaking People around the World

Austronesian-speaking people were a maritime people with considerable navigational skills. This maritime heritage has allowed the Austronesian-speaking people left their cultural and material marks in the regions of the world and it is not unreasonable to assume that they can reach other continents, including Americas. Archaeology, transfer of crops and material culture, and historical records can all contribute to explore Austronesian-speaking people relationships with the world communities. Genetic evidence increasingly has strengthened the belief of the existence of these relationships and supports the notion of cultural transfer that have been there before. Blow-guns, backstrap looms, bark-cloth, paper, coconuts, sweet potatoes, bottle-gourds, sailing rafts, are striking examples of technology spread by Austronesian contacts (Roger Blench, 2014).

Genomic analysis of cultivated coconut (Cocos nucifera) has shed light on the movements of Austronesian-speaking people. By examining 10 microsatelite loci, researchers found that there are 2 genetically distinct subpopulations of coconut – one originating in the Indian Ocean, the other in the Pacific Ocean. However, there is evidence of admixture, the transfer of genetic material, between the two populations. Given that coconuts are ideally suited for ocean dispersal, it seems possible that individuals from one population could have floated to the other. However, the locations of the admixture events are limited to Madagascar and coastal east Africa and exclude the Seychelles. This pattern coincides with the known trade routes of Austronesian sailors. Additionally, there is a genetically distinct subpopulation of coconut on the eastern coast of South America which has undergone a genetic bottleneck resulting from a founder effect; however, its ancestral population is the pacific coconut, which suggests that Austronesian-speaking people may have sailed as far east as the Americas.

The earliest known evidences of maritime activities in the regions of Austronesian-speaking people are found as cave paintings in the islands of Muna (Southeast Sulawesi), Kai (Maluku), Arguni (Papua), Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Flores and Timor dated back for more than 10,000 years BCE, those are fully decorated by sailboat paintings. A study by Fritz and Paul Sarasin published in Nature (2014) suggests that paintings in the Maros-Pangkep caves in Sulawesi range from 17,400 to 39,900 years old. Similarities of prehistorical remains found in Java and Australian Aborigines show that ancient maritime activities had been made between them. Long distance sailing technology in the region must have appeared much earlier, with the peopling of Australia through Southeast Asia some 40,000 years ago (Green, 2006). Jukung, a type of boat used by the people of southern Kalimantan is found similarly in Madagascar, as well as their languages are closely similar.


Figure 6 – Locations of rock arts with boat paintings

Archaeologists have revealed ample evidence of the active maritime networks in the Southeast Asian region that existed from at least 5,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Austronesian migration that spread throughout all of insular Southeast Asia and most of the Pacific (Bellwood, 1985, 1991, 1995; Bellwood and Dizon, 2005; Horridge, 1995; Reid, 1988; Ronquillo, 1998; Scott, 1994; Solheim, 1988, 2006). As pointed out by linguists, archaeologists and anthropologists, shared cultural traits such as language, agriculture, animal husbandry and pottery-making are evidence of the Austronesian maritime connection. Likewise a boat building tradition emerged out of Southeast Asian islands but scarcely addressed in archaeology and history subjects.

Similarities between boat-building technology in the regions of Austronesian-speaking people and in the Indian Ocean about 5,000 years ago were observed. Wooden boards added on the canoe hulls and sewn-plank boats spread across the archipelago were also observed on the boats in Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus River Valley. However, Horridge (2006) claimed that it is not appropriate to correlate them seeing that the Austronesian speaking people spread over the archipelago long before they were influenced by boat-building technology in the Indian Ocean or even Egypt. He shows that the Austronesian boats were developed using a triangular-shaped sail since about 200 BCE demonstrated by the spread of bronze kettle which is one of the artifacts of the Dong Son culture, but this sail type was developed in the Indian Ocean more recently about 200 CE and was adopted by the Portuguese sailors a thousand years later.

Austronesian boats on its development have unique characteristics with a triangular sail and single outrigger. The outrigger is made of bamboo trunks with transverse connectors at the top of the hull, while the triangular sail is formed using bamboo sticks supported by a slanting mast (Horridge, 2006).

Cloves and cinnamon were allegedly trade commodities brought by Austronesian speaking sailors towards India and Sri Lanka, and perhaps also towards the east coast of Africa by outrigged boats. They left trails of influences such as boat design, boat building techniques, outriggers, fishing techniques and so on as evidenced in the Greek literature (Christie, 1957 in Horridge, 2006). Hornel (1928 in Horridge, 2006) supported this argument that the boat shape in Bantu tribe in Victoria Nyanza, Uganda in East Africa is similar to those in Indonesia.


The Capital City of Atlantis

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 4 January 2017

Plato says that “where there was a city with a citadel and rings of water was in a real sea inside a strait surrounded by a boundless continent.” The boundless continent is the Sundaland attached to the Asian Continent, and the only sea surrounded by it in those days was the ancient Java Sea, suggesting that the capital island and city are located in the Java Sea.

The statement that “the island was located near the plain and all the canals met at the city and drained into the sea”, suggesting that the island is located south of the plain, in a place now under the Java Sea.

The site is identified by the sailors as Gosong Gia or Annie Florence Reef, a coral reef described as small in extent and dries at low water.

The city of Atlantis was an island with a small hill at its center. The city and the island existed long enough for many kings to develop it. It had rings of water and a passage from the sea to the inner ring. They bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis. A stone wall began at the sea and went all round. They used orichalcum, tin and brass or bronze to cover the outer walls of their cities.

There was a hill, not too high, near the middle of the center island. At the top of the central hill, a temple was built to honor Poseidon, which housed a giant gold statue of him. They built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors, which they continued to ornament in successive generations.

As said by Plato, the temple of Poseidon was built in the center island which was a hill, encircled by rings of waters. To reach the temple from the innermost ring of water, steps on the hill slope were definitely required. This could mean that the temple is featuring an earth-and-stone step pyramid structure, characterizes the original culture of Nusantara that is referred to as “punden berundak”. The temple was also the place to worship their ancestors.

As well as menhirs, stone tables, and stone statues, Austronesian megalithic culture in Nusantara features an earth and stone step pyramid structure, referred to as “punden berundak”. “Punden berundak” is regarded as one of the characteristics of the original culture of the archipelago. These structures have been found and spread throughout Nusantara as far as Polynesia.

The phrase “for which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a reef of mud, or clay, in the way” confirms the location. Coral reef is scarce in the Mediterranean so that the Greeks and the Egyptians did not own the term, then Plato wrote it as “a reef of mud, or clay”. Coral reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters, and on hard, underwater surfaces, thus constitute the ideal conditions for the Java Sea. It is confirmed further by the phrase “caused by the subsidence of the island”, as the growth of the coral reef was caused by the sea level rise during the last glacial period.

The sea level kept rising until about 6,000 years ago. Corals grew on the solid structures, along with sedimentation and other processes.

There is an existing coral reef named Gosong Gia or Annie Florence Reef. The top of the reef is about 10 meters below the average sea level, and the surrounding sea bed is about 55 meters below the average sea level. The city structures are still apparent from the patterns of the reefs. The depth of the sea here exactly coincides the land level about 11,600 years ago. As Plato writes that “The sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a reef of mud or clay, or a coral reef.”

Bawean Island off in the Java Sea is a prototype of the island of Atlantis as it has the same environment, geological formation and tectonic processes, as well as they are closely situated. Bawean and Atlantis islands are both located on a geological arc identified by the geologists as Bawean Arc. It is described that “they had springs, one of cold and another of hot water”. There are several hot and cold springs in the Bawean Island resulted from the tectonic activities in the region.

The descriptions “the stones were quarried from the center island and the zones, with white, black and red colors” and “they hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock” are also noticeable. The stones are apparently similar to the igneous rock deposited in the Bawean Island having the acidic white, alkaline black-grey and ferro-oxide red rocks. This igneous rock is hard and strong having enough natural strength to stand as roofs of the hollowed out double docks.

Plato Embodies the Athens as Part of the Atlantis Story

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 26 May 2016

Plato is alleged to have embodied the Athens as part of the story of Atlantis to show their greatest and noblest action. This allegation is supported by the expressions contained in the Timaeus and Critias as shown below.

From the Timaeus Section 24e: “… your state stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean …”

From the Critias Section 108e: “… the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them …”

From the Timaeus Section 25a: “… for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent.

The positions of Atlantis and the Athens are geographically described as follows.

  1. The state of Atlantis is located at a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean. As discussed previously, the ancient Greek understanding on the Atlantic Ocean was the ocean surrounding the whole Earth, which are now arbitrarily divided into the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  2. The Atlantis and the Athens were bordered by Pillars of Heracles which among others were placed in a strait called the Strait of Heracles.
  3. The city of Atlantis was within the Strait of Heracles, where there was a harbor with a narrow entrance and in a sea surrounded by a boundless continent. This means that the city of the Athens was at the outside of the strait and the sea.

These geographic descriptions are not applicable to the existence of Atlantis around the Mediterranean due to the fact that the city of the Athens in Greece is located on the side of the Mediterranean Sea and inside both the Strait of Sicily and the Strait of Gibraltar. Placing Atlantis at the opposite side of one of these straits is not consistent with the statement that the city of Atlantis was located inside a strait and in a sea surrounded by a boundless continent. The statement that the state of Atlantis was located at a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean by itself put the city of the Athens at a distant location as well since both regions were close together as told in the story, therefore they were not located around the Mediterranean.

The allegation that Plato had embodied the Athens as part of the story is further supported by the following expressions.

From the Timaeus Section 23e: “She founded your city [of the Athens] a thousand years before ours [Egypt] …”

From the Critias Sections 111b and 111c: “… but the earth [of the Athens] has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight … there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, as in the case of small islands, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left.

From the Critias Section 111d: “… not as now losing the water which flows off the bare earth into the sea …”

It is said that the Athens which formerly had a vast and fertile land, at the time of Solon had sunk all around and all that remains were small rocky parts, they may call the bones of the wasted body. What was meant by the land subsidence is due to the sea level rise during the Last Glacial period, so as if the land was fallen away. Only a few trees growing on the remains of the land and consists almost entirely of bare land so that rain water flows only just on it and then lost to the sea. These statements do not describe the conditions of the city of the Athens at the time of Solon and to this day is not so much different.

The statement that the city of the Athens had been established a thousand years before Egypt is also incompatible. Archaeological evidence suggests that Egyptian civilization is older than Greece. In addition, the city of the Athens is not proven to exist in 9,000 years before Solon, but only about 3,400 years ago.

Those Plato’s statements indicate that he had embodied the Athens as part of the story of Atlantis. The same thing he did to Egypt, Libya and Tyrrhenia. This is in order to support his ideology of an ideal state as in The Republic, related to the greatest and noblest action of the Ancient Athens and the defeat of aggressive Atlantis. The Atlantis in the story as told by Egyptian priests is probably ever really existed. However, the Athens, as well as the Egyptians, the Libyans and the Tyrrhenians, were probably primordial ethnic groups as their ancestors among the refugees and survivors prior the sea level rise, deluges and other catastrophes, then resettled on the present lands.

The Timeline of Atlantis Story

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 25 May 2016

From the Timaeus Sections 23e and 24a: “She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action …”

From the Critias Section 108e: “… nine thousand was the sum of years which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Pillars of Heracles and all who dwelt within them …”

From the Critias Sections 111b and 111c: “Many great deluges have taken place during the nine thousand years, for that is the number of years which have elapsed since the time of which I am speaking; and during all this time and through so many changes, there has never been any considerable accumulation of the soil coming down from the mountains, as in other places, but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk out of sight.

Based on the above narratives, the timeline of Atlantis story is made as below.

  1. Sometimes before 10,000 years before Solon – the “Athens” was founded
  2. Sometimes before 9,000 years before Solon – the “Egyptians” was founded
  3. Shortly before 9,000 years before Solon – the regions from “Libya” as far as “Egypt” and “Europe” as far as “Tyrrhenia” were conquered by Atlantis
  4. 9,000 years before Solon – a war between Atlantis and the “Athens” took place
  5. 8,000 years before Solon – the Egyptians recorded their sacred registers
  6. Between 9,000 years before Solon and Solon’s time – many great deluges and land subsidence took place
  7. About 600 BC – the Egyptian priests told story about Atlantis to Solon
  8. About 360 BC – Plato wrote Timaeus and Critias



Kangdez, an Iranian Myth

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 19 April 2016

Kangdez refers to a mythical, paradise-like fortress in Iranian folklore, means “Fortress of Kang”. In Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, Kangdez becomes Gangdez.

The Middle Persian Pahlavi texts mention Kangdez as being founded by Siyavakhsh (Siavosh in the Shahnameh). In the Bundahishn and Dadestan i-Denig, Kangdez was conquered by Kay Khosrow. In Pahlavi Zoroastrian eschatological works, Kangdez is the abode of Peshotan, son of King Vishtasp, and Khwarsheed-chihr  son of Zarathushtra, who will gather their righteous army there before the final battle against Ahriman and his creatures. In Dinkard the previous information is ascribed to the lost Sudgar Nask of the Sassanid Avesta.

In the Shahnameh, Siavosh, having fled from Kay Kavus to Turan, is granted by Turan’s King Afrasiab a pleasant piece of land, where Siavosh erects the castle Kangdez by miraculous power. In other Persian texts, the construction of Kangdez is attributed to Kay Kavus, Kay Khosrow and even Legendary King Jamshid. The region around the castle Kangdez is described as being rich in water and game, and knowing neither the frost of winter nor the heat of summer. It is thirty farsakh square in size (1 farsakh is about 6.2 kilometers). The walled city of Kangdez is also called Kang-e Siavosh, Kang-e Siyavakhsh, Siavoshgerd and Siyavakhshgerd, in different texts. The combination of urban structures and gardens within the city walls, the absence of heat and frost, as well as several (usually seven) walls or buildings made of different materials is a characteristic description of towns in Iranian lore.

According to the Bundahisn, the Kangdez was originally supported on the heads of dews (also in Pahlavi), but was placed on the ground by Kay Khosrow. It had seven ring walls made of gold, silver, steel, brass, iron, crystal, and lapis lazuli (Bundahisn); or stone, steel, crystal, silver, gold, chalcedony and ruby (Pahlavi). It also had hands and feet, and there was eternal spring. Its dimensions were so enormous that it took a man with horse and chariot fifteen days to drive from one of its fifteen gates to the next (Bundahisn), set 700 parasangs (about 3900 kilometers) apart (Pahlavi). Each gate was the height of fifteen men, and the castle itself was so tall that the arrow of the best archers might not reach the top (Pahlavi).

According to the Pahlavi, the Kangdez was, apparently, at first in the other world, but was invited down to the earth by Kay Khosrow, who addressed it as his sister, since it had been made by his father (Siavosh). It came down in eastern Turan, in the area of Siavosh-kerd, and Kay Khosrow settled “the Iranians” in it, who would not leave it until the coming of Pisyotan (Wistasp’s eschatological son) at the end of time. It had a silver tower with golden crenellations, accommodating fourteen mountains and seven rivers in spate. After the end of the Kayanids, Pisyotan will be king and priest in the Kang until the final battles, which he goes out to fight, but then returns and stays until the Renovation.

Siavosh lived in Kangdez until he was cunningly killed by Afrasiab. When he learnt of his father’s murder, Siavosh’s son, Kay Khosrow, pledged vengance. When Kay Khosrow ascended the throne of Iranshahr, he launched a series of expeditions against Turan and Afrasiab, who he eventually defeated. Afrasiab fled to China and from there sails to Kangdez. Kay Khosrow pursues Afrasiab, puts together a naval force, and sets sail for Kangdez which he reaches after a six-month-long voyage, but Afrasiab has already secretly escaped. Kay Khosrow resides in Kangdez for one year and then sails back to Iran through Turanian territory.

Kangdez (2)

In the Sassanid Avesta, the Vourukasha Sea lies in the extreme East from which all waters come with the wind and clouds. It is described as the “deep sea of salt waters”. Reference is made to tides, of the “waters rising up and going down” and of a southern sea into which the Vourukasha empties and from which it refills causing the tidal ebb and flow. In the Vourukasha Sea is Eranvej, where the peak Hukairya is located. On Hukairya is the world spring and world river known as Aredvi Sura Anahita, the source of water for all the “world’s rivers”. Also on this peak grows the sacred “white haoma”.

In latter literature, Siavosh is said to have built Kangdez on the “frontier” of Eranvej. In the Vourukasha Sea is also mentioned the giant ox from whose back was taken the three sacred fires.

In the Dadestan i-Menog i-Khrad, the location of Kangdez is described as “entrusted with the eastern quarter, near to Satavayes on the frontier of Airan-vego”. Satavayes is a star or constellation. According to late Zoroastrian texts, Kangdez was located beyond Khotan (Hotan now) and China, a year’s voyage (six months for Kay Khosrow) to the East by sea from the Baluchi port of Makran. Arab geographer, al-Biruni, identifies Kangdez with another land of Yamakoti, the legendary easternmost town of the Indian oecumene.

The geographers who used Kangdez as the prime meridian belonged to what is known as the al-Balkhi school, after Abu Mashar al-Balkhi, known in the West as Albumasar. During the Middle Ages, Albumasar was the most renowned of Muslim astronomer/astrologers in Europe. His theories of historical cycles linked with the planets influenced many European astrologers including Nostradamus whose key work Revolutions was based on such concepts. Abu Mashar al-Balkhi placed the meridian in the far East, based his geographical canon on Kangdez as 0 degrees longitude. The reference to 0 longitude alludes to the concept that Kangdez is considered the centre of the earth. Al-Kashi in the 15th century places Kangdez at the extreme East or 180 degrees East longitude, and at the equator (0 degrees latitude).

Descriptions of Kangdez mentioned above, including its location at the extreme far east, in a sea (ocean) which could be reached from Iran by sea (a year or six-month’s voyage), situated around the equator, there was no snow, there were two seasons , outside of China, east of India (according to al-Biruni), many rivers, water and mountains, and there was a row of volcanoes ( “giant ox” where from whose back was taken the three sacred fires) indicate that Kangdez is most likely located in Sundaland. The descriptions of the fortress town of Kangdez, among others, consists of rings of walls coated with precious metals and stones, plenty of water and games, there were eternal springs, there was a tower of silver and gold, built by leaders who glorified (Siavosh or Kay Khosrow) with miraculous power, there were rivers and mountains, consists of plains influenced by sea tides, rivers were fed from the mountains and flow towards the south, and was in the marine environment, show that Kangdez approximately has characteristics similar to Atlantis.


Copyright  © 2015-2016, Dhani Irwanto

Kumari Kandam

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 8 April 2016

Kumari Kandam refers to a hypothetical lost continent with an ancient Tamil civilization, located south of present-day India, in the Indian Ocean. Alternative names and spellings include Kumarikkantam and Kumari Nadu. Most Tamil revivalists connect it with the Pandyan kingdom mentioned in the works of literary Tamil and Sanskrit.

The words “Kumari Kandam” first appear in Kanda Puranam, a 15th-century Tamil version of the Skanda Purana, written by Kachiappa Sivacharyara (1350 – 1420). Although the Tamil revivalists insist that it is a pure Tamil name, it is actually a derivative of the Sanskrit words “Kumarika Khanda”. The Andakosappadalam section of Kanda Puranam describes the following cosmological model of the universe.

There are many worlds, each having several continents, which in turn, have several kingdoms. Paratan, the ruler of one such kingdom, had eight sons and one daughter. He further divided his kingdom into nine parts, and the part ruled by his daughter Kumari came to be known as Kumari Kandam after her. Kumari Kandam is described as the kingdom of the Earth.

Although the Kumari Kandam theory became popular among anti-Brahmin anti-Sanskrit Tamil nationalists, the Kanda Puranam actually describes Kumari Kandam as the land where the Brahmins also reside, where Shiva is worshipped and where the Vedas are recited. The rest of the kingdoms are described as the territory of the Mlecchas.

Multiple ancient and medieval Tamil and Sanskrit works contain legendary accounts of lands in South India being lost to the ocean. The earliest explicit discussion of a katalkol (“seizure by ocean”, possibly the sea water rise) of Pandyan land is found in a commentary on Iraiyanar Akapporul. This commentary, attributed to Nakkeerar, is dated to the later centuries of the 1st millennium CE. It mentions that the Pandyan kings, an early Tamil dynasty, established three literary academies (sangams). The first two sangams were not located in South India now but in an ancient Tamil country in the south which then sank. The first sangam flourished for 4,400 years in a city called Tenmaturai, attended by 549 poets (including Agastya) and presided over by gods like Shiva, Kubera and Murugan. The second sangam lasted for 3,700 years in a city called Kapatapuram, attended by 59 poets (including Agastya, again). The commentary states that both the cities were “seized by the ocean”, resulting in loss of all the works created during the first two sangams. The third sangam was established in Uttara (North) Madurai, where it is said to have lasted for 1,850 years. The Pandyan capital of Kapatapuram finds mention in the Ramayana and Chanakya’s Arthasastra (ca 4th century BCE).

Nakkeerar’s commentary does not mention the size of the territory lost to the sea. The size is first mentioned in a 15th-century commentary on Silappatikaram. The commentator Adiyarkunallar mentions that the lost land extended from Pahruli river in the north to the Kumari river in the South. It was located to the south of Kanyakumari, and covered an area of 700 kavatam (a unit of unknown measurement). It was divided into 49 territories (natu), classified in seven categories: elu teñku natu (“seven coconut lands”), elu maturai natu (“seven mango lands”), elu munpalai natu (“seven front sandy lands”), elu pinpalai natu (“seven back sandy lands”), elu kunra natu (“seven hilly lands”), elu kunakarai natu (“seven coastal lands”) and elu kurumpanai natu (“seven dwarf-palm lands”).

A mountain range had forty-eight high peaks. Four rivers were originated from Meru Malai: Kumari Aaru, Peru Aaru, Pahruli Aaru and Kanni Aaru. The Pahruli river was excavated to irrigate the mountain valley by the Pandyan King Nediyon. Ruby was mined from the mountain Mani Malai and gold from Meru Malai. It is said that Chinese laborers were employed by the Pandyan King and when they went down the mines they appeared like a huge army of small ants, therefore, they were called “the gold mining ants”.

Other medieval writers, such as Ilampuranar and Perasiriyar, also make stray references to the loss of antediluvian lands to the south of Kanyakumari, in their commentaries on ancient texts like Tolkappiyam. Another legend about the loss of Pandyan territory to the sea is found in scattered verses of Purananuru (dated between 1st century BCE and 5th century CE) and Kaliththokai (6th – 7th  century CE). According to this account, the Pandyan king compensated the loss of his land by seizing an equivalent amount of land from the neighboring kingdoms of Cheras and Cholas.

Kumari Kandam is a Tamil legend about ancient civilization geographically located in the Indian Ocean and then sank into the ocean. Though many Tamil writers do not assign any date to the submergence of Kumari Kandam, resorting to phrases like “once upon a time” or “several thousands of years ago”, but the stories are consistent with the theory of post-glacial been widely acceptable by scientists. This ancient Tamil civilization was located south to Tamil now, or to go to their new land they reached from the south. Vast land which sank in the geological past is not other than Sundaland. Previous theories hypothesized that the vast mainland of Kumari Kandam was located in the south of the Indian subcontinent, but the theory of tectonic plate movement does not support the existence of such land within some thousands years back. It can be presumed that Kumari Kandam is having a relationship with Atlantis or other civilizations thereafter.

The years of the three stages of sangams are summed up to a date between 11,000 and 12,000 years BP, almost the similar number by the Plato’s dating on Atlantis of 11,600 BP, which could relate the Pandyan Kingdom to Atlantis. The mentions of mountain ranges which had forty-eight high peaks, the four rivers originated from the mountains, and the mining of gold and precious stones coincidentally match the Biblical Garden of Eden hypothesized by the author in the southern Kalimantan. The mountain Meru Malai, where there were mountain ranges which had forty-eight high peaks coincidentally match the Malea Mountains in the Ptolemy’s account of Taprobana, in which the author hypothesizes as the Malawi region in Kalimantan on the Schwaner-Muller mountain ranges. These mountain ranges have tens of peaks, to the south lays an expanse of alluvial plain and the origins of four main rivers: Kahayan, Kapuas, Barito and Negara. The Pahruli river excavated for irrigation purposes also coincidentally match the Plato’s description of Atlantis.



Copyright  © 2015-2016, Dhani Irwanto

Atlantis Layout

<Bahasa Indonesia>

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 20 February 2016

In Timaeus Section 24e Plato describes that the country of Atlantis was larger than Libya and Asia Minor put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which encompasses the true ocean.

Atlantis Country

Plato describes the Atlantis Plain plain was level, surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea, smooth and even, rectangular and oblong shaped, three thousand stadia (about 555 kilometers) long, two thousand stadia (about 370 kilometers) wide, looked towards the south, sheltered from the north, surrounded by mountains celebrated for their number, size and beauty; and had wealthy villages of country folk, rivers, lakes, and meadows.


There were four kinds of channels: the circular (perimeter) ditch, the inland channels, the transverse passages and the irrigation streams. The perimeter ditch was artificial, 100 feet (about 30 meters) deep, 1 stadium (about 185 meters) wide, 10,000 stadia (about 1,850 kilometers) long, carried round the whole plain, received streams from the mountains, winding around the plain, meeting at the city and let off into the sea. The inland canals were straight, 100 feet (about 30 meters) wide, 100 stadia (about 18.5 kilometers) intervals, let off into the perimeter ditch and as means for transporting wood and products in ships. The transverse passages were cut from one inland canal into another. The irrigation streams tapping from the canals were meant to irrigate the land in the summer (dry season) while in the winter (rainy season) had the benefit of the rains.


Flyer (2)

Copyright  © 2015-2016, Dhani Irwanto

Detecting Ancient Coastal Civilizations from Coral Reefs

A research by Dhani Irwanto, 3 February 2016

Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals. Coral reefs are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect the coral polyps. Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters.

Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae attach to submerged hard surfaces. As the corals grow and expand, reefs take on one of three major characteristic structures – fringing, barrier or atoll. Fringing reefs, which are the most common, project directly from the hard surfaces, forming reefs and expand in horizontal and vertical directions. Barrier reefs also project, but at a greater distance. If a fringing reef forms around a rocky island that subsides completely below sea level while the coral continues to grow upward, an atoll forms.

The Sunda shelf was exposed during the Ice Age, the most recent glacial period occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago. It was in the Sundaland that man first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented farming, structure building, seafaring and civilization from 70,000 years ago. People of these civilizations were dependent on water for their mobilizations, so coastal areas were the most suitable places to live and then communities were formed there. They used stones and woods to build houses and other buildings since these materials were abundant in the region.

The Ice Age waned during the period 14,000 – 7,000 years ago that accompanied by sea level rise – as much as 130 m. The costal communities then moved to adjust the changing coastlines and remnants of their buildings were left sank under the sea. Finding the most suitable places to grow, coral reefs were formed on these buildings.

Based on the data of coral reefs and bathymetric maps, the author identifies the probable sites and ages of the ancient civilizations, as shown on the attached map. Note that not all of the coral reef sites were ancient civilizations because coral reefs could form on natural hard surfaces as well.

According to Plato’s narrative, Atlantis ended at around 11,600 years ago. Based on the above study, the location of the capital city of Atlantis is expected at one of the very ancient civilization sites shown on the map. Plato also wrote that the capital city of Atlantis at Solon’s time had been covered by a coral reef so it was not navigable.

Coral Reefs (4)


Copyright © Dhani Irwanto, 2016. All rights reserved.