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.
Sundaland is a bio-geographical region of Southeastern Asia which encompasses the Sunda shelf, the part of the Asian continental shelf that was exposed during the last Ice Age. The last glacial period, popularly known as the Ice Age, was the most recent glacial period within the current Ice Age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 12,000 years ago. It included the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland, as well as the large islands of Kalimantan, Java, and Sumatera and their surrounding islands. The eastern boundary of Sundaland is the Wallace Line, identified by Alfred Russel Wallace as the eastern boundary of the range of Asia’s land mammal fauna, and thus the boundary of the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. The islands east of the Wallace line are known as Wallacea, and are considered part of Australasia. It is worth noting that it is now generally accepted that South East Asia was probably the entry point of modern humans from Africa.
The name “Sundaland” was first proposed by van Bemmelen in 1949, followed by Katili (1975), Hamilton (1979) and Hutchison (1989), to describe the continental core of Southeast Asia forming the southern part of the Eurasian plate. Sundaland is bordered to the west, south and east by tectonically active region characterized by intense seismicity and volcanic activity. The tectonically active zone is effectively a mountain belt in the process of formation, and contain many of the features typically thought to be associated with accretionary orogens: there is active subduction, transfer of material at plate boundaries, examples of collision with buoyant feature on oceanic plates, arcs and continents, and abundant magmatism.
The present orogenic belt is situated at the junction of three major plates: the Eurasian, Indian, Australian and Pacific-Philippine Sea plates. It surrounds Sundaland and stretches from Sumatera to The Philippines via eastern Indonesia. It changes character and width from west to east and is composed of different segments or sutures with different character.
Figure 1 – Sundaland map
The South China Sea and adjoining landmasses had been investigated by scientists such as Molengraaff and Umbgrove, who had postulated ancient, now submerged drainage systems. These were mapped by Tjia in 1980 and described in greater detail by Emmel and Curray in 1982 complete with river deltas, floodplains and back swamps. The ecology of the exposed Sunda Shelf has been investigated by analyzing cores drilled into the ocean bed. The pollens found in the cores have revealed a complex ecosystem that changed over time. The flooding of Sundaland separated species that had once shared the same environment such as the river threadfin (Polydactylus macrophthalmus, Bleeker 1858; Polynemus borneensis, Vaillant 1893) that had once thrived in a river system now called “North Sunda River” or “Molengraaff River”. The fish is now found in the Kapuas River on the island of Kalimantan, and in the Musi and Batanghari rivers in Sumatera.
The last glacial period, popularly known as the Ice Age, was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 11,600 years BP. The most extensive glaciation in the last glacial period was about 21,000 years ago. Scientists consider this Ice Age to be merely the latest glaciation event in a much larger ice age, one that dates back over two million years and has seen multiple glaciations.
During this period, there were several changes between glacier advance and retreat. The maximum extent of glaciation within this last glacial period was approximately 22,000 years BP. While the general pattern of global cooling and glacier advance was similar, local differences in the development of glacier advance and retreat makes it difficult to compare the details from continent to continent.
From the point of view of human archaeology, it falls in the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. When the glaciation event started, Homo sapiens were confined to Africa and used tools comparable to those used by Neanderthals in Europe and the Levant and by Homo erectus in Asia. Near the end of the event, Homo sapiens spread into Europe, Asia, and Australia. The retreat of the glaciers allowed groups of Asians to migrate to the Americas and populate them.
Figure 2 – Post-Glacial sea level
The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief (1,300 ± 70 years) period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred between approximately 12,800 and 11,600 years BP. The Younger Dryas stadial is thought to have been caused by the collapse of the North American ice sheets, although rival theories have been proposed. It followed the Bølling-Allerød interstadial (warm period) at the end of the Pleistocene and preceded the preboreal of the early Holocene. It is named after an indicator genus, the alpine-tundra wildflower Dryas Octopetala.
The Dryas stadials were cold periods which interrupted the warming trend since the Last Glacial Maximum 21,000 years BP. The Older Dryas occurred approximately 1,000 years before the Younger Dryas and lasted about 400 years. The Oldest Dryas is dated between approximately 18,000 and 14,700 BP.
Figure 3 – Last Glacial temperature measured from the Greenland ice layers
Figure 4 – Last Glacial Maximum temperature animation
Figure 5 – A map showing the Sundaland around the Last Glacial period (21,000 years BP) generated by the author from the GTOPO30 elevation grids published by USGS. The sea water level was around 120 meter below the present-day sea water level. The flow pattern of the rivers below the present-day sea water level is generated using the same grids and approximations of sea sedimentation, littoral drift, delta formation, meandering, river regime change and river bed movement. The present-day inland rivers are combined. The colors other than blue represent the ground levels. The thin red lines are the present-day shorelines.
Present-day topographic and bathymetric data covering the Sunda Shelf in geographic projection (latitude and longitude) are extracted from the GTOPO30 elevation grids published by USGS. GTOPO30 refers to 30-arc second (approximately 0.9 km near equator) horizontal latitude and longitude spatial resolution of digital elevation model (DEM) file format. Other similar grids like GEBCO_8 published by IHO and IOC/UNESCO, and ETOPO1 published by NOAA are also used as references. A color scheme is applied to the DEM in which areas below -120 m are represented by blue colors so that the Last Glacial Maximum coastlines can be easily identified.
Several assumptions are made in the analytical procedures (Sathiamurthy et al, 2006). First, it is assumed that the current topography and bathymetry of the region approximate the physiography that existed during the span of time from 21,000 years BP to present. However, because sedimentation and scouring processes have affected the bathymetry of the Sunda Shelf over the last 21,000 years (Schimanski and Stattegger, 2005), we know that this is only an approximation. Thus, it should be emphasized that the depth and geometry of the Sunda Shelf and the existing present-day submerged depressions do not reflect past conditions precisely.
Second, it is assumed that the present-day sea bed are likely to have existed during the Last Glacial Maximum and have not resulted from seabed scouring by currents, limestone solution, or tectonic movement-possibilities that were pointed out by Umbgrove (1949) as perhaps taking place during early post-Pleistocene transgression. In the case of tectonic movement, Geyh et al (1979) mentioned that the Sumatera Strait was tectonically stable at least during the Holocene. Furthermore, Tjia et al (1983), state that the Sunda Shelf has been largely tectonically stable since the beginning of the Tertiary. Nevertheless, Tjia et al (1983) indicated that sea level rise in this region may be attributed to a combination of actual sea level rise and vertical crust movement. Hill (1968) in reference to earlier work done by Umbgrove (1949), suggested the possibility of limestone solution as a mode of depression formation (as in the case of the Lumut pit off the coast of Perak, Malaysia), and gave an alternative explanation, which was of tectonic origin.
Sea bed sedimentation data are rarely available but approximation of sedimentation process is made in generating the topographic and bathymetric regional map of Sundaland. In similar conditions, other processes like littoral drift, delta formation, meandering, river regime change and river bed movement are also approximated and incorporated on the maps. Ancient lakes are reconstructed from the DEM and any geological history that exist. Small and insignificant islands are removed.
Along with the topographic and bathymetric map, shorelines at certain sea water levels, ground surface slope, river watersheds and flow pattern of rivers are also generated and place them in different layers.
Figure 6 – A map showing the Sundaland major watersheds around the Last Glacial Maximum period (21,000 years BP) generated by the author using the same method as in the previous figures. River names are given referring to the sea, strait, gulf, island or present day river names occupied by the watersheds.
Cannon et al (2009) have done research on the distribution of vegetation in Sundaland during the Last Glacial Maximum using explicit spatial model coupled with the evidence of geography, paleoclimatology and geology. The vegetation is divided into three types, namely coastal/swamp, lowland and highland evergreen rainforests.
Coastal/swamp evergreen rainforests experienced the most dynamic biogeographic history of the 3 forest types examined. At the peak of the Last Glacial Maximum, when sea levels fell below the shelf margin, mangroves were restricted to a very narrow belt along coastlines. However, many coastal swamp taxa would have maintained widespread inland distributions on poorly drained interfluves on watershed or kerapah peats, and in kerangas vegetation, which share many taxa with coastal peat swamp forests. As the shelf began to flood, especially from 11,000 to 9,000 BP, the coastal/swamp evergreen rainforests would have experienced a dramatic but relatively brief expansion. Since about 8,000 BP, coastal forests have roughly remained in their present positions, with the extent of mangroves, freshwater alluvial and peatswamps being determined by the patterns of progradation of individual river deltas following the Holocene transgression. The coastal/swamp evergreen rainforests also experienced a sudden and complete geographic relocation over hundreds of kilometers during the flooding, as the coastline retreated quickly across the shelf, coupled with an equally dramatic change in core area from minimal at the Last Glacial Maximum to maximal at the time of the flooding of Sundaland.
The total area and core area of the lowland evergreen rainforests were substantially greater than current conditions through the vast majority of the last glacial cycle, with the presence of an open corridor of seasonal forest having relatively little impact. The total area and core area of the highland evergreen rainforests experienced a gradual upward trend through the last glacial cycle, with a fairly dramatic peak at the Last Glacial Maximum. In general, the distribution of the highland evergreen rainforests was very sensitive to the interaction between temperature change and vegetation lapse rate.
Figure 7 – Vegetation map of Sundaland at the Last Glacial Maximum based on historical data from Bird et al (2005) with several adjustments, for open (left) and closed (right) corridors (Cannon et al, 2009)
Figure 8 – Main active faults in Sundaland at the zone of convergence of the plates of Sunda, Eurasia, Philippines, India and Australia. Smaller plates of Timor and Banda Sea (part of Sunda), Maluku (part of Philippines) and Andaman (part of Eurasia) are also shown. Large arrows represent absolute motions of plates. Red triangles are the volcanoes.
Figure 9 – Plots of major earthquake occurrences ever recorded and their intensities in Mw scales. Note that Sundaland is encircled by earthquake prone lines. (Source: USGS)
Figure 10 – Plots of tsunami sources ever recorded and their created water heights. Note that tsunamis occurred frequently in Banda Sea and Sulawesi Sea that could affect the inner islands. (Source: NOAA)
Figure 11 – Plots of volcano eruptions ever known and their Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI). Note for large scale Tambora eruption in 1815 and frequent Krakatau eruptions being the largest in 1883. (Source: NOAA)
Human Migration Theories
According to the previous theory, the ancestors of the modern day Austronesian populations of the Malay archipelago and adjacent regions are believed to have migrated southward, from the East Asia mainland to Taiwan, and then to the rest of Maritime Southeast Asia. However, recent finding points to the now-submerged Sundaland as the possible cradle of Asian population: thus the “Out of Sundaland” theory.
Figure 12 – “Out of Taiwan” Model
Oppenheimer locates the origin of the Austronesians in Sundaland and its upper regions. Genetic research reported in 2008 indicates that the islands which are the remnants of Sundaland were likely populated as early as 50,000 years ago, contrary to a previous hypothesis (Bellwood and Dizon, 2005) that they were populated as late as 10,000 years ago from Taiwan.
A study from Leeds University and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution in 2008, examining mitochondrial DNA lineages, suggested that humans had been occupying the islands of Southeast Asia for a longer period than previously believed. Population dispersals seem to have occurred at the same time as sea levels rose, which may have resulted in migrations from the Philippine Islands to as far north as Taiwan within the last 10,000 years. The population migrations were most likely to have been driven by climate change – the effects of the drowning of an ancient continent. Rising sea levels in three massive pulses may have caused flooding and the submerging of the Sunda continent, creating the Java and South China Seas and the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia and the Philippines today. The changing sea levels would have caused these humans to move away from their coastal homes and culture, and farther inland throughout Southeast Asia. This forced migration would have caused these humans to adapt to the new forest and mountainous environments, developing farms and domestication, and becoming the predecessors to future human populations in these regions.
The 2009 research and study by the HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium, conducted within and between the different populations in the Asia continent, showed that genetic ancestry was highly correlated with ethnic and linguistic groups. There was a clear increase in genetic diversity from northern to southern latitudes. The study also suggested that there was one major inflow of human migration into Asia arising from Southeast Asia, rather than multiple inflows from both southern and northern routes as proposed before. This indicates that Southeast Asia was the major geographic source of East Asian and North Asian populations. East Asians have mainly originated from South East Asian populations with minor contributions from Central-South Asian groups. The Taiwan aborigines are derived from Austronesian populations. This stands in contrast to the suggestion that this island served as the ancestral “homeland” for Austronesian speaking populations throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Figure 13 – Colored arrows depict the increasing genetic diversification of humans after they migrated eastward along what is now India’s coast and split into numerous genetically distinct groups that moved across Southeast Asia and migrated north into East Asia (Source: HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium)
In 2012, Stephen Oppenheimer pointed out that the genetic, climatic and archaeological evidence logically suggests a single southern exit of modern human from Africa to Sundaland. All non-African groups today are descended from this exit, with the exception of some autosomes (7% or less) apparently derived from admixture with several archaic non-African groups. Whether this exit predated the Toba eruption is currently unclear. A series of founding bottlenecks characterized rapid migration around the Indian Ocean coast to Borneo and Bali at the tip of the Sunda shelf. Then, a sea-level low stand permitted multiple colonizations of the Sahul, followed by prolonged isolation until the post-glacial period, during which maritime gene flow from island southeast Asia recommenced. These last migrations were limited into Australia and substantial into Melanesia. Climate and access to fresh water were crucial determinants of routes and dates for windows of opportunity.
Figure 14 – Map showing single southern route out of Africa and beachcomber arc route from the Red Sea along the Indo-Pacific coast to Australia, including likely extensions to China, Japan and New Guinea. Vegetation and sea level shown as at Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). (Oppenheimer, 2012)
In 2012, Jinam et al determined 86 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) complete genome sequences in four indigenous Malaysian populations, together with a reanalysis of published autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data of Southeast Asians to test the plausibility and impact of those migration models. The three Austronesian groups (Bidayuh, Selatar, and Temuan) showed high frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups, which originated from the Asian mainland 30,000–10,000 BP, but low frequencies of “Out of Taiwan” markers. Principal component analysis and phylogenetic analysis using autosomal SNP data indicate a dichotomy between continental and island Austronesian groups. They argue that both the mtDNA and autosomal data suggest an “Early Train” migration originating from Indochina or South China around the late-Pleistocene to early-Holocene period, which predates, but may not necessarily exclude, the Austronesian expansion.
Karafet et al (2014), through a study of Y-DNA supported the hypothesis of a Southeast Asian/Oceanian center for the diversification of Oceanian K-haplogroup lineages and underscore the potential importance of Southeast Asia as a source of genetic variation for Eurasian populations. The phylogenetic structure of haplogroup K-M526 shows consecutive branching events (M526, P331 and P295), which appear to have rapidly diversified. With the exception of P-P27, all of the descendant lineages are located today in Southeast Asia and Oceania: K-M526*, K-P402, K-P261 and NO are the lineages most closely related to haplogroup K-P331, K-P397 is the sister lineage of P-P295 and the P-P295* lineages are the closest relatives of haplogroup P-P27. This pattern leads to hypothesize a southeastern Asian origin for P-P295 and a later expansion of the ancestor of subhaplogroups R and Q into mainland Asia. Although K-M526 was previously characterized by a single polytomy of eight major branches, the phylogenetic structure of haplogroup K-M526 is now resolved into four major subclades (K2a–d). The largest of these subclades, K2b, is divided into two clusters: K2b1 and K2b2. K2b1 combines the previously known haplogroups M, S, K-P60 and K-P79, whereas K2b2 comprises haplogroups P and its subhaplogroups Q and R.
Interestingly, the monophyletic group formed by haplogroups R and Q, which make up the majority of paternal lineages in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, represents the only subclade with K2b that is not geographically restricted to Southeast Asia and Oceania. Estimates of the interval times for the branching events between M9 and P295 point to an initial rapid diversification process of K-M526 that likely occurred in Southeast Asia, with subsequent westward expansions of the ancestors of haplogroups R and Q. More interestingly, ancient DNA evidence suggests that haplogroup R1b – the current dominant lineage in western Europe – did not reach high frequencies until after the European Neolithic period as given in Lacan et al and Pinhasi et al.
Figure 15 – Phylogeny of haplogroup K (Karafet et al, 2014)
Figure 16 – The spread of descendants of haplogroup K2 (Karafet et al, 2014)
There has been a long-standing debate concerning the extent to which the spread of Neolithic ceramics and Malay-Polynesian languages in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) were coupled to an agriculturally driven demic dispersal out of Taiwan 4,000 years ago. Brandão et al in a paper published by the Human Genetics in 2016 addressed this question using founder analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-region sequences to identify major lineage clusters most likely to have dispersed from Taiwan into ISEA, proposing that the dispersal had a relatively minor impact on the extant genetic structure of ISEA, and that the role of agriculture in the expansion of the Austronesian languages was therefore likely to have been correspondingly minor. They showed that, in total, about 20% of mtDNA lineages in the modern ISEA pool result from the “Out-of-Taiwan” dispersal, with most of the remainder signifying earlier processes, mainly due to sea-level rises after the Last Glacial Maximum. Every one of these founder clusters previously entered Taiwan from China, 6,000 – 7,000 years ago, where rice farming originated, and remained distinct from the indigenous Taiwanese population until after the subsequent dispersal into ISEA.
In 2016, Soares et al from the University of Minho in Portugal as published in the Human Genetics showed a series of much more complicated events. mtDNA and Y-chromosome found in the Pacific Islands have existed in the islands of Southeast Asia much earlier than 4,000 BC, which raises serious doubt on the theory of “Out-of-Taiwan”. They argue that the landscape and the changing sea level about 11,500 years ago led to a significant expansion from Indonesia 8,000 years ago. This expansion, which is the team’s discovery, showed that the population in the whole of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands share the same mtDNA and Y-chromosome. The results of the study by the team also showed minor wave of migration that may lead to the spread of Austronesian languages.
Figure 17 – Outline of maternal lineages involved in the main human migrations in the region of Southeast Asia and Taiwan (Soares et al, 2016)
Figure 18 – A map showing sites of pre-historic remains in Sundaland, which consist of megalithic sites, prehistoric peoples, rock arts and step pyramids. Note that the remains are densely found in Java, Bali, southern Sumatera, southern Sulawesi and southern Kalimantan. No undersea remain has been investigated. (Sources: various, collected by the author)
Figure 19 – “Out of Sundaland” Model
Mass Dispersal from Sundaland at the End of the Younger Dryas Period
A mass dispersal from Sundaland was happened around the Younger Dryas period (approximately 12,800 – 11,600 years ago), most probably the end of the period. It was caused by an unknown mega catastrophe as detected from the observation data, a sharp decline of the world population, emergence of many civilizations and the people memories (legends, myths, tales) around the world. The dispersal is also detected by the genetic studies.
Ideal climatic conditions and natural resources for development were found in Sundaland. After migrating from the semi-deserted savannas of Africa, man first found a place where food was abundant and it was there that they invented farming, agriculture, trading and civilization, which made humanity first flourished. All this took place during the Last Glacial period, where the sea level was as low as 120 meters (400 feet) below the present value that caused a vast land of Sundaland to expose.
The glaciers started to retreat and the sea levels continued to rise gradually from the peak levels around 19,000 to about 5,500 years ago. Cracks in the earth’s crust as the weight of the ice shifted to the seas set off catastrophic events. Rapid coastal population loss was compounded by super tsunami waves and super quakes on tropical coasts with flat continental shelves of Southeast Asia. The floods drowned the coastal cultures and all the flat continental shelves, and wiped out many populations. As the sea rolled in, there was a mass migration from the sinking continent at the end of the Younger Dryas period (approximately 11,600 years ago), one of the most well-known examples of such abrupt change.
Recent genetic studies show that there has been a sharp decline in the population of the world beginning in the early Holocene, or the end of the Younger Dryas period, causing a bottle neck of human population. There were population turnovers from Southeast, East and South Asia to Europe, Near East and the Caucasus, suggesting that the end of the Younger Dryas period caused the refugium of those populations to migrate and establish new civilizations. From the archaeological data, the end of Younger Dryas was also marked by the emergence of many civilizations around the world.
The Younger Dryas disasters are also documented as legends, myths or tales in almost every region on Earth, observable with tremendous similarities. They are common across a wide range of cultures, extending back into Bronze Age and Neolithic prehistory. The overwhelming consistency among legends and myths of flood and the repopulation of man from a flood hero similar to the Noah Flood are found in distant parts of the Earth. The myths similar to the Garden of Eden, Paradise or Divine Land echo among the populations around the world. Memories of their origin are documented in their legends, such as the stories of Atlantis, Neserser, Land of Punt, Land of Ophir, Gilgamesh, Kumari Kandam, Kangdez, Tollan and Taprobana. Those indicate that they were derived from a common origin.
With a bulk of collected archaeological and genetic studies as well as legends, myths and tales, the author makes an attempt to reassemble the possible connections of the evidence to obtain the pattern of the population dispersal using a “Potsherd Model”, as shown on the figure below.
Figure 20 – Mass dispersal from Sundaland at the end of the Younger Dryas period
Rivers supplied a continuous if not always dependable flow and supply of water for transportation, farming and human consumption. These rivers along with climate, vegetation, geography, and topography shaped the development of the early riverine civilizations. However, while people of these civilizations were dependent on the rivers, the rivers also inspired new technological, economic, institutional, and organizational innovations and developments. Riverine cultures were the cradle of maritime civilizations which later developed into Austronesian-speaking people.
Large rivers with fertile lands existed in Sundaland during the Ice Age. It is logical that the civilizations developing in this region began at these riverines. Since the seas were inseparable from their lives, their development until fully developed must happen at the estuarines. Sea level rise and frequent floods or tsunamis caused some of them to move to higher ground, on mountains. Rivers are the only means of transportation existed at that time, so they moved along the rivers in the upstream direction. Ancient civilizations survive to this day have been observed and it turns out that they are living in regions upstream of major rivers.
Figure 21 – Riverine civilizations in Sundaland
Ancient riverine cultures are evidenced by rock paintings spread allover the archipelago. Most of the paintings are estimated more than 10,000 years old. Some of the paintings depict boats. These suggest that they already had the technology from the very ancient time. The ones in Maros were carbon dated to about 40,000 years old.
Figure 22 – Rock paintings depicting boats
Recent studies have revealed the presence of several agricultural crops and animals domesticated in Sundaland and its surroundings and they are closely related to population distributions from Sundaland. However, these studies are limited to discoveries available at this time only. The domestications are inseparable from the water environments, either rivers or seas which met at the estuaries. Thus it can be assumed that the early civilizations were centered at the estuarines, as discussed before.
However, most Ice Age estuarines in Sundaland are presently under the sea. We can presume that the evidence of the oldest domestications are not discovered due to their locations under the sea and those are discovered today are on higher grounds which are so much younger. Additionally, Sundaland has had frequent volcanic activities resulted in thick layers of volcanic ash, to become serious obstacles to discover such archaeological evidence.
DNA analysis of more than 1,300 coconuts from around the world by Olsen et al (2011) reveals that the coconut was brought under cultivation in two separate locations, one in the Pacific basin and the other in the Indian Ocean basin (Baudouin et al, 2008; Gunn et al, 2011). What’s more, coconut genetics also preserve a record of prehistoric trade routes and of the colonization of the Americas. In the Pacific, coconuts were likely first cultivated in island Southeast Asia, meaning the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and perhaps the continent as well. In the Indian Ocean the likely center of cultivation was the southern periphery of India, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and the Laccadives. The Pacific coconuts were introduced to the Indian Ocean a couple of thousand years ago by ancient Austronesians establishing trade routes connecting Southeast Asia to Madagascar and coastal east Africa.
In the book Eden in the East (1998), Stephen Oppenheimer claims that the domestication of rice was not in China but in the Malay Peninsula, ca 9,000 years ago. Here grains of rice were found from the eras between 7,000 and 5,000 BC on the Malay Peninsula. This time period is several years older than the arrival of the Austronesian people from Taiwan who were thought to have brought farming technologies to Southeast Asia.
There are four main varieties of rice: japonica, a short-grained rice grown in Japan, Korea, and eastern China; indica, a long-grained variety common in India, Pakistan, and most of Southeast Asia; aus, grown primarily in Bangladesh; and aromatic rice, which includes more exotic varieties such as India’s basmati and Thailand’s jasmine. Scientists have primarily focused on indica and japonica because archaeological findings suggest both have a long history of cultivation. Researchers generally agree that humans living in what is now southern China domesticated japonica between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago. The precise locale within southern China is still debated.
Experts are still debating the origin of indica. Those claiming one domestication event believe indica emerged from crosses between japonica and wild species as rice cultivation spread through Asia. Those arguing for two separate domestication events generally agree that japonica emerged in southern China, but they contend that indica was independently domesticated in a region straddling India and western Indochina. The new analysis, from a group led by Terence Brown of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, adds a third and separate domestication locale, for aus, in a region stretching from central India to Bangladesh.
However, research on the origins of rice cultivation is still ongoing. It can be presumed that the evidence of the oldest rice cultivation can not be found because it is located under the sea and the evidence available today are on higher lands which are so much younger. Evidence on the mainland are also not necessarily reflecting the real origins for Sundaland area is generally covered by very thick volcanic ash.
Bananas (Musa spp) are believed to have originated more than 10,000 years ago and some scientists believe they may have been the world’s first fruit. The bananas we enjoy today are far better than the original wild fruit which contained many large, hard seeds and not much tasty pulp. There was a cross breeding of two varieties of wild bananas, the Musa acuminata and the Musa baalbisiana. From this process, some bananas became seedless and more like the bananas we eat today.
The first bananas are thought to have grown in the region that includes the Malaya Peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines and New Guinea. From here, traders and travelers took them to India, Africa and Polynesia. There were references to bananas from 600 BC when Buddhist scriptures, known as the Pali Canon, noted Indian traders travelling through the Malaysian region had tasted the fruit and brought plants back with them. In 327 BC, when Alexander The Great and his army invaded India, he discovered banana crop in the Indian Valleys. After tasting this unusual fruit for the first time, he introduced this new discovery to the Western world.
By 200 AD bananas had spread to China. According to the Chinese historian Yang Fu, bananas only ever grew in the southern region of China. They were never really popular until the 20th Century as they were considered to be a strange and exotic alien fruit. Bananas began to be developed in Africa about 650 AD.
It is thought that traders from Arabia, Persia, India and Indonesia distributed banana suckers around coastal regions of the Indian Ocean (but not Australia) between the 5th and 15th centuries. Portuguese sailors discovered bananas in West Africa and established banana plantations in the 15th century off the coast, in the Canary lslands. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, suckers were traded in the Americas and plantations were established in Latin America and the Caribbean. Banana plants first arrived in Australia in the 1800s.
The people of New Guinea were probably the first to domesticate sugarcane (Saccharum spp), sometime around 8,000 BC. However, the extraction and purifying technology techniques were developed by people who were living in India. After domestication, its cultivation spread rapidly to Southeast Asia and southern China. India, where the process of refining cane juice into granulated crystals was developed, was often visited by imperial convoys (such as those from China) to learn about cultivation and sugar refining. By the sixth century AD, sugarcane cultivation and processing had reached Persia; and, from there that knowledge was brought into the Mediterranean by the Arab expansion.
Spanish and Portuguese exploration and conquest in the fifteenth century carried sugar south-west of Iberia. Henry the Navigator introduced cane to Madeira in 1425, while the Spanish, having eventually subdued the Canary Islands, introduced sugar cane to them. In 1493, on his second voyage, Christopher Columbus carried sugarcane seedlings to the New World, in particular Hispaniola.
The most recent research shows that chili peppers (Capsicum spp) were domesticated more than 6,000 years ago in Mexico, in the region that extends across southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, and were one of the first self-pollinating crops cultivated in Mexico, Central and parts of South America. However, chili peppers are mentioned in the Siva Purana and Vamana Purana, from India, dated to the sixth to eighth centuries CE (Banerji 1980). The Sanskrit name marichi-phalam was applied to both Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens (Nadkarni, 1914). The plant and its fruit are naturalistically pictured in stone carvings at a Shiva temple at Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu (Gupta, 1996). A very explicit rendering of chili pepper plants is found on a wall panel of a temple ruin in the garden at the temple at Prambanan, Java. The panel is at least a thousand years old.
Research suggest that maize (Zea mays) was first domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago. However, field investigations have discovered odd sorts of maize growing in Asia (especially Sikkim Primitive in the remote Himalaya and ‘waxy’ varieties from Myanmar all across China to the Korean peninsula), mostly away from coastal areas where 16th-century Iberian sailors are supposed to have first introduced maize. The characteristics and distribution of these grains cannot be explained in terms of post-Columbian introduction, because waxy varieties were not known in the Americas. Johannessen et al (1998a, 1989a) were the first to document extensively that maize ears were represented in sculptures of ears of corn – hundreds of them – on original temple walls in Karnataka State, southern India. This art usually dates from the 11th to the 13th centuries AD, but some representations are much older. Four Sanskrit words for maize have been recorded, while the Garuda Purana, as well as the Linga Purana texts of the 5th century AD refer to maize. From near Zhenghou, Henan province, China, comes a ceramic effigy of maize, dated about 2,000 BP, that was found in an excavation of an imperial tomb of the Han Dynasty. A bas-relief showing maize is found on a wall panel of a temple ruin in the garden at the temple at Prambanan, Java, next to the panel showing chili pepper plant, at least a thousand years old.
The results from the ancient DNA analyses carried by Alice A Storey et al in 2012 of 48 archaeologically derived chicken bones provide support for archaeological hypotheses about the prehistoric human transport of chickens. Haplogroup E mtDNA signatures have been amplified from directly dated samples originating in Europe at 1,000 years ago and in the Pacific at 3,000 years ago indicating multiple prehistoric dispersals from a single Asian center. These two dispersal pathways converged in the Americas where chickens were introduced both by Polynesians and later by Europeans.
Research conducted by Martin Johnson at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Linköping University, Sweden in 2015 shows chickens were first domesticated from a wild form called red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), a bird that still runs wild in most of Southeast Asia, likely hybridized with the grey junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii). That occurred probably about 8,000 years ago. The research suggests there may have been multiple origins in distinct areas of South and Southeast Asia, including North and South China, Thailand, Burma and India.
Research conducted by Matthias Oskarsson at the School of Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden in 2012 based on Y-chromosomal DNA sequence suggest that dogs in Asia south of Yangtze River has the highest genetic diversity and was founded from a large number of wolf founders. He emphasized that early dog dispersal is tightly coupled to human history with the dog brought along as a cultural item. He has for the first time investigated the dog dispersal into Polynesia and Australia and their data can be used as evidence for a more complex settlement of Polynesia than earlier indicated from archaeological and linguistic studies.
Peter Savolainen of the KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and Ya-Ping Zhang of the Kunming Institute of Zoology in China in 2015 simultaneously suggest that humans first domesticated dogs in Southeast Asia 33,000 years ago, and that about 15,000 years ago a subset of dog ancestors began to migrate toward the Middle East and Africa. Their movement was likely inspired by that of their human companions, but it’s also possible that they began their journey independently. One possible motivating factor could have been melting glaciers, which started retreating approximately 19,000 years back. It wasn’t until 5,000 years after they first began spreading out from Southeast Asia that dogs are thought to have reached Europe. Before finally making their way to the Americas, one of these groups doubled-back to Asia where they interbred with dogs that had migrated to northern China.
Archaeological evidence indicates that pigs were domesticated at least twice, once in China’s Mekong valley and once in Anatolia, the region in modern-day Turkey between the Black, Mediterranean, and Aegean seas. For another, a 2007 study of genetic material from 323 modern and 221 ancient pigs from western Eurasia suggests that pigs first came to Europe from the Near East, but that Europeans subsequently domesticated local wild boar, which seemed to replace those original pigs.
Laurent Frantz, now a bioinformaticist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, carried out sophisticated computer analyses of 103 whole genomes sequenced from wild boars and domesticated pig breeds from all over Europe and Asia, published in Nature Genetics in 2015, indicating that that pigs were indeed originated in those two places. But Europe’s modern pigs are mongrel mixes derived from multiple wild boar populations. Some of their genetic material does not match any wild boar DNA collected by the researchers, so they think that at least some ancestors came from either an extinct group or from another group in central Eurasia. This anomaly suggests that pigs were herded from place to place, where they mated with this “ghost” population. Moreover, at one point – most likely in the 1800s, when Europeans imported Chinese pigs to improve their commercial breeds – a little Asian pig blood entered the mix.
The origin of Kalimantan elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis) is controversial. Two competing hypotheses argue that they are either indigenous, tracing back to the Pleistocene, or were introduced, descending from elephants imported in the 16th – 18th centuries. Taxonomically, they have either been classified as a unique subspecies or placed under the Indian or Sumatran subspecies. Prithviraj Fernando et al in 2003 have conducted research comparing DNA of Kalimantan elephants to that of elephants from across the range of the Asian elephant. They find that Kalimantan’s elephants are genetically distinct, with molecular divergence indicative of a Pleistocene colonization of Kalimantan and subsequent isolation about 300,000 years ago. When the sea level rise in the Last Glacial Age separated the Kalimantan Island from the Asian mainland, the elephants were isolated in the island from their cousins on mainland Asia and Sumatera and later evolved to become a distinct Asian elephant sub-species. The now extinct Javan elephants (Elephas maximus sondaicus) those once inhabited Java are identical to the Kalimantan elephants.
Sundaland Theories of Atlantis
Some authors have specifically claimed a clear link between Sundaland and Plato’s Atlantis. The Sunda Sub-Oceanic Plain is large enough to match Plato’s description of Atlantis. Its topography, climate, flora and fauna together with aspects of local mythologies, all permit a convincing case to be made to support this idea.
Thomas Stamford Raffles who was the Lieutenant-Governor of British Java and the founder of Singapore was perhaps the first to suggest a link between Atlantis and Indonesia in his book, The History of Java, published in 1817. A prominent theosophist CW Leadbeater also suggested those link in his book, The Occult History of Java, published in 1951. Other investigators have written on the prehistory of the region of whom the best known is probably Stephen Oppenheimer, in 1998, who firmly locates the Garden of Eden in this region, although he makes little reference to Atlantis. More recently, Robert Schoch, in collaboration with Robert Aquinas McNally, wrote a book in 2003 in which they suggest that pyramid building may have had its origins in a civilization that flourished on parts of Sundaland that are now submerged.
The first book to specifically identify Sundaland with Atlantis was written by Zia Abbas, in his book Atlantis: The Final Solution, published in 2002. However, prior to its publication the internet offered at least two sites that discussed in detail the case for Atlantis in Southeast Asia. William Lauritzen and the late Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos developed extensive websites. Lauritzen has also written an e-book that is available from his site, while Santos developed his views on a Sundaland Atlantis in another recent book, Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found, published in 2005. Sunil Prasannan has an interesting essay on Graham Hancock’s website. A more esoteric site also offers support for the Sundaland theory of Atlantis.
Geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, in his book Plato Never Lied, Atlantis is in Indonesia, published in 2013, written that Gunungpadang was apparently brought by people in pyramid form about 13,000 years ago, the adoption of Atlantis was in the greater of the present-day Indonesia located. Graham Hancock proposed a common origin for various architectural and artistic works in pre-cataclysmic Sundaland as the true location of Atlantis, in his book Magicians of the Gods, published in 2015. Further support for an Indonesian Atlantis is the publication of a book, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea by Dhani Irwanto in April 2015, who endeavors to identify features of the lost city with details in Plato’s account with a site in the Java Sea off the coast of the island of Kalimantan.
Stephen Oppenheimer, Out-of-Africa, the peopling of continents and islands: tracing uniparental gene trees across the map, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B (2012) 367, 770–784
Andreia Brandão, Ken Khong Eng, Teresa Rito, Bruno Cavadas, David Bulbeck, Francesca Gandini, Maria Pala, Maru Mormina, Bob Hudson, Quantifying the legacy of the Chinese Neolithic on the maternal genetic heritage of Taiwan and Island Southeast Asia, Human Genetics, April 2016, Volume 135, Issue 4, pp 363-376
Tatiana M Karafet, Fernando L Mendez, Herawati Sudoyo, J Stephen Lansing and Michael F Hammer, Improved phylogenetic resolution and rapid diversification of Y-chromosome haplogroup K-M526 in Southeast Asia, European Journal of Human Genetics (2015) 23, 369–373
Pedro A Soares et al, Resolving the ancestry of Austronesian-speaking populations, Human Genetics Volume 135, Issue 3, pp 309-326, March 2016
Timothy A. Jinam, Lih-Chun Hong, Maude E Phipps, Mark Stoneking, Mahmood Ameen, Juli Edo, HUGO Pan-Asian SNP Consortium and Naruya Saitou, Evolutionary History of Continental Southeast Asians: “Early Train” Hypothesis Based on Genetic Analysis of Mitochondrial and Autosomal DNA Data, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 29(11):3513–3527, June 2012
Martin Johnsson, Genomics of chicken domestication and feralisation, IFM Biology, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Linköping University, Sweden, 2015
Storey AA, Athens JS, Bryant D, Carson M, Emery K, et al, Investigating the Global Dispersal of Chickens in Prehistory Using Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Signatures, PLoS ONE 7(7): e39171, 2012. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039171
Mattias Oskarsson, Analysis of the origin and spread of the domestic dog using Y-chromosome DNA and mtDNA sequence data, Division of Gene Technology, School of Biotechnology, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden, 2012
Peter Savolainen et al, Out of southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world, Cell Research 26:21-33, 2015 doi:10.1038/cr.2015.147
Laurent A F Frantz, Joshua G Schraiber, Ole Madsen, Hendrik-Jan Megens, Alex Cagan, Mirte Bosse, Yogesh Paudel, Richard P M A Crooijmans, Greger Larson & Martien A M Groenen, Evidence of long-term gene flow and selection during domestication from analyses of Eurasian wild and domestic pig genomes, Nature Genetics Volume 47 Number 10, Oktober 2015
Prithiviraj Fernando, TNC Vidya, John Payne, Michael Stuewe, Geoffrey Davison, Raymond J Alfred, Patrick Andau, Edwin Bosi, Annelisa Kilbourn, Don J Melnick, DNA Analysis Indicates That Asian Elephants Are Native to Borneo and Are Therefore a High Priority for Conservation, PLoS Biology, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2003, pp 110 – 115
Peter Civáň, Hayley Craig, Cymon J Cox dan Terence A Brown, Three geographically separate domestications of Asian rice, Nature Plants 1, Article number: 15164, 2015, doi: 10.1038/ nplants.2015.164
Dhani Irwanto, Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea, Indonesia Hydro Media, 2015
In Genesis 2:10-14: “And a river ‘going out’ of Eden to water the garden; and from there was parted, and became into four ‘heads’. The name of the first is Phison: that it winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is ‘bedolach’ and the ‘gemstone’. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same that it winds the whole land of Kush. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that it goes in front of Asshur. And the fourth river is Perat.”
The quest for pinpointing the exact location of the Biblical Garden of Eden and the four rivers is lasting more than two millennia, almost rivals the quest for the location of Atlantis, both in theory and in practice. Those searches for Eden had proven difficult due to uncertainty in identifying the rivers. Nobody had been able to look at modern maps of the regions mentioned in Genesis and figure out exactly where the Garden of Eden was.
At the head of the Persian Gulf by the present topography, only one river of the four, the Euphrates (Perat), is known by the same name in modern times. It presently originates in the mountains of Turkey and terminates when it merges with the Tigris River near the Iraq/Kuwait border region. Many have speculated that the Tigris is the river Hiddekel. This has led to speculation that the Garden of Eden was located somewhere in Turkey. This is assumed because the present headwaters of the Euphrates River originate in Turkey, as do the headwaters of the Tigris. Others have proposed that the other end of the Euphrates River, where it meets the Tigris, may be the true location. This requires interpreting the Tigris river as one of the other three (ie the Hiddekel), then interpreting a tributary confluence of rivers as a river head, and then locating at least two more rivers (or old river beds) as the other missing two. Having done so, they then claim that the Garden of Eden was near present day Kuwait. This is a convenient solution, but not one supported by the literal wording of the Bible or the geological and geographical realities of what river “head” means, ie headwaters or source of origin.
Several clues indicate that the Pishon and Gihon were located in Egypt or Arabia. The name Havilah, where the Pishon river is said to flow, means “sandy land” (Sarna, 1991). To an ancient Israelite audience, the explicit reference to an abundance of gold and precious stones evokes images of the Egyptian royalty from which they were birthed. This association also fits with the reference to “Kush”, identified later in Genesis as one ancestor of the Egyptians, hence it is believed the Gihon to be the famous Nile River. However, if these were indeed the Pison and Gihon rivers, two of four that flowed out of the Garden of Eden, they do not correspond with the present-day headwater source of the Euphrates or Tigris up in Turkey. The respective watersheds of the Tigris/Euphrates and Nile rivers are separated by hundreds of miles, and these rivers are fed by completely different mountain ranges.
So, where was the Biblical Garden of Eden located?
It was in Southeast Asia that man, after emigrating from the semi-deserted savannas of Africa, first found the ideal climatic conditions for development, and it was there that he invented agriculture and civilization. All this took place during the Pleistocene, the last of the geological eras, which ended a scant 11,600 years ago. With the end of the Pleistocene Ice Age, the immense glaciers that covered the whole of the northern half of North America and Eurasia melted away. Their waters drained to the sea, whose level rose by the estimated amount of about 100 – 150 meters (dos Santos, 2005).
As the Ice Age ended, there was sea water rise drowned forever the huge continental shelf of Southeast Asia, namely the Sundaland, and caused a population dispersal which fertilized the Neolithic cultures of China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, thus creating the first civilizations. There were three catastrophic and rapid rises in sea level. The last of these, which finished shortly before the start of civilization in Mesopotamia, may have been the one that was remembered. The Southeast Asian contributions to the building of the first cities in Mesopotamia may not have been solely technological. While they may have brought the new ideas and skills of megalithic construction cereal domestication, sea-faring, astronomy, navigation, trade and commerce, they may also have introduced the tools to harness and control the labor of the farmers and artisans. These included magic, religion, and concepts of state, kingship and social hierarchy. Uniquely shared folklore shows that counterparts and originals for nearly every Middle Eastern and European mythological archetype, including the Flood, can be found in the islands of Indonesia and the southwest Pacific. Southeast Asia is revealed as the original Garden of Eden and the Flood as the force which drove people from Paradise (Oppenheimer, 1997).
In Genesis 2:8: “The Lord God planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” and in Genesis 11:2: “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.”
The land of Shinar is identified as Mesopotamia. The name may be a corruption of Hebrew Shene neharot (“two rivers”), Hebrew Shene arim (“two cities”), or Akkadian Shumeru. The people of Mesopotamia were a dispersal from Southeast Asia (“the east”) caused by catastrophic and rapid rises of sea level in Sundaland (“they journeyed from the east”). Their land of origins, Eden, was therefore in Sundaland (“a garden in the east, in Eden”).
In Genesis 2:9: “Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, along with the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
In Genesis 2:19-20: “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.”
The Lord God created the Garden of Eden specifically for Adam, the first man, whom Lord God had formed. Thus, the Garden of Eden was perfect. It offered both beauty and sustenance, being home to every tree “that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” and a source of freshwater from the river to drink.
The Garden of Eden could not be found because everyone had been looking in the wrong place. In a hypothesis, the author identifies a location of the Garden of Eden as a vast plain surrounded by mountain ranges in southern part of Kalimantan Island, as shown on the figure below.
The Indonesian territory of Kalimantan makes up 2/3 of Kalimantan Island. Well known for its tropical forests, rich natural resources; and exotic, endemic and diverse flora and fauna, Kalimantan offers a unique, unexplored world of its own. This territory has a number of nature reserves to protect its unique flora and fauna. Kersikluway is where the very rare Black Orchid (Colongenia Pandurata) grows, located upstreams the Mahakam River, East Kalimantan. Bontang, in the regency of Kutai, has rare flora and fauna. The Kutai National Park near Bontang is worth visiting to see scenery especially those at Berasbasah. Tanjungputing National Park in Central Kalimantan is the oldest conservation site of Kalimantan’s flora and fauna. The park is inhabited by Orangutans, Owa-owa, Bekantan and other primates. Also found here the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center which is supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In West Kalimantan, Gunungpalung National Park located in the Ketapang regency is home to miscellaneous flora and fauna. The Rayapasi mountain located in the Singkawang regency is also an interesting place to visit to see the Rafflesia or giant flower. Singkawang is also a nature reserve. The forest of Sanggau is worth a visit where hot springs, lakes and caves can be found. The other nature reserves are the forests of Baning and Kelam Hill in the Sintang regency. While in Kapuashulu, there is the Bentuang forest. In South Kalimantan, there is the Kaget island, home to a wide variety of birds and monkeys, most notably the humorous longnosed proboscis monkeys.
The region hypothesized as the Garden of Eden is populated by the Dayaks, the indigenous inhabitants of Kalimantan. The center of the region is covered with tropical forest, which produces rattan, resin and valuable timber such as Ulin and Meranti. The southern lowlands are dominated by peatland swamps that intersect with many rivers.
The region’s climate is wet weather equatorial zone with an eight-month rainy season, and 4 months of dry season. Rainfall or precipitation is 2,800 – 3,400 mm per year with an average of 145 rainy days annually.
The Muller-Schwaner Mountains stretch from the north-east of the region to the south-west, 80% of which is covered in dense forest, peatland swamps, mangroves, rivers, and traditional agriculture land. Highland areas in the north-east are remote and not easily accessible. Non-volcanic mounts are scattered in this area including Kengkabang, Samiajang, Liangpahang and Ulugedang. The Meratus Mountains are situated approximately along the eastern part of the region. The mountains have mist-laced, river-crossed peaks, dense jungles, steep valleys and jagged karst formations. The mountains are inhabited by the “semi-nomadic” Meratus Dayak people, whose strong religious customs play to the soundtrack of the shaman’s drum.
The above descriptions indicate that the region deserves to be called as the Garden of Eden as in the Bible.
The Bible says that “a river ‘going out’ of Eden” and then does something that most rivers do not do; specifically, split into four separate ‘heads’ or rivers that flowed downstream, all fed from a common single river source. Almost all rivers start from a single source or are fed by multiple sources (tributaries). The verb in Hebrew is a present participle instead of the imperfect. Also, a noun phrase at the beginning of a verse is unusual. Again, the words “and from there” come before the verb “was parted” show that this verb has no subject expressed.
Those singularities are perceived because the verse is interpreted verbatim. The present participle form of the verb implies that the words are in a phrase, the “river going out of a region (‘Eden’)”, that can be interpreted as the “hydrographical region”, the “hydrological region” or the “river catchment region”. The next phrases again affirm this interpretation, “from there was parted, and became into four ‘heads’”, that can be interpreted as “which consisted of four main river sub-catchments (sub-regions)”. The interpreted phrases were seemingly not found in the original language of the verse. So, the verse can be interpreted as “The hydrological region of Eden consists of four main river sub-catchments.”
The naming of the Biblical rivers was allegedly derived from the geographical alignment of the rivers. The numbering of the rivers was also in accordance with the order, from west to east. The simple present form of the verbs denotes that the conditions are not changed overtime. The four rivers are identified as Kahayan for Pishon, Kapuas for Gihon, Barito for Hiddekel and Negara for Perat as in the above figure, as discussed below.
In Genesis 2:11-12: “The name of the first is Phison: that it winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is ‘bedolach’ and the ‘gemstone’.”
The Hebrew name for Phison is Pîšōn (פִּישׁוֹן) which means “increase” (noun) and could be derived from pûsh (פּוּשׁ) which means “to spring about”, “to be dispersed”, “to be scattered” or “to be spread”. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean that the river is “dispersed”, “refracted” or “deflected”. Looking at the geography of the region, the Kahayan River is deflected westward, as seen from downstream side.
At about the middle of Kahayan River, that part of the river is winding. The winding of a river signify that the topography where the river traverses is flat and tends to be used as a center of community. So that Havilah could be at this site. Havilah is described in lengthiest in Bible compared to the other places in the Eden, implies that this place is the most important or populated among the others. This place can be easily accessible from the southern coast through Kahayan River for the outsiders to visit. The present capital of Central Kalimantan Province, Palangkaraya, is situated in the area too.
The Bible says that there is gold in Kavilah and the gold is good. Kahayan River is renowned for its gold mining. A place named Gunungmas, meaning “the hill of gold”, in the middle of Kahayan River, is rich of gold and some other minerals such as silver, copper, iron, zinc, tin, platinum and zircon. Today, the gold reserves in the area are approximately 45 million tons. Besides some other classic names of the island, Kalimantan bore the name of Nusa Kencana meaning “the island of gold”, probably at Gunungmas as this site is easily accessible from the southern coast through Kahayan River. Gold and zircon are abundant in southern Kalimantan as these are the mainstay of the region at this time.
The Bible mentions “bedolach” as a product of Kavilah. Its Hebrew word is bedôlach (בּדלח), probably derived from bâdal (בּדל) meaning “to divide” (in various senses literally or figuratively, “separate”, “distinguish”, “differ”, “select”, etc) or a foreign word. “Bedolach” is among the Biblical words which the meanings are unclear. According to the Septuagint, is the carbuncle or crystal; according to others, the pearl, or a particular kind of gum. The last is the more probable, regarding the various Greek forms of the word bdella (Βδέλλα) and bdellion (Βδέλλιον), a semi-transparent oleo-gum resin.
Southern Kalimantan is renowned for its producer of natural gum sap locally known as “jelutung” (Malaysian “jelutong”) tapped from the same name of trees (Dyera spp) and is the largest exporter of the commodity in the world. Its natural distribution is scattered locales in low-elevation tropical evergreen forest. The kind of tree which grows in the swamp (Dyera pollyphylla) is an important source of chewing gum. Besides, “jelutung” sap is an industrial material for adhesives, varnishes, racing tires, waterproofing and insulating materials.
This region is also famous for a gutta-percha tree locally known as “nyatoh” or “nyatu” (Palaquium spp). Its habitat is coastal, lowland mixed dipterocarp, swamp and montane forests. Dayak communities in the region utilizing “nyatu” sap as a raw material for making handicrafts, from an epithet that can only be found in the region.
The Bible mentions “gemstone”, also as a product of Kavilah. Its Hebrew word in the Bible is shôham (שׁהם) from an unused root probably meaning “to blanch”; “a gem” or “a precious stone”.
The story of Kalimantan’s rich gemstone resources has reached worldwide fame. Kalimantan, as they are known in the past and the West, is indeed the sources of many natural gemstones and have been documented well in many literatures. Amethyst or locally named “kecubung”, a violet jewel, is specifically found and renowned in southern Kalimantan. A place named Martapura located in the region is famous from the early past for its jewelry industry. Zircon – a gemstone with natural colors varies between colorless, yellow-golden, red, brown, blue, and green – is abundantly found along the alluvial deposits of inland rivers in southern and western Kalimantan, as a byproduct of gold mining activities.
In Genesis 2:13: “The name of the second river is Gihon; the same that it winds the whole land of Kush.”
The Hebrew name for Gihon is gı̂ychôn or gichôn (גּחון גּיחון) which means “bursting forth”, could be derived from primitive root of gı̂yach or gôach (גּח גּיח) which means “to gush forth (as water)”, “to burst forth”, “to draw forth”, “to bring forth” or “to break forth”. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean that the river is multiply “broken forth”, “come apart”, “divided” or “branched”. Looking at the geography of the region, the Kapuas River is evenly branched into three tributaries that look like a burst.
At the confluence of the tributaries and at a distance downstream, that part of the river is winding. Kush could be at this site and could become the second important place after Kavilah.
In Genesis 2:14: “The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it goes in front of Asshur.”
The Hebrew name for Hiddekel is chiddeqel (חדּקל) which means “rapid” or “darting”, probably derived from chaddékel (דֶּקֶל חַד) meaning “a sharp and swift arrow” (Keil and Delitzsch), or of foreign origin. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean “a swift arrow trajectory”, “a long and direct trajectory” or simply “long and direct”. Looking at the geography of the region, the Barito River is long, direct and almost straightly aligned. The verb “goes” is applied instead of “winds” as in the other two rivers, implies that the river is in direct or straight alignment.
The Bible says that Hiddekel goes in front of Asshur. The Hebrew word qidmâh (קדמה) can mean “in front of”, “over against” or “on the east of”. So, instead of “goes in front of Asshur” the phrase can be interpreted as “goes on the east of Asshur”.
In Genesis 2:14: “The fourth river is the Perat.”
The Hebrew name for Perat is perâth (פּרת) which means “to break forth”. When applied in the alignment of the river, this could mean “to diverge” or “to branch”. Looking at the geography of the region, Negara River is a branch or tributary of the Barito River.
The Bible decreases the description of this river, without explanation of the alignment or a nearby place name, and puts it in the last order. This could mean that Perat is the least important river compared to the other three in the region.
Perat is generally associated with the Euphrates, the Greek manner of pronouncing the Hebrew perâth, the first syllable being simply a help in sounding the double consonant. Also, Perat finds its equivalent in the Assyrian Purattu and the Old Persian Ufratu. Names similar to these may be found in various places. They cannot prove much more than resemblance in language, and that may be sometimes very remote. Several like names occur in profane history. Geography affords numerous examples of the transference of names from one place to another along the line of migration. We may therefore expect names to travel with the tribes that bear them or love them, until they come to their final settlements.
The Genesis flood narrative makes up chapters 6–9. The narrative indicates that God intended to return the Earth to its pre-Creation state of watery chaos by flooding the Earth because of humanity’s misdeeds and then remake it using the microcosm of Noah’s ark. Noah in Hebrew is nôakh (נוח), from the root n-w-ḥ (נ־ו־ח) or n-ḥ (נ־ח); and pronounced Aramaic nuħ.
It is highly probable that Noah and Manu, the name of the flood hero in the traditions of India, were the same individual. Manu, like Noah, is said to have built an ark in which eight people were saved. Manu and Noah were both the father of all post-flood mankind. The Noah Flood story in Genesis matches the Gilgamesh flood myth so closely that “few doubt that it derives from a Mesopotamian account”.
The word Manu is related to the Germanic Mannus, the founder of the West Germanic peoples, mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus in his book Germania. Mannus is also the name of the Lithuanian Noah. The same name may even be reflected in the Egyptian Menes (founder of the first dynasty of Egypt) and Minos (founder and first king of Crete). Minos was also said in Greek mythology to be the son of Zeus and ruler of the sea. Anu appears in Sumerian as the god of the firmament, and the rainbow was called “the great bow of Anu”, which seems a clear reference to Noah. In Egyptian mythology Nu was the god of waters who sent an inundation to destroy mankind. In southern Kalimantan folklore, Maharaja Bunu is the first man who inhabited the region.
The Sanskrit form manusa, Indonesian manusia, Swedish manniska, Gothic manna and English man are closely related, meaning “human being”. The aboriginals of Japan are called Ainu, a word which also means “man”.
In the Sioux language, it took the form minne, meaning “water”. In the Assiniboine language, minnetoba meant “water prairie”. However, this word may also have been derived from the Cree and Ojibiva-Saulteaux languages, which meant “the place of the Great Spirit”. Manitou (“the Great Spirit”) was the chief god among Algonquins. The name of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, comes from the Nahuatl managuac, which means “surrounded by ponds”. The ancient Javanese banu and the Dayak Barito banyu mean “water”. There is Ino, a sea-goddess in Greek mythology, and the Greek word naiade, meaning “river nymph”. Further, Baruna or Waruna in the Indonesian archipelago which given the title of the Water God, is the ruler of the seas and oceans – in later time considered as a manifestation of Brahman in dharmic mythology.
The original Sanskrit word for “ship” is nau. This root has developed even in English into such words as “navy”, “nautical”, “nausea”, etc. In Norse mythology, Njord was the god of ships, living at Noatun, the harbor of ships. In this language, the syllable “noa” is related to the Icelandic nor, meaning “ship”.
Thus, Noah and the waters of the great Flood are not only recalled in the ancient traditions of all nations, but their names have also become incorporated in many and varied ways into the very languages of his descendants. The trails are tenuous and often almost obliterated, so that some of the inferred connections are speculative and possibly mistaken, but the correlations are too numerous to be only coincidental, thus adding yet one more evidence for the historicity of the worldwide flood.
The local folklore of southern Kalimantan tells a story resembles the Noah. In Panaturan, the sacred folklore of Ngaju Dayak inhabiting southern Kalimantan region, the first human who descended to this world is named Maharaja Bunu. At first he lived in a divine world at Lewu Nindan Tarung with his triplets namely Maharaja Sangiang and Maharaja Sangen. The triplets are the children of Manyamei Tunggul Garing Janjahunan Laut and his wife Kameloh Putak Bulau Janjulen Karangan, the first humans that were created by Ranying Mahatala Langit, the supreme God. Maharaja Bunu was descended to Pantai Danum Kalunen (this world) using a ship namely Palangka Bulau Lambayung Nyahu or simply Palangka, on Samatuan Hill, from where his descendants were spread out to fill the earth. According to Panaturan, the hill is located between Kahayan Rotot and Kahayan Katining. The Palangka was loaded with supplies necessaries for life, such as farming and hunting tools, weapon making tools, rice seeds, fruit and plants seedlings, as well as livestock breeds. Palangkaraya, meaning the Great Palangka, is now the capital of Central Kalimantan Province.
A vast plain dominates the topography of the southern Kalimantan region which is level, smooth and even. The slope of the ground surface is mostly less than 1% declining southward towards the Java Sea and almost no visible mound on the whole plain. The area of the plain is located in a tropical rain forest region, has high precipitation rate over the year, has warm temperature over the year, mostly swampy and has many large rivers and tributaries so that the region is fertile and rich of food and daily necessity resources.
Rivers are flowing on the plain; Barito, Kapuas, Murung, Kahayan and Sebangau Rivers are among them. The regimes of these rivers should have been changed over the past thousands of years due to processes of flooding, sedimentation, river bed movement and meandering on a very flat plain. Interchanges of flows and orders among the rivers might also occur. Numerous transverse passages connecting one river to the other exist in the region, some of them were built or rehabilited in recent times. The passage is known locally as “anjir”, a canal linking two rivers as part of the transportation network. The canals are also used as primary tidal swamp irrigation canals supplying water to and draining from the cultivated lands.
The plain is elevated from 0 to about 40 meters above the average sea water level. Being in a flat and low plain, the tidal affect of the sea may reach as far as 160 kilometers away from the coast.
In Genesis 7:12: “The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.”
In Genesis 7:12-20: “The flood was on the earth forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose up above the earth. The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. The water prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed upward and the hills were covered fifteen cubits deep.” 15 cubits is approximately 23 feet or 6.8 meters.
Kalimantan Island is among the regions on the Earth having the highest yearlong rainfall. The probabilistic study of rainfall in the region of southern Kalimantan showed that it may reach as high as 500 millimeters per day for a 100-year return period and even higher on the mountainous regions. Its rainfall catchment region is a bulb-like shape where the mountainous upstream area is wider – with highest rainfall – and the downstream, on the plain, is narrower. Therefore, flood catastrophe risk on this plain is extremely high, aggravated by its catchment shape, rainfall distribution, rainfall intensity; level, even, smooth and low plain; and farther reach of sea tides. Everyone can imagine how worst was the extraordinary Biblical Flood from a 40-day and 40-night rainfall on this region. The Noah Flood could have happened here.
Due to the high level of flood risk in the region, it was possible that the floods had several times repeated for the recent thousands of years. Civilization that grew back after the flood will be swept back in the next flood, returned to its original nature and humanity who survived spread to other parts of the world.
Garden of Eden and Atlantis are among the memories by the Mesopotamian and Egyptian about the land of origin of the first civilization, before population dispersal caused by catastrophic and rapid rises in sea level in the Pleistocene Ice Age. Mesopotamia and Egypt are among the oldest civilizations after the Ice Age which had writing traditions. Other civilizations continue their memories with myths and legends that collectively share the same stories across distances and time.
Bill Hanson (2006) has written a work that links the Garden of Eden with Atlantis. He identifies five similarities between the two accounts:
• Both prehistoric locations are regarded as “lost paradises”
• The four rivers of Eden are reflected in the four waterways of Poseidon the island capital of Atlantis.
• Atlantis started with ten kings and the Bible speaks of ten patriarchs.
• Zeus destroyed Atlantis because mortals and gods mated, whereas the Bible records the mating of the “sons of God” and human females.
• Atlantis was flooded just as the Age of the Patriarchs ended with the flood of Noah.
From Plato’s Timaeus Sections 25c and 25d: “But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.”
From Plato’s Critias Section 108e: “and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean.”
In Timaeus, Plato mentioned that the island of Atlantis was beset by an earthquake and a flood, and sank into a muddy sea. Plato did not recognize “tsunami” so he equated it to “flood”. The Greek historian Thucydides suggested in his late-5th century BC History of the Peloponnesian War, that tsunamis were related to submarine earthquakes, but the understanding of a tsunami’s nature remained slim until the 20th century and much remains unknown.
A tsunami, also known as a seismic sea wave, is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, generally an ocean or a large lake. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions, landslides, glacier calvings, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami. Tsunami waves do not resemble normal sea waves, because their wavelength is far longer. Rather than appearing as breaking waves, tsunamis may instead initially resemble rapidly rising tides, and for this reason they are often referred to as tidal waves.
The Banda Arc, a west facing horse-shoe shaped arc in eastern Indonesia situated west of Papua and in the easternmost extension of the Sunda subduction zone system, defines the locus of three converging and colliding major plates, the Indo-Australian Plate, the Pacific Plate and the Eurasian Plate, and reveals a characteristic bowl-shaped geometry in seismic tomographic images. Splinters of the Mesozoic southern Tethyan crust now form the base of the Banda Sea. On the surrounding islands, dismembered ophiolites can be found in high mountains. Recent studies in the metamorphic aureoles at the base of these ophiolites have revealed a new alternative for the explanation of the complex tectonic development of the arc, ie by invoking obduction as being the major mechanism in the emplacement of southern Tethyan crust onto the passive Australian continental margin.
The Banda Sea encircled by the Banda Arc occupies the main portion of the Banda Sea Plate. Frequent and significant earthquakes, tsunamis and volcano eruptions took place in one of the most complex tectonic regions on Earth, in the general framework of the triple collision of continental Australia plate, oceanic Pacific plates and the southernmost tip of the Eurasian plate, called ‘Sundaland’. The region is composed of a large number of geological provinces. In particular, the eastern termination of the Banda Sea features a number of strongly curved, concentric tectonic provinces.
The USGS records of the largest earthquakes in the world since 1900 show that the earthquake in Banda Sea on February 1, 1938 with a magnitude of 8.5 is among them. Another at least 10 occurrences of large earthquakes in this region between 17th and 20th centuries are also known (Wichmann, 1918, 1923; Harris and Major, 2012). The NOAA records of the world’s deadliest tsunamis from 1650 BC to 2010 AD cited from the National Geophysical Data Center show that 3 occurrences of deadliest tsunamis in the region are among them: in 1674, 1899 and 1992. Unfortunately, no investigation of deposits of ancient tsunamis is carried out in the region. Mount Tambora eruption in 1815 was the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, caused global climate anomalies that included the phenomenon known as “volcanic winter”: 1816 became known as the “year without a summer” because of the effect on North American and European weather. Crops failed and livestock died in much of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century.
Locations for recorded historical tsunamis. Year of occurrence is indicated for some events. Yellow markers indicate non-seismic or unknown sources, red markers indicate seismic sources. Large stars display magnitudes M ≥ 8.5, small stars 8.5 > M ≥ 8.0, squares 8.0 > M ≥ 7.5, circles M < 7.5, an asterisk means that no magnitude is reported. Upward-pointing triangles indicate volcanoes or combinations of volcanoes and other sources, and downward-pointing triangles indicate landslides or combined landslides/earthquakes. Diamonds indicate unknown sources.
Dynamics of Tsunami
Tsunamis, like the ordinary wind waves, can undergo shoaling, refraction, reflection and diffraction. Most tsunami generated by large earthquakes travel in wave trains containing several large waves. In some cases, the waves in a tsunami wave train consist of an initial peak that then tapers off in height exponentially over 4 to 6 times. In other cases, the tsunami wave train consists of a maximum wave peak well back in the wave sequence.
The time it takes for a pair of wave crests to pass by a point is termed the wave period. This is a crucial parameter in defining the nature of any wave. Tsunamis typically have periods of 100 – 2,000 seconds (1.6 – 33 minutes), referred to as the tsunami window. Waves with this period travel at speeds of 600 – 900 km/hr (166 – 250 m/s) in the deepest part of the ocean, 100 – 300 km/hr (28 – 83 m/s) across the continental shelf, and 36 km/hr (10 m/s) at shore (Iida and Iwasaki, 1983). Because of the finite depth of the ocean and the mechanics of wave generation by earthquakes, a tsunami’s wavelength – the distance between successive wave crests – lies between 10 and 500 kilometers. These long wavelengths make tsunami profoundly different from swell or storm waves.
The simplest form of ocean waves is sinusoidal in shape and oscillatory. Oscillatory waves are described for convenience by three parameters: their height (H), their wavelength (L), and their water depth (d). In deep water, the most significant factor is the ratio H/L, or wave steepness. In shallow water it is the ratio H/d, or relative height. For local tsunamis propagation in water depths greater than 50 meters, these ratios are much less than one. This implies that wave height relative to wavelength is very low – a feature characterizing tsunami in the open ocean.
Shallow water begins when the depth of water (d) is less than half the wavelength (L). As oceans are rarely more than 5 kilometers deep, the majority of tsunamis travel as shallow-water waves. In this case, the velocity of the wave is C = (gd)0.5 and the wave length is L = CT; where g = gravitational acceleration (~9.8 m/s2) and T = wave period. The latter equation holds for linear, sinusoidal waves and is not appropriate for calculating the wavelength of a tsunami as it moves into shallow water. Linear theory can be used as a first approximation to calculate changes in tsunami wave height as the wave moves across an ocean and undergoes wave shoaling and refraction. The following formulae apply: Hi = KrKsHo, Kr = (bo/bi)0.5 and Ks = (do/di)0.25; where Kr = refraction coefficient, Ks = shoaling coefficient, b = distance between wave orthogonals and d = water depth. Subscripts o and i denote at a source point and at any shoreward point, respectively. For a tsunami wave traveling from a distant source, the wave path or ray must also be corrected for geometrical spreading.
Tsunami are known for their dramatic run-up heights, which commonly are greater than the height of the tsunami approaching shore by a factor of 2 or more times. Tsunamis, having long periods of 100 – 2,000 seconds, can also be excited or amplified in height within harbors and bays if their period approximates some harmonic of the natural frequency of the basin – termed resonance. Here tsunami can oscillate back and forth for 24 hours or more. The oscillations are termed seiches. Seiches are independent of the forcing mechanism and are related simply to the 3-dimensional form of the bay. For a closed basin, Ts = 2Lb(gd)-0.5 and for an open basin, Ts = 4Lb(gd)-0.5; where Lb = length of a basin and Ts = wave period of seiching in a bay.
Say, there was an earthquake in the Flores Sea or Makassar Strait in Atlantis era causing an initial wave of 10 meter high. The sea depth was about 1,000 meters. The wave velocity was then C = (9.8 × 1,000)0.5 ≈ 100 m/s (360 km/hr). With an average Java Sea depth of 10 meters (in the era of Atlantis), assuming Kr = (1/4)0.5 ≈ 0.5 and Ks = (1,000/10)0.25 ≈ 3.2, by a simple calculation, the wave height was Hi = 0.5 × 3.2 × 10 ≈ 16 meters in the ancient Java Sea. Approaching the shoreline with a depth of 2 meters (assuming Kr = 1 and Ks = (10/2)0.25 ≈ 1.5), the wave height was Hi = 1 × 1.5 × 16 ≈ 24 meters and the run-up could be twice. It was really a destructive wave and penetrated inland on a very flat plain. In fact, the recorded run-up of 1674 AD Banda Sea tsunami was much larger, 80 – 100 meters high on Ambon Island. Thus, we could speculate that the destruction of Atlantis was among others caused by a tsunami. It was due to the tsunami waves traveling in shallow water (ancient Java Sea) and penetrated inland on a very flat plain. The Meltwater Pulse 1A was probably also contributed the occurrence of earthquakes and tsunamis due to speedy increase of water burden on the Banda Sea Plate.
In Atlantis era, the Java Sea was forming a gulf with a rather narrow entrance and due to the many islands in it resonances and seiches might also occur, causing the wave became much higher and prolonged, and then aggravated its destructive nature.
The following list shows a summary of the converging evidence of the existence of Atlantis in Sundaland made by the author. Some other less important evidence are not included. The quoted terms, wherever possible, are the English translation of the terms taken from the Plato’s account, either in Greek or terms not found in Greek. Phrases in parenthesis are interpretations by the author.
There are at least 60 evidence in consilience. Consilience or convergence of evidence or concordance of evidence in science and history is the principle that evidence from independent, unrelated sources can “converge” on strong conclusions. That is, when multiple sources of evidence are in agreement, the conclusion can be very strong even when none of the individual sources of evidence is significantly so on its own.
These evidence are the “potsherds” in the verification of a theory using a Potsherd Model, where, the more “sherds” collected, reassembling them can give clearer representation of the “pot”. In this case, the reassembled “pot” from the “sherds” (evidence) is then compared to the descriptions by Plato (the “reference pot”) to prove the theory. It now appears from the list that the “pot” is almost fully reassembled and representative to the “reference pot”.
1. At a distant point in the “Atlantic Ocean” (ancient Greek understanding) (Timaeus: 24e)
What we call now by the name of “Atlantic Ocean” is not the same as that of the ancients. Herodotus, Aristotle, Plato, Strabo and several other ancient authors are very specific on the fact that the “Atlantic Ocean” was the whole of the coterminous “earth-encircling ocean”, which we now arbitrarily divide into Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.
The phrase “at a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean” implies that Atlantis was far away in the ocean in what we know today the eastern Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.
The state of Atlantis is 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.
The Atlantis and the “Athens” were bordered by Monuments of Heracles which among others were placed in a strait called the Strait of Heracles. The city of Atlantis was within the strait, meaning that the city of the “Athens” was outside of the strait and the sea. These geographic descriptions are not compatible to the existence of Atlantis around the Mediterranean Sea.
The statements 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, and only a few trees growing and consists almost entirely of bare land so that rain water flows only just on it and then lost to the sea”, do not describe the conditions of the city of Athen at the time of Solon.
The statement that “the city of the Athens’ had been established a thousand years before Egypt” is also incompatible.
4. Larger than “Libya” and “Asia” (Asia Minor) combined (ancient Greek understanding) (Timaeus: 24e – Critias: 108e)
5. The landscape of the whole country, at the region on the side of the ocean, was very lofty and precipitous. (Critias: 118a)
The sea level at the time of Atlantis, about 11,600 years ago, was approximately 60 meters below the present-day sea level.
The Plato’s expression that “Atlantis was the way to other islands, and from there might pass to the opposite continent which encompasses the true ocean” precisely points to Sundaland. Traveling further from there, one may reach some islands like Nusatenggara, Sulawesi, Maluku, Mindanao and Luzon, and may pass the opposite continent, ie the large “Sahul Continent” combining Australia, Papua and the land connecting them.
“The land of Atlantis is larger than Libya and Asia Minor” also precisely affirms its size. The expression that “the region on the side of the ocean was said to be very lofty and precipitous” further confirms the Sundaland location of Atlantis. The expression “inside a strait and in a sea encircled by a boundless continent” confirms its capital location.
It is said that Atlantis had “sun in the above”, “benefit of the annual rainfall”, “abundance of water”, “excellently attempered climate” and “summer and winter seasons”. These are strongly characterize a tropical climate. “Summer” and “winter” refer to the “dry” and “wet” seasons, which were non existence words in the ancient Greece.
9. Fertile, best soil for carpenter, agriculture and farming
(Critias: 111e, 113c)
10. Abundant of food supply for every animal, wild or tame, to sustain a civilization and to create an army (about 20 million people)
(Critias: 111e, 118b, 118e, 119a)
11. Vast diversity of flora and fauna
(Critias: 114e, 115a, 115b)
Atlantis had “full of rich earth”, “abundance of wood”, “cultivation by true farmers”, “noble nature”, “best soil in the world”, “abundance of animals”, “coconuts”, “spice products” and “two harvests each year”. These are the true natural characteristics of the region in Sundaland. The abundance of food and wood was needed to sustain more than twenty million population, to create more than a million soldiers and to build more than two hundred ships, which was not possible in the other parts of the world during the era.
Plato also mentions that “there was provision for all other sorts of animals, both for those which live in lakes and marshes and rivers, and also for those which live in mountains and on plains, so there was for the animal which is the largest and most voracious of all.” Large species such as tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant and leopard exist in the region, which are among almost a thousand mammal species inhabiting this region. Besides those, there are almost a thousand of bird species and more than a thousand of fish species.
12. Elephant, horse, “bull” and dolphin
(Critias: 114e, 116e, 117c to 117e, 119b, 119d to 120a)
Two of the four sub species of Asian elephants are found in Indonesia and Malaysia. The Sumatran elephant is found on the island of Sumatra, and the Kalimantan elephant on the island of Kalimantan. The now extinct Javan elephant those once inhabited Java are identical to the Kalimantan elephant.
The different breeds of native Indonesian horses are slender, but still strong and sturdy, so they deserve to be called ponies than horses. The ponies have continually been infused with additional bloods, mostly Arabian to improve their quality, so that it can be expected that the indigenous breeds were slenderer and shorter than what we can see now.
Indigenous Southeast Asian bulls are known as “banteng”. They have been domesticated in several places, used as working animals and for their meat.
What is meant by Plato for “bulls” could probably the water buffaloes, native to Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Common people generally could not distinguish between “bull” and “water buffalo”. Plato does not recognize “water buffalo” but beast resembling the “bull” because the animals were not found in the ancient Greece and its surroundings.
Most species of dolphins live in shallow areas of tropical and warmer waters, thus constitute the ideal conditions for the seas after the drowning of Sundaland, such as the Java and South China Seas.
13. “Fruits” having a hard rind, affording drinks and meats and ointments
14. “Fruits” which spoil with keeping, consoled after dinner
15. Roots, herbage, woods and essences distilled from “fruit” and flower
16. Cultivated “fruit”, dried, for nourishment and any other, used for food – common name ‘pulse’ (grain)
17. “Chestnuts and the like, which furnish pleasure and amusement
18. All of them were wondrous and in infinite abundance.
Plato mentions that there were “fruits having a hard rind, affording drinks, meats and ointments” in Atlantis. Those fruits are no other than coconuts.
Coconut has a long and respected history among cultures in the regions of Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific. DNA analysis reveals that coconuts were first cultivated in island Southeast Asia, meaning the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, and perhaps the continent as well.
Coconuts were introduced to the Indian Ocean a couple of thousand years ago by ancient Austronesians establishing trade routes connecting Southeast Asia to Madagascar and coastal east Africa. Coconut genetics also preserve a record of prehistoric trade routes and of the colonization of the Americas.
Plato mentions that there were “fruits which spoil with keeping, with which we console ourselves after dinner” in Atlantis. This could be a traditional fermented food eaten as a dessert, locally known as “tapai”.
“Tapai” is indigenous and popular throughout Southeast Asia. It is a sweet or sour alcoholic paste and can be used directly as a food or in traditional recipes.
“Tapai” can be made from a variety of carbohydrate sources, but typically from cassava, white rice or glutinous rice. Fermentation is performed by a variety of moulds by inoculating a carbohydrate source with the required microorganisms in a starter culture, locally known as “ragi”, and yeasts, along with bacteria. “Tapai” is also used to make alcoholic beverages locally known as “arak” or “brem”.
Plato mentions that “there were roots, or herbage, or woods, or essences which distil from fruit and flower.” This could be the herbal medicine made from natural materials, locally known as “jamu”, or mixtures of spices or seasoning, known as “bumbu”.
“There was ‘fruit’ which admits of cultivation, both the dry sort, which is given us for nourishment and any other which we use for food – we call them all by the common name ‘pulse’.” This could be the paddy or rice, which is the staple food of the region.
“There were chestnuts and the like, which furnish pleasure and amusement.” This could be coffee, which grows well in this region.
(Critias: 114e, 116c, 116d)
(Critias: 114e, 116c, 116d, 116e)
(Critias: 116b, 116c)
22. “Brass”/“bronze” (copper, tin and zinc)
(Critias: 116b, 116c)
23. “Orichalcum”, more precious mineral than anything except gold, flashing, red color
(Critias: 114e, 116c, 116d)
24. “Orichalcum” was dug out of the earth in many parts of the land.
Atlantis had abundance of minerals: gold, silver, copper, tin and “orichalcum”. These are also true natural characteristics of the region.
What is “orichalcum”? “Orichalcum” was unknown to Greek, being more precious in those days than anything except gold and “flashed” with the “red light”, or like fire.
The author identified “orichalcum” as the zircon as they have the same characteristics as the descriptions. The zircon products are really valuable second to gold; they have gemstone quality and are popular as diamond simulant. Zircon can be processed to bring out different colors, the red one is known as the “hyacinth”. When finished, its nature is sparkling like diamond that metals do not possess, which why Plato describes it with the words “flashed” and “light”, in particular. No known metal shines and flashed with the red color, or like fire, thus “orichalcum” is not a metal.
The expression that it was “dug out of the earth in many parts of the land” is true as it is abundant in the region of Kalimantan.
25. Immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain.
26. The plain was smooth and even.
27. The plain was surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea.
28. The plain looked towards the south, sheltered from the north.
29. The mountains surrounding the plain celebrated their number, size and beauty, with many wealthy villages of country folk, rivers, lakes and meadows.
30. Plenty of wood of various sorts on the plain – abundant for each and every kind of work.
Plato describes that there was “a level plain, smooth and even, descended towards the sea”, “surrounded by mountains celebrated for their number, size and beauty”, “looked towards the south and sheltered from the north” and “with wealthy villages of country folk, rivers, lakes, and meadows”.
There was a plain near the capital city of Atlantis matching the characteristics of the region in southern Kalimantan in which a part is now submerged under the Java Sea. The plain has slopes mostly less than 1% declining southward to the Java Sea and no visible mound on the whole plain. It is open on the south and sheltered by the Muller-Schwaner and Meratus Mountains at the north, mostly covered by primary forest, inhabited by enormous kinds of animals and as the home of tens of native Dayak tribes. It has high rainfall and warm temperature over the year, many large rivers and tributaries so that it is very fertile and rich of food and daily necessity resources.
31. The general shape of the plain was rectangular and oblong.
(Critias: 118a, 118c)
32. The plain was extending in one direction 3,000 stadia (± 555 km), across the center inland 2,000 stadia (± 370 km).
Plato explains that the plain was “rectangular and oblong in shape, 3,000 stadia or about 555 kilometers long and 2,000 stadia or about 370 kilometers wide”. The shape of the plain in the region of southern Kalimantan and the adjacent Java Sea is rectangular at the south and oblong at the north, almost exactly 555 kilometers long and 370 kilometers wide.
33. The perimeter ditch was incredible in size, unexpected that they were artificial.
34. The perimeter ditch was 100 ft (± 30 m) deep, 1 stadium (± 185 m) wide, 10,000 stadia (± 1,850 km) long.
35. The perimeter ditch received streams from the mountains.
36. The inland canals were straight, about 100 ft (± 30 m) wide, 100 stadia (± 18.5 km) intervals and let off into the perimeter ditch.
Concerning the waterways on the plain, Plato describes that “the perimeter canal was 100 feet or about 30 meters deep, 1 stadium or about 185 meters wide, 10,000 stadia or 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.” and “the inland canals were straight, 100 feet or about 30 meters wide, 100 stadia or about 18.5 kilometers intervals and let off into the perimeter canal.”
There were waterways on the plain matching the characteristics of the region. The rivers of Barito, Kapuas-Murung, Kahayan and Sebangau found in the region are identified as those canals. They are originated from the Muller-Schwaner and Meratus mountains. These rivers are about 600 to 800 meters wide and 8 meters deep in average.
Flooding and sedimentation of the rivers on a very flat plain over the past 11,600 years have changed their regimes. Interchanges of flows and orders among them might also occur. However, in general view their straightness and elongation are preserved until today, that are parallel to each other and in the north-south direction.
Calculating the conveying capacity, that is the area × the velocity, and assuming the same flow velocity because of the same gravitational energy slope, the cross section area of the flow, that is the width × the depth, as described by Plato is about 185 × 30 = 5,550 square meters. While the area today is amazingly almost precise, 700 in average × 8 = 5,600 square meters.
The average distance of these rivers is approximately 20 kilometers, also considered in close agreement to the figure of 18.5 kilometers by Plato.
37. Transverse passages were cut from one inland canal into another.
Looking at the maps we can see numerous existing transverse passages in the region, some of them were built or rehabilitated in recent times. The passage is known locally as “anjir”, a canal linking two rivers as part of the transportation network.
38. The inland canals and transverse passages were means for transporting wood and products in ships.
Most of the rivers in southern Kalimantan are navigable. These rivers and all their tributaries are a network of transportation system, become very important means for the people and has been the economic lifeblood because most of their economic activities are carried out through and in the rivers since the ancient time. Various types of forest, mining and agricultural products are transported to collection points or ports through the river network.
39. Irrigation streams were tapping from the canals.
40. The irrigation streams supplied water to the land in “summer” (dry) but rainfall in the “winter” (rainy) yielding two crops in a year.
Today’s practices of tidal swamp irrigation system in southern Kalimantan is traditionally known as the “anjir system” where primary canals called “anjir” or “antasan” were constructed connecting two tidal rivers, also used as navigation purposes. Inland canals were built to irrigate and drain the fields from and to the anjir: secondary canals called “handil” or “tatah” and tertiary canals called “saka”. During low tides, the canals drain the toxic water while during high tides fresh water enters the canals and conveyed to the fields. The system yields two rice crops in a year.
41. The island city was in a sea surrounded by a boundless continent, the other is a real ocean.
42. The city was in front of a strait.
(Timaeus: 24e, 25a)
43. There were some islands in the sea.
(Timaeus: 24e – Critias: 114c)
Plato says that “the capital island 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.
44. Immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain and all the canals met at the city and drained into the sea.
(Critias: 118a, 118d)
45. A small hill (the central island) and a vast level plain near the sea were accessible by ships, vessels and boats from the sea.
(Critias: 113c, 113e)
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 near 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.
The later docks had triremes and many naval supplies.
46. The sea at the Atlantis city “is now” (Solon’s time) impassable and impenetrable because of a “reef of clay/mud” (coral reef), caused by “subsidence” of the island (sea level rise).
47. The ruin of the city is now under the sea.
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.
Today, there is an existing coral reef named Gosong Gia or Annie Florence Reef in the Java Sea. 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. However, further investigations are required to find out what are inside the coral reef.
48. The city was beyond bordering monuments, the (ancient) Greek called them “the Monuments of Heracles”.
(Timaeus: 24e, 25c – Critias: 108e, 114b)
Plato mentions that “the war was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside the Monuments of Heracles and all who dwelt within them.” Heracles is a name borrowed from the Greek mythology.
What does the “Monuments of Heracles” really mean? The Egyptian priest told Solon about the territorial boundary between Atlantis and its opponent as “which are by you called the Monuments of Heracles” to describe a state entrance or boundary markers which were situated in a strait. The words “by you” could mean that the markers were commonly known by the Athenian but not necessarily what they referred to, or in other words “like the Monuments of Heracles”. As mentioned before, the Atlantean boundary is not compatible with the Mediterranean region. Moreover, Solon borrows Greek mythological terms in the story.
Classical Greek writers frequently refer to the monuments without being in anyway specific regarding their location. The poet Pindar would appear to have treated the monuments as a metaphor for the limit of established Greek geographical knowledge, a boundary that was never static. The monuments were, in earlier times, identified with the Strait of Sicily, but from the time of Erastosthenes, circa 250 BC, the metaphor was moved to refer to the Strait of Gibraltar, reflecting the expansion of the Greek maritime knowledge.
The author hypothesizes that the monuments are monuments built at places on state entrances or boundary line and could be anywhere at certain places along the boundary. The monument is locally known as “tugu”, which has been the tradition in Indonesia until now to mark the boundary or entrances of a region. The monuments are often decorated with gargoyle-like faces of the god Kala, which are ubiquitous in Java and Bali.
It will be discussed later that the god Kala is analogous with the Greek Heracles.
49. Hot and cold springs
(Critias: 113e, 117a)
50. White, black and red stones
(Critias: 116a, 116b)
51. Hollowed out rock for roofs of double docks
(Critias: 116a, 116b)
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.
52. “Poseidon” (sea or water god, law founder, driving sea creatures, supreme god in earlier time)
(Critias: 113c to 113e, 116c, 116d, 117b, 119c, 119d)
The kingdom of Atlantis was founded by a god named Poseidon, borrowed from the Greek myth. The land was divided into ten portions given to his children. There was a holy temple dedicated to Poseidon and his wife, Cleito in the center of the citadel.
Poseidon is one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in the Greek mythology. His main domain is the ocean, so that he is called the “God of the Sea”, who rides on sea creatures that resemble horses. In the earliest works of the ancient Greek literature, Poseidon is more widely known than Zeus and was regarded as the supreme god, as mentioned in Linear B tablets from the pre-Olympians Greek Bronze Age. Homer in the Iliad calls him as the protector of the Hellenic cities.
Poseidon is analogous to Nethune in the Etruscan civilization, around the 1st century BC, which is also called the “God of the Sea”. In Latin language, the name was transformed into Neptune in the Roman mythology. Neptune is depicted as a god who drive sea creatures resembling dragon-tailed horses and armed with a trident, like Poseidon. This shows the strong influence of Greek mythology.
Plato explains that the ten kings were said to have the absolute control of the citizens, by the enforcement of the law regulated by the command of Poseidon which had handed it down.
The Greek Poseidon is analogous to god Baruna or Waruna in the Nusantara archipelago which given the title of the “Water God”, the ruler of the seas and oceans. In pre-dharmic mythology, Baruna was considered as the supreme god against the others and the first law founder of the world.
Baruna is depicted as riding a sea monster called Makara, in which on the front resembling a beast, with large teeth and tusks, and on the back in the form of a giant dragon’s tail, occasionally legged. In Indian mythology, the Makara is described as an inland creature in the front half, such as deer, crocodile or elephant, and an aquatic creature in the back half, such as fish or seal, or occasionally peacock’s tail or flower.
Of these things, the author concludes that Poseidon and Baruna are analogous, evidenced that both of them are the gods of the seas or oceans, became the first law founders, constituted the supreme gods in the early time, and drive mythological sea creatures.
Besides some other names, Kalimantan bore the name of Warunapura, means the land of the god Baruna. The old Javanese chronicle Nagarakretagama mentions an ancient state that was within the Majapahit spheres of influence called Baruné, later identified as Barunai, a kingdom of the modern Brunei. European sources further in the 16th century showed the name of the island as Burné by Antonio Pigafetta or Bornei by Duarte Barbosa. Chinese chronicles in the Song and Ming dynasties showed the name Boni. The Dutch and British colonials named the island as Borneo.
This is another conclusion that Kalimantan, or Borneo, which was once the island of the god Baruna, is analogous to the island of Poseidon, and related to the existence of Atlantis in the region.
53. “Heracles” (son of the supreme god, outrageous birth, has insatiable appetites and being very rude, brutal and violent)
(Timaeus: 24e, 25c – Critias: 108e, 114b)
Heracles, or Romanized as Hercules, is the son of the affair Zeus had with the mortal woman Alcmene. Zeus seduced and made love to Alcmene after disguising himself as her husband, Amphitryon, the king of Thebes. Zeus swore that the next son born of the Perseid house should become ruler of Greece, but by a trick of Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera, another child, the sickly Eurystheus, was born first and became king. When Heracles grew up, he had to serve him and also suffer the vengeful persecution of Hera. Besides these Hera induced frenzies, Heracles was a very brutal character.
The Greek Heracles is analogous to god Kala in the Nusantara archipelago. Kala is a god of the underworld in the ancient Javanese and Balinese mythology.
According to the Javanese legend, Kala is the son of Guru. Guru has a very beautiful wife named Uma. One day Guru, in a fit of uncontrolled lust, forced himself on Uma. They had sexual intercourse on top of his Andini, a divine cow. This behavior was ashamed Uma who then cursed Guru but Guru cursed back Uma so she appeared as a fearsome and ugly ogre. This fierce form of Uma is also known in Javanese mythology as Durgha. From this relationship, Kala was born with the appearance of an ogre.
Kala is described as having an insatiable appetite and being very rude. He was sent by the deva to Earth to punish humans for their evil habits. However, Kala was interested only in devouring humans to satisfy his appetite. Alarmed, the deva then recalled Kala from the Earth. He later became ruler of the underworld.
The analogy of Kala and Heracles is that each of them is the son of a supreme god, either Guru or Zeus. Their births were outrageous; Kala was born from an uncontrolled lust of Guru on Uma while Heracles was from a seduction of Zeus on Alcmene. They are having insatiable appetites and being very rude, brutal, and violent in their whole lives.
From the ancient until present day, gargoyle-like faces of Kala are often found at temple entrances, boundary monuments, welcome monuments, gates, doorway, niches, furniture, wall hangings and traditional musical instruments; ubiquitous in Java and Bali. Similar figures are also found at the Dayak houses.
As previously discussed, the boundary monuments decorated with the Kala faces are analogous to the Monuments of Heracles.
Apart from those, Zeus, the father or Heracles, and Guru, the father of Kala, are also analogous. Both of them were then appointed to the supreme gods replacing either Poseidon or Baruna.
Note also the analogy and phonetic similarities between the names, Kala and Kleos, Guru and Zeu, Uma with Alkmene, and Durgha with Hera.
54. “Bull” sacrifices
(Critias: 119d to 120c)
Plato describes that in every five or six years alternately, the kings of Atlantis gathered to discuss and make arrangements, topped off with plenty of “bulls” sacrifice.
Common people generally could not distinguish between “bull” and “water buffalo”. Plato does not recognize “water buffalo” but beast resembling the “bull” because the animals were not found in the ancient Greece and its surroundings.
Water buffalo, also called Asian buffalo or Asiatic buffalo, is a large bovine native to Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Water buffalo is one of the animals of greatest economic and religious value used as a sacrificial victim in Southeast Asia, Indian sub-continent and southern China. In these monsoon regions of Asia, buffalos are offered in sacrifice to divinities or divine spirits, as the carrier of dead souls to the world beyond or of zoomorphic symbol of the ancestors.
A characteristic of Southeast Asian houses is the forked horn on the roof, which is considered to be a symbol of the buffalo, regarded throughout the region as a link between heaven and this world.
55. Temple or pyramid
(Critias: 116c, 116d, 116e, 117c, 119c)
The construction of stone pyramids was based on native belief that mountains and other high places are the abode of the spirits of the ancestors, or the most ideal pilgrimage places to worship them.
The simplest form of pyramid is the earth-and-stone step pyramids in which it is normally built on natural or manmade mounds, hills or hillsides. Usually there is a shrine and/or an altar at the top.
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. Pyramid structures have been found and spread throughout Southeast Asia, most of them are found in the island of Java.
The huge Borobudur temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, which allegedly built on the previous step pyramid. The Sukuh and Cetho temples in Central Java, where the dates are still debated, show the Austronesian indigenous earth-and-stone step pyramids that somewhat resemble Mesoamerican pyramids. Gunung Padang is the biggest and the oldest megalithic site in Southeast Asia dated circa 23,000 BC or older.
As the civilizations were developing, they built larger pyramids so that more stones were required. The majority of the weight are closer to the ground and material higher up on the pyramid will be pushing down from above. The stones could pose problems on the strength of the earth to hold the weight. Therefore, pyramids with heavier stone weight pushing on the earth fill are observed to have less earth fill or even without it.
Pyramids have been built by civilizations in many parts of the world. For thousands of years, the largest structures on Earth were pyramids. They spread from Egypt to America, that emerged separately from one another by oceans who supposedly never discovered each other’s existence. There are no firmly established connections between the different civilizations that built them, but their similarities show that they sprang from a common origin.
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.
Plato describes that the canals were means for transporting wood and products in ships. They brought down the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the products of the earth in ships. The canal and the largest of the harbors were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts. The docks were full of triremes and naval stores. They had a fleet of as many as 1200 ships.
Maritime activity is a typical Austronesian culture since the ancient time. The earliest known evidences are found as cave paintings dated back to 10,000 years or older, those are fully decorated by sailboat paintings. 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. Archaeologists have revealed ample evidence of the active maritime networks in the Southeast Asia region, that spread throughout all of insular Southeast Asia and most of the Pacific.
57. Advanced civilization in the era
(Timaeus: 24e, 25a)
Plato describes that Atlantis was a great and magnificent kingdom that had vast powers. Atlantis can be said to be an advanced civilization of its time, and had a variety of superior technologies compared to other countries.
Gunungpadang pyramid in Java is the oldest known structure of any kind on Earth. Dated to as early as 25,000 years ago, the pyramid would be proof of an advanced ancient civilization. The majority of the stepped site is man-made, built by generations over a matter of millennia.
The so many rock paintings depicting sailboats in Southeast Asia, dated to as early as 40,000 years ago, would also proof that such technology has been mastered from the early time. This technology had been inherited by the Austronesian people and the thalassocracies, or maritime kingdoms, such as Srivijaya and Majapahit. The Bugis and Makassar people from the island of Sulawesi are renowned for making a wooden sailing vessel called the “pinisi”.
The kingdoms in Southeast Asia developed an advanced stone mason architectural technology in building of temples. This includes the magnificent Borobudur, Prambanan, Angkor Wat and many other couple hundreds of temples.
In agriculture, the people in Southeast Asia are famous for paddy cultivation and techniques such as terracing. Local systems of complex irrigation and water management have been developed in the archipelago. An exceptional example is Subak, the irrigation system of Bali.
In food technology, due in part to the tropical climate teeming with various microbes, the people in Southeast Asia have developed traditional knowledge in fermentation techniques, which resulted in the development of fermented foods such as “tapai”, “tempeh”, “oncom”, and also beverages like “brem” and “tuak”.
58. Destructed 9,000 years before Solon (about 11,600 years ago)
(Timaeus: 23e – Critias: 108e, 111a)
Plato describes that Atlantis was a powerful and advanced kingdom that destructed, in a night and a day, 9,000 years before Solon, or about 11,600 years ago. This accurately coincided with the cataclysm at the end of the Younger Dryas period.
At the end of the Younger Dryas period, around 11,600 years ago, the weight of the ice shifted to the seas triggered cracks in the earth’s crust to move, that set off cataclysm. Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, super waves and floods engulfed the coastal cultures and all the flat continental shelves of Sundaland, and wiped out many populations. As the sea rolled in, there was a mass migration of the survivors from the sinking continent.
59. Earthquakes and “floods” from the sea (tsunami)
(Timaeus: 25c, 25d – Critias: 108e, 111a, 112a)
Plato mentioned that the island of Atlantis was beset, in a night and a day, by an earthquake and a flood. In some other his explanations, it is implied that the flood was coming from the sea, so the possibility is a tsunami. Plato did not recognize “tsunami” so he equated it to “flood”. Earthquakes and tsunamis are very often correlated.
Frequent and significant earthquakes, tsunamis and volcano eruptions took place in one of this most complex tectonic region on Earth. Tsunami are known for their dramatic run-up heights, can also be excited or amplified in height considerably in shallow waters and on flat plains, and can oscillate back and forth within harbors and bays.
We could speculate that the destruction of Atlantis was among others caused by a tsunami in this region. It was due to the tsunami waves traveling in shallow water, that was the ancient Java Sea, and penetrated inland on a very flat plain. The ancient Java Sea was forming a gulf, which could cause the wave became much higher and prolonged, and destructive.
Plato describes that the lands of Atlantis and “the Athens” were sunken ceaselessly afterwards. This is in line with the recent knowledge of post-glacial sea level rise. The sea level kept on rising until about 6,000 years ago, sinking the low lands as well as low plains in Sundaland.
The ruin of the Atlantis city and its story were buried forever under the sea. Then, it was remembered by the Egyptians who migrated from there, and wrote them on their sacred registers.
After a comprehensive research, the author discloses a new theory hypothesizes that the lost island and city of Atlantis is located in Java Sea, Indonesia, as written in a book Atlantis: The lost city is in Java Sea, published in April 2015.
The story of Atlantis comes to us from Timaeus and Critias, Socratic dialogues, written in about 360 BC by Plato. There are four people at this meeting who had met the previous day to hear Socrates describes the ideal state. Socrates wants Timaeus of Locri, Hermocrates, and Critias to tell him stories about Athens interacting with other states. The first is Critias, who talks about his great grandfather’s meeting with Solon, one of the seven sages, an Athenian poet and famous lawgiver. Solon had been to Egypt where priests had compared Egypt and Athens and talked about the gods and legends of both lands. One such Egyptian story is about Atlantis.
Atlantis, a likely legendary land nation mentioned in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias, has been an object of fascination among western philosophers and historians for nearly 2,400 years. Plato (ca 424 – ca 328 BC) describes it as a powerful and advanced kingdom that sank, in a night and a day, into the ocean about 9,000 years before Solon or around 9,600 BC.
Plato (through the character Critias in his dialogues) describes Atlantis as a land larger than Libya and Asia Minor put together, located just beyond the monuments of Heracles. Its culture was advanced and it had a constitution suspiciously similar to the one outlined in Plato’s Republic. It was protected by the god Poseidon, who made his son Atlas king and namesake of the land Atlantis. As the Atlanteans grew powerful, their ethics declined. Their armies eventually conquered Africa as far as Egypt and Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (modern Lebanon) before being driven back by an Athenian-led alliance. Later, by way of divine punishment, the island was beset by an earthquake and a flood, and sank into a muddy sea.
According to Critias, Solon, while wrote his poem, enquired into the meaning and knowledge of the names and had translated them into their own language; when copying them out again translated them into Greek. Thus, the names include Poseidon, Heracles, Atlas, Athens, Egypt, Libya, Tyrrhenia and Europe are translated names which the originals were kept by Critias.
Plato’s seminal work, The Republic, outlines the ideology of Plato’s perfect state, one in which the rulers are philosophers. It was written down in the early years of the academy which Plato had founded in ca 386 BC. This institution was his answer to his disgust with contemporary politics and was, in essence, to train the philosopher-rulers of a future Athenian state. The Critias dialogue is in direct response to Socrates demand to know how his ideal state will conduct itself in action. What Socrates means by this ideal state is of course the Plato’s “republic”. In essence, this story is to be an illustration of how the ideal state conducts itself in warfare against its neighbors. In considering the Timaeus and the Critias, which includes the story of Atlantis, it has to be read against the background of The Republic.
The story of Atlantis as told by the Egyptian priest is probably ever really existed but Plato had been distorting the facts in order to support his ideology of an ideal state as in The Republic, or he added some embellishments of his own or aspects drawn from other legends. He embodied Athens as part of the story to show the greatest and noblest action of Ancient Athens, which was probably another state in the myth told by the Egyptian priest, created from records in their sacred registers preserved in their temples. The embodiment is evidenced that if Plato knows the location of Atlantis, which was bordering with Athens, he would surely mention the exact geographical location from his knowledge.
If we apply a similitude of “particulate inheritance model”, which is commonly used in biological sciences, where as though the phenotype of Plato’s Atlantis is inherited from the original phenotype of Egyptian records, as a continuum in a series of “generations”. In the process, the “legacy” phenotype is determined by “genotype”, “epigenetic” and “non-inherited environmental” factors from the “ancestors”. The “genotype” factors are that part (“DNA sequence”) of the “genetic makeup” of the story. The “epigenetic” factors are the phenotypic trait variations of the story that are caused by external or environmental factors. The “non-inherited environmental” factors are distortions, embellishments and embodiments of the story by the tellers. “Genetic mutation” of the story may also occur in the process. The only known now is the inherited phenotype, so that those factors are not detected, but certainly has experienced.
The pre-history of Egypt is known to the Neolithic period, beginning ca 6,000 BC or ca 8,000 BP. Yet, 9,000 years before Solon or 11,600 BP is beyond the historical span of Egypt. We could speculate that the ancient Egypt told by the priest is actually a primordial ethnic group and believed to be their ancestors prior the deluges and other catastrophes. The Egyptians were among the refugees and survivors of the catastrophes; then resettled on the land which is now called the Egypt. In the rescue, they brought records and registers, and hereinafter preserved them in their temples. Linguistic and alphabet studies of the Rejang culture in southwestern Sumatera conducted by among others Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1817), J Park Harrison (1896), EEEG Schroder (1927) and MA Jaspen (1983) show some correlations with the ancient Phoenician and Egyptian. Indonesian has ancient knowledge of pyramid building just like the ancient Egyptian; the Gunung Padang pyramid in West Java, Indonesia dated 23,000 BC or earlier is claimed to be earlier than those in the Egypt.
The existence of Atlantis is supported by the fact that it is described in great details, mainly in Critias. In additions, various conditions, events and goods like the two-season climate, flood (tsunami), orichalcum, geographical features, buffalo and produces unknown to Plato are also described in detailed and lengthy words. The recent knowledge of late glacial and postglacial sea level rise and land subsidence that occurred almost precisely at the time described by Plato also becomes strong evidence to the truth of the story.
What we call now by the name of “Atlantic Ocean” is not the same as that of the ancients. Herodotus, Aristotle, Plato, Strabo, and several other ancient authors are very specific on the fact that the “Atlantic Ocean” – otherwise called “Ocean of the Atlanteans”, “Outer Ocean”, “Kronian Ocean”, Mare Oceanum (“Ocean Sea”) or Mare Magnum (“Great Sea”) – was the whole of the “earth-encircling ocean”. This Ocean surrounded the whole world then known, that of Eurasia and Africa. In other words, the Atlantic Ocean of the ancients was the World Ocean that is coterminous and encircles the entire globe of the earth, and which we now arbitrarily divide into Pacific, Indian and Atlantic, despite the fact that all three are coterminous.
The Atlantic Ocean or, rather, Ocean of the Atlanteans, of the ancient Greeks of the time of Plato and Aristotle was not only the one we call by that name, but included the Indian Ocean and that portion of the Pacific Ocean along the eastern coast of Asia. In Timaeus Section 24e, Plato asserts that Atlantis was located “at a distant point in the Atlantic Ocean”, also implies that Atlantis was in the ocean far or what we know today the eastern Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.
The Sundaland or specifically Indonesia has been advocated as a site for Atlantis. Key to this argument is that the Ocean of Atlantic refers to the ocean which encircles Eurasia and Africa, which was the historical understanding until the time of Christopher Columbus. Proponents of this idea claim that natives of Sundaland who fled the rising waters or volcanic explosions eventually had contact with Ancient Egyptians, who later passed the story onto Plato who gets some but not all of the details correct, including location and time period.
The first suggested linkage between Atlantis and Indonesia came from the leading theosophist, CW Leadbeater, in a booklet, The Occult History of Java, published in 1851. An American polymath William Lauritzen and about the same time a Brazilian nuclear Professor Arysio Nunes dos Santos also made the Sundaland internationally known hypothesis. Zia Abbas, a computer scientist, claims to prove that Plato’s Atlantis is to be found in the South China Sea. Other high-profile representative of this Atlantis-localization is an Indian molecular biologist Sunil Prasannan who has worked in London. In 2013, joined also the Indonesian geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja after its discovery that the Mount Padang in the province of Cianjur, West Java, was apparently brought by people in pyramid form about 13,000 years ago, the adoption of Atlantis was in the greater of the present-day Indonesia located.
The Sundaland theory about the origin of civilization is postulated by a British molecular biologist Stephen Oppenheimer. He makes a case that the rise in ocean levels that accompanied the waning of the Ice Age – as much as 150 m – during the period 14,000 – 7,000 years ago, must be taken into account when trying to understand the flow of genes and culture in Eurasia. Citing evidence from geology, archaeology, genetics, linguistics, and folklore, he hypothesizes that the Southeast Asian subcontinent of Sundaland was home to a rich and original culture that was dispersed when Sundaland was mostly submerged and its population moved westward. Sundaland’s culture may have reached India and Mesopotamia, becoming the root for the innovative cultures that developed in those areas. He also suggests that the Austronesian languages originate from Sundaland and that a Neolithic Revolution may have started there. The Sundaland hypothesis is also flanked by the studies of the geologist and geophysicist Robert M Schoch, together with Robert Aquinas McNally, in 2003 published a book in which to express the two authors have reasons to suspect the concept of pyramid construction had been developed by a lost civilization, which formerly existed in Sundaland.
In Critias Section 108e, Plato describes that “… 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 …” and in Timaeus Section 24e: “… the island 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 …”. 9,000 years before Solon’s day (ca 600 BC) means approximately 11,600 years BP; the sea level at this time was around 60 meters below the present-day sea level. The map showing the lands at 11,600 BP is extracted by the author from the GTOPO30 elevation grids published by USGS.
Traveling further from Sundaland, one may reach some islands like Nusatenggara Islands, Sulawesi, Maluku Islands, Mindanau and Luzon. Passing through these islands, one may reach the opposite continent, ie the large “Sahul Continent” combining the Australian Continent, Papua and the land connecting them. This continent encompassed Pacific and Indian Oceans. So that Plato’s statement: “… was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which encompasses the true ocean …” is true to point that Atlantis is hypothesized located in Sundaland.
Looking at the map, we will see that Sundaland is larger than Libya and Asia Minor, precisely what Plato affirms in his discourse on Atlantis.
The description in Critias Section 118a that “At the first place then the general condition of the landscape of the region on the side of the ocean was said to be very lofty and precipitous, …” does paint a reasonably accurate picture of the Sundaland region as it would have been during the Ice Age.
Plato’s words of “benefit of the annual rainfall”, “abundance of water”, “excellently attempered climate”, “summer and winter” and “twice in the year … in winter … and in summer” are strongly interpreted as characteristics of a tropical climate. Plato uses the words “summer” and “winter” to describe the “dry season” and “wet season” as there are no such seasons and there were no such words in Greece.
The Plato’s Atlantis, as in Critias, was characterized as being an agricultural country. The country was full of rich earth, abundance of wood, cultivated by true husbandmen, had a noble nature, had a best soil in the world, abundance of water, had an excellently attempered climate, abundance of animals including elephants; roots, herbage, woods or essences which distil from fruit and flower; and two harvests each year, in the winter fed by the rains and in the summer fed by irrigation from the canals. It had similar characteristic as the present-day Indonesia and Malaysia, characterized by major global key producers of a wide variety of agricultural tropical products, high levels of biodiversity and endemicity of flora and fauna, dense tropical forest, and rice cultivation cultures. It is also known that agriculture was started in the Far East over a ten thousand years ago, which proves the abundance of food needed to sustain a civilization large enough to create an army matched only by Plato’s Atlantean army.
In Critias Section 114e, Plato informs us: “they dug out of the earth whatever was to be found there, solid as well as fusil” and, also, in Sections 116b and 116c that the citadel in the capital city was coated in various kinds of metals: “The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum.” Sundaland, until today, is the producer of various minerals with relatively large quantities due to its geological and tectonic conditions that favor the formation of the mineral resources. Brass (an alloy of copper and tin), and tin itself, suggests that the Atlanteans had a considerable amount of both copper and tin available. Modern Indonesia and Malaysia are two of the world’s largest producers of tin, as well as having significant copper reserves, along with several other metals. In fact, the Southeast Asian countries produce approximately one third of all the tin metal in the world.
From Plato’s Critias Sections 118a and 118b: “… but the country immediately about and surrounding the city was a level plain, itself surrounded by mountains which descended towards the sea; it was smooth and even, and of an oblong shape, extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the center inland it was two thousand stadia. This part of the island looked towards the south, and was sheltered from the north. The surrounding mountains were celebrated for their number and size and beauty, far beyond any which still exist, having in them also many wealthy villages of country folk, and rivers, and lakes, and meadows supplying food enough for every animal, wild or tame, and much wood of various sorts, abundant for each and every kind of work.”
Plato describes the plain as a level plain, 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. These descriptions are exactly fit with the geographical conditions configured on map generated by the author as shown on the following figure.
A level plain, smooth and even, descended towards the sea – The slope of the ground surface is mostly less than 1% declining southward towards the Java Sea and no visible mound on the whole plain. One may consider this as a very flat plain. The present-day conditions of the plain above the sea water level consist of swampy areas, tidal swamp irrigation practices, housing over water, water transportation, mangroves and peat land.
Surrounded by mountains celebrated for their number, size and beauty – There are two mountainous areas around the northern part of the plain, Muller-Schwaner and Meratus Mountains. The highest peak on the Muller-Schwaner Mountain nearest to the plain is the Liangapran Hill with a height of 2,240 meters above the present day sea water level, while the one on the Meratus Mountain is the Mount Besar with a height of 1,890 meters. These mountains are mostly covered by primary forest, inhabited by enormous kinds of animals and as the inhabitations of the native Dayak tribes.
Looked towards the south and sheltered from the north – These are true that the plain is open on the south and sheltered by mountains on the north.
Rectangular and oblong shaped, about 555 kilometers long and 370 kilometers wide – The shape of the plain is rectangular on the southern part and oblong (elliptical arc) on the northern part. The size is almost exactly 555 kilometers long and 370 kilometers wide. Of course, the nature never gives an exactly regular shape to the geography of the land so that Plato’s descriptions are approximate to show the conditions in general.
Wealthy villages of country folk, rivers, lakes, and meadows – The area of the plain in present-day conditions is located in a tropical rain forest region, has high precipitation rate over the year, has warm temperature over the year, mostly swampy and has many large rivers and tributaries so that the region is fertile and rich of food and daily necessity resources.
From Plato’s Critias Sections 118c to 118e: “I will now describe the plain, as it was fashioned by nature and by the labours of many generations of kings through long ages. It was for the most part rectangular and oblong, and where falling out of the straight line followed the circular ditch. The depth, and width, and length of this ditch were incredible, and gave the impression that a work of such extent, in addition to so many others, could never have been artificial. Nevertheless I must say what I was told. It was excavated to the depth of a hundred, feet, and its breadth was a stadium everywhere; it was carried round the whole of the plain, and was ten thousand stadia in length. It received the streams which came down from the mountains, and winding round the plain and meeting at the city, was there let off into the sea. Further inland, likewise, straight canals of a hundred feet in width were cut from it through the plain, and again let off into the ditch leading to the sea: these canals were at intervals of a hundred stadia, and by them they brought down the wood from the mountains to the city, and conveyed the fruits of the earth in ships, cutting transverse passages from one canal into another, and to the city. Twice in the year they gathered the fruits of the earth-in winter having the benefit of the rains of heaven, and in summer the water which the land supplied by introducing streams from the canals.”
Concerning the waterway system on the plain, Plato describes that 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. These descriptions are exactly fit with the present-day water conveyor system conditions on the plain.
The perimeter ditch was artificial, about 30 meters deep and 185 meters wide – One of the river hypothesized as the perimeter ditch is the Barito River and probably the Negara River situated on the eastern side of the plain. Since this “ditch” had the nearest distance to the capital, the Egyptian was apparently passing it and reported. Barito River is the largest and the longest river in southern Kalimantan, which are about 1,000 kilometers long, 600 – 800 meters wide and an average of 8 meters deep. Flooding and sedimentation of the river on a very flat plain over the past 11,600 years have changed the regimes of the river but calculating the conveying capacity (area × velocity and assuming the same flow velocity because of the same gravitational energy slope), the cross section area of the flow (width × depth) as described by Plato is about 185 × 30 = 5,550 square meters while the area today is amazingly almost precise, 700 (average) × 8 = 5,600 square meters.
The perimeter ditch was about 1,850 kilometers long, winding around the plain, meeting at the city and let off into the sea – Measuring the length on the map but considering the windingness factor from the topography, the resulted length is almost precisely the same as in Plato’s Critias, ie 1,850 kilometers. While measuring the square and oblong shape of the plain, which is 555 kilometers long and 370 kilometers wide, a perimeter length of 1,656 kilometers is obtained, also logically correct if the windingness factor is not considered. So, it is obvious that Plato is true.
The perimeter ditch received streams from the mountains – This is true as the present-day rivers on the plain are originated from the Muller-Schwaner and Meratus Mountains.
The inland canals were straight, about 30 meters wide, 18.5 kilometers intervals and let off into the perimeter ditch – The present-day rivers represent the inland canals are the Kapuas, Murung, Kahayan, Upper Barito, Mangkatip and probably Sebangau Rivers. The regimes of these rivers should have been changed over the past 11,600 years due to any processes of flooding, sedimentation, river bed movement and meandering on a very flat plain. Interchanges of flows and orders among the rivers might also occur. However, in general view the straightness and elongation of the rivers are preserved until today being parallel to each other and in the north-south direction, and in similar case as the Barito River, the widths have been widened. The average distance of these rivers is approximately 20 kilometers, also considered in close agreement to the Plato’s figure of 18.5 kilometers.
The inland canals were means for transporting wood and products in ships – This custom is alive until today. Rivers are an integral part of everyday life of people in this region. Most of the rivers in southern Kalimantan are navigable. The traditional ship or vessel is locally known as “jukung” having many types or forms. These rivers and all their tributaries are a network of transportation system and become very important means for the people as every district is accessible by rivers. Since ancient times, the river network supports economic and social activities of the population of southern Kalimantan. Moreover, the river network has been the economic lifeblood of population because most of their economic activities are carried out through and in the rivers. Communications among regions in the hinterlands, the towns and ports in particular are also done via the river. The rivers become mainstays for the smooth distribution of goods and people from upstream to downstream and vice versa. Various types of forest, mining and agricultural products abundant in rural areas such as wood, rubber, gutta-percha, rattan, resin, jelutung (gum sap), wax, coal, gold, pepper, bird’s nest, woven material, dried or salted fish, deer jerky, fruits and many others are transported to collection points or ports through the river network. Instead, a variety of daily necessities such as rice, sugar, salt, flour, corn, palm oil, tobacco, gambier, pottery, household appliances, copper wire, fabric (linen) and so on are also transported from the ports to various areas in the hinterlands through the river network.
The transverse passages were cut from one inland canal into another – This is exactly precise. Looking at the maps we can see numerous transverse passages exist in the region, some of them were built or rehabilited in recent times. The passage is known locally as “anjir”, a canal linking two rivers as part of the transportation network. The canals are also used as primary tidal swamp irrigation canals supplying water to and draining from the cultivated lands.
The irrigation streams tapping from the canals supplied water to the land in dry season but rainfall in the rainy season yielding two crops in a year – This is also exactly precise. Today’s practices of tidal swamp irrigation system in southern Kalimantan is traditionally known as “anjir system” where primary canals called “anjir” or “antasan” were constructed connecting two tidal rivers, also used as navigation purpose. Inland canals were built to irrigate and drain the fields from and to the anjir: secondary canals called “handil” or “tatah” and tertiary canals called “saka”. During low tides, the canals drain the toxic water while during high tides fresh water enters the canals and conveyed to the fields. The system yields two rice crops in a year. This system is also used to cultivate other crops or fish. Southern Kalimantan is today an exporter of rice to other regions.
The author concludes that the canal system described by Plato turns out precisely the present-day river transportation network and the “anjir” irrigation system in southern Kalimantan region.
From Plato’s 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.”
From Plato’s Critias Section 113c: “Near the plain again, and also in the center of the island at a distance of about fifty stadia, there was a mountain not very high on any side.”
From Plato’s Critias Sections 113d and 113e: “… and breaking the ground, enclosed the hill in which she dwelt all round, making alternate zones of sea and land larger and smaller, encircling one another; there were two of land and three of water, which he turned as with a lathe, each having its circumference equidistant every way from the center, so that no man could get to the island, for ships and voyages were not as yet. He himself, being a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the center island, bringing up two springs of water from beneath the earth, one of warm water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil.”
From Plato’s Critias Sections 115c to 117e: “… First of all they bridged over the zones of sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis, making a road to and from the royal palace. And at the very beginning they built the palace in the habitation of the god and of their ancestors, which they continued to ornament in successive generations, every king surpassing the one who went before him to the utmost of his power, until they made the building a marvel to behold for size and for beauty. And beginning from the sea they bored a canal of three hundred feet in width and one hundred feet in depth and fifty stadia in length, which they carried through to the outermost zone, making a passage from the sea up to this, which became a harbor, and leaving an opening sufficient to enable the largest vessels to find ingress. Moreover, they divided at the bridges the zones of land which parted the zones of sea, leaving room for a single trireme to pass out of one zone into another, and they covered over the channels so as to leave a way underneath for the ships; for the banks were raised considerably above the water. Now the largest of the zones into which a passage was cut from the sea was three stadia in breadth, and the zone of land which came next of equal breadth; but the next two zones, the one of water, the other of land, were two stadia, and the one which surrounded the central island was a stadium only in width. The island in which the palace was situated had a diameter of five stadia. All this including the zones and the bridge, which was the sixth part of a stadium in width, they surrounded by a stone wall on every side, placing towers and gates on the bridges where the sea passed in. The stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the center island, and from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side. One kind was white, another black, and a third red, and as they quarried, they at the same time hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock. Some of their buildings were simple, but in others they put together different stones, varying the color to please the eye, and to be a natural source of delight. The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum.”
“The palaces in the interior of the citadel were constructed on this wise:-in the center was a holy temple dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon, which remained inaccessible, and was surrounded by an enclosure of gold; this was the spot where the family of the ten princes first saw the light, and thither the people annually brought the fruits of the earth in their season from all the ten portions, to be an offering to each of the ten. Here was Poseidon’s own temple which was a stadium in length, and half a stadium in width, and of a proportionate height, having a strange barbaric appearance. All the outside of the temple, with the exception of the pinnacles, they covered with silver, and the pinnacles with gold. In the interior of the temple the roof was of ivory, curiously wrought everywhere with gold and silver and orichalcum; and all the other parts, the walls and pillars and floor, they coated with orichalcum. In the temple they placed statues of gold: there was the god himself standing in a chariot-the charioteer of six winged horses-and of such a size that he touched the roof of the building with his head; around him there were a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins, for such was thought to be the number of them by the men of those days. There were also in the interior of the temple other images which had been dedicated by private persons. And around the temple on the outside were placed statues of gold of all the descendants of the ten kings and of their wives, and there were many other great offerings of kings and of private persons, coming both from the city itself and from the foreign cities over which they held sway. There was an altar too, which in size and workmanship corresponded to this magnificence, and the palaces, in like manner, answered to the greatness of the kingdom and the glory of the temple.”
According to Plato, the Atlantis Island where there was a harbor with a narrow entrance was in a sea surrounded by a boundless continent. The hypothesized boundless continent is the main land of Sundaland attached to the Asian Continent, and the only sea surrounded by it was in those days the ancient Java Sea. Therefore, the author hypothesizes that the Atlantis Island is located in Java Sea.
The Atlantis Island, where there was a central hill, was an island located near the main land identified from the elevation grids, where the sea water level was around 60 meter below the present-day sea water level, as shown on the figure below. As seen on the map, the island was situated in front of a strait separating the island and the main land. There was a relatively flat plain on the north; part of it is now the southern part of Kalimantan Island. The “real sea” surrounding the island is the ancient Java Sea which is a gulf with the entrance forms a strait.
Crantor’s commentary as reported by Proclus stated that “… according to them, there were seven islands in that sea in their time …” and “… the extent of which was a thousand stadia [185 km]; …” is about right in describing the geography of the region in the Java Sea in those days. He describes that there were seven small islands and other three large islands, so in total there were ten islands in any sizes. Although the number as seen on the map is not exactly the same due to the unknown process of sedimentation, scouring, littoral drift, limestone solution and tectonic movement over the past 11,600 years, the elevation grids have low accuracy and the author discards the small islands, the regional geography is generally true. The statement that “the extent of which was a thousand stadia (about 185 km)” is in general also about true. One of the large islands is identified as Bawean Island.
The author hypothesizes the location of Atlantis Island and reconstructs the city based on Plato’s descriptions, as shown on the following figure. 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 at a site in the Java Sea believed to be the location of the capital city. From an unpublished sonar survey of the site by a sponsor team, the top of the reef and the surrounding sea bed are about 10 and 55 meters below the average sea level, respectively. The city structures such as the hill, the circular wall, the circular channel and the bridge are still apparent from the patterns of the corals with exactly the same dimensions as those described by Plato. The depth of the surrounding sea here exactly coincides the land level about 11,600 years ago before the sea level rise. However, further investigations are required to confirm.
The Plato’s description that “they had fountains, one of cold and another of hot water, in gracious plenty flowing; and they were wonderfully adapted for use by reason of the pleasantness and excellence of their waters” is noticeable. Bawean Island off in the Java Sea is a prototype of the Atlantis Island as it has the same environment, geological formation and tectonic processes, as well as situated close to Atlantis Island. There are several hot and cold springs in the island resulted from the tectonic activities in the region.
The description that “the stone which was used in the work they quarried from underneath the center island, and from underneath the zones, on the outer as well as the inner side, one kind was white, another black, and a third red, and as they quarried, they at the same time hollowed out double docks, having roofs formed out of the native rock” is also noticeable. The white, black and red colored stones mentioned by Plato are apparently similar to the igneous rock that is deposited in Bawean Island with white (acidic), black-grey (alkaline) and red (ferro-oxide) colors, known among others as Leucite, Phonolite, Trachyte and Onix. The igneous rock just like in the Bawean Island is hard and strong so that it has enough natural strength to stand as roofs of the hollowed out double docks.
The Java Sea depth at the time of Atlantis (11,600 BP) was around 20 – 30 meters so that it was sufficient to enable the navigation of large ships. The location of the city in the island was very strategic. In terms of defense, there was an entrance (strait) and surrounded by a row of mountains and volcanoes. The sea was shallow and almost closed so that there were no significant waves.
In Plato’s dialogues, the kingdom of Atlantis was founded by a god named Poseidon (Greek Ποσειδῶν) and the land was divided into ten portions given to his children. In the center of the citadel there was a holy temple dedicated to Poseidon and his wife, Cleito.
In the Critias, Solon while wrote his poem translated the god’s name into “Poseidon”. Poseidon is one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain is the ocean, and he is called the “God of the Sea”. Solon translated the name due to its similarity in the nature of the god.
God Poseidon worshiped by the people of Atlantis is identical to Baruna, a pre-dharmic god, given the nickname the “Water God” or the “Sea God” in Nusantara (the archipelago) mythologies. So, Solon translated Baruna into Poseidon, a Greek “Sea God”, apparently.
Kalimantan Island was formerly known as Warunapura or the place of the god Baruna. Next, Nagarakretagama manuscript mentions an ancient state that was within the Majapahit spheres of influence called Baruné, later identified as Barunai, a kingdom of the modern state Brunei. European sources further in the 16th century AD showed the name of the island as Burné by Antonio Pigafetta or Bornei by Duarte Barbosa. Chinese chronicles in the Song and Ming dynasties showed the name Boni. The Dutch and British colonials named the island as Borneo. Back to Contents
According to Plato’s text, Atlantis lay just beyond boundary monuments resembling the Greek’s Pillars of Heracles. For centuries, the location of the Pillars of Heracles is debated by many. The Pillars are assumed by some to refer to the Rock of Gibraltar in Europe and to Mount Acha near Ceuta or Jebel Musain, which are west of Ceuta in Morocco. Others prefer to accept them as a physical pair of pillars set up outside a temple.
Classical writers frequently refer to the pillars without being in anyway specific regarding their location. The Pillars were, in earlier times, identified with the Strait of Sicily, but from the time of Erastosthenes (ca 250 BC) the term was moved to refer to the Strait of Gibraltar, reflecting the expansion of the Greek maritime knowledge. However, the poet Pindar in the Third Nemean Ode would appear to have treated the pillars as a metaphor for the limit of established Greek geographical knowledge, a boundary that was never static.
Within the dialogues, Plato does not mention the Pillars of Hereacles as the hills around the Strait of Gibraltar; the latter were known later and originally called Calpe and Habila. In addition, the Egyptian priest called them “like the Pillars of Heracles”, so they are not necessarily the pillars known by the Athenians. Plato does not call them “pillars” but are “monuments” (Greek stêlas) which are located in the border and a strait to mark the boundary of the two countries at war.
Heracles is identical to Kala (a pre-dharmic god) because both have similar conducts. Each of them is a child of a supreme god, either Batara Guru or Zeus. Their births were outrageous; Kala was born from an uncontrolled lust of Batara Guru on Dewi Uma while Heracles was from a seduction of Zeus on Alcmene. They are having insatiable appetites and being very rude, brutal, and violent in their whole lives. Apparently, Solon translated “Kala” into “Heracles” (Greek Hēraklēs, Ἡρακλῆς).
The author hypothesizes the Pillars of Heracles as boundary monuments, locally known as “tugu”, decorated with the faces of Kala, such kinds ubiquitous in Java and Bali.
Plato mentions that orichalcum was a mineral product of Atlantis, unknown to Greek, being more precious in those days than anything except gold, and dug out of the earth in many parts of the island. The ring of wall of the Temple to Poseidon and Cleito was covered and “flashed” with the “red light” of orichalcum.
Orichalcum is composed from the Greek syllables oros (“mountain”) and chalkos (“ore”), simply means “mountain ore”. No known metal or its alloy has a red color so that orichalcum is not a metal.
We could speculate that the Plato’s orichalcum is actually the zircon as this mineral can be “dug out of the earth in many parts of the island” or abundant in southern Kalimantan where the Atlantis plain is hypothesized. This material is really valuable second to gold; it has gemstone quality and is popular as diamond simulant. Zircon ore requires to be processed through extraction, refinement and heating (coal is abundant in Kalimantan) to bring out different colors of zircon products.
The orichalcum which has a red color is particularly named as the hyacinth. When finished, its nature is sparkling like diamond that metals do not possess, which why Plato describes it with the words “flashed” and “light”, in particular.
In “being more precious in those days than anything except gold”, Plato compares orichalcum with gold. “Zircon” derives from the Persian zargun, meaning “golden-colored”, corrupted into “jargoon”, a term applied to light-colored zircons which the Germans adapt to Zirkon. Allegedly, Plato or Solon mistranslated zargun, the golden-colored material into orichalcum as there was no such word in Ancient Greek.
In Plato’s Critias Sections 119d to 120a: “There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon; and the ten kings, being left alone in the temple, after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him, hunted the bulls, without weapons but with staves and nooses; and the bull which they caught they led up to the pillar and cut its throat over the top of it so that the blood fell upon the sacred inscription. Now on the pillar, besides the laws, there was inscribed an oath invoking mighty curses on the disobedient. When therefore, after slaying the bull in the accustomed manner, they had burnt its limbs, they filled a bowl of wine and cast in a clot of blood for each of them; the rest of the victim they put in the fire, after having purified the column all round.”
At the end of the Critias, it is described that in every five or six years alternately, the kings of Atlantis gathered to discuss and make arrangements, topped off with plenty of water buffalo sacrifice. The tradition of buffalo sacrifices as offerings to the god exist only in Southeast Asia and southern part of Central Asia. Of course, Plato does not refer to them as “buffalos” because the animals are found only in those area, but as beasts resembling those of “bulls”.
As well as menhirs, stone tables, and stone statues, Austronesian megalithic culture in Nusantara also featured earth-and-stone step pyramid structure, referred to as “punden berundak”, 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. Among them are found in Hyang-Argapura Mountains, Lebak Sibedug, Basemah, Pangguyangan, Cisolok and Gunung Padang; the latter of which is the biggest and the oldest megalithic site in Southeast Asia dated ca 23,000 BC or older (Natawidjaja, 2013). The Sukuh and Cetho temples in Central Java (dates are debated) show the Austronesian indigenous elements of step pyramid that somewhat resemble Mesoamerican pyramids. The step pyramid is the basic design of the Borobudur temple in Central Java, which allegedly built on the previous step pyramid.
The construction of stone pyramids was based on the native belief that mountains and other high places are the abode of the spirits of the ancestors, or the most ideal pilgrimage places to worship them. They feel the need for pilgrimages, in addition to worship, to ask for help in solving the everyday life problems. In the development, they gave architectural decorations on the pyramids, which varies according to their cultures and beliefs. The shape of the structures then gradually transformed into temples.
As said in Plato’s Critias, the temple to Poseidon and Cleito 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”.
In Plato’s Critias Section 115b: “… and the fruits having a hard rind, affording drinks and meats and ointments …”
Coconut (Cocos nucifera) provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world’s population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
DNA analysis of more than 1,300 coconuts from around the world by Olsen et al (2011) reveals that the coconut was brought under cultivation in two separate locations, one in the Pacific basin and the other in the Indian Ocean basin (Baudouin et al, 2008; Gunn et al, 2011). What’s more, coconut genetics also preserve a record of prehistoric trade routes and of the colonization of the Americas. In the Pacific, coconuts were likely first cultivated in island Southeast Asia, meaning the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and perhaps the continent as well. In the Indian Ocean the likely center of cultivation was the southern periphery of India, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and the Laccadives. The Pacific coconuts were introduced to the Indian Ocean a couple of thousand years ago by ancient Austronesians establishing trade routes connecting Southeast Asia to Madagascar and coastal east Africa.
From Plato’s Critias Section 115b: “… and are fruits which spoil with keeping, with which we console ourselves after dinner …”
Tapai or tape is a traditional fermented food as a dessert indigenous and popular throughout Southeast Asia. It is a sweet or sour alcoholic paste and can be used directly as a food or in traditional recipes. Tapai can be made from a variety of carbohydrate sources, but typically from cassava (Manihot esculenta), white rice (Oryza sativa) or glutinous rice (Oryza sativa glotinosa). Fermentation is performed by a variety of moulds by inoculating a carbohydrate source with the required microorganisms in a starter culture, locally known as ragi, including Aspergillus oryzae, Rhizopus oryzae, Amylomyces rouxii or Mucor species, and yeasts including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomycopsis fibuliger, Endomycopsis burtonii and others, along with bacteria. Tapai is also used to make alcoholic beverages locally known as arak or brem.
Tapai or tape is known in different names, in Indonesia as tape or tapai, Java as tapé, Sunda (western Java) as peuyeum, Malaysia and Brunei as tapai, Thailand as khao-mak, Cambodia as chao or tapai, and the Philippines as tapay or binuburang. Glutinous rice tapé ketan is a noted regale in Java during the idul fitri festival.