Swedish academic plays down Atlantis claims


A Swedish academic today distanced himself from his controversial theory that Ireland is the long-lost kingdom of Atlantis.

Dr Ulf Erlingsson had claimed that the description of Atlantis by the Greek thinker Plato matched Ireland perfectly.

The 44-year-old academic said both were 300 miles long, 200 miles wide, and widest over the middle, and that Newgrange passage tomb and the Hill of Tara were similar to the ancient remnants of the mythical Atlantis.

But today he said he never meant people to think Atlantis actually existed.

"The existence of Atlantis has never been proven. On the contrary, we know for a fact that it was a utopia, something that I point out on page one in my book `Atlantis from a Geographer's Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land'."

Prof Erlingsson, who has a PhD in Physical Geography from Uppsala University in Sweden, attracted worldwide publicity with his claims. But he came under sustained criticism from experts who dismissed them as outlandish.

Yesterday, the National Museum director Dr Patrick Wallace said there was no archaeological basis to support the book's claims.

Prof Erlingsson said his hypotheses must now be subjected to a critical review by peers.

He said the purpose of his book was to test Plato's claim that he based the utopia on a real, historic place.

"In the book I erect and test the hypothesis that Plato based the description of Plato's Atlantis on the geography of Ireland, and find that with 99.98 per cent probability the hypothesis is true."