When the workaday world fails us humans, we dream – and many dreams have been converted into legends of dream lands, ever out of reach. In all cultures, mythological lands are often described as having sunk beneath the waves. The story of the Flood related in the Old Testament is echoed far beyond the Middle East, and the Greek philosopher Plato was the first to describe the mysterious island continent of Atlantis, destroyed by the sea-god, Poseidon.
Such myths and stories of sinking islands may have their origins in folk memories of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tidal waves, which are known to have destroyed some island cultures. The destruction of Thera (modern Santorini) by a volcanic explosion had a dire effect on lands around the Aegean Sea, particularly Crete, and the centre of Minoan culture.
Arthurian legends, with their half-pagan, half-Christian stories of a warrior king, gave rise to a number of sites associated with him. Glastonbury is thought by some to be the isle of Avalon, Arthur’s resting place; others identify the fifth-century fort of Cadbury Castle in Somerset with Arthur’s court at Camelot. While some yearn for knights in shining armour, others lust for gold. Spanish conquistadors tried in vain to find El Dorado, the mythical realm of a king who was coated in gold dust then rowed out into a lake, into which he hurled gold as an offering to the sun god.
We, driven by our curiosity, continue to strive and look into these mythical, ancient and mysterious places which may hold many secrets which are yet to be revealed. Maybe a deep research into such places will broaden our view of our ancient civilizations which have left behind some legacies which may have been brought down either by nature’s destructive forces or by human conquests.