By Lawrence Freeman
September 2000 Guadalajara-Lakeside Volume 17, Number 2

What does Mexico have to do with Atlantis? Well, for one thing, the quests for the origins of civilization in Mexico have always echoed in Atlantis. The legend of Atlantis comes to us from Plato, repeating Egyptian history of a fabled land of higher civilization called Atlantis that had existed and then died 'Beyond the Pillars of Hercules,' which seems to mean somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

Where did the Mexican people come from? The accepted theory is that the original primitive settlers came over the Bering Straits and then filtered down all along the North and South American continents.

So much for populating the region, but for whatever disputed reason, the protean civilizing force is generally agreed to have been what we have come to call The Olmecs, the Rubber People, although that was certainly not what they called themselves. Originating in the area of present-day Villahermosa about 800 B.C.E., they spread their influence over Central America in a very short time. But where did the Olmecs come from?

The theories are legion and wildly disputed, and while many of the Mexican archeologists fiercely resist any idea that civilization there originated anywhere but on their home ground, that seems unlikely.

They are supported by the early archeologist Sylvanus Morley who in 1925 advocated that the Maya civilization had sprung full-blown during the first or second century C.E.

The diffusionists roughly divide into those who see the originators coming from:

1. The lost continent of Atlantis, the West Indian remnants of which were called the 'Islands of the Scorpion' by the Maya, and are known to us as the Antilles.

2.China and the Orient

3.Carthaginians from the coast of Africa

4. Phoenician seafarers from the Middle East If we are to suppose that the progenitors of the people of Mexico originated in Atlantis, we also have to consider what happened to the fabled continent.

The first Latin writer of Aztec history was Ixitilxochill, of Aztec lineage, who maintained that the Olmecs had come to Eastern Mexico from the Antilles via Florida.

Robert B. Stacy-Judd wrote that the Mayan civilization had arrived in Central America as the last large surviving segment of the already fully developed Atlantean Empire from the Antilles.

The Mayan books of Chilam Balam and the Popul Vuh say that the first inhabitants of the Yucatan were the Chanes coming from the East in C.E. 219 and landing fírst on Cozumel. The Spanish Bishop Diego de Landa arrived in the Yucatan soon after Cortes, and he said that the Maya told him that their ancestors had come from the East.

In the early 1700s, Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora, an ex-Jesuit, concluded that the Olmees had preceded the Toltecs, and that they had come from the East, maybe from Atlantis, as earlier suggested by Gonzalo Fernandez de Olviedo y Valdes. Siguenza felt that Atlantis was a group of islands that served as stepping-stones to the West. He was one of the first to recognize the similarity of Mexican and Egyptian pyramids.

The Abbe de Brasbourg arrived in Mexico in 1845. Ordained to the priesthood, he was also a journalist and had an appointment as a Chaplain in the French Navy that gave him access to official records in Mexico City. He learned Nahuatl to aid in his quest for Atlantis, and he claimed that Atlantis was the true cradle of civilization, disappearing in a cataclysm in 9937 B.C.E., and he even claimed that Latin languages were derivative of Quiche Maya.

The Abbe theorized that the Atlantean continent had originally occupied the Gulf of Mexico, extending into the Caríbbean Sea as far as the Canaries, but had been destroyed in several disastrous upheavals between 9937 and 10,500 B.C.E. Subsequent upheavals restored parts of the Yucatan, Honduras and Guatemala. The Abbe even traced the myth of Quetzalcoatl to Plato's Atlantis.

We are all familiar with the hypothesis that a giant asteroid crashed into the coast of Yucatan, starting a chain reaction that supposedly led to the destruction of the dinosaurs. Maybe so, because there seems little doubt there was such a strike, and the imprint can still be seen in the semi-circular outline of the Gulf of Mexico.

The interesting thing is that the possible collision date coincides with both the Abbe's dates and the inceptíon of the Mayan calendar. According to legend, ten countries were submerged, and the Maya Codex Tro-Cortesianus describes the remains of the cataclysm as being the West Indies.

Augustus LePlongeon was one of the seminal Central American explorers. In the 1870s he mastered the Maya language and claimed to have found an inscription at Uxmal that commemorated the destruction of a great island empire that was the origin of civilization. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom of the time, LePiongeon passionately argued regular communícation among the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa.

He posited that once established in the Yucatan, the Maya had then sailed westward to plant civilizing colonies in Polynesia, Indochina, Burma, the Persian Gulf Babylonia, and even Egypt, and all this centuries before the time of Christ. In support of his position, LePiongeon quoted the 3rd century B.C.E. Hindu epic Ramayana, which told of a conquest of the southern part of Indochina in remote antiquity. He traced Maya routes to India and the Middle East.

This may not be as far-fetched as it seems. While we may not think of the Maya as a sea-faring people, Cortes saw Maya cayucoas that were as large as his own ships! Certainly there was Maya commercial coastline traffic that extended down into South America, and the Maya were no strangers to raids from the ocean-going Caribs of Hispaniola.

The trans-oceanic voyages of Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki and Aku-Aku have proven the feasibility of such journeys. The Chaldean historian Besorus wrote that civilization was brought to Mesopotamia by Oannes, coming frorn the Persian Gulf. Le Plongeon points out that Oaansa in Maya transtates as "he who has his residence in water."

The Egyptians claimed that their ancestors were strangers in Egypt, and that they had come across the Isthmus of Suez to settle on the banks of the Nile, bringing the worship of the sun and writing, all several thousand years before what we consider the beginnings of Egyptian history.

During the early 1880s, U. S. Senator Ignatius Donnelly popularizad Atlantis as an ancient sunken culture. In 1885, Edward H. Thompson suggested that the Maya were an offshoot of the Atlantean civilization. As proof he cited the legendary existence of the Ulnwcas, a light-skinned, blue-eyed race that had landed near Tampico. They were wearing strange garments and emblems like entwined serpents on their foreheads. The sides of their vessels shone like the scales of a serpent. The Ulmeca leaders were known as Chanes, or among the Maya as Canob, 'Serpent Wise Men,' and the Maya called them Ah Tza, the 'People of the Rattlesnake.' It is said that they founded 150 cities, including Chichen Itza, which translates as 'The Mouth of the Well of the Serpent (Rattlesnake People). The primary Maya icon is the god Kulkulkan, "feathered rattlesnake."

Around 1900, Edgar Cayce, citing readings of past memories, claimed that there were actually two sunken continents, Lemuria in the Pacific and Atlantis in the Atlantic. His assertion was that the Mayan civilization began with refugees from the sinking of Atlantis, but was later enhanced by those fleeing the sinking of Lemuria. His predictions gained new life when colossal constructions came to light off Bimini-smack in the middle of the Antilles. James Churchward, an early 20th century author, also popularized sunken continents, citing information he said was obtained from ancient sun-baked tablets provided by a Maya Naacal priest.

Churchward claimed to have compared the tablets to tablets in Tibet, and he concluded that the Egyptian god Osiris was actually an Atlantean adept living some 20,000 years before Christ. Soviet geologists, long interested in both the Maya and Atlantis, now support the thesis that a large continental body sank into the Atlantic in comparatively recent times.

A professor at the University of Miami theorizes that 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Ice Age, a flood of icy water poured down the Valley of the Mississippí to raise the waters of the Gulf 130 feet. Could such a flood have possibly drowned the Antilles, where Plato's Atlantis could be submerged?

The sculpture of the Olmees leads to endless speculation. It shows what are obviously Caucasian men with flowing beards and dressed in what appear to be Phoenician clothes. Then there are the Negroid-featured giant stone heads.

Are these stone heads representative of Carthaginians? Could Phoenician traders have picked up Negroes in Africa and sailed with them across the Atlantic to Mexico? In Oaxaca there are further representations of Negroid-featured men accompanying what appear to be bearded Semites. Monte Alban has statuary dated to 500 B.C.E., attributed to the Olmecs and exhibiting Negroid and Semitic features.

A Caucasian-featured, bearded, robed, mustachioed Tlaloc is at Tula. There is evidence of Phoenician voyages in the Azores and near Cape Cod. Evidence of Carthaginians in South America.There is a historical record of at least two Chinese expeditions to America, which they apparently called Fu-sang, one in the 23rd century B.C.E., and one in the 5th century B.C.E.

A promising line of inquiry is proposed by suggesting that the Chinese first came as traders to the primitive peoples of the Veracruz coastline, and then later melded with them to form the Olmecs, bringing the wisdom of the Far East to Central America and jump-starting the march to civilization.

Maybe all of this is true, maybe none. Further investigations will reveal more roads to the truth. Meanwhile, there is no lack of speculation.