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Atlantis: Fact or Fiction? The Case for the Greek Island of Thera

Lecture with slides by Curtis Runnels, Ph.D.

Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 2:00 p.m.
(Snow date: Sunday, January 23 at 2:00 p.m.)

Dickerson Room, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital - Needham
148 Chestnut Street, Needham

Free and open to the public
Refreshments

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library

Since the time of Plato people have speculated about the existence of the lost civilization of Atlantis, and in 1882 Ignatius Donnelly began the modern interest in this subject with his book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. He claimed to have found Atlantis on a sunken continent beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Donnelly’s ideas have been proven wrong, but the interest in the topic continues today, and in the last one hundred years scholars, dreamers, and the lunatic fringe have claimed to have found Atlantis almost everywhere, from Antarctica, to Alabama, to Norway, and even Mars! Is there any convincing scientific evidence for the existence of Atlantis? Archaeologists have focused their attentions on an island in the Aegean Sea, where a previously unknown prehistoric civilization was destroyed by a powerful volcanic eruption in the 17th century B.C. Some archaeologists believe that there is good reason to believe that the civilization on the island of Thera (also known as Santorini) was the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis. In this lecture the story of Atlantis is told from the beginning, and the archaeological evidence for the Atlantis-Thera connection is reviewed by an expert on the topic.

Curtis Runnels is Professor of Archaeology at Boston University where he is also the Editor of the Journal of Field Archaeology. He has done archaeological research in Greece, Turkey, and Albania for 30 years, and is a specialist in the prehistoric cultures of the Stone and Bronze Ages. After graduating from the University of Kansas, Professor Runnels earned his Ph.D. at Indiana University in 1981, and taught at Stanford University from 1981 until 1987 when he moved to Boston University. He is the author of many scientific articles and books, including two books for general readers: Beyond the Acropolis: A Rural Greek Past (Stanford University Press, 1987), written with Tjeerd H. van Andel, and Greece Before History: An Archaeological Companion and Guide (Stanford University Press, 2001), co-authored with his wife, Priscilla Murray.

The Dickerson Room is first on the left from the main entrance. Access is from the main parking area by the Oak St. traffic light.

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