Thai scholar sticks by claim Plato's Atlantis is near Chiang Mai
published : 5 Aug 2012 at 00:00
newspaper section: News
The discovery of old walls near Doi Suthep has caused excitement in archaeology circles _ with one man claiming he has unearthed part of Plato's Atlantis.
On Feb 13 this year, Thai-language dailies, including Daily News, headlined an archaeologist's discovery of the ruins.
Early reports suggested the wall structures belong to the fabled city of Jed-lin, of old Chiang Mai folklore, dating back some 1,600 years.
However, Poonsab Wongsasukoipak, secretary of the Jed-lin anthropological research institute, believes the ruins are actually over 10,000 years old, and are part of Plato's Atlantis.
Atlantis was a legendary island and naval power which philosopher Plato first wrote about in 360 BC.
It sank into the sea after a failed attempt to invade Athens.
Mr Poonsab wrote an article in the monthly science and technology magazine Tauy Toon, making his claim to have discovered part of the old city of Atlantis near Doi Suthep.
It prompted a strong backlash.
Scientists criticised him for citing an online game site called Antlantica to support his claim.
Mr Poonsab, however, is undeterred.
Do you still believe the ruins are those of Atlantis?
Yes, with both physical and historical evidence, there is more than 80% certainty. Firstly, Jed-lin is a round city built in four levels. Each level has its own walls and moats; this is the same as Plato's Atlantis.
Secondly, Jed-lin is situated on land surrounded by mountains, rivers and the ocean, the same as Plato's Atlantis.
Thirdly, Jed-lin is situated on earth's largest continent. Atlantis was also situated on earth's largest continent, which we know as the Atlantis continent, over 10,000 years ago.
But what is the actual scientific evidence?
I am in the process of decoding the ancient Jed-lin inscription. So far, I believe that Jed-lin and Atlantis are so related that we can't tell them apart.
Are there other academics who support this claim?
Studies of Jed-lin have been going on a long time, from when the first inscription was found in 1934.
I am carrying on the study by decoding the inscription, which I have partly finished. From that, I have found three extra walls and moats.
I submitted this information to the Chang Puak district municipality, Chiang Mai. This led to the establishment of the institute to study Jed-lin.
One of my closest associates is Dr Pensupa Suktajaiintr, the former director of the national museum in Lamphun province.
Do you still insist the online-game Atlantica is part of your scientific evidence?
I know Atlantica is an on-line game, that it's not Atlantis. But how is it related?
To study Jed-lin, I searched for the map of the world 10,000 years ago. Then by chance I found this Atlantica map. So I borrowed the map [on the website]. The map is accurate, supported by research from many institutes.
The game is just a game; it has nothing to do with Atlantis. But think about it, where were the Atlantis people from?
Where were the followers of Plato from? From Atlantica, of course. If they weren't Atlantis people, or followers of Plato, how did they get the tale of Atlantis and turn it into Atlantica?
Does any of this call into question your position and credibility?
No. As I've already explained, my work has nothing to do with the game.
Has your work been accepted by the academic or scientific community?
I believe there's a wide acceptance about the finding and identification of Jed-lin. But as far my identification of Jed-lin as Atlantis is concerned, this is something I've only just revealed to the public, so it will take more time to study and bring out the information.
How do you plan to convince the world that this is Plato's Atlantis?
This might be something new for the Thai scholastic community. But it has been the subject of research for over 1,000 years. Recently, there was a proposal that Troy in modern Turkey was Atlantis. I believe in preserving the heritage, of Thailand and of Asean. I would like everyone to have a hand in this _ students, researchers and institutes, both local and foreign, to help me continue this research for the good of humanity.