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« on: November 02, 2010, 08:35:50 PM »
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The Walls of Atlantis

I recently came across an interesting argument claiming that the capital city of Atlantis was unrealistically large based on the diameter of its outermost wall. Relying on the popular interpretation of Plato's account which establishes a fourth circular wall having a diameter of 14.5 miles (23,5 kilometers), the argument was put forth in the form of a simple question:

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"The total area of the royal city of Atlantis (443 sq.km) would have been so great that it exceeded that of today's London with 303 sq.km and 3,2 millions of inhabitants. Atlantis - a city greater than today's London?"

Meanwhile, Jim Allen of 'Atlantis in Bolivia' fame also addresses this fourth wall arguing on his website that the existence of this wall invalidates my proposed location of the capital city in South America's Paraná Delta (see Atlantis: The Land Beyond The Pillars) since the wall would have extended so far out beyond the city complex so as to straddle the very wide confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers not just once, but twice, which I agree would have proven one of the greatest engineering feats of the past and the most puzzling.

However, the biggest problem with both of these concerns exists at their very core, that an extensive fourth wall was ever truly described. This article addresses this very common misconception that actually originates with the English translation of Plato's account where the translators had a bit of trouble juggling context. Regardless of whether or not Atlantis existed, Critias, the individual providing the original description, would have had a clear vision of what he was attempting to portray, and the following analysis will take a closer look at the text and help convey that original vision.

Here is the passage in dispute:

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"[117d] And after crossing the three outer harbors, [117e] one found a wall which began at the sea and ran round in a circle, at a uniform distance of fifty stades from the largest circle and harbor, and its ends converged at the seaward mouth of the channel. The whole of this wall had numerous houses built on to it, set close together; while the sea-way and the largest harbor were filled with ships and merchants coming from all quarters, which by reason of their multitude caused clamor and tumult of every description and an unceasing din night and day." - Critias by Plato; translations by R.G. Bury unless otherwise noted.

It would appear from this translation that Critias was indeed describing a wall that fully encircled the circular capital city, paralleling its outermost ring at a distance of 50 stades (5.7 miles/9,2 km) with the ends of the wall converging at the sea. (Figure 1) With the multi-ringed city having a diameter of 3.10 miles (5,0 km), this would put the wall at 14.5 miles (23,4 km) in diameter and over 45 miles (72,4 km) in circumference.

Figure 1

Artist's rendition of the capital city of Atlantis depicting the common belief that beyond the three walls of the multi-ringed capital existed a fourth circular wall lying 50 stades (5.7 miles/9,2 km) beyond the outermost ring. The entrance through this wall can be seen in the lower left corner.

Certainly an impressive structure, yet one based on an imagined fourth wall, where clearly the original account defines only three walls.

First of all, let us consider the first portion of the passage:

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"[117d] And after crossing the three outer harbors, [117e] one found a wall..."

It is clear that the translator is suggesting that 'after crossing the three outer harbors, one found a wall' lying 50 stades from the city at the sea, but contextually this is wholly incorrect. After crossing the three outer harbors one actually came to the mouth of the 50-stadium channel within the outer harbor, not at the sea, but more importantly one did indeed come to a wall, a wall lining 'the largest circle and harbor', one of three walls existing in the multi-ringed city. This conforms with an earlier passage where Critias states that the outer harbor or outermost circle was lined with a brass covered wall:

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"[116b] And they covered with brass, as though with plaster, all the circumference of the wall which surrounded the OUTERMOST CIRCLE."

Now many have incorrectly assumed that this brass wall surrounded the outermost circle of LAND as indicated in figure 1, but without this portion of the account specifically stating whether this circle was associated with 'land' or 'water' we must adhere to contextual consistency and check other references to this 'outermost circle' to make that determination. And Critias' only other reference to the 'OUTERMOST CIRCLE' is clearly regarding the outermost circle of WATER or harbor and occurs just a few scant sentences earlier meaning it is highly doubtful that Critias would affix two different meanings to a unique phrase addressed within a single continuous thought:

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" [115d] For, beginning at the sea, they bored a channel right through to the OUTERMOST CIRCLE, which was three plethra (303 feet) in breadth, one hundred feet in depth, and fifty stades (5.7 miles) in length; and thus they made the entrance to it [obviously the harbor] from the sea like that to a harbor by opening out a mouth large enough for the greatest ships to sail through."

"[116b] And they covered with brass, as though with plaster, all the circumference of the wall which surrounded the OUTERMOST CIRCLE; and that of the inner one they coated with tin; and that which encompassed the acropolis itself [116c] with orichalcum which sparkled like fire."

So this establishes that there was a brass clad wall lining the outermost circle of water, but let us take a quick look at the positioning of the remaining two walls. Critias specifies the location of this outermost brass wall and the location of the orichalcum wall he places on the small central island or acropolis, but he refers to the tin wall as merely 'the inner one'. Benjamin Jowett provides a translation with a slightly more specific location for the tin wall:

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The entire circuit of the wall, which went round the outermost zone, they covered with a coating of brass, and the circuit of the next wall they coated with tin, and the third, which encompassed the citadel, flashed with the red light of orichalcum. - Translation by Benjamin Jowett

This would place the tin wall as an inner wall next in a sequence that begins with the brass outer wall and ends at the central orichalcum wall. If the brass wall had surrounded the outermost ringed island as many believe and the orichalcum wall surrounded the central island, this would establish a set or pattern of wall bound islands and therefore 'next' in this sequence would most definitely be discerned as the smaller ringed island. Figure 1 again demonstrates this common placement for the tin clad wall on this smaller ring of land.

However, since the brass wall actually surrounded the outermost ring of water and the orichalcum wall surrounded the central island, the sequence is not limited to the placement of walls around islands, but rather all delineations between rings of water and land become part of the sequence. Thus 'next' in the series after the brass wall would be the next delineation between land and water, establishing that the outermost circle of land was bounded by the tin clad wall, which coincides with the narrow channel through this island which restricted passage to a single trireme, demonstrating the secure exclusive nature of the three islands intended for military and royalty while the outer harbor and channel could be fully accessed by civilian merchant ships. Figure 2 therefore represents the definitive positioning of the three walls of Atlantis' capital city.

Figure 2

This image demonstrates the correct placement of the three walls directly in and around the city complex. The wall of brass surrounded the 'outermost circle' of water, or harbor. The tin wall followed next, lining the outermost circle of land followed by the wall of orichalcum which surrounded the citadel, the central island.

Based on this corrected layout, here again we find that after crossing the three harbors we come to a wall as was stated by Critias. If the wall being spoken of was a fourth located at the sea 50 stades from the third outer harbor, instead of stating:

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"And after crossing the three outer harbors, [117e] one found a wall..."

It would have been more accurate to have stated:

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"And after crossing the three outer harbors [and passing through the channel] one found a wall..." Or perhaps even "And after crossing the three outer harbors one found [the first of two walls...]"

But here is the clincher. If there was a fourth wall and it never came closer than 5.7 miles from the multi-ringed city and its outermost harbor, instead only coming in contact with a small portion of the channel at its seaward mouth as that misinterpretation maintains, portions of the passage would seem a bit disconnected and unnecessarily added.

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"[117e] The whole of this wall had numerous houses built on to it, set close together; while the sea-way and the largest harbor were filled with ships and merchants coming from all quarters, which by reason of their multitude caused clamor and tumult of every description and an unceasing din night and day."

Contextually the surrounding text is focused on a description of the wall and it follows that this final portion of the passage addressing the endless clamor should also pertain directly to the wall, describing the constant interaction between those dwelling on the wall and the merchant ships that filled both the outer harbor and the 50-stadium channel.

The only such interaction with the alleged fourth wall would be limited to a very small area at the mouth of the channel near the sea. And in fact if there were guard towers located on both sides of the entrance into the channel then there would have been virtually no interaction between those that lived on the wall and the merchant ships entering the channel. We would have to assume that an extremely small group of people living on the wall were generating an 'unceasing din night and day' for all the city at all times of the day. It also makes little sense for Critias to mention the merchant ships in the largest harbor since they would not have been visible at all from any point along this vast wall, let alone for those dwelling on the wall to become so ecstatic about their activity 5.7 miles away.

At the bottom of figure 3 you can see how truly isolated this fourth wall would have been from the ships entering the channel and especially from those ships in the outermost harbor. If you look closely the little white specs on the blue water represent ships of about 120 feet (37 meters) in length, a general size for Greek triremes used merely to provide a sense of over all scale.

Figure 3

Common misconception of a fourth wall lying 5.7 miles from the city complex and completely encircling it. Interaction between those living on this outer wall and the merchant ships filling the canal would have been minimal, limited to the entrance of the channel while there would have been absolutely no interaction with the ships in the city's outer harbor, seemingly conflicting with Plato's account.

However if the wall being described was indeed the one encircling the outer harbor, one can easily imagine nonstop day and night activity where the people inhabiting space on the wall would be actively involved in trade with merchant ships in the harbor.

But what of the comment that the wall existed a 'distance of fifty stades from the largest circle and harbor'? Since, as we established, Critias is referring to the wall surrounding the outer harbor, it becomes clear that he is describing the full extent of this same wall explaining that it extended out beyond the outer harbor the length of the canal to the sea or as he plainly states, "one found a wall which began at the sea" not a wall located at the sea. (Figure 4) And again this fits perfectly with the context, first of all reaffirming that the channel to the sea was 5.7 miles in length and then explaining the interaction in the channel between those who dwelt on the wall with the merchant ships. This leads to my interpretation of the passage which proves contextually more consistent, maintaining focus on the wall's significance by linking interaction with trade ships in both the channel and harbor to the entire length of the wall:

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"And after crossing the three outer harbors, one found a wall which originated at the sea a distance of fifty stades from the largest circle and harbor; It ran round everywhere with its ends converging at the seaward mouth of the channel.

The whole of this wall had numerous houses built on to it, set close together; while the sea-way and the largest harbor were filled with ships and merchants coming from all quarters, which by reason of their multitude caused clamor and tumult of every description and an unceasing din night and day."

Figure 4

The true configuration of the three walls of Atlantis conforming to Critias' linking heightened day and night interactivity between inhabitants on the wall and merchant ships in both the outermost harbor and within the 5.7-mile channel. It also clarifies Critias' original vision, "After crossing the three outer harbors, one found a wall which originated at the sea a distance of fifty stades from the largest circle and harbor; It ran round everywhere with its ends converging at the seaward mouth of the channel."


This is indeed the layout of the three and only three walls described by Critias and portrays most accurately the outer wall as he envisioned it. Contextually all the elements align perfectly. He conveys his vision by describing crossing the three harbors, bringing himself and his audience to a wall along the outer harbor in front of the 50-stadium channel. From this vantage point a separate wall 5.7 miles away would have been too far removed to have even been mentioned. In fact, since the sides of the land rings were said to be higher than the ships in the harbor, most of this remote wall would not have even been visible from this point.

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"Moreover, through the circles of land, [115e] which divided those of sea, over against the bridges they opened out a channel leading from circle to circle, large enough to give passage to a single trireme; and this they roofed over above so that the sea-way was subterranean; for the lips of the landcircles were raised a sufficient height above the level of the sea."

However with this new interpretation all mentioned elements are suddenly in play and visible from this one single location. Crossing the outer harbor and sitting in front of the entrance to the channel, Critias' audience could simultaneously perceive being fully surrounded in the harbor by a brass clad wall while also envisioning this great structure extending far down each side of the 5.7-mile channel. From this same vantage point, we are also able to envision the many merchant ships moving about both the harbor and the channel—both lined with docks accessible from the wall similar to the portrayal in figure 1—and realize the great amount of excitement the ships' presence would generate for the multitude who dwelt on the wall, 'clamor and tumult of every description and an unceasing din night and day'.

Adding substantial credibility and practicality to this proposed layout is the existence of the similarly fashioned Long Walls of Athens. (Figure 5) Like the walls of Atlantis, the Long Walls of Athens encircled the city and extended out forming a long narrow corridor to the sea. The only difference being that Athens' passage was of land while Atlantis' passage was of water. Similar long wall constructions were established throughout Greece as a means of securing access to the sea. In the case of the Long Walls at Athens, the walls secured a 40-stadium (4.5 miles/7 km) passage to the port city of Piraeus from where supplies could be safely transported to the city of Athens in times of land siege.

Figure 5

The Long Walls of Athens as they existed at the time of the Peloponnesian War. Similar to the walls of Atlantis they provided a secure narrow corridor through which the city was able to maintain access to the sea.

Of course this shared attribute between Atlantis and Athens also introduces an interesting chicken versus the egg debate. If the Atlantis saga is true, could Solon's description of its city walls, which Critias claimed to be recounting, have influenced the building of the Long Walls a century later, or if either Plato or Critias invented a fictitious Atlantis, did they base the design of its capital city on the Long Walls which existed in their day?

-Doug
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 09:01:42 PM by Doug Fisher »

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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2010, 04:48:40 AM »
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Hi Doug,
 First of all, you have a very interesting site. I have read some of the maps articles and you have some very good ideas.
What impresses me the most is this Walls article. I think you are absolutely correct. I had previously envisioned the walls in the usual way where there is three walls on the concentric water rings plus a fourth circular wall starting at the ocean.

 What I found immediately convincing about your hypothesis is that the story only mentions three walls, that alone was evidence enough for your interpretation because the context of the rest of the story strongly suggests the sequence of three walls on the concentric harbours. If there was a fourth it would have to have been mentioned but it wasn't. The rest of the description fits in nicely with your interpretation about the constant noise of the waterway.
 I always was a little confused at the description of the layout of the city for just this reason. I am kicking myself now for overlooking what now seems obvious (3 walls not 4 described). Well done.


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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2010, 12:32:12 PM »
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Hello Geo and welcome to the forum.

And don’t be kicking yourself for overlooking this interpretation. I actually had the advantage of necessity.    Smiley

Jim Allen had first brought the wall configuration to my attention with his argument against my site in the Parana Delta. I quickly picked up on his misinterpretation partially because, rightly or wrongly, I approached the subject with a slight bias, but also like you I was confused and recognized there was definitely something askew in the translation. It took a bit to sort it out with most of the confusion due to Bury injecting his own personal interpretation into the text:

Quote
a wall...ran round in a circle, at a uniform distance of fifty stades”

In Bury’s defense, translating is a complex task and one can’t expect to get every passage correct, but the key to the correct translation was of course Critias’ reference to the “outermost circle’ or as Jowett interprets it, “outermost zone.” There was absolutely no way the writer or speaker would switch meanings to this unique reference within the space of a paragraph, within the same train of thought.

Anyway, thanks. I am glad this article impressed you. It is not my most significant find, but it is significant in being one that, like you, I feel is 'absolutely correct'.

-Doug

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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2010, 03:41:44 AM »
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Hi Doug,
... well it is pretty significant for the little field of Atlantology atleast. Obviously what we really want to see is archaeological evidence of Atlantis, nonetheless this discovery is the best thing I have seen on Atlantis in a very long time.

 If this is not your most significant discovery could you tell me what is? I am not sure if you have already announced that somewhere in the articles, I hope to get the chance to read them all soon.
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2010, 03:03:49 PM »
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Hello Geo,

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... well it is pretty significant for the little field of Atlantology atleast. Obviously what we really want to see is archaeological evidence of Atlantis, nonetheless this discovery is the best thing I have seen on Atlantis in a very long time.


Thanks Geo. I appreciate that very very much. I would like to think it is significant as well, but I have been a little discouraged after posting the find and receiving little to no feedback on a high profile forum like grahamhancock.com where Atlantis is a common topic of conversation. Several people have reviewed the information, but the topic died a very quick death as you can see here.

I will say that once again, Graham has been very supportive of my work and expressed a positive view of this find as well when I submitted it.

Quote
If this is not your most significant discovery could you tell me what is? I am not sure if you have already announced that somewhere in the articles, I hope to get the chance to read them all soon.


Just my opinion, but to me the most significant discovery I have placed on the web is the 2,000-year-old Agrippa’s Orbis Terrarum. In conversing with Graham, he has stated he also believes this to be a genuine find.

Like the walls of Atlantis, it is virtually impossible that this find is in error, but I have yet to have a map collector or ancient maps enthusiast comment on this find except to state that it is unlikely that a 16th century mapmaker would mistakenly affix an ancient map of the world on a globe believing it to be a map of a southern continent. They do not even wish to review the overwhelming amount of evidence presented or accept the methodology which is actually documented on a map of the time, the Piri Reis map.

An inscription on the 1513 Piri Reis World Map openly boasts scaling old maps—some claimed to have been composed in the 4th century BC during the reign of Alexander the Great—to new maps. And yet the idea that Johannes Schöner would use this same method only 2 years later seems inconceivable to them. Here again, I believe I overestimated the interest in ancient maps and those that are interested do not seem willing to explore new concepts.

The other discovery that seems significant is the posited site for Atlantis. Whether or not Atlantis existed, this is by far the most accurate site geographically. In fact, mathematically it is extraordinarily improbable that Plato could have defined by coincidence a continent with a 10,000 stadium rectangular plain lying within 14.5 miles of the sea in the south. There is only one large rectangular plain on the planet defined by navigable waters and it measures almost exactly 10,000 stades. That this one lone matching plain would also be located within 14.5 miles of the sea on its southern extremity, be aligned with its shorter side extending from the sea inward and be surrounded by mountains on only three sides to the west, north and east whose runoff fed the waters surrounding the plain, matching geographical parameters set forth in Plato’s dialogues seems to push the limits of coincidence—not even to mention the slew of matching parameters not listed here.

In tandem with that find is my theory on how Solon came to incorrectly believe that a continent sized Atlantis sank. I have had some very positive feedback on this discovery. I am only aware of two other individuals acknowledging and attempting to reconcile Plato's account of two continents lying beyond the Mediterranean with one continent described as surrounding the world's oceans, and both individuals failed to place the description within the context of the Greek worldview at the time of Solon and Critias.

I briefly covered this find in the original article, but ciggy, a member on this site, is responsible for this more in-depth article after asking, "So when and how did South America sink?" Like the Walls of Atlantis, some of my best articles may be the result of challenges to my core theories.

-Doug

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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2010, 11:05:28 AM »
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Hi Doug,
I did read briefly the article about the Agrippa world map, I need to go over that one again more thoroughly because I am confused as to what it's implications are. I mean, I can see that the Agrippa map shows the Mediterranean on the inside of the C-shape and that it is C-shaped because of the Strait of Gibraltar (no land link), and generally distorted. I can see that the outside of the C-shape is a good representation of Greater Antarctica, but I am baffled as to why a map maker would do such a thing. I do realise that cartographical oddities were often made where regions on a map were made to look like people or animals etc. But why put the Mediterranean inside Antarctica?
Graham has been very supportive of my work and expressed a positive view of this find as well when I submitted it.

 

Well I think Graham Hancock can see in the Walls article what you and I see ,and what anyone with any good judgement can see - that it is correct.

 
.
.. but I have been a little discouraged after posting the find and receiving little to no feedback on a high profile forum like grahamhancock.com where Atlantis is a common topic of conversation..
I have never used the GrahamHancock forums, not sure why, see I check his news articles on a daily basis but I think I may have looked at his forums once and seen that the topics were really 'bad'. Maybe they do discuss Atlantis but if the content is anything like the responses you got for the 'Walls' article then I wont bother. I found that Graham doesn't really talk about the Atlantis of Plato either, he speaks more of a general flood and lumps Atlantis in with the other flood myths.

Since our little dialogue is getting into a 'maps' subject and that I think the Walls article is very 'conclusive' in that we have agreed your findings are correct, I think we should move over to the Cartography section of the Forum
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2011, 09:36:34 PM »
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There's another possible explanation about the wall that could fit Atlantis into the site of Tiwanaku:  the Egyptians had their own unit of measurement analogous to the Greek Statium, although it was only about 1/4 the size of its Greek equivalent.  If we have Solon getting his 900s in Egyptian mistaken for 9,000s, that opens the further possibility for a mistranslation of land measurement.

"By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night, On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim Thule —
From a wild weird clime, that lieth, sublime, Out of Space — out of Time." --Edgar Allen Poe
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2011, 11:50:34 AM »
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Hi ciggy,

I thought Jim Allen keyed in on Pampa Aullagas as the site of the city capital. With his adherence to a half-size stadium I do not see how one would be able to place Tiwanaku within the walls. I could see Tiwanaku as perhaps a sister city to the north. I haven't read anything lately on Jim's theory, so I may be wrong here if he has made recent adjustments. 

As for the 900 vs 9000 years, like my analysis of the walls above and my article on Solon's sinking of the continent, context within Plato's writings may provide the simplest and most logical explanation for the dates.

-Doug

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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 09:27:27 AM »
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Hi ciggy,

I thought Jim Allen keyed in on Pampa Aullagas as the site of the city capital. With his adherence to a half-size stadium I do not see how one would be able to place Tiwanaku within the walls. I could see Tiwanaku as perhaps a sister city to the north. I haven't read anything lately on Jim's theory, so I may be wrong here if he has made recent adjustments. 

As for the 900 vs 9000 years, like my analysis of the walls above and my article on Solon's sinking of the continent, context within Plato's writings may provide the simplest and most logical explanation for the dates.

-Doug

Apparently the half-stade hypothesis is based on the Sumerian Stade, which is somewhat plausible in that it's closer to the Greek Stade and may have been used as a common denominator by the Egyptians when describing distances to a Greek traveler, expecting the Greek to re-translate the Sumerian Stade into his own measurements which he didn't do.

My jury is out on Pampa Aullagas.  There seems to be a ring-like formation there, but I think any actual Atlan(tis) location would need to have some sort of evidence of an acropolis and temple complex having been there, which Tiwanaku has, we know that much.  Fitting Tiwanaku into a wall by playing with the measurements seems easier than to put stone blocks into Pampa Aullagas or at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata where there are none.  If there are none.  That's why my jury's out--if traces of the buildings are there, at either Allen's Pampa Aullagas or your Rio de la Plata delta location, then my Tiwanaku site shifts from being "the" Atlantis to perhaps some later city.

"By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night, On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim Thule —
From a wild weird clime, that lieth, sublime, Out of Space — out of Time." --Edgar Allen Poe
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