Jean Deruelle's Atlantis
In January 2001 I decided to check what the web had to say about the Piri Reis maps - ancient Turkish sea maps some people claim have been copied on others of much greater antiquity. In my youth, I had heard about these puzzling maps in books dealing with Earth's mysteries.
I soon found what I was looking for but on a second look I found the subject less thrilling than I had thought and, to tell the truth, not quite convincing. One topic leading to another related topic, I finally hit upon websites about Atlantis, this mythical continent which, according to Plato, the Greek philosopher, was submerged 9,000 years before his time. Quite rapidly, I read about a book written by French author Jean Deruelle called L'Atlantide des mégalithes (1999), which immediately caught my attention. I then decided to purchase the book.
Deruelle's theory was simple but new to me : Atlanteans would have been the Megalithic (from the Greek 'huge stone') people from Western Europe - people belonging to a badly-known civilisation. Most Europeans have at least once seen or heard about the gigantic stones they once erected - Stonehenge and Avebury in England being famous examples, but hundreds of thousands of cromlechs and standing stones can be found throughout Europe and beyond. This civilisation thrived for nearly 4 millennia, roughly from 4800 BC to 1200 BC. Basing his work on those of a German author from the 1950's - Jürgen Spanüth, who claimed Atlantis was located in the North Sea - Deruelle spent much of his retirement time gathering clues supporting his thesis of a Northern Atlantis.
Among other things he noticed that right in the middle of the North Sea was a huge, 300 km-long submerged island now called the Dogger Bank. Remarkably, Deruelle's calculations showed him that the global rise of oceans level following the last Ice Age, combined with the implacable sinking of the undersea soil, implied that the Dogger Bank had been a real island during the Megalithic period! According to Deruelle the Megalithic people, who were skilful navigators, probably had their capital city on this island and subsequently extended their influence to Western Europe and the Mediterranean. Last but not least, this people having lived before the great Sumerian and Egyptian civilisations, it was likely to have helped these first great civilisations rise in the first place.
Right after the fascinating reading of this book I wrote a letter to Deruelle. Three weeks later, I received a reply. In a highly emotional four-page letter Jean Deruelle, delighted that a younger mind showed an interest in a theory that had unfortunately been mainly overlooked by scholars and general public altogether, was giving me a sort of assignment: "How can I express the pleasure that your letter dated 11 March brought in me! What a rejuvenating, enthusing experience - exactly what I need!... I am 86 and it's getting more and more difficult for me to walk, read and walk, so I can only hope that young forces will accept to take over from me. Would you fancy such an adventure?... In any case, be sure, dear Sir, that you brought me great happiness and the wish to continue on the way as long as I can."
Honoured by the old man's request, I decided to accept the adventure. I started to do research work on ancient civilisations, which I found very exciting, and exchanged a few letters with Jean Deruelle. Unfortunately, a few months later, I was to learn from his wife about the demise of this remarkable man. But I was no longer alone in this quest for humanity's past: an Englishman, Alan Butler, had revealed to me information that was to change my life drastically.