Ignatius Donnelly

The antiquity of some of our great inventions

The Mariner’s Compass

The notion that the mariner’s compass might have been known to the Atlanteans might seem fanciful. However, if we accept that they were a highly civilized and maritime people, it becomes plausible. They conducted commerce between distant regions such as Peru and Syria, necessitating some method for navigating the seas.

The compass was believed to have been invented by an Italian named Amalfi in A.D. 1302. However, Goodrich’s “Life of Columbus” presents evidence of its earlier use. By A.D. 868, the Northmen employed the compass (“The Landnamabok,” vol. i., chap. 2). Italian sailors used it by A.D. 1190. In ancient Sanskrit, the magnet was known as “the precious stone beloved of Iron,” and early Hebrew texts refer to it as Kalamitah. The Phœnicians were familiar with the magnet, using a magnetized needle floating crosswise on water, symbolized by a woman figure on their ships pointing the way.

Magnetic Devices in Antiquity

The Chinese used the magnetic compass as early as 2700 B.C., where Emperor Wang-ti had a magnetic figure on carriages to point south. In the seventh century, Baltic Sea navigators also used it. Egyptians referred to the loadstone as the bone of Haroeri and iron as the bone of Typhon, linking the elements to their deities and hinting at early knowledge of the magnet’s properties.

Myths and Magnetic Stones

Hercules, an Atlantean deity, was associated with the magnetic stone, referred to as the “Stone of Hercules.” Greek mythology tells of Hercules using a magnetic cup to sail the ocean at night, a possible reference to using a magnetic compass.

Ancient coins from Tyre depict symbols reminiscent of navigational tools, possibly indicating an understanding of the magnetic compass. A similar symbol was found on a copper coin from Guatemala, featuring an eagle and a serpent around a fruit tree, suggesting the transmission of this knowledge across continents.

Other Advanced Inventions


The ancients demonstrated advanced navigation skills. The proportions of Noah’s ark, as described in the Bible, match modern fast-sailing vessels. Hiero of Syracuse built a massive vessel with advanced features under Archimedes’ supervision. Sesostris and Semiramis commanded large fleets, showing their maritime capabilities.


The invention of gunpowder might trace back to Atlantis. It was known in Europe before the time of Berthold Schwarz and used in various forms in ancient China, India, and the Arab world. Legends suggest that Hannibal used gunpowder during his campaigns. Moses might have used a similar substance against the rebels in the biblical narrative.

Greek mythology also hints at the use of explosive materials. The rebellion against Zeus, known as the “War of the Titans,” involved thunderbolts and seismic shocks, possibly indicating early use of explosive devices.


Iron was known in ancient Egypt and Northern Europe long before contact with the Greeks or Romans. The Iron Age in America also predates European contact. The widespread knowledge of ironworking suggests it was inherited from a common Atlantean source.


Papyrus was used in ancient Egypt, while in Mexico and Peru, various forms of paper were common. This widespread knowledge of papermaking points to a shared origin.

Silk Manufacture

The art of silk manufacture, known in China and India from ancient times, implies a high level of civilization. The process was likely passed down from Atlantean times.

Governance and Social Systems

The Cushites, successors of the Atlanteans, established independent municipal republics, a system seen in later civilizations like the Greeks and Romans. This suggests that modern democratic governance may trace its roots back to Atlantis.

Agriculture and Astronomy

Agricultural practices, including the cultivation of many modern plants, were established in ancient Egypt. Astronomical knowledge was highly advanced among the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Greeks, indicating a sophisticated understanding inherited from an earlier civilization.

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