Plato Prehistorian

Myth, Religion and Archaeology

Mary Settegast

Publication cancelled

Quick Look

  • Draws connections between human prehistory and Plato's writings on two ancient civilisations
  • A new edition which features an appendix on recent excavations at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, which have upended the conventional view of the rise of civilisation

A synthesis of classical and archaeological scholarship, this book explores the reality of Plato's two ancient civilisations.

254 x 178 mm
Lindisfarne Books
Philosophy of Human Life
b/w illustrations
368 pages
Publication date:
11 Feb 2022
3rd edition


In his Timaeus and Critias dialogues, Plato wrote of two ancient civilisations that flourished more than 9,000 years before his time. Socrates accepted the account as true, and modern archaeological techniques may yet prove him right.

In Plato Prehistorian, Mary Settegast takes us from the cave paintings of Lascaux to the shrines of Çatalhöyük, demonstrating connections both to Plato's tale and to the mystery religions of antiquity. She then traces the mid-seventh millennium impulse that revitalised the spiritual life of Çatalhöyük and spread agriculture from Iran to the Greek Peninsula -- at precisely the time given by Aristotle for the legendary Persian prophet Zarathustra, for whom the cultivation of the earth was a religious imperative.

This new edition of Settegast's ground-breaking synthesis of classical and archaeological scholarship features an appendix on the recent excavations at Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey, which have upended the conventional view of the rise of civilisation.


'A highly original and completely fascinating look at the shore between myth and history.'
--William Irwin Thompson, author of The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light

'Fascinating and challenging. . . A useful, well-documented, and courageous effort to break away from the unilinear paradigm and to propose a new framework for the data of the Holocene.'
-- J.V. Luce, Professor of Classics, Trinity College, University of Dublin

'A gradual revolution is under way which will have far-reaching consequences and this book is the valuable tool in that process. It was Plato who wrote about Atlantis first, he got it from his grandfather Solon when in Egypt. This book looks at the references to Timaeus and Critaeus and links it to archeaology examining in detail the links. It cogently argues the case for the mythic histories to be in fact not fable but fact. A book of scholarly clarity to jog our sense of historic complacency.'
-- Baelder Pan-European Journal

'Settegast's unbiased approach contrasts with the usual process of automatically imposing modern standards on Plato’s account. . . well worth considering as part of a new model for the period from 10,000-5,000 BC.'
-- J.L. Benson, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology, University of Massachusetts

'The evidence [Settegast] assembles is exhaustive, multi-disciplinary, and provocative. Her scholarship is solid and meticulously referenced; the conclusions are balanced; the prose is lucid and jargon-free. A valuable and original work.'
-- John Anthony West, author of The Traveler's Key to Ancient Egypt


Mary Settegast was a contemporary American scholar and author, with graduate degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University. Her work as an independent scholar was primarily focused on the study and interpretation of culture and religion from Paleolithic to modern times. Her other publications include When Zarathustra Spoke: The Reformation of Neolithic Culture and Religion and Mona Lisa’s Mustache: Making Sense of a Dissolving World.

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