What do these three characters all have in common: Kronos, Azal, and Professor Zaroff? Answer, they all claim or bear some responsibility for the destruction of Atlantis. But who really destroyed the legendary city and why? We have three separate explanations as to why and when Atlantis was destroyed, each one more valid than the previous. On the surface it would seem that the three explanations do not really mesh together, and the perpetrator behind Atlantis’ destruction can easily be any one of the three main culprits But is it possible that all three explanations can be connected with one and other, and if so how? Is it possible that Atlantis was indeed destroyed by Kronos, Azal, and Professor Zaroff, but at different points in Atlantis’ history? Is it possible the True Destroyer of Atlantis is not one, but rather three different individuals?
We get our first explanations about how Atlantis was destroyed in The Underwater Menace, where Professor Zaroff plans to raise Atlantis to the surface. So at this point, Atlantis is the legendary lost city which has vanished without a trace. We aren’t told how Atlantis sunk to the seabed, and the city remains intact after Professor Zaroff has been defeated. The second explanation occurs in The Daemons, where Azal cites Atlantis as one of the failed experiments of the Daemons. Exactly when the Daemons destroyed Atlantis is unknown. The third and final explanation occurs in The Time Monster where Kronos is seen causing death and destruction in an Atlantean square in c.1500BC.
So the question is which one of these explanations is correct, and which one or ones are false? They all seem unique on the surface, but at the same time they all appear to be acting on their own accord. There doesn’t seem to be any connections between them, and there are very few clues to figure out which destruction account should be accepted as the definitive answer. It would seem that Azal, Professor Zaroff, and Kronos remain blissfully aware of each other’s involvement and association with Atlantis. So is it possible that all three individuals destroyed Atlantis over a period of time, and therefore all have an equal right to be named as the True Destroyer of Atlantis? It’s hard to believe but it is entirely possible.
To piece everything together we have to work backwards. So first we need to look at the third explanation given to us to see if it connects with the second.
During The Time Monster it is established that Atlantis was a part of the Minoan Civilization. The Minoan Civilization lasted between c.3500BC-1100BC, and the scenes set in Atlantis occur in c.1500BC. Now according to PROSE: The Quantum Archangel, the great Crystal of Kronos was presented to the people of Atlantis by the Daemons from the planet Daemos. The crystal itself played a major influence in Atlantis becoming an advanced civilization.
So, did the Daemons know what was concealed inside the Crystal of Kronos, or did they have no idea about the evil concealed within it? Kronos’ involvement in the plot is said to be ‘his’ second coming, so was Kronos released at some point prior to c.1500BC, and if so, who released him? The Daemons? If they did, they must have known about the evil creature that lurked inside the Crystal, and would surely have removed the Crystal from Atlantis, fearing that the creature would be freed once again, Atlantis was one of the experiments of the Daemons and would not want to see it destroy before it even started; or maybe they wouldn't have cared at all.
The first coming must have occurred in Atlantis itself since Kronos became the stuff of legend and myth within the Atlantean civilization. The first coming did not cause Atlantis’ destruction, since Kronos was trapped within the crystal before it could do any damage. Anyway, Atlantis flourished as a civilization; that is until Krasis summons Kronos to c.1500BC Atlantis, resulting in it destruction. But was Atlantis destroyed?
The answer is yes, and no. Yes, Kronos caused a lot of destruction, and multiple deaths, but the city of Atlantis evidently remains intact afterwards. So Kronos did destroy Atlantis in a technical sense, but not entirely. Therefore it is plausible that a few people survived Kronos’ devastating rampage. So did Kronos destroy Atlantis? Yes. He technically did. But what happened to Atlantis afterwards? Maybe The Daemons can answer that question.
During The Daemons it is revealed that the Daemons arrived on Earth in 100,000BC, and have been helping humanity ever since. The Greek civilization, the Renaissance, and the industrial revolution, according to The Third Doctor, were all inspired by the Daemons. So at some point, the Daemons must have sparked an event which helped Atlantis become a flourishing civilization – the presentation of the Crystal of Kronos perhaps?
The Daemons help humanity, but on their terms. The Earth is just a scientific experiment to the Daemons as The Doctor puts it. Any experiments which fail in the Daemons’ eyes are thrown into the rubbish bin, and Atlantis was presumably one of those experiments sometime before the 1970s. Azal himself cites the destruction of Atlantis as a warning to The Master if he deems Earth a failure. So when did the Daemons destroy Atlantis and why? They supposedly presented the great crystal of Kronos to Atlantis to help its evolution and gradual progression, so again, why?
If Atlantis was a flourishing civilization, what went wrong? Did the Daemons deem that Atlantis was getting too big for its own good? Was Atlantis going in the wrong direction and not what the Daemons hoped for? Did the Daemons consider Atlantis to be no longer worthy of their attention? Or did the Daemons destroy Atlantis to cover up their mistakes, surrounding the great Crystal of Kronos, perhaps?
Atlantis, in the 1970s at least must be lying at the bottom of the sea since its existence is now the stuff of legend and myth. During The Time Monster it is suggested that Atlantis was destroyed as a result of a volcanic eruption. So did Azal cause the volcano to erupt, or is Azal a non-interventionist who sat ideally by and watched Atlantis meet its fate? Azal couldn’t have been in suspended animation when Atlantis was destroyed, since he himself declares to be the one who destroyed the city – so he must have caused the volcano to erupt. Or perhaps he took credit for something that he didn't have any involvement in. Kronos didn’t cause the eruption in The Time Monster, since the creature stopped short before sinking the island. So it seems for whatever reason Azal had, Atlantis was destroyed again sometime between c.1500BC and the 1970s in the wake of a volcano eruption, and became the legendary city. So was Atlantis completely destroyed again? Well yes, and no, as The Underwater Menace will prove.
During The Underwater Menace, Atlantis is at the bottom of the ocean, which was discovered by renowned Professor Zaroff sometime during the 1960s. Professor Zaroff subsequently began living in Atlantis after disappearing off the face of the Earth. How long has Atlantis been submerged? How long have the survivors of Atlantis been living in the city? When does the serial take place? Well, a commemorative vase of the Mexico Summer Olympics which is on display in Atlantis places the events of the serial sometime after Summer of 1968. So the events of this story either take place shortly before The Daemons or a little while after. Either way, Atlantis is the legendary lost city of Atlantis. Or perhaps Atlantis lies on an area of the Earth where the past and future collide, and its possible for objects across the millennia to arrive in Atlantis through time cracks or time corridors - perhaps?
Azal, when awoken by The Master during The Daemons will remain oblivious that Atlantis is still populated by the decedents of the survivors who must have survived the volcanic eruption which sent the city into the ocean. The events of this story must take place sometime after the volcanic eruption, since Atlantis itself, is no longer an advanced civilization like it was during the Minoan Civilization. Society, medicine, technology, and science appear to be in a recession. Professor Zaroff uses operating chairs and ‘primitive’ equipment to turn the people of Atlantis into Fish People, and anaesthetics are used to knock a patient out, whilst being operated on. There is nothing to compare the medical practices used by Professor Zaroff with any other era in Atlantean history – The Time Monster etc. Were Atlanteans Doctors more skilful than Professor Zaroff in c.1500BC? If they were, what range of skills and knowledge did they have? The Daemons purpose on Earth was helping humanity evolve, and take out Neanderthal Man. The Daemons themselves had advanced scientific knowledge, which was then possibly shared with the people of Atlantis. So its without a doubt that the Atlantis seen in The Underwater Menace has lost an abundance of knowledge, resulting in a recession.
Atlantis however still possesses some of its traits from The Time Monster. Religion is still at the heart of Atlantean culture and society, Kronos (The Time Monster) and Amdo (The Underwater Menace). However at the end of the serial, with Professor Zaroff dead, and his laboratory flooded, Damon declares that Atlantis will no longer have, ‘ "temples and priests and superstition". So this could be a turning point in Atlantean history (again), just like when the Daemons first arrived on Earth. There is no mention of Kronos, the Great Crystal of Kronos, or the volcanic eruption that supposedly sunk the island – now of course, The Underwater Menace was produced, written, and broadcast before The Daemons and The Time Monster, so its inevitable that inaccuracies and inconsistencies will occur now and then.
So perhaps after hundreds of years of countless generations, information goes astray or people simply forget that such events took place. So with this in mind, The Underwater Menace must take place last chronologically when placing the events of Atlantis in a timeline. But the main question is, was Atlantis destroyed? Well, not exactly. The Second Doctor floods the lower levels of Atlantis and Professor Zaroff’s lab in order to save the Earth. The restoration of the city, in the words of Ando, will forever be a memorial for The Doctor. So although at the bottom of the ocean, Atlantis exists, but to the rest of the humanity the city will always be a legend. That is until somebody else discovers the city. Perhaps the people of Atlantis were still rebuilding their city when Azal was awoken from hibernation.
So what does the timeline of Atlantis look like, and how will it help in determining who really destroyed Atlantis? Well, with all of the available information, the timeline would possibly look something like this.
100,000BC: Daemons arrive on Earth.
100,000BC – c.1500BC: The Daemons give the Atlanteans the great crystal of Kronos which sparks Atlantis’ journey in becoming a flourishing civilization. The first coming of Kronos possibly happens, and Kronos is sealed within his crystal. Atlantis flourishes as a city, and the myths and legends of Kronos begin. The Daemons take a step back from Atlantis’ development as a city, and observe from a distance.
c.1500BC: Kronos is unleashed (again), the second coming (again?). Kronos destroys Atlantis, but stops short before it sinks the island. Atlanteans survive, and Atlantis continues to exist. Over the years, generations possibly talk about the legend of Kronos.
c.1500BC-1970s: Azal destroys the island of Atlantis by causing a volcanic eruption, and the island sinks into the ocean. Sometime after this, Azal return to suspended animation, and the legend of Atlantis spreads across the Earth. Unknown to Azal – there are survivors. [Again].
1960s[?]: The ‘legendary’ Atlantis is discovered by Professor Zaroff at the bottom of the ocean. He is reported missing, and begins to live in Atlantis.
c.1968: Professor Zaroff plans to raise the city to the surface of the Earth. Society and science and technology are in a recession. Professor Zaroff’s plans are thwarted by The Doctor, and Atlantis continues to be the legendary lost city.
1970s: Azal is awoken by The Master and he declares responsibility for sinking Atlantis. At this point he doesn’t know Atlantis ‘lives’ and Atlanteans survived its ‘destruction’.
So who is the true destroyer of Atlantis? Maybe the answers lie as to whether or not, The Doctor has indeed visited the same Atlantis throughout his incarnations. What does this mean exactly? Maybe The Doctor has visited not one, not two, but three different versions of Atlantis across multiple dimensions and universes. Maybe each of the three destruction events occur in a Universe of its own, where the other two never happened. Or maybe Atlantis exists outsides the space-time continuum, where past, present, and future all exist at once. Maybe Atlantis exists on an area of the Earth where time and space are irrelevant, and the city reached a plain of existence that far exceeded the science of the Daemons. Whatever Atlantis existence entails, the answer may be hidden in plain sight, or maybe the answer will never be revealed.
Atlantis will always be a mystery in Doctor Who and the answer to who really destroyed the city will probably never be answered. Whether Atlantis was destroyed by Kronos, or Azal, or someone else, there is one thing for certain, Atlantis was destroyed by someone, and that someone did a pretty lousy job.