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What next? Captain Nemo found in Ibiza?? FFS.

The search for Atlantis 'ends at Ayia Napa'
By Fiona Govan
(Filed: 28/09/2003)

It may be the answer generations of experts on the ancient world have been looking for. New research claims that the fabled ancient civilisation of Atlantis is located close to Cyprus.

After nearly 10 years of research using ocean mapping technology and accounts from ancient texts, an American explorer says he has evidence that Atlantis lies beneath the deep blue waters off the southern tip of the island.

Robert Sarmast, a self-proclaimed mythologist and expert on the ancient world, makes this claim in his book, Discovery of Atlantis - The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus, published last week in America by Origin Press. Mr Sarmast uses maps to show the location of archaeological remains on a sunken strip of land just off the south coast of Cyprus, which he says is Atlantis.

Mr Sarmast said at his home in California last week: "This is going to rewrite the history books. We are set to make the biggest archaeological discovery of all time."

His research, which cost $500,000 (£312,000) and uses data collected by a Russian scientific survey vessel in 1989, was paid for by the Heritage Standard Corporation, an organisation involved in undersea surveys for oil and gas. He now intends to carry out an expedition to explore the sea bed, to find proof of his theory.

Mr Sarmast says the site matches Plato's account of Atlantis, in the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written in about 400BC. The description is said to be based on the writings of Solon, who recorded the account told to him by the Egyptians in around 600BC.

Whereas many historians believe that Atlantis is the stuff of legend and that Plato's description is an allegory to praise the values of Athenian society, Mr Sarmast takes a more literal view.

"My discovery will vindicate Plato," he said. "Within his dialogues, Plato provides factual clues as to what Atlantis was like. I have matched all but two of the 45 clues with the area around Cyprus. That's either the biggest coincidence in the history of the world or we have found Plato's Atlantis. Plato's account is so detailed that it is possible to make city plans based on his description. These match exactly the antediluvian maps of Cyprus as discovered through oceanographic mapping."

Mr Sarmast says he has identified many of the areas described by Plato, including a rectangular plain, running east to west, containing a metropolis at its centre.

Central to the latest theory is the fact that the Mediterranean basin suffered a catastrophic flood with the destruction of the Gibraltar "dam" that once closed the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic.

This substantiates Plato's claim that an epochal flood "swallowed up" the island of Atlantis leaving only the uninhabited mountainous regions above water, and supports the Biblical story of the flood.

Mr Sarmast believes that it will not be difficult to launch an underwater expedition and that the rewards will be great. "It's only a mile down in warm, calm waters," he said. "Compare that with the Titanic which is two miles down in freezing, treacherous waters. That was explored fully 20 years ago.

"What we have here is a whole city, an ancient civilisation, megalithic sites packed full of artefacts. We can expect to find colossal buildings, bridges, roads, canals and stone temples. With no sunlight, heat, oxygen or wind to degrade its remains, Atlantis will be mummified in the cold waters of the deep sea, frozen in time."

Mr Sarmast's claim about Cyprus is, however, just the latest in a long list of suggested locations for Atlantis, including the Azores, the Sahara desert, Malta, Central America and Antarctica.

Cypriot reaction last week ranged from derision to enthusiastic support.

Dr Despo Pilides, an archaeologist at the Department of Antiquities, said: "Serious archaeologists tend to place the search for Atlantis within the realm of fantasy.

"This latest theory should be taken with a very large pinch of salt. Archaeologists only work with hard evidence. There is no evidence whatsoever to give credence to this hypothesis and we have no intention of investigating it."

But in the kafenios, the coffee houses where men pass the time and debate the issues of the day, it was a different story.

Christos sipped his strong, dark coffee as he contemplated the idea. "Of course it's true," he said. "We are Atlantis, we are the oldest civilisation, we are the Garden of Eden. This is a very good thing for Cyprus. We will be more famous than anywhere else in the world."

The tourist industry agreed. A spokesman for the Cyprus Tourism Organisation said: "I don't think we should be hasty in dismissing this idea. Whether it is true or not it can only be a good thing for us.

"People will want to come and visit what could be part of Atlantis."

British holidaymakers in Ayia Napa were less impressed. "I couldn't care less," said one Briton. "If you're looking for Atlantis, I'll tell you where it is. It's on the left before you get to Larnaca . . . the Atlantis Night Club Cabaret. But get there early if you want a seat - it gets quite full."

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Don't know about Atlantis but I know that disney have launched a film "Searching for Nemo" the cost of mounting such a film is said to be in the millions and that this film is surley going to cause a much bigger debate in the Archaeological societies future debates on fact or fiction.
It is probably going to open up a whole new decade of divers who feel that this is a more worthwhile search than looking for sunken land masses especially of Cyprus and I bet Nemo has got a few tales to tell if disney do find him !!! (Maybe he could actually tell us where Atlantis is).      

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