For Atlantis, Turn Right at Cyprus



Since time immemorial Cyprus has thrived by association with Aphrodite - the love goddess who emerged from its silky waves. The Mediterranean island may well benefit from its strategic locale again; although this time through the undoing of a myth that thanks to the playful mind of Plato is also one of the world's greatest 

mysteries: Atlantis. 

After nearly a decade of rummaging through libraries, studying maps, reading ancient works and pouring over oceanographic data, an American researcher believes he has discovered the site of the lost civilisation on the sea floor between Cyprus and Syria, not far from Greece and Egypt, from where the legend of Atlantis originated. 

'This is an area that has not been charted before,' Robert Sarmast told The Observer from his Los Angeles office. 'The submerged land mass we have located off Cyprus's coast matches Plato's famed description of Atlantis nearly perfectly.' 

The Athenian philosopher described the mythological empire - 'sunk under the water after an earthquake' - in two of his famous dialogues, Timaeus and Critias . 

Atlantis, he said, was a collection of islands, one of them huge. 

Its land was 'the best in the world... able, in those days, to support a vast army' before a huge tidal wave flooded it around 10,000BC. 

The quest for the lost land is as undying as the myth itself. In the past decade, Atlantis has been 'sighted' at the top of volcanos and the bottom of seas; off the coast of Bolivia, Turkey, Antarctica and India. 

But Sarmast, who made colleagues working on the project sign secrecy pledges, goes one step further than other Atlantologists in claiming to have vindicated Plato's narrative as not just a philosopher's allegory. 

The researcher, author of Discovery of Atlantis: The Startling Case for the Island of Cyprus to be published in Britain next month, claims he has pinpointed the fabled island with 'unprecedented accuracy'. 

Using sonar technology provided by an oil company, he mapped the seabed to ascertain what he says is the shape of the island. The watery kingdom has been 'brought alive' in 3D bathymetric maps and models that depict a stretch of sunken land off Cyprus. 

If Plato is to be believed, there are colossal buildings, bridges, canals, temples and artefacts to be found in these waters. 

'The Titanic was two miles beneath the sea surface, this is less than one mile down,' said Sarmast. 'You don't need to find that much to prove the case and in the Mediterranean there's little sedimentation. If they're there it would be fairly easy to find the remains of an entire city.'