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  There are many theories about the lost "continent" of Atlantis, whose tale dates back to the time of Homer if not before. Some theories place it in the Pacific. Others the Atlantic and even though vast underwater cities have been found in both of those oceans, many people believe Atlantis was in the Mediterranean. (I seriously doubt that Homer would have heard of a civilization in the western Atlantic or the Pacific oceans.) Furthermore, many people believe that the Island of Santorini played a key role in the sinking of Atlantis and there are three theories that I will talk about.

  The first theory is that Santorini was Atlantis. Underwater divers have discovered the remains of a very advanced civilization that apparently traded all over the Mediterranean. This civilization had settlements the island when the eruption ripped apart Santorini, destroying a large portion of the island. Suddenly this advanced civilization (which was very similar to the Minoans on Crete) vanished quite literally into the sea. A book was written in the 1980's documenting the archeology of the remains of this civilization and the reasons why this was Atlantis.

  The second is directly related to the first. When Santorini blew a massive tidal wave swept across the Mediterranean all directions. The wave moving east still was formidable when it reached Alexandra in Egypt. At the time of the eruption the Minoans had a thriving and powerful civilization on Crete (literally the middle of the Mediterranean) the tidal wave swept over Crete, which led to the very swift fall of the Minoan civilization. Many people feel that the fact that Crete swept underwater and the civilization that had thrived there mysteriously disappeared in a few years led to the origination of the stories. The Cretans support this theory very strongly and take great pride in it. In fact I once met a girl from Crete who swore that Crete was the lost continent of Atlantis and relished that fact.

  The third story I had not heard until I visited the island of Santorini and I am a bit skeptical. First because of the joke "When do you know a tour guide is lying…his mouth is moving) and the fact when I was at Niagara Falls this girl was boasting about the lies she told tourists about the falls. Therefore, I am unsure about the validity. Secondly because of the amount of destruction this theory implies. According to this theory Crete and Santorini were linked by a land bridge and this huge land, in the center of the Mediterranean made up the heart of the Minoan civilization. The eruption was a series of eruptions and earthquakes that destroyed the land bridge, plunging it into the Mediterranean, ripping the heart out of the north eastern tip of the land (Santorini) leaving a shattered civilization on the larger land mass (Crete). I am not sure about the archeological and geological evidence there is to this, however it takes 8+ hours by boat to get from Santorini to Crete so the amount of destruction would have been huge.

  Recently another underwater city has been discovered in the Mediterranean near Egypt. Because it is in the Mediterranean, and has ruins dating to about the time of Homer, these ruins have also entered the Atlantis picture.

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Copyright June 10, 2000