In news that has stunned the world, a scientist announced this weekend that he had found the lost city of Atlantis. Dr. Rainer Kuehne says that satellite images of southern Spain show the remains of a city clearly matching Plato's description of Atlantis.
Break out the champagne and party on the streets. Lobby Parliament to name today 'Atlantis Day' and declare it a public holiday. The roots of our civilisation have been found. Or maybe not.
Actually, Atlantis has been found quite often. In 2003 a research thought he'd found it off the coast of France, sunk to the bottom of the sea during the geological upheaval at the end of the Ice Age. Other theories hold that Antarctica is in fact Atlantis. In 2001, the Straits of Gibraltar were named as a likely site. And so it goes on.
The satellite images, pictures of a salt marsh near Cadiz, show two features that if you squint at them a bit, look sort of rectangular, and something that could be part of a ring running around the structures, if you were not being fussy about it being especially circular.
But the picture is a really good match for the description. Honest. Plato describes an island, or nesos, five stades (an ancient unit of measurement, thought to be around a tenth of a mile) in diameter that was surrounded by concentric rings, and an circular outer wall 100 stades in diameter.
"We have in the photos concentric rings just as Plato described," Dr Kuehne told BBC News Online.
Atlantis also had a huge temple, built for "Poseidon himself, a stade in length, three hundred feet wide, and proportionate in height, though somewhat outlandish in appearance," according to Plato's text. Kuehne suggests that the rectangular structures are the remains of the temple of Poseidon and another built to Cleito and Poseidon.
But isn't Atlantis supposed to be an island? The myth of the island grew up from a mistranslation of the Greek word nesos, Kuehne says. Atlantis was actually a coastal region in Spain that was destroyed by a flood between 800 BC and 500 BC.
Hold on, the concentric rings in the pictures are bigger than Plato suggested. This, Kuehne says, is either because Plato was underplaying the size of the city, or because the stade is bigger than scientists think, in which case it fits perfectly.
We'd like to offer a third suggestion. This is not Atlantis.
Our theory has some solid backing from a chap called Tony Wilkinson, an expert in the use of remote sensing in archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. He told the BBC "A lot of the problems come with interpretations. I can see something there and I could imagine that one could interpret it in various ways. But you've got several leaps of faith here."
Kuehne says that he'd like to excavate the site, and is hoping to attract enough scientific interest to mount an expedition. We wish him the best of luck. ®