Malta: Echoes of Plato’s Island
Malta: Echoes of Plato’s Island  by Anton Mifsud, Simon Mifsud, Chris Agius Sultana and Charles Savona-Ventura is a large format, well illustrated and referenced, if somewhat slender book. There are valuable notes, many of which could have been included in the main body of text. Unfortunately, it lacks a comprehensive index, but nevertheless it is an important addition to the literature on Plato’s Atlantis narrative.
The book presents, in a very rational manner, the case for considering the Maltese islands as remnants of Atlantis. The authors highlight a wealth of evidence for the islands being far more extensive in area in the distant past but within the experience of man. For example, the surface of Malta today is totally incapable of generating the volume of water that was required to scour out the islands extensive valleys. This anomaly was first commented on by the French geologist, Deodat de Dolomieu, as early as 1791.
Mifsud and Co. discuss the archaeology and geology of the region and the compatibility of the existing topography with Plato’s description. Classical sources are liberally quoted in support of their theory. It is generally accepted that the archipelago was once fully connected and considerably extended southwards. Claudius Ptolemy writing in the 2nd century AD records this southern extension of the islands as being enjoyed by human inhabitants and its existence orally transmitted into historical times. Ptolemy gives co-ordinates for the latitude of the temple of Hercules ten minutes (10’) south of the present landmass or about 11 miles.
The book introduces to the Atlantis debate, the concept of biogeographical indexing, which is designed to indicate the probability of an island being colonised based on its size and distance from a mainland. On this basis the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa, one of the Pelagian Islands, which lie between Malta and the North African mainland, have the lowest biogeographical indices in the Mediterranean. However, both Lampedusa and Pantelleria were occupied as early as the 6th millennium BC, suggesting that they were probably, at that point in time, greater in size or even part of a single more extensive landmass that included the Maltese archipelago.
Mifsud and his collaborators propose a date of 2200 BC for the destruction of this lost kingdom. They point out that this date coincides with the collapse of a number of civilisations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Their suggested date conflicts with that of their fellow Maltese writer, Joseph S. Ellul, who considers the destruction of Atlantis to be a consequence of the Biblical Deluge which he places many thousands of years earlier.
Simon Mifsud is also a medical practitioner, being registrar in paediatrics at Gozo General Hospital and was co-author with Anton Mifsud of a book on prehistoric Malta.
Chris Agius Sultana is a professional artistic designer with an interest in underwater exploration and is credited with generating the interest that led to this book.
Malta also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the town of Marsaxlokk appropriately, but not uniquely, called Atlantis