The idea that Malta was Atlantis seems to be gaining international recognition and will soon feature in the popular tourist guidebook The Rough Guide to Malta and Gozo.

British authors have been to Malta recently to interview Anton Mifsud, one of the authors of Malta: Echoes of Plato's Island, in which the theory is expounded.

The book argues that the Maltese islands extended southwards and included Lampedusa and the other pelagic islands just 4,200 years ago, and that the civilisation which lived here had threatened to invade Egypt and Athens in prehistoric times.

The book, two editions of which have already been published by The Prehistoric Society of Malta, has already been the subject of documentaries on foreign television stations.

The publication is also being used for the promotion of Malta's tourism industry and is backed by the Malta Tourism Authority.

Swiss archaeologist and anthropologist Tammam Kisrawi visited Malta after hearing Malta Tourism Authority chairman John Grech speak about Malta in Geneva. Mr Tammam expressed his full support for the theory and arrangements are being made for a television team to come over to Malta to film a documentary.

A Russian TV crew was in Malta and a documentary will soon be screened on OTR channel 1 in the Soviet Union. Piero Angela, of Super Quark, was also interested to come to Malta to make a documentary about the subject.

David Furlong, author of Keys to the Temples, was also in Malta to study the positions of prehistoric sites and compare them with British sites.

The theory that Malta was Atlantis was published in the Italian journal of Archaeology Hera in May last year and last January, while the French journal Archeologie will be carrying an article about it.

Best selling author Graham Hancock last February published a book 'Underworld, flooded kingdoms of the Ice Age' in the UK dedicating 120 pages out of its total of 761 to Malta and the publications Malta: Echoes of Plato's Island and Dossier Malta - evidence for the Magdalenian, published in 1997. The latter had suggested that the presence of man on Malta could date back to about 12000 to 15000 BC rather than the traditionally accepted date of about 7000 BC.

RAI Tre has already sent a team to Malta and is expected to screen a documentary later this year. Channel Four were in Malta last June and the documentary was screened last February.

Dutch authors were also in Malta in March last year to interview Dr Mifsud and to have the text translated into Dutch.

The theory and parts of the contents of the book 'Echoes of Plato's Island' have also been featured on several websites, including those of best selling author Andrew Collins and Egyptologist David Calvert Orange.

The Egyptian ambassador to Malta, Yehwa El Ramlawy, discussed the matter with the authors and arrangements have been made for a small delegation to visit Egypt as a part of the cultural exchange programme. Prehistoric links between Malta and Egypt will be the subject of lectures.

A discussion about the theme will take place at the Malta Centre for Restoration at Bighi, in the George Wigmore Hall tomorrow at 2 p.m. A panel of local archaeologists will participate.

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