A film crew from the Tokyo-based Japanese television company TBS Vision Inc. has just completed filming archaeological underwater sites around the Maltese islands that were featured in the documentary The Underworld Flooded Kingdom of the Ice Age, produced by Graham Hancock, author and researcher on prediluvian civilisations.

The documentary records a series of sites around the four corners of the world believed to be submerged archaeological landmarks dating back to a time when the world was inundated by a great flood.

The Japanese crew came to Malta because they wanted clearer pictures so they brought over with them a Digital High Definition Camera (HDCAM), the latest state-of-the-art equipment.

Over the past few days, the producers of Stargate, a programme on mysterious archaeological sites and historical objects featured by the Italian TV station 'La 7', were also in Malta to film these intriguing sites.

The Japanese and Italian film crews were guided round several of the sites by Chris Agius Sultana, who is also an underwater photographer, and Anton Mifsud, the two main authors of the book 'Malta: Echoes of Plato's Island', published in 2000. The other authors are Simon Mifsud and Charles Savona Ventura.

Mr Agius Sultana, who had been researching this topic in local and foreign archives for four years, was responsible for triggering off the investigation on which the book is based.

The visit of the TBS Vision crew was coordinated by the Malta Tourism Authority, which is promoting the island from this unusual angle.

Hancock produced the documentary for Channel Four television and Discovery Channel. His book bearing the same title as the documentary is topping the sales charts around the world.

Hancock came to Malta when he came across the book 'Malta: Echoes of Plato's Island', which delves into the theory that Malta was once part of Atlantis, the mysterious island that many researchers believe was engulfed by a sudden rush of rising seawater.

Mr Agius Sultana is featured in both the book and the documentary, where he is given the moniker 'Viking' because of his fair hair and blue eyes. He assisted Hancock on the dives during his stay in Malta.

The Greek philosopher Plato refers to the lost civilisation of Atlantis based on details passed on to him by Solon, a relative.

Mr Agius Sultana, 35 who is an art director and the founding director of Griffin & Crown Foundation For Underwater Prehistoric Research, has been diving since he was 21 and has studied shorelines around Malta and Gozo, searching for clues that might lead him to more underwater archaeological sites.

One of the most intriguing underwater finds he made is a tunnel archway which leads to a basin. He believes the archway used to be a water channel leading into a reservoir.

"I have been fascinated, since I was table high, about how mysterious Malta is, after listening to stories recounted by Giuseppe Galea.

Galea had a collection of Roman, Egyptian and Greek artefacts which fired Mr Agius Sultana's imagination, setting him out on a long trek which led him to search for tell-tale signs initially in Rabat, where he was brought up and still lives.

Mr Agius Sultana's training as an industrial designer led him to question the meaning of symbols and signs he came across, particularly those for which there is no known or generally accepted description.

"Logos dating back to antiquity and what they stand for is one sphere I find fascinating. With such a concentration of temples, Malta could not have been the small island it is now. Archaeological finds on land indicate that it must have been a much bigger land.

"There is still strong evidence in various places, of whole networks of cart ruts, with no explanation having been found of their function.

"Some of the cart ruts lead to the edge of cliff tops and continue under the sea. I have spent hours studying the rock face above the shoreline and below to see where best to look for indications of possible land remains.

"The archway I found could not have been made by nature. Its high mechanical definition suggests it was made by humans. My training as an industrial designer leads me to think about the utility of such designs, in which case the archway was constructed for purely aesthetic effect.

"The people of Atlantis are believed to have had great knowledge on how to store water. This archway, I believe, used to form part of a water preservation system," Mr Agius Sultana said.

When he first came up with the idea that Malta is a remaining part of Atlantis, after that country was submerged by a flood, many were incredulous.

"But now foreign television crews are seeing more in my line of thought than just a mere theory. Architect Grognet de Vasse, who had drawn the plans for the Mosta Rotunda, was the first known researcher who thought up the theory in 1854 that Malta was part of Atlantis.

"During a scholarship in Italy with Gruppo Archeologico Romano, I was shown documents indicating several Etruscan tombs in Mtarfa which now are untraceable.

"The Etruscans had such a highly developed society that researchers are still grappling to find out more about this mysterious civilisation," Mr Agius Sultana said.

Other documents that Mr Agius Sultana has come across state that cart ruts used to be visible on Filfla before it was used for target practice by the British forces stationed in Malta.

The bone remains found at Ghar Dalam are another tangible proof that Malta's land mass was once much larger than it is now, Mr Agius Sultana said.

"Those who were sceptical about my arguments that Malta is a remnant of Atlantis soon stopped doubting when they dived on these sites, which left them dumbfounded," Mr Agius Sultana said.

Malta will be featured on 'La 7' TV on November 24 as one of the sites that could be a remnant of Atlantis.

It will also be featured on 'La 7' TV on December 1, when the programme will deal with alchemists and secret societies during the time of the Knights of St John in Malta, in which Mr Agius Sultana is featured as a researcher on this subject.

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