A lot of mystery surrounds the existence of the advanced ancient civilisation of Atlantis. We know it through Plato, who wrote over 1000 years after the destruction of this civilisation by a "great cataclysm".
There have been many hypotheses for the location of Atlantis : Sardinia, Crete and Santorini, Sicily, Cyprus, Malta, Ponza, the Acores, Iceland, a lost island in the Atlantic ocean, or just about any place in Europe or the Americas.
The most likely of all, by far, is Crete and Santorini. In fact, almost everything we know argues in favours of Santorini as the centre of this civilisation.
We already knew that the Minoan civilisation (2700-1450 BCE), who built the famous Palace of Knossos (among many other similar palaces in Crete), was the most developed of its time in the whole world.
The architectural skills would still rival with those of modern architects using the same materials and technology. The Minoans had sewing systems, running water and toilets in every house, and even central heating, over 1000 years before the other Greeks and 1500 years before the Romans.
They controlled a vast maritime empire spanning over the whole Mediterranean. Even the Egyptians were overawed by their civilisation.
Then suddenly, a great disaster destroyed that brilliant civilisation. People have wonder whether it was an earthquake, a tsunami or even a volcanic erruption. What we now know is that a gigantic volcanic erruption took place in the middle of the island of Santorini (the nearest island north of Crete) about 3500 years ago, at the same time as the supposed disparition of Atlantis.
More impressively, this Minoan erruption was apparently the most powerful in human history. It was 10 times stronger than the erruption of the Krakatoa in 1883. This means that the Santorini erruption was 130,000 times the yield of the Little Boy bomb which devastated Hiroshima.
The erruption completely wiped out life on Santorini, covering waht was left of the island in over 60 metres of ash (3x more than Pompei or Herculaneum). It caused an extremely powerful earthquake, which destroyed the Minoan palaces in Crete.
It was followed by a series of 10 huge tidal waves (35m to 150m in height), that ravaged most of the Mediterranean coasts, and completely razed Minoan settlements in Crete. In comparison, the waves of 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean didn't exceed 30m.
This was the end of the Minoan civilisation. The few survivors asked the Egyptians, their long trading partners, for help with the reconstruction. A map of the circular city of Atlantis was found on an Egyptian monument of that period. They didn't call it "Atlantis" but used their term for "Crete", confirming that Crete and Santorini was most likely Atlantis.
In fact, it is very possible than Crete and Santorini were connected together as a single island before the erruption.
Archeologists have recently found a Minoan village (Akrotiri) under the ash layer in Santorini. This pre-erruption village showed the same signs of exceptional advancement as the Palace of Knossos. Architecture was well ahead of its time. Houses were built over 3 storeys, with sewing systems and elaborated toilets connected directly to the sewer from the upper floors of the houses, with a system preventing smell reflux.
This discovery is yet another evidence that Santorini and Crete were indeed Atlantis. Excavations under the ash layer have only started a few years ago on Santorini, and the seabed, also covered in ash, remains largely unexplored.
We can hope that future excavations will tell us more on Atlantis, and just how great this mythical world really was.