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RAFFLE:        Are we filming? Good. Let’s… OK, I’m ready.

There are moments in a reporter’s life when he or she knows they are present at something extraordinary. Well, let me say now that for me this really is one of them, and no doubt for the other journalists, press officers and television reporters who surely will soon be coming from all over the world to witness these extraordinary scenes.

I should begin by saying that the unexpected discovery of this vast document has no precedent. This is utterly unique. The experts gathered here today in the south of Italy are all agreed; there simply has never been anything on this scale before. To say that this find is going to change our perception of all human civilisation is not merely understatement – we are at the dawn of a new era of understanding, and everything we thought we knew about human history will have to be turned on its head.

I am joined here by Prof. Michael Wells, who has been heading the investigation, and who is the lead archaeologist on the project; and also by Dr. Stanislav Gabriele, Director of the Museum of Antiquities here in Rome. Welcome to you both.

Dr. Gabriele, if I might begin with you: this is absolutely extraordinary, is it not?

GABRIELE:    Good afternoon. Yes, and…


… for at the turn of the previous century, Greek divers discovered the sunken wreck containing the Antikythera Mechanism.

Well, the discovery of this book is tenfold, a hundredfold more shocking than that of the Antikythera Mechanism.

We simply have to start again. There is no other way to put it. This discovery will not only force us to look… […] … also be the missing link we’ve been looking for, tying together what we know about, say, the pyramids of the Mayans, the mysteries of the Egyptians, the Biblical stories and the myths of ancient Greece.

RAFFLE:        Because this is the proof, at last, isn’t it, of the existence of lost Atlantis? This is the actual, extraordinary testimony to a culture we all thought had been lost forever – and a civilisation that has haunted humankind since time immemorial? We finally have it here, don’t we?

GABRIELE:    That’s right. Within these pages is irrefutable evidence. This is what we humans have been dreaming about for over two thousand… […] … proof beyond doubt that a vast, complex culture existed out in the Atlantic Ocean, the nursery, if you like, of human civilisation. It’s where everything started.

RAFFLE:        If I could turn to you now, Prof. Wells, could you tell our viewers how you chanced upon this book in the first place?

WELLS:          It is a long story. We’d been making a documentary with a film crew about the hidden monasteries and convents in the south of Italy. My team and I had tried several times to gain access to the Nunnery of San Girolamo in the Cagliomonte-Primaccio area. There were rumours were of late works by Antonello da Messina and even some lost Michelangelo frescoes, and we had begged them to let us see them. Finally, after tense negotiations, they did let us in, though it was a long and delicate negotiation.

RAFFLE:         Really?

GABRIELE:    There was a cohort of them who were absolutely determined not to have us put a single foot over the threshold. The Mother Superior was a fearsome woman who could hardly even bear to look us in the eye.

WELLS:           We should have guessed then that there was something they were trying to keep hidden!

GABRIELE:    Fortunately, one of our cameramen, Fabio from Formigine, sweet-talked one of her deputies, by telling her that we were all catholic, and that we only had this one church to visit in order to have done all the San Girolamos in the south of the country. He also added that we had been recommended by the nuns of San Girolamo near Florence to come here on pilgrimage, and that it was these who had mentioned the paintings we should see.

WELLS:          So we were finally allowed in to see these works.

RAFFLE:        Which I understand were indeed beautiful?

WELLS:          Stunning, of course, absolutely stunning. And so we stayed, photographed and documented the frescos; they were like nothing we’d seen before, and, naturally, they too will be of profound interest to the student of art in due course... But we had no idea of what else we were about to find there. For the moment, in comparison with another few paintings of robed saints and floating cherubim, the world has something else to look at, something quite earth-shattering and, ultimately, profoundly shocking...

© Copyright Paul David Holland 2017