Lost History: Underwater Cities
I was always fascinated with lost history, or, at the very least, those parts of the “story” which don’t quite add up. One particular area I find intriguing are submerged settlements, such as underwater cities.
Here is a collection of some lesser known ancient civilizations’ structures — now underwater.
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Cuba's Underwater Enigma
At a depth of about 700 meters not far from the shores of Cuba, several ancient structures were found. They resemble the outline of a city with streets, temples, statues and houses and are mostly made out of granite.
Included are giant pyramids and sculptures of sphinxes, believed to be somewhere between 5,000 - 10,000 years old, likely to have sunk in an earthquake. Some scientists have speculated that the Mayan or Aztec tribes may have built this city, others are considering it as remnants of Atlantis.
Either way — how did it end up at the bottom of the ocean? What was its purpose?
Yonaguni’s Underwater Pyramids
A mystery that has been puzzling scientists for years is at the bottom of the ocean not far from southwestern Japan. Several ancient artifacts (scrapers, stone figurines of animals, etc.) were found next to tall underwater pyramids, with the largest of them being 42 meters in height. Why pyramids?
Discovered in 1986, scientists have suggested that these pyramids could be about 9,000 to 10,000 years old. Underwater terraces are not protected by the state, so anyone can visit this unusual sight today, which is why the Yonaguni underwater monument is very popular among divers.
Lake Michigan’s Stonehenge
In 2007, while searching for sunken ships, a mysterious ancient structure was found at the bottom of the lake. The structure is eerily similar to ancient megalithic Stonehenge whose purpose is still not clear.
Scientists estimate the find to be at least 9,000 years old, however drawings found on one of the stones indicate an even older age as the engraved images resemble mastodons (which were extinct over 10,000 years ago).
Contrary to Yonaguni however, Lake Michigan likes to keep its secrets and the exact location of the discovery is not disclosed.
Canada’s Icy Waters Ghost Town
The deepest and second longest lake in Banff National Park is called Lake “Minnewanka” — which loosely translated means “water of the spirits”.
Beneath its icy waters lies the sunken city of Minnewanka Landing, which appears like a ghost town. The only residents now are trout and the approximately 8,000 scuba divers who descend into the lake each year to explore its hidden past.
Titicaca’s Underwater Temple
The world's highest lake is also the host to an ancient underwater temple measuring 200m by 50m. Professor Ruben Vela from the Tiahuanaco Archaeological Institute said: “These ruins are sacred. Their construction suggests a lakeside temple that would have been the meeting place of a religious pilgrimage that was very important.”
A terrace for crops, a long road and an 800-meter long wall was also found. Dating back at least 1,000 to 1,500 years ago, the ruins are pre-Incan and have been attributed to the indigenous Tiwanaku or Tiahuanaco people.
An underwater museum with support from UNESCO is currently being built:
The Lost City of Heracleion
Hidden away for thousands of years and deeply submerged under the sea, Heracleion was a small but prosperous city and seaport at the mouth of the Nile.
It’s a city lost between legend and reality. The inhabitants were highly educated people, but when a great earthquake struck, most of them perished leaving their valuables behind in flattened houses and sunken ships.
Learn more about this spectacular discovery on Franck Goddio’s homepage:
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