Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Japan's Ancient Underwater "Pyramid" Mystifies Scholars

Submerged stone structures lying just below the waters off Yonaguni Jima are actually the ruins of a Japanese Atlantis—an ancient city sunk by an earthquake about 2,000 years ago. That's the belief of Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist at the University of the Ryukyus in Japan who has been diving at the site to measure and map its formations for more than 15 years.

Each time he returns to the dive boat, Kimura said, he is more convinced than ever that below him rest the remains of a 5,000-year-old city.

"The largest structure looks like a complicated, monolithic, stepped pyramid that rises from a depth of 25 meters [82 feet]," said Kimura, who presented his latest theories about the site at a scientific conference in June.

But like other stories of sunken cities, Kimura's claims have attracted controversy.

"I'm not convinced that any of the major features or structures are manmade steps or terraces, but that they're all natural," said Robert Schoch, a professor of science and mathematics at Boston University who has dived at the site.

"It's basic geology and classic stratigraphy for sandstones, which tend to break along planes and give you these very straight edges, particularly in an area with lots of faults and tectonic activity."

And neither the Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs nor the government of Okinawa Prefecture recognize the remains off Yonaguni as an important cultural property, said agency spokesperson Emiko Ishida.

Neither of the government groups has carried out research or preservation work on the sites, she added, instead leaving any such efforts to professors and other interested individuals.

Ruins Point

Yonaguni Jima is an island that lies near the southern tip of Japan's Ryukyu archipelago, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) off the eastern coast of Taiwan.

A local diver first noticed the Yonaguni formations in 1986, after which a promontory on the island was unofficially renamed Iseki Hanto, or Ruins Point.

The district of Yonaguni officially owns the formations, and tourists and researchers can freely dive at the site. Some experts believe that the structures could be all that's left of Mu, a fabled Pacific civilization rumored to have vanished beneath the waves.

On hearing about the find, Kimura said, his initial impression was that the formations could be natural. But he changed his mind after his first dive.

"I think it's very difficult to explain away their origin as being purely natural, because of the vast amount of evidence of man's influence on the structures," he said.

For example, Kimura said, he has identified quarry marks in the stone, rudimentary characters etched onto carved faces, and rocks sculpted into the likenesses of animals.

"The characters and animal monuments in the water, which I have been able to partially recover in my laboratory, suggest the culture comes from the Asian continent," he said.

"One example I have described as an underwater sphinx resembles a Chinese or ancient Okinawan king."

Whoever created the city, most of it apparently sank in one of the huge seismic events that this part of the Pacific Rim is famous for, Kimura said.

The world's largest recorded tsunami struck Yonaguni Jima in April 1771 with an estimated height of more than 131 feet (40 meters), he noted, so such a fate might also have befallen the ancient civilization.

Kimura said he has identified ten structures off Yonaguni and a further five related structures off the main island of Okinawa. In total the ruins cover an area spanning 984 feet by 492 feet (300 meters by 150 meters).

The structures include the ruins of a castle, a triumphal arch, five temples, and at least one large stadium, all of which are connected by roads and water channels and are partly shielded by what could be huge retaining walls.

Kimura believes the ruins date back to at least 5,000 years, based on the dates of stalactites found inside underwater caves that he says sank with the city.

And structures similar to the ruins sitting on the nearby coast have yielded charcoal dated to 1,600 years ago—a possible indication of ancient human inhabitants, Kimura added.

But more direct evidence of human involvement with the site has been harder to come by.

"Pottery and wood do not last on the bottom of the ocean, but we are interested in further research on a relief at the site that is apparently painted and resembles a cow," Kimura said.

"We want to determine the makeup of the paint. I would also like to carry out subsurface research."

Natural Forces

Toru Ouchi, an associate professor of seismology at Kobe University, supports Kimura's hypothesis.

Ouchi said that he has never seen tectonic activity having such an effect on a landscape either above or below the water.

"I've dived there as well and touched the pyramid," he said. "What Professor Kimura says is not exaggerated at all. It's easy to tell that those relics were not caused by earthquakes."

Boston University's Schoch, meanwhile, is just as certain that the Yonaguni formations are natural.

He suggests that holes in the rock, which Kimura believes were used to support posts, were merely created by underwater eddies scouring at depressions.

Lines of smaller holes were formed by marine creatures exploiting a seam in the rock, he said.

"The first time I dived there, I knew it was not artificial," Schoch said. "It's not as regular as many people claim, and the right angles and symmetry don't add up in many places."

He emphasizes that he is not accusing anyone of deliberately falsifying evidence.

But many of the photos tend to give a perfect view of the site, making the lines look as regular as possible, he said.

Schoch also says he has seen what Kimura believes to be renderings of animals and human faces at the site.

"Professor Kimura says he has seen some kind of writing or images, but they are just scratches on a rock that are natural," he said.

"He interprets them as being manmade, but I don't know where he's coming from."

But Kimura is undeterred by critics, adding that the new governor of Okinawa Prefecture and officials from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization have recently expressed interest in verifying the site.

"The best way to get a definitive answer about their origins is to keep going back and collecting more evidence," he continued.

"If I'd not had a chance to see these structures for myself, I might be skeptical as well."


Anonymous said...

The American scientific community needs to deny many new findings whether if it’s about scientific research, archaeological discovery. Not all new discoveries but that what undermines their own operations or military or cultural dominance. Without this xeno- inflection the world would grow at a greater rate. We are suppressed and civilization is failing due to this control.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, while nuclear annihilation is a terrifying potential outcome 2 super power, at least the competition motivated scientific research and space exploration. American focus is more about control now that they have no competition.

Anonymous said...

I guess the hardest step for humanity will be visualising a new kind of enemy. That is self.

Ivica Miskovic said...

well i think that you are right, i totaly agree with you

Adam said...

I first read about this "under water city" when I read Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock. In that, a Geologist went down went diving with the author and put everything as being natural expect 1 thing, I cannot remember the one thing, but let Robert Schoch have a look and explain that. If he can't, then there is the reason he should not say it only natural. Also remember Dr Schoch is not a complete arsehole. He and John Anthony West both strongly believe the Sphinx in Egypt is far older than Egyptologists believe, so he is used to having his own beliefs mocked and ignored.

Ivica Miskovic said...

nice post, adam !

Anonymous said...

For those that are criticizing the Americans, I would like you to consider this. You are saying bad things about Americans and grouping all Americans together. How would you like it if I said all people in your country are bad just because your government did something that I don't agree with. There are good and bad people everywhere in the world. I am an American but I spent most of my life growing up in Asia and living elsewhere in the world. If you are truly educated and a good person you would not spend time criticizing other people. What are you or your country doing to make the world better. At least the USA gives alot of money to alot of other countries to try and help. Find the facts before you criticize. By the way I am fascinated by this underwater find in Japan.

Anonymous said...

As part of the American Scientific community, I can correctly respond to the post on 9/20/07. One professor hardly makes up the American Scientific community. One professor (or even a few) providing controversy to the findings does not equate to the American Scientific community denying new findings. That's is an uneducated and unresearched judgment call that should be disregarded for its lack of intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but when prominent individuals of a community speak louder than the rest of the community as a whole, the community leaves itself open to be judged by other communities. America has left itself open to this time and time again. If Americans didn't want to all be lumped together, maybe they should speak out more and be more educated rather than let a select few individuals speak for them.

VicinSea said...

Maybe it is just a dump site??? In the 10,000 years from now...our garbage will mystify the on-lookers....and a new mythology will be

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching a History Channel special on this and also have done some reading on it myself. I have lived on the Island of Okinawa. I don't believe these ruins are random acts of nature. The Anglo scientific community couldn't stomach an ancient Asian Civilization, especially a Japanese related one dating earlier than the Phoencians from which Greek writing evolve as well as others.

A Hopefully Open-minded Anlgl

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