Japan’s Underwater Pyramids
by Frank Joseph — “Ancient American”
One of the greatest discoveries in the history of archaeology was made off Japan. There, spread over an amazing 311 miles on the ocean floor, are the well-preserved remains of an ancient city. Or at the very least, a number of closely related sites. (see photos below)
In the waters around
Okinawa and beyond to the small island of Yonaguni, divers located eight
separate locations beginning in March 1995. That first sighting was equivocal —
a provocative, squared structure, so encrusted with coral that its manmade
identity was uncertain. Then, as recently as the summer of 1996, a sports diver
accidentally discovered a huge, angular platform about 40 feet below the
surface, off the southwestern shore of Okinawa. The feature’s artificial
provenance was beyond question. Widening their search, teams of more divers
found another, different monument nearby. Then another, and another. They beheld
long streets, grand boulevards, majestic staircases, magnificent archways,
enormous blocks of perfectly cut and fitted stone — all harmoniously welded
together in a linear architecture unlike anything they had ever seen before.
the following weeks and months, Japan’s archaeological community joined the
feeding frenzy of discovery. Trained professionals formed a healthy alliance
with the enthusiasts who first made the find. In a progressive spirit of mutual
respect and working alliance, academics and amateurs joined forces to set an
example of cooperation for the rest of the world. Their common cause
soon bore rich fruit. In September, not far from the shore of the island of
Yonaguni, more then 300 airline miles south from Okinawa, they found a gigantic,
pyramidal structure in 100 feet of water. In what appeared to be a ceremonial
center of broad promenades and flanking pylons, the gargantuan building measures
240 feet long.
clear sub-surface clarity, with 100 foot visibility a common factor, allowed for
thorough photographic documentation, both still photography and video. These
images provided the basis of Japan’s leading headlines for more than a year.
Yet, not a word about the Okinawa discovery reached the US public, until the
magazine, “Ancient American”, broke the news last spring. Since that scoop,
only the CNN network televised a report about Japan’s underwater city. Nothing
about it has been mentioned in any of the nation’s other archaeology
publications, not even in any of our daily newspapers. One would imagine that
such a mind-boggling find would be the most exciting piece of news an
archaeologist could possibly hope to learn. Even so, outside of the “Ancient
American” and CNN’s single report, the pall of silence covering all the
facts about Okinawa’s structures screens them from view more effectively then
their location at the bottom of the sea. Why? How can this appalling neglect
persist in the face of a discovery of such unparalleled magnitude? At the risk of accusations of paranoia, one might conclude that a real conspiracy of
managed information dominates America’s well-springs of public knowledge.
Divers Find World's Oldest Building
by Trushar Barot
STRUCTURE thought to be the world's oldest building, nearly twice the age of the
great pyramids of Egypt, has been discovered. The rectangular stone ziggurat
under the sea off the coast of Japan could be the first evidence of a previously
unknown Stone Age civilisation, say archeologists.
The monument is
600 ft wide and 90 ft high and
has been dated to at least 8000 BC. The oldest pyramid in Egypt, the Step Pyramid
at Saqqara, was constructed more than 5,000 years later.
structure off Yonaguni, a small island southwest of Okinawa, was first
discovered 75 ft underwater by scuba divers 10 years ago and locals believed it
was a natural phenomenon.
Masaki Kimura, a geologist at Ryukyu University in Okinawa, was the first
scientist to investigate the site and has concluded that the mysterious
five-layer structure was man-made. "The object has not been manufactured by
nature. If that had been the case, one would expect debris from erosion to have
collected around the site, but there are no rock fragments there," he said.
discovery of what appears to be a road surrounding the building was further
evidence that the structure was made by humans, he added.
Robert Schoch, professor of geology at Boston University, dived at the site last month.
"It basically looks like a series of huge steps, each about a high.
Essentially, it's a cliff face like the side of a stepped pyramid. It's a very
interesting structure," he said. "It's possible that natural water
erosion combined with the process of cracked rocks splitting created such a
structure, but I haven't come across such processes creating a structure as
sharp as this."
evidence that the structure is the work of humans came with the discovery of
smaller underwater stone mounds nearby. Like the main building, these
mini-ziggurats are made of stepped slabs and are about 10 m wide and 2 m high.
said it was too early to know who built the monument or its purpose. "The
structure could be an ancient religious shrine, possibly celebrating an ancient
deity resembling the god Nirai-Kanai, whom locals say gave happiness to the
people of Okinawa from beyond the sea. This could be evidence of a new culture
as there are no records of a people intelligent enough to have built such a
monument 10,000 years ago," he said.
could only have been done by a people with a high degree of technology, probably
coming from the Asian continent, where the oldest civilisations originate. There
would have to have been some sort of machinery involved to have created such a
Ishii, professor of geology at Tokyo University, said the structure dated back
to at least 8000 BC when the land on which it was constructed was submerged at
the end of the last ice age. "I hope this site is artificial as it would be
very exciting. But at this time I feel it is too early to say. I think the
structure could be natural, but part of it may have been made," he said.
first signs of civilisation in Japan are traced to the Neolithic period around
9000 BC. The people at this time lived as hunters and food gatherers. There is
nothing in the archeological record to suggest the presence of a culture
advanced enough to have built a structure like the ziggurat.
archeologists are, however, cautiously enthusiastic about the discovery which
will be featured this summer in a Channel 4 documentary.
Jim Mower, an archeologist at University College London, said: "If it is confirmed that the site is as old as 10,000 years and is man-made, then this is going to change an awful lot of the previous thinking on southeast Asian history. It would put the people who made the monument on a par with the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley."
Stone Monuments or Natural Geology?
Japan's Mysterious Submerged Stone Structures: New evidence suggests they may have been used by Man
by Laura Lee
Man-made, made by Nature, or did humankind finish what Nature started? These enigmatic, sunken stone structures off Okinawa, Japan, located 60 to 100 feet beneath the ocean surface, have the Japanese wondering if their homeland was once part of the lost continent of Mu.
Stone terraces, right angled block and walls, and stone circles encompassing hexagonal columns look intriguingly, if not conclusively, man made. A few more clues: an encircling road, what might be post holes supported long-gone wooden structures, what look like cut steps, and castles with similar architecture located nearby and still on land.
The two sites that are getting the most attention: near the city of Naha is Okinawa and what looks like a wall, with a coral encrusted right angled block. Another, just off the southern end of the tiny island of Yonaguni, the southernmost island of Japan, is an extensive site, with five irregular layers that look like ceremonial, terraced platforms. There are eight anomalous, underwater sites found to date.
Prof. Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist with the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa has spent several years studying all eight sties, especially Yonaguni, which was found 13 years ago, in 1985.
Kimura believes these are monuments made by man, left by an unknown civilization, perhaps from the Asian mainland, home of our oldest civilizations. He reasons that if the five layers on the Yonaguni site had been carved by nature, you would find debris from the erosion to have collected around the site, but no rock fragments have yet been found. He adds that there is what look like a road encircling the site as further indication it was used by man. He believes building this monument necessitated a high degree of technology, and some sort of machinery.
How to date these sites? A few possible scenarios have been suggested. The sites may have been submerged when sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age as the continental ice sheets melted. Or, as Japan sits on the Ring of Fire, tectonic activity might have caused subsidence of the land. Or perhaps a combination of subsidence and inundation from rising sea levels, or some catastrophic event, dropped it, intact and upright, into the ocean. Teruaki Ishii, a professor of geology at Tokyo University, believes the site is partly man-made, partly natural, and suggests a date of 8,000 B.C., contemporary to the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Others have suggested a date of 12,000 years.
The preliminary reports from the first Americans to dive the sites:
Just back (May 1998) from diving two of the eight known sites are Mike Arbuthnot, an amateur underwater archeologist adventurer, and Boris Said, Executive Producer of the NBC documentary, "Mystery of the Sphinx." Both are experienced divers. Arbuthnot explored a three-mast schooner wrecked off Grand Cayman Island, and Said has been diving for 40 years.
It was treacherous terrain even for experienced divers. "The Yonaguni site is fairly near the shore, so there was heavy surge (the up and down motion of waves) as well as swift currents, and sharks," says Arbuthnot. "On the up side, the area has the third clearest water in the world, with visibility to 200 feet. And the corals were gorgeous."
"The two sites are very different, though both are at a comparable depth, 60 to 100 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. The Yonaguni site might be ceremonial platforms, and the Okinawa site seems similar to a castle wall, a conjecture that is supported by nearby castles on the island with a similar architectural style," says Arbuthnot.
Arbuthnot says that when he came up after the first dive, at Yonaguni, he found little to suggest that it was man made. It was only after diving the Okinawa site, and interviewing Prof. Kimura for two days, that he began to entertain the notion. The conversations with Prof. Kimura were all the more productive and in-depth, with the translating skills of Corina Tettinger, who speaks fluent Japanese. "The case for the sites being artificial, or modified by man, requires supporting evidence," he says, and "we found very precise rectilinear stone features that seem to be indicative of either artificial tooling, or modifying the natural geology." A particularly intriguing find: holes in the rock platforms. Could these be post holes to support a wooden structure? The terraces are massive, by human standards. But we can imagine naturally terraced platforms easily utilized for ceremonial purposes with the addition of wooden structures built atop them. You’d simply need to insert the supporting beams into the rock, by drilling a few holes.
"What we were able to observe was fascinating and warrants additional research," he says. "There is some false information on the sites out there. We want to bring clarity to the situation, and intend to mount a full-scale scientific expedition to do further investigation."
We'll report new developments on this project as they happen.
Geologist Robert Schoch and Egyptologist John Anthony West (both featured in the NBC documentary "The Mystery of the Sphinx") dove many months ago at Yonaguni, also without arriving at any conclusions, only more questions. Schoch focused on determining what geological forces might have been at work here. While he notes that the strong currents might have cut the terraces out of the layered sediments, he has not ruled out human modification. Schoch says he very much wants to go back to dive again before arriving at any conclusions. "I have not seen the other sites," he says, "and, not having previous diving experience, I spent much of my time underwater just staying alive."
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