Japan’s Underwater City of the Sea Gods


The gringa’s dear readers may find musings of the lost city of Atlantis as fascinating as the gringa. What if it has actually been discovered off the coast of Japan? Hey, stranger things have happened! Although it is more likely that it is a lost city from Japan’s ancient Jomon civilization, sunk into the ocean thousands of years ago after a cataclysmic earthquake, tsunami or climate upheaval after the last ice age, it is still fun to entertain fantastical theories as well as explore the real science behind this archaeological mystery.

Originally discovered by dive instructor Kihachiro Aratake in 1986, these amazing formations have come to be known as the Yonaguni Monument. This massive underwater complex, dated to have hailed around 8000BC, can be found off the coastline of the island Yonaguni which is part of Japan’s Ryukyu island chain. Extending over an area of almost 1000 feet x 500 feet, the complex consists of ten structures, some appearing to be in the shape of animals as well as to contain glyphs of human characters and animals. Roads and retaining walls can be seen connecting the structure in the pattern of a well designed city.

For decades scuba diving tourists, as well as scuba diving archaeologists, have explored ancient ruins of a castle, majestic archway, five temples, a step pyramid and a massive arena. As the gringa only gets to explore pictures of the ruins, it is still pretty obvious even to my untrained eye that these are man-made. Yet there are still scientists who prefer to believe these are natural formations that were enhanced by ancient people into functional structures. This really aggravates the gringa when scientists wave aside the obvious because they just don’t want to admit that ancient civilizations may have been far more advanced than modern “experts” have traditionally been taught to believe.

Just as the west has Aesop’s fables, Japanese culture has their own popular fables, myths and legends. The Mu civilization is a fabled Pacific people. The ancient tale explains that they disappeared under the waves of the sea. In 1996 Masaaki Kimura, professor of marine geology from Japan’s University of the Ryukyus, began his own research to see if this is the long lost home of the Mu. He, too, was of the belief that Yonaguni was most likely a man-manipulated complex of natural formations. However, he was completely converted after his first dive.

Kimura identified quarry marks on many of the megalithic stones. And, since nature does not normally lay out large stones in symmetrical patterns and create many stones with right angles, the gringa tends to agree with Kimura’s conclusion. He studied carvings that were distinctly human faces and animals. The style was clearly indicative of Asian art. He refers to Egypt’s famous sphinx as he described one underwater sculpture of what seems to be a king. A glyph resembling a horse and a painted relief resembling a cow are still discernible making it apparent that this was not a city of mermaids and mermen living under the sea but was actually a thriving, above-ground metropolis at one time.

This area of the Pacific is famous for earthquakes and tsunamis. In the spring of 1771 the largest tsunami ever recorded struck Yonaguni. With a height of well over 130 feet, a catastrophic oceanic wave such as this would have been powerful enough to blast this ancient city well below the surface of the Pacific. Also, 10,000 years ago the sea level would have been more than 100 feet lower than it is today. The geographical area that the Yonaguni complex sits on would, at the time of its existence, have been well above the sea and on dry ground, a coastal city. A land bridge would have also existed connecting the chain of islands with the mainland making it entirely possible for humans to settle there with their domesticated animals.

Although some experts date the ruins to be about 10,000 years old, Kimura’s estimate gives the complex a much younger age. He suspects it may be a 5,000 year old civilization. Either way, this still places the city’s existence during the time of the Jomon civilization. Evidence to be more specific about the age of the structures is hard to come by. Existing beneath the ocean means that things like pottery or wooden objects have long since decayed and disappeared forever. There is, however, the chance of analysis of the paint used on the cow to get a bit more specific at pinning down a particular century.

Jomon culture during the timeframe considered for these structures can be divided into two separate eras:

  • Incipient Jomon (10,500-8000BC)
  • Initial Jomon (8000-5000BC)

Incipient Jomon civilization has left behind archaeological remains that indicate that the Jomon people were primarily hunter gatherers who produced pottery identified by their pointed bottoms and corded markings.  The following period, Initial Jomon, was noted by rising sea levels and global temperatures. The land bridge between the islands and the mainland would have disappeared. Diet would have transitioned to primarily sea based fare and the development of agriculture and farm production animals since natural resources were limited on the island. Large refuse mounds consisting of large amounts of shells discovered on archeological digs on the islands  attests to this. Remains of stone religious figurines and tools such as knives and axes have also been discovered in island digs and dated to the same period as the underwater city.

Historians describe the culture of the Jomon era to be very complex and in the early stages of organized agricultural develpment. Similarities with Asia’s ancient northeastern cultures as well as the ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas can be detected in many of the artifacts discovered. The Jomon preferred to live in coastal or river communities in homes that were sunken into the earth. Ironic, then, that one of their greatest cities eventually sunk into the ocean.

Although the gringa is unable to scuba dive because of epilepsy, I am certain that at least a few dear readers could join the many tourist divers and send me pictures and a recount of your adventure. During winter months, shark enthusiasts sink beneath the waves to observe the hammerheads that frequent the area.  However, if sharks aren’t your thing, and you prefer the mystery of history, you can always take a detour to the ruins and share your thrills here on the gringa’s blog.

Since the late 90s the underwater city has become increasingly popular among tourists. Famous writers and photographers have braved the waves to record their own bit of history. The Discovery Channel and National Geographic have performed their own expeditions. So, if any dear reader does get the opportunity for a dive of their own, you must drop the gringa a line here and share your own exciting story.

Sources:

National Geographic

www.mic.com

www.news.com.au

Hidden Archaeology

www.yonaguni.ws

www.britannica.com

www.metmuseum.org

Wikipedia

Image source: Source: Hidden Archeology

 

 

 

Advertisements

Bosnia’s Sherlock Holmes of Big Ball Mysteries


If an archaeologist unearthed an enormous wheel in a dig of ancient ruins, it would be pretty self-explanatory what it was for, mobility of some sort. However, if the same archaeologist were to unearth an enormous ball with a 5 foot radius and most likely made of iron, surely the archaeologist would be scratching his head and thinking, “What the heck?” Well, that just happened in Bosnia. What could very well be the oldest man-made ball for who knows what has been unearthed  in a forest that lies outside the Bosnian town of Podubravlie.

The gringa is enthralled. Is it man-made? Is it naturally occurring? Is it the remnant of a croquet park from a by-gone era of Bosnian giants? Is Bosnia the only place on Earth where big mystery balls can be found?

The study of big mysterious ancient balls is the favorite field of archaeologist Semir Osmanagich, affectionately known as “Sam”. For the past 15 years Sam has devoted his life to the research of prehistoric stone balls. Despite being made fun of by archaeological peers, Sam remains dedicated to solving the mystery of whether these balls are naturally occurring or man-made. The gringa wants to encourage Sam and remind him that the “haters gonna hate” so follow your dream! And, since Sam has a Ph.D., the gringa believes that he’s not crazy, well, maybe crazy like a fox and on the scent of a mystery his archaeology peers who can’t think outside the box simply don’t understand.

Sam has been discovering mystery balls all over the world: granite balls in Costa Rica, volcanic stone balls in Mexico, stone balls on Isla del Cano, volcanic balls on Easter Island, Tunisia, and the Canary Islands, Antarctica, New Zealand, Russia, the U.S.A., Argentina, Albania, Croatia, Serbia and, now, Bosnia. Sam has been very busy! He has become so enamored with mystery balls that he has created his very own foundation, “Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun” to support the investigation of this fascinating mystery. Balls have consisted of volcanic material, granite, and sandstone. The latest ball in Bosnia has not yet had all of its analysis complete but because of its reddish color iron is highly suspected to be the material of which it is made up of.

The first Bosnian balls were discovered in the 1930s according to local records. 80 balls were unearthed and some were eventually transported by river to other locations. In the 1970s local legends surrounding the balls enjoyed a revival and many locals were hopeful that perhaps they were the hiding place of treasure hordes of gold. Many balls were destroyed in hopes of finding untold wealth. Only eight of the original 80 were recovered and are on exhibit at Sam’s archaeological park which has become a local tourist attraction.

Sam’s current project site can only be worked when winter breaks. By spring of this year excavation had advanced to the point that it was apparent that the largest European stone ball was about to be completely uncovered. With half of the ball exposed the radius is estimated to be about 5 feet. If the reddish material proves to be iron the ball would be expected to weight over 30 tons. That would mean that Bosnia can boast the biggest ball in all of Europe, third in the world to second place Costa Rica with a 35 ton ball and first place Mexico with a 40 ton ball.

But the gringa wants to know what the real significance is to finding these big balls other than just being curious and interesting. The gringa also wants to know what the alternative theories are that Sam’s mocking peers claim.

The naysayers claim that the balls are no big deal. They suspect they are just freaks of nature that occur through a process known as concretion. This occur when layers of sediment occur in layers then compact and over hundreds of thousands of years form into balls. It is easy to find images of naturally occurring spheres in nature created by concretion. However, two things set these apart from what Sam is studying.

  • #1. Naturally occurring concretion spheres are small scale compared to the ones Sam has found and claims to be man-made.
  • #2. Naturally occurring concretion spheres are not perfectly spherical, often having flaws. Sam’s big balls are perfectly round.
  • #3. Naturally occurring concretion spheres usually occur en-masse with variation in size and not-so-perfect round shape. Sam’s big balls can sometimes be found isolated from one another.

The gringa scratches her head and thinks that anything squished under thousands of pounds of earth would never form into a ball. It would be squished, like a pancake, maybe wavy, or even flaked from tectonic plate activity shoving things around but never, ever round.

Sam’s theory believes these balls to be man-made. If he’s right, this latest discovery of a 1,500 year-old enormous, man-made, iron ball would prove that European civilizations were much more advanced than was previously expected. Now why would such a theory be controversial among archaeologists? The gringa likes to think that people of old were intelligent, ingenious, clever and quite capable of innovation. How sad to be led to believe that ancient people were just big, ol’ dummies. The dear reader can enjoy a video  of Sam’s discovery and decide for yourself.

The gringa plans to keep Sam on the radar because I find this big ball mystery fascinating. And I wish him the best of luck in solving the mystery and having the chance to say, “I told ya so!” to all his haters!

Sources & Image Credit: http://www.yahoo.com, http://www.piramidasunca.ba

 

 

Peru: Miles and Miles of Beaches


Hiking the beaches of Supe Puerto in Peru with the caveman and our youngest son. That’s my little seizure-alert service dog, Abby, wrapped up from the cold. We started out with some general directions to an area where there were some old ruins. We never found them but, sometimes, a wrong turn is an adventure all its own.

We hiked all day and were the only three humans around. Vultures followed us. The gringa is certain they were waiting for us to drop dead. We discovered a lighthouse and rested in craggy inlets where the surf crashed into the rocks a few feet away from us and the spray would shoot way over our heads. The geography of this coastal area was that of a coastal desert. Although it was barren, it had its own rugged beauty and lonely, melancholy charm.

We hiked to a small island and stayed too long, The tide came in so quickly we almost got stranded. I got bootfuls of water slogging through the surf. Luckily my hand knitted wool leggings I had purchased from one of the local market stalls dried out pretty quickly.

We had a wonderful time and were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to town.