Yonaguni: Ancient underwater city? (video)
Mysterious 10,000 Year-Old Underwater Ruins in Japan
One of the greatest mysteries in Japan is the origin and nature of underwater stone structures lying underwater off Yonaguni Island.
Japanese marine biologist Masaaki Kimura has identified ten structures off Yonaguni and a further five related structures off the main island of Okinawa.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. In total the ruins cover an area spanning 984 feet by 492 feet (300 meters by 150 meters). Also found were a triangular bath-pool structure, two post-holes, structure similar to a dance platform inscription, castle entrance gate, ditches, staircases, a turtle-shaped relief rock, terraces and a rock inscription that appears to belong to the ancient Kaida script that was a writing system in use in the Yaeyama Islands and on Yonaguni Island before the introduction of the nation’s education system in Japan.
The sea off Yonaguni is a popular diving location during the winter months owing to its large population of hammerhead sharks. In 1987, while looking for a good place to observe the sharks, Kihachiro Aratake, a director of the Yonaguni-Cho Tourism Association, noticed some singular seabed formations resembling architectonic structures. Shortly thereafter, a group of scientists directed by Masaaki Kimura of the University of the Ryūkyūs visited the formations.
The formation has since become a relatively popular attraction for divers despite the strong currents. In 1997, Japanese industrialist Yasuo Watanabe sponsored an informal expedition comprising writers John Anthony West and Graham Hancock, photographer Santha Faiia, geologist Robert Schoch, a few sport divers and instructors, and a shooting crew for Channel 4 and Discovery Channel. Another notable visitor was freediver Jacques Mayol, who wrote a book on his dives at Yonaguni.
See the video from Yonaguni spot below:
Remnants of an Ancient Civilization?
The flat parallel faces, sharp edges, and mostly right angles of the formation have led many people, including many of the underwater photographers and divers who have visited the site and some scholars, to the opinion that those features are man-made. These people include Gary and Cecilia Hagland and Tom Holden, who went on underwater expeditions to study and photograph the site. These features include a trench that has two internal 90° angles as well as the twin megaliths that appear to have been placed there. These megaliths have straight edges and square corners. However, sea currents have been known to move large rocks on a regular basis. Some of those who see the formations as being largely natural claim that they may have been modified by human hands. The semiregular terraces of the Monument have been compared to other examples of megalithic architecture, such as the rock-hewn terraces seen at Sacsayhuaman. The formations have also been compared to the Okinawa Tomb, a rock-hewn structure of uncertain age
Other evidence presented by those who favor an artificial origin include the two round holes (about 2 feet wide, according to photographs) on the edge of the Triangle Pool feature and a straight row of smaller holes that have been interpreted as an abandoned attempt to split off a section of the rock by means of wedges, as in ancient quarries. Kimura believes that he has identified traces of drawings of animals and people engraved on the rocks, including a horselike sign that he believes resembles a character from the Kaida script. Some have also interpreted a formation on the side of one of the monuments as a crude moai-like “face”.
Supporters of artificial origin, such as Graham Hancock, also argue that, while many of the features seen at Yonaguni are also seen in natural sandstone formations throughout the world, the concentration of so many peculiar formations in such a small area is highly unlikely. They also point to the relative absence of loose blocks on the flat areas of the formation, which would be expected if they were formed solely by natural erosion and fracturing. Robert Schoch has noted that the rocks are swept with strong currents.
Kimura first estimated that the monument must be at least 10,000 years old (8,000 BCE), dating it to a time when it would have been above water. In a report given to the 21st Pacific Science Congress in 2007, he revised this estimate and dated it to 2,000 to 3,000 years ago because the sea level then was close to current levels. He suggests that after construction tectonic activity caused it to be submerged below sea level. Archaeologist Richard J. Pearson believes this to be unlikely. Kimura believes he can identify a pyramid, castles, roads, monuments and a stadium, and has surmised that the site may be a remnant of the mythical lost continent of Mu.
The existence of an ancient stoneworking tradition at Yonaguni and other Ryukyu islands is demonstrated by some old tombs and several stone vessels of uncertain age. Small camps, pottery, stone tools and large fireplaces were found on Yonaguni possibly dating back to 2500 BCE; Pearson notes that these were small communities, adding “They are not likely to have had extra energy for building stone monuments.”