A HIGH-SPIRITED FILLY, WAS THE PRINCESS. She could down alcohol with the best of them. The binge had gone on all afternoon.
I don’t know what triggered the idea. It may have been a dare. Or just plain and simple curiosity. In any case, what I shall relate to you shortly is almost beyond belief…
Gradually rising seas
For 4,000 years, the world’s sea level has been inching up.
This has been caused by
(a) the melting of the post-Flood ice and
(b) the gradual evaporation or outflow of inland basins to the sea.
The gradual rise of the oceans is thus another clear relic of the Deluge. Flood waters left behind on the land, in the form of ice or inland lakes, have been gradually returning to the oceans. The result has been not only a drying out of the land, but a corresponding rise in sea level.
The Hadji Ahmed map of 1559, whose original source dates back thousands of years, shows a landbridge between Siberia and Alaska, which existed when the original map was drawn. If the ocean between these two land masses were lowered 100 feet today, there would be a dry-land path between them.
According to some oceanographers and geologists, the ocean level may have been as much as 500 feet lower than today.
Ireland was connected with England; the North Sea was a great plain; Italy was joined to Africa, and exposed land cut the Mediterranean into two lakes.
Since then, the rising seas have engulfed coastal land and islands, turning isthmuses into straits and large islands into underwater plateaus.
The continental shelf
In fact, most of the continental shelf, which marks the true boundaries between the ocean basins and the continental areas, now lies under a mean depth of 430 feet of water. (It ranges from 300 feet to about 1,500 feet.)
The present continental shelf probably defines the edge of the oceans as they developed during the post-Flood glacial peak. With the ice melt and the draining or evaporation of inland basins, the seas rose, with minor fluctuations, to their present level.
“The ocean basins can thus be characterized as overfull – water not only fills the ocean basins proper, but extends out over the low margins of the continents.” So notes a panel of geologists. (J.V. Trumbull, John Lyman, J.F. Pepper and E.M. Thompson, “An Introduction to the Geology and Mineral resources of the Continental Shelves of the Americas”, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1067, 1958, p.11)
Oceanographers and geologists generally agree that a dramatic, rapid rise of water occurred several thousand years ago. This has slowed to about 1.5 feet per century.
Around the world’s coastlines are undersea river canyons, which were once above the ocean. Such canyons cannot be cut underwater.
* The submerged Hudson Canyon, one hundred miles long and hundreds of feet deep, could only have been formed above water when this extension of the Hudson River was dry land.
* Off the coast of Europe are the Loire, Rhone, Seine and Tagus canyons. The drowned Rhine Valley runs under the North Sea to disappear between Norway and Scotland – showing that the North Sea was dry land.
* Numerous other canyons were cut at the edge of the former ocean basin (now submerged) : La Plata in Argentina, the Delaware and St. Lawrence in North America, the Congo in West Africa. Off the African west coast are submerged river canyons whose rivers no longer exist in the now-arid land.
Ancient maps show now-drowned islands
The curious Buache map was copied from sources whose origins are lost in antiquity. This ancient “treasure map” portrays correctly the location of the Canary Islands and the correct outline of an underwater plateau which formed their extended shape before the oceans rose.
Anciently, the Greek islands would have been larger and more numerous, as well. The Ibn Ben Zara map of 1487 (likewise copied from charts apparently thousands of years old) does in fact show many islands which are now under water.
In the Mediterranean, earth movements resulting from earthquakes and volcanoes account for most of the submerged cities, but not all.
Because of the general rising of the water level of the Mediterranean, large sections of cities well known to history are now under water. Among these are Baise (a sort of ancient Las Vegas), numerous points along Italy’s western coast, cities along the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia, parts of Syracuse in Sicily, Lepis Magna in Libya, as well as the ancient harbours of Tyre and Caesarea.
Helike is believed to lie on the sea bottom near Corinth. In ancient times this sunken city was a tourist attraction for Roman visitors to Greece. They used to pass over it in boats, admiring the ruins visible through the clear water. The statue of Zeus, still standing, was clearly visible on the bottom.
Roads disappear into the deep
A thousand feet offshore from the island of Melos are the ruins of an ancient city at a depth extending to 400 feet. From it there branch out roads, descending even deeper – to unknown destinations.
Jacques Costeau found on the sea bottom another paved road far out in the Mediterranean.
Sicily was once joined to Italy by land over which ships now sail.
Five miles directly offshore from Marseilles, on the French Riviera, at a depth of 80 feet, divers have found horizontal and vertical mining tunnels, smelting facilities and slag heaps lying outside the shafts.
Hannibal’s drowned camp
The camps that Hannibal used as a staging area prior to his invasion of Rome lie under shallow water off Peniscola, on the eastern coast of Spain.
Gigantic submerged relics
Off Morocco, on the Mediterranean side of Gibraltar, marine archaeologist Dr. J. Thorne has investigated an undersea wall. The wall extends for 9 miles atop a submerged mountain 120 feet below the surface. Some of its stones are each larger than 2-story houses (about as large as those used in the gigantic foundation of the Baalbek temple of Lebanon). Dr. Thorne observed roads going down the mountain further into unknown depths.
Atlantic Ocean ruins
Off Spain’s Atlantic coast, 2½ miles out at sea from Cadiz, in 95 feet of water, sunken walls and pavements have been photographed on several occasions. Eleven miles offshore are evidences of roads and large columns, some with concentric spiral motifs.
Late in 1942, a pilot engaged on military flights between Recife, Brazil, and Dakar, Senegal, reported sighting a city beneath the waves of the mid-Atlantic. The crew saw what appeared to be clusters of buildings just below the ocean, on the western slope of a submarine mountain near the St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks (1oN, 30oW). It was in the late afternoon sun, when the water was still and clear. The rays of the sun struck the water at such an angle that they penetrated diagonally to a considerable distance. This clarity would occur only once in a thousand flights or more.
Others flying the same route have since noticed what appear to be shallow underwater stone walls and ruins at about 6oN, 20oW, near the Sierra Leone Rise.
The Piri Reis map (another map with ancient origins) traces an island no longer indicated on modern maps. This large island appears exactly where the tiny St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks are now located – about 700 miles east of Recife.
Here are some other discoveries:
* Off the Cape Verde Islands, a drowned city and market place;
* Off the Canary Islands, on the 50 foot deep sea bottom, wide engraved stone steps and a central pavement;
* Off Madeira, at a depth of about 600 feet, a wall containing large stone slabs, as well as a stone staircase cut into the cliff;
* Off Greenland, submerged forests, as well as buildings on former low islands.
In 1985, several hundred miles east of the Azores, a Russian submarine under the command of Nikolai Seleznev, was filming the ocean floor with a special deep-diving camera, when, at a depth of 120 feet, they noticed a string of stone columns and then a massive dome-topped building.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” he said. “We were viewing an entire city with magnificent boulevards and avenues and they were lined with what looked like temples and halls, government buildings and homes.”
Suddenly their power flickered. The engines shut down on their own and then the needles on the instruments, including clocks, began to quiver and run backward. Many of the crew began to hallucinate. The terrifying experience ended as suddenly as it began, after about 15 minutes. (Australasian post, January 30, 1986)
Other explorers have reported a mysterious energy field in the area.
Today one of France’s most celebrated tourist sites is Mont Saint-Michel. Now almost a mile offshore, the 237 foot high cone shaped islet is crowned by a medieval abbey church, which supplanted a much older building. It is not generally known that the whole Saint-Michel mound is artificial. That’s right. Thousands of years ago a pyramid was built here. Much later the pyramid was partially covered with earth to make it into a mound. Then a building was erected upon it. When you push aside the gorse growing on the slopes, the stone steps of the original pyramid can be seen. The fine masonry interior includes a long circular wall and crypts.
Now for the point I wish to make. Originally this structure stood on an inland plain, surrounded by forest. By the tenth century, the rising sea had encroached on and obliterated the forest. Today it is surrounded by a great expanse of sand. And twice daily the high tide comes racing over the sands. You would need to run at the speed of a galloping horse to avoid being caught in it.
In Brittany, ancient avenues of huge upright stones go down to the Atlantic shore, then continue on under the sea.
An exceptional neap tide in 1970 exposed what looked like piles of dripping stone ruins. These were so far from shore that observers could not visit them before the tide returned.
All these sites are in France.
The prank that killed a city
The sunken city of Ys is placed traditionally close to the French coast. Here was played out an intriguing story of juvenile delinquency. It is reputed that Dahut, the daughter of Gradlon, king of Ys, during a drinking bout with her lover, opened the city floodgates with a stolen key, to see what would happen….
(In case you haven’t guessed, the sea rushed in and the whole city went under, forever!)
There is evidence that there were forests where now the North Sea extends. On the Dogger Bank in the middle of the sea are stumps of trees with their roots still in the ground. Divers have brought up stone axes and mastodon bones, from the time when the North Sea was land. Off the isle of Heligoland, parallel rock walls 45 feet underwater have been discovered, constructed of black, white and red rocks. Pollen analysis of the sea bottom suggests that this sea, in its present shape, originated within “recent” times. The date of 1500 B.C. is often selected.
The day the sea broke through
England was once part of the European mainland, with a land bridge between present-day Dover and Calais. During this initial early period, settlers probably trekked across the intervening valley unimpeded. But soon the rising sea level became noticeable.
I can imagine a grandfather standing one day on a hilltop with his grandson. They look down on the valley below. The old man points and says, “The sea comes further up that inlet now, than when I was a boy.”
Perhaps that grandson lived to see that first, historic high tide go roaring all the way through the valley, scouring out its sides, joining the North Sea with the Channel.
Ruins under Loch Ness
Under the waters of Scotland’s Loch Ness, sonor photography has traced ancient stone ruins. Unlike most lakes, Loch Ness connects underground to the sea. These ruins were evidently submerged as the sea level rose to form the lake.
More ruins lie on the ocean bed off the Irish coast; also a mammoth staircase descends 5 miles into the deep sea.
Off Mahabalipuram, Madras, India, lies another sunken city.
Southward from the River Indus, there extends under the Indian Ocean a large oval of shallow water. Often, when water and sky conditions are favourable, fishermen report sighting submerged structures. The ruins commence at about 21oN and extend almost to the equator.
Shri Lanka has traditions that the rising waters of the Indian Ocean cut it off from the Indian mainland.
On Panope Island, in the Carolines, are the buildings of a mysterious dead city, Nan Madol. Eleven square miles of structures continue off the land into the sea and eventually disappear in the depths of the Pacific.
Japanese pearl divers claim to have seen buildings, streets and sunken columns encrusted with coral in the deep waters off Nan Madol.
In recent years, the Universities of Ohio and Oregon and the Pacific Studies Institute (Honolulu) have undertaken expeditions. Giant stone columns were discovered submerged, as well as a system of tunnels through the coral reef.
Swimming along the underwater streets among sharks, author and adventurer David Childers found columns up to four stories high in 60 to 100 feet of water. There was evidence of ruins descending to depths of over 200 feet. His team discovered underwater inscriptions – “geometric designs such as crosses and rectangles.”
Aerial photographs reveal straight lines running hundreds of metres and turning at right angles in the coral reef, forming what appear to be city blocks encrusted with coral.
New Zealand’s continental shelf shows evidence that it was once dry land with forests and rivers.
Off the Nova Scotia and New England coasts, stumps of trees stand in the sea, where country once forested now lies drowned.
On the ocean floor off Georgia, is a roadway of unknown length; off the Delaware coast a ten mile wall; and off Rhode Island a round tower and walls in sea 40 to 50 feet deep.
Among discoveries off South and Central America are these:
* Off Guayaquil, Ecuador, a drowned city from which statues, lenses and other artefacts have been brought up;
* Off Venezuela, a 30 foot wall running straight for at least 100 miles;
* Off Haiti, an entire submerged city;
* Off Cuba’s north coast, submerged streets and buildings white like marble;
* From Belize, ancient roads on land continue to destinations now under the sea;
* Off Hispaniola, Mexico, sunken buildings (one of them 240 by 80 feet);
* At 165 feet underwater, Costeau’s “Calypso” expedition discovered a huge grotto with stalactites and stalagmites, which can form only on land.
Cosmul is a jungle island. Once part of Mexico’s Yucatan mainland, it is now 12 miles from the shoreline. Yet there is a great highway with its lifted line of trees streaking across the jungle to Cosmul. The roadway, with its huge 9 foot sandstone flagging and hard cement cover, dips down under the waves at the coastline and again reappears on the dry land of Cosmul.
More in the Caribbean
A fairly shallow stretch of clear water between Florida and Haiti is scattered with 700 sunlit islands. This Bahama Banks area was once above water. An extensive cedar forest once grew here.
Under the sea, numerous giant stone constructions extend for miles among the coral and swaying seaweed. When the water is clear and unruffled, successions of architectural patterns are often observed on the seabed by pilots of commercial and private aircraft. There are pyramidal formations, straight and intersecting lines and large rectangular forms; long stone walls or roads, pillars, archways, stone circles and stepped terraces on the ocean floor.
In 1979, a 3,000 foot wide three-ringed circular structure resembling a stadium was discovered near Andros Island. There are also circular walls around freshwater springs – possibly ancient reservoirs. Composition analysis of pillars comprising one structure a mile long near Bimini indicated they were of pink marble, quite foreign to the area.
Near the north end of Andros, covered by sea plants, are the submerged remains of a temple-like building approximately 100 feet by 75 feet in size.
An underwater road or wall runs along the top of an underwater cliff near Cay Lobos. It is possible that the ancient road ran along the cliff when both were above sea level.
Divers who had just discovered a sunken anchor from a Spanish galleon and were scratching the bottom around it found that it was lying on top of a mosaic floor or terrace!
In another location a 1982 expedition found a sunken quarry, complete with shaped blocks of stone still inside it. Heavy surface waves and strong underwater surges foiled attempts to photograph the quarry.
The area of this submerged plateau covered in remains is extensive. Off Bimini and Andros, submerged buildings extend over 38 square miles! Constructions run along the seabed to the drop-off of the continental shelf, up to 100 miles out to sea. They are all encrusted with fossilised shells and petrified mangrove roots.
In 1964, off the coast of Puerto Rico, the French submarine “Archimede”, descending from the continental shelf to lower levels, accidentally bumped against a flight of giant stone steps, cut into the steep sides of the shelf 1,400 feet below the surface. Apparently the stairway once ascended from the sea coast to a high plateau – the present low-lying island of Andros.
The flooding was probably very gradual; many of the submerged walls appear to be dykes, built to protect areas from the rising ocean. But they were not enough. The sea ultimately rolled over the land and a civilisation was lost.
Pyramids under the sea
Southwest of the Cay Sal Bank, a 1978 expedition organised by Ari Marshall, a Greek industrialist, captured a pyramidal shape on videotape. As they neared the area, all the compasses spun wildly. The pyramid rose from a depth of 650 feet to 150 feet from the surface. Marshall recounts:
“We lowered the camera and high intensity lights down the side of the mass and suddenly came to an opening. Light flashes or shiny white objects were being swept into the opening by turbulence. They may have been gas or energy crystals. Further down, the same thing happened in reverse. They were coming out again at a lower level. It was surprising that the water in this deep area was green instead of black near the pyramid.” (Charles Berlitz, Atlantis. Glasgow:William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1984, p.101)
In 1970, Dr. Ray Brown of Mesa, Arizona, and four other divers, were off the Berry Islands of the Bahamas when their compasses went berserk and their magnometers failed.
Suddenly they saw the outlines of buildings under the water. They dived down for a look. Dr. Brown recalls:
“I turned to look toward the sun through the murky water and saw a pyramid shape shining like a mirror. About thirty-five to forty feet from the top was an opening. I was reluctant to go inside… but I swam in anyway. The opening was like a shaft debouching into an inner room. I saw something shining. It was a crystal, held by two metallic hands. I had on my gloves and I tried to loosen it. It became loose. As soon as I grabbed it I felt this was the time to get out and not come back.” (Ibid., pp.104ff)
In the years following, Dr. Brown has sometimes shown the round crystal to lecture audiences. Inside it, a series of pyramidal forms are visible. A throbbing sensation is felt in the hand when it is held, according to reports.
This underwater pyramid is reportedly surrounded by buildings. The total complex is estimated at 5 miles wide, and even longer.
More recent inundations
Denmark: Off the coast is the small island of Nordstrand. It is the last trace of a large tract of rich farmland that, as recently as 300 years ago, was covered by an inrush of the sea. Six thousand people and their homes were swept away.
Holland: In the thirteenth century, the slowly rising North Sea suddenly rushed inland over parts of low lying Holland and formed the big inlet called the Zuider Zee, destroying 30 villages and 80,000 people. Last century, the Dutch reclaimed this rich land with dykes.
England: During the reign of Henry II, one of the most important seaports of England was Shipden in Norfolk on the east coast. It had a large and beautiful church famous all over England. Five hundred years ago, Shipden was swallowed up by the sea – church, dock and all.
Coastal erosion along a strip of the Yorkshire coast of England has resulted in the loss of 35 towns since Roman times.
Perhaps you have been following with your atlas? On a map showing the narrowest part of the England Channel, namely the Strait of Dover, close to the English coast you may see marked the Goodwin Sands, a line of sandbanks just beneath the water. These sandbanks are all that is left of the vast estate of Earl Godwin, father of King Harold. All this land, with its park, cattle, sheep and deer, sank beneath the waves 900 years ago.
There are, of course, places where land has been built up with earth eroded from other sites. But the overall result has been loss of land.
Again, not all underwater ruins resulted from the rising sea level. In some cases the land actually sank under. Nevertheless the rising ocean is still slowly but steadily wearing away the coastlines of the world. Generally the erosion is scarcely noticed. At times, however, the waves suddenly gulp down wide stretches of land without warning.
In fact, I was recently invited to conduct a seminar series the Solomon Islands in the south west Pacific. The news was given me of a low-lying island in the Solomons which was recently abandoned by its inhabitants, who have migrated to land likely to survive longer.
Currently the sea level is rising at the rate of 1.5 feet (45 centimetres) per century. It’s a pity… some of our most exotic low-lying tropical islands seem next in line to be swallowed up.
But there’s probably no need to rush your travel agent yet.
© Jonathan Gray 2003