The Lost City of Legend?; Divers Claim Sunken Ruins Are Forgotten Civilisation

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES CHAPMAN

FOR centuries, people have told stories of vast sunken ruins beneath the waves.

Six hundred ancient myths, collected from every part of the globe, speak of great cities lost in a universal flood thousands of years ago.

Now extraordinary finds are being made that suggest they might be based on truth.

Researchers say they have uncovered tangible remnants of a lost civilisation. Though many believe their claims owe more to Indiana Jones than to science, some in mainstream archaeology are beginning to take notice.

The latest discovery has been made by a team from the Dorset-based Scientific Exploration Society, who were prompted to dive off the coast of southern India by the myths and traditions of its people.

The story of Mahabalipuram, in the state of Tamil Nadu, was first written about by one J. Goldingham, a British traveller who visited the coastal town in 1798.

At that time, it was known to sailors as the Seven Pagodas. The myths, still repeated by local fishermen and priests, speak of six submerged temples with the seventh still standing on the shore.

The stories also state that a large city once stood there which was so beautiful the gods became jealous and sent a flood that swallowed it in a single day.

Monty Halls, the diver who led the SES team, said local people had confirmed the ancient story, pointing to a series of large submerged structures half a mile offshore.

The Britons put together a team of 16 divers with India's National Institute of Oceanography and made a series of exploratory dives earlier this month.

'We had to crash through the surf to get out there to make our dives,' said Mr Halls, revealing details of the mission for the first time yesterday. 'Not in a million years could we have expected to find what we did.

'We were confronted with something absolutely colossal. Our divers were presented with a series of structures that clearly showed manmade attributes.'

THROUGH the gloom and murk of 15 to 20ft of water, the divers could pick out vast blocks of granite. Some were arranged in long, wall-like structures.

Others were in rectangular arrangements, suggesting buildings and temples.

None of the team was in any doubt that they were looking at manmade rather than natural features. Many of the blocks had clearly been carved by ancient stonemasons.

To the divers' amazement, the submerged ruins covered an area of several square miles.

They captured pictures showing what they believe to be vast ruins rising from the seabed. …