Back in April 2002, an expedition team jointly sponsored by Great Britain’s Scientific Exploration Society (SES) and India’s National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) made the discovery of a submerged complex of ruins off the coast of Mahabalipuram, in Tamil Nadu, South India.
13 years later questions remain unanswered. How old is it? How extensive is it? What artifacts remain hidden in the ruins? Time to revisit…
Stories passed from one generation to the next tell of a large, beautiful city that once occupied the area. The legends say the ancient metropolis was destroyed by the gods who were jealous of its beauty, and sent a flood to bury it beneath the waves. The area once boasted seven magnificent temples (The Seven Pagodas), but that six of these were swallowed by the sea. The seventh, and only remaining temple, still stands on the shore.
Best-selling author Graham Hancock spent several years cataloging and studying these myths. When he returned to the area as part of an expedition team jointly sponsored by the SES and NIO, the goal was to search beneath the sea and make a detailed survey that would confirm the existence of the temples, and investigate the date of their destruction.
Diving in challenging conditions, the team found the “foundation of walls, broken pillars, steps, and many scattered stone blocks,” said Kamlesh Vora, a marine archaeologist with NIO. All structures are made of granite stone (crystal).
Vora, Halls, and the rest of the team were quickly convinced that they had made a major discovery of man-made structures. “Here there would be no furrowed brows, no peering at reefs from different angles, no dusting for elusive archaeological fingerprints,” said Halls. “Here man was everywhere.”
Officials of Archeological Survey of India and laborers work at an excavation site in Mahabalipuram, India, March 13, 2005. AP Image:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tsunami-revealed-lost-indian-city/
The archaeological and inscriptional evidence of sites on land near shore indicate a possible date of construction of these structures between 1,500 to 1,200 years before present.
If the Mahabalipuram ruins are found to be of the same temple complex as the shore temple, the discovery would lend credence to the local tales that outsiders have often disregarded as legend. Graham Hancock, said: “I have argued for many years that the world’s flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject.
Scientists now want to explore the possibility that the city was submerged following the last Ice Age. If this proves correct, it would date the settlement at more than 5,000 years old.