Alan Sutton is a free diver in Tanzania. He frequently dives near Mafia Island, the least known, southernmost island, off the Tanzanian coast. While out diving one day he spotted what appeared to be a reef and approached it. He thought it looked like a wall and decided to return to further investigate.
Flying over by helicopter Alan could see what appeared to be large blocks of rock, and a wall that stretched approximately four kilometers. This was highly unusual as the geology of the islands of the area is all sand. There are no natural rock or reef formations nearby.
Could this be the legendary lost city of Rhapta? Rhapta is mentioned in chapter 16 of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea; dated to 50 AD; which describes Rhapta as the southern most trading post of Azania.
Or might it be something else entirely?
Sutton returned to the site during a low spring tide, which is the only time the ruins are partially above water. What they found was astonishing. Thousands of rectangular and oblong cut stone blocks, forming foundations and a wall, stretching into the distance.
The blocks are completely encrusted in sea life and Sutton believes that they must be hundreds of years old. The city appears to have been extremely well constructed and unlike any other archaeological ruins in Tanzania. The topmost part of the ruins lie under five meters of water during high tide. Some of the foundations are ten meters underwater. It must have been built when sea level was lower. Local fisherman who fish around the area every day say that long ago, before the sea came in, people used to live there. While there are accounts of a lost Portuguese fort in these waters, this site does not logically fit that description.
We are more inclined to postulate the site may be thousands of years old and was built by an antediluvian civilization. The wall itself is made of gigantic megalithic stone blocks from an unknown quarry that could be at least 37 kilometers away on the mainland.
It will be amazing to find out the measurements of the blocks and what type of rock they are.
Archaeologists have yet to visit the site. Ancient Explorers will keep you updated as we learn more.
Written by Camara Cassin.
All photo and video credits to Alan Sutton and Hannah Jane.