Vast Undersea Acres Unstudied

By jes. on February 27, 2013

NEW YORK (Herald de Paris) — Architectural history is the study not just of structure, but also of human habitation, and thus, the study of the history of our civilization and its understanding of mathematics, engineering, and technology. Anywhere that civilization flourished, architectural historians consider the remains of structure as the benchmark for the advancement of our species. In this way, architectural history is closely tied to archaeology and anthropology. Nevertheless, where other disciplines also consider tools, art, and other evidence left behind by human habitation. Architectural history, however, is solely concerned with habitable structure.

Many antiquities-based architectural historians focus on the Egyptian civilization, which coalesced around 3150 BC, as the earliest starting point for recordable architecture worthy of study, as the Egyptians built in stone, leaving lasting evidence. The Egyptian civilization, of course, flourished in the north-east corner of Africa.

But the current coast of Africa was not always the coast. Beginning about 19,000 years ago and culminating around 6,000 years ago during the melt-back of the end of the last ice age, global sea levels rose in excess of 120 metres submerging vast areas of land, including generations of coastlines, beneath our oceans. It is this era which gave rise to countless “great flood” stories, Noah’s Ark, and other seemingly mythical and allegorical traditions. Nevertheless, science has proven that this great melting did occur, leaving lasting scars on the earth’s surface.

120 metres of ocean covers a whole lot of real estate, in fact, somewhere on the order of 25 million square miles. Therefore, it is illogical to consider the current coastline of Alexandria, Egypt, for example, to resemble anything remotely like it existed before the great melting. And this has proven to be true, as Cleopatra’s palace at Alexandria now resides in the local harbor, and has become the focus of great study by historians and anthropologists who are displaying Cleopatra’s ruins in a new underwater museum.

Here’s the thing about water – it seeks its own level. Therefore, while it was predominantly the North American Glacier which melted during the period in question, the water flowing back into the oceans rose the sea level equally around the entire planet. Understanding this simple fact suggests that there are thousands of acres of past sites of permanent, occupied human civilization now residing in our oceans.

As the technology flourishes to allow us to finally explore vast areas of the wet planet previously unstudied, opportunities should logically abound not just to allow marine biologists and geoscientists to vastly enhance our knowledge of what resides in our seas, but also for cultural anthropologists and architectural historians to make significant contributions to our understanding of human civilization, social governance, settlement patterns, and the rise of mathematics, astrological understanding, and structural engineering.

We already knew about recent sites lost to coastal erosion, like Port Royal, Jamaica. Here we are instead talking about sites which pre-date our conventional understanding of human history; sites which challenge our very understanding of the evolution and migration of our own species.

The discovery of once vast cities is occurring around the world, challenging conventional knowledge of settlement and migration histories. Besides the aforementioned structures in Alexandria’s harbor, city sites have now been located in the Gulf of Cambay, off the coast of India; Off the coast of Yonaguni Island, near Okinawa, Japan, where marine researchers have discovered massive structures in 60 metres of water; and off the coast of Cuba, where two separate sites have been discovered. On opposite sides of the island. One appears to be 2 miles down, lying upright off the continental shelf of what was once the land bridge to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The other sits closer to the surface, in approximately 60 metres of water, allegedly seen from the air by Leicester Hemingway, brother of the famous author, and again a decade later by a Soviet submarine commander during the Bay of Pigs stand-off.

By comparing the modern topography of our planet to the topography as it appeared prior to the beginning of the end of the last ice age, it is therefore geologically possible to reasonably assume where there could be thousands of sites around the globe sitting quietly beneath our oceans, just waiting to be discovered.

This was proven to be true, quite by accident, by a Virginia scallop fisherman in 1970. Trawling along the continental shelf off Virginia’s coast, Captain Thurston Shaw and his crew of the Cinmar brought up in their nets a stone blade and a mastodon tusk. Both sat in a tiny museum for more than a decade before being seen by a scientist from the Smithsonian Institute. The tusk was carbon dated, showing it was more than 20,000 years old. Using conventional archaeological wisdom, the stone tool was dated to the same period, and closely resembles the tools used by early Europeans from an area near France.

This suggests that the Americas were not first inhabited by Mongolians walking across the Bering Straits 12,000 years ago, as the Clovis Paradigm wants us to believe, but instead thousands of years earlier by early humans traveling from the complete opposite direction. It suggests that humans may have been considerably more advanced than simple cave dwelling hunter-gatherers 12,000 years ago, and hints that great civilizations may have already risen and fallen by that age. It also suggests that there are other sites, both on the land and under our oceans, which can further corroborate this hypothesis as long as we take the time to locate them.

Some may already be known. There are ancient land sites in Brazil which some anthropologists believe are more than 20,000 years old. Similarly, there are well-documented sites in the Andes mountains which have similarly been dated anywhere from 20,000 to 4,000 years old. Based on the marine science above, it is logical to assume that there should also be submerged sites corresponding to these misunderstood land sites, which can strengthen the more ancient hypothesis.

This is a curious time in our history. As the technological revolution is challenging our centuries-old notions of professionalism and prosperity, a new age is emerging where historical and scientific researchers can actually benefit by working together to fill in the gaps in our human record, and correct some long-standing misconceptions about who we are, and why we came to be here. Where architectural history differs from art history is in its ability to uncover the story of technological and mathematical advancement of an entire species. This can be achieved by a cohesive cooperation between architectural historians, anthropologists, and marine scientists .

Joyce Steinmetz March 4, 2013

Hello! I am a PhD student at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, USA. Can the author of this article please provide reference citations for:

1) the Virginia scalloper finding the stone tool and mastodon tusk and
2) the Smithsonian scientist’s report identifying the age to 20,000 years ago?

Thank you for your time.

Joyce Steinmetz, RPA
MA, Nautical Archaeology and Maritime History
PhD Student, Coastal Resources Management
East Carolina University

je sved March 7, 2013
Theresa Gilroy March 18, 2013

Just a query about the 20,000 and 40,000 yer old sites you mention in south America. Are they actual architectural sites or evidence of human presence (i.e artefacts). If they are architectural could you steer me towards a source of information. Thanks
I agree that as our technology increases it is highly likely that we will find more ancient structures under the sea. I think Ill get my scuba diving certificate.
Kind Regards

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