Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, page 1
By the Same Author
The Sign and the Seal
Fingerprints of the Gods
Keeper of Genesis (coauthor)
The Mars Mystery (coauthor)
For Santha … for being there. Again
With all my love.
1 / Relics
2 / The Riddle of the Antediluvian Cities
3 / Meltdown
4 / Forgotten Cities, Ancient Texts and an Indian Atlantis
5 / Pilgrimage to India
6 / The Place of the Ship’s Descent
7 / Lost India
8 / The Demon on the Mountain and the Rebirth of Civilization
9 / Fairytale Kingdom
10 / The Mystery of the Red Hill
11 / The Quest for Kumari Kandam
12 / The Hidden Years
13 / Pyramid Islands
14 / Ghosts in the Water
15 / Smoke and Fire in Malta
16 / Cave of Bones
17 / The Thorn in the Flesh
18 / The Masque of the Green Book
19 / Inundation
20 / The Morning of the World
21 / Terra Incognita
22 / The Secret Memories of Maps
23 / Looking for the Lost on the Road to Nowhere
24 / The Metamorphoses of Antilia
Japan, Taiwan, China
25 / The Land Beloved of the Gods
26 / Remembrance
27 / Confronting Yonaguni
28 / Maps of Japan and Taiwan 13,000 Years Ago?
29 / Confronting Kerama
30 / The Shark at the Gate
Postscript 1 / The Underworld in the Gulf of Cambay
Postscript 2 / The Underworld in the Bay of Bengal
Appendix 1 / Report on the Completion of the Joint SES/NIO Expedition to South-east India
Appendix 2 / SES Press Release, 5 April 2002, Announcing the Discovery of Underwater Ruins at Mahabalipuram and Inviting Media to a Press Reception, 10 April 2002
Appendix 3 / Preliminary Underwater Archaeological Explorations of Mahabalipuram. Statement by National Institute of Oceanography, 9 April 2002
Appendix 4 / Comments by Graham Hancock on the NIO Statement of 9 April 2002 Regarding Preliminary Underwater Archaeological Explorations off Mahabalipuram
Appendix 5 / Who Discovered the Underwater Ruins at Mahabalipuram? And Who is Claiming What?
Appendix 6 / UK Press Coverage of Mahabalipuram Discovery, April 2002
Appendix 7 / Press Report on Paulina Zelitsky’s Exploration in Cuba
Appendix 8 / Press Report from Times of India, 6 July 2002
Online Appendices and Photographs
Underworld has been a huge, all-consuming quest spread out over a period of almost five years. I can only thank here a small number of the very many people who have contributed to it in one way or another.
First and foremost, thanks to my wife Santha, who travelled every step of the journey with me, took all the risks side by side with me, did every dive with me, faced up to every challenge with me and lived and breathed Underworld for five years just as I have done. Of course, all the photos in the book are Santha’s but there has only been space here to reproduce a tiny fraction of them. Many more of her wonderful pictures from our adventures appear on the section of my website http://www.grahamhancock.com that is dedicated to Underworld.
Special thanks to Sharif Sakr, my brilliant researcher, who joined me straight out of Oxford University in the summer of 2000 when the writing phase of the book was just beginning. Sharif is, in every sense, exactly what a great researcher should be – an original thinker and an individualistic self-starter with huge intelligence, boundless energy and limitless initiative who never needs to be told what to do but who always just gets on and does it. Sharif’s contribution to the strengths of Underworld has been enormous.
Thanks also to John Grigsby, my researcher for some years before Sharif joined me, and to Shanti Faiia for her excellent work on researching, planning and coordinating many of the diagrams in the book. Thanks to Sean Hancock for researching Ice Age chronologies and chasing rumours of underwater ruins for us at Pohnpei and Kosrae. Thanks to Leila Hancock for her research on the nature and attributes of Siva. Thanks to Shakira Bagwandeen for research notes on various issues of Indian religion and prehistory.
Dr Glenn Milne of Durham University’s Department of Geology played a crucial role in generously providing all the inundation maps used in Underworld. Glenn’s kindness in supplying these maps should not be taken as any sort of endorsement on his part of the broader theories and ideas presented here – which are entirely my own responsibility.
Thanks to Ashraf Bechai for showing us the mysterious underwater megalithic sites off Alexandria, particularly the gigantic blocks of Sidi Gaber, which orthodox archaeology has not yet come to terms with.
In what I have to say about Malta I drew heavily on the remarkable research of Dr Anton Mifsud and want to express my thanks to him for allowing me to report his findings so extensively here. If, as I believe to be the case, an entirely new chapter in the prehistory of Malta is about to open, then it is due to Anton’s tireless search for the truth and the far-reaching investigation that he continues to conduct into the Maltese past. Thanks also to Anton’s co-authors on his various books – Charles Savona Ventura, Simon Mifsud and Chris Agius Sultana.
In India I owe a debt of gratitude to all at the Archaeological Division of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), in particular to Kamlesh Vora, Sundaresh and Dr A. S. Gaur. Special thanks, too, to Dr Ehrlich Desa, head of the NIO, who did so much to clear the way for our dives at Dwarka and Poompuhur and showed such good will and kindness towards us when Santha and I first turned up at the NIO’s headquarters in Donna Paula, Goa.
Thanks also to India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), whose ground-breaking discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay are reported for the first time in this book. I mention in particular Dr S. Kathiroli, Project Director of the NIOT, Dr S. Badrinaryan, Geological Consultant to the NIOT, and G. Janaki Raman, Manager, Vessel Management Cell.
So many good people have helped us in Japan over the years that it is simply impossible to mention all of them here. I hope those whose names are left out will forgive me. Special mention must be made of our friend Shun Daichi, the Japanese translator of my books who accompanied me and Santha on our journeys in Japan – both above and below the water. Thanks too to Seamen’s Club, Ishigaki, and to the staff and management there whose help made all our diving adventures in Japan possible. Outside Seamen’s Club, Kiyoshi Nagaki, Isamu Tsukahara, Kihachiro Aratake, Yohachiro Yoshimaru, Mitsutoshi Taniguchi and Kuzanori Kawai all also dived with us and helped us in our underwater investigations.
Last but not least, Santha and I want to thank our children Ravi Faiia, Shanti Faiia, Sean Hancock, Leila Hancock, Luke Hancock and Gabrielle Hancock for putting up with our preoccupations and prolonged absences from home. All the children have played their own parts in the quest, have learned to dive and have joined us for some of our diving adventures. We’re proud and happy to have such a bright and enterprising group of young people around us.
London, January 2002
1 / Relics
If you do not expect it, you will not find the unexpected, for it is hard to find and difficult.
Five kilometres off the south-east coast of India, submerged at a depth of 23 metres beneath the murky, shark-infested waters of the Bay of Bengal, an ancient man-made structure sits on the bottom of the sea. The structure is U-shaped, like a huge horseshoe; its periphery measures 85 metres and its walls are about 1 metre thick and 2 metres high.1
The discovery was made by a team of marine archaeologists from India’s National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in March 1991, working off-shore of the Tranquebar-Poompuhur coast of Tamil Nadu near Nagapattinam. Their equipment included side-scan sonar, which transmits an acoustic signal up to 1000 metres wide and measures the strength of the returning echo. Towed behind a research vessel, side-scan sonar is capable of building accurate maps of sea-bed contours and of identifying any obvious anomalies such as shipwrecks.
On 7 March 1991 a shipwreck at a depth of 19 metres was pinpointed by the sonar. It was investigated by divers on 8 and 9 March, who found many scattered objects including lead ingots and iron cannon on the surrounding sea-bed. The official report of the project then states:
Till 1.00 p.m. [on 9 March] the divers were working on the scattered objects. T. C. S. Rao who was carrying out sonar survey 5 km opposite Chinnavanagiri [not far from the wreck] reported another object 40 × 10 metres having the shape of a ship [?] recorded on sonograph. Shri Bandodkar was sent to the site (designated PMR2) and he placed two marker buoys there. By 2.00 p.m. Manavi and Chinni dived but as the buoys had drifted the object could not be explored.2
A second side-scan sonar survey later in the afternoon refined the measurements, suggesting that the object was oval and measured ‘30–35 metres east to west and 10 metres north to south with an apparent opening in one side’.3
On 16 and 19 March T. C. S. Rao continued the survey and now reported:
There are actually three objects, the central one being oval-shaped with an opening on the northern side. Its longer axis is 20 metres. There is a clay deposit on the eastern flank beyond which another semi-circular structure is seen. To the north-west of the central object one or more oval-shaped objects are found.4
Finally on 23 March 1991 three divers were able to go down but only had sufficient air to study the central structure. The official report describes what they saw as follows:
a horseshoe-shaped object, its height being one to two metres. A few stone blocks were found in the one-metre-wide arm. The distance between the two arms is 20 metres. Whether the object is a shrine or some other man-made structure now at 23 metres depth remains to be examined in the next field season …5
Deep can mean very old
In the event no work could be done at the site in the next season, but in 1993 the structure was examined again by the NIO’s diver archaeologists, who took careful measurements and eventually reported their findings as follows:
The structure of U-shape was located at a water depth of 23 metres which is about 5 kilometres off shore. The total peripheral length of the object is 85 metres while the distance between the two arms is 13 metres and the maximum height is 2 metres. The height of the eastern arm is greater than that of the western arm. The centre of the object is covered with sediment but some patches of rock were noticed. Hand fanning showed that the central part of the object is rocky at a depth of 10–15 centimetres. Divers observed growth of thick marine organism on the structure, but in some sections a few courses of masonry were noted.6
Since 1993, for want of funding, no further marine archaeology has been conducted along the Poompuhur coast and the general impression has been disseminated in archaeological literature that the NIO has not found any submerged structures there that are older than the third century BC.7 This is certainly true of numerous structures that were excavated very near to the shore, usually in depths of less than 2 metres of water and often half-exposed at low tide.8 But the U-shaped structure at 23 metres – more than 70 feet – is another matter altogether and cannot by any means be automatically assigned to the third century BC. On the contrary, since we know that the sea-level has been continuously rising during the last 19,000 years,9 common sense suggests that structures now submerged by 23 metres of water must be much older than structures in just 2 metres.
‘Nobody has looked …’
In February 2000 I travelled to Bangalore to the home of the doyen of India’s marine archaeologists, S. R. Rao, founder of the Marine Archaeology Centre at the NIO and the man who had led the Tranquebar-Poompuhur survey. Rao is a distinguished, lean-faced man in his mid-seventies, with boundless energy and enthusiasm for his subject. After the pleasantries were over I told him that I was intrigued by the U-shaped structure his team had found at Poompuhur: ‘Twenty-three metres is deep. Doesn’t that mean that it could be very old?’
‘Correct, definitely,’ Rao replied. ‘That is what we are also thinking. In fact we took our ocean engineer also to see whether the structure had gone down as a result of erosion by the sea or by its own weight. I don’t think that is the case, because it is a huge structure which has been built at that depth – at that time the sea was further out. This was built when it was above water. Then does the sea rise so much within such a short period was the question – 23 metres just within 2000 years or so?’
‘Maybe the sea-level rise that covered this structure took place a lot earlier than that,’ I offered. ‘Maybe it belongs to a much earlier period than the 2000-year-old ruins of Poompuhur up in the intertidal zone? There have been sea-level rises that could have done something like this but they took place a long time ago – at the end of the Ice Age.’
‘Correct. At that time it happened. You are correct.’
‘There were three large floods at the end of the Ice Age – and even the most recent of these takes us back 8000 years. Is that a possible date for the U-shaped structure?’
‘We don’t know,’ Rao replied, ‘because you see from whatever we have got we are not able to decide its date at all.’
‘Why is that?’
‘Because amongst the samples we took we found no organic materials that could be dated by carbon 14 and no pottery that could be dated by thermo-luminescence or by type. We have only stone which cannot be dated in any meaningful sense.’
‘Except by one factor – which is that the structure is now under 23 metres of water. So the sea-level rise itself can be helpful in indicating a date.’
‘Correct. I do know that for the Gulf of Kutch in north-western India an oceanographic study has been made and the oceanographers themselves have said that at 10,000 BC the sea-level was 60 metres lower than it is today. If that is true there it is also true here.’
‘Which raises the possibility that we may be looking at remnants of a previously unknown ancient culture …’
‘Ancient. Definitely!’ Rao exclaimed. ‘And, in fact, where really was the origin of India’s earliest-known civilization – the Indus Valley civilization? Scholars guess, but nobody knows. The Indus Valley script itself is already a highly developed script when it first appears in the third millennium BC. The early architecture is already developed – you have got brick structures, you have got drains, everything is planned and all that – so there must be something before that. Where is the evolutionary phase? We don’t know.’
Dr Rao was getting close to the real reason that I had come to see him. ‘Maybe the evidence of the evolutionary phase is underwater?’ I suggested.
‘It’s underwater. Quite possible.’
‘If so, then this underwater structure at Poompuhur could be incredibly important – simply because of its depth …’
‘Twenty-three metres …’
‘Twenty-three metres. That’s right. Now if we can rule out land subsidence, and further work must be done bef
Rao pondered for a moment before replying: ‘You see, some people, some traditions, do say that there was a continent in the Indian Ocean, a very long time ago, more than 10,000 years ago, that got submerged … Quite possible. You see, we are not doing thorough research. If we had taken more time and more funds and all that, perhaps we could find many more structures, not only that one, and then you could come to some kind of conclusion about the much earlier epoch.’
I told Rao that I was familiar with the south Indian traditions to which he was referring. These describe extensive lands, submerged about 11,000 years ago, that had once existed in the Indian Ocean to the south of the present Cape Comorin. The name of these lost lands was Kumari Kandam. At the time of their inundation, the traditions say, they had been the home of a high civilization that had even boasted an ‘Academy’ of advanced learning where philosophy and literature were cultivated.
‘It must have existed,’ Rao asserted. ‘You can’t rule that out at all. Particularly, as I have said, since we have found this structure at 23 metre depth. I mean, we have photographed it. It is there, anybody can go and see. I do not believe that it is an isolated structure; further exploration is likely to reveal others round about. And then you can go deeper, you see, and you may get more important things.’
I asked if there had been any further attempt since 1993 to find underwater structures off southern India.
Other author's books:
- Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of CivilizationThe Master Game: Unmasking the Secret Rulers of the WorldWar God: Nights of the WitchEntangledWar God: Return of the Plumed SerpentFingerprints of the GodsThe Message of the Sphinx AKA Keeper of GenesisMagicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization
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