Online Introduction to Underworld
From Fingerprints of the Gods to Underworld
An Essay on Methods
By Graham Hancock
The mystery of the U-shaped structure
Yet there are so many underworlds.
I'll not add here to what I have to say in the book and the television series about Malta, China and Japan -- or why and where I think the Grand Bahama Bank as it last looked 6000 years ago is portrayed on the infamous Piri Reis Map of 1513.
I'd like to close with the Indian "theme" of the last few paragraphs but in a place about as far away as you can get from the
The place is called Poompuhar. It lies on southeast
These finds of structures in shallow water (some so shallow that they are exposed at low tide) have been quite widely written-up in the archaeological literature. But for some reason other discoveries that the NIO has made in deeper water off Poompuhar have attracted no attention at all. Most notably these other discoveries include a second completely separate group of structures fully three miles from the Poompuhar shore in water that is more than 70 feet (23 metres) deep. The lack of interest is surprising because to anyone with even minimal knowledge of post-glacial sea-level rise their depth of submergence is - or should be - highly anomalous. Indeed according to Glenn Milne's sea-level data the land on which these structures were built last stood above water at the end of the Ice Age more than 11,000 years ago.
Is it a coincidence that there are ancient Tamil flood myths that speak of a great kingdom that once existed in this area called Kumari Kandam that was swallowed up by the sea? Amazingly the myths put a date of 11,600 years ago on these events -- the same timeframe given by Plato for the end of Atlantis in another ocean.
Like the cities in the
a horse-shoe-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 in 20 metres. Whether the object is a shrine or some other man-made structure now at 23 metres [70 feet] depth remains to be examined in the next field season.
The 1993 study refines the measurements:
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 Divers observed growth of thick marine organism on the structure, but in some sections a few courses of masonry were noted
After 1993, no further marine archaeology was conducted along the Poompuhar coast until 2001 when I arranged with the NIO to dive on the U-shaped structure with funding from Channel 4 television in Britain and the Learning Channel in the US. Exclusive footage of the structure was filmed and is shown in episode 2 of the Underworld television series. Chapter 14 of the book is a report of our dives at Poompuhar, and what we found there.
Dr A.S. Gaur of the NIO told me on camera that it would have required "a very great technology" to build the U-shaped structure -- one far beyond the abilities of known cultures in
My own expedition to Poompuhar with the NIO in 2001 was limited to diving on the U-shaped structure and one neighbouring structure. But what's really exciting is that more than 20 other large structures are known to be located in the same area down to depths of more than 100 feet. These have so far been identified only by sidescan sonar and never yet explored by divers. I've organised an expedition jointly with
The Cambay and Poompuhar discoveries are both reported in depth for the first time in Underworld and set into the proper context of the flood myths and inundation history of the broader regions to which they belong.
If they are what they seem to be -- a caution I must repeat since so little research has actually been done by anyone -- then they signal an exciting new era in Indian archaeology in which the investigation of submerged ruins will play an increasingly important role. How do the Poompuhar finds compare with those in Cambay? Are they both parts of the same lost civilisation? Or do they perhaps represent two separate Ice Age cultures, one based in the north and the other in the south of the subcontinent?
Further exploration, involving divers, sonar scans and the recovery and analysis of artefacts will provide the answers.
And for reasons that I explain in Underworld, I think
I think it all goes back to the Ice Age.
And in Underworld I try to explain why.
ASI refuses NOC for Poompuhar harbour
Accuses DMK Government Of Arm-twisting
T S Sreenivasa Raghavan | TNN
Chennai: Even as the Ram Setu row continues to simmer, the DMK government is headed for another controversy, this one set in the backdrop of the historic Poompuhar town in Nagapattinam district.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and state archaeology department have accused the government of armtwisting them into giving a 'no objection' certificate' (NOC) for a Union government-funded Rs 40-crore fishing harbour at Poompuhar that could destroy the ruins of the ancient Chola port city, lying at a depth of eight metres under the sea.
Archaeologists have refused to issue NOC for the proposed project since "the site chosen has several on and offshore archaeological structures."
The firm stand taken by the ASI/state archaeology officials could be attributed to the underwater images captured by National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) when it carried out a site scan immediately after the tsunami and reconnaissance survey in 2006. These exclusive images and video film are available with The Times of India.
Interestingly, fisheries commissioner Shambu Kallolikar in his March 19 letter to the state archaeology principal commissioner S Gurumurthy claimed monuments identified by NIOT were buried at a distance of four to five km from the shoreline and at a depth of more than 50 feet.
"They're old. He's not aware about recent surveys. The structures are less than half-a-kilometer and they lie at a depth of seven to 11 meters. The fisheries commissioner's claim is based on villagers' opinion, not scientific data," archaeological sources said.
Shambu in his letter played to popular sentiments to justify the harbour site saying "it would protect the Poompuhar village from sea erosion."
But, what upset ASI/state archaeology officials was the blunt comment by a top official of the fisheries department during a meeting in March. "He said it was more important to ensure livelihood to the living rather than protecting submerged temples and vihars constructed by dead people. We're shocked," sources said.
Former director of the state archaeology department Natana Kasinathan, who attended the meeting, said: "I made it clear. If the site had some archaeological structures, then the harbour has to be shelved."
His opinion assumes significance since the five underwater surveys undertaken during his tenure between 1991 and 1997 had unearthed a shipwreck, lead ingots and six man-made structures at Poompuhar.
"No construction can happen in 200 to 300 meters of monuments of archaeological importance. It's not possible to construct the harbour since several archaeological structures are strewn around the site," sources said, adding the structures discovered by NIOT needed further studies. "They're huge in size. They're also covered with bio-fouling. Only when you remove the fouling, we will know if the structures are parts of Buddhist vihars, temples or a row of houses," they said.
Shambu Kallolikar, when contacted, confessed the project was in a state of limbo. However, he denied charges of arm-twisting. "If they (archaeologists) think I am bulldozing them, they're wrong. We are ready to alter the structural design if the harbour meddles with their monuments. But, they have no conclusive proof. So, we're asking National Institute of Oceanography, Goa to do a survey. Also let me make it clear there's no political pressure to push this project through."