Lost Civilizations and Crazy People

I came across an old news report on the BBC website that piqued my interest.

The remains of what has been described as a huge lost city may force historians and archaeologists to radically reconsider their view of ancient human history.

Marine scientists say archaeological remains discovered 36 metres (120 feet) underwater in the Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India could be over 9,000 years old.

The vast city - which is five miles long and two miles wide - is believed to predate the oldest known remains in the subcontinent by more than 5,000 years.

The breathless style made me cautious, but then the reporter quoted Graham Hancock [Fingerprints of the Gods].

The city is believed to be even older than the ancient Harappan civilisation, which dates back around 4,000 years.

Marine archaeologists have used a technique known as sub-bottom profiling to show that the buildings remains stand on enormous foundations.


The whole model of the origins of civilisation will have to be remade from scratch

Graham Hancock

Author and film-maker Graham Hancock - who has written extensively on the uncovering of ancient civilisations - told BBC News Online that the evidence was compelling:

"The [oceanographers] found that they were dealing with two large blocks of apparently man made structures.

"Cities on this scale are not known in the archaeological record until roughly 4,500 years ago when the first big cities begin to appear in Mesopotamia.

"Nothing else on the scale of the underwater cities of Cambay is known. The first cities of the historical period are as far away from these cities as we are today from the pyramids of Egypt," he said.

That really set of the bullshit meter. Unusually for such a cultish subject, Wikipedia had a pretty good entry on this.

Marine archeology in the Gulf of Cambay - now known as the Gulf of Khambhat - centers around controversial findings made in December 2000 by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). The structures and artifacts discovered by NIOT are the subject of contention. The major disputes surrounding the Gulf of Khambhat Cultural Complex (GKCC) are claims about the existence of submerged city-like structures, the difficulty associating dated artifacts with the site itself, and disputes about whether stone artifacts recovered at the site are actually geofacts. One major complaint is that artifacts at the site were recovered by dredging, instead of being recovered during a controlled archeological excavation. This leads archeologists to claim that these artifacts cannot be definitively tied to the site. Because of this problem, prominent archeologists reject a piece of wood that was recovered by dredging and dated to 7500 B.C. as having any significance in dating the site. Another major issue is that no marine archeologist has actually inspected the site. All current research has been based on controversial sonar scans, and artifacts dredged from the sea bed.

I like unusual archeology as much as the next guy, but it works better if you can dig up some real cities.