Natural or Man-Made?
“The largest structure looks like a complicated, monolithic, stepped pyramid that rises from a depth of 25 meters [82 feet],” Kimura told National Geographic News in a 2007 interview.
Over the years, he has created a detailed picture of this ancient site and has found many similarities between the underwater structures and archaeological sites on land.
For example, a semicircular cut in a rock platform matches a castle entrance in ruins on land. Nakagusuku Castle of Okinawa has a perfect semicircular entrance typical of gusuku (castles) of the Ryukyu Dynasty from the 13th century.
Two underwater megaliths—huge, 6-meter-tall, upright standing-stones positioned next to each other—also have similarities to twinned megaliths in other parts of Japan, such as Mt. Nabeyama in Gifu Prefecture.
But many scholars argue that all such structures are natural formations shaped by the actions of waves on the rocks over thousands of years.
Boston University geologist Robert M. Schoch, known for his work on re-dating the Sphinx to a much earlier age, has varied in his opinion of the Yonaguni structures. Initially, he thought the platforms and terrace-like structures were entirely natural formations after making a few dives at the site.
Schoch took some rock samples and analysis showed they were mud and sandstones from the formation called the Lower Miocene Yaeyama Group, which was deposited some 20 million years ago.
Kimura acknowledges that the basic rock structure is natural, but asserts that it has been “terraformed” by humans. For instance, two pairs of steps rising from the “main terrace” to the “upper terrace” are hard to explain by natural erosive forces.
Kimura also points out that rubble and lose blocks are not found at the base of many of the structures, or in the rock-cut channels, which would be expected if they had been produced by natural erosion.
Following later dives, Schoch agreed that: “We should also consider the possibility that the Yonaguni Monument is fundamentally a natural structure that was utilized, enhanced, and modified by humans in ancient times,” he wrote in an article in 1999.
Ancient and modern civilizations have utilized natural rock formations for a variety of purposes. The best example is the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt that is carved out of the “living bedrock;” others include the temples of Petra in Jordan and Mahabalipuram in south India.
Many structures have been discovered as researchers and divers keep exploring. One has the shape of a seated statue, similar to the Sphinx.
“One example I have described as an underwater sphinx resembles a Chinese or ancient Okinawan king,” Kimura told National Geographic.
This enigmatic carved structure is now called “the goddess rock,” and was discovered at a depth of about 50 feet. Looking closely, you can make out a worn headpiece and long arms like those of the Egyptian Sphinx.
Also discovered is a large round rock resembling a human face. In a similar tradition to the “Moai” figures of the Easter Islands off Chile, this giant head is resting on the ground, perhaps gazing out at a distant skyline. Some believe this figurehead forms a virtual axis or a focal point. Alternatively, it could be a legendary Atlas giant that glorified this lost city.
Several divers and researchers have noted script-like carvings on rock surfaces around the monument, and some have claimed to see animals carved in rocks.
Stone tablets recovered from the vicinity, one known as the “Okinawa Rosetta Stone,” are engraved with symbols that are similar to Egyptian hieroglyphics. The message has not been deciphered, but could be the story of the lost city as the pyramid symbol is repeatedly engraved.
Stone tools have also been recovered from the waters nearby.
The submarine pyramid and other relics discovered at Yonaguni could offer tantalizing proof of a sophisticated civilization that existed during the last ice age.
Most archaeologists believe that human civilization arose about 5,000 years ago, but a small yet persuasive number of experts think that “advanced” societies may have existed as long as 10,000 years ago and were wiped out in some sort of catastrophes
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