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Another Underwater City in India

Explorers believe they have discovered remains of another city submerged off the coast of India. In January scientists announced the discovery of an ancient city 120 feet under the sea in the Gulf of Khambhat in northwest India, which could be one of the oldest cities known. Fragments of pottery, carved wood, bone and beads from there have been dated to more than 9,000 years old.

Now an expedition from the Scientific Exploration Society and India?s National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has discovered ruins off the coast of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu at depths of 16 to 23 feet. According to ancient legends, this newly-discovered city was swallowed up by the sea about 2,000 years ago. Legends say there was once a great city containing seven temples that was so beautiful that jealous gods sent a flood to engulf it.

Author Graham Hancock joined the expedition. He has been studying underwater cities for 10 years and believes this new discovery supports his theory that complex civilizations existed in the Ice Age but were wiped out when the ice melted, submerging 15 million square miles of land. He?s convinced the city is the same as the one referred to in the legend.

A spokeswoman for the Scientific Exploration Society says, ?Southern India has a big tradition of myth that large areas were inundated by the sea. It?s difficult to tell how old the site is. The NIO has said it is 1,500 to 2,000 years old. The ruins include walls, steps and stone blocks. The structures have been severely damaged over the years but are clearly man-made.?

To see photo of the underwater city, click here.

To see news story about the underwater city discovered in northwest India, ?Another Submerged City?, click here.

Tim Cornwell of The Scotsman newspaper reports that close to the bottom of an excavation almost 100 feet deep, archaeologists exploring a villa buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD have found two huge doors of carbonized wood.

Scholars say that behind these doors could be a lost treasure trove of Roman scrolls, part of the famous lost library of the Villa of the Papyri. However, this unique chance to recover great classical masterpieces, lost to humanity for 2,000 years, could fail if there?s more flooding or a new eruption of the Vesuvius volcano. The leading classics scholars in Britain and the United States are pleading for urgent action before it is too late. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, but with earthquakes in Naples in 1980, the risk of further eruptions is considered high.

The Villa of the Papyri is described as one of the greatest Roman villas discovered in the world. It was a centerpiece of the ancient city of Herculaneum, which was a luxury seaside resort for the nearby city of Pompeii. In 79 AD, the volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii bought terror and death to Herculaneum as well. A blast of gas at almost 700 degrees Fahrenheit swept through the city. It turned bread sitting on tables to carbon, as well as buildings and people, and did the same thing to the villa?s precious books. Herculaneum was buried under 65 feet of volcanic mud, which hardened to the consistency of soft rock, and was capped by the lava from later eruptions.

The villa was first discovered by well-diggers in the Bay of Naples more than 200 years ago. Early excavations dating back to the 1790s, much of it funded by George IV turned up what were first thought to be sticks of charcoal. On closer inspection, they turned out to be scrolls that had been turned to charcoal in the blast of the volcano?s heat. Eventually they were partly unrolled. The heat that had seemed to destroy them had actually preserved them.

The work of picking out the charred ink of Latin and Greek began with early magnifying glasses. It picked up in the 1990s with multi-spectral imaging technology, first developed by NASA to study minerals on the surfaces of other planets. Scientists at Brigham Young University in Utah, working with staff at the National Library in Naples, have continued to decipher writings from more than 10,000 fragments, painstakingly unrolling and reading the scrolls.

Most have turned out to be works of Greek philosophy, including writings of Epicurus that had been missing for more than 2,000 years. But it is what lies hidden that is tantalizing to scholars. Early digs discovered only one level of the villa, but later excavations have shown there are at least four more levels.

?They have discovered these huge doors on the second level,? says Francesca Auricchio, the archaeologist leading the dig. ?They have small round windows, closed by glass, which was very precious. This means it was a very important part of the house.?

Investigation of a small area behind the doors suggests the rooms there are rich in paintings, statues, and mosaics, Auricchio says. But far more compelling is the possibility of finding copies of Virgil?s Aeneid, missing volumes of Livy?s History of Rome, or lost works by Sophocles or even Aristotle. The Villa of the Papyri has already yielded nearly 2,000 scrolls, but most of the only intact Roman library left in the world may lie undiscovered.

?People are very concerned to save this thing,? says Richard Janko, professor of Greek at University College, London. He?s one of eight scholars who signed a letter pleading for the ?vital excavations? at the villa to go ahead.

?Flooding now poses a grave danger to the building and its contents,? the letter warns. ?The excavation must be completed, and the building preserved. Most importantly the books must be brought to light.?

Many of the original scrolls turned up in boxes, with some scattered across the villa?s garden. This means the inhabitants of the house may have made a desperate attempt to save some of the precious library as the volcano exploded?or scrolls could have been routinely moved from a storage area to a reading room.

Professor Janko says, ?The reason we feel this site is special, is that it is the only place in the ancient world where we know that a library was buried in conditions that preserved it. We have lots of ancient buildings, but a limited number of ancient works of literature, and this is the place we are most likely to find them.?

To learn how the inhabitants of these cities may have coped with disaster, read ?Catastrophobia? by Barbara Hand Clow,click here.

NOTE: This news story, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.


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