A lost city may have been found beneath 2,300 feet of water off the coast of Cuba, in an area just recently opened to exploration by the Cuban government.
Several foreign companies have joined together with the Cuban government to begin a systematic search of the area. ?It?s a new frontier,? says Paulina Zelitsky, of the Canadian company Advanced Digital Communications. ?We are discovering the influence of currents on global climate, volcanoes, the history of formation of Caribbean islands, numerous historic wrecks and even possibly a sunken city built in the pre-classic period and populated by an advanced civilization similar to the early Teotihuacan culture of Yucatan.?
However, because of the depth of the find, it may be far, far older than would seem possible based on current theories. Unless there was dramatic and as yet unrecorded geologic activity in the area, the city may have been submerged for ten thousand years or more.
This is the same company that recently discovered the remains of the U.S. battleship ?The Maine? that mysteriously blew up in 1898, killing 260 American sailors and touching off the Spanish-American war. They have also been exploring a string of underwater volcanoes about 5,000 feet deep off Cuba?s western tip, where millions of years ago a strip of land once joined the Island to Mexico?s Yucatan Peninsula.
Using sonar equipment, researchers have discovered a huge land plateau at a depth of about 2,200 feet, with clear images of what appears to be urban development partly covered by sand. From above, the shapes resemble pyramids, roads and buildings. A joint investigation with the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Geographic Society is planned for this summer.
?It is stunning,? says Zelitsky. ?What we see in our high-resolution sonar images are limitless, rolling, white sand plains and, in the middle of this beautiful, white sand, there are clear manmade large-size architectural designs. It looks like when you fly over an urban development in a plane and you see highways, tunnels and buildings.
?We don?t know what it is and we don?t have videotaped evidence of this yet, but we do not believe that nature is capable of producing planned symmetrical architecture, unless it is a miracle.?
They have also located 700 sites where historic wrecks are thought to lie and have recently videotaped and identified 3 of them as large, 17th century ships with valuable cargo. Any treasure they find will help to finance their project. Says Zelitsky, ?Our agenda is much broader. We are very anxious about global environmental changes. Archaeology is providing us with the means to conduct broader scientific exploration.?
Due to the U.S. embargo of Cuba, U.S. companies are prohibited from participating in the exploration. The foreign companies working with Cuba are Canadian, French and South African. Each has been assigned an area of water to search and each will share the profits on any treasure they find with the Cuban government, which does not have the money or the technology to do the exploration by itself.
?As you know, we have financing problems,? says Eddy Fernandez of the Cuban company Geomar. ?This is a very expensive study. They give us technology and financing. We provide historical and ocean expertise. These projects are very important in helping us rescue things from history, which contribute to our national patrimony.?
The other Canadian company working on the project, Visa Gold, has already brought up 7,000 artifacts, including jewelry, diamonds and pistols from a ship called the ?Palemon? that sank in 1839 off Cuba?s northern coast. Their next target is the ?Atocha y San Jose,? which sank in Havana Bay in 1642. Visa Gold combines sea exploration with research, checking archives in Spain and elsewhere to find out roughly where ships went down.
?I know of about 1,600 boats from the 16th to the 20th century that went down here,? says Cuban naval historian Cesar Garcia del Pino. ?Those that came from Europe were full of merchandise and those leaving from America were carrying the products of the region?gold, silver and so on. I consider the historical value greater than the commercial value because a sunken boat is a time capsule.?
?They say there is 3 trillion dollars worth of treasure lying on the bottom of the Caribbean, and a good part of that is near to Cuba, because a good part of the wealth of the world came through Cuba,? says ADC representative Paul Weinzweig. ?But you have to bear in mind that it is ill-gotten wealth. A lot of it is the result of rape and pillage of New World colonies.?
Thanks to Wadespage for Bimini Road photo.
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