Lost Cities Underwater Are Actually Pretty Common and That Should Scare You

The Lost City of Atlantis–the famous city in Plato’s writing that plummeted into the ocean as a punishment from the gods for its greed and materialism- might very well be a myth (sorry, Plato) but historically, this idea is actually not that farfetched. In fact, this has been pretty common throughout history. As the search for the lost city continues, archeologists are picking up clues to its geographical location–or at least, its supposed location.

Throughout the course of humanity, we’ve discovered the existence of many lost, underwater cities. Not only that, but many sites were intentionally sunk for urban expansion–and not that long ago.

Whether through natural phenomena, or by the hand of humanity, sinking cities are an inevitability with the direction that the world is headed in environmentally. This is something to take into consideration as sea levels rise due to the acceleration of climate change as a result of mass oil drilling, pollution, and overproduction. Cities like New York City, Amsterdam, Venice, Houston, and more are already becoming submerged as the global temperature and sea levels rise.

Let’s take a look at a fraction of the lost and sunken cities that we already know about leagues under the sea, as well as the villages and cities that were intentionally flooded for economic expansion and overdevelopment.

Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt

This Greek and Egyptian Port City predated Alexandria and was destroyed by a tremor some time in the second century BC. It was rediscovered on the ocean floor along with a potpourri of treasures in the early 2000s! In its prime (and prior to being eclipsed by Alexandria), it was known to be an epicenter for trade!

Shichang –Lion City in Zhejiang, China

Lion City in Zhejiang, China coined the nickname of “China’s Atlantis”. Oddly enough, it was intentionally flooded to make way for what is now known as Qiandao Lake, and now sits at the bottom of that very same lake, preserved, and in good condition. The sculptures are actually approximately 1300 years old.

Yonaguni Monument

This is a mysterious monument that was discovered in the 1980s near Ryukyu and has remained a controversial discovery since. Archeologists and geologists both are unclear of its origins. This archeological site was discovered by accident by Kihachiro Aratake, just off the coast of Yonaguni Jima Island. 35 meters under the ocean surface is a series of tablets, carvings, temples, and rock structures that are evidence of an ancient civilization.

Port Royal, Jamaica

Port Royal was once a bustling city with historical links to piracy. Due to an earthquake that was followed by a hurricane, the city sank to the bottom of the ocean within minutes–or at least two thirds did.  Attempts are being made to rescue the city and uncover the history of the “wickedest” city in Jamaica.

Dwarka, India

The lost city of Dwarka is a continued exploration. While it has not been found, archeologists, according to UNESCO, have recovered artifacts and remains. They also unearthed the foundation with which its walls were built. Historically, this city was said to be the “mighty kingdom of Krishna“.

Mediano, Aceredo and other Spanish Municipalities

Spain has had many municipalities go under-so to speak- due to the construction of reservoirs. These villages were flooded years ago. Aceredes recently resurfaced. Mediano, however, can be seen with its church tower just poking above water level.

The St. Lawrence Seaway in Ontario Canada

The St. Lawrence Seaway in Ottawa is comprised of 10 Canadian villages that went underwater during the construction of the waterway in 1958. A museum exists in their memory in Ontario, Canada to preserve the history. Isle Royale, a fort that also was overtaken by the waterway, also existed prior to their submergence.

Kalyazin, Russia

This city was also not that long ago submerged and was primarily known for its trade up until 1917. In the early 1920s, many cities, along with this one, were flooded. Accordingly, it was eventually overtaken by a huge reservoir with nothing left of it except its bell tower to remind us of its history.

Pavlopetri, Greece

Pavliopetri actually sunk due to a flood that occurred 5,000 years ago. It is a remarkable discovery because the city is more or less complete and intact. Archeologists discovered it in the 1960s complete with “streets, buildings, gardens, tombs and what looks like a religious complex,” according to Jon Henderson from University of Nottingham.

Untitled Underwater Pyramids of Cuba

Just off the coast of Cuba, underwater ruins were detected using sonar technology and they contained several pyramid structures and manmade hallways. It is a series of geometrical building structures lying on the ocean floor in a section of Cuba’s seafloor that is supposedly barren and dessert-like. They were discovered by marine engineers, Pauline Zalitzki and Paul Weinzweig in 2001. Little information has been uncovered on whose they were or what they are exactly.

They remain just off the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, 700 meters down and allegedly, these structures with deliberately placed stone would’ve taken 50,000 years to sink. These strange formations are remarkably stand-out and continue to puzzle engineers, geologists and archeologists. Thus, they have yet to be named. Many have floated theories of this being “Plato’s Atlantis”, though this is highly unlikely.

Strangely, the ruins don’t meet the requirements for a sunken city. Yet, they also do not meet the requirements of a natural phenomenon from a geological perspective. As a result, there is little information on how they came to be as well as whose they were.

Perfectly Symmetrical Pyramid Buried in the Ice of Antarctica

Ice pyramids are not uncommon in the arctic as they are naturally recurring and generally take on a more natural shape…except this one that was found in 2016.

This strange structure puzzled scientists as it had a perfectly square base and four distinct sides, jutting out of the ice. After some research and drilling, scientists were determined to understand whether or not this continent could have been habitable by humans and found over 60 plants like those found in a rainforest.  It was determined that in spite of Antarctica’s climate, it could still be a habitable continent.

No more information has been uncovered on the discovery of this pyramid. Theories from early human civilizations to extraterrestrial contact have been floated and the archeological study continues. Seeing as Antarctica is still being discovered and studied… there is too little information to draw any conclusions.

This list is but a fraction of the many underwater cities that exist to date.

We often approach the notion of “lost cities” as though it is a majestic and exciting premise for a film. We love seeing adventures like those of Lara Croft, escaping the collapsed remains of an ancient temple somewhere in a sea cave near Santorini. The existence of any lost and sunken city, however, is not as cinematic as we believe.

With so much evidence and archeological sites of cities underwater and lost civilizations, we ought to apply what we know onto subjects such as climate change and overdevelopment. Land that sinks is actually a natural phenomena, as it is.

Unfortunately though, human practices such as environmental pollution, drilling for oil and the consequences that our over expansion for the sake of consumerism has on the rising global temperature, and the rising sea level are all accelerating this process… and this is something to pay very close attention to.

With the rate of climate change and global warming, the idea of our great, great, great grandchildren scuba diving through the ruins of New York, Bangkok, Amsterdam, New Orleans, Houston, Venice, and more seems like it could be plausible, unless we take a more active stance in the fight against climate change and mitigate our rising sea level.

We may never find Atlantis–the city who’s alleged vanity led to its collapse–, but based on science, hubris and what history has shown us, we might follow in its footsteps.

…But to end on a high note as well as indulge any Plato readers and archeologists alike, here are some updates on the  search for the infamous Lost City of Atlantis as well as the latest technology being used to scan the ocean:

What we know, if there is an Atlantis, it is most likely somewhere close to the shores of Andalucia, Spain or Morocco– just along the straights of Gibraltar. Archeologists are currently using ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) to scan the straits using sonar (sound waves and mapping) technology. They detected a subduction zone (an area that exists between tectonic plates). For any readers who are unfamiliar with the volatility of areas that exist at the merging of tectonic plates, think: earthquakes and natural disasters. This location would also fit with the descriptions of those who first referenced Atlantis in their philosophical musings.

This strait in particular, scientifically, is actually part of where some of the biggest earthquakes strike due to the tectonic plates just below…and so it seems that straits always get a bad rep… especially in mythology (think about all the ships Scylla and Charybdis swallowed in the Strait of Sicily).

The discovery of an island and debris that was found on the surrounding lands suggest that earlier lost civilizations did reside in this region of the world. Nevertheless, the search and excavation efforts continue. Hopefully, someday, proof of Atlantis’s existence… or at least what we find in its search, could maybe help us to not one day become it!

Madrid-based traveler, visual and performing artist, and content writer.

1 comments On Lost Cities Underwater Are Actually Pretty Common and That Should Scare You

  • Light Shines Love

    Pyramids off the coast of Cuba!? Ice pyramids? Wow! Had no idea those existed. Thanks for this article. Super informative. I like that you started it off with Thonis-Heracleion. I remember seeing the reports of Aceredes. Dwarka looks so cool.

    Personally I think underwater cities are a certainty. Hurts to say. But with the rising sea level and rapidly melting ice reserves, we’ll see it relatively soon. You’re spot on too. Hubris will guide us right there. Peace!

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