Yonaguni Monument | Throughout history civilizations have been born and lost countless times. In modern times through our accumulation of knowledge, we have tried to piece together a timeline of the rise and fall of civilizations. However, through new discoveries and the hard work of many researchers, anthropologists and archaeologists such as Graham Hancock more previously unknown civilizations are being looked at in a new light. One of these civilizations that have been gathering attention recently is the Yonaguni Monument on Okinawa Island in Japan’s southern islands, dubbed Japan’s Atlantis.
The Yonaguni Pyramid is located just offshore on the Southside of Yonaguni Island. Yonaguni-Jima is one of the Yaeyama Islands and the westernmost inhabited island of Japan. It is the last of the islands in the Ryukyu Islands chain, and lies 108 kilometres from the east coast of Taiwan, between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. During the last ice age, Yonaguni was part of the Chinese mainland. In the 12th century, it was incorporated to the Ryukyu Kingdom. By 1879, the island was formally incorporated into Japan. Until the early 20th century, Yonaguni was part of the larger Yaeyama village, which included the neighbouring Yaeyama Islands. In 1948, it became an independent village. From 1945 to 1972, it was occupied by the United States and was then returned to Japan to form a part of Okinawa Prefecture. When scuba diving instructor Kihachiro Aratake plunged into the water off the coast of the Japanese island of Yonaguni in 1986, he discovered an incredible sight.
Six meters below the surface lay a series of monoliths that he described as appearing to be “terraced into the side of a mountain”. The huge rectangular formations had strikingly perfect 90-degree angles, including straight walls, steps and columns. Over the following years, experts descended upon the site in a bid to determine whether the structure was natural or man-made. Yet to this day, it remains a great unsolved mystery.
Initially, it was proposed that the Yonaguni Monument was built when the area was above sea level some 10,000 years ago. So could ‘Japan’s Atlantis’ be a remnant of a preglacial civilization that was eventually inundated? Or could it be the result of an earthquake, putting it at 2000-3000 years old? Experts disagree. As the structure was mapped out over the following years, more details came to light. Divers found what appeared to be a huge arch, as well as temples, carvings, paved streets and a large pyramid-like structure measuring 76 meters long at its base. Other evidence that experts believe confirms it’s man-made include two round holes and a row of straight, smaller holes, which are interpreted as an attempt to split off a section of the rock.
Despite the unusual features displayed at Yonaguni, there remains a small group of scientists who have studied the formation and who are adamant that the large blocks formed naturally as a result of tectonic movement and other natural phenomena.
Geologist Robert Schoch of Boston University is one scientist who believes that the structures were naturally formed by acknowledges that they may have been used or modified by humans in the past. He points to the fact that the site lies in an earthquake-prone region and that earthquakes tend to fracture rocks in a regular manner. This is also the view of John Anthony West who believes that the so-called walls are simply natural horizontal ‘platforms’ which fell into a vertical position when rock below them eroded and the alleged roads are simply channels in the rock. Other examples of natural formations with flat faces and sharp, straight edges are the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway and the natural staircase formation on Old Rag Mountain.
Remnants of an Ancient Civilization?
Nevertheless, many scientists are persisting in their search for further evidence of their man-made nature with the belief that the stone structures are the remnants of an old city that must have existed around 10,000 years ago when the sea level was much lower than it is today since it does not appear that the site ‘fell’ into the sea. One proponent of this view is the explorer and researcher Graham Hancock who in his book titled Underworld writes: “It was the submerged structures of Japan that first awakened me to the possibility that an underworld in history, unrecognized by archaeologists, could lie concealed and forgotten beneath the sea” (Hancock 2002).
Hancock draws parallels between Yonaguni and other ruins found beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca and in Dwarka, off the coast of India, which offers further evidence for the existence of a vast underwater world containing structures stretching back to the dimmest chapters of human antiquity. If the structures at Yonaguni are indeed the remains of an ancient city, one possibility is the prehistoric inhabitants of Japan called the Jomon, who existed from about 12,000 BC to around 300 BC and who developed a sophisticated culture.
The Jomon is often compared to pre-Columbian cultures of Pacific Northwest North America because in both regions cultural complexity developed within a primarily hunting-gathering context. Although their society was considered ‘primitive’ by the standards of later times, they were the first culture on Earth to develop pottery, according to mainstream theorists. Examples of this technology date back to the time when many of the submerged structures of Yonaguni would have been above water, and if they were in fact built by human hands, this would have been the time that their construction was underway.
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