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Okinawa may hold key to lost civilization

Date Posted: 1998-10-18

A few brave scientists and archeologists are taking bold steps in trying to study and piece together mysterious ruins, which could change history as we know it. One of these sites was identified off the coast of Yonaguni, the southern most island in the Ryukyu Archipelago. The area in question is actually located about ninety feet under the ocean's surface, and was first discovered in 1985 by Kihachiro Aratake, a local dive master. The finding went unnoticed to the scientific world for a number of years until Dr. Masaaki Kimura Ph.D., a professor from the University of the Ryukyus, began to study the site about ten years ago.

The underwater monument is approximately three hundred feet long, 100 feet wide, and seventy five feet tall at its highest point. It has many features that some researchers feel could not have been made by natural forces. Kimura supports the theory that the monument is manmade, and he believes it resembles some of the fourteenth and fifteenth century "gusuku" (castles) of Okinawa. What makes Kimura's theory so amazing, is that it would date the Yonaguni monument back to the last ice age, when the earth's sea level was much lower. The last time the structure would have been above the water would have been approximately 12,000 years ago.

From a historical point of view, a 12,000 year old manmade monument would be the oldest known structure built by man ever discovered. It would outdate the great pyramids of Egypt by almost 7,000 years. It would also mean the discovery of an ancient civilization previously unknown to the modern world, and would open new theories about how early humans migrated across the continents.

Recently, the Yonaguni monument was filmed by a group of American scientists from the "Team Atlantis" research expedition. They arrived in Okinawa on July 25 to study and film the Yonaguni monument, along with another separate site located off the coast of Chatan. The team completed their research and documentation over an approximate three week period. The research expedition was organized by Team Atlantis leader Michael Arbuthnot, a young scientist from California.

Arbuthnot, who was already involved with underwater archeology, first heard about the monument in 1997 while giving a lecture on research he was doing about archeology in Egypt. He further investigated the Yonaguni site through the internet and was quite impressed by photographs he found through his search. After finishing an underwater archeology field school in the Mediterranean, Arbuthnot returned to California and met Pierce Hoover, Editor of "Sport Diver" magazine. The two discussed the possibility of working on some future projects, and Arbuthnot jumped at the chance to make the Yonaguni site a priority. He began to put together a research team for the project, first trying to persuade scientists, film production companies, and financial sponsors the scientific importance behind doing such an expedition. He was able to recruit the talents of documentary film producer Boris Said, who was awarded an Emmy for his production of "Mystery of the Sphinx". Vince Pace, whose "Pace Technologies" company worked on films such as "Titanic" and "The Abyss", supplied the underwater lighting and camera expertise. Geologists Dr. Masaaki Kimura (original researcher of the site) and Dr. Robert Schoch of Boston University came aboard, as well as underwater archeologist Dr. John T. Dorwin of Ball state University and Dr. James J. Hurtak, President of the Academy for Future Sciences. Kihachiro Aratake, who first discovered the monument, also joined the team.

On the first dive at the Yonaguni site, Arbuthnot was not completely sure of Kimura's theory, but after diving the Chatan site his feelings began to change. "There is extremely similar architecture, which is very curious. I was more convinced of human modification at Yonaguni after seeing the Chatan site," he said.

After surveying both sites and studying their unique features, he believes the Yonaguni monument was "modified" - meaning the original stone structure was shaped by humans. "One of the things we did is survey the natural geology around the site, but it does not have the same homogeneous look, which leads you to believe the possibility of the monument having been modified by humans is very high," he said.

"There are also many parts of the monument that when looked at make it hard to believe they were formed by natural forces. There is what I call a cleat located on one part of the site. The easiest way to explain it, is that there is a piece of rock that appears to be carved out from another rock. We used it to moor our boat. It looked very much as though it was modified," he explained. "Dr. John Dorwin also believes that two large platforms we saw are what looks to be like boat moorings. There are steps with wave action-cuts just below indicating water level, which seem to indicate that it was an area where boats could have pulled up to."

Arbuthnot believes that the findings are not some mystical, bizarre discovery, but that they do support his belief in the theory that a transpacific migration to the Americas was more likely than the current belief that humans made their way across the Bering Strait. He states the similarities between many archeological finds in South America, which seem to be connected to the "Jomon" civilization in Japan. "The Jomon, which inhabited Japan 12,000 years ago and possibly up to 20,000 years ago, are connected with the "Ainu" of northern Japan and with the people of the Ryukyu Islands. They were also the first civilization to have made pottery. A Smithsonian research team found pottery in Ecuador in the 1970's with striking similarities." He also explained that there have been discoveries in both South America and North America of ancient human skulls and bones with closer similarities to the "Jomon" people than that of native American Indians.

"There is much evidence which supports a theory that humans first migrated to South America, and then pushed their way up to North America," he said. "During this time period, the ocean's low sea levels would have made the furthest distance between any two major land areas at only 120 miles, making it very possible for an ocean crossing. You would have been able to see another continent on a clear day."

Although the theory of a transpacific crossing is not widely excepted, new evidence such as two villages discovered on the Pacific rim of Peru, estimated to be 12,000 years old with strong maritime cultures, will open discussion and debate over the issue. If the work of Dr. Kimura and "Team Atlantis" prove to be what they believe are indeed the ruins of an ancient civilization not yet discovered, Okinawa could be a link to many mysteries yet unsolved.

To view the amazing underwater photos of the Yonaguri Expedition, please visit Team Atlantis at: http://www.teamatlantis.com.

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