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Lost under the Sea - Titbits
2063    Dibyendu Banerjee    02/06/2019

The ancient city of Atlantis, lost under the sea, is considered only a mythical story. However, it is a fact that since time unknown, many cities were submerged by the sea. Apart from that, in modern times, some cities or areas were deliberately submerged to make for new constructions.

Dwarka, Gulf Of Cambay, India

Dwarka, Gulf Of Cambay, India

According to Hindu legend, the ancient city of Dwarka was the capital of Lord Krishna that was deluged after his death. Strangely, exploration conducted by the National Oceanic Technology in the Gulf of Cambay waters in December 2000 revealed sandstone walls, a grid of streets and some evidence of a sea port about seventy feet under the water. During exploration, sampling was also carried out, which included Mesolithic stone tools and a few Paleolithic macro stone tools, apart from beads made of semiprecious stones, brick pieces, hearth material, a variety of pottery pieces, wattle and daub structure materials, corals, perfectly holed stones, fossilized human remains and human teeth.

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It proves that, there were many Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic stone-age cultures in India, but none of them have any remote resemblance to the type of civilization found in the sites of Harappa. It is possible that the missing link between the two has been submerged due to major sea level rise caused by melting of the ice-sheets. It may be noted here that even today, there are about 500 Harappan and pre-Harappan settlements in Gujarat of which about 258 are located in the peripheral areas of the Gulf of Cambay. It is not impossible that, the ancients after the catastrophe and submergence of those areas in the Gulf of Cambay have spread out all over Gujarat and then to the surrounding areas to establish a continuing and evolving civilization of Harappan type.

Dwarka, Gulf Of Cambay, India

Cleopatra’s Heracleion, Egypt

Cleopatra Heracleion, Egypt

Before it sank more than a millennium ago, the city of Heracleion, home of the temple where Cleopatra was crowned, was one of the most important trade centres in the Mediterranean. Much like the mythical city of Atlantis, the city of Heracleion was also believed to be a myth for centuries. Fortunately, an underwater archaeologist searching for French warships accidentally stumbled across the sunken city in 2001.

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After the careful removal of the century old layers of silt, the extraordinarily well preserved city was uncovered with many of its treasures still intact. The treasure trove included, among others, the main temple of Amun-Gereb, which was the central point of the city of Heracleion, from which a Venetian web of canals and channels connected the other parts of the city. Before being brought ashore, three gigantic statues of Hapi, Osiris and Isis were reassembled on the seabed, 150 feet (50 m) below the surface. Apart from that, hundreds of smaller statues of gods and goddesses, a sphinx, numbers of ancient ships and anchors, stone blocks with both Greek and Ancient Egyptian inscriptions, dozens of sarcophagi, gold coins and weights made from bronze and stone were also found.

Cleopatra Heracleion, Egypt

According to the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus, the great temple was built on the site, where Heracles first set foot on to Egypt and it was named after him. It is also said that, before the legendary Trojan War, Helen of Troy visited Heracleion with her lover Paris. However, there was concrete evidence regarding the existence of the city and until its discovery, Heracleion had been just a myth, a legendary place.

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It is considered by many that the city was destroyed by a series of natural disasters, including at least one major earthquake. Probably, the harbour area was destroyed and sunk beneath the rising sea, centuries before the suburb area of Canopus. Over a thousand years ago, it simply disappeared almost without a reference from the historical record.

Cleopatra Heracleion, Egypt

Lion City of Qiandao Lake, China

Lion City of Qiandao Lake, China

Probably built during the Eastern Han Dynasty around AD 25–200 and first set up as a county in AD 208, Lion City was once known as the flourishing city of Shi Cheng. It was considerably a big city, possibly to cover around 62 football fields in the area and consisting of having 265 arches throughout the city. The city had the unique feature of having five city gates, as opposed to the prevailing norm of four.

The city was intentionally submerged in 1959, to create Xin’an River hydroelectric station and is now lying submerged in a lake, known as the Qiandao Lake, at the foot of the Wu Shi Mountain (Five Lion Mountain). Qiandao Lake, a sprawling body of fresh water covering 573 sq. km, is also known as the Thousand Island Lake, as it contains over a thousand islands in its body.

Much of the ancient city still remains intact under the lake, with many of its structures, carvings, guardian lions, and arches. Today, necessary measures are being taken to protect the remains of the ancient city to prevent further damage. Regarded as one of the most beautiful underwater wonders of the world, it was declared as historical relics under the protection of the Zhejiang Province in January 2011.

Lion City of Qiandao Lake, China

Pavlopetri, Greece

Pavlopetri, Greece

Situated in shallow water between the beach of Pouda, near Neapoli and the islet of Pavlopetri, opposite the island of Elafonisos, the submerged town on of Pavlopetri is estimated as one of the oldest known submerged cities in the world. The name Pavlopetri is the modern name of the islet and the beach, apparently named after the two Christian saints, Paul and Peter and nobody is aware of its ancient name.

It is estimated that the ancient city was sunk in around 1000 BC due to earthquakes that shifted the land. The exploration revealed main streets, at least 15 buildings, a plaza measuring about 40x20 m, temples, a cemetery and also a complex water management system including channels and water pipes. Apart from shards of pottery, ceramic pots were also found, in which the inhabitants of Pavlopetri used to store their food. The discovery of a large number of weights used in weaving looms indicates that the inhabitants of the lost city could even produce textiles.

Pavlopetri, Greece
Ghenizah in Cairo The first Bengali Cabaret Dancer
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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