Scientists have uncovered what might be an ancient, prehistoric city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The remote island of Pohnpei – within the island chain of Micronesia – is home to the archaeological site of Nan Madol, but very little is known about the ruins that lie there.
Satellite imagery discovered gigantic square blocks off the coast of the island. These square islands are remarkably similar and geometric in shape.
The ancient city seems to sit on top of a lagoon, with a series of canals and large stone walls surrounding them.
The ruins – which include walls 25 feet tall and 17 feet thick. They may date back to the first or second century AD, but nothing has been verified about Nan Madol.
Last year, Fox News published a report claiming the site might date back to around 1180. That was after researchers led by Marc McCoy of Southern Methodist University analyzed research of the island, but recent research indicates it might be much older.
Nan Madol is the largest archaeological site in Micronesia, which is 2500 miles from the Mainland US and 1500 miles from Australia.
The society that built the ruins may have operated a complex, hierarchical system, much like our society.
“The kind of society that we live in today, it wasn’t born last year, or even 100 years ago,” McCoy said.
“It has roots in a pre-modern era like Nan Madol where you have a king or chief. These islanders invented a new kind of society – that is a socially creative achievement,” he said.
“The idea of chiefs, someone in charge, is not a new thing, but it’s an extremely important precursor. We know tribes and bands predate chiefdoms and states. But it’s not a straight line. By looking at these intermediate stages we get insight into that social phenomenon.” The Daily Mail reports:
The team used uranium series dating, a method that’s far more precise than radiocarbon dating and allows researchers to analyze the region without destroying it.
They used an X-ray gun, a portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) to geochemically match basalt stones to natural sources on the island.
Dates were calculated based on the characteristics of the radioactive isotope thorium-230 and its radioactive parent uranium-234.
Combining the data with oral histories of the island, the team determined that the tomb acted as the resting place for the first chief.
The researchers say this analysis revealed that, by the year 1180, the huge stones were being transported from a volcanic plug on the opposite island to build the tomb.
By 1200, the island’s chief was buried.
The tomb was built using natural boulders of basalt, each weighing multiple tons.
These were transported from quarries to the other side of the island and dragged to an overgrown lagoon that stretches more than 205 acres.
Structures were built on top of 98 shallow artificial coral reef islets, which were constructed roughly three feet above the waterline using framing stones and crushed coral.
The largest structure, the tomb of the first Saudeleur, is 262 feet by 196 feet, roughly the size of a football field.
What an interesting discovery this is!