By Andrew Cawthorne
HAVANA (Reuters) - Scientific investigators said
on Friday they hope to better determine later this year if an
unusual rock formation deep off Cuba's coast could be a sunken city
from a previously unknown ancient civilization.
"These are extremely peculiar structures ... They
have captured all our imagination," Cuban geologist Manuel Iturralde
said at a conference after a week on a boat over the site.
"If I had to explain this geologically, I would
have a hard time," he told reporters later, saying examination of
rock samples due to be collected in a few months should shed further
light on the formation off the Guanahacabibes Peninsula on Cuba's
Iturralde, research director of Cuba's Natural
History Museum, has joined Canadian exploration company Advanced
Digital Communications (ADC) in efforts to solve the mystery of the
smooth, geometrically shaped, granite-like rocks. They are laid out
in structures resembling pyramids, roads and other structures at
more than 2,000 feet in a 7-3/4 mile-square area.
ADC has suggested they might belong to a
civilization that colonized the American continent thousands of
years ago, possibly sitting on an island that was sunk to great
depths by cataclysmic earth movement such as an earthquake.
That theory, and its inevitable parallel with the
myth of the lost city of Atlantis, has provoked skepticism from some
scientists around the world who say the depth and age -- ADC has
spoken of at least 6,000 years' old -- were not credible.
Some European archaeologists said the stones,
stumbled upon in July 2000 while ADC was hunting with sonar
equipment for treasure and sunken Spanish galleons, could be formed
by natural limestone.
But Iturralde's conclusion that there is no
immediately apparent natural explanation for the rocks has lent
credence to ADC's theory.
"NEED FOR OPEN MIND"
"It appears like there is some kind of intelligent
design in the structure's configuration and planning," ADC's
Soviet-born Canadian ocean engineer, Paulina Zelitsky, said on the
sidelines of the geophysical conference in Havana.
"I have worked in this field over 30 years and I
have never before seen natural structures shaped with such
intelligent symmetry and plan. From the very first moment, I was
suspecting that these structures were not natural."
While Iturralde gave evidence in his paper on
Friday for seismic movement at the site, and possible submerging of
the land, he drew short of definitively concluding the rocks were
not shaped by nature. If, however, that theory was proven, it would
revolutionize understanding of the history of the Americas, he told
"It would change a lot our knowledge of humans and
the evolution of the Americas," Iturralde said.
"Recently, a French archaeologist found some
evidence of people being here in South America 40,000 years ago,
something we never expect, so you need to be always open to things
that you are not expecting, that are not in the framework of
present-day knowledge ... We may have found something that nobody
has thought about."
ADC plans to take a specially designed robot to
the site in a few months to take samples of the rocks and the
sediment they are embedded in to try to date them and seek signs
they may have once been on dry land. They will also be searching for
any sign of human life such as drawings, sculptures or
"To drill samples from these structures is not
easy because they look like granite. And to drill granite at a depth
of 600 meters is very difficult," Zelitsky said.
She said their discoveries could make history. "I
think we are talking about the origins of the American continent.
There are many hypotheses about how the continent was colonized ...
There is quite a controversy, and I think our discovery will be the
first physical evidence of the true origins of developed
civilization in the Americas."