Just over a decade ago, a team of explorers were working on an exploration and survey mission off the western coast of Cuba when their sonar equipment picked up a perplexing series of stone structures lying some 650 metres below the surface. The structures appeared completely analogous against the barren ‘desert’ of the ocean floor and seemed to show symmetrically organized stones reminiscent of an urban development. A media flurry soon ensued with news sites sporting headlines such as ‘Atlantis Discovered in Cuba’ and ‘Lost City of the Caribbean Found’. However, the finding also attracted the attention of the government, national museum, and national geographic, who all made promises to investigate the strange sonar images. Now, ten years on, the story has disappeared into obscurity. What ever happened to the sunken ‘ruins’ of Cuba? Were they ever fully investigated? And why has the media fallen silent on this unusual discovery?
The discovery was first made in 2001 when Pauline Zalitzki, a marine engineer, and her husband Paul Weinzweig, owners of a Canadian company called Advanced Digital Communications (ADC), were working on a survey mission in conjunction with the Cuban government off the tip of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula in the Pinar del Río Province of Cuba. ADC was one of four firms working in a joint venture with President Fidel Castro’s government to explore Cuban waters, which hold hundreds of treasure-laden ships from the Spanish colonial era. The team was using advanced sonar equipment to scan a 2 square kilometre area of the sea floor when they noticed a series of symmetrical and geometric stone structures resembling an urban complex.
Map showing location of supposed ancient city discovered by Paul Weinzweig and Pauline Zalitzki. Image source.
Upon studying the sonar images, Zalitzki observed what appeared to be unusual formations of smooth blocks, crests, and geometric shapes. Some of the blocks looked like they were built in pyramid shapes, others were circular.
In July 2001, they returned to the site with geologist Manuel Iturralde, senior researcher of Cuba’s Natural History Museum, this time equipped with a Remotely Operated Vehicle to examine and film the structures. The images revealed large blocks of stone resembling hewn granite, measuring about 8 feet by 10 feet. Some blocks appeared deliberately stacked atop one another, others appeared isolated from the rest. Zalitzki said that the images appeared to reflect the ruins of a submerged city but was reluctant to draw any conclusions without further evidence.
“These are extremely peculiar structures, and they have captured our imagination,” said Iturralde, who has studied countless underwater formations. “But if I had to explain this geologically, I would have a hard time.”
Estimating that it would have taken 50,000 years for such structures to have sunken to the depth at which they were said to be found, Iturralde added “50,000 years ago there wasn’t the architectural capacity in any of the cultures we know of to build complex buildings.” A specialist in underwater archaeology at Florida State University added “It would be cool if they were right, but it would be real advanced for anything we would see in the New World for that time frame. The structures are out of time and out of place.”
Thanks to Ancient Origins for this article
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