Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • ♪ ♪

  • NARRATOR: Lost civilizations. Mysterious sunken cities.

  • And legendary Atlantis itself.

  • Vanished beneath the waves.

  • PATRICK: There is a huge amount of unrecorded human history beneath the

  • ocean's surface that we don't know very much about at all.

  • NARRATOR: Imagine if we could empty the oceans, letting the water drain away

  • to reveal the secrets of the sea floor.

  • Now we can, using the latest underwater technology.

  • Piercing the deep oceans and turning accurate data into 3D images.

  • Is this a huge underwater temple carved by a mysterious lost civilization?

  • NARRATOR: Why are these perfectly circular stones

  • lying at the bottom of a bay in the Aegean Sea?

  • SIMON: There are shapes on the seabed that just don't make sense.

  • NARRATOR: Are these just rocks, or the remains of an ancient city?

  • JON (over radio): Parts of this are just beginning to be revealed for the first time.

  • Wow.

  • NARRATOR: And is the real site of Atlantis finally about to be revealed?

  • -People want to believe in places like Atlantis.

  • They want to believe in other worlds.

  • (waves crashing)

  • NARRATOR: Stories of sunken cities have fascinated for millennia.

  • The most tantalizing of all: Atlantis.

  • First described by ancient philosopher, Plato, a dazzling civilization

  • destroyed by the gods as punishment for human pride.

  • -People connect to that story, and it's because of this idea of an ancient civilization,

  • a utopia, that we've evolved from.

  • NARRATOR: 2,000 years later, the idea of Atlantis

  • continues to fascinate A-list archaeologists.

  • And the producers of B-list movies.

  • MAN (over TV): Atlantis is the story of those who, like today,

  • would use the marvels of science to conquer and enslave.

  • Atlantis, a world that worships strange gods of science,

  • of science, a science gone berserk.

  • -Plato would have loved this okay?

  • He would have had a great time.

  • He would have said, 'at last, you know, people are listening to me.

  • People are taking my story seriously.'

  • And he would have enjoyed this immensely.

  • NARRATOR: Using science, not science fiction, draining the oceans

  • exposes new evidence about Atlantis.

  • And other stories of great sunken cities, around the world.

  • As the waters recede from around the remote Japanese island of Yonaguni,

  • a mysterious formation begins to appear.

  • Could it be the creation of an advanced, ancient people?

  • Yonaguni lies in the East China Sea.

  • The waters here are perilous.

  • Schools of hammerhead sharks patrol, amid powerful currents.

  • Typhoons frequently batter the island.

  • For divers, it's the ultimate challenge.

  • Kihachiro Aratake is one of the pioneers of diving here.

  • KIHACHIRO: The water was crystal clear.

  • I felt as though I was looking down from the seabed from the sky.

  • NARRATOR: Searching for a new dive site, he makes a startling discovery.

  • -I saw a steps-like formation, like terraced fields.

  • I thought for a moment it was similar to the Machu Picchu ruins.

  • So, I named the spot the submarine ruins.

  • NARRATOR: It's an extraordinary spectacle.

  • The size of five football fields.

  • Smooth-sided walls rise up to the summit, the height of an eight-story building.

  • Flights of stone steps climb up from the base.

  • And on every side, the shapes and forms are strikingly regular.

  • -It can't be formed naturally, without human involvement.

  • It couldn't be like that.

  • NARRATOR: So, what could it be?

  • It's impossible to investigate the structure fully by diving.

  • The only way is to conduct a survey using the latest scanning technology.

  • HIRONOBU: Although the shallow waters around Yonaguni Island are close to human habitation,

  • we don't know much about them.

  • It's an unknown frontier.

  • NARRATOR: Using sonar scans, Hironobu Kan records a

  • complete digital map of the sea floor.

  • Using this data, it's possible, for the very first time,

  • to drain away the waters and reveal what lies beneath in exact detail.

  • The summit of the mysterious structure begins to appear.

  • (waves crashing)

  • Water pours off its smooth terraced layers, exposing them once again to the sky.

  • And with the monument left high and dry, its true scale becomes clear.

  • Vast, imposing and spectacular.

  • The incredible discovery attracts worldwide attention.

  • Divers, journalists and TV crews flock to Yonaguni, all asking:

  • what could this mysterious structure be?

  • And scientists come here too.

  • Among them is Professor Masaaki Kimura, one of Japan's top marine geologists.

  • KIMURA: When I dived underwater to explore it I felt right away that it must

  • be a man-made structure.

  • NARRATOR: He finds several features that he believes indicate human activity.

  • -Here, you'll see something that looks like the front gate of a castle.

  • It's like a tunnel, and you go through it.

  • NARRATOR: On the far side of the tunnel, a road loops around to a flight of steps.

  • Watched over by two mysterious stone objects.

  • -There are mound-like bulges here and here, and if you look at them,

  • you'll find turtles with their necks extended, on both sides.

  • NARRATOR: According to ancient Japanese folklore, the dragon god, Ryujin,

  • lives in an underwater palace, watched over by turtles.

  • To Professor Kimura, this indicates that the monument

  • is so important it needs guarding.

  • And that's not all.

  • -If you go up this path you get to this place.

  • This portion is triangular.

  • That's why it's called the triangle pool.

  • Since this is fairly big and shallow as well, you can relax in it.

  • Also, the sea surface is very close to it and it's warm due to the sunlight.

  • You feel chilly after you come out of the deeper area down there,

  • and you can warm up here.

  • NARRATOR: But the monument's most striking feature is its wide, flat terraces,

  • Large enough to support thousands of people.

  • Professor Kimura believes the gateway, stairs, turtles and terraces

  • all point towards one purpose.

  • -Judging from its shape, I think they used it as a castle.

  • NARRATOR: But to prove his theory, Professor Kimura needs more:

  • the artifacts of those who once lived here.

  • He scours the structure looking for clues, and

  • discovers what look like primitive tools.

  • Then, hidden behind one of the great walls, the most remarkable find of all.

  • -Look at this, a symbol is inscribed here and here's a hole.

  • Probably, they hung this article like this.

  • And here's something looking like a letter.

  • Maybe it could be a kind of a talisman to protect people from evil.

  • NARRATOR: For Professor Kimura, the case is closed.

  • The artifacts and the monument's regular shapes prove that humans lived here,

  • 8,000 years ago.

  • After that, rising sea levels claim the territory of this lost race of master builders.

  • But is that the real story of Yonaguni?

  • NARRATOR: Professor Kimura believes that this extraordinary structure

  • off the coast of Japan is a gigantic castle, built long before the pyramids of Egypt

  • by a mysterious lost civilization.

  • But is it?

  • With the water drained away, it's possible to scrutinize the monument in forensic detail.

  • The edges appear regular and straight, as if made from blocks carved by human hand.

  • But closer examination reveals something else.

  • The surfaces are smooth and unbroken.

  • The monument is not assembled from handmade blocks,

  • but is in fact one solid mass of rock.

  • HIRONOBU: The pyramid area and the headland behind it are connected with each other.

  • The surface of the terrain has a lot of grooves, so you may think they are separate,

  • but since they consist of the identical stone, they are originally connected.

  • NARRATOR: The basic form of the monument is clearly natural.

  • But what about the gateway, steps, turtles and pool?

  • Could it be that an ancient people carved into this huge rock,

  • transforming it into a great castle or temple?

  • Studying the headland on shore provides the answer.

  • The shapes here are strikingly similar to those found on the monument,

  • and that's because they were formed in exactly the same way.

  • Both are made of sandstone which, when subjected to stress,

  • such as during an earthquake, can fracture along vertical faults,

  • forming angular shapes and what look like steps.

  • PATRICK: Put something like that underwater, have the water wash over the top of it

  • and clear away all the debris, and you've got very, very fine step-like structures.

  • But they're no more human made than any other structure down there.

  • NARRATOR: The lack of tool marks is further confirmation.

  • The forces which shaped this remarkable place are geological.

  • But what of the artifacts?

  • Perhaps the monument, if not built by ancient people, was inhabited by them.

  • Walking these steps.

  • Crowding these natural terraces.

  • But so far, no other objects have been found, suggesting that the talisman and tools

  • were dropped from a boat passing overhead, landing on the monument simply by chance.

  • -The clear thing for Yonaguni for me is there's no pottery,

  • there's no evidence of actual human occupation.

  • There's not a single wall from the site.

  • There's nothing on it, that indicates human activity.

  • NARRATOR: The Yonaguni Monument is an extraordinary natural formation,

  • created by epic geological forces.

  • But its shapes appear so regular that many still believe

  • it holds a secret, ancient purpose.

  • JIM: You can take that leap if you have an imagination and say yes,

  • this could be an ancient city beneath the sea but in the case of Yonaguni

  • I'm in those ranks that feel that it's not.

  • It's geology.

  • -We want to believe that science doesn't have all the answers.

  • We want to believe innately that there is something out there that we can connect with

  • spiritually and that hasn't really been polluted by

  • being the subject of scientific discovery.

  • NARRATOR: And still amongst the believers is Professor Kimura.

  • He remains convinced that the monument was inhabited by his ancestors and continues to

  • search for evidence to prove the doubters wrong.

  • Beneath the oceans of the world lie many more

  • tantalizing traces of possible lost civilizations.

  • As the water continues to drain away, in the Eastern Mediterranean,

  • astonishing structures emerge in a quiet island harbor.

  • Is this jumble of shaped stones the architectural debris of a once great city?

  • Alikanas Bay, a tourist hotspot on the island of Zakynthos, Greece.

  • Diver, Pavlos Voutos, sets out to take some underwater photos.

  • NARRATOR: Pavlos swims farther out into the bay in search of clearer water.

  • Then, out of the gloom, he sees something that will change his life.

  • NARRATOR: The debris stretches out for hundreds of yards in all directions.

  • The area is so large that Pavlos is convinced he's found the remains of an entire town.

  • NARRATOR: The discovery sends a bolt of electricity through the world of archaeology.

  • Professor Michael Stamatakis, immediately travels to Zakynthos to investigate.

  • NARRATOR: Stamatakis recalls seeing similar shapes on land,

  • at the site of an ancient settlement built over 2,000 years ago.

  • NARRATOR: If the same shapes lie on the sea bed, they could indicate an ancient settlement

  • just offshore concealed under the bay and forgotten about for centuries.

  • Comparing the images is not enough.

  • The only way to reveal a complete picture of the structures

  • is a detailed underwater survey.

  • Simon Brown is an expert in 3D modelling.

  • But the task facing him is immense.

  • SIMON: Right now we're not quite sure how big the area is.

  • I've estimated it's about 16 acres, which will be

  • more than double the largest subject I've ever covered to date.

  • It's a weird place.

  • There is definitely features here that I have never seen anywhere else before.

  • They look out of place.

  • But then I started to see more regular shapes that looked that cut stone.

  • So my mind then starts to think, is it...

  • is it manmade?

  • NARRATOR: Can draining the waters of the Mediterranean provide the answer?

  • NARRATOR: Simon Brown is mapping mysterious

  • underwater structures discovered in a Greek bay.

  • Could they be the remains of an ancient town?

  • He takes nearly 4,000 high resolution photographs of the sea floor tracking each with

  • pinpoint accuracy through GPS.

  • Using these images, it's now possible to do something which has never been done before:

  • drain the waters of Alikanas Bay and reveal, for the first time ever,

  • a 3D plan of the entire sea floor.

  • As the Mediterranean begins to recede, a world is exposed

  • that's been invisible for thousands of years.

  • First, the rocky shoreline is left high and dry.

  • Then, from the dark depths, regular shapes begin to appear,

  • hidden amongst the rocks.

  • Could they be the bases of stone columns which together once formed a grand colonnade?

  • The use of colonnades is a turning point in ancient Greek architecture.

  • Builders can now switch from wood to stone, a far stronger material,

  • to create ever larger temples to the gods.

  • A colonnade in Alikanas Bay would prove that an important,

  • ancient settlement once stood here.

  • But some experts remain skeptical.

  • PATRICK: There are structures all over the world that mimic

  • something that humans may have created.

  • Doesn't mean that humans created them.

  • NARRATOR: With the water drained away, it's now possible to search the

  • sea bed for evidence of human occupation.

  • Fragments of the pots people cooked with.

  • Charcoal from their fires.

  • Tools for farming, and weapons for defending their homes.

  • Any objects made of metal, clay or stone should have survived.

  • But there's nothing.

  • Which means these extraordinary remains, whatever they are,

  • are not the relics of a lost town.