Sun, Dec 01, 2002 - Page 18 News List

New submarine discoveries spark interest in submerged cities

Once dismissed by experts as folklore, the release of photographic and documentary evidence pointing to the possibility of prehistoric human settlements off the coast of Penghu has experts re-examining theories about the legendary continent of Mudalu

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

"It was a great opportunity for us to get involved with such a venture. Not only did our presence mean that there were qualified archeologists and anthropologists on hand, but it gave the expedition a lot of credibility," explained Yang Shi-zhao (楊式昭), secretary and research fellow with NMHMAT. "Hopefully the find will pave the way for more surveys of the area and eventually a better understanding of our history. We might even be able to prove that some truth lies behind the legend of Mudalu."

Supposedly stretching from somewhere in what is today the South China Sea to Hawaii and encompassing many of the Pacific Islands, Mudalu (姆大陸) was, according to the legend, home to Asia's earliest peoples, the Ketagalan (凱達格蘭族), who supposedly lived in Asia sometime between seven and 15 thousand years ago.

Quite possibly Asia's earliest civilization, the Ketagalan peoples were reportedly incredibly advanced for the time, with both the know-how to create household utensils, a written language and the ability to construct pyramids and megaliths. Just how the Ketagalan could have been so advanced, however, is where the legend gets a bit sketchy and, as some believe, quite unearthly.

Close encounters

According to historian Lin Sheng-yi (林勝義) who heads the Ketagalan of Taiwan Indigenous Culture Alliance (KTIS, 台灣凱達格蘭文化工作) -- a private organization that searches for traces of Taiwan's pre-history -- the reasons behind the advanced culture had quite a bit to do with visiting UFOs and their alien crews.

"It's quite obvious from looking at the few surviving pieces of Ketagalan artwork that they were in contact with alien peoples and UFOs. Artifacts clearly depict both UFOs and the radio waves emitted by them," explained Lin. "There can be no doubt that the recent find is a Ketagalan settlement, as its linear proportions clearly point to advanced construction knowledge."

Highly skeptical of the ideas put forward by members of KTIS regarding visiting aliens, archeologists and researchers are not totally dismissive of possible links to Mudalu. While still waiting for more precise dating results, experts have dated the structure to somewhere in the region of seven to 20 thousand years old.

"I'm still open to suggestions, but if the legend of Mudalu is to be believed, then bulwarks could possibly be found off the coast not only of Penghu, but Hualien and Taitung. One of the most famous finds, that took place 20 years ago, was off the coast of Okinawa," continued Yang. "I certainly don't believe in the UFO connection, but the existence of a long forgotten settlement is certainly plausible."

Although the involvement of the museum's undersea archeology team has given the expedition a previously unheard of level of credibility, there are still questions as to the find's origins.

Volcanic phenomenon

The most significant of these is the lack of human remains or manmade objects in the vicinity. The lack of credible evidence leads many to continue to believe that the edifices are the result of volcanic activity.

Caused when lava flows are forced through joints in the structure of igneous rock beds, linear lave formations are found throughout the Pacific Ocean's "ring of fire." One of the most prominent such structures is in fact located at Hsishan (西山) on Penghu's Hujing Island. Although the Hsishan formations are vertical examples of linear lava flows, the existence of these formations in such close proximity to the finds means volcanic activity cannot be dismissed.

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