Crime solvers follow the money, but experts searching for the lost city of Atlantis? In archaeology, "you should follow the stones," Richard Freund said.
Freund, a University of Hartford professor, believes he and his
research team have found the legendary island-city described by Plato
in about 360 B.C. as having "in a single day and night ... disappeared
into the depths of the sea."
Using satellite photography, ground-penetrating radar, underwater
technology and some old-fashioned reasoning, Freund said his team
pinpointed the city in a vast marsh in southern Spain that dries out
one month a year. Their findings are featured in a National Geographic special premiering tonight,
"Finding Atla"'Follow the stones' means that you have to find the
artifacts," he told AOL News in a telephone interview today. "And
certain types of stones give you clues about where certain types of
things came from."
His team's search began in 2008 with a space satellite photograph
showing what looked to be a submerged city in Spain's Dona Ana Park. In
2009 and 2010, Freund's researchers worked with Spanish archaeologists
and geologists to explore beneath the mud flats using radar and imaging.
The discovery was clinched, Freund said, with the later find of
"standing stones" and a series of memorial cities in central Spain
built in the image of Atlantis.
"We found something that no one else has ever seen before, which gives
it a layer of credibility, especially for archaeology, that makes a lot
more sense," Freund told Reuters.
The memorial sites are significant to Freund's theory because refugees
from the lost city would have built smaller-scale versions in tribute.
And so when a Spanish scientist led him to ancient sites surrounded by
concentric moats -- and a museum featuring standing stones with a
symbol similar to Plato's drawing of Atlantis -- Freund was convinced
these were commemorations of the destroyed city.
"There are more than 100 of them, and they come from all different
places in the area," Freund told AOL's local news site Canton Patch.
"In crime, you follow the money," he told Patch. "In archaeology, you
follow the stones."
His team also found ancient wood dating back to 440 B.C. A core sample
taken at the marsh showed a layer of methane -- an indication to Freund
that a lot of living things all died at once
"Finding this one layer of methane is a very telltale sign of a society
that is destroyed in one fell swoop," he told the Hartford Courant. "This was in the middle of
nowhere, and there was no methane layer found in the area except where
we were working."
Explorers looking for Atlantis previously have focused on the
Mediterranean Sea as well as the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
The lost city has been "found" many times over the years, including by
Russian scientists who pinpointed a ruined town in the Black Sea; an
American who found man-made walls a mile deep in the Mediterranean; and
Swedish researchers who found it in the North Sea.
The lost city even was proclaimed found when people searching Google
Earth spotted lines resembling a city street grid in the ocean off the
coast of Africa. Google squelched the revelation when it explained the
lines actually were left by a boat collecting data.
Researchers plan more excavations at the Spanish site, and Freund
agreed his current findings won't put a definitive end to the debate.
"It's never like finding the Titanic. It's never like finding
Tutankhamun's tomb. That's the way, in the best of all circumstances,
that you find something intact," Freund told the Courant.
"You'll not be able to convince all the people all the time," he said.