Discovered: A sunken island, an Indian Ocean Atlantis?

Banyan News Reporters

Banyan News World Exclusive!

Godavaya, Sri Lanka: 14 March 2009: Marine archaeologists have just discovered evidence of a large submerged landmass southeast of Sri Lanka. They believe it could be a legendary lost island closely linked to the culture and history of Sri Lankan people.

The discovery was made by a team of Dutch and Sri Lankan scientists based on satellite maps and underwater sample extractions from the deep sea. Preliminary data need to be verified by a deep sea submersible expedition during 2009 – 2010, according to a member of the research team who did not want to be identified.

The landmass is estimated to be between 450,000 and 475,000 square kilometres, which is about seven times the total land area of Sri Lanka.

“This could well be the long lost island of Irisiyawa, which is euphemistically mentioned in our chronicles and hinted at in the writings of Greek historians,” said Dr Godwin Samarawickrama, a maritime historian at the Indian Ocean Institute based in Melacca, Malaysia.

He added: “The existence of such an island has been speculated and talked in hush-hush terms among divers and archaeologists for decades. This is the Indian Ocean’s own version of Atlantis!”

Irisiyawa’s existence is first mentioned in the Sri Lankan chronicle of Culavamsa. Sinhalese Sandesa (message poem) writers in the 14th to 16th centuries often refer to the enormous psychological effect by sunken Irisiyawa on royal families, aristocracy and ordinary people. Some say the legacy of Irisiyawa has continued well into the twenty first century.

Other experts are more sceptical, and point out long-standing speculations about Kumari Kandam, a legendary sunken landmass said to have been located to the south of present-day Kanyakumari District at the southern tip of India. Some also call it Lemuria, a continent that existed in ancient times and sank beneath the ocean as a result of a geological, often cataclysmic, change. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

“Sri Lanka must quickly assert its historical and territorial claims over the newly discovered sunken island,” said Gajaba Vidyadheera, a senior lecturer in history at the University of Peradeniya. “If not, other countries and cultures can stake their own claims, leading to disputes and even international litigation.”

But the marine archaeology team who made the discovery advise caution. “We need much more evidence before even considering any claims, and historical and cultural speculation could only muddy the deep waters,” said a Dutch member of the team, none of who would make any statement on the record.

In recent years, much evidence has been found of maritime activity in and off the southern coast of Sri Lanka. In late 2008, an underwater search of the seas around Godavaya, Hambantota district, carried out by the Central Cultural Fund, revealed the wreck of a ship, possibly dating back to the 1st Century AD. If confirmed, this could be the oldest shipwreck in the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka with its 65,610 square kilometres is currently ranked at No 121 out of 231 countries and territories according to their land area. If the estimated landmass of submerged Irisiyawa is added, this would immediately boost Sri Lanka’s ranking to around 50, comparable to that of Thailand with 513,120 sq km.

The archipelago nation of Maldives, which lies to the southwest of Sri Lanka, has only 298 sq km and ranks No 201, the smallest country in Asia.

Atlantis is a legendary island mentioned by Greek philosopher Plato. While no hard evidence for its existence has yet been found, it has fascinated many historians, writers and explorers for centuries.

  • http://nisadas.com Dulan

    And I wonder what day it is today…? :)

  • http://lankareviewed.blogspot.com Foodie

    So (according to Wikipedia), Irisiyawa is smaller than Rusiyawa (Russia)…

    Good to know…

  • Hem Goon

    This discovery is further evidence that in historic and pre-historic times, Sri Lanka had much greater standing in the world. Few scholars have bothered to study in sufficient depth and detail our island’s foreign relations in the past, which were on entirely different terms, and altogether better than the present when the west still treats us as if we were a colony. This lack of scholarly interest and evidence is not surprising given that we are only just raising our heads after full 500 years of colonial interference and subjugation (1505 – 2005) which ended only when Mahinda Rajapaksha was elected president.

    I have one concern about the maritime archaeological work being carried out in Godavaya, Galle and other parts of the south: why are Dutch and Belgian scientists involved? Can we trust them not to tamper with or destroy the emerging evidence for our glorious Sinhala Buddhist civilisation? We need to be very, very careful. Granting of visas for these scholars must be carefully monitored. Although we are finally free from colonialism, the west has not stopped trying to undermine and destroy us.

  • Shaq

    I pity the writer who took such an effort to put together nonsense… Think about the wonderful things he could have done with that time instead…. [Edited out]

  • http://www.kitesurfsrilanka.blogspot.com dilsiri welikala

    Very interesting.

  • Bumused in Atlantis

    Is this Hem Goon for real? He either lacks any sense of humour or is so tightly focused on his ‘Sinhala Buddhist glory’ that he can’t see anything else in any other way. Everything to him is a threat or conspiracy. This is the kind of insular, insecure pettiness that has wrecked Sri Lanka and this is why we remain stuck in history, unable to move into the 21st century. Other goons in government would no doubt resonate what Hem Goon says!

  • http://www.MissionAtlantis.com Carl Martin

    I looked on the Google map of that area of the Indian Ocean and I don’t see anything that suggests submerged landmass. I wish the article indicated the average or minimum depth of this landmass. I have to agree with Dulan; this looks like an “April Fool’s” joke.

  • Arjuna Mendis

    Hmm… its about time..

  • Bumused in Atlantis

    Carl Martin, Google cannot show what is submerged. Any remote sensing and image mapping system can pick up whatever is visible on the surface as seen from earth orbit (or a mapping aircraft).

    But I agree, it would have been helpful if the depth was mentioned. Perhaps that has not yet been established? There are few online references yet to the ancient ship wreck discovered off Godavaya, and these too don’t mention the depth.

  • 21st Century Fox

    Thank you for carrying this story. I urge the Sri Lanka Navy and the government to move quickly to claim Irisiyawa as part of Sri Lankan territory. Cula Vamsa’s references would help, but possession is nine tenths of ownership. Now that the Tigers are all but beaten, our Navy could reallocate some of its resources for patrolling the ocean where the sunken island is located. We must do it before Tamils/Indians claim it as their Kumari Kandam!

  • http://www.cosmogeology.ge K.Margiani

    Atlantis is discovered long ago!
    http://www.cosmogeology.ge/chapter.htm
    http://www.cosmogeology.ge/chapter-25.htm
    Global catastrophic plate tectonics 12,500± years’ ego could change isostatic balance between main platforms and slabs. East coastal zone of Northern America and west coastal zone of Africa have been sunken. Simultaneously ten island of Atlantis: Huge Poseidia, two small islands (Pluto, Ammon [mu]) and seven smaller Persephone’s islands were sunken into the ocean as well!

  • Laughing Sudda

    With Tamil Tigers on the verge of being militarily beaten, Sri Lankan nationalists will soon need new enemies and new sources of danger, threat and conspiracy. The Sinhalese are very good conspiracy theorists. So yes, you must go ahead with your territorial claim to Irisiyawa, and make sure that no other country or race can get anywhere close to the sunken island. Who knows perhaps you Sinhalese can sink with it…

  • durai

    i dont want to hurt any otheres belives but i want to reply the commmend made by Mr.21st century fox. If u belive it or not the historian will name it as lemuria or Kumari kandam. History will reveal it was a part of dravidian culture. perhaps srilanka and even upto austraia. I pray god the that further part of the land should not be sink due to sea level rise.

  • crackerhead

    it is under water ! with sea level rise it will make prime real estate ! reserve my condo with snorkel !