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Nan Madol: A Mysterious City in the Pacific

2022-11-11
Lingua:English
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In Eastern Micronesia, near the southern end of Temwen Island and adjacent to the eastern shore of Pohnpei Island, lies Nan Madol, an abandoned city often referred to as the “Venice of the Pacific.” Some say it’s the eighth wonder of the world; others claim it was a part of the “lost continent” of Lemuria or Mu.

The Federated States of Micronesia is a country consisting of 607 islands and four states spread across the western Pacific. The nation’s capital, Palikir, is located on the volcanic Pohnpei Island, which is surrounded by a ring of pristine lagoons and protected by coral reefs. According to Pohnpei’s oral history, the city's construction began around the 8th or 9th century with the building of over 100 artificial islets, while the elaborate megalithic architecture is estimated to have been built between 1180 to 1200 AD.

Local legend tells of twin brothers with magical powers, Olosihpa and Olosohpa, who arrived at Pohnpei in a canoe from afar. The brothers are said to have been the first Saudeleurs and to have established their dynasty in Pohnpei, with Nan Madol as its capital.

The construction of Nan Madol city is considered an engineering marvel. It appears that the entire city was built on top of the coral reefs that served as the foundation for the buildings. Walls were built from basalt, a form of volcanic rock quite common in the Pacific islands, that naturally forms flat columns. Many of the columns were about 30 feet (9 meters) tall and 15 feet (4.5 meters) thick, with weights of up to 50 tons.

An estimated 750,000 tons of basalt were used in the construction of the city, and they had to be moved across the island of Pohnpei to the Nan Madol site. However, even if they had dragged over 1,850 tons of rock for construction each year, the city would have taken them over 400 years to complete. Many believe that some spirits cast magic spells to transport the huge stones. The general consensus was, and still is, that “It’s magic, and if one believes in magic, then anything is possible.”
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