We have seen deserted islands in the middle of oceans in many Hollywood movies. Archaeologists recently discovered such an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The discovery of ‘Nan Madol’ has sparked theories that the fictional island of Atlantis could be real.

The newly-discovered island is located near the Pohnpei Island of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean. For the residents of Pohnpei, Nan Madol is a mysterious place and it is better not to visit there. Nan Madol means “spaces between”, as there are many narrow canals flowing through the 97 rocky blocks on the island that is situated at a distance of 1600 miles from Australia and 2500 miles from Los Angeles.

There are 97 separate blocks on the island, whose walls are 25ft long and 17ft wide. But, no one knows who built this city on the island in the middle of the ocean. According to the archaeologists, the construction of this city on Nan Madol started with stones and corals in 1180.

Mark McCoy, who led the team of researchers, said that technological advancements would help them fully explore the ruined city of Nan Madol and its structural marvels. He also said that Saudeleur people might have built this city as history suggests that the Saudeleur kingdom spent several centuries creating the stone structures that still stand on 92 artificial islands in a lagoon off the coast of the Pohnpei Island. According to McCoy, 12 sea walls protect the ‘Venice of the Pacific’ (as Nan Madol is widely considered), which is separated by tidal canals.

McCoy believes that Nan Madol was the capital of the Saudeleur kingdom until 1628. “It now looks like Nan Madol represents a first in Pacific Island history. To me, in its prime Nan Madol was a capital. It was the seat of political power, the centre of the most important religious rituals and the place where the former chiefs of the island were laid to rest,” he stressed.

The seasoned archaeologist described Nan Madol as an engineering marvel, saying that the Saudeleur people had used around 750,000 tonnes of black rocks to construct buildings on the island. McCoy explained that the Saudeleurs people had to move 1,850 tonnes of stones per year, as the island’s population was just 30,000 and they had no access to pulleys and levers.

When the city was discovered in 1928 (for the first time), it influenced H P Lovecraft to portray a fictional city – R’lyeh – in his story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog – Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]