The Mystery Behind the Ancient Stone City of Nan Madol

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Image: CT Snow

One local folktale told of giants living on the island, who probably had the physical means to carry the heavy logs and build the walls. Another legend tells the story of two brothers named Olosopha and Olosipha, who used their magic powers to transport the logs from a far-away land by making them fly. Another tale tells of a magician, who, like the two brothers, made the logs fly towards Nan Madol for the city to be constructed. All these local accounts tell of the basalt logs coming from a far-away place because there was no other source of basalt stones near Nan Madol, except in a location on the opposite side of the island.


Image: CT Snow

Another theory was that the builders transported the logs via rafts, but in an experiment, the basalt logs immediately sank because of their weight. Though there were skeletons found in the city that were relatively larger than the average Pohnpeians, how the basalt walls were formed still remains a mystery, since there were no remnants of early machines that could help the builders make the walls.

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Image: CT Snow

Another wonderful and unexplained feature of Nan Madol is its underwater tunnels which connect the islands with one another. The tunnels were supposed to be an escape route starting from the center of the city towards the ocean. The tunnels were obviously man-made because of the way they were manipulated to connect the islands, but, of course, the question of how they were made is still left unanswered. To this day, undersea explorers are still trying to discover a complete end-to-end tunnel.

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