The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks — by Dr. Greg Little
A.R.E.’s Search For Atlantis Project—2007 Summary—Part 3 of 3
Explorations at Andros Discover Underwater Stone Wall—Origin & Purpose of Wall is Unknown
By Dr. Greg Little
Photos of various things discussed below can be seen by clicking on the links.
In May and June of 2007, three separate expeditions were carried out in the Bahamas as part of the ARE's Search For Atlantis Project. The initial report from these expeditions, issued in July, detailed the discovery of several crashed planes, at least one of which was reported missing in the Bermuda Triangle. The second report, issued in August, summarized several unexpected discoveries at Bimini, which included what appear to be rectangular building foundations in 100-feet of water and the remains of a temple consisting of white marble materials. This report summarizes the finds made on and around Andros.
Andros is the largest and most unexplored island in all of the Bahamas. (See map.) North Andros lies about 150 miles East of Miami. The island is about 105-miles long and 35 miles wide at it widest point. As reported earlier, several land explorations were made on Andros along with numerous water explorations. Weeklong trips were made to Andros by Drs. Greg & Lora Little in both May and June 2007, both of which began with aerial surveys on portions of the Great Bahama Bank (GBB). The GBB is a massive expanse of a largely flat and shallow bottom extending for nearly 300 miles beginning north of Bimini to some distance south of Andros—just north of Cuba. In general, the water depth of this area averages about 25 feet. During the last Ice Age, the entire GBB was well above sea level. The aerial surveys identified over 30 unusual, dark formations in shallow water on the GBB and the gps locations were taken on each from the air. All but one of these formations was then visited on water with North Andros serving as our base of operations. In addition, side-scan sonar was employed to explore wide areas around Andros and in other areas a remote underwater video camera was used to examine the bottom. (Map showing general areas discussed in articles.)
Findings at Underwater Dark Features on the Great Bahama Bank
Thirty dark features (underwater formations) were visited on the Great Bahama Bank, some of which were nearly 50 miles offshore onto the GBB. Ship and plane remains found at some of these sites were detailed earlier. In general, about 75% of all the dark formations are associated with a variety of dumped materials as well as more curious artifacts. For example, one perfectly round white spot in the middle of a dark formation showed what appeared to be a portion of a huge metal anchor sticking up from the bottom. This piece could not be moved by hand. Is the actual ship also buried there? We don't know, but the formation around the anchor is over 500-feet long.
At other dark features we discovered dumped bombs, propane gas cylinders, appliances, and other debris. Bahamas fishermen often enhance a good fishing site by dumping materials to the bottom, thus increasing fish cover. But these formations were of marginal interest to us because our prime interest is in archaeological remains. It has been suggested that these "good fishing spots" may have formed initially because of "something buried under the sand" that allowed the grass to form, however, without extensive excavations, this cannot be determined.
After the first dark features we visited on the GBB proved to be ship, plane, or dumped materials, we expected all of them to be similar. However, about 25% of the formations proved to be made from stone blocks. Several of these appeared to be huge piles of blocks covered by sand and turtle grass. In some spots, blocks were widely scattered in long, fairly straight lines. The stone blocks were far too large to be ship ballast but could have been cargo. On the other hand, they could be ruins of buildings that were erected on the Great Bahama Bank when it was above sea level. However, since none of these were clearly definitive—as building ruins—it was decided to spend our time examining as many sites as possible.
Andros Shoreline Investigations
Several miles of the shallow shoreline along North Andros were examined with a remote underwater video camera pulled by a cable on the boat. This revealed an area where massive slabs of stone were found to be lying on the bottom just off 50-foot-high sheer stone cliffs that are pounded by wave action coming off the deep “Tongue of the Ocean” trench running along east Andros. In addition, a complete side-scan sonar of the Andros Platform, discovered and reported in 2003, was made. All three tiers of this formation were visible and several areas of the formation not previously seen were found. The formation appears to be an ancient breakwater enclosing a harbor at what is today Nicholls Town bay.
A series of land expeditions, conducted with descendants of Seminole Indians serving as our guides (who fled to the Red Bays area of Andros starting in the 1820s), were made. A curious dolmen-like formation was found in the pine jungle several miles from Red Bays. We were also shown a variety of ship ballast stone recovered by these natives at various places on Andros. The ballast was generally oblong and small (8-12-inches in diameter) polished granite and metamorphic conglomerate stone.
About a dozen caves, some of them quite large and deep were explored on the island. All of the caves had obviously been previously searched and nothing of interest was found in them. Locals told us about other caves where pottery shards and skulls had been found, but these were not visited due to time limitations. We also found what was apparently a fortification wall on land near Morgan's Bluff that was probably constructed by pirates. From the water the wall is completely obscured, but the well-concealed wall has views of the water that are astounding. At this location we also found several vertical cave openings including some that had been filled with large stones.
In an area north of Morgan's Bluff we did make an interesting geological find. A local resident told us about an interesting arrangement of stone blocks in shallow water and the resident stated that they "looked like the Bimini Road." Snorkeling the area from the shoreline we did find that there were a lot of stones lying on the bottom there. The largest were perhaps 8 x 10 feet. However, it was immediately apparent that this was a natural beach rock formation. In the entire area there was not a single stone on top of another and it was clear we were looking at what was once a huge slab of stone that had fractured into perhaps 50 smaller pieces. There were no squared blocks at this natural formation and nothing that looked like “straight seam lines.” It was all in one distinctive layer lying on the flat bottom. It actually made clear to us how unique the Bimini Road actually is and how inaccurate the skeptics' claims about it are.
Discovery of the Underwater “Joulter’s Wall”
The most important archaeological find of the 2007 Andros expeditions was a stonewall found in shallow water off an island north of Andros. Numerous interviews with local residents of Andros were made during our trips. One resident told us about a huge, underwater wall that was located in shallow water on the small chain of islands known as Joulters Cays, about 7-miles North of Andros. Joulters is completely uninhabited, and data obtained during the past 20 years has shown that numerous hurricane driven tsunamis, 30-feet and higher walls of water, have swept across the islands. In the 1950s, an attempt was made to form a small community on the southern Joulters island, but it was soon abandoned when a hurricane destroyed the few small, wood-framed homes that had been built. All of Joulters is extremely shallow and boats with a draft of more than two feet simply cannot reach it. However, the approach to the area where the wall is located is even shallower.
From directions given by the local, we found the underwater wall with Eslie and Krista Brown. During the two trips to Andros, we spent four full days at this site, not only filming and photographing the entire "wall," but also exploring the islands from one end to the other. We had to enter the area during high tide as we sped over a mile of water only one-foot deep. We found the wall exactly as described by the Andros resident. She related that she had seen it twice. The first time, in the early 1990’s, a large portion of the wall was intact and partially above water. She saw it the second time after a severe 1990’s hurricane and said that the eye of the hurricane hit that area and destroyed most of the wall and shoreline.
The wall itself is actually located in a small, narrow bay between what appears to be two islands. The bay is 3-7-feet deep, depending on the tide, and has sharks coming in at high tide. From the bay, the wall extends diagonally away from the two islands into water that is one-to-four feet deep ending where sandbars are located and the bottom is barely covered by water. About two miles further, through this shallow water, is the deep Tongue of the Ocean.
The wall is primarily made from square and rectangular limestone blocks that range in length from 3-6-feet, a width of 2-3-feet, and a thickness of 6-inches to 3-feet—with some blocks far larger. The blocks are obviously cut and roughly dressed and rough tool marks are clearly visible on many. There are some smaller, cube-like stones, about a foot square, occasionally found in portions of the intact wall and in places on the bottom. One area of the wall remains fairly intact and is found in water about 6-feet deep. Brushing the sandy bottom underneath the lowest tier of stones revealed more limestone blocks under the visible portion. How far down it extends is unknown. This section of the wall runs approximately 30-feet long and is formed by the massive blocks stacked on top of each other with 2-3 vertical layers of blocks visible. We found about 50 large stone blocks widely scattered in water around this intact portion as if they had been tossed around by huge waves.
Another area of the wall may also be intact, but it is different. This section is made from identical blocks, but they form a nearly square area about 20 feet wide. In general, the top of this square formation is flat and has two layers of blocks. We later looked at this area on modern satellite images, and were astonished that the square area of blocks was quite visible. We found more of the blocks extending off the island in a rough line over 300-yards long. Most of these were almost completely covered by sand. Because we could only access this area safely during high tide, and sharks were also in it during this time, we were unable to examine much of this portion of the wall.
Dams on the island. On the island where the wall is located, we found two small dams made from stone stuck vertically into the bottom. These dams were at the end of long tidal estuaries and were apparently used as fish traps. They did not appear to be modern; in fact, the high time did not actually fill the estuary where they were located. Bahamas' fishermen related to us that they never built such traps and always used netting. On the other hand, using vertical stone to make crude dams as fish traps was a common practice of the Maya.
Block piles on the island. At the highest two points on the island, on wide and flat areas about 30-feet high, there were huge piles of small square and rectangular blocks. These seemed to be ideal as building materials, but they were lying in jumbled masses as if a structure had been struck by massive waves. Other than a few small caves on the islands, we found nothing else indicative of human habitation.
Freedom of Information Act Request Filed—& Answered
After showing residents a satellite photo of the Joulter's wall, one resident suggested that we contact pilots to see if anyone had aerial photos of the formation from the 1940s or 50s. Thus far we have not found anyone who has such photos. But we also learned that the joint US Navy—British Navy facility on Andros known as AUTEC had supposedly taken aerial photographs of the underwater wall from helicopters. After making preliminary inquiries, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the US Navy, and then another request with AUTEC. AUTEC officials acted quickly and after a thorough and complete search of all their files and photographs, reported that no one affiliated with AUTEC of the Navy had taken any photos of Joulters. This is actually logical as AUTEC is a submarine testing facility and the entire area around Joulters is extremely shallow.
Joulter's Wall Speculations—Interviews
As part of our investigation of the wall, we spent several days at the University of Florida library and went through every issue of every scientific and popular journal published in or about the Bahamas. Nothing on the Joulter's wall was found. There were many references in these publications on the devastation hurricanes had created there, however, since the islands were uninhabited, virtually nothing else, except a scattered brief reference to a biological report or two was found. We also spoke to several Andros fishermen (who are over 80-years old) about that area and the wall. They were aware of the formation, but it was irrelevant to them as it was unrelated to making a living as fishermen. None of them knew its possible purpose or who built it. One resident simply said, “it’s always been there.” The initial impression is that it might have been a retaining wall of some sort, but the entire area is so shallow that the bringing in of large boats or even shallow draft barges to it is simply impossible.
During a radio interview that the present writer had during August 2007, a caller related, "it is well known that there were lots of stone piers built in the 1700s and 1800s [in the Bahamas] so that ships could escape taxation." He related that cargo was transferred from one ship to another at these piers. The idea is interesting except we have not found a single reference to such stone piers in any of the dozens of books and countless articles we have read on the region. Nor has a single Bahamas resident has ever related that idea to us. The biggest argument against the Joulter's wall being such a pier or a pirate formation is that only a rowboat could reach it. No ships in the 1600s-1800s could have possibly reached Joulters, nor is it likely they would do so as Joulters is extremely remote. Pirates did not build massive formations along shorelines for the simple reason that such structures would bring attention. In addition, this is a very massive formation, constructed from huge blocks that probably were not placed by hand. What is it? We don't know, but it remains an intriguing mystery and our efforts will continue in that region.
Anyone having any relevant information is invited to contact me.