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Ancient city submerged under a lake in China provides valuable insight into a lost civilization

The lost civilization found under the Qiandao Lake of China has also been opened to tourists as a diving site since 2017.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Smithsonian Channel
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Smithsonian Channel

Entire civilizations that suddenly went missing at some point in history have been intriguing archaeologists for decades as they continue to search for cities beneath the ocean. That is why the discovery of an ancient city submerged in the bottom of an artificial lake in the Zhejiang Province of China is considered one of the most valuable archaeological finds. Experts haven't succeeded in discovering the mythical Atlantis but they have found something similar to it located at the bottom of the Qiandao Lake in China, per History Enhanced. The discovery of the city opened up a time capsule that held records of a lost civilization that existed sometime between 25 AD and 200 AD.


The Qiandao Lake is spread over a 221 square mile area and the city submerged in it is known as Shi Cheng. The city derived its name from the neighboring Wu Shi Mountain which is also known as the Mountain of Five Lions. The partially preserved city was protected from erosion caused by sun and wind since it is surrounded by water. The location is not only accessible by scientists but tourists are also allowed to scuba dive and explore the architectural remains of the city. However, the Chinese government has laid down some rules for those willing to explore Shi Cheng.


Due to the water being dark, only travel companies with trained divers are allowed to conduct tours for visitors. The site gets most of its tourists during the fall as the weather remains moderate through those months. Travelers can take regular buses from Anhui, Huangshan, and Hangzhou to travel to the lake. But the real question is, how did a flourishing city end up under the water?

In 1959, the Chinese government decided to flood the city and use it as a dam. At that time the Chinese Communist Party was led by Mao Zedong, who wanted to provide water from the dam to people in the agricultural districts of the region. 


By constructing the dam, Zedong wanted to secure his position in politics by working for the benefit of the people in the area. The project did not progress smoothly as the government had to relocate 300,000 people and construct walls that would withstand the force of all that water. The dam itself remains active to this day, providing power to those who live near it in the region. Despite being intentionally flooded, the cobblestone streets, pillars and structures still stand under 130 feet of water.

Even though there is a sign of degeneration on the concrete walls of the city, the arches remain intact and have models of dragons, phoenixes, and lions built on them. According to Wion, the city under the Xin'an hydroelectric dam remained forgotten until its rediscovery in 2001 during a Chinese government expedition. Shi Cheng is also known as the Lion City and even has stone architecture dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The city has five entrance gates and wide streets adorned with 265 archways.


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