Those Damn Scuba Diving Pyramid Builders


So this one’s getting around the social media currently: A Portuguese sailor has discovered a 60 meter high pyramid under the water off the coast of Portugal. Who put it there? Was it aliens, or maybe those underwater aliens from The Abyss? Is this Atlantis? The answer according to hopeful pyramid fetishists is yes. Yes to all of that.

The supposed phenomenon of underwater pyramids is nothing new. This actually flashes across the web every couple of years or so. When people started posting this link a few days ago, I thought it was old news, but I was probably remembering this underwater pyramid they found near Cuba in 2012. Or this underwater pyramid they found near Japan in 2007. There’s also this underwater pyramid that has been on and off the rumour mill since the 60s. I could bring up half a dozen other underwater structure discoveries that have been floated (pun unintended) around the past decade or so, but I figure you get the point.

This image which was being misreported as a photograph by the media is actually an artist's interpretation. Bu tthat's no fun, right?

This image which was being misreported as a photograph by the media is actually an artist’s interpretation. But that’s no fun, right?

People are obsessed with underwater structures predominantly due to our cultural obsession with the lost city of Atlantis. Every time this kind of thing comes up, people mutter “Atlantis” in hushed whispers. No actually they’re more inclined to shout it from the rooftops. In any case, it’s a fool’s game – Atlantis isn’t lost because it was never there to begin with. It was a work of fiction–a fable, essentially–told by Plato back when togas were in fashion. Aesop wasn’t the only ancient Greek guy who told fables, it was a popular genre back then, and if we don’t believe the famous race between a tortoise and a hare ever really happened, there’s no reason we should believe in Atlantis, either. And we didn’t for a very long time – nobody believed that Atlantis was anything but a fictional story until an American cult called Theosophy (the precursor to the modern New Age movement) started claiming it was real and that they knew it because psychics and stuff.

But even when we discount Atlantis, how did all those pyramids get down there? Well, they’re probably not pyramids. I don’t doubt that people are seeing something down there (although I suspect the story about the famous crystal pyramid might be whole-cloth bullshit due to its discoverer accidentally losing his evidence and also accidentally forgetting where he saw it) but westerners have a bit of an odd fetish for pyramids. We’ve observed that there are pyramids in Egypt, Central America and Cambodia, and we wonder how many other ancient cultures around the world might have built them. (Again, Atlantis is often cited as evidence for why pyramids are scattered across the world, like one culture must have built all of them, even though they look completely different from each other besides the fact that they are all vaguely triangle shaped.)

Good God, they're IDENTICAL!

Good God, they’re IDENTICAL!

As a result, we’ve started actually seeing pyramids that aren’t there. I’m reminded of the famous “Bosnian pyramid” that some pseudoarchaeologists are trying to push as a real thing. Back in 2005, news was announced that a massive pyramid had been hidden in plain sight in Bosnia, and it was actually the largest pyramid ever built, but they’d only just found it because it was so old and dirty that we’d been assuming it was a mountain. In actuality, it’s a mountain. But it’s kind of oddly triangular, which has pseudoarchaologists crying conspiracy.

The same thing applies to these mysterious underwater structures. The Japanese pyramid and accompanying “structures” at least have been confirmed to be natural sandstone formations. Off the coast of Cuba, the depth of their underwater city is far too low for sonar to be able to tell pyramids from rocks, and even if we assume they were pyramids, they’re far too low to have ever been built by anyone who wasn’t wearing scuba gear. As for this latest Portuguese pyramid, no studies have come to light yet, but we do know that area of the seabed is a mess of underwater mountains, so what’s the over/under on the mysterious pyramid being a pointy hill? Call that cynical, but until I see a Sphinx down there, I’m going to assume the explanation is probably the same as the last 500 times someone has pointed at a triangular rock and run to the media.