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Mystery of Nan Madol Ruins in Micronesia

Nan Madol ruins

Mysterious ruins inhabited by spirits

Nan Madol is a small atoll in the Caroline Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It contains in its rocky and wild vegetation setting an archaeological mystery which continues to generate bold theories. Around the main island, there are around fifty artificial islands. The total area of the island is 17 square kilometers where there are many ruins of buildings constructed in basalt using a construction method undoubtedly of high quality.

This island of Nan Madol was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century by Alvaro de Mendana on his return from Peru. However, it has always been outside the main roads, which has favored its conservation but also its mystery.

Knowledge of Nan Madol comes almost entirely from the memories of an Irish sailor, James O'Connel who was shipwrecked in this archipelago in 1826: “My most extraordinary experience (which will be received in disbelief over time) was the discovery of a large uninhabited island but covered with splendid ruins, constructions which had nothing to do with the dwellings of the natives and whose style was properly prodigious. The fruits of the trees disappeared without being touched by human hands, because it was impossible to persuade the inhabitants of the neighboring Bonape Island, to pick them or even to pick them up from the ground. Seen from afar, the ruins of Nan Madol look a little like a fantastic heap of stones, which nature sometimes seemed to have fun lifting: but as we approached we saw that it was without the shadow of a doubt of a human work.

The ruins were several meters high and, if in places they looked very bad, they were, for the most part, very well preserved. Loneliness reigned everywhere: no sign of life except the flight of some bird frightened by our passage. We went ashore to a place where the walls moved slightly away from the canal: but the poor native paralyzed by fear absolutely refused to get out of the boat. We discovered that the wall surrounded circular courtyards: we entered inside one of them overgrown with plants and trees: nothing apart from the wall bore witness to the ancient passage of human beings. The walls were indeed stones of varying dimensions from one to ten feet in length and from one to eight feet in width. (…) Returning to the pirogue, our native guide could not explain to us where these ruins came from, he only knew that the place was inhabited by spirits.”

Basically, the “spirits” quickly come to the idea if we think that the Nan Madol complex has not restored any archaeological report and that, apart from the gigantic walls, there is nothing that can connect this ancient city on the ocean at a time or an ethnic group. We no longer count theses making islands around Nan Madol the vestiges of Atlantis or Mu, extinct continents which have taken hold of mythology. There is undoubtedly something bizarre around this island: there is, as we have already explained, no archaeological remains, but, moreover, the basalt blocks, volcanic rock, used for construction, come from several miles away from the site where they are located. Their transport must certainly have required a large amount of wood, a rare material in this region, outside the coast which has a vegetation made up mainly of coconut palms. Perhaps there was here as on Easter Island systematic destruction? We will probably never know. All we know is that, for the natives, it is the abode of spirits and that their secrets are taboo for all men who, seeing the great walls of Nan Madol, feel small, very small.

Mu, the legendary continent

Mu, like Atlantis and Lemuria, is more legendary than historical: a mysterious submerged continent which has led to conjectures and hypotheses, although no concrete data has crowned either archaeological excavations or ancient sources. Augustus Le Plongeon was one of the first to support the existence of Mu during the second half of the 19th century. He was indeed the prime contractor for the archaeological excavations of the Yucatan which uncovered numerous ruins of the Mayan civilization. This scholar maintained that the continent was located in the Pacific Ocean, and that it disappeared following a destructive event, perhaps an earthquake. Still according to Le Plongeon, the Mayans and the Egyptians descended from the mysterious inhabitants of Mu.