Primeval | The Mystery of the Immense Longyou Caves

Primeval | The Mystery of the Immense Longyou Caves

The Longyou Caves exist today as one of the most baffling sites on the planet, a place where unanswered questions reign and logic seems to falter

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China

Travel deep into Zheijiang province, China to the village of Shiyan Beicunho and you’ll find yourself amongst the dizzyingly enigmatic Longyou caves. Who created these 36 caves—which together are known as the ninth wonder of the ancient world—remains a complete mystery, despite numerous research efforts. When they were created is equally mysterious, with researchers only being able to say that they’re at least thousands of years old. The Chinese are well-known as meticulous record keepers, having detailed all and everything worthy of consideration—especially in their empire—going back roughly 3500 years, and even further through less reputable records, yet not a single reference has ever been found regarding the existence of these caves.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Relief Carving | Credit: J Pang
Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Credit: TopChina

The inside of the caves are covered with strange symbols and precise relief sculptures—a technique far more advanced and labor intensive than what’s required for a typical sculpture. Though the meaning/intention behind all of these symbols and sculptures remains a mystery; they don’t seem to match anything else found in China or any other country, for that matter. As well, where there’s not symbols or sculptures, every inch of the caverns’ surfaces—floors, walls, ceilings, pillars—are covered with uniform lines carved into the rock; a tremendously labor-intensive addition that doesn’t seem to have any apparent reason for being included.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China.

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The purpose of the caves, in general, remains a total mystery to the point that there still exists no leading theory. There’s simply no clear function to be seen. Rough estimates suggest that, just for the primary caves, 1000 people would have had to labor intensely, day and night, for six years to simply remove the stone. Though that says nothing of the unbelievable level of precision and uniformity which all the caves share. So what could have been worth such a dizzying undertaking?.

.Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China

As mentioned, the precision is simply beyond belief. The 36 caves exist in an area smaller than one square kilometer, yet none of them connect with each other—why they don’t is another mystery—despite the walls separating some of the caverns being only 50 cm thick. How this was coordinated is a marvel all on its own. The model of every cavern is also remarkably similar, with each featuring a grand hall in the shape of an inverted carpenters square with a small outlet and larger bottom, and they each have a side set at 45 degrees. Their walls are also straight and run parallel with the walls of the neighboring caverns. The dimensions of the walls have also been found to be extremely similar along with the width of the walls dividing adjacent caverns. Some edge spaces in the caverns also lie neatly above or below similar spaces in adjacent caverns. Additionally, saw-tooth staircases run along the sides of the caverns, with a spacing of 3 meters separating each of the saw-teeth in these staircases—and this is the same in every cavern.

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Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Credit: TopChinaTravel
Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Credit: ChinaCulture

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Along with an intensive degree of planning, the effort would have required advanced measuring tools, yet no such tools have been found. In fact, no tools of any kind have been found. To date, there hasn’t been a single trace of the construction effort discovered.

One of the only things that is certain about the caves is that they were man-made. At some time in the remote past, a group of people—which is thought to have numbered in the thousands—embarked on a mind-boggling undertaking which entailed chipping away and removing roughly 35 million cubic feet of rock.

Where that enormous amount of rock was taken to is a considerable mystery in and of itself, as there’s no evidence for it anywhere in the surrounding area. To this day, despite many searches throughout the surrounding region, no one has yet found where that tremendous amount of rock was deposited. This has led to the theories that the rock was either hauled an incredible distance away from the site, for some bizarre reason, or the site was originally created at a time so far back in the remote past that the material removed has become indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape.

And that surrounding landscape is an additional mystery…

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For one thing, the caves weren’t discovered until 1992 when a particularly curious villager named Wu Anai, or Grandma Anai, decided to drain one of the local ponds that the villagers occasionally used for everyday purposes. The pond, like others in the region, was always said to be bottomless, so perhaps that intriguing detail is what spurred Anai to gather money from friends and family in order to buy the pumps to remove the water—or she might have heard the stories of how valuable items are often found at the bottom of dried ponds and lakes, or, as some accounts say, she had come to realize that there was some sort of structure deep beneath the water. Regardless, when she did drain the pond, she discovered the entrance to the first of the Longyou caves at the bottom. This discovery then led to other ponds in the region being searched and now, to date, 36 man-made caves have been found—with others expected, particularly once the region has been surveyed with ground-penetrating radar.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
The small, loosely stacked rocks highlight recent renovations by the local government

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China.

With the details of the discovery now in mind, the mystery of the landscape might be beginning to take shape. All 36 of these caves were discovered underwater to some degree, so one has to ask why they were all constructed in an area where they’re clearly at considerable risk of being flooded? As you’ll see throughout this article, these caves were remarkably sophisticated constructions; in all of the caves, for instance, every surface inside—floors, pillars, ceilings—was finished in exactly the same manner as a series of uniform parallel bands that are each 60 cm wide—see picture below for clarification—and all of these bands contain parallel lines of tool marks oriented to 60 degrees of their cave’s course, no matter where they might be in the cave.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Credit: TopChinaTravel

So, why would such incredibly advanced and meticulous builders select an area where flooding would seem a rather obvious threat to any trained eye? The area, as it is today, sits in a rainy valley precariously close to the mighty Quijiang river, and the whole site is about a hundred miles from the shore.

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One possible answer is that the area wasn’t a tremendous flood risk when it was first selected. At various periods of heavy glaciation in the past, the sea levels were dramatically lower. Such a period would have made the selected area for the Longyou caves into a much more reasonable candidate.The closest suitable period, in that case, would have been the Younger Dryas, which ended roughly 12,000 years ago. And though that date may seem extreme, numerous sites have come to light in recent years which have proven to share that incredible age, if not predate it. Gobekli Tepe is a prime example of a site that’s confirmed to be at least that old while also being a tremendous construction effort at a scale that’s comparable to the Longyou caves. Other examples include the multitude of sunken cities and ruins—many around India—found at depths that haven’t been exposed since the Younger Dryas, Gunung Padang, and the new dating of the Sphinx.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Approx position of the Longyou caves as seen on a map of the Younger Dryas period
Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China
Approx position of the Longyou caves as seen on a current map

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But, returning to Longyou, if the construction did take place during the Younger Dryas or earlier, this would also answer the question of what happened to the removed material. A period of immense planetary change and flooding followed the Younger Dryas which could have easily dispersed this excavated material. To understand how that could have taken place, please watch the video below for a detailed explanation of how our planet’s surface was dramatically altered about 12,000 years ago. Additional evidence for the cataclysmic flooding mentioned, in particular relation to China, comes in the form of the enigmatic salt water lakes found in mainland China; such lakes would be expected if a great flood of glacial water swept through those areas.

Sadly, only one of the Longyou caves is available to visit today, and that’s where nearly all of the images available to the public are derived from. In general, a woeful lack of attention and research has been given to the caves despite the clearly staggering level of achievement they showcase. One would imagine that diving into the secrets of a site known as the Ninth Wonder of the Ancient World, which also happens to exist as the most mysterious of all the ancient wonders, would be a priority for China—really, humanity in general. But the Chinese government has a history of ignoring, or even outright destroying, the incredible constructions of the ancients that exist in its territory—look to the pyramids of China or our article on Yanmen Shan, as examples.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China

For now, let’s hope this site receives the appropriate attention it deserves, as it’s clear that there’s a wealth of knowledge about humanity’s ancient, murky past just waiting to be discovered in these wonderfully enigmatic caves.

Longyou Caves, Ancient Mystery, MineTheHive, Primeval, China

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Sources:

Tanimoto, C., & Yang, Z. (2016). Ancient underground opening and preservation: proceedings of the International Symposium on Scientific Problems and Long-term Preservation of Large-scale Ancient Underground Engineering, 23-26 October 2015, Longyou, Zhejiang, China. London: Taylor & Francis.

TopChinaTravel. (2014). Longyou Grottoes. Retrieved from https://www.topchinatravel.com/china-attractions/longyou-grottoes.htm

An Observation Report from Longyou Grottoes in Zhejiang. (n.d.). Retrieved July 01, 2017, from http://en.minghui.org/html/articles/2000/9/11/8273.html

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