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8 May 2011
An ancient 'lost civilization' in Cuba?

During the 1950s Cuban divers and underwater archaeologists found extensive artifact evidence of a Native American civilization on the western end of Cuba that was different and more advanced that the Taino-Arawak peoples, who migrated to the island beginning around 900 CE. Their theories are based on the likelihood that Cuba probably functioned as a gateway of ideas, crops and peoples for all of the Americas. Cuba is only 90 miles (144km) from the Florida Keys and 96 miles (154km) from the Yucatan Peninsula.
     In late 1990s Russian-Canadian oceanographic engineer, Paulina Zelitsky, used underwater cameras to film structures at 2,200 feet (667m) under water which seem to be pyramids, plazas, mounds, and terraces. The November 2002 issue of National Geographic contained an article on the discovery and speculated that the ruins were 6,000 years old. There was no scientific proof of the assigned date. The article inferred that only people from the Old World could have built such structures, and failed to mention the large structures being built in North America 6,000 years ago. None of the materials in the apparent structures have been brought to the surface for scientific dating. Little has been done since then to confirm the exact nature of the underwater structures.
     During the past decade, anthropological research has tended to support the theory by Cuban archaeologists that their island was an ancient crossroads of advanced indigenous cultures. In 2005 the University of Alabama carried out joint studies with Cuban archaeologists on several sites. It was determined that prior to being exterminated by Spanish invaders, the native peoples of Cuba were skilled farmers and built some stone architecture, but tended to live in small villages so that the residents could maintain a sustainable relationship with the environment.
     Until comprehensive archaeological studies are carried out along the western coast of Cuba, the possibility of a lost civilization being there must remain in the realm of speculation. Cuba's economy is transforming, but still can not afford the expenditure of such a massive undertaking. The most likely model for a large scale archeological study to take place would be similar to the University of Alabama's joint project with Cuban archaeologists. Perhaps several universities from several nations could be involved.

Edited from Examiner.com (6 May 2011)

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