Above: Updated diagram of the largest stones at the "Bimini Road" or "Bimini Wall." Adapted from Zink—EC Foundation.
From late February to early March of 2006, an underwater expedition was conducted to Bimini and the Cay Sal Bank on the 87-ft. research boat, Dolphin Dream. Accompanying the research team was a production crew from NBC News who were making a documentary on the expedition. The two-hour documentary is scheduled to be shown on Sci-Fi Network during the summer of 2006 and will include other explorers around the world. This paper summarizes the major finds of the expedition.
The research team included independent researchers, Drs. Lora and Greg Little, who began their Bahamas underwater investigations in 2003. Archaeologist William Donato, who has been exploring the Bahamas for decades, represented Project APEX. Donato has an archaeological research permit for the Bahamas. John and Doris Van Auken represented the Association for Research & Enlightenment, the Edgar Cayce organization. The research and production members were accompanied by seven crewmembers of the Dolphin Dream.
In May 2005, a series of unexpected discoveries was made at Bimini by Donato and the Littles. These included the discovery of numerous stone anchors at the main Bimini formation (commonly referred to as the “Bimini Road” or “Bimini Wall”). Several cut artifacts, including two-dozen pieces of gray marble, were recovered from under large blocks at the Bimini site. In addition, numerous uniform, rectangular slabs of stone with sharp, angular edges and smooth sides were photographed under massive blocks. In several cases, stacks of these slabs were photographed under huge blocks—essentially serving as leveling stones. Numerous multiple tiers of stone were also photographed. Oddly, the main skeptic Gene Shinn continues to argue that all of the blocks at the Bimini Road are only one layer and laying on the bottom. A nearby site, called “Proctor’s Road,” yielded at least 8 stone anchors found on the bottom, mortise cuts on stones, and at least five stone circles placed at regular intervals. Free QuickTime clips of the documentary made on the May 2005 expedition can be accessed here. A 29-page written report on the 2005 expedition can be accessed here.
The May 2005 trip also investigated an underwater stone formation at Andros, lying about 100 miles from Bimini. The formation was first reported in 2003 and has similarities to the Bimini formation. Because of the similarity between the Bimini and Andros formations to numerous ancient harbors in the Mediterranean, and the discovery of the stone anchors and cut rectangular slabs of stone at Bimini, the idea that Bimini & Andros were once harbor breakwaters became more than tenable. In addition, several previous explorers, including Donato, had briefly examined another underwater formation at Cay Sal Bank, near Cuba. The 2006 expedition was done to give independent confirmation to the Bimini finds and examine several places at Cay Sal. However, the extremely controversial nature of the Bimini Road site greatly complicated the issue. See side bar article.
February 2006 Bimini Findings
At Bimini, a smaller boat was utilized for exploration, during a brief, one-day visit. KnB EZ Dive had previously been utilized there and had the gps coordinates for most of the important finds made in 2005. However, conditions were difficult with heavy wave action followed by an influx of murky water reducing visibility to no more than 5-6 feet. Anchoring at a gps site on the Bimini Road where rectangular blocks had been previously found, we immediately began utilizing special tools to remove rectangular slabs from under huge blocks. Three nearly identical slabs, about two-by-three feet in length and 8 inches thick, were filmed as they were slowly unwedged and removed. In other places, more slabs were removed from under massive blocks. We were surprised that we found so many slabs so quickly in such a confined area. The film of these efforts is impressive and convincing.
An unexpected find under massive blocks was the removal of several “wedge stones.” These wedges were also two-by-three feet in length and 8 inches thick on one side, but the large sides of the stones smoothly tapered to only one inch thick on the other side. They appear to have been used as shims to level the big blocks. The small tapered side was placed under the edge of a block and then pounded in until it lifted the massive blocks to its full 8-inch thickness. The NBC film of these artifacts being removed is definitive and clear. The stones are similar to ashlar blocks, utilized on the surface of a breakwater to create a flat cargo staging area—a quay.
Attempts to recover the two previously discovered stone anchors at the Bimini Road were frustrated by huge amounts of sand that had shifted during the last hurricane season and the murky water. However, one of the NBC crew found a previously undiscovered stone anchor on the Bimini Road site. Less than two hours was spent at this specific location.
At nearby Proctor’s Road, only 1 km from the main site, the major focus was on finding and sampling several stone anchors that had been located in 2005. After anchoring on a key gps obtained in 2005, we immediately found six stone anchors lying in an area no more than 40-feet long and 20-feet wide. Two of these were pulled up from the bottom by slipping a rope through the holes present in the stones. The first of these was about 3-feet long and about 12 inches in diameter. It weighed approximately 70 pounds. The anchor showed three large holes as well as grooves that had been made by the long-term use of a rope. After a sample of the stone was taken, the anchor was sent to the Bimini Museum. The stone appeared to be beachrock limestone and showed small shells embedded into it. A sample was sent for possible carbon dating with the results to be announced on the July documentary.
The second stone anchor was a large, heart-shaped stone that was approximately 3-feet wide and 10-inches thick. The weight was estimated at 400 pounds. A sample of the stone was sent to an independent geology lab, which performed a SEM-spectral elemental analysis. The stone was pure limestone with no shell and no silicon. It had been cut from a land-based source of limestone and took considerable effort to move. The drilling grooves were visible in the large center hole and rope grooves were easily discernable on it in several places. It is much too large and heavy for any primitive canoes and was even too large for the 40-foot dive boat utilized at Bimini.
Combined with the May 2005 results, the implications are clear and definitive. The Bimini site was utilized as a harbor at some remote time and a sophisticated maritime culture employed the same construction techniques that have been discovered at ancient Mediterranean harbors. These techniques include the use of smooth rectangular stones and wedge stones utilized for leveling large blocks.
2006 Cay Sal Investigations
Cay Sal, the most remote set of Bahamas Islands, was investigated for two reasons. First, a satellite image was sent to us prior to the trip by Angie Micol. The image showed an area inside the SE portion of the Cay Sal Bank that depicted a grid pattern that showed uniform dark and light spots. It was an intriguing photo. Utilizing the precise gps coordinates from the satellite image, the area was investigated with a 55-ft remote drop camera. The bottom in the area was generally shallow and flat with a depth between 35-45 feet. The dark spots were created by dense bottom grass extending up about 12 inches from the bottom. Interspersed between the grassy areas were areas with white sand. After viewing three of these dark spots and the interspersed sandy areas, it was decided to proceed to the primary area of investigation.
Anguilla Arc. In the late 1960s an underwater stone formation, somewhat similar to the Bimini Road formation, was reported just off the small island of Anguilla. This location is at the extreme SE Cay Sal Bank about 23 miles from Cuba. Over the years, various investigators, including William Donato, have made brief visits to Cay Sal. But because the area is so remote and considered dangerous, only brief cursory looks have been made. Our investigations were hampered by strong tides and surf and the fact that the research boat was too large to enter the area closely. A small inflatable was utilized to ferry people back and forth to the site. The method dangerously isolated divers, snorkelers, and land-based investigators. Two days were spent at the site.
The immediate bottom area around the “arc” is shallow with 10- to 20-feet of water. There are large deposits of beachrock lying on the bottom in a vast area. The Arc begins on a rocky shoreline at what appears to be a natural ridge jutting into the water. The formation runs fairly straight extending for a few hundred yards. It is formed from massive slabs of what appear to be beachrock but in several places, the beachrock has as many as four distinctive layers with each layer about 1-2 feet thick. At its far end, the formation ends at what may be an access point to the white sandy harbor area it encloses. About 20 yards beyond this opening is a curious formation. It is a rectangular stack of beachrock slabs with four to five layers resting on the bottom. It is approximately 15 by 20 feet in size and at least 8 feet tall. This formation appears quite old and is covered with dense vegetation and coral growth. Approximately 20 yards further, the arc feature reappears and curves back toward land enclosing the remainder of the harbor. Our initial impression is that the formation served as a breakwater. The natural ridge jutting into the water enclosed a harbor and slabs of beachrock were piled onto the natural feature to raise it as necessary. Curiously, the Bimini Road, the Andros Platform, and the Anguilla Arc show striking similarities including the depth of the water in the harbor areas.
On the inside edge of the Arc, I discovered a rectangular flat slab of stone wedged deeply under the second layer of large blocks. (There were four layers of stone visible there.) After viewing the underwater video we took of that area and the slab, the NBC crew wanted me to try to relocate the slab and remove it. Because it was on the inside edge of the Arc, it was easy to find. Removing the flat rectangular stone slab was difficult. But after it was removed, a sample of it was taken. An independent geology lab identified it as limestone, without any shell fragments and no silicon. Curiously, particles of iron were found in the stone. It is now being analyzed by another lab in the hopes its origin can be identified. But one thing is certain: it is not beachrock limestone and its location indicated it had been placed there.
With considerable effort and some risk, Dr. Lora Little videotaped almost the entire Anguilla Arc while snorkeling on the surface. Upon our return to the states, I eventually downloaded all of our underwater video from Bimini and Cay Sal. Recent inspection of the videotape revealed what appears to be an old, multi-holed stone anchor there. In addition, wedge stones and other angular slabs of stone are present.
Several definite conclusions can be drawn from the findings in this report. First, as we demonstrated in May 2005, the Bimini Road and the nearby Proctor’s Road formation can be definitely be said to have been harbor work formations. The details of the Shinn-McKusick Hoax have been necessary to present to either reacquaint readers with the facts surrounding skeptical claims about Bimini or bring this to the attention of readers for the first time. Secondly, the presence of the various cut rectangular slabs, the wedge stones, and large stone anchors at Bimini point to a maritime culture more sophisticated than the Taino or Carib tribes.
Perhaps more importantly, the earlier work at Andros and the present work at Cay Sal may well show that this maritime culture was expansive. The Andros Platform is 110 miles from Bimini and Cay Sal lies over 250 miles from Bimini. While underwater work at the Andros Platform has turned up a host of square tool marks and some areas that appear flat and paved with rectangular stone slabs, nothing else but the breakwater itself has been found. On the other hand, the probable anchor at Cay Sal along with the limestone slab, are more intriguing.
Further research at all three sites is needed and some plans have been made to continue the work this year. In addition, more exploration is needed to identify more remnants of the long-gone maritime culture that constructed these harbors. Media who have an interest in these matters are invited to contact us.
Above: Two anchors found at the Bimini Road in May 2005.
Above: One of the cut rectangular slabs found under huge blocks at Bimini.
Bimini Controversy—The Shinn-McKusick Hoax—The controversy at Bimini began in 1968 with the discovery of the underwater Bimini Road and the immediate assertion that it was a portion of Atlantis. In 1940, the famous psychic, Edgar Cayce, predicted that a portion of Atlantis would be found near Bimini in 1968 and 1969. Other Cayce predictions related that temple ruins were underwater near Bimini, so many people immediately asserted that 1968 discovery was confirmation of Cayce’s predictions.
After the discovery of the site, a series of papers by four geologists asserted that the formation was simply natural limestone. They alleged that the massive blocks rested on the bottom or sand, that there were no multiple tiers anywhere on the formation, no cuts or tool marks were on the stones, and that no human artifacts whatsoever were there. All of these assertions were shown to be false in the May 2005 expedition. The Shinn-McKusick Hoax, which has been fully detailed in an earlier report, is comprised of two parts.
The Shinn-McKusick Hoax—Part 1. One of the early skeptical “geologists,” Eugene Shinn, alleges he performed 17 cores on Bimini Road stones in 1977. Shinn has presented his alleged results on these cores in several articles as well as at numerous geological meetings. For example, in a 2004 Skeptical Inquirer article Shinn, who held a bachelor’s degree in biology, related that all 17 of his cores at Bimini “tilted toward deep water” proving that the stones were still in their natural position (unmoved). In 1980, Shinn and archaeologist Marshall McKusick described Shinn’s 1978 results from Bimini in a Nature article stating: “Two areas of the formation were studied, and both show slope and uniform particle size, bedding planes and constant dip direction from one block to the next.” (p. 287) These two brief quotes are utilized by the skeptics as their “evidence” that the Bimini formation is natural beachrock resting in place. To my knowledge, geologists and archaeologists have almost universally accepted this as the “factual” bottom-line to Bimini. These baseless and brief claims by Shinn and McKusick are parroted by countless people who have never investigated the site nor actually read the published results.
The results presented in the Nature and Skeptical Inquirer articles are hoaxes, misrepresentations, or outright fabrications of Shinn’s actual 1978 results. Since Shinn’s 1978 article is difficult to find it is reproduced here.
In his 1978 article, Shinn explained that he did two separate sets of cores at two different sites on the Bimini Road. He wrote, “The purpose of this was to determine if the bedding in all the blocks dips uniformly toward the sea (to the west of Bimini). If it does, then it is highly unlikely that the blocks had ever been transported.”
One area on the site had 8 cores performed and the other area had 9 cores. Shinn’s article reported that at the site with eight cores: “Beach bedding was not readily visible in these cores …” Thus, none of these 8 cores dipped toward deep water. In his results on the area with 9 cores, Shinn simply reported that “many” of these nine cores were horizontal while the others dipped toward deep water.
Summary of Shinn’s Core Findings. Results from Shinn’s 17 cores showed that one set of eight (8) had no internal bedding planes and no dip whatsoever. Of the other 9 cores, he related that “many were horizontal” (flat, not dipping). Thus, it is likely that at least 13 of 17 cores (or 76.5 percent) showed no dip toward deep water while 23.5 percent or less actually dipped toward deep water. Shinn’s actual published findings discredit the natural beachrock hypothesis he puts forth as a fact. His actual results also contradict what he published in 2004 as well as with McKusick in 1980.
The Shinn-McKusick Hoax—Part 2. In 1968 and 1969 several areas were discovered near the Bimini Road site where long, cylindrical columns were present on the bottom—at least 70 such columns were found according to reports. An early researcher at Bimini, Wyman Harrison, reported that 30 of the columns were investigated. Two of the columns were found to be fluted marble (see photo). The others were a type of old cement related to over burnt limekilns. Harrison’s results were published by Nature in 1971 and included details on the marble columns.
In his 2004 Skeptical Inquirer article, Shinn stated that all the columns found at Bimini were “Portland cement” referencing Harrison (1971) as his source. This is a complete fabrication of Harrison’s results by Shinn. In McKusick and Shinn’s 1980 Nature article, they stated, “some submarine structures described as pillars were hardened concrete originally stored in wooden barrels and dumped overboard in recent times at the harbor entrance.” They didn’t mention the marble columns at all and failed to mention that the idea the cement columns were from barrels dumped in recent times was wild speculation without any basis in fact. In McKusick’s 1984 article discussing Bimini, all he wrote about the cylinders was, “temple pillars are merely hardened cement in discarded barrels.” McKusick’s assertion about the cement columns was a fabrication. There was no evidence whatsoever indicating that wooden barrels were present and the fact that marble columns were also found is simply unacknowledged.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Shinn McKusick Hoax is that it appears to have the active support of the US Geological Survey, mainstream geologists, and certainly academic archaeologists. Many scientists have apparently either been duped by secondary sources, simply accepted the skeptical viewpoint because that’s what they want to believe, or actively supported the hoax.
Significance of the Shinn-McKusick Hoax—Skeptics have gone to great lengths to present fabricated and misleading results to lead to the conclusion that the Bimini formation is completely natural and that anything found there that seems “out-of-place” (such as marble columns) doesn’t exist. The results obtained and published by Shinn in 1978 didn’t match the findings skeptics wanted. The presence of the marble columns presented a huge problem that was simply handled by pretending they didn’t exist. The reasons for this are partly psychological in nature and will be the subject of another paper. The hoax is partly related to a desire to counter what some people saw as fantastic claims about Atlantis. Yet, the Bimini formation does have stone circles, stone anchors, marble columns, marble under massive stones, cut slabs of stone, human artifacts, and is identical in appearance and construction to a host of ancient Mediterranean harbors.
As a curious aside to this background, Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings—the flashpoint of the controversy—related that 120,000 gold coins were hidden at Bimini. Cayce also related that a large vein of gold was present at Bimini at the entrance point between North and South Bimini. Considerable effort has been made over the years to find the gold coins and the buried vein of gold. (see illustration)
The net result is that serious archaeological research at Bimini has been virtually nonexistent with a few notable exceptions. As the results detailed in this paper show, the Bimini formation was an ancient harbor. Furthermore, evidence of a sophisticated maritime culture in the prehistoric Bahamas region has been verified and validated. As the years pass, the Bimini Hoax is destined to become one of the major embarassments of the US Geological Survey, the skeptics who have failed to be honest and rigorous, and mainstream American archaeology.
Above: 1969 photo of columns at Bimini by Pino Turolla—note the fluted column (top center) and other odd-shaped columns.
Above: Bill Donato examines the multiholed stone anchor at Bimini.
Above: The 400 pound stone anchor recovered at Bimini.
Above: Rectangular slab removed from under blocks at Cay Sal.
Above: Possible stone anchor at Cay Sal.
Above: IKONOS Satellite image of Bimini showing key areas including Cayce's gold vein.
Above: Possible wedge stone at Cay Sal.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks — by Dr. Greg Little