The Longyou Caves are a series of large artificial caverns located at the Zhejiang province, China. First discovered in 1992 by a local villager, we still don’t know how they were built, by whom, and why.

In China there are written records that go back at least 3,000 years but they make absolutely no mention of these caves. This is strange because chinese officials have calculated that an endeavor of this magnitude would take a minimum of 1,000 men working day and night for at least five years. These calculations are based purely on hard labour and they haven’t taken into account the incredible care and precision of the sculptors, meaning that the actual workload would far surpass the theoretical estimation.

Archaeologists estimate that the material excavated from the site would amount to nearly one million cubic meters approximately the volume of 400 Olympic-sized pools. Yet there is no evidence of where this material would have gone.

36 grottoes have now been discovered covering a massive 30,000 square metres. Carved into solid siltstone, each grotto descends around 30 metres underground and contains stone rooms, bridges, gutters and pools. There are pillars evenly distributed throughout the caves which are supporting the ceiling, and the walls, ceiling and stone columns are uniformly decorated with chisel marks in a series of parallel lines. Even stranger: No tools have been found in the area.

All of the 36 grottoes are distributed across an area of only one square kilometer. In many areas, the walls between the caves are very thin, only 50 centimeters, but they were never linked so it appears they were intentionally kept apart.

Despite decades of research, very few answers have emerged to explain the enigma of the Longyou caves.

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