FEBRUARY 24 2012 01:25h

China's lost 'Atlantis' unearthed

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XUYI, China, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- An ancient city long-considered China's "Atlantis" has been unearthed in the country's Jiangsu Province, researchers say.

Archaeologists said farmers often find bizarre rectangular stones in their fields, and huge amounts of broken tiles and piles of carved stones were discovered during construction of a bridge 25 years ago.

These artifacts made people think of the ancient city of Sizhou, a mysterious "lost" city of local legend, which in 1680 was supposedly lashed by a powerful storm that forced residents to flee.

Before they escaped to become refugees, the story goes, they tried carrying earth from elsewhere to cover the town to hold the flood at bay.

In the last year, archaeologists from Nanjing and Huai'an museums located the lost city, covering nearly a square mile, with five-sixths of it buried under the Huaihe River's sediment, China Daily reported.

The rest of the city remains underwater, archaeologists said.

"Sizhou is perhaps better preserved than Italy's ancient city of Pompeii, which was buried in volcanic ash," Hu Bing, deputy director of Huai'an Museum's archaeology department, said.

"No one knows how many treasures are buried in the ancient city," he said.