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Stuff You Should Know / – Short Stuff: Longyou Caves

Stuff You Should Know – Short Stuff: Longyou Caves

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The “Stuff You Should Know” podcast explores the fascinating mystery of the Longyou Caves in China. Discovered in the early 1990s, these ancient caves have puzzled researchers due to their impressive construction and unknown purpose. Join the hosts as they delve into the history, theories, and enigmatic features of the Longyou Caves.

Main Takeaways

The Discovery of the Longyou Caves

  • The Longyou caves were discovered in the early 1990s in the Zhujiang province of China.
  • They were found after a man named Wu decided to drain a pond that was rumored to be bottomless.
  • Five major and 19 slightly smaller underwater caverns were discovered, covering a total of seven and a half acres.

The Construction of the Caves

  • The biggest cavern has a ceiling that is 100 feet off the floor and is supported by carpillars.
  • The walls and pillars of the caves are made up of carved out parallel lines, which vary in width and length.
  • The carved out lines are adorned with smaller vertical chisel marks, indicating human hands played a big role in shaping the caves.
  • The uniform textured background created by the parallel lines gives the walls and pillars a unique and amazing effect.

The Mystery of the Longyou Caves

  • The mystery of why and how the caves were built still remains unsolved.
  • The purpose of the caves is still unknown, with theories of it being a mine, palace, or garrison, but none fully make sense.
  • There are intricate patterns and bas-relief carvings in the caves, but it is believed they were added much later.
  • Some people believe the caves were created by two sisters due to their similar looks and the functionality of the caves.

Theories and Controversies

  • The builders of the Longyou Caves were incredibly skilled, carving out spaces independently and using shared walls without puncturing them.
  • It took 1,000 people working 24/7 for six years to remove the rock and create the caverns.
  • There is no evidence of where the million cubic meters of rock went.
  • The sisters theory has received support from some people but also backlash from others.


The Enigma of the Longyou Caves

The Longyou Caves in China have captivated researchers and visitors alike with their mysterious origins and intricate construction. Discovered in the 1990s, these ancient caves remain an unsolved puzzle. The sheer scale of the caves, with their colossal chambers and delicate pillars, showcases the remarkable craftsmanship of their builders. The carved parallel lines and bas-relief carvings add an artistic touch to the enigmatic underground chambers.

Theories and Speculations

Despite extensive research, the purpose of the Longyou Caves remains elusive. Theories range from them being a mine, palace, or garrison, but none provide a definitive answer. The possibility of two sisters being behind their creation adds an intriguing twist to the mystery. The controversy surrounding this theory highlights the ongoing debate among experts. Additionally, the logistics of the construction, involving thousands of workers and the removal of massive amounts of rock, remain baffling.


The Longyou Caves continue to fascinate and perplex researchers, offering a glimpse into an ancient civilization’s ingenuity. The unanswered questions surrounding their purpose and construction leave room for speculation and further exploration. As we delve deeper into the mysteries of the past, the Longyou Caves remind us of the vastness of human history and the enduring allure of the unknown.

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