Although we move toward an advanced future, we still embrace history in the world. Although we have been securing a lot of ancient places, there are many more lost cities in the world that we were unable to save. They were drowned, abandoned, or merely lost without any trace.
Most of us know the story of Atlantis, which was an advanced civilization that disappeared into the ocean, but there are other similar lost cities told by other cultures. Although many of these stories were considered fiction at first, a number of archaeological discoveries have revealed that these stories were more than myths.
There is no end to the list of lost cities in the world. Apart from the most common stories of El Dorado, there are a lot of lost cities.
As we do not know other lost cities have been rediscovered. So here are a few spectacular lost civilizations uncovered by archaeologists.
Heracleion The Drowned Egyptian City
In almost every Greek myth, the city of Heracleion appears. This city is famous because it is where Hercules took his first steps into Africa. Before the Trojan War, the Paris of Troy and his stolen bride Helen hid from Menelaus.
But the exact place of this city is not discovered or known whether it really exists or not. It is said to be underwater for a good reason.
2200 years ago, on the Egyptian coastline, the city of Heracleion was likely hit by a massive earthquake or tsunami. For centuries it appeared undisturbed in the ocean on the North Coast of Egypt.
This was thought to be a myth, until 2001, when an archaeologist stumbled across something that appeared to be a sunken city while searching for French warships underwater. The divers resurfaced and found a strange rock from the ruins and realized that it was the remains of an ancient Greek statue.
Further research was done and archaeologists started to dig up layers of sand and uncovered the well-preserved City with many treasures. They found the main temple, hundreds of small statues Of Gods and goddesses, giant stages of Pharaohs, 64 ancient ships, a sphinx, 700 anchors, ancient Egyptian inscriptions, and stone blocks.
They also found dozens of sarcophagi, gold coins, and items made from bronze and Stone. There were large slabs with hieroglyphics, warning visitors of the Egyptian tax laws. And so the discovery of the ancient city Heracleion became one of the most significant underwater discoveries.
Ciudad Perdida, Colombia
During the 1970s, a city was uncovered deep in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains in Colombia and was recognized to be one of the lost cities “Teyuna”. This is found after 1000 years and was built by the Tairona people.
This city was named Teyuna by the Tairona but upon rediscovery, they dubbed it to be Ciudad Perdida. It perched on hillsides and tucked into South American rainforests. So people have to walk to witness its beauty firsthand.
The evidence says that the Tayrona founded the city around 800AD, a Pre-Columbian culture occupying the region at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD and founded around 250 settlements. Ciudad Perdida most likely served as the region’s center and supported a population of around 2,500-3,000 inhabitants.
Over 200 structures were discovered. They were constructed with timber on 169 terraces connected by a network of flagstone roads and several small circular plazas covering an area of over 30 hectares (80 acres). A combination of rammed earth and masonry, capped with stone was used to construct the terraces. It ensured a stable foundation and prevent erosion.
As a staple diet, the Tayrona also cultivated maize, beans, sweet potato, yams, and avocados. After the 16th century, Ciudad Perdida was abandoned after the arrival of the Spanish and it was swallowed by the jungle.
Great Zimbabwe The Medieval Castle of Africa
Great Zimbabwe which is considered to be among the lost cities was a medieval African city with a large circular wall and tower. It was found to be a part of a wealthy African trading empire that controlled much of the East African coast from the 11th to the 15th century C.E.
It was in the early 16th century, the Portuguese explorers talked about what they had heard about a castle in the jungles of Africa. It was said that a stone fortress towered over the trees in the land natives which are known today as Zimbabwe.
Even the locals didn’t know who had built it. It was in such an unlikely location and was suggested that it does not seem possible to be the work of man. Europeans thought Zimbabwe was just a fabricated story for centuries.
But then, around 1876, German explorers discovered a massive castle of stone with walls more than 11 meters tall, recognized to be made by an African civilization in 900 AD and forgotten in time.
Inside the fortress, the Germans found artifacts and relics from all around the world like Arab coins, Persian pottery, and relics from the Chinese Ming dynasty. And the significance of Great Zimbabwe was found to be more than just a castle. Through these findings, it was proved that the African civilization traded with cultures as far away as China.
By the 15th century, the city was largely abandoned as the Shona people migrated elsewhere. The exact reasons for the abandonment are unknown, but it is likely that exhaustion of resources and overpopulation were a few reasons.
The ancient city of Dwarka is described to be the most sacred of all cities according to Hinduism. It is said to be the home of God Krishna who lived 5000 years ago. He still worships today as a deity. The Dwarka was described to be the wealthiest city of all ancient cities built by an architect for the Gods.
There were over 900,000 palaces in the city and they used gold, silver, Crystal, Emeralds, sapphires, corals, and pearls. Krishna demanded for 16,000 palaces be built one for each of his 16,000 queens.
But in the end, the city got destroyed in a battle with nature. The force of the sea destroyed the buildings and walls. This story seems to be just a tale and is considered to be a myth.
But in 1983, between the existing land and nearby islands, major ancient seaport ruins were discovered underwater to match the topography of Dwarka’s description. Evidence was found by the researchers to support the city of 9000 years ago.
The oldest parts of Dwarka might have first been built 32,000 years ago, making it to be one of the oldest known lost cities on earth. And it was one of the wealthiest seaports in the world. Then sometime in the second millennium BC, it collapsed into the sea just like in the legend. Today, Dwarka is surrounded by much mystery, as excavation is seldom discussed by those living in the area.
Xanadu, China The Palace of Kublai Khan
Marco Polo came back from China in 1278 which is now known as inner Mongolia. There are some incredible descriptions of Kublai Khan’s empire including the Palace of the great Khan, and the most remarkable of all, the Xanadu. It was a marble Palace that was surrounded by a massive 26 km wide park filled with fountains, wild animals, and rivers.
It is said the Khan kept 10,000 pure white horses in a golden palace guarded by dragons. Unlike any on earth, it was in short a paradise. The palace was destroyed by the Ming Army in 1369, long before other Europeans had the chance to see it.
After a century passed, Xanadu became a myth and a place that poets wrote about. Then in 1872, Kublai Khan’s palace was found by a British diplomat with marble and tiles, though they have since been stripped. The Great Khan’s home was twice as big as the White House, surrounded by a massive park that appeared to have once held a wild menagerie of animals from around the world.
In every part of it, there really were ramps for horses and the dragons were statues on top of the pillars. Some of these were among the few things archaeologists managed to successfully preserve.
In 1274, Kublai Khan and his court moved to Xanadu each summer because of its cooler climate. until the fall of the Yuan dynasty in 1364, it functioned as the summer capital. The future was to be a mix of traditional nomadic and farming cultures but this cultural mix did not appeal to everyone, and many Mongols considered that their rulers had abandoned their traditions to become soft-living Chinese. Xanadu survived the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, but after a period of neglect, it was definitively abandoned around 1430.
Leptis Magna The Roman City Buried in Sand
Leptis Magna was a structured coastal Roman city and a trading port in Libya. Near the conclusion of the Second Punic War in 202 BC, it passed to Masinissa’s Numidian kingdom, from which it broke away in 111 BC to become an ally of Rome.
It was the place where the Roman Emperor Septimus Services ruled. He expanded the city and it became one of the most important parts of the empire.
But it fell to vandals in 439 AD. It was pillaged by Arab invaders and was left in ruins and completely forgotten getting buried under sandstorms. for 1200 years, Leptus Magna remained buried and the archaeologists found it in the 19th century.
They did not just find traces of pottery and tools they were able to unearth the entire city. Leptis Magna still has an amphitheater, baths, a basilica, and an area for the circus, which was well preserved by the sand and they look similar to how they would have appeared when the city was inhabited.
It has imposing public monuments, a harbor, a marketplace, storehouses, shops, and residential districts. The city’s natural harbor at the mouth of the Wadi Labdah facilitated its growth as a major trade center and became a market for agricultural production in the fertile coastland region.
It is being said that visiting Leptis Magna is like stepping into a time machine and going back thousands of years.
Vinland, The Viking Land of Plenty
Europe was emerging from what historians called the dark ages a thousand years ago. Far across the Atlantic, a lush abundant land was told about Danish king and explorer Svend Estridsen. He called the place Vinland after the great vines which he said grew of their own accord.
A German cleric named Adam of Bremen transcribed what the Danish king relayed in 1073. He added that the king’s men, the Danish Vikings, claimed they had fought with Vinland natives, the Skrælinger. They said, that they dressed in white clothes and lived in caves and holes.
They carried long poles and they charged screaming out loud cries of war when they attacked. Vinland was disregarded as a myth for centuries and during the 1960s, the true story was uncovered. The archaeologists found remains of an 11th Century Viking settlement, at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada.
This remarkable discovery proved writings from a thousand years earlier were accurate and that Europeans had visited North America much earlier than history claimed.
The Vikings arrived on the North American continent 500 years before Columbus discovered it.
La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia The Lost City
Tairona is an ancient tribe in South America. They built wooden structures upon the stone that ascended into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains around 1300 years ago. It was built according to the command of their God who wanted them to live close to the stars.
For several 100 years, when the Spanish Conquistadors brought diseases that spread throughout the region, the city was inhabited and wiped out. It was left barren for hundreds of years when the last of its inhabitants died.
It was during the 1970s, the city was discovered. A group of bandits making their way through the jungle stumbled upon it. It was an ancient overgrown city and was full of gold jewelry and jade artifacts.
They were sold on the black market and they came to the attention of archaeologists. The government stepped in to protect what was only known as, the lost city after nearly 500 years of being hidden in the jungle.
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