Whenever we think of lost cities, Atlantis features at the top of the mythical places that have intrigued explorers and historians through the ages. It even was mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, in his dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, by 360 BC.
As Plato explained, it was considered a naval power in the ancient world. After failing to conquer Athens, Atlantis sunk deep into the ocean in a single day and night, and never emerged again. It is fascinating to note that great civilizations such as Atlantis can be brought to knees, just with a turn of fate or something else. Well, we don’t know about that, but other lost cities still deserve our attention.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site in Peru, and it was built at the height of the Inca Empire. Archaeologists believe it to be an estate of around 1450-square-meters for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti.
The city was discovered in 1911 by American historian and politician, Hiram Bingha. Nobody knows why the Inca city was abandoned, perhaps it was because of the Spanish conquest. Another theory that revolves around was that the inhabitants of Machu Picchu were infected with smallpox due to the influx of Spanish conquistadors, resulting in the death of people. Machu Picchu is now considered a World Heritage Site and was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
The city that vanished into thin air was Pompeii, a Roman city situated at the Mount Vesuvius foothills near modern-day Naples in Italy. It was one of the most popular ancient Roman sites with many holiday villas in the area. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius left massive destruction and death.
Pompeii got buried under the volcanic ash that was almost six meters thick. It was rediscovered again in 1748 buried under the thick layer of ash and pumice that had stopped it from natural decay. The artifacts also revealed detailed information about the life of the city during the Pax Romana era. Pompeii has retained the status of a popular destination for over 250 years and is now Italy’s most visited destination.
The city of Mahendraparvata, part of the famous Khmer Empire, has been discovered recently by the Australian archaeologist in June 2013. It is a medieval city situated among the thick jungle brush on the Phnom Kulen Mountains, located 40 kilometers north of Angor Wat, which was found in 802 AD.
The state-of-the-art airborne laser technology, known as Lidar, helped discover the city. Archaeologists used Lidar to discover the scattered ruins in the temple-city Mahendraparvata. It is linked by a network of roads, ponds, dykes, and temples, and the area is also found to be divided into city blocks.
The Rose City or the Lost City of Petra is especially known for its monuments cut into the surrounding cliffs, rendering it the name Red Rose City. It is found by a cliff face between the Red and the Dead Sea. The Nabatean and its inhabitants were Arabian nomads and followed a nomadic lifestyle.
The city was at a crossroad, so it became a cultural hub between the cities of Arabia, Egypt, and Syria-Phoenicia. It also became a center of the Hellenistic and Roman period for things such as the incense of Arabia, the silks of China, and the exotic spices of India. It is recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites.
Great Enclosures, Zimbabwe
These are some of the Great Enclosures of Zimbabwe, spanning across 728 hectares of the southeastern hills, near Lake Mutrikwe. These are the ancient lost cities of African ruins, known for their majestic architecture of stone walls without mortar. The ancestors of the Shona people lived there and served the Zimbabwean monarch during the Iron Age. The tall wall of the Great Enclosures is 11 meters high and is as wide as 250 meters, making it one of the tallest structures south of the Sahara Desert.
The Great Enclosures construction started around the 11th century and the work continued right around to the 14th century. Great Zimbabwe has been regarded as a national monument by the Zimbabwean government and earns the distinction of being a World Heritage Site.
Did you know about these lost cities? Isn’t this one of the most fascinating aspects of history? Great cities where major civilizations built and grew, but got lost somewhere in the middle.