While reading historical books, we often come across the names of a places or cities which currently do not exist on a map. We usually dismiss them as mythical places and the product of the author’s imagination. But some of these places are far from being myths. They are just ancient cities lost in time and waiting to be rediscovered. Here, we have brought you ten such lost cities that have been rediscovered.
Heracleion, an ancient Egyptian city that was swallowed by the Mediterranean Sea 1,200 years ago, was discovered in 2000 and has been the site of an underwater excavation since then.
For centuries, the city of Heracleion was thought to have been a legend. Herodotus mentioned it as a city of extraordinary wealth. According to the legend, even Helen of Troy and her lover Paris visited the city. But after disappearing beneath the Mediterranean around 1,200 years ago, the tales about Heracleion have been proven to be true. It was discovered by French underwater archaeologist Dr. Franck Goddio while surveying the area. He was looking for French warships that sank there in the 18th century but instead found the lost city.
Built in 8th Century BCE, Heracleion is now submerged under 150 feet of water in the Bay of Aboukir. Explorers have discovered the remains of more than 64 ships buried in the thick clay and sand in the sea bed. Giant statues of around 16 feet have been discovered and brought to the surface. The floor of the sea is still strewn with hundreds of smaller statues of minor gods. Gold coins and weights made from bronze and stone have also been found.
Researchers, along with German TV documentary makers, have created a three-dimensional reconstruction of the city. It shows a huge temple of the god Amun-Gereb at the heart of the city. From the temple, there stretches a vast network of canals and channels which allowed the city to become the most important port in the Mediterranean at that time.
2. Shi Cheng
Founded about 1,300 years ago, the city of Shi Cheng was flooded purposefully to create a man-made lake where it lay forgotten for 50 years.
The ancient city of Shi Cheng was built about 1,300 years ago. It was once the center of politics and economics in the eastern province of Zhejiang, China. But fifty years ago, it vanished without a trace. It was all because the government decided that they needed a new hydroelectric power station. So, despite its beauty, the city was deliberately flooded in 1959.
The city is now called the “Lion City” because it is tucked between the Five Lion Mountains. It lay forgotten in Qiandao Lake until it was rediscovered around the year 2009. Upon discovery, it was found that the entire town was intact including the wooden beams and stairs. Since then, it has been resurrected as an underwater adventure park for tourists.
3. Ciudad Perdida
Founded in 800 CE, the ancient city Ciudad Perdida was discovered in 1972 when a group of local treasure looters found a series of stone steps rising up the mountainside and followed them to an abandoned city.
Ciudad Perdida is an ancient city that lies in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Teyuna Archaeological Park in the Sierra Nevada region of northern Colombia. It was built in 800 CE, some 650 years before Peru’s Machu Picchu. It was first discovered in the early 1970s when thieves and treasure hunters looted from the site. Soon gold figurines and ceramic urns from this city began to appear in the local black markets. This piqued the interest of archaeologists.
Headed by the director of the Instituto Colombiano de Antropologia, archaeologists reached the site in 1976. They completed the reconstruction between 1976-1982. According to the members of local tribes, they knew about the city but had kept quiet about it. They even visited the site regularly before it was widely discovered. The locals believed that Ciudad Perdida is the heart of a network of villages inhabited by their forebears.
Ciudad Perdida can be reached by climbing 1,236 stone steps and consists of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads, and several small circular plazas. The entrance can only be accessed by climbing up the stone steps through dense jungle. The place is now open for tourist hikes.(1,2)
The ancient Roman city, Timgad, sank into oblivion for over 1,000 years and was partially preserved under the sand up to a depth of one meter. It disappeared from history until its excavation in 1881.
Lying on the northern slopes of the Aurès mountains, Timgad was created as a military colony by Emperor Trajan in 100 CE. The city enjoyed a peaceful existence for the first several hundred years. It became a center of Christian activity starting in the 3rd century, and a Donatist center in the 4th century. But since the 5th century, it saw numerous religious conflicts, civil wars, and barbarian invasions. By the sixth century, Timgad was burned to the ground by local Arab tribes. It eventually sank into oblivion and laid partially preserved under one meter of sand for over 1,000 years.
Tigmad disappeared from history until its excavation in 1881. With its square enclosure, orthogonal design, and the two perpendicular routes running through the city it is an excellent example of Roman town planning. The city had bathhouses, a magnificent theater, half a dozen temple enclosures, a library, marketplaces, fountains, and magnificent arches. Timgad is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1963, a man in Turkey knocked down a wall in his home, discovering a passageway to the lost ancient underground city of Derinkuyu.
Derinkuyu is an ancient, multi-level underground city in the Derinkuyu district in Nevşehir Province, Turkey. It is thought to have been created during the Byzantine era in 780-1180 CE. But it is still a mystery as to who built it and why. It was discovered in 1963 when a Turkish man decided to knock down a wall of his home. In doing so, he accidentally opened a secret room leading to an underground tunnel which led to the city of Derinkuyu.
Derinkuyu is the largest excavated underground city in Turkey. It extends to a depth of approximately 60 meters (200 feet). It is large enough to have sheltered as many as 20,000 people together with their livestock and food stores. Inside is a network of kitchens, stables, churches, tombs, wells, cellars, storage rooms, communal rooms, and schools. When the city was functional, there were about 600 entrances. To fend off intruders, there were heavy stone doors which could completely seal off Derinkuyu from the inside. Currently, only about half of Derinkuyu is accessible. It was opened to visitors in 1969, and now it is a popular tourist attraction.
6. The Mosque City of Bagerhat
The Mosque City of Bagerhat is famous for more than 50 Islamic monuments and the Sixty Pillar Mosque was abandoned after the death of its founder in 1459. It was rediscovered after removing the vegetation that had obscured the city from view for many centuries.
The Mosque City of Bagerhat is an ancient city of Bangladesh located in the suburbs of Bagerhat city at the meeting point of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. It was established by the Turkish general Ulugh Khan Jahan in the 15th century. He established a planned township with roads, bridges, water supply tanks, and cisterns. He also constructed a number of mosques, tombs, palaces, and his own mausoleum. In total, this formerly lost city has more than 50 Islamic monuments.
But when the founder of this city died in 1459, it slowly became covered up by the jungle. Due to the lack of fortifications, the city disappeared into the impenetrable mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans. Later in 1895, an extensive survey of the area was conducted and the city was rediscovered. The restoration work started in 1903 and it became a World Heritage Site in 1985. This historic city is listed by Forbes as one of the Fifteen Lost Cities of the World. One of the most famous architectural establishments in this city is the Sixty Pillar Mosque, constructed with 60 pillars and 77 domes.
7. Machu Picchu
Conquistadors carrying smallpox wiped out the inhabitants of this royal, mountaintop fortress, and the Lost City of the Incas remained “lost” until its discovery in 1911.
The stone city of Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 meters above sea level. This famous icon of Inca civilization was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti at around 1450. Just 100 years after its establishment, the place was abandoned due to the Spanish Conquest. Most of its inhabitants had died before the actual military Spanish Conquest. The reason being smallpox which was introduced by the foreign travelers. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle overgrew the site. Local people knew about its existence but it didn’t reveal it to the outside world.
Many centuries later, in 1911, a Peruvian guide brought a Yale professor, Hiram Bingham, to the lost city of Machu Pichu, and it was introduced to the outside world. The Incans had no written language, so they left no record of why they built the site or how they used it before it was abandoned in the early 16th century. But the buildings, walls, terraces, and ramps are a strong proof of their engineering skills. Their 700-plus terraces preserved soil and promoted agriculture. These also served as part of an extensive water-distribution system that conserved water and limited erosion on the steep slopes. Today, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE, the nearby Roman town of Pompeii was buried under several feet of ash and rock. The ruined city remained frozen in time until it was discovered by a surveying engineer in 1748.
Pompeii, an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, was destroyed and buried under four to six meters of volcanic ash and pumice when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. Evidence for the destruction originally came from a letter by Pliny the Younger, who saw the eruption from a distance. In the letter, he described the death of his uncle, Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet, who tried to rescue citizens. He wrote: “Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room.”
The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599. One hundred and fifty years later in 1748, it was rediscovered by a Spanish engineer, Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. The volcanic ash protected Pompeii for a millennium. The objects lying beneath the city remained preserved due to the absence of air and moisture. During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed archaeologists to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died. Even after hundreds of years of work, about a third of the city still lies buried.
Hidden for centuries inside the dense Guatemalan rain forest, the lost Maya city of Holtun was discovered when the locals reported looting of a previously unknown site.
Holtun, originally named La Máquina, is a Mayan city in Guatemala. The city was bustling with people and activity from the Middle Pre-classic period to the Late Classic period. It is not clear as to how the city slowly sunk into oblivion. For a long time, local people knew that there is something buried in the Guatemalan rain forest but had no idea what it was. Centuries later, looters found an entrance to the lost city. The local community reported the looting activity. The Guatemalan authorities responded by officially recognizing the area as a protected site in 1994.
Since then, archaeologists regularly visit the area to find out the secrets of lost city of Holtun. In 2011, a three-dimensional mapping was done which “erased” centuries of jungle growth revealing the rough contours of nearly a hundred buildings. In 2010, researchers plotted the locations and elevations of a seven-story-tall pyramid using GPS and electronic distance measurement technology. They also found an astronomical observatory, a ritual ball court, several stone residences, and many other structures.
In Holtun, archaeologists have found giant masks which have been named the “Head of Stone.” It is about three-quarters of a mile (one kilometer) long and a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) wide. From about 600 BCE. to 900 CE, it was a bustling, mid-size Maya center and home to about 2,000 permanent residents. But today, its structures are buried under several feet of earth and plant material. Even the Head of Stone’s three-pointed pyramid now looks like a mountain in midst of forest.
The ancient Greek city, Helike, was submerged by a tsunami in 373 BCE and was rediscovered in 2001, buried in an ancient lagoon near the village of Rizomylos. After numerous failed expeditions, Helike was rediscovered in 2001.
Helike, an ancient Greek city, was founded in the Mycenaean period by Ion, the leader of the Ionian race. Soon it became the capital of the Twelve Cities of ancient Achaea. But one day in the winter of 373/372 BCE, a violent earthquake struck the southwest shore of the Gulf of Corinth. It was accompanied by a Tsunami which destroyed and submerged the city of Helike.
One hundred and fifty years after the disaster, philosopher Eratosthenes visited the site. He reported discovering a submerged but standing bronze statue of Poseidon on the site. Around 174 CE, the traveler Pausanias visited the coastal site, still called Helike, and reported that the walls of the ancient city were still visible under the water. For centuries after, its submerged ruins could still be seen. Later, the site silted over, and since then Helike remained alive only in ancient text and legends.
For hundreds of years, there were numerous expeditions to find Helike, but no one could find anything except two small coins. Finally, in 2001, the city of Helike was rediscovered buried in an ancient lagoon near the village of Rizomylos. In 2012, cobblestones, clay roof tiles, and pottery were uncovered in the earthquake destruction layer which further proved that the discovered site is actually Helike.
Source : factsc.com/lost-cities