Archeologists continue to peel back the layers of time, revealing things that were once lost. As such, lost ancient cities have been swallowed by water, sand or vegetation.
If you’ve ever heard of the city of Atlantis, lost forever and swallowed by the sea, then you’re not alone. Most everyone has heard tales of this mysterious city. What you may not know, is that Atlantis is only one of these lost ancient cities. Throughout time, many great civilizations have fallen prey to the elements.
Let’s take a look at 5 of those lost ancient cities that have emerged from the past.
1. The Lost City of Helike
Helike was an important economical, religious and cultural center. Located in Achaea in the northwestern part of the Peloponnesian peninsula, the city was the center of an Achaean league, a confederation of 12 other cities. Poseidon, Greek god of earthquakes and the sea, was the patron god.
It is fairly easy to pinpoint the time when Helike was obliterated. During a winter night in 373 B.C., columns of flames were reported, along with a massive earthquake which rocked the land. Soon after, a Tsunami, from the coast of Corinth, completed the destruction. There were no survivors and Helike was lost.
The city was unearthed in 2012, following speculation which started as early as the beginning of the 19th century. As the layers of destruction were uncovered, it was confirmed that the city was indeed the lost city of Helike.
2. The Pyramid city of Caral
If you thought Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and India produced the first civilizations, then you are wrong. The city of Caral, dated over 5,000 years old, may be one of the oldest cities to date.
As well-known civilizations and societies emerged, the city of Caral was already flourishing. The Norte Chico civilization of Supe, Peru, with the city of Caral as the capital, is the first civilization of the Americas. This ancient civilization included bordering residential areas for the workers, an amphitheater, six pyramids, temples and circular plazas. The economy was thriving and the culture was rich.
In 1905, when the Supe valley, 200 miles north of Lima on the Peruvian coast, was surveyed by German archeologist Max Uhle, the lost city of Caral was found. It had been buried for thousands of years, undisturbed and intact. Several decades later, excavations started and in 1970, the pyramids of Caral were discovered. By 1990, the full city was unearthed. Caral is estimated to have held a population of around 3,000 people.
3. The Ancient city of Heracleion
Believed to be a place of Myth, the city of Heracleion held the temple where Cleopatra was inaugurated. Around 1,200 years ago, this city was said to have plunged into the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Egypt. For centuries, this city was sure to be a mythical place, much like the lost city of Atlantis, but discoveries prove that this myth was true all along.
In 2001, an archeologist, searching for sunken warships, stumbled across ancient underwater ruins. After clearing away layers of sand, archeologists discovered the main temple of Amun-Gerb, a sphinx, 64 ships, dozens of sarcophagi, giant statues of pharaohs, gold coins and many other treasures. The city was indeed real and turned out to be one of the most intriguing discoveries ever.
4. Two lost Mayan cities
In 2014, deep within the jungles of Mexico, archeologists discovered two new Mayan cities. One of these cities, Lagunita, was found decades ago, but until now could not be relocated. Remnants of pyramids, temples, ball courts, altars and a monster mouth gateway, one of the most outstanding features found at the excavation site, representing the Mayan god of fertility, revealed two massive Mayan civilizations.
Past this entranceway, archeologists discovered a huge palace complex with plazas, pillars, altars and a large temple pyramid which stood at 65 ft. in height. Along with the first revealed ancient city Lagunita, Tamchen, or “deep well”, the second city, revealed many of the same treasures in architecture. Tamchen was named for the deep underground chambers that were used for catching rainwater.
5. Atlantis of the Sands
As written in the Quran, Iram of the Pillars is said to be an ancient city populated by the Ad people. As the story goes, the Ad turned away from Allah, and Hud, a prophet, was sent to turn them back to their god. Because the people of Iram refused to worship Allah, they were punished by massive sandstorms, which raged for seven nights and days. The city was buried.
In the 90s, NASA remote sensing satellites were used by a team, which included Nicholas Clapp, an amateur archeologist and filmmaker, to find the ancient city they called Ubar. The team also used, ground penetrating radar, images taken by the Space Shuttle Challenger and Landsat program data as well.
The city offered up camel routes, a well-known water hole in Shisr, Dhofar Province, Oman and many forts and tall towers. The team believes that Ubar and Iram of the Pillars is one and same, or at least one inspired by the other.
These discoveries are fascinating, to say the least. Finding treasures that reveal answers to mysteries of the past is always a thrill and a conquest. The most promising thought about these discoveries of lost ancient cities, however, is the fact that there will be many more intriguing civilizations revealed in the future. Peeling back the layers of time has never been so exciting!