Lost and found: Cities of the world
They were famous and flourishing cities in ancient era. But got lost over a period of time. A sudden discovery or a dedicated archeologist then found these amazing lost cities of the world.
In 1799 Scottish army officer Colin Mackenzie accidentally came across ancient ruins in the Deccan Plateau area of southern India. He didn’t realize he was looking at the remains of a great empire that dated from the 14th century AD. The Vijayanagara Empire was famed for its efficiency, international links and magnificent architecture along with its wealth. During 1565 a war ruined the city and it was abandoned. Today you can visit the wonderfully restored monuments located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi, which lies in Vijayanagara in central Karnataka state.
In 1748, The Duke of Naples was having a summer palace built 24km south of Naples on Italy’s west coast. As workmen dug foundations, they came across the buildings and streets of a lost city. It dawned on people that this was the lost and largely forgotten Roman city of Pompeii – destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the summer of AD 79. Today, Pompeii is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
In 1948 American history Professor Paul Kosok came across the remains of an ancient city just 200 km north of Lima. Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady radio-carbon dated the site to 5,000 years ago, the oldest city in the Americas. It once housed 3,000 pre-Inca inhabitants and was already thriving when the Egyptian pyramids were just being built. Covering 370 acres, there were temples, plazas, an amphitheater and ordinary houses. Caral was peaceful with no trace of battlements or weapons too. Abandoned in 2000 BC, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.
In 1818 Major Henry Taylor and his men were out hunting, two days’ march northeast of Bhopal in central India. They stumbled upon a huge domed stone structure with several stone gateways. Unknown to him, Taylor had discovered a 3rd century BC Buddhist complex built by the emperor Ashoka. He built a Great Stupa or domed temple guarded by four gateways carved with scenes from Buddhism. However, by the 13th century AD, the center was abandoned. In 1989, Sanchi was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1939, Pierre Montet’s team was excavating around 160km away from Cairo, looking for the city called Zoan which in the Bible was where baby Moses was found. Montet uncovered burial chambers, huge temples and an urban complex. Tanis was a magnificent city and one-time capital of ancient Egypt. The earliest buildings date from around 1000 BC with the temple of Amun (king of the gods) surrounded by a wall, plus houses and streets on a grid pattern. It declined when its ports silted up and the entire city slipped beneath the sand.
Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan
In 1922, R D Banerji, an official with the Archaeological Survey of India, and John Marshall excavations in the Sindh province of Pakistan to find a city that dated from around 2500 BC. Mohenjo Daro was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley and home to 50,000 people. Buildings uncovered include a Great Bath, an elaborate sewage system with 700 freshwater wells and a grid system of housing. The city went into decline around 1900 BC and was abandoned. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Machu Picchu, Peru
In July 1911, American historian Hiram Bingham was making a tour of ancient Inca settlements in Peru when he discovered ruins on top of a mountain which locals called Machu Picchu or ‘Old Peak’. It is believed the city was built around AD 1450 as a summer retreat for Inca rulers and luckily remained hidden from the Spanish conquerors. The 200 buildings had a population of about 750 people, probably royal retainers. Built without the use of mortar, the polished dry-stone buildings include the Inti Watana, a kind of sundial, the semi-circular Temple of the Sun and the Temple of Three Windows. The site was abandoned in 1550, perhaps due to disease brought by the Spanish invaders. The city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Do you know any more such forgotten cities? Do write to us about them.