25 Mysterious Facts about Ancient Cities

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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. It is thought to have been sunk by an Earthquake.

2. In the ancient Indian Kingdom of Golconda, the king Ibrahim Wali designed and built a fortress city so acoustically perfect that a hand clap at the fortress gates could be heard at the top of the citadel itself, located on the summit of a 300 foot hill.

3. In Portugal, there is an ancient city named Vilarinho Da Furna that is submerged in water, but during dry spells, the water levels go down enough that you can see it. This 2000-year-old town was destroyed by an electric company when it constructed a dam in 1967.

4. In the ancient Greek city of Sybaris, the citizens, derided by famous writers of the time for their extremely luxurious lifestyles, had canals built that transported wine directly from the countryside into their personal cellars. The cavalry from the ancient city of Sybaris trained their horses to dance to pipe music and then were defeated by an army attacking them with music.

5. The Ancient Egyptians had a city called Crocodilopolis. It contained a sacred lake where crocodiles were worshipped, fed and adorned with jewelry.

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The ancient city of Jericho (currently in Palestine) is the world’s oldest walled city, with evidence of stone fortifications dating back nearly 9,000 years. Archaeological digs have turned up traces of habitation that are even older up to 11,000 years ago.

7. A huge ancient Mayan city named El Mirador has been discovered in Guatemala and it holds one of the world's largest pyramids. The La Danta temple measures approximately 72 meters (236 feet) tall from the forest floor.

8. In the ancient city of Timbuktu in Mali there are an estimated 300,000 or more precolonial African literary manuscripts tucked away in various libraries and private collections, mostly written in Arabic and some in native languages. Topics include herbal medicine, mathematics, astronomy, poetry, law, history, faith, politics, and philosophy.

9. The ancient of city Caral in Peru features Pyramids which were built around the same time period that the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built. The city also shows no traces of warfare, indicating that the site was built as a place for “Commerce and Pleasure.”

10. The ancient city Catal Huyuk (in the present day Turkey) was one of the first recorded cities in history, but it didn't have any streets. The dwellings were clustered like a honeycomb-maze. Most of the houses were accessed by holes in the ceiling and doors on the side of the houses, with doors reached by ladders and stairs.

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An Ancient city named “Seuthopolis” was discovered in the bottom of a lake in Bulgaria. It was founded in 323 B.C. The city was discovered and researched between 1948 and 1954. Unfortunately, this discovery came too late, because the reservoir dam being constructed nearby soon flood the valley and drowned this city. Right now there is a project underway to restore the city.

12. In the ancient city of Memphis, Egypt, so many people worshiped Anubis, the jackal-headed God of death, that the catacombs next to this sacred temple once held nearly 8 million mummified puppies and grown dogs.

13. Nan Madol is the only ancient city ever built upon a coral reef. It is a marvel of ancient engineering. The city, constructed in a lagoon, consists of a series of small artificial islands linked by a network of canals.

14. Hatra, the capital of the "first Arab Empire" known as the Kingdom of Araba (in modern day Iraq) was one of the most diverse cities in the ancient world. It had temples (pantheons) to 5 major religions: Greek, Mesopotamian, Canaanite, Aramean, and Arabian.

15. Two ancient Chinese cities were drowned when the valley was flooded for a new hydroelectric power station. He Cheng and Shi Cheng remained forgotten for 40 years until 2001. Shi Cheng was built more than 1300 years ago in 621 AD. It was once the center of politics, economics and culture. He Cheng is even older: established in 208 AD as a business hub.

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16Lost City of Zakynthos

Lost City of Zakynthos

When snorkelers discovered what appeared to be ancient stonework off the coast of the Greek island of Zakynthos in 2013, archaeologists sent to the site thought the odd rocks might be the ruins of an ancient city. Turns out, the so-called Lost City of Zakynthos was not built by humans, but by methane-eating microbes.

17. In 1963, a man tore down a wall in his house and noticed an enormous and complex tunnel system behind it. He had rediscovered the ancient underground city Derinkuyu in Turkey. The city had 9 levels, used to house 20,000 people and had amenities such as stables, wineries, schools, and chapels. It was built between 1200 and 800 B.C.

18. The ancient city of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey built in 10,000 B.C., is twice as old as Stonehenge, and completely disrupts our ideas of human development and agriculture. Carvings on a stone located at the site depict a comet strike that researchers have theorized caused a worldwide cataclysmic event, which in turn brought on a 1000 year ice age known as the Younger Dryas. It predates the invention of known tools, cities/communities, and the written word. The oldest known sphinx was found in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey and it was dated to 9,500 BC.

19. The Aztec capital Tenochtitlán was the largest city in the Americas with over 200,000 people. It was built on a man-made island in the middle of a lake - connected to the shore by 3 causeways. It contained huge pyramids, floating gardens, aqueducts, and canals. It was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521.

20. The Greek city of Helike sank in an earthquake in 373 B.C., and all of the inhabitants died. Over time, it was silted over and was thought to be legendary until it was rediscovered in 2001.



The Ancient city of Uruk at 2900 B.C. had 50,000 - 80,000 residents living in its 6 square km of walled area, making it the largest city in the world at the time.

22. Almost every home in the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro from over 4000 years ago was equipped with a private bathing area with drains to take the dirty water out into a larger drain that emptied into a sewage drain.

23. The city-states of the ancient Maya were dominated by two cities, Tikal and Calakmul, who fought a series of conflicts through proxy states. Some experts have compared these conflicts to US-Soviet fighting by proxy during the Cold War.

24. The largest brick arch in the world, the 121-foot (37 m) tall Taq-i Kisra, is nearly 1,500 years old and it is the only surviving structure from the ancient city of Ctesiphon.

25. There is a ruined and uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site named Ani in Turkey that has lay empty for over 3 centuries. Even as a ruin it is still disputed.

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  1. The image used for Heracleion is actually part of the art installation Vicissitudes by Jason deCaire Taylor off the coast of Grenada. Although not originally intended to be a statement about the “Middle Passage” this particular piece has struck a chord and become an homage to the slaves who lost their lives when slavers threw them overboard in chains to avoid getting caught by authorities.



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