The Hidden Histories of Ancient Cities: 17 Intriguing Facts

1El Mirador

El Mirador

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.



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.



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.”

4Catal Huyuk

Catal Huyuk

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.



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.



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.

7Nan Madol

Nan Madol

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.

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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.

9He Cheng & Shi Cheng

He Cheng & Shi Cheng

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.

10Lost 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.

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