Myth and reality – lost cities and civilizations


THE world is dotted with abandoned cities that fell victim to hostility, disease and natural disasters.

In life after people, towns, cities and entire civilizations are left to decay and fall into ruin, waiting to be rediscovered centuries after.

Many such places become time capsules of history that capture the imaginations and intrigue generations of modern people – while some remain the stuff of legend. investigates.

•    Memphis, Egypt.

A former capital of ancient Egypt, Memphis was founded in 3,100BC and served as a main cultural center of Egyptian civilization.

The rise of Thebes and Alexandria led the city to decay and becoming lost for centuries.

At its’ peak the total population of ancient Memphis was among the largest in antiquity including over 30,000 citizens.

For a long time the city was the stuff of legend, but a Napoleonic expedition rediscovered it in the late 1700s.

Though many parts of its architectural wealth were appropriated by nearby settlements, the city’s Sphinx and temples were a true godsend for archaeologists.

•    Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Angkor Wat could rival Los Angeles in being a large pre-industrial city.

It served as a cultural center of the Khmer Empire from 800AD, but fell victim to the Thai invasion in 1431.

The city remained untouched up to the 1800s when French archaeologists discovered its historical significance and started investigation.

•    El Dorado, South America.

El Dorado means “The Golden One” in Spanish and refers to an ancient city in the jungles of South America.

The city became a legend – that of prosperous place made of gold and jewels, but an ill-famed destination for many disastrous expeditions.

The most famous one was launched by Gonzalo Pizarro who mobilized a command of 300 soldiers in 1541 to search El Dorado, but participants of the investigation came to grief after being attacked by natives and various diseases.

No evidence of the city has ever been found.

•    Machu Picchu, Peru.

Machu Picchu was founded in 1400s by the Incas who abandoned the city about 100 years later because of smallpox.

The city was re-discovered by historian Hiram Bingham in 1911 and became one of the most recognized constructions in the world.

Various theories for Machu Picchu exists abound.

It is believed the city was an alternative to a shrine, while others claim it was used as a prison.

Some historians also offer the version that Machu Picchu was the personal estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti.

•    Atlantis, ?

A city that persists in legend, without any proof of its existence is Atlantis.

It served as a center of advanced civilization that conquered more than half of Europe, but sunk in the sea because of natural disaster.

Many scientists take it as a myth, but since the city was first mentioned by Plato in 360BC, humanity cannot stop speculating.

Even Nazi Fuehrer Adolf Hitler poured huge amount of money into exploration for Atlantis’ remnants in Tibet.

Anyway, the true location of Atlantis, if the city did indeed exist, is a secret even today.

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