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Last Updated ( Friday, 07 May 2010 )
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Lost Cities of the World

The breathtaking city of Petra was a vibrant trading hub that vanished from most maps in the seventh century A.D. It lay beneath a thousand years of dust and debris when, in 1812, a Swiss scholar disguised as a Bedouin trader identified the ruins as the ancient Nabataean capital.

Spread throughout a series of remote desert canyons in southern Jordan, Petra arose more than 2,000 years ago at the crossroads of key caravan trade routes between Arabia, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. The Nabataeans carved most of the sprawling city's buildings, including temples, tombs, and theaters, directly into the region's towering red sandstone cliffs. Here, a Bedouin walks his camel past Petra's most famous building, Al Khazneh, or the Treasury

Lost Cities of the World

Lost Cities of the World

The earliest Maya began to settle the dense rain forests of southwestern Mexico and Guatemala some 3,000 years ago. For nearly 1,400 years, settlements arose throughout the region, with some, like Tikal and Palenque (shown here), expanding into large, vibrant city-states.

Although the archaeological discovery of Machu Picchu came nearly a hundred years ago, historians are still unsure of the function of this ancient Inca citadel.

The Inca had no system of writing and left no written records, and archaeologists have been left to piece together bits of evidence as to why Machu Picchu was built, what purpose it served, and why it was so quickly vacated.

Lost Cities of the World

Myth, folklore, mystery, and intrigue surround the ancient city of Troy like no other ruin on Earth. Once thought to be purely imaginary, a prop in Homer's epic poem The Iliad, excavations in northwestern Turkey in 1871 eventually proved that the city indeed existed.

In 1871, German adventurer Heinrich Schliemann began digging at Hisarlik, Turkey, (shown here) in search of the fabled city. His roughshod excavation wrought havoc on the site, but revealed nine ancient cities, each built on top of the next and dating back some 5,000 years. At the time, most archaeologists were skeptical that Troy was among the ruins, but evidence since the discovery suggests the Trojan capital indeed lies within the site.

Lost Cities of the World

The Indus Valley civilization was entirely unknown until 1921, when excavations in what would become Pakistan revealed the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro (shown here).

This mysterious culture emerged nearly 4,500 years ago and thrived for a thousand years, profiting from the highly fertile lands of the Indus River floodplain and trade with the civilizations of nearby Mesopotamia.

Lost Cities of the World

There is evidence that the ancient city of Palmyra, also known as Tadmor, was in existence as far back as the 19th century B.C. Its importance grew around 300 B.C. as trading caravans began using it as a way station between Mesopotamia and Persia. Palmyra's strategic location and prosperity attracted the interest of the Romans, who took control of the city in the first century A.D.

Lost Cities of the World

The city of Tanis is relatively unknown among Egypt's wealth of historical sites, though it yielded one of the greatest archeological troves ever found. Once the capital of all Egypt, Tanis's royal tombs have yielded artifacts on par with the treasures of Tutankhamun.

Lost Cities of the World

Once thought (erroneously) to be a city of the biblical Queen of Sheba, Great Zimbabwe stands as the most important archaeological site yet found in sub-Saharan Africa. Though historians are still seeking answers about the origin and purpose of the city, evidence suggests the Shona, ancestors of the modern Bantu, built it beginning around A.D. 1250 and that it served as a spiritual center.

Lost Cities of the World

Nimrud in northern Iraq was once the capital of the Assyrian empire. Feared as bloodthirsty and vicious, the Assyrians arose around the 14th century B.C. and dominated the Middle East for a thousand years.

Nimrud and the Assyrian Empire declined rapidly around 612 B.C., after Nimrud's sister city, Nineveh, fell to the Babylonians.

Lost Cities of the World

The ancient city of Persepolis in modern-day Iran was one of four capitals of the sprawling Persian Empire. Built beginning around 520 B.C., the city was a showcase for the empire's staggering wealth, with grand architecture, extravagant works of silver and gold, and extensive relief sculptures such as this one portraying envoys with offerings for the king.

The height of Persian rule lasted from about 550 B.C. until 330 B.C., when Alexander the Great overthrew the ruling Archaemenid dynasty and burned Persepolis to the ground.

Lost Cities of the World

Over centuries of study, archaeologists have discovered many truths about the famed Stonehenge monument in southern England. But despite these advances, the basic questions of who built this iconic structure and why have remained unanswered.

Lost Cities of the World

More than 600 cliff dwellings made by the ancestral Pueblo people, also known as the Anasazi, are scattered throughout Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado (shown here).

The Anasazi arrived in the region as early as A.D. 550, building their homes and cultivating crops on the soaring mesa tops. Around 1150, though, they began to move their dwellings to the alcoves within the canyon walls. Most houses were quite small, but a few reached enormous proportions, housing up 250 people.

Users' Comments (23) RSS feed comment
Posted by Cristian, on 13-09-2011 14:13, , Guest
I wonder why Teutihuacan is never mentioned as a Lost City or a world marvel? being much more impressive than the mayan cities

Posted by Mohan, on 16-07-2010 12:31, , Guest
A beautiful historical information with very good photographs. I am of my personnel opinion that this is the best information I have received on the LOST CITIES. Thanks for your efforts.

Posted by SENTHIL KUMAR.S, on 10-07-2010 11:10, , Guest
excellant. very descriptive and really useful for any age group to know how the world grew.

Posted by pradip, on 06-07-2010 04:40, , Guest
very nice collection send me more like this thanks

Posted by Rajesh Kadam, on 31-03-2010 00:42, , Guest
Very good and informative, Love this.

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