10 Lost Cities and Mythical Civilisations of the Ancient World

Paititi-mythical-inca-city (Image: via Qim1/Wikia, cc-sa-3.0)

Over the course of many centuries, countless things are lost. Books, ideas, buried kings – even entire cities. Whole capitals have vanished without a trace, leaving only rumours and contradictory accounts in books. Some of these places may have existed, others definitely did, and others still are legends we somehow dragged out the sand and into fact. Legends like:

Iram of the Pillars (Saudi Arabia)

iram-of-the-pillars (Image: Tarawneh, cc-3.0)

Until recently, legendary Iram was thought to just be just that: a legend. The sole reference to it in the Koran casts it as an Islamic Sodom and Gomorrah – a place so sinful Allah buried it beneath the sands; while references in the 1001 Nights and Bedouin myth are even less credible.

Then, in the early nineties- with the aid of NASA- Sir Ranulph Fiennes and archaeologist Juris Zarins claimed to have found the missing city. By using satellite photography, the group uncovered a network of ancient camel roads converging on an empty patch of Saudi Arabia’s Rub al Khali desert. Excavations seemed to point to an ancient city – one destroyed in some awful cataclysm millennia ago. Hyped on their success, the team alerted the media, who broadcast the news of Iram’s rediscovery far and wide.

Sadly, the theory eventually fizzled out. While the team had found something, the confined nature of the settlement seemed to indicate it was nothing more than a simple stopping post. Once again, Iram vanished into myth.

 

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