Culture & Literature
Ancient History's Lost Cities

Ancient History's Lost Cities Ancient History's Lost Cities

The notion of the lost city is steeped in mystery, and the uncertainty that surrounds the disappearance of a civilisation that once thrived. Ancient History’s Lost Cities examines why certain cities became abandoned, and how they were rediscovered years later.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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In this issue

1 min.
ancient history’s   lost cities

The notion of the lost city is steeped in mystery and adventure, and the inevitable uncertainty that surrounds the disappearance of a civilisation that once thrived. Ancient History’s Lost Cities examines why certain cities became abandoned, as well as how several were rediscovered years, even centuries, later. From Troy, Babylon and Pompeii to Petra, Angkor and Machu Picchu, step back in time and learn about the rise and fall of such fascinating places. Visit lesser-known cities, such as Carthage and La Ciudad Perdida, and discover the stories behind these unfamiliar civilisations. Uncover the structures that provided housing, places of worship and other essential amenities; learn all about the circumstances that caused these cities to be destroyed or abandoned, from natural disasters and war to overpopulation and disease; and explore the…

13 min.
legend, lore and lost cities

The lure of the lost city transcends time and the human experience. For whatever reason, a people, a culture, a way of life was there for a while, and then it was gone. People are ‘social animals’, and since the dawn of existence have clustered together for mutual support, hunting, gathering, farming, building shelters, raising children, practising the same religion, protecting one another against external threats, and developing cultural ties that civilisations have come to share in common. From cave dwellers to the builders of skyscrapers, these human instincts remain. Long ago, the beginnings of economic, cultural and social identity emerged as peoples gathered in ever greater numbers. Settlements, villages and then cities developed as concentrations of a populace built substantial structures for housing, worship and countless other reasons. These cities were…

2 min.
how cities become lost

Natural disasters Earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions and severe flooding have brought about the demise of many settlements through the ages. The city of Pompeii was built on an ancient lava flow from nearby Mount Vesuvius, and several other towns were located nearby. When the volcano erupted in 79 CE, Pompeii was inundated with volcanic ash and swamped with lava, destroying everything in its path. In 1319, the city of Ani in east Turkey was devastated by an earthquake that reduced many of its structures to heaps of rubble. Only a remnant of the once bustling settlement remained, later to be completely abandoned. Ravages of war With the enemy at the gates, in the streets and claiming booty, some cities died or were ‘severely wounded’ during wartime. Homer’s Iliad is the story of…

2 min.
how cities are rediscovered

Accidental discoveries When a simple home-improvement project opens the door to a lost subterranean city, or the search for sunken 18th century warships leads to the discovery of a city submerged in the Mediterranean Sea for more than a millennium, no other explanation applies. Like others in science, mathematics or medicine, the discoveries of the archaeological wonders of Derinkuyu and Heracleion were by accident. At Troy, the search for the city of King Priam and Helen, the face that launched 1,000 ships, led to the discovery of at least eight other cities constructed through the ages on the same site. The pursuit of one goal may lead to finding another, and these are but a few prominent examples. Archaeological sleuthing The archaeological detective digs – often literally – into the dust, dirt and…

2 min.
camelot found?

For centuries, historians have debated whether King Arthur and his fabled city of Camelot are fact or fiction. In the case of Camelot, perhaps the answer is at hand. Peter Field, a retired professor of English at Bangor University in Wales, believes he has unravelled the mystery. Field, an expert on Arthurian literature, taught at Bangor for 40 years before retiring in 2004, and recently spent 18 months developing a theory to support a likely location for the city. In December 2016, Field revealed that he believes the location of King Arthur’s city is the small town of Slack in West Yorkshire. While historians have speculated that the location, if it exists at all, might be Caerleon in South Wales, Cadbury Castle in Somerset, Tintagel in Cornwall, or Cardigan or Carmarthen…

6 min.

The ancient city of Troy was mythologised by one of the greatest writers in Ancient Greece: Homer. His epic poem The Iliad depicts the events of the Trojan War between the wider Greek people led by the warrior-like Agamemnon and the people of the city of Troy under King Priam. Until the 19th century, every aspect of Homer’s tale in which the Greek gods descend from Olympia and engage in battle was seen entirely as a work of fiction; the city of Troy was largely thought to be an invention. However, that changed with the discovery of the ruins of a city in western Turkey in 1870 that fitted its descriptors, then the discovery of further settlements dating back to the Bronze age, which seemed to confirm that Troy, or to…