To think that a city can be a thriving metropolis one century and utterly forgotten the next is so enticingly perplexing, it’s no wonder that mysterious settlements like Stonehenge and Easter Island still capture our collective curiosity. So when we saw today that American Horror Story appears to be setting its sixth season amid the mysterious disappearance of the 16th century Roanoke colonists, our national interest has again been piqued. Often called The Lost Colony, English settlers arrived to the island in 1587, following a group of colonists who had settled there a few years earlier. However, when the second group landed, the only trace of the first settlers was a foreboding skeleton. The tale ends three years later, when an English resupply crew discovered that the second group of colonists also vanished from the island – the only remnant of their time was a couple of crude carvings, spelling out “CRO” and “Croatan”. We hope that this season gives us new theories on just what happened to that lost colony! While we wait for the premiere this September, let’s have a look at all the other cities that time had forgotten (and happenstance found):

1. Vijayanagara, India

 AmyNorth / Wikipedia

AmyNorth / Wikipedia

Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the metropolitan city of Vijayanagara was home to over 500,000 people. Located in India, the Vijayanagar empire was often at war with the powerful Muslim kingdoms. At the height of this conflict, the Muslim armies raided the town, eventually depopulating and abandoning the once-great kingpin of a once-great empire. At the end of the 16th century, the city was destroyed and it has not been occupied since. The city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site located off of the Tungabhadra River in Karnataka, India.

2. Heracleion, Egypt

C messier / Wikipedia

C messier / Wikipedia

To visit this lost city, you have to bring your diving gear! Though locals have passed on tales of Heracleion as urban legends and folklore for centuries, archaeologists actually discovered the city in 2000 during a routine survey – nearly three miles off of the coast of Egypt! Once one of the world’s greatest port cities, Heracleion sunk into the Mediterranean over 2,200 years ago. The ruins include the eerily preserved city temple, hulking statues and relics of daily life in the city, like gold coins and sacrificial monuments.

3. Pompeii, Italy

Alago / Wikipedia

Alago / Wikipedia

No list of lost cities would be complete without a nod to the famously preserved city of Pompeii in Italy. A surprising amount is known about this city: on 24 August in A.D. 79, the volcano Vesuvius erupted, completely covering the city in dust, ash and deadly magma. While the eruption shrouded the city until its discovery in 1748, it also eerily captured the day-to-day life of the city-dwellers – people preserved performing their simple daily tasks, in the baths, in their homes, on the streets.

4. Anasazi, Four Corners, USA

Massimo Catarinella / Wikipedia

Massimo Catarinella / Wikipedia

The Anasazi, meaning “ancient people”, are thought to be the ancestors of the modern day Pueblo Indians. They inhabited the Four Corners Country of the USA from A.D. 200 to A.D. 1300 and built intricate rock dwellings underneath cliff overhangs in the canyon lands of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Though they lived there for nearly a thousand years, their departure was sudden and perplexing, as their dwellings and belongings were left intact and undamaged. While theories range as to why they left – from droughts to invasions – the actual reason has never been uncovered.

5. Skara Brae, Scotland

Chmee2 / Wikipedia

Chmee2 / Wikipedia

In the winter of 1850, off the west coast of Scotland, a great storm hit. With the blustering winds and high tides came discovery: a grassy mound known to locals as Skerrabra was stripped of its covering and underneath it was a Neolithic stone settlement dating back to 3200 B.C. The settlement was inhabited for nearly 600 years and, due to the lack of trees on the small province, all of its dwellings and artifacts are made entirely of stone – which contributed to its astounding preservation over the millennia. Measures are being taken to protect the settlement from the very thing that unearthed it – the windy elements.

6. Machu Picchu, Peru

machu_FINAL

Shutterstock

Rediscovered by the West only in 1911, this last citadel of the Incas presides impressively over its Andean surroundings. It was abandoned when the Spaniards overran much of South America and remained unheard of as locals hid its location for centuries. Tourists can now travel to Peru to catch a glimpse of this amazing structure, take a few selfies, and to scratch their heads (along with most history experts) as to the mysterious purpose for which it was built.

7. Carthage, Tunisia

carthage_FINAL

Shutterstock

If you’re a History Channel geek who’s a big fan of the series “Barbarians Rising,” you would have heard all about the great Carthiginian military commander Hannibal who marched his army and his war elephants across the Italian Alps to attack the Romans on their own soil. While Carthage, located in present-day Tunisia, was burned to the ground in 146 BC in one of Rome’s many revenge attacks, it was later developed as a key hub in the Roman Empire. It was again destroyed during the Muslim conquest of North Africa centuries later.

8. Petra, Jordan

petra_FINAL

Shutterstock

This magnificent ancient capital of the Nabataean kingdom is carved into the side of the Wadi Musa Canyon in southern Jordan. The city served as an important junction for the silk route that connected China, India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. After earthquakes damaged the city’s important water management system in the 6th century and an Arab invasion that followed, it was completely abandoned. Petra was forgotten in the Western world until it was rediscovered in the early 1800s.

9. The Olmec Civilization, Mexico

Olmec_FINAL

Shutterstock

The once flourishing Olmecs were the first Mesoamerican civilization to engage in ritual bloodletting, human sacrifice, and invent the Mesoamerican ballgame. They are also credited with coming up with the concept of zero. So what happened to them? It is said that climate change and natural disasters affected their food supply, which eventually caused their decline. You can still witness their large stone-carved ‘colossal heads’ in sites like Rancho La Cobata and Tres Zapotes in modern-day Mexico.

10. Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan

mohen_FINAL

Shutterstock

Located in the Sindh Province of Pakistan, this advanced city of the Indus Valley civilization showcased great development in human thinking in the ancient world, highlighted by its well-planned street and drainage systems. Flooding is supposed to have destroyed the city numerous times, but it was rebuilt repeatedly. What caused the city to be abandoned is still not clear, but most experts say that it occurred around 1800 BC. The site, which was only rediscovered in 1922, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Which of these lost cities do you want to explore the most? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About The Author

Mary Zakheim
Content Writer

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.