From cities with mysterious origins, to ones that were nearly wiped off the map forever, Here are 9 ancient ruins that have defied history. No matter what they’ve been through, they are still here!
#1. Çatalhöyük, Turkey
Çatalhöyük, Turkey Built in what was once Mesopotamia, the city of Çatalhöyük, which now resides in Turkey, is easily one of the biggest mysteries of the ancient world. I mean reaaaallly ancient, it reached its heyday around 7000 BC!! This place makes ancient Rome look modern!! These tightly clustered mudbrick houses kind of look like honeycombs, don’t you think? Every single house in this city shares a wall or two with another house, just like how honeycomb is connected in a hive. To get out of their houses, the people would use ladders and cut doors in the roofs. The people would actually walk across the roofs like we would walk across the street. The Neolithic residents left behind paintings, plaster reliefs, and pottery. As well as their dead which they buried in the floors! At one time, this thriving ancient metropolis had about 8,000 residents and archaeologists are still uncovering thousands of mysterious objects. There are many skulls found that have the same type of head wounds in the skulls that later healed (so they were non fatal). This has led archaeologists to believe that they might have been an egalitarian society but that they used controlled violence to keep everyone in check. We are still trying to understand how these people lived, and why things eventually fell apart.
#2. Palenque, Mexico
Palenque, Mexico Mexico is a land of many mysteries and lost people and cities. But easily the biggest civilization, with the biggest mystery surrounding them, are the Mayans. This tribe came from an unknown area, arrived in Mexico, and set up an empire that lasted over 3000 years. Then they were gone. To this day, many still study the Mayans in order to find out more about them, and especially what happened to them. One of their most well-preserved cities that they made was Palenque. Palenque is a prime example of how well the Mayans could plan and construct their cities. This place not only had temples, but other massive public and ceremonial buildings, and texts inscribed in various places that help tell the tales of the empire. So here’s the question, if the Mayans were so powerful, and Palenque was so advanced, why did they abandon it? Most historians note that the city was abandoned around the 1400’s, much like various other Mayan cities. But why? Why did they leave such wonders behind? Were they driven out? Did they have to flee to survive? Or were they all affected by a disease? No one knows the answers to these questions, but there are many expeditions going on to try and figure out the answer. And now for number 7 but first be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!! We’d love to have you around here!!
#3. Cahokia, United States
Cahokia, United States This one might come as a surprise. In the United States, there is an old city that used to be the biggest city in North America at one point in time. This was the city of Cahokia, a pre-Columbian Native American City. It was founded around the year 600 and lasted until the 14th century. You can still go there today, it’s across from St. Louis on the other side of the Mississippi river. The builders of Cahokia were very talented and their gigantic mounds still exist today. Although they didn’t leave behind any written records, the urban planning and agricultural evidence tells scientists that Cahokia was once home to around 40,000 people, which baffles scientists. Some estimates claim that in the 13th century, the population of Cahokia was equal to that of London in the same century! The people would use the Mississippi River to water their crops, and created tributaries that would make the water go where they needed it to. While it’s not known exactly who lived there, many guess that there were members from several different tribes and the people later became known as the Mississippians. It’s hard to say what happened to these people. When the French arrived in the 17th century, the mounds were already there. Archaeologists are wondering what happened to everybody and they believe that they may have run out of food, or had difficulty battling contamination in these city-like conditions. Just like the Maya, the city was abandoned.
#4. Derinkuyu, Turkey
Derinkuyu, Turkey Turkey is home to another ancient, fascinating and mysterious place: Derinkuyu. The concept of making underground cities may seem like something from fantasy television shows, or Fraggle Rock, but many cultures have made very grand underground cities. Turkey has a lot of ancient cities like this, and not just underground, but in caves. But, when it comes to Derinkuyu, it’s honestly a whole other story. This city is ancient, and can be traced back to the 8th century BC. Christians took over and expanded the underground caverns. It reached its peak during the earliest days of the Byzantine Empire when it was used by the Christians as a hideout during the Arab-Byzantine wars At its peak it held about 20,000 people, a very impressive number for that many people to be living, and thriving, underground. And remember, this is before the year 1000, so they didn’t have all the modern advances we have. They had to worry about sanitation, ventilation, safety, and general health. To be clear, this wasn’t a slum, or a makeshift city, this place had churches, and kitchens, and areas for livestock, it even had a place to make wine! This truly was a civilized and fully realized city under the earth. Why was the city underground? It was meant to be a safe haven for people. It was a dark time in this period of history, and there was a lot of warfare going on above ground. Later on it was used by Christians and refugees to hide from the Ottomans. This place was a safe haven with secret entries and exits where people could bring in goods and provide services and live their daily life in relative safety. Weirdly enough, later on the city was sealed off for some reason, and it wasn’t opened again until 1969, by accident. Over 200 underground cities have been discovered in the region.
Yonaguni Monument, Japan Off of the coast of Japan, there is a place called Yonaguni Island which was famous for hammerhead sharks. Now, people are more intrigued by some unnerving formations in the water that were found by a diver in 1987. The Yonaguni Monument is a series of rock formations that has the scientific world split as to whether this is a natural design, or something made by humans. And it’s a debate that continues on to this day. It looks like a lost city that sunk into the ocean. The monument: is characterized as having clear right angles and the largest structure is about 90 feet tall. It seems like there are stone pillars, a wall, a road and a star-shaped platform. There is evena rock protrusion that looks like the carving of a human face. But there are a lot of theories as to how this happened. For example some think that it was a real city that was built above the water when the ocean level was lower. It was then later slowly swallowed up by the rising waters. However, there’s no definitive proof that this is the case. Many others think it is just limestone rock which tends to break off at sharp angles, and that it was never a city at all, but geological formations. No one has a clear answer to what this monument really is. What do you think?? Let me know in the comments!! Or we could plan a diving expedition and go see it for ourselves!! I’ve heard the currents are very strong though, but in any case, it would still be cool to see those hammerheads!