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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lost Cities

Photo: The Treasury at Petra, Jordan

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

Photo: Machu Picchu

Photo: Palenque, Mexico

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.

Photo: Ancient Troy

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.

Photo: Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan

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.

Photo: Palmyra, Syria

Photo: Ruins at Tanis, Egypt
Photo: Great Enclosure, Zimbabwe
Photo: Relief sculpture of Assyrian king
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.

Photo: Relief sculpture in Persepolis, Iran
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.


Photo: Stonehenge, England
Photo: Anasazi ruins in Mesa Verde, Colorado
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.

1 comments:

Miss Hazzy said...

wow!!! spectacular view

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