Top 10 Ancient Lost Civilizations On Earth

History has lost more than any of us can keep track of. One day, people are living in harmony, making do with what they have, next- they are adorning the pages of history books. Traces of lands, artworks, and hints of culture are the only proof of their existence. There is something hauntingly beautiful about them- a gentle reminder that humanity existed long before you or me. They also make for great tourists sites, places where you could take in nature in all its devastation.

Here’s a list of top 10 lost civilizations, in case you decide to visits some or all of them. What’s the point of visiting historical places if you don’t know the history behind it, right?

1. The  Maya

Remember when the conviction of the world coming to an end in 2012 was a thing? The cause of this belief could be traced back to Mesoamerican long calender or Maya long count calendar whose 5,126-year-long cycle came to a halt at this particular date. The Mayans flourished around 250 to 900 AD, existing with their own Maya language and religion. They were good at art, math, and construction. Deeply religious, they chose to worship all kinds of gods of nature and their cultural engagement is something one could only dream of in today’s world. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what led to the declination of such a rich civilization, hence a point of intrigue for historians.

2. The Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization lies in Pakistan and northeast India today. This highly urbanized civilization reached its peak around 2000 BCE. Also referred to as Mohejo -Daro, and Harappa, evidence of a well-planned city life, with wells, bathroom, underground draining system and multi-storied houses-  through the sizes differed from rich to poor- is clear. This civilization which began declining around 1800 BCE left behind a complex writing system, leaving behind their stamps in their pottery, amulets, and copper tables, and which the scientists have yet to decipher. The origin of the city dwellers has been hard to figure out because of this failure.

3. Catal Huyuk

Anatolia’s pride, Catal Huyuk started its journey from 7500 BC, successfully marking its status as one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s unknown where Catal Hyuk’s people originally came from, as their existence feels very much like a work of God. As if people woke up one day and crafted jewelry, pottery, textiles, figurines and much more. The houses, with their own baking ovens, are all almost attached to each other, and the lack of breathing space is accentuated by the absence of streets and only wooden ladders could be used to enter them. Catal Hyuk is the first hint of an organized modern city life.

4. Heracleion

As far as lost civilization goes, this one takes the cake. Heracleion, which once stood at the edge of ancient Egypt, fell prey to nature’s cruelty, so much so that it was discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea. Heracleion, also known as Thonis, is where Sparta’s Helen and  Paris of Troy sought refuge before the Trojan war, according to one Greek historian. You can imagine the scuba driver’s complete astonishment when they chanced upon pieces of Hapy, an Egyptian God’s remains of a statue, only to discover a whole city. A hub for international business among the merchants, Heracleion has seen its fair share of the world. Shame it had to disappear the way it did.

5. Clovis Culture

The end of the ice age was the beginning of Clovis culture, a prehistoric native American culture whose people are considered the first human inhabitants of the new world. Hunters and gatherers by nature, the proof of their existence can be glimpsed in the weapons left behind them.  Their appearance and disappearance is a large point of mystery, almost a work of magic.

6. Nabta Playa

The Nubian Desert once had a large internally drained basin known as Nabta playa, which is mostly considered a spectacular site today. The settlement which resided in huts with fire hearths soon became a site of breathtaking monumental structures which are also the oldest astronomical alignments in the world. There is evidence of a pre-historic cult in Nabta Playa, which could have been the original propeller of the Hathor cult in Egypt. People of Nabta Playa could possibly be the ancestors of the Egyptian civilization in the Nile, as is the popular belief of Historians.

 7. Niya

Deep in the Takla Makan Desert, Niya is also known as the Pompeii of the east, this great heritage site’s burial occurred as abruptly as ancient Pompeii’s. No one knows what caused the people of Niya civilization to abandon their houses in panic, prepared for some impending doom. Flying dragons, Buddhist paintings, and ruined artifacts strengthen the belief that China is one of the four ancient civilization. The Falu manuscript discovered in Niya has one of the most insightful takes on life,  relevant until the end of times. One of the oldest commercial hubs of the world, Niya was thriving along the famous silk road once. Niya was one the city that linked China to Central Asia, Europe, and Africa. Niya’s importance as a trade route tragically began to decline after the fall of the Mongol Empire during 1300.

8. The Olmecs

The earliest known civilization in Mexico, the Olmecs were a point of influence for the Aztec and Maya. Ritual bloodletting and Mesoamerican ballgame were two of the factors that the Olmecs contributed to Mesoamerican society. However, nothing would beat Olmec’s carved colossal heads, that is the giant stone replication of the human heads. The Olmecs deities are a peculiar one, supernatural even, as they were mixtures of male and female, human and reptile, birds and felines in one.

9. Göbekli Tepe

It’s somewhat baffling how very few people who aren’t history geeks know of Göbekli Tepe, considering it could change the nature of all previous historical revelations. 12,000-year-old massive carving of stones- potentially, the site of world’s oldest temples- lies in Southeastern Anatolia Region of turkey. Something that’s highly surprising when metal tools and even pottery was non-existence. Klaus Schmidt, the archaeologist who was responsible for excavating Gobekli Tepe was of the belief that the site was more of gathering place for people for religious purposes than settlement. The most noteworthy matter is that a good number of people back then knew how to build complex monumental structures.

10. Cucuteni–Trypillia culture

This eastern-European culture is a peculiar one in that they chose to construct organized cities only to burn them down every 60-80 years or so, only to replicate the same settlement all over again. The archaeological finding shows a culture of sophisticated building, sculptures of gods, and goddesses, and potteries with interesting patterns. Researchers believe the Cucutenis felt the need to rebuild their home in a quest for perfection. As a result, they practically uprooted themselves from the home they built every generation or so.


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Oishi Dasgupta