Encyclopedias with exciting titles “Secrets of Ancient Civilizations”, “Riddles of Stories”, many television programs telling about the unique finds of archaeologists – this is how modern man got acquainted with the secrets of peoples who lived millennia ago.
However, many secrets of unique cultures are likely to sink into oblivion, since there is practically nothing left of the ancient settlements. Researchers do not stop bit by bit to collect the mosaic of the life of disappeared civilizations, but time is merciless, and it becomes more and more difficult to search for answers to the intriguing questions.
Maya (2000 BC – 900 AD)
The once-powerful people who built gigantic cities hid most of their secrets behind the veil of time. The Maya are known to have developed their own writing system, created a complex calendar, and had their own formulas for mathematical calculations. They also had their own engineering tools, with which they erected huge pyramidal temples and created irrigation systems for their agricultural lands.
Until now, scientists are racking their brains over what could have caused the extinction of this civilization. After all, the Maya began to lose their power long before a European first set foot on the lands of present-day Central America. According to the researchers’ assumptions, this turn of events was caused by internecine wars, as a result of which the ancient cities were deserted.
Indian (Harrap) civilization (3300 BC – about 1300 BC)
During the existence of this civilization, almost 10% of the entire population of the planet lived in the Indus Valley at that time – 5 million people. The Indian civilization is also called the Harappan civilization (after the name of its centre – the city of Harappa). These powerful people had a developed metallurgical industry. They owned their own letter, which, unfortunately, remains one of the secrets of this civilization.
But about three and a half thousand years ago, most Harappans decided to move to the southeast, leaving their cities. According to scientists, the most likely reason for this decision was the deterioration of climatic conditions. In just a few centuries, the settlers forgot about the achievements of their great ancestors. The last decisive blow to the Harappan civilization was inflicted by the Aryans, who destroyed the last representatives of this once powerful people.
Rapanui civilization on Easter Island (circa 1200 AD – early 17th century)
This piece of land lost in the ocean has surrounded itself with just a huge amount of secrets and legends. Until now, in scholarly circles, debates continue about who was the first to populate this island. According to one of the versions, the first inhabitants of Rapa Nui (as its inhabitants call Easter Island) were immigrants from Eastern Polynesia, who sailed here around 300 AD. on huge and sturdy boats.
Almost nothing is known about the life of the ancient civilization of Rapanui. The only reminder of the past power of these people are the gigantic stone statues of the moai, which have been silently guarding the island for many centuries.
Çatalhöyük (7100 BC – 5700 BC)
The oldest metropolis in the world. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Çatalhöyük was built during the advanced Neolithic civilization (more than nine and a half thousand years ago) on the territory where modern Turkey is now located.
This city had a unique architecture for those times: there were no streets, all houses were located close to each other, and you had to enter them through the roof. Scientists called the ancient metropolis Çatalhöyük for a reason – almost ten thousand people lived in it. What made them leave their majestic city about seven thousands years ago is still unknown.
Cahokia (300 BC – 14th century AD)
The only reminders of this ancient Indian civilization are the ceremonial mounds, which are located in the state of Illinois (USA). For a long time, Cahokia retained the status of the largest city in North America: the area of this settlement was 15 square kilometres, and 40 thousand people lived here. According to scientists, people decided to abandon the majestic city due to the fact that there were big problems with sanitation, due to which outbreaks of hunger and epidemics appeared.
Göbekli Tepe (about 12,000 years old)
This temple is still a mysterious structure. The only thing we know about it is that it was built around 10,000 BC. The unusual name of this complex, which is located on Turkish territory, translates as “pot-bellied hill”. To date, only 5 percent of this structure has been explored, so archaeologists have yet to find answers to numerous questions.
Khmer Empire (circa 802-1431 AD)
Angkor Wat is the main attraction of Cambodia. And once, in 1000-1200 AD, the city of Angkor was the capital of the great Khmer empire. According to researchers, this settlement could have been the largest in the world at one time – its population was equal to one million people.
Scientists are considering several versions of the reasons for the decline of the majestic Khmer Empire – from war to natural disaster. It is quite difficult to study the ruins of Angkor today because most of them are overgrown with impassable jungle.
Gurid dynasty (879 – 1215 A.D.)
Today only the Jam minaret reminds of the city of Firuzkuh, which was the capital of the ancient empire of the Gurids. The disappeared civilization lived in a huge state at that time (the territory of present-day Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan).
From the face of the earth, the capital of the Gurids was swept away by the army of Genghis Khan. Due to the fact that the minaret is located on Afghan territory, its study becomes more difficult, and excavation work in this place has not begun.
The Ancient city of Niya (during the existence of the Great Silk Road, circa 15th century AD)
Now there is a desert in the place of Niya, and earlier it was a real oasis where caravans carrying cargo along the Great Silk Road loved to rest. The remains of the ancient city hidden under the sand were discovered by archaeologists quite recently.
Having excavated ancient Nia, archaeologists were delighted, because in this place they managed to find traces of many peoples who traded on the Silk Road. Today, scientists continue to actively study Niyu, the decline of which coincided with the loss of interest in the great trade road.
City on Nabta Playa (about 4000 BC)
A highly developed civilization once lived in the Sahara Desert, which managed to build its own prototype of the astronomical calendar, which is a thousand years older than the world-famous Stonehenge. The inhabitants of the valley of the ancient lake Nabta Playa had to leave the valley due to the dramatic change in climate, which was becoming more arid.