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10 Astounding Facts About Ancient Cities

Facts About Ancient Cities

Archaeologists excavating sites of ancient civilizations and cities have come across many locations that used very advanced technologies and unbelievable architecture and lifestyles. Mohenjo-daro of the Indian subcontinent is one such place where they found attached wells and baths. It came as a surprise and quite unbelievable that a civilization that lived in the 19th century BCE had proper sewage and sanitation methods. Here are 10 more astounding facts about ancient cities.

1. Rome has been facing major struggles with expanding of their subway system in the city because the authorities kept running into major archaeological finds. The work on the Metro C subway line has been underway for the past 40 years. So far this project has unearthed Hadrian’s Athenaeum, an amphitheater, and even a military complex.

Rome
Roman Colosseum with Construction Site of the Rome Underground Line C. Image credit: Paola Leone/Shutterstock

The people of Rome impatiently waited for the metro project to finish as they are dealing with traffic regularly. Rome sits on several layers of archaeological finds to even things that date back to the Stone Age. This has been a nemesis of the modern public as construction of a single metro line took them 20 years. 

The Metro C line will have to run through ancient Rome, and archaeologists are trying hard to find where to place the stations, ducts, and exits. To build a station at the traffic-crazed Pierra Venezia, the archaeologists had to agree to the total elimination of any prehistoric and existing historical evidence for a 75-foot-diameter open-air pit for a subway station. 

During the digging through medieval, modern, and Renaissance Rome, an excavation led by Robert Egidi came across a grand staircase made of yellow marble and granite which turned out to be the seats of a rectangular amphitheater built by Emperor Hadrian around 135 CE.

Such incidents delayed the construction by several years as the project had to be redesigned every time they found an archaeological site that had to be preserved. (Source)

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2. King Ibrahim Wali of an ancient Indian Kingdom of Golconda in the 14th century designed and built a fortress city. The structure was so acoustically perfect that a handclap at the main entrance gate under a dome could be heard at the top of the mountain that was located almost one kilometer away.

Golconda
Panoramic view of Historic Golkonda fort in Hyderabad. Image credit: Shutterstock

Golconda is located in the region where the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Koh-I-Noor, are produced. The fort is listed as an archaeological treasure. It has four distinct forts with gateways, a drawbridge, and royal apartments.

Golconda
Main Entrance of Golkonda or Golconda fort. Image credit: arun sambhu mishra / Shutterstock

The outermost enclosure is called the “Fateh Darwaza,” which translates to “Victory Gate.” It is stuffed with iron spikes to prevent elephants from battering down. An acoustic effect experienced at the Victory Gate makes it one of the most unique buildings.

A handclap at a point near the dome located at the entrance can reverberate and can be heard at the highest point on a mountain almost a kilometer away. This served as a warning sign in case of an attack. 

The place also claims to have secret tunnels from one of the durbars to the bottom of the hills which worked as an escape route for the royals. These tunnels are yet to be found. Inside the fort, there is an African baobab tree which is 400 years old. The girth of the tree is 89 feet, and it has a cave formed between its branches. (Source)

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3. More than 300,000 manuscripts from the pre-colonial era were found tucked away in various libraries and private collections owned by generations of families in Timbuktu, which is an ancient city in Mali. They were mostly in Arabic, but some were in their native languages. Topics like philosophy, herbal medicine, mathematics, poetry, law, politics, and astronomy were covered in these scripts.

Timbuktu
The main entrance of Al-Imam Essayouti rear Islamic manuscripts library in Timbuktu(Image to the left), Timbuktu preferred method of transport, Mali. Image credits: DemarK/Shutterstock, Emilio Labrador/Flickr

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. Situated on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert it was a center of Islamic culture from 1400 to 1600 CE. A project is underway where thousands of manuscripts are being recovered. The Ahmed Baba Library alone has a collection of 20,000 manuscripts. 

The manuscripts include mathematics, herbal medicine, poetry, Islamic law, and music. Some are beautifully adorned with gilded letters, and some are written in the language of Tuareg tribes. The contents of these manuscripts remain a mystery. 

Most of the works were written in the late Middle Ages. It is believed to be a university with 20,000 students. The records written with gallnuts are beginning to fade.

Roughly, a dozen institutions are involved in this recovery operation. A historian, Shamil Jeppie, published a book on the current status of the project. He referred to the site as the “African Oxford.” (Source)

4. An ancient city was discovered in Bulgaria underwater during the construction of a reservoir.  Named “Seuthopolis,” the city was founded in 323 BCE. The discovery was between 1948 and 1954. The dam construction was underway during the discovery, so there was no chance that the city could be preserved in its full form as the construction could not be halted. Right now, a project led by Zheko Tilev is underway to restore the city.

Seuthopolis
Image credit: pruned.blogspot

Seuthopolis is a city founded in the fourth century before Christ. Thracian King Seuthes III built the city during his reign. The city was the capital of the Odrysian Kingdom which vanished around 270 BCE. The place seems to be the center of economy and politics. 

During a reservoir building in 1948, it was impossible to stop the building of the reservoir by the time the city was unearthed. The construction was about to flood the whole place and drown one of the most well-preserved Thracian cities of modern Bulgaria. 

The city lies 20 meters below the water level of the reservoir. A project proposed by the Bulgarian architect Zheko Tilev proposed to preserve the ruins with a circular dam wall.

The restoration plan was proposed in 2007, and they immediately started a campaign for funding the preservation by attracting foreign investors. Post preservation, the location will appear as a unique modern tourist complex. (Source)

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5. Pyramids built around the same times as Great Egyptian Pyramids were found in the city of Caral in Peru. The city, as observed by archaeologists, shows no traces of warfare. It indicates that the city was built for pleasure and commercial usage.

Caral Peru
Aerial drone view of Caral city. Image credit: Shutterstock

Caral city is attributed to the antiquity of 5,000 years and is considered the oldest city in the Americas. The Caral culture developed in 3000 and 1800 BCE. But unlike other civilizations, they grew in complete isolation. 

Ruth Shady explored the area which has an amphitheater, elaborate complexes, and ordinary houses. Studies suggest that society was a very gentle one. Everything was built for commerce and pleasure. There were no battle weapons, no mutilated bodies, and nothing related to warfare.

The findings also involved the recognition that they followed gender equality. Men and women equally occupied leadership positions and high social status for thousands of years. (Source)

Also read: 10 Incredible Ancient Structures Carved Out of Solid Rock

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