10 Astounding Facts About Ancient Cities

by Binupriya Tomy2 years ago

6 Nan Madol is the only ancient city constructed in a lagoon with several artificial islands and an interlinking network of canals. It is probably the only city built upon a coral reef. It is a marvel of ancient engineering and archaeologists still wonder how they managed to bring logs and stones to this place from the lands outside.

Nan Madol
A channel and town walls in Nan Madol. Image credit: Shutterstock

Nan Madol is located off the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia which is to the west of the Pacific Ocean. It has 100 small artificial islands bordered by canals. Nothing is left of the people who built it. They were called the Saudeleur. 

Nan Madol
Image credit: Shutterstock

They were known to be deeply religious and cruel. The remains of their civilization are viewed with terror and superstitions. Food and fresh water had to be brought to the island from the mainland.

It is still surprising to the archaeologists how they transported giant stones for construction in a megalithic way during the 12th and 13th centuries. They did not have pulleys or levers to lift the basalt logs that make up the high walls which weigh 50 tons each. (Source)

7 Hatra, the capital of the “first Arab Empire” known as the Kingdom of Araba (in modern-day Iraq) was one of the most diverse cities in the ancient world. It was a major religious center with Pantheons of five major religions: Arabian, Greek, Armenian, Canaanite, and Mesopotamian.  

Image credit: Véronique Dauge via Wikimedia

Hatra flourished during the first and second centuries CE as a religious and trading center. Hatra is the best-preserved Parthian city. It had a strategic position when it came to caravan trade routes, and that helped the place thrive as an important religious center. 

The city was built in a circular way where the inner and outer walls were two kilometers apart. Militants of ISIL in 2015 damaged many artifacts and bulldozed several areas of this well-preserved city to symbolize cultural cleansing in Iraq. 

The Parthian Empire was a political and cultural force in ancient Iran. At the height of its power, it even extended from Pakistan to modern-day Syria. It was a major trading post as it provided the Silk Road access to Asia. (Source)

8 The Aztec Empire capital, Tenochtitlán, was an ancient city built on a man-made island. It was a powerful, economic, political, and religious center in pre-Columbian Mexico. It is also the largest city in the Americas with a population of over 200,000 people. The city had a network of canals and streets for trade and two aqueducts for freshwater, a feat found in no other civilizations of that time. 

Aztec Empire
Museum of Templo mayor. Image credit: Shutterstock

Tenochititlán flourished between 1325 to 1521 CE. The city was a great marketplace where sixty thousand people regularly visited. The inhabitants were wealthy and their rival city became unstable with political imbalances. The city boasted potable water and a great temple dedicated to Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility. 

Metallurgy also played a major role in the city. The writing was called “pictorial” by experts as it was predominantly figural images. At the heart of the city, you can find a sacred place with stepped pyramids 27 meters high which housed two different deities. 

Gruesome rituals were followed at the time from the top of these temples. The gold owned by Aztecs made the Spaniards curious. The Spanish army laid siege, and the inhabitants also caught smallpox to which nobody had any immunity. The Spaniards eventually built a city on the ruins of this Aztec city. (Source)

9 Gobekli Tepe in Turkey built in 10,000 BCE is an ancient city that is twice as old as Stonehenge, and completely reintroduced experts the ideas of human development and agriculture very different from what we already know. Carvings on a stone located at the site depict a comet strike that brought 1,000 years of an Ice Age. Researchers have theorized it as a cataclysmic event of the past that changed their ways of living and severely impacted their lives.

Gobekli Tepe
Gobekli Tepe is an archaeological site in Sanliurfa, Turkey. Image credit: Ahmet Cigsar / Shutterstock

This ancient city predates the invention of known tools, cities/communities, and the written word. The oldest known sphinx was found in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey and it was dated to 9,500 BCE. The city has the world’s oldest known megaliths. 

It is still unknown how people inhabited this area. The archaeologists believe that the site was strictly cultic. The excavators interpreted the location as a cult of the dead and the carved animals were there to protect the dead. Twenty miles away from the site, they found the first places where wheat was domesticated for agriculture. (Source)

10 Mohenjo-Daro is one of the earliest urban settlements in the world and the center of the Indus-Valley civilization. It is located in present-day Pakistan. The urban planning and architecture found at this site mesmerized archeologists as well as architects at the same time. The city is 5,000 years old and had meticulous road plans, a huge well that served as the Great Bath, and a Great Granary.

Bath view
Larkana Mohenjo Daro Archaeological UNESCO World Heritage View of Great Bath on a Sunny Blue Sky Day. Image credit: Shutterstock

Harappan civilization is one of the earliest urban cultures in the Indian subcontinent among other earliest civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt.

The Indus civilization was the most extensive. Mohenjo-Daro civilization excavations revealed the Great Bath which is believed to have been used for rituals built between 3300 to 1300 BCE while the civilization was flourishing. There were other numerous baths including washrooms with extensive sewage systems. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Water to the bath area was evidently supplied from a large well next to the room. There was also an outlet in the corner to drain it. The access to the bath was via steps. These findings suggest that priorities were placed on sanitation and cleanliness. (Source)

Also Read:
10 Interesting Rock Art From the Ancient World

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