Egypt – Aten

Image Source/ The Kids Should See This

On the west bank of the Nile, archaeologists were looking for a temple back in September 2020 but found something much more interesting. They uncovered a complete 3,000-year-old metropolis that had been hidden beneath sand for a very long time. Aten, sometimes referred to as the “Lost Golden City” may be the biggest ancient Egyptian city ever discovered.

Mexico – Lagunita

Image Source/ Smithsonian Magazine

One of the most recent discoveries on this list are the long-lost Maya cities of Lagunita and Tamchen which were eventually found in 2014 deep within the jungles of Mexico. It’s believed that the cities were established back in 300 BC and lasted over a thousand years before being abandoned.

Greece – Helike

Image Source/ Greece High Definition

Helike was formerly an ancient Greek city that was wiped down by a tsunami in the year 373 BC and has since been listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites by the World Monuments Fund. It was a huge breakthrough for underwater archaeology when this lost city was finally found again in 2001.

Egypt – Heracleion

Image Source/ Artnet News

Nearly 6.5 kilometres off the shore of Alexandria, the site was discovered by French archaeologist Franck Goddio in 2000. The impressive temple of the god Amun-Gereb is still partially visible among the 64 ships, 700 anchors, and 16-foot-long standing sculptures.

Turkey – Göbekli Tepe

Image Source/ BBC

Göbekli Tepe is believed to be the oldest temple ever discovered. On top of a hill in Örencik, Turkey, many circular and oval constructions were found and later evidence established that these buildings were primarily used for religious purposes rather than for domestic uses.

USA – Mesa Verde

Image Source/ Easyvoyage

Some of the greatest surviving archaeological sites in the US are protected by Mesa Verde. It is best known for the Cliff Palace, which is regarded as North America’s biggest cliff house. While it was abandoned in the year 1300, it wasn’t discovered until around forty years ago by a pair of cowboys.

Turkey – Ani

Image Source/ The Atlantic

Since its discovery in 1955, Ani has been described as an abandoned city of ghosts. Back in the day, it was a bustling capital with craftsmen, shepherds and tradespeople keeping the place alive. When an earthquake struck in 1319, Ani was deserted and became abandoned.

Libya – Leptis Magna

Image Source/ TripAdvisor

Leptis Magna, a once-prominent Roman city discovered around 1920, is regarded as one of the best preserved Roman remains in the Mediterranean. There are well-preserved ruins of a theater, an amphitheater, a market, gates, the Arch of Septimius Severus, and more.

India – Dwarka

Image Source/ BBC

It appears that India is famous for its array of lost cities, and some are even underwater too. Dwarka is estimated to have only been in use for just over fifty years before it was abandoned. It’s also believed that, alongside Dwarka, there are another six cities lost to the Arabian Sea.

Scotland – Skara Brae

Image Source/ Secret Scotland

Skara Brae, which is even older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, is regarded as the Sottish Pompeii because of how beautifully preserved it is. The largest island in the Scottish Orkney archipelago was the site of a stone-built Neolithic settlement that was uncovered in the aftermath of major storms from 1850 until the middle of the 1920s.

Pakistan – Mohenjo-daro

Image Source/ Encyclopedia Britannica

Mohenjo Daro was one of the greatest towns of the Indus Valley Civilization and one of the world’s first urban communities, according to excavations when the city was found in 1922. The city’s fame is a result of the brilliant planning and the use of fire-burned bricks to construct organised constructions.

Mexico – Calakmul

Image Source/ Expert Vagabond

The Snake Kingdom had its capital at the Maya site of Calakmul. Its name, which means “City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids,” refers to its two enormous pyramids and several smaller buildings, that make up it’s gorgeous landscape. It’s believe that the city was established in the 7th century, and was only discovered in 1931.

India – Kalibangan

Image Source/ Tourism of India

Kalibangan is one of the marvelous lost cities that have been discovered in the past century. It was an Italian Indologist, Luigi Pio Tessitori, that discovered the city which was first established in 3700 BC, before being abandoned in 1750 BC. It’s made unique by its ghostly fire altars and, supposedly, the oldest ploughed field in the world.

Peru – Caral

Image Source/ Tierras Vivas

Before ancient sites like Bandurria in Peru were found, Caral was considered to be the oldest city in the Americas. From the excavation sites, no battlements, no weapons, and no dismembered remains have ever been discovered. Therefore, it is assumed that the long-lost metropolis was the setting for a peaceful community that engaged in trade, music, and recreation.

India – Lothal

Image Source/ Tour My India

Much like Kalibangan, Lothal was also established in 3700 BC but was abandoned a little earlier in 1900 BC. After being discovered in 1954, the lost city was heralded for its poignant example of city planning and structures during the era of Indus Valley Civilization.

Peru – Machu Picchu

Image Source/ Wikipedia

Those that have been to Peru will definitely remember the most famous building of the Inca civilization, Machu Pichhu. It was initially constructed as a retreat for emperor Pachacuti, however, the building was only able to support the dynasty for a century before it was abandoned. It was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a 2007 global survey.

China – Xanadu

Image Source/ The Guardian 

During the Yuan Dynasty of China, Xanadu became a thriving place to live. Location wise, it was surrounded by mountains on one side and gave way to a river on the other side. The actual layout of the city was planned meticulously with feng shui in mind, but was eventually burnt down in 1358.

Sudan – Napata and Meroë

Image Source/ Journeys by Design

While the pyramids in Egypt are notorious around the world, many overlook the Nubian pyramids in Sudan. In Napata, the Kushite kingdom decided to build their first pyramids before venturing out to build more intricate ones in Meroë. These were used as resting places for royal household members.

Sri Lanka – Sigiriya

Image Source/ National Geographic

Sri Lanka’s center region is covered in a dense jungle which Major Jonathan Forbes of the British Army struggled to ride through on horseback in 1831. But when he came out, he saw something incredible, which was the lost city of Sigiriya, embellished with freshly painted, vibrantly coloured paintings.

Iraqi Kuridstan – Qalatga Darband

Image Source/ Wikimedia Commons

When scientists initially saw spy footage that was made public in 1996, they made a shocking discovery: the lost city of Qalatga Darband. However, they couldn’t uncover it easily given the region’s unstable political climate. But more recently, the region has been being excavated by a group of British and Iraqi archaeologists, under the direction of experts from the British Museum.

Colombia – The Lost City

Image Source/Uncornered Market

Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) was unknown to the outside world for more than 300 years; only those who lived at the base of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains were aware of its existence. Then, in 1972, a group of bird hunters stumbled upon an old, moss-covered stone staircase, which gave way to the rest of the breathtaking discovery…

Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Image Source/ Encyclopedia Britannica

Angkor Wat was a pivotal city in that it was rich with political history, a city where rulers consistently build temples and palaces to reinforce their power and significance. However, it later became a pilgrimage site until around the early 1800s, and wasn’t lost for long until a French explorer uncovered it in 1860.

Guatemala – Tikal

Image Source/ Encyclopedia Britannica

In 1848 the Guatemalan cit of Tikal was finally recovered. It’s thought to be over 3000 years old and was a pivotal ceremonial center in Guatemala. It’s also believed that the city was made up of over 10,000 different structures, including residences, plazas, palaces and pyramids.

Turkey – Troy

Image Source/ Daily Sabah

Up until the late 19th century, Troy and the Trojan War were just mysterious mentions in the tales of Greek mythology. Troy is also mentioned in the poetry of Homer. It wasn’t until 1870 that the city was finally discovered, despite being initially built in 3000 BC, making it one of the oldest cities in this list.

India – Sanchi

Image Source/ Encyclopedia Britannica

While this one wasn’t that recently discovered, it deserves a place in this list for it’s ingenuity and marvel. Sanchi was first established around 300 BC and was later abandoned over 1500 years later. It’s most famous for the Sanchi stupas and Ashoka pillar erected under the charge of Emperor Ashoka.

Jordan – Petra

Image Source/ Encyclopedia Britannica

Ma’an Governorate in Southern Jordan is home to the archaeological city of Petra Caves. Serving as a significant center in antiquity, the location now importantly symbolizes Jordan. The region was first inhabited in 7000 BC and was then named as Raqmu.

Pakistan – Taxila

Image Source/ CGTN

In literary works by Indian and Greco-Roman authors, Taxila or Takshashila became known to the people of today. It was the largest academic institution in India at the time and according to the Hindu epic Ramayana, King Bharat, is credited with founding Takshashila.

India – Vijayanagara

Image Source/ Wikipedia

Remnants dating to around 300 BC have been discovered by archaeologists, the complete Vijayanagar city excavation in Hampi dates to the time of the Vijayanagar empire. The Hindu Ramayana mythology mentions Hampi, where Vijayanagar resides, as Kishkinda, the home of the monkey gods.

Greenland – Hvalsey

Image Source/ Wikipedia

The tale of Hvalsey in Greenland makes for an unsettling one. Viking Thorkell Farserk was one of the first men to settle in the city, and over its 400 years was populated by a bustle of people. However, since the last mention of a marriage in 1408, the city was abruptly deserted until its discovery in 1721.

Italy – Pompeii

Image Source/ Lonely Planet

While Pompeii was discovered in 1748, we could’t resist including it in this list. It’s believed to be one of the oldest lost cities of the Roman Empire, and was famously destroyed and covered by a thick layer of volcanic ash following Mount Vesuvius’ violent eruption.