Civilizations That Disappeared Mysteriously

All Articles   |   Items in bidorbuy  »  Books & Education
A Blast from the Past

History is replete with instances of great empires and prosperous cities that inexplicably vanished, of civilizations that died out. Here’s a baffling look at some civilizations that vanished.
The Olmec

The Olmec (circa 1500 BCE – 400 BCE), among the first Mesoamerican civilizations, inhabited south-central Mexico. Some of their traditions, like ritual bloodletting and Ulama, a Mesoamerican ballgame, became prominent characteristics of succeeding Mesoamerican communities. Olmec Outsized sculptures of their rulers, known as “colossal heads”, are the Olmec’s best known cultural legacy.
 
The Nabateans

Ancestors of today’s Bedouins and Arabs, the Nabateans (4 BCE – 106 CE) who lived in modern Jordan, practised polytheism and developed a flourishing society based on overland trade routes between the Mediterranean, India and possibly China. The rock-cut monuments at Petra, the Nabatean capital, are a stunning testament to their architectural vision.
 
Aksumite Empire

Aksum (circa 100 AD – 940 AD) in north-eastern Africa (modern Ethiopia) grew into an empire thanks to its strategic location on the trade route between the Roman Empire and India. The Biblical Ark of the Covenant is thought to rest here. Aksum may also have been home to the Queen of Sheba. The spread of the Islamic Empire led to Aksum’s decline.
The Minoans

The Minoan civilization (2900 BC – 1200 BC), a Bronze Age culture, existed on the Aegean island of Crete and derives its name from King Minos. Arthur Evans, the British archaeologist, first excavated the ruins of this ancient maritime power, notably the enormous palace of Knossos, in the early 20th century.
The Mycenaeans

In Greek legend, Mycenae, a late Bronze Age culture, was founded by the warrior-hero Perseus. The Myceneans vanquished the Minoans of Crete after an earthquake on Santorini Island weakened the latter. Around 1100BC, Myceneans were overthrown by the Dorian tribe, a development that plunged Greek civilization into a centuries-long Dark Age.
The Khmer Empire

The vast Angkor complex in modern Cambodia is an awe-inspiring testament to the Khmer Empire’s enormous wealth, power and prestige. Sprawled across Southeast Asia, this civilization from the Middle Ages (802 – 1431 AD) embraced both Hinduism and two schools of Buddhism. Ecological ruin may have spelt its doom.
The Indus Valley Civilization

The ruins of this great urban civilization that existed between 2600 – 1900 BC never cease to amaze modern visitors with their evidence of sophisticated city planning and metallurgy and craft traditions. Deteriorating rainfall levels may have affected agricultural production, leading to the population abandoning the region.
Scholars and explorers have surmised various causes to account for disappearing civilizations, including climate change, natural disasters or invasions. The remaining legacy of monuments, artefacts, treasures and bric-a-brac is a mine of information that gives rise to many questions to which we may never find answers.

 

Featured Items in Books & Education

View more featured items in Books & Education