They existed thousands of years ago in places like Egypt, Japan, Brazil and even Tanzania – but today, there’s little evidence of these ancient lost cities.
Before Memphis came along, life was all about Thinis. Thinis was once home to the first kings of Egypt and although it’s referred to in many old texts, no remnants of it have ever been found. While it thrived in its early days, the city declined in significance from the Third Dynasty when Memphis took over as the capital.
Today, Egyptologists posit that Thinis was located somewhere near Abydos or Girga in northern Egypt.
2. Kane (or Canae)
Famed for being the site of a great battle between the Athenians and Spartans towards the end of the Peloponnesian War, the lost island of Kane is mostly known because it is referred to by the philosopher Xenophon. While two of the Kane islands still linger off the coast of Turkey, the third island has long been lost.
In 2015, however, archaeologists believe that the land making up the current peninsula may have once been the island of Kane, but research is still being conducted.
3. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Supposedly built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife, the famed Gardens of Babylon are one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one that has never been found.
Due to a lack of historical evidence, they’re mostly considered mythical. But in 2013, Stephanie Dalley published a book claiming that the gardens are real and that they were actually located not at Babylon, but at Nineveh – over 540 kilometres away in what is now northern Iraq.
We know that Yamatai-koku was a real place thanks to a few ancient Chinese and Japanese texts, but its location remains disputed to this day. Yamatai-koku was most likely a chiefdom and/or region in Japan that was ruled by Himiko (the first ruler of the country, and a woman) in the 3rd century.
Scholars assume that it was either in northern Kyushu (the southern-most region of Japan) or the Yamato Province in Honshu. Jury’s still out.
It was also known as the Invisible City and believed to have been built in the 13th century on the Volga River in central Russia. Fun fact: its mythical nature was made all the more real by its inclusion as a virtual destination in the Tomb Raider video games.
However, it wasn’t until this year that archaeologists ‘discovered’ what they think might be the city’s remains in Lake Svetloyar, but proof is still coming.
6. Lost City of Z
Essentially, this one could be anywhere in the Amazon jungle of Brazil and we’re not sure it’s much more than a myth. In 1920, explorer Percy Fawcett supposedly found evidence (in the way of a manuscript) that a glorious city covered in silver existed in Brazil’s Mato Grosso region.
Fawcett, his son, and a team set out to find it, but all disappeared en route and neither they nor the city has ever again come to light.
7. Chryse Island
This island in the Aegean Sea of Greece once sported a temple dedicated to Apollo and the goddess Chryse and is mentioned in works by Homer and Sophocles. It’s apparently not too far from Lemnos, but it’s not known how or why it disappeared.
In 1960, an archaeologist was said to have discovered the island’s remains underwater, but evidence that the remains are in fact Chryse Island have never been confirmed.
In 2016, this lost city made big news when it was thought its ruins had been discovered off the coast of Tanzania, near Mafia Island. In ancient times, Rhapta was Africa’s first major marketplace, known for its goods and weapons trading in the 1st century.
But it mysteriously disappeared 1,600 years ago and has remained incognito since. Tests are still being done, but the new discovery in Tanzania’s waters could be a match for Rhapta.