8 Mysterious Ancient Cities

If a community abandons a town and leaves no written records behind, it can’t help but be a mystery to us. And the older the community, the less likely we’ll find any documents telling us about it. That doesn’t mean we can’t figure out a lot of things, but there are quite a few ancient abandoned cities that leave us with more questions than answers. Çatalhöyük, Turkey, is one of the oldest.

In 7,500 BCE, this city in the Mesopotamian region (now Turkey) held thousands of people and is believed by many to be one of the world's earliest urban settlements. But the culture of the people here was unlike anything we know today. First of all, they built the city like a honeycomb, with houses sharing walls. Homes and buildings were accessed by doors cut into the roofs. People would stroll on the streets across these roofs, and climb down ladders to get to their living quarters. Doorways were often marked with bulls' horns, and dead family members were buried in the floor of each home. It's not clear what happened to the culture of the people who lived in this city. Their architectural style seems to be unique, though archaeologists have found many fertility goddess figurines in the city that resemble others found in the region. So it's likely that when the city was abandoned, its culture radiated outward into other cities in the Mesopotamian region.

My guess would be that these folks realized there’s a better way to build a city, and did so elsewhere. But what do I know? They didn’t leave a note when they left. It’s the same for the other seven cities in this article from io9. -via the Presurfer

(Image credit: Franck Goddio)

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I can't help but wonder what future archaeologists (perhaps aliens) will come up with when they find the ruins of Centralia, PA... Sink-holes, ground upheavals, poisonous gases venting, and yet some strange civilization build a town right on top of it! Perhaps they were worshipers of a fire god and this was their holy land. Or maybe this was one of a few habitable sites, with the subterranean heat providing a refuge from the encroaching glaciers, as the planet plunged into a new ice-age...
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It wouldn't take long to figure out that sharing a wall with your neighbors, and having people walking across your roof all the time, isn't very pleasant. Not to mention moving furniture, water, and the infirm in and out would be a real bear.

I can see the attraction, though. Saving materials by sharing walls, and not needing to pave walkways. Elevated walkways and entrances providing great protection from large predators or most any troublesome animals.
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