A compilation of lost cities that have since been found.

Ten Legendary Lost Cities that Have Emerged from the Past

(Read the article on one page)

The story of Atlantis is one of the most renowned and enduring tales of a lost city, said to have been swallowed up by the sea and lost forever. Yet, the story of Atlantis is not unique, as other cultures have similar legends of landmasses and cities that have disappeared under the waves, been lost beneath desert sands, or buried beneath centuries of vegetation. Most of these legendary cities have never been found. However, there are now numerous cases of ancient cities, once seen as little more than myths and legends, that have now emerged from the past, raising the question as to how many more lost cities remain buried and waiting to be uncovered.

Iram of the Pillars, the Lost ‘Atlantis of the Sands’

Atlantis of the Sands is a lost city, tribe, or area spoken of in the Quran, which has come to be known as Iram of the Pillars.  In the Quran, Iram was said to be adorned with lofty buildings, and was populated by a group of people known as Ad. As they had turned away from Allah, the prophet Hud was sent to summon them to return to the worship of Allah and to obey Him. The people of Iram reacted with hostility and did not heed the words of Hud. As a result, legend says that the Ad were punished, and a sandstorm was sent against their city for seven nights and days. In the end, Iram vanished beneath the sands as though it had never existed.

In the early 1990s, a team, led by Nicholas Clapp, an amateur archaeologist and filmmaker, announced that they had found the ancient city of Ubar, which was identified as Iram of the Pillars. This was achieved using NASA’s remote sensing satellites, ground penetrating radar, Landsat programme data, and images taken by the Space Shuttle Challenger. These resources allowed the team to identify old camel trade routes and the points at which they converged. One of these converging points was a well-known water hole at Shisr, in Dhofar province, Oman. When an excavation was carried out at the site, a large, octagonal fort with high walls and tall towers was uncovered. The team announced they had found the legendary Iram of the Pillars. While doubt still remains as to whether Ubar and Iram really are one and the same, it has been suggested that at the very least, the story of Iram was inspired by the city of Ubar, and over time became altered to incorporate a message to obey the will of Allah.  

Uncovering The Lost City of Helike

The legendary ancient city of Helike was situated in Achaea, on the northwestern part of the Peloponnesian peninsula. During its heyday, it was the leader of the first Achaean League, a confederation that consisted of 12 cities in the surrounding area. Due to this position, Helike was an important economic, cultural and religious centre. The patron god of Helike was Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea and earthquakes. This is unsurprising, given Helike’s position in one of the most active earthquake zones in Europe.

One night during the winter of 373 B.C., the city of Helike was obliterated. Some signs of the city’s impending doom were recorded, including the appearance of ‘immense columns of flames’ and the mass migration of small animals from the coast to the mountains several days prior to the disaster. A major earthquake, followed by a large tsunami from the Gulf of Corinth, wiped the city of Helike from the face of the earth. The rescue party that came in the following morning found no survivors.  Over time, the location of Helike was lost.

In the early 19 th century, speculations about the actual site of Helike began to spread. However, it was not until 2001 that the ancient city was finally unearthed in Achaea, Greece. In 2012, the destruction layer was uncovered, which confirmed that the site is indeed Helike. 

Ancient Egyptian City of Heracleion - on the border between myth and reality

The city of Heracleion, home of the temple where Cleopatra was inaugurated, plunged into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt nearly 1,200 years ago.  It was one of the most important trade centres in the Mediterranean before it sank more than a millennium ago. For centuries, the city was believed to be a myth, much like the city of Atlantis is viewed today.  But in 2001, an underwater archaeologist searching for French warships stumbled across the sunken city.



It is no huge surprise that major cities are being found in the jungles, again, and for the first time in hundreds of years. From the sands around mt Ararat , too, had been off limits for many decades too. political reasons there, not jungle.
I find it intriguing and though provoking knowing that simultaneous civilizations existed in so many remote locations. all seeming to be inventing or discovering technologies that would benefit their culture ,in their environment. no wheels in south/central america but very advanced math and astronomy studies. and we thought no one lived in those jungles or were backward because the wheel concept eluded them. but there were few uses for wheels on top of mountains or in mud and muck in jungles or swamps loaded with tall trees.
humans evolve with astonishing similarities , now the information that all came from africa some 200,000 yrs ago and moved in all directions. land , maybe sea, rivers, who knows , next they may find some early flying devices like kites or wind catchers. every new dig reveals things that were science fiction land a generation or 2 ago.
no ancient alien theories though.

Its no surprise that all the finds by the western world are immediately taken for granted as genuine. While the finds in India are neglected or worse they are labeled fake. Thats hypocratic & snobbish.
Talking of lost ancient cities found world over, how can one ignore the sunken cities found near Dwarka coast, one in Gulf of Cambay & the sunken city off Tamil Nadu coast. All these are certifed finds with the Gulf of Cambay being the oldest, around 31000 BP.

These and other discoveries are clear evidence that our planet does experience a 're-birth' thousands of years in between whereby a calamity befalls it, wiping civilisations. This 'armageddon' or 'end of time' is the subject of many stories. The occurrences 'resets' everything such that when the next civilisation emerge, it is as if there has never been a repeat. The biggest take home from such discoveries, I believe, is that our (present) civilisation must prepare itself for the next calamity by learning from such records so that we do not become victims too.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

The Langeid Viking Battle Axe: The original and the copy.
Contrary to what many believe, battle axes from the last part of the Viking age, i.e. the 11th century, had evolved to become light, streamlined, and well-balanced. At the same time, they were powerful lethal weapons, something the recently reconstructed broad axe from Langeid in Southern Norway confirms.

Myths & Legends

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article