Five Legendary Lost Cities that have Never Been Found
In 1545, Conquistadores Lázaro Fonte and Hernán Perez de Quesada attempted to drain Lake Guatavita. As they did so, they found gold along its shores, fueling their suspicion that the lake contained a treasure of riches. They worked for three months, with workers forming a bucket chain, but they were unable to drain the lake sufficiently to reach any treasures deep within the lake. In 1580, another attempt to drain the lake was made by business entrepreneur Antonio de Sepúlveda. Once again, various pieces of gold were found along the shores, but the treasure at the depths of the lake remained concealed. Other searches were conducted on Lake Guatavita, with estimates that the lake could contain up to $300 million in gold, with no luck in finding the treasures. All searches came to a halt when the Colombian government declared the lake a protected area in 1965. Nonetheless, the search for El Dorado continues, even without the ability to search Lake Guatavita. The legends of the Muisca tribe, the Gilded One and their ritualistic sacrifice of treasures have transformed over time into today’s tale of El Dorado, lost city of gold.
Dubai cultivates an ultra-modern image of dazzling architecture and effortless wealth. Yet its deserts conceal forgotten cities and a hidden history which reveal how its early inhabitants adapted and overcame dramatic past climate change.
One of the most famous lost cities of Arabia – tantalizingly so because historians have known it existed from written records but simply could not find it – is the medieval city of Julfar. Home to the legendary Arabian seafarer Ahmed ibn Majid, as well as allegedly to the fictional Sindbad the Sailor, Julfar thrived for a thousand years before falling into ruin and disappearing from human memory for almost two centuries. Unlike other desert cities, Julfar was a thriving port, in fact the hub of southern Gulf Arabic trade in the Middle Ages.
Julfar was known to be somewhere on the Persian Gulf coast north of Dubai, but the actual site was only found by archaeologists in the 1960s. The earliest signs of settlement found on the site date from the 6th century, by which time its inhabitants were already trading as far afield as India and the Far East on a routine basis.
The 10th to 14th centuries were a golden age for Julfar and for long-distance Arab trading and seafaring, with Arab navigators routinely traveling halfway around the world. Arabs had sailed into European waters long before Europeans succeeded in navigating through the Indian Ocean and into the Persian Gulf, for instance. As the main base for these voyages and trade, Julfar was the largest and most important city in the southern Gulf for over a thousand years. Arab merchants routinely made the mammoth eighteen-month sea voyage as far as China, and traded almost everything imaginable.
Such a valuable commercial centre attracted constant attention from rival powers though. The Portuguese took control in the 16th century, by which time Julfar was a substantial city of around 70,000 people. A century later the Persians seized it, only to lose it in 1750 to the Qawasim tribe from Sharjah who established themselves next-door at Ras al-Khaimah, which they continue to rule to this day, leaving the old Julfar to gradually decay until its ruins became forgotten amongst the coastal sand dunes. Today most of Julfar in all likelihood remains still hidden beneath the sprawling dunes north of Ras al-Khaimah.” – courtesy David Millar
By: April Holloway