Monday, October 19, 2009

Lost City: Another Mystery of History

by Julia Buckley

The legend of the lost city of Atlantis is rooted in the writings of Plato. In his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, Plato presents the island of Atlantis as a naval power which ultimately faced a day of terrible battles and simply sank into the sea. It was understood in Plato's time to be entirely fictional, but in the Middle Ages the legend was resurrected by the Humanists and became the subject of discussion and writing. Nowadays, scholars and archeologists tend to place Atlantis, once again, firmly in the realm of the fictional.

However, that doesn't preclude the idea of other lost underwater cities, and Friday's Science Daily reported that scientists have found the oldest submerged town in existence--a town which is remarkably well-preserved, considering that it is 5000 years old. The city, located off the southern coast of Greece, is intact, complete with a large central gathering hall. Mr Elias Spondylis, Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture in Greece, says that “It is a rare find and it is significant because as a submerged site it was never re-occupied and therefore represents a frozen moment of the past.”

This sort of mystery--a mystery of history which must be solved by people donning scuba gear and carefully uncovering what 5000 years had kept hidden--is perhaps the most fascinating of all.

Look at this You-Tube clip of one of the archeologists from the University of Nottingham (with a delightful Scottish accent) explains the features of the site and shares its wonders.

Pretty amazing, eh? What's your favorite mystery of history?

photo link here.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Atlantis really sparked my imagination when I was a kid. Thanks for the clip!

I also loved the 'what happened to the dinosaurs?' mystery.

Mystery Writing is Murder

K M Britt said...

I love anthropological mysteries.

Lisa Bork said...

Interesting story. I'd like to know who created Stonehenge and why, and I've always wanted to know what really happened to Amelia Earhart.

Julia Buckley said...

Lisa, I did a blog about Amelia Earhart here that you might find interesting:

K.M, I do, too--even as a kid I was drawn to books that tried to answer questions about long-ago people. Do you remember the mystery someone wrote about the girl they found preserved in the ice and what her life must have been like?

Elizabeth, I too am fascinated by Atlantis, and the fate of the dinosaurs seems far more important than we make it today--the destruction of an entire species should really make us think twice about some of the mistakes our own species is making.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great post and clip! I'm with Lisa on both counts: Stonehenge and Earhart rank 1 and 2 for me. I'd also love to know about the Bermuda Triangle.

Years and years from now, I wonder what history from our time will have people speculating.

Lisa Bork said...

Read your blog, Julia. I think Amelia ended up on the Marshall Islands. They had an expedition to look for evidence there.

Julia Buckley said...

I agree with both of you about Stonehenge. There's a great documentary about some British anthropologists and archeologists who tried to erect one giant stone using only the tools that would have been available in the time that they think Stonehenge was erected.

Many problems later, they were able to erect the giant stone--no aliens involved! But a huge feat of engineering.

Jessica Lourey said...

Great clip, Julia! Yet again, you've smartened us right up. :)

I'm fascinated by the Mayan culture and what happened to them. Of course, there are still Mayans alive, but what happened to the great empire that accurately mapped the stars and created the calendar? I've heard different theories, but no one really knows.

Keith Raffel said...

Do you think there's some kind of connection between those who like mysteries and who like lost world stories? Maybe. Take Conan Doyle. In addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories, he wrote Lost World with Professor Challenger. And then there's Julia Buckley.

G.M. Malliet said...

Anyone ever see Eddie Izzard's take on how they got the stones for Stonehenge out of Wales? Hilarious.

Interesting video, thanks!

Julia Buckley said...

A great question, Jess! And look at all the contributions made by the Mayan culture. We know so much about them, and yet so little.

Keith, I think you're right, but I guess it's all in what's important to us. For me, heaven would be getting the answers to all the questions. I'm sure there's a link between a certain type of intellect and the desire to get answers--which is why "lost" anythings are so compelling.

GM, I haven't--but now I'll have to try to find it on You Tube. :)