Why is it we have such a romantic fascination with ancient ruins left by civilizations that mysteriously vanished? World renowned locations like Machu Picchu, Petra, Chichen Itza, Angkor Wat, Mesa Verde, and Ephesus are only the tip of the iceberg. Abandoned cities and collapsed cultures are scattered around the globe and throughout human history.
Students of art and architecture are intrigued by the physical remains, but part of the appeal must also be the mysteries they hold.
How could a powerful and sophisticated society just cease to exist?
Was it a sudden collapse caused by natural disasters, or a gradual decline brought about by war, climate change or catastrophic blunders on the part of inept or oblivious rulers?
Ancient ruins are fascinating examples of our ancestors’ ingenuity, but these failed cultures and their mysterious abandoned cities are also stony reminders that despite careful planning, good intentions and our best technology, we can still get it wrong. History has shown that all it takes is some bad luck, poor judgement, and head-in-the-sand complacency.
A city in ruins isn’t necessarily an ideal place to look for the best path forward, but it may be riddled with roads to avoid. And if this is true, we hope this series on vanishing civilizations will be food for thought for all of us.
James & Terri
Photo Credits: Slider Ulvi Safari