Article Abandoned cities of the world we talked about some of the lost cities in Europe, Asia and Africa. Today we will continue this story, and this article will focus on the abandoned cities of the Incas and Mayans, as well as the grandiose Buddhist cities and complexes of Southeast Asia.
Lost Cities of the Maya
In the 1700th century, on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mayan civilizations, striking in their grandeur, were discovered. The first of these was discovered by Mexican Colonel Garlindo, who stumbled upon him on a business trip related to recruiting. Oddly enough, his message did not attract the attention of his superiors. Only three years later, it accidentally fell into the hands of the American lawyer John Lloyd Stephens, who was a passionate amateur archaeologist. The Mexican's report played the role of a detonator: Stephens immediately dropped everything and began to prepare for the expedition. However, he still went not to Mexico, but to Honduras, where, according to his data, back in XNUMX, some Spanish conquistador allegedly discovered a huge complex of buildings and pyramids. Fortunately, Stephens did not imagine the difficulties of this journey, otherwise the discovery of the first Mayan city for science would then simply not have taken place. A small expedition had to literally cut through the jungle, but after a few days of the journey, the goal was achieved: Stephens and his companions stumbled upon a wall made of hewn, tightly fitted boulders. Climbing the steep staircase, they saw in front of them the ruins of pyramids and palaces. Stephens left this description of the painting before him:
“The ruined city lay before us like a ship wrecked in the middle of the ocean. Its masts were broken, the name was erased, the crew was killed. And no one can say where he came from, to whom he belonged, how long the journey lasted and what caused his death. "
On the way back, Stephens' expedition found several more cities.
Other expeditions followed the Garlindo route to southern Mexico, where the city of Palenque was soon found.
It is here that you can see the world famous Palace with a ballroom, temples (pyramids) of the Inscriptions, the Sun, the Cross and the Skull.
In the north of the Yucatan Peninsula, about 120 km from the city of Merida, the famous city of Chechen-Itza (the Well of the Itza tribe) was discovered, founded, as it is supposed, in the XNUMXth century. n. e.
In the 24th century, it was captured by the Toltec tribe, who made it their capital, and therefore you can see the buildings of both the Maya and the Toltecs in it. At the end of the 37th century, the Toltec state was defeated by its neighbors, and the city was deserted. Much attention of tourists is attracted here by the Kukulkan temple. This is a XNUMX-meter nine-step pyramid, the western balustrade of the main staircase of which the sun illuminates on the days of the spring and autumn equinox so that light and shadow form seven isosceles triangles that make up the body of a XNUMX-meter snake "crawling" to the base of the stairs.
The city also has the Temple of the Warriors, located at the top of another small pyramid, and the Temple of the Jaguars, the Caracol Observatory, seven ball courts, the remains of 4 colonnades (a group of one thousand columns). There is also a sacred well, about 50 meters deep, intended for sacrifices.
Another large abandoned city, Teotihuacan, can be seen 50 kilometers northeast of Mexico City. The years of its heyday fell on the V-VI centuries of the new era.
This city got its name from the Aztecs, who found it already deserted. Maya called him puh - literally "thickets of reeds." Once its population reached 125 thousand people, and now on the site of the city there is a grandiose archaeological complex, the main attractions of which are the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. The Pyramid of the Sun is the tallest in America and the third tallest in the world, at its top there is a temple that was traditionally considered dedicated to the Sun. However, it was established that in ancient times the base of the pyramid was surrounded by a channel 3 meters wide, and in its corners there are burials of children, which is typical for sacrifices to the water god Tlaloc. Therefore, some modern researchers believe that the temple is dedicated to this particular god.
The pyramid of the moon is smaller, but since it is located on a hill, visually this difference is not striking.
On the central square of the city there is a huge altar, to which the so-called "Road of the Dead", 3 kilometers long, leads. Ironically, this road, along which tens of thousands of people doomed to become victims of the gods, have passed their last journey, is now a huge shopping street where locals sell souvenirs to tourists, among which various silverware predominates. Among the other monuments of Teotihuacan, the temple of Quetzalcoatl, whose pediment is decorated with the heads of snakes carved from stone, attracts attention.
It is now established that by 950 AD, most of the Mayan cities had already been abandoned. Modern researchers believe that the main reason for the decline of the Mayan cities was the massive deforestation of nearby tropical forests, caused by the increase in population. This led to soil erosion and the shallowing of clean shallow lakes (baggio), which were the main sources of water for the Maya (currently, water appears in them only from July to November). True, this theory cannot answer the question of why the Maya Indians did not build other cities in a new place.
The most amazing and incredible thing is that unknown Mayan cities are found even today. The last of them was discovered in 2004 by an expedition led by the Italian archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli. It is located in one of the poorly studied areas in the northeast of Guatemala - near Siwal.
Lost cities of Peru
In 1911, the American scientist Bingham discovered the ancient city of the Incas on the territory of the modern state of Peru, about 100 km from Cuzco. After the name of the nearby mountain, he was given the name Machu Picchu, but the Indians themselves called him Vilkapampa.
This city was considered "lost" for three centuries. Everyone knew that it existed, that it was built by the Incas and became their last fortress. Finding him became a sensation and attracted general interest. Therefore, the very next year, Bingham was able to return here at the head of an expedition organized by Yale University. The city was cleared of thickets and sand, and the first research works were carried out. For 15 years, under the most difficult conditions, a narrow-gauge railway was being built to the newly acquired city, which is still the only way that more than 200 tourists a year get to Machu Picchu. The city is located on a plateau between two mountain peaks - Machu Picchu ("Old Mountain") and Huayna Picchu ("Young Mountain"). Above, there is a stunning view of the river valley, where the temple of the Sun-Inga is located: it was here, according to local legends, that the Sun first touched the Earth. The nature of the area dictates the peculiarities of the city's development: houses, temples, palaces huddle together, quarters and individual buildings are connected by stairs that act as streets. The longest of these stairs has 000 steps, along which is the main aqueduct, through which rainwater fell into numerous stone pools. On the slopes of the mountains, there are terraces covered with earth, on which cereals and vegetables were grown.
Most tourists are sure that Machu Picchu was the capital of the Inca state, but scientists are not so categorical. The fact is that, despite the grandeur of the buildings, this settlement in no way can claim the role of a large city - there are only about 200 structures in it. Most researchers believe that no more than 1200 people lived in and around the city. Some of them believe that the city was a kind of "monastery" in which girls intended to be sacrificed to the gods lived. Others consider it a fortress, built before the arrival of the Incas.
In 2003, an expedition led by Hugh Thomson and Gary Ziegler discovered another Inca city 100 km from Cuzco. In the same year, these researchers, near Machu Picchu, while flying around the search area, managed to find another city unknown to science. This was done thanks to a special infrared thermosensitive camera, which recorded the difference in temperature between the stone buildings hidden by lush vegetation and the jungle surrounding them.
On the territory of Peru, in the Supe Valley, about 200 km from Lima, Paul Kosok discovered the oldest city in America - Caral. It was built by the tribes of the Norte Chico civilization, who lived in these places before the arrival of the Inca conquerors.
Its heyday fell on 2600-2000. BC e. The city itself was inhabited by about 3000 people (representatives of aristocratic families, priests and their servants), but in the surrounding valley the population reached 20. Caral is surrounded by 000 pyramids, but there are no walls. Not found during excavation weapons, but on the other hand, musical instruments were discovered - flutes made of condor bones and pipes made of deer bones. No traces of the storming of the city have been identified: apparently, after the arrival of the Incas, it fell into decay in the same way as the cities of the Incas were deserted after the conquest of this country by the Spaniards.
Now we will talk a little about the lost cities of Southeast Asia.
In the middle of the 100th century, the French naturalist Anri Muo, while traveling in Southeast Asia, heard stories about an ancient city hidden by the centuries-old forests of Cambodia. The interested scientist began to make inquiries and soon met a certain Catholic missionary who claimed that he had been able to visit the lost city. Muo persuaded the missionary to become his guide. They were lucky: they did not get lost and did not go astray, and in a few hours they found themselves at the grandiose ruins of the capital of the Khmer state - Angkor. The first they discovered the largest and most famous temple of Angkor - Angkor Wat, built in the XII century by King Suryavarman II. On a huge stone platform (115x13 and XNUMX meters high) five towers rush upward, decorated with bas-reliefs and ornaments. Around the temple there are numerous columns and an external wall, which in the plan is a regular square with a side of one kilometer. The scale of the temple shocked Muo, but he could not imagine the true grandeur of the city he discovered. Subsequent expeditions, clearing the forest and drawing up a plan for Angkor, found that it covers an area of many tens of square kilometers and is the largest "dead" city in the world. It is believed that during the heyday, the number of its inhabitants reached a million people. The Khmer state, ravaged by constant wars with neighbors and the waste of its kings, fell at the turn of the XII-XIII centuries. Together with him, the grandiose city with its numerous temples and palaces went into oblivion.
A completely special and unique abandoned city is Bagan - the ancient capital of the kingdom of the same name. It is located in the territory of modern Myanmar. Here you can see 4000 temples and pagodas.
This abandoned city is unique in that no one has ever lost or forgotten it. The ruins of the city, covering an area of about 40 square kilometers, lie on the banks of the main river of Myanmar, the Ayeyarwaddy, and are clearly visible to everyone who swims along it. After the fall of the Burmese state crushed by the Mongols (by the way, the famous traveler Marco Polo told about these events in his book), the maintenance of the huge capital turned out to be an unbearable task for the survivors of the war-torn inhabitants. The last of them left the city in the XIV century. Near Pagan and directly on its territory there is a small town and several villages, gardens and fields were planted right between the temples. The names of the kings and rulers, on whose orders the grandiose palaces and temples were built, were forgotten, but every second Burmese fairy tale begins with the words: "It was in Pagan." Lying away from the main trade routes, Burma was a distant outlying province of the British Empire. Therefore, Pagan, being a true pearl of ancient architecture, did not attract the attention of the British for a long time, remaining in the shadow of the more famous Indian temples and monuments. The first of the Europeans to see the ancient city was the Englishman Syme (late XNUMXth century), who left sketches of some of its temples. After that, Pagan was visited by a huge number of all kinds of expeditions, very few of which can be called purely scientific: often their participants were engaged not so much in research as in banal robbery of the surviving temples. Nevertheless, from that time archaeologists from all over the world learned about Pagan, and systematic work began on the study of the ancient city.
The religious buildings of Pagan can be divided into three large groups. The first of these is temples. These are symmetrical buildings with four altars and Buddha statues. The second is Buddhist stupas with holy relics. The third - caves (gubyaukzhi) with a labyrinth of corridors painted with frescoes. Even a non-specialist can determine the approximate age of the frescoes: the older ones are made in two colors, the later ones are multi-colored. It is interesting that many representatives of the country's top military leadership come to one of the temples of Pagan to make wishes, and until recently it was guarded by army units.
The most famous temple of Pagan - Ananda - was built at the end of the 18th century and is a two-storey rectangular building, the windows of which are decorated with portals that look like flames. Sometimes in this flame one can discern the head of a fabulous serpent - Naga. A one-story covered gallery begins from the middle of each wall, through which you can enter the center of the temple. The roof is a series of diminishing terraces, decorated with lion sculptures and small pagodas at the corners. It is crowned with a conical tower (sikhara). Much attention of both tourists and pilgrims is attracted by the Shwezigon Pagoda, covered in gold and surrounded by many small temples and stupas, where the bones and teeth of the Buddha are kept. An exact copy of this tooth, once sent by the king of Sri Lanka, is in the Lokonanda temple. The largest statue of the reclining Buddha (61 meters) is located in the Shinbintalyang temple, and the tallest is the Tatbyinyi temple, whose height reaches XNUMX meters.
A feature of all the Pagan temples is the striking discrepancy between the appearance and the interior, striking all travelers. Outside, the temples seem light, light and almost weightless, but as soon as you go inside, everything immediately changes - twilight, narrow long corridors and galleries, low ceilings, huge statues of Buddha are designed to cause a person who has entered a feeling of his insignificance in front of the higher forces of fate. Most of the Pagan temples repeat Ananda in various variations, but there are exceptions. Such is, for example, the temple built by the order of Manukha, the captive king of the monks: the entire central hall of the temple is filled with a statue of a seated Buddha, it seems that a ten-meter broad-shouldered man is terribly cramped in the temple and just about, with a slight shoulder movement, he will destroy his prison. Apparently, in this way Manukha expressed his attitude to captivity. A copy of the Indian temple built on the birthplace of Buddha, reworked in the national Burmese style, is very interesting.
And this is the Buddhist monastery Taung Kalat located on the top of the cliff:
In Bagan there are also temples of non-Buddhist religions, which were built by merchants and monks from other countries who lived there - Hindu, Zoroastrian, Jain. Since these temples were built by the Burmese, they all have features characteristic of Pagan architecture. The most famous of them is the Nanpai Temple, inside of which you can see images of the four-headed Hindu god Brahma.
In addition to thousands of temples, Bagan has an Archaeological Museum with a rich collection of works of art.
Bagan archeological museum:
Another widely known lost Buddhist temple complex in the world is the famous Borobodur, located on the Indonesian island of Java. It is believed that in translation from Sanskrit this name means “Buddhist temple on the mountain”. The exact date of construction of Borobodur has not yet been determined. It is believed that the tribes who built this remarkable monument left their lands after the eruption of Mount Merapi at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD. e. Borobodur was discovered during the Anglo-Dutch War of 1814. At that time, only the upper terraces of the monument were visible. For a month and a half, 200 people, led by the Dutchman Cornelius, cleared the monument, but despite all efforts, it was not possible to finish the work then. They were continued in 1817 and 1822 and completed in 1835. Borobodur immediately attracted attention, which, unfortunately, led to his shameless plunder. Souvenir merchants took out dozens of sculptures, chipped off fragments of ornament. The King of Siam, who visited Borobodur in 1886, took with him many statues loaded on 8 bull teams. They began to protect the monument only at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in 1907-1911. the Dutch authorities made the first attempt to restore it. 1973-1984 at the initiative of UNESCO, a complete restoration of Borobodur was carried out. On September 21, 1985, the monument received minor damage during the bombing, and in 2006, the message of an earthquake in Java caused great concern among scientists around the world, but the complex then resisted and was practically not damaged.
What is Borobodur? This is a huge eight-tier stupa, the 5 lower tiers of which are square, and the upper three are round. The dimensions of the sides of the square foundation are 118 meters, the number of stone blocks used in the construction is about 2 million.
The upper tier is crowned with a large central stupa, 72 small ones are located around it. Each stupa is made in the shape of a bell with lots of decorations. Inside the stupas, there are 504 Buddha statues and 1460 bas-reliefs on various religious subjects.
According to a number of researchers, Borobodur can be viewed as a huge book: as the ritual circumambulation of each tier is completed, the pilgrims get acquainted with the life of the Buddha and with the elements of his teachings. Buddhists from all over the world, who have come to Borobodur since the second half of the XNUMXth century, believe that touching the statues in the stupas on the upper tier brings happiness.
In the next article we will talk a little about the famous Arkaim.