Have you ever visited an incredible place and felt like you were taken back into some exotic time and land? It’s one of the perks of being able to travel across the globe. This kind of experience is once in a lifetime and transforms you into a totally different person. It’s like discovering a side of you, you never knew.
Our planet is very big and very old which means there’s a lot to be explored and discovered. Though human civilization has only existed for a fraction of the Earth’s age, we have been able to create to some truly mind-blowing structures that pushed the limits of technology and machinery in their time. Let’s admire these ancient marvels of the world and write them on our bucket list at the same time.
Sigiriya or Lion Rock is an ancient fort that was rediscovered in Sri Lanka, back in 1831. The Culavamsa, the ancient monarchs of Sri Lanka ruled by King Kashyapa chose the site to be his center after a successful coup against his half-brother, Moggallana. The ancient text explains that King Kashyapa quickly transformed the rock formation and surrounding area into a bustling city and massive fortress.
The development of the place is considered extremely advanced for its time by historians and archaeologists. King Kashyapa’s plans used the natural landmarks in the area like the Lion Rock itself to his advantage in constructing the rest of Sigiriya. Researchers have also found a complex water system that includes reservoirs and even hydraulic systems that still work to this day. If that’s not amazing, then I don’t know what is.
11. Impressive City
The city also flaunts awe-inspiring gardens like water, boulder, and terraced; and massive wall paintings are done in a style that resemble artwork from the Anuradhapura period, that are found nowhere else in the world.
Another uncommon hallmark of the site is The Mirror Wall, a brick wall that is covered in white plaster and was polished so perfectly that it became reflective. The wall is no longer kept in the same condition, but it serves as a primary historical artifact in its current form. Although it’s now illegal, visitors from different periods some as far back as the 8th century have left messages on the wall.
10. Göbekli Tepe
The Göbekli Tepe or also called as Potbelly Hill is a mysterious ancient site found on top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of modern-day Turkey. The site has only been partially excavated about 5%, and archeologists still aren’t sure what it was used for.
Thanks to carbon dating, we know that Göbekli Tepe was likely built around the 9th millennium BCE. For comparison, the great Pyramid of Giza was built around 2800 BCE, making the Göbekli Tepe over 6,000 years older. Researchers believed that the people who built the structure were hunters who, for whatever reason, lived in a village.
9. Religious Ceremonies
One theory for the purpose of Göbekli Tepe comes from Klaus Schmidt. He believes that the structure was used in religious ceremonies, calling it a cathedral on a hill. He theorized that it was a major religious gathering place for a cult of the dead because of the animals carved everywhere. He claims that the animals were meant to protect the dead and that, if he is correct, there should be tombs hidden in some parts of the site that have yet to be excavated.
Even though it’s still unclear what the purpose of Göbekli Tepe was, the importance of the discovery should not be underestimated. If the archaeologists’ theories about the site are correct, it means that our understanding of life during this period might completely change.
8. Ziggurat of Ur
The Ziggurat of Ur is a structure found in Southeastern Iraq in the ancient city of Ur now Dhi Qar Province. Construction of the Great Ziggurat was started by King Ur-Nammu and finished by King Shulgi during the 21st century BCE. It remained in use and was restored 1500 years later in the Neo-Babylonian period. The remains of the structure were discovered in the mid-1800s by William Kennett Loftus and excavations at the site started shortly after.
At the time of its construction, the Ziggurat of Ur was not particularly special, as similar structures have been found throughout the Iranian Peninsula. Ziggurats, basically pyramids that are flat on the top were built within complexes of other temples and used as places of worship. Historians believe that the flat tops of the ziggurats carried shrines to deities, but it has not been verified by any other discoveries at the sites.
Despite being a fairly familiar sight in the ancient world, the Great Ziggurat at Ur does hold special historical significance now. Because of the various restoration efforts throughout its history, starting with King Nabonidus in the 6th century BCE, who did unrestricted excavations in the early 20th century, and Saddam Hussein’s restoration in the 1980s. The Great Ziggurat is now the best preserved ancient structure of its kind in the world.
That doesn’t mean it’s in perfect condition, though. Only the base remains today, and it was damaged greatly during the Gulf War. But, in its bloom the ziggurat was an estimated 100 feet tall, 210 feet long and 150 feet wide. That’s quite an impressive feat considering that the entire building was just made of mud!
The ruins of Tikal are hidden deep within the Guatemalan Rainforest. Artifacts from the site have been dated back to 1000 BCE, and the ruins show evidence that the city was populated continuously until the 11th century CE.
Tikal was a booming population hub for centuries with population estimates around 80,000 to 90,000 at the height of its power. Unfortunately for the people of Tikal and their population growth seems to be what led to the ultimate dying of the city. Archaeologists believe that overpopulation and a run of failing crops paired with drought lead to the abandonment of the Mayan hub after thousands of years of habitation.
The ruins of Tikal went unnoticed by conquerors for many years after the fall of the city, though the native population never quite lost sight of Tikal over the years. Guatemalan natives visited the city in the 1850s and rumors of the historical city crept out from there. The secluded location kept it from the penetration of explorers until the 1950s when an airstrip was built near the site to accommodate travel to the ruins.
After the excavations in the 1900s, the full extent of the ruins became visible. Tikal is a bustling city that shows early urban planning. There are many paths throughout the area connecting different sections of the massive city. Imagine, the residential area alone is thought to cover about 23 square miles! The city is full of limestone buildings varying from homes to palaces to temples and altars. They’ve even found evidence of courts where they believe the citizens of Tikal would play “ōllamaliztli,” an ancient ballgame from Mesoamerica!
4. Labyrinth of Egypt
The Great Labyrinth of Egypt is a bit less visible than the others on this list. There are ruins (kind-of), but the Labyrinth of Egypt is kept active in the historical imagination more so than actual discoveries. The ancient historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BCE, wrote of seeing the Great Labyrinth while visiting Egypt, as did other ancient writers. But here’s the catch, there’s almost nothing left of the structure.
It’s not clear whether Herodotus was using the word labyrinth to describe the complex building style or the fabled structure was meant to be a labyrinth, but it seems that there was a large structure located near the pyramid at Hawara, where Herodotus said it should be at around that time. Unfortunately, though, the structure was demolished for unknown reasons.
From the ancient writings about the Labyrinth of Egypt, we do know a bit about it, but the authenticity is questionable. A number of people throughout the ages have tried to draw representations based on ancient descriptions, but there is no way to verify whether they are accurate or not. Thanks to Ptolemy II, who was said to demolish the structure, we’ll probably never know.
2. The Longmen Grottoes
The Longmen Grottoes are located in Hénán Province, China. The site is made of huge limestones caves with majestic symbols of ancient Chinese Buddhist artwork including thousands and thousands of statues of Buddha. Many of the artwork is carved directly into the mountains.
The Longmen Grottoes dates back to Emperor Xiaowen of the Nothern Wei Dynasty. Historians have concluded that the extensive artwork in the caves was completed over four phases throughout the early centuries CE. The first phase began around 493 CE, and the final phase ended sometime in the 8th century.
1. Cultural Revival
The Longmen Grottoes were all but forgotten in the following centuries, but thanks to a Chinese cultural revival in the 17th century, interest in the impressive work was renewed. Over the years the Grottoes have inspired different levels of interest at different times, but following a string of vandalism in the 1940s, the 1953 Longmen Relics Care Agency was appointed to ensure that the site was properly protected. Thanks to these efforts, visitors can still visit the Grottoes today!
What do you think of these Amazing Secret Ancient World Wonders? Even just by looking at the photos, it makes you wow. Now, who wouldn’t want to have a glimpse of these amazing wonders?
We may never know the complete and accurate history of how these structures started but just looking at these ancient wonders makes you want to travel back in time. These are only a handful of what the world could be hiding, there could still be more waiting to be discovered. But right now, check out these preserved Secret Ancient World Wonders and prepare to be knocked off your feet.