Fascinating: These sunken cities leave archeologists breathless

Throughout the ages, myths and legends about sunken cities have spurred the imaginations of people all over the world. At the bottom of the deepest oceans there are treasures more fantastic than anything we could dream of. But those who dare to dive down into the depths often end up finding some astounding things and these five undersea ruins are perfect examples. Exploring them is like taking a trip through time to another world...

1. Heracleion, Egypt

The architectural and cultural achievements of the ancient Egyptians continue to fascinate the world to this very day. Every child knows about the pyramids and the temples. But the Mediterranean Sea hides yet another wonder: the forgotten city of Heracleion. Between 550 and 331 B.C., this was the most important port city in Egypt and thrived until it finally sank in the 8th century A.D. 

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It's still not known what caused the city to sink and archeologists continue to uncover the secrets of the ancient city year by year.

In addition to statues, temples and artifacts, they've also found many traces of normal everyday life. The city is located approximately four miles from the current coastline and is extremely valuable because the relicts and ruins have been so well preserved by the water.

Heracleion: The submerged city!

Each statue is more fascinating than the next. What was this lion guarding?

2. Lake Titicaca, Peru

Lake Titicaca in Peru is one of the largest lakes in the world. It is the the highest navigable body of water on earth and is equally impressive under its surface as it is from above.

Wikimedia/Pedro Szekely

In the depths of the lake, researchers found a city that is older than the Incas, which means that it's more than 15,000 years old. They've discovered temples, streets, and terraces that were used for agriculture. Each dive reveals more and more discoveries.

Wikimedia/Jayme Pastoric

The locals have always known about the city 65 feet under the surface of the lake, but for scientists the find was a like winning the jackpot.

Wikimedia/Gold necklace/Daderot/PD

But along with all the gold, treasure and ancient architecture, there have also been some gruesome finds with divers occasionally turning up the remains of the city's former inhabitants.

3. Atlit Yam, Israel

Atlit Yam is a settlement off the coast of Israel that dates back to the stone age. For centuries the location remained hidden 40 feet under the waves until it was discovered after a severe storm in 1984. Researchers found special stones that had been used for religious rites.

Wikimedia/Atlit-Yam/Hanay/CC BY-SA 3.0

Here is a sketch of what it looked like...

Wikimedia/Atlit-Yam, Ritual structure made of stones/Hanay/CC BY-SA 3.0

Divers discovered food supplies that had been left behind, which indicates that the residents had to leave the settlement very quickly. The site is a real goldmine for ethnologists — they even discovered the skeleton of a woman who died from tuberculosis, for example.

Considering that the village is over 6,000 years old, this find was the first proven case of the disease. They have also found many skeletal remains with damage to the ear bones, which indicates that they may have dived to great depths to catch fish and suffered the injuries from the extreme water pressure.

It appears that the residents had a good life there until a tidal wave turned the settlement into a wet grave.

4. Phanagoria, Russia/Greece

In ancient times, Phanagoria was one of the largest Greek colonies outside of Greece. But today, one-third of the city lies on the Taman Peninsula under the tides of the Black Sea in Russian territory.

Large parts of it are covered with sand: the old harbor and the cemetery, for example.

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Divers have found valuable objects and artifacts at the site. These finds have helped to uncover the rich history of the city.

The artifacts revealed that in 63 B.C. there was an uprising that nearly destroyed the city completely. It was inhabited for 1,500 years until it was abandoned. Why this happened is still a mystery, but one that researchers are certain will be solved soon.

5. Mulifanua, Samoa

Mulifanua is located in the northwest part of the Samoan island Upolu. In 1973, researchers made an exciting discovery in this tropical paradise. In the depths they found 4,000 clay fragments and the ruins of an ancient Polynesian settlement.

A few of the pieces could only have been found there, a fact that made the discovery even more exciting for the researchers.

Wikimedia/PortVilaLapita/Torbenbrinker/CC BY-SA 3.0

To think that these slumbering cities remained hidden for so long under the waves is really quite fascinating. These kinds of finds are career-making highlights for the scientists involved and the knowledge they offer about early civilizations is priceless. It'll be interesting to see how many more of these amazing discoveries are yet to come in the future. Maybe the lost city of Atlantis isn't such a myth after all!

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