The pursuit of lost significant locations, objects, cultures, and groups throughout history has captivated archaeologists and treasure hunters. Some of these places or items, particularly those from ancient history, are the stuff of legend and their very existence is debated.
There are countless accounts of lost histories that are strange and intriguing, but in this article, we have compiled a list of some of the most well-known examples.
1 | Previously Lost History
The Ancient City of Troy, the legendary setting of the Trojan War described in Greek literature, was discovered by Heinrich Schliemann in the 1870s. This find has been disputed, and the city is believed to have been lost between the 12th and 14th centuries BC.
Olympia, a small town in Greece known for its ancient place of worship and the site of the Olympic Games, was discovered by German archaeologists in 1875. The town is located in Elis on the Peloponnese peninsula and the nearby archaeological site is a major Panhellenic sanctuary of ancient Greece.
The Lost Legions Of Varus
The Lost Legions of Varus, led by the Roman general Publius Quinctilius Varus, were last seen in 15 AD and rediscovered in 1987. Varus is remembered for losing three Roman legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, where he was ambushed by Germanic tribes led by Arminius. He took his own life after the defeat.
The Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, and Oplontis were lost in 79 AD when they were buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. They were rediscovered in 1748.
The Nuestra Señora De Atocha
The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was a Spanish treasure galleon that sank in a hurricane off the Florida Keys in 1622. It was founded in 1985 and was known for being heavily laden with valuable cargo, including copper, silver, gold, tobacco, gems, and indigo, at the time of its sinking. The ship was bound for Spain from Cartagena and Porto Bello in present-day Colombia and Panama, and Havana. It was named for the parish of Atocha in Madrid.
The RMS Titanic
The RMS Titanic, a British passenger liner operated by the White Star Line, was lost in 1912 and found in 1985. The ship is well-known for sinking in the North Atlantic Ocean during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City in 1912, after hitting an iceberg. Of the approximately 2,224 passengers and crew on board, over 1,500 died in the disaster, making it one of the deadliest peacetime commercial marine disasters in modern history.
2 | Still Lost History
Ten Lost Tribes Of Israel
The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were said to have been deported from the Kingdom of Israel following its conquest by the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE. These tribes, which include Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Manasseh, and Ephraim, have inspired claims of descent from them by various groups. Some religions also hold the belief that the tribes will return as part of a messianic prophecy. In the 7th and 8th centuries CE, the idea of the return of the lost tribes was linked to the concept of the coming of the Messiah.
The Lost Army Of Cambyse
The Lost Army of Cambyses II was an army of 50,000 soldiers that vanished in a sandstorm in the Egyptian desert in 525 BC. Cambyses II was the second King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire and the son and successor of Cyrus the Great.
The Ark Of The Covenant:
The Ark of the Covenant, also called the Ark of the Testimony or Ark of God, was a gold-covered wooden chest described in the Book of Exodus as containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. It is also said to have contained Aaron's rod and a pot of manna, according to various texts in the Hebrew Bible.
The Ark of the Covenant was lost after the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem and its whereabouts have been the subject of much speculation and numerous claims of discovery or possession. Some possible locations have been suggested, including:
Mount Nebo in Jerusalem, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Axum, a cave in the Dumghe mountains in Southern Africa, Chartres Cathedral in France, the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Mount Sinai in the Valley of Edom, Herdewyke in Warwickshire, England, and the Hill of Tara in Ireland are among the places that have been suggested as the location of the lost Ark of the Covenant.
There is a belief that the Anubis Shrine (Shrine 261) found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, could be the Ark of the Covenant.
The Statue Of Marduk
The Statue of Marduk, also known as the Statue of Bêl, was an important Babylonian cult statue that was lost at some point between the 5th and 1st centuries BC. The statue represented the god Marduk, the patron deity of the city of Babylon, and was traditionally housed in the main temple of the city, the Esagila.
The Holy Grail
The Holy Grail, also called the Holy Chalice, is a vessel that, according to some Christian traditions, was used by Jesus at the Last Supper to serve wine. It is believed to have magical powers and several relics have been identified as the Holy Grail. Two of these artifacts, located in Genoa and Valencia, have become particularly well-known.
The Ninth Roman Legion
The Ninth Roman Legion, also known as Legio IX Hispana, was an army unit that was active from the 1st century BC until at least 120 AD. It served in various provinces of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire and was stationed in Britain after the Roman invasion in 43 AD. The legion disappears from Roman records after around 120 AD and it is unknown what became of it.
The Roanoke Colony
The Roanoke Colony of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, was founded in 1587 and its settlers vanished between 1587 and 1588, leaving behind an abandoned settlement. The only clue to their disappearance was the word "Croatoan," the name of a nearby island, carved into a post. This is the first recorded instance of the mysterious phenomenon known as the "Lost Colony."
The Money Pit On Oak Island
The Money Pit on Oak Island is a mysterious location believed to contain a lost treasure from before 1795. The island is known for its various theories about buried treasure or historical artifacts and the attempts to locate them.
The Mahogany Ship
The Mahogany Ship is an ancient shipwreck believed to be located near Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia. It was last seen in 1880 and its exact location remains a mystery.
The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine
There is a popular American legend about a rich gold mine hidden somewhere in the southwestern United States, often thought to be located in the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction, Arizona. Since 1891, there have been numerous stories about how to find the mine and people have been searching for it every year. Some have lost their lives in the search.
Victoria's Parliamentary Mace
Victoria's Parliamentary Mace was lost or stolen in 1891 and has never been found. The medieval mace was a precious object that was stolen from Victoria's Parliament, leading to one of Australia's greatest mysteries.
The Irish Crown Jewels
The Jewels Belonging to the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, also known as the Irish Crown Jewels or State Jewels of Ireland, were a set of heavily jeweled regalia created in 1831 for the Sovereign and Grand Master of the Order of St. Patrick. They were stolen from Dublin Castle in 1907 along with the collars of five knights of the order and the theft has never been solved. The jewels have never been recovered.
The Twin Sisters, a pair of cannons used by the Texas Military Forces during the Texas Revolution and American Civil War, were lost in 1865.
Amelia Earhart And Her Aircraft
Amelia Earhart was a pioneering American aviator and author who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set numerous other records, wrote popular books about her flying experiences, and played a key role in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, a group for female pilots.
During an attempt to fly around the world in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Despite numerous investigations, their whereabouts and the remains of their aircraft have never been found. Earhart was declared dead on January 5, 1939.
The Amber Room
The Amber Room was a chamber decorated with amber panels, gold leaf, and mirrors located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg. Built-in Prussia in the 18th century, the room was disassembled and went missing during World War II. It was once considered an "Eighth Wonder of the World" and a reconstruction was installed in the Catherine Palace between 1979 and 2003.
On December 5, 1945, Flight 19, a group of five TBF Avengers, disappeared within the Bermuda Triangle along with all 14 crew members. The flight leader was reportedly heard saying that "everything looks strange" and "we are entering white water" before the plane lost radio contact off the coast of southern Florida. To add to the mystery, a PBM Mariner aircraft with 13 crew members on board also disappeared while searching for Flight 19 and has never been found.
Lord Nelson's Chelengk
The diamond Chelengk, presented to Admiral Lord Nelson by the Sultan Selim III of Turkey after the Battle of the Nile in 1798, is a famous and iconic piece of British history. It had thirteen diamond rays to represent the French ships captured or destroyed in the battle.
After being sold at an auction by Nelson's family in 1895, the Chelengk was eventually exhibited at the newly opened National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. In 1951, it was stolen in a raid by a cat burglar and has not been recovered.
The Lost Jules Rimet FIFA World Cup Trophy
The Jules Rimet Trophy, awarded to the winner of the World Cup in football, was stolen in 1966 before the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England. It was later found by a dog named Pickles and the animal became famous for its heroism.
In 1970, Brazil was awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently after winning the World Cup for the third time. However, in 1983, the trophy was stolen from a bulletproof display case in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the wooden frame being the only vulnerable point. Sérgio Pereira Ayres, a banker, and football club agent was found to be the mastermind behind the theft. While the FIFA World Football Museum has located the original base of the trophy, it has been missing for almost four decades.
The Lost Tombs Of Great Historical Figures
The tombs of several famous historical figures have yet to be discovered. These include Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Alfred, Attila, Thomas Paine, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Cleopatra, and Mark Anthony.
The Library Of Alexandria
The Great Library of Alexandria was a massive and influential library in ancient Egypt that was part of a research institution called the Mouseion, dedicated to the Muses. It is believed to have contained over 400,000 scrolls at its height. However, due to the tumultuous political climate in Alexandria, the library was destroyed in one or more wars or riots.
3 | Still Lost But Apocryphal History
The Island Of Atlantis
Atlantis, a mythical island nation mentioned by Plato in his dialogues "Timaeus" and "Critias," has captivated western philosophers and historians for centuries. Plato describes it as a powerful and technologically advanced kingdom that suddenly disappeared into the ocean around 9,600 B.C.
The ancient Greeks were divided on whether Plato's story of Atlantis should be interpreted as history or metaphor. In the 19th century, there was renewed interest in linking Atlantis to historical locations, with the Greek island of Santorini being the most commonly proposed location. This island was destroyed by a volcanic eruption around 1,600 B.C.
El Dorado: The Lost City Of Gold
El Dorado, originally known as El Hombre Dorado or El Rey Dorado, was a mythical tribal chief of the Muisca people in Colombia. According to legend, he would cover himself with gold dust and submerge himself in Lake Guatavita as part of an initiation rite. The term was later used by the Spanish Empire to refer to this legend.
The legend of El Dorado, the city of gold, led people to search for it for centuries. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans believed that somewhere in the New World there was a place of immense wealth known as El Dorado. Many people's quests for this treasure resulted in wasted lives, with at least one person committing suicide and another being executed.
The Lost Ship Of The Desert
There are many legends about a long-lost ship that is supposedly buried beneath the California desert. These stories range from a Spanish galleon to a Viking Knarr, but there is no historical evidence or proof to support them. However, those who believe in the existence of this vessel point out that the arid landscape of California was once covered by water, which could potentially allow for the possibility of a nautical mystery.
Nazi Gold Train
According to legend, at the end of World War II, Nazi soldiers loaded an armored train with valuable loot, including gold, precious metals, jewels, and weapons, in Breslau, Poland. The train set off towards Waldenburg, about 40 miles away, but it and its treasure have never been seen again and are believed to have vanished somewhere in the Owl Mountains.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that these tunnels were used to hide a train full of valuable loot. The legend of the Nazi Gold Train remains just that, a legend, and there is no credible evidence to support its existence.
How Did Humans Almost Become Extinct About 70,000 Years Ago?
The Toba eruption is thought to have been the largest volcanic eruption in the last 25 million years, with an estimated volume of at least 2,800 cubic kilometers of ash and rock spewed into the atmosphere. It is possible that the eruption had a major impact on the global climate and contributed to the genetic bottleneck that occurred around this time. Some scientists believe that the eruption may have caused a population bottleneck in human populations, reducing their numbers to as low as a few thousand individuals. However, other researchers have challenged this theory, suggesting that the genetic evidence does not support such a dramatic reduction in human population size. The debate over the impact of the Toba eruption on human populations and the cause of the genetic bottleneck remains ongoing.
This theory is based on the fact that all humans have very similar genetic sequences, which suggests that at some point in the past, human populations went through a bottleneck, where only a small number of individuals survived and passed on their genes to future generations. The exact cause of this bottleneck is still unknown, and it is possible that multiple factors, such as environmental changes, natural disasters, and possibly even disease, contributed to the decrease in human populations. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the cause of the bottleneck, it is clear that it had a significant impact on the genetic makeup of modern humans, and has shaped the course of human evolution.
How 97% Of Human History Is Lost Today?
That's a fair point. History is a constantly evolving field of study and discoveries and perspectives can change our understanding of the past. There are certainly many mysteries and events from the past that we have yet to fully understand or know the full details about. However, it is also important to recognize that we have made significant progress in understanding the past and have a wealth of knowledge about human history.
Before the development of written language, much of human history was passed down through oral tradition and storytelling. This means that historians have to rely on artifacts and other physical evidence to learn about the history of humanity before the advent of writing. While there are many mysteries and gaps in our knowledge about this period, archaeologists and other researchers continue to make discoveries and learn more about our past.
What Exactly Is Human History? What Should We Consider To Be Human History? And How Much Do We Know Of It?
There are two approaches to establishing the timeline of human history and estimating the amount of information we have about it:
One approach is to consider the emergence of anatomically modern homo sapiens, or homo sapiens sapiens, approximately 200,000 years ago. This means that out of 200,000 years of human history, 195,500 years are undocumented, or approximately 97%. Another approach is to focus on the emergence of behavioral modernity, which occurred around 50,000 years ago. This means that approximately 90% of human history is undocumented.
Therefore, it could be argued that the transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to more settled ways of living occurred roughly 10,000 years ago. However, the stories and experiences of the people who lived before this period have likely been lost forever.