The Guerrilla Explorer ventures into the ruins of a Lost City

Lost Ancient Megalithic Architecture?

Lost cities are a fascinating subject. But have we found them all? Or is there ancient megalithic architecture still out there, waiting to be discovered?

Do Lost Cities Still Exist?

Do Lost Cities still exist?
David Meyer (aka the Guerrilla Explorer) ventures into ancient Maya ruins
Source: Guerrilla Explorer

Do Lost Cities Still Exist?

A few weeks back, I was trekking through the Yucatán Peninsula, in search of ancient Maya lost cities. Much of the upper part of this region is flat land. So, when you spot a hill, the chances are good you’re looking at an unexcavated ruin, which has given way to nature over the course of many centuries. The sheer number of such sites in the Yucatán is truly remarkable.

Here’s a good article from Katie Crenshaw at Technorati on the possibility of finding far more ancient “monumental architecture” (aka lost cities) in today’s modern world:

…It is widely accepted that anatomically modern humans, humans who look and think like humans today, emerged around 200,000 years ago. Linguists argue that language emerged sometime between 150,000 – 50,000 years ago. Assuming that the creation of complex sites such as Gobekli Tepe required the use of a complete language, not a proto-language, we can assume that humans had the capacity and ability to produce monumental architecture since at least 50,000 years ago, if not before…

Your next question should rightfully be “If we have had the ability to produce such impressive sites as Gobekli Tepe, the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico, and Stonehenge, since 50,000 years ago, conservatively, why haven’t we found evidence of these early sites?”

(See more on ancient monumental architecture and lost cities at Technorati)

Ancient Offering Discovered in Mexican Ruin

Archaeologists have finally penetrated to the center of the Pyramid of the Sun’s maze of ancient tunnels. Amazingly, they’ve uncovered a cache of items that are almost 2,000 years old.

What’s inside the Pyramid of the Sun?

Here’s the latest on this archaeological excavation into the Pyramid of the Sun from History.com.

One of Mexico’s largest and most famous pre-Columbian structures, the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan has yet to reveal its many secrets. Archaeologists have unearthed offerings inside a tunnel under the pyramid that likely predate its construction—and may even shed light on its significance.

The trove of offerings uncovered at the core of Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Sun includes a mask so lifelike it might have been a portrait. A trove of ceremonial offerings has been discovered at the base of Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Sun, archaeologists from Mexico’s National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH) announced yesterday. The items, which include a green stone mask, pieces of pottery and animal bones, might have been part of a consecration ceremony held when workers broke ground on the massive structure more than 1,900 years ago, they said.

Founded by an as-yet-unidentified group around 100 B.C., the ruined city of Teotihuacan features some of the largest pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas, along with temples, palaces, apartment-style complexes and remarkably preserved murals. At its height the settlement may have been home to some 200,000 people. By the time the Aztecs discovered the once-thriving hub around 1300, however, it had been abandoned for centuries, perhaps as a result of famine, drought or warfare…

For the rest on this story, please see History.com)

The Riddle of the Sphinx

A sphinx is a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. According to the ancient Greeks, any traveler who wished to enter Thebes had to first solve “The Riddle of the Sphinx.” Those who failed to answer it correctly were strangled and eaten. What was the riddle? And who finally bested the Sphinx?

The Riddle of the Sphinx?

The origin of the sphinx is unknown. It appears in many ancient traditions, with the oldest surviving example coming from Turkey around 9,500 BC. Thanks to the Great Sphinx of Giza, the creature is most commonly associated with Egypt. It seems probable that this is the inspiration for the sphinx recorded in Greek mythology.

The Egyptians generally depicted the sphinx as male and multiple in number. It was considered a guardian. In Greek mythology, on the other hand, there’s just one Sphinx. She’s depicted as having the body of a lioness, the head of a woman, and the wings of an eagle. Her tail had a serpent head at the end of it. Oh, and she was definitely NOT a guardian.

According to Greek mythology, Hera sent the Sphinx from Ethiopia to Greece in order to punish the city of Thebes for King Laius’s kidnapping and raping of a boy. The Sphinx took up residence on a high wall outside Thebes. She watched over the only entrance to the city and any would-be visitor was required to answer the Riddle of the Sphinx in order to gain passage. Those who failed to give the correct answer were strangled and eaten! In the earliest texts, the Riddle of the Sphinx is not revealed. However, later texts give it as such:

“Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”

Do you know the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx?

Answering the Riddle of the Sphinx?

One day, Oedipus came along and finally solved the Riddle of the Sphinx. The correct answer was “man.”

“Man, who walks on all fours in infancy, walks upright on two legs in the midday of his life, and hobbles about with a staff in old age.” ~ Oedipus

Some accounts state that there was a second Riddle of the Sphinx.

“There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first.”

The answer to this Riddle of the Sphinx was “day and night.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

After Oedipus solved her riddle, the Sphinx threw herself off the wall and broke into pieces on the rocks below. Alternative versions state that she strangled herself or that she refused to acknowledge the answer and he was forced to kill her. Regardless, Oedipus’s victory is often recognized as a transition of sorts. With the death of the Sphinx came the end of ancient religious practices. In their wake would rise a new force…the ancient Olympian gods.

An Ancient Property Boom?

England contains numerous strange monuments called causewayed enclosures. Until recently, scholars believed that these mammoth earthen structures were built over many generations. However, new evidence suggests that they were constructed over a much shorter period, which represented mankind’s first known property boom.

The Mysterious Causewayed Enclosures?

Causewayed enclosures are hilltops surrounded by ancient circular ditches. Some examples include Maiden Castle and Windmill Hill. Researchers have long considered them to be a sort of ritual structure with each generation building new ditches to match those built by the previous ones. However, new dating techniques suggest that most of the causewayed enclosures were built, used, and abandoned in a fifty year time period around 3700 BC.

Previous archaeologists were hampered by highly inaccurate dating techniques. According to a recent article entitled, Archaeology Dating Technique Uncovers ‘Property Boom’ of 3700 BC, Carbon-14 dates, which are generated from organic material, can have margins of errors in the range of centuries. That made it difficult to pinpoint the exact age of the causewayed enclosures.

Dating the Causewayed Enclosures?

In order to address the problem, archaeologist Alex Bayliss and a team of experts compiled “hundreds of thousands of scraps of dating evidence.” They proceeded to match the Carbon-14 dates with other archaeological finds, in effect knocking down the margin of error from centuries to decades.

“The dates were not what we expected when we began this project but prehistorians are just going to have to get their heads around it, a lot of what we have been taught in the past is complete bollocks.” Alex Bayliss, English Heritage

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The purpose of these ancient causewayed enclosures is unknown. Some possibilities include: settlement, defense, cattle compounds, trade centers, meeting centers, ritual centers, and burial sites. And the reason for their sudden construction is also unknown. However, it seems safe to say that this ancient “property boom” was probably caused in part by increases in wealth and population.

The discovery of the property boom raises more questions which will hopefully be answered in the future. Why were these causewayed enclosures, which required tremendous effort to build, used sparingly? Why did they fall out of favor? And most importantly…

Why were they abandoned so suddenly?

Where is the Colossus of Rhodes?

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  At over 100 feet tall, it stood far higher than any other statue of its time.  Mysteriously, this behemoth disappeared over a thousand years ago and has been missing ever since.  So, what happened to it?

The Colossus of Rhodes?

Rhodes was a powerhouse of the ancient world.  After the death of Alexander the Great, it joined forces with Ptolemaic Egypt to control trade in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.  Unhappy with the situation, King Antigonus I Monophthalmus of Cyprus ordered his son to invade Rhodes.  The invasion was turned back.  A subsequent siege also failed and the Cyprus army was forced to flee, leaving behind most of its equipment.  The leaders of Rhodes decided to celebrate the victory by constructing a mammoth statue dedicated to Helios, the god of the sun.

In 292 BC, the sculptor Chares began work on the statue.  He used iron tie bars as framework and giant plates of brass as skin.  The Colossus of Rhodes was completed in 280 BC (Chares is believed to have committed suicide shortly before it was finished).  It stood close to one hundred and ten feet tall and with the addition of at least one fifty foot high marble pedestal, it reached over one hundred and sixty feet into the sky.

There is some confusion regarding the location of the statue.  Medieval historians believed that it straddled the harbor with each foot resting on a giant pillar.  However, modern archaeologists and engineers consider this unrealistic, since it would’ve been structurally unsound and forced a long-term closure of the port.  Instead, they believe that the Colossus of Rhodes rested on a single pedestal or on a hill overlooking the area.

The Collapse of the Colossus of Rhodes?

In 226 BC, a giant earthquake struck Rhodes, wreaking havoc on the city.  And after just 56 years, the mighty Colossus of Rhodes broke at the knees.  Afterwards, the ruins lay on the ground for over 800 years, becoming a tourist attraction in their own right.  In 654 AD, a Muslim leader named Muawiyah I conquered Rhodes.  Supposedly, he sold the ruins to a Jewish merchant who broke them down and transported them back to his home via camel.  However, this may be nothing more than a metaphor.

And a great number of men hauled on strong ropes which were tied round the brass Colossus which was in the city and pulled it down. And they weighed from it three thousand loads of Corinthian brass, and they sold it to a certain Jew from Emesa – Barhebraeus, 13th Century

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So where is the Colossus of Rhodes today? If we are to believe the stories, then the Colossus is gone, melted down and repurposed.  However, in 2008, German archaeologist Ursula Vedder proposed an alternative explanation.  She suggested that the Colossus of Rhodes had originally rested at the top of the Acropolis of Rhodes which sits on a hill overlooking the port.  There is a large rock base in the area, situated between a recently discovered stadium and racetrack.  If Vedder is correct, then the mystery of the lost Colossus may eventually be solved.  For all we know, the giant statue might be lying near these other ruins, buried deep in the sand, waiting for a team of explorers to unearth it.

How was the Great Pyramid built?

The Great Pyramid at Giza is one of the most spectacular monuments of the ancient world. It measures over 450 feet tall and over 750 feet on each side. Many mysteries surround the giant structure but one in particular stands above the rest. How in the world did the ancient Egyptians manage to build it?

How did Ancient Egyptians build the Great Pyramid?

The problem is not an easy one. As one scholar put it:

“The logistics of construction at the Giza site are staggering when you think that the ancient Egyptians had no pulleys, no wheels, and no iron tools. Yet, the dimensions of the pyramid are extremely accurate and the site was leveled within a fraction of an inch over the entire 13.1-acre base. This is comparable to the accuracy possible with modern construction methods and laser leveling. That’s astounding. With their ‘rudimentary tools,’ the pyramid builders of ancient Egypt were about as accurate as we are today with 20th century technology.” ~ Dr. Craig Smith

Ancient texts provide us with some clues. Herodotus wrote that wooden machines or levers were utilized to build the Great Pyramid while Diodorus Siculus theorized that ramps were used. In more modern times, scholars have added a number of theories to the debate. However, none of these seem to fit the facts.

  • Single Ramp: A single ramp would need to rise and lengthen as the Great Pyramid grew taller. In order to maintain a manageable slope for workers hauling the massive blocks, it would eventually be over a mile long. There is no room for such a ramp in the area nor evidence that one ever existed.
  • Spiral Ramp: A ramp that spiraled upwards around the Great Pyramid’s exterior would create an engineering problem. As the pyramid rose, the ramp would need to edge inwards, completely covering the lower half of the structure. This would make it impossible for surveyors to build the pyramid with much accuracy.
  • Herodotus’s Machines: An army of wooden crane-like machines required wood that the Egyptians didn’t possess. Also, cranes would be needed on all steps of the Great Pyramid yet many of the steps are too thin to support such machines.
  • Concrete Blocks: Even if the ancient Egyptians used limestone concrete for some of the blocks, they couldn’t have used it for all of them. For instance, the giant multi-ton stones above the King’s Chamber were definitely carved and hauled.

Where is the Ramp used to build the Great Pyramid?

In 2007, a French architect by the name of Jean-Pierre Houdin used 3-D software to propose a new type of ramp. If he’s right, this ramp should still exist…inside the Great Pyramid itself!

His theory is that a single external ramp was used to build the bottom third of the pyramid. At the same time, a second spiraling ramp was constructed inside the structure. After the external ramp had served its purpose, it was broken down into blocks and hauled up the internal ramp in order to build the top two-thirds of the pyramid. Within the Great Pyramid, the ramp’s turning points were left open temporarily so that a wooden crane could lift and rotate each block, allowing them to be hauled up to the next turning point.

Houdin’s theory is admittedly complicated. Yet, it’s backed by intriguing evidence. First, there is a notch in the pyramid that matches up with one of his predicted turning points. In 1986, a French archaeologist spotted a desert fox enter the Great Pyramid near this notch. While the fox could’ve climbed the massive structure, its also possible that it entered an undiscovered crevice at the bottom, climbed the internal ramp, and then exited near the notch. And second, that same French expedition used microgravity to search for hidden chambers. While they found nothing substantial, their work revealed something inside the pyramid that looked like a spiraling ramp.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Houdin wishes to test his theory by using special infrared cameras to measure the pyramid’s reaction to heat. However, he first needs permission from Egyptian authorities, something that has eluded his grasp for several years. Along with the Great Pyramid’s secret shafts, its construction remains one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world. With any luck, both secrets will soon be solved.

Secret Shafts within the Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Giza is, in my opinion, the single most spectacular structure on earth. Constructed around 2560 BC, it has weathered over 4,500 years of natural disasters, wars, and modernization.

Secret Hieroglyphics inside the Great Pyramid?

Even today, with all of our modern tools and equipment, the Great Pyramid remains shrouded in mystery.  New discoveries and theories as to its purpose are common.

The latest chapter in its long saga took place just a few weeks ago.  The Djedi Project announced that it discovered ancient red hieroglyphs inside a secret air shaft that leads out of the Queen’s Chamber.  The shaft is one of two accessible from the room.  Mysteriously, neither one was originally connected to the Chamber and neither one exits the Great Pyramid.

The discovery was made using a micro snake camera engineered to fit through a small hole in a stone door at the end of the shaft.  In addition to the hieroglyphs, the camera also enabled the examination of two copper pins which have been used to support Christopher Dunn’s “power plant” theory.  According to the Project, the latest images indicate that the pins “were more likely ornamental rather than electrical connections or structural features.”  (You can read Dunn’s rebuttal here.)

The images also showed that the other side of the stone door was “finished and polished,” suggesting that it might have served a purpose beyond just blocking the shaft.  Next, the Project plans to examine the far wall to see if it is another door or a solid block.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The Great Pyramid remains one of the greatest mysteries of history.  While commonly thought to be a giant tomb, not a single burial has ever been discovered inside of it (although that could be due to grave robbers).  In fact, out of more than eighty pyramids along the Nile Valley, (including the sealed Step Pyramid of Sekhemkhet) not a single body has ever been found.

In the absence of bodies, other theories have sprung up to explain the pyramids.  Some of these include: granaries, calendars, observatories, and public works to unite Egypt’s tribes.  Perhaps the most likely alternative theory is that the pyramids were cenotaphs, or monuments to the Pharaohs but not their actual tombs.

Regardless, one thing seems certain…the Great Pyramid has yet to give up all of its secrets.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the best ones are still to come.