15 Civilizations That Up And Vanished Off The Face Of The Earth
Lost In Time
Can you imagine an entire civilization disappearing into thin air? Although it’s hard to believe, several age-old cultures have literally evaporated without a trace.
More often than not, the only things that can even prove that these communities even existed are cracked pieces of pottery. Check out these 15 ancient civilizations that mysteriously vanished.
The Crafty Nabateans
Extending across Syria, Arabia, and Palestine, the Nabateans were an ancient people that existed around 312 BC. They were extremely good at trading and even did transactions in China, India, and the Far East.
As the first real businessmen, they hocked spices, incense, animals, and iron. Trump would be proud!
Gone Without A Trace
Suddenly, the Nabateans pretty much just up and vanished. All that we know for sure is that they were super tight with the Roman Empire, despite the fact that Emperor Trajan annexed them from AD 105 to AD 106. Maybe being rejected was unbearable and they all became hermits somewhere deep in the mountains.
Sadly, they pretty much fell off the face of the planet after that.
As the oldest American culture, the Clovis had a lot to prove. Based in New Mexico from 9050 BC to 8800 BC, these guys actually invented supremely advanced weapons like bone tools and hammers. Call them the original Home Depot.
The only thing that they didn’t create was air conditioning!
Unfortunately for the Clovis, the only thing that’s left behind of their culture is their signature tools. There are many conspiracy theories that could explain their disappearance.
While some think that the tribe simply grew too big and branched out, others think that they were obliterated by a giant comet.
Located in modern-day Turkey from 7500 BC to 5700 BC, the Catalhoyuk spent their days living in traditional mud-brick homes. They were very creative people who loved to paint murals and construct shrines.
They were also obsessed with eating grains and harvesting crops, and probably invented the first quinoa bowl!
Stuck In Oblivion
How could such an inventive culture just disappear? While archaeologists are still searching for answers, they have uncovered some legit remnants from the Catalhoyuk.
In addition to their abandoned structures, they left behind creepy skeletons buried underneath the floor of a building. Looks like someone got on their bad side!
The Rapa Nui
Ever heard of Easter Island? You can thank the Rapa Nui for the famous stone sculptures that populate that area. While they were on the radar from the 13th to the 16th centuries, they made quite an impact.
No one even knows how they got there, let alone how they vanished!
Why did the Rapa Nui fade away? The answer is simple: food deprivation. Historians think that they ate all of their natural resources without replacing them. And then there’s the rat theory. Some think that their ecosystem was chewed up by rats.
Guess they were living off the rat of the land!
Representing the Greek’s Crete Island, the Minoans made a splash around 3000 and 1000 BC. They were all about partying and loved to sacrifice animals, set offerings on fire, and worship in crazy cults.
These hedonists were definitely living their best life, so how could they have disappeared into thin air?
A Greek Tragedy
As predecessors to the Greeks, the Minoans were basically famous during their time. The ancient Egyptians even spilled the tea about them in their hieroglyphics. It’s very mysterious how these early islanders disappeared, but some think they were either blasted by a volcanic eruption or decimated by plague and disease.
The Cucuteni Trypillian Culture
Populating Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine, the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture appeared on the scene between 5400 BC and 2700 BC. This ancient community lived off of crops and nearby bodies of water. They built houses, sculpted pottery, and made settlements.
They even traded gifts instead of using a system of money. Burning Man, anyone?
Before the Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture disappeared, they were known for doing some pretty wacky things. For example, large groups of them would live in these ancient settlements, and then they would burn them to the ground every 60 to 80 years.
Honestly, it seems like Burning Man totally ripped these guys off!
Hailing from the American Southwest, the Anasazi thrived in the 12th century. They were best known for building epic cliff dwellings. These amazing structures were many stories high, with high windows that they accessed via ladders. If there was any drama, they’d safely hide away.
Whatever happened to these original cave dwellers?
Gone But Not Forgotten
Many people wonder why the Anasazi disappeared. There are many explanations, including that they just ran out of water because it was too hot where they inhabited. However, scholars think that they reached maximum capacity and spread out into new communities.
Although they abandoned their cave dwellings, they’re still admired today.
The Nabta Playa
About 11,000 years ago, the Nabta Playa tribe was running things in Egypt. Not only was this prolific group nomadic, but they constantly battled the elements to survive. Sometimes there wasn’t even water to be found anywhere nearby.
Every day was a fight to survive. The struggle was real! They would have been your modern hip hop artist talking about how they grew up in South Detroit, on 8 Miles, etc…
Lost In The Desert
No one knows how or why the Nabta Playa disappeared, but they did leave behind some pretty sweet clues that give insight into how they lived. These early astronomers created an elaborate stone circle that lined up with the stars.
Of course, it was the perfect place for an animal sacrifice!
The Khmer Empire
Inhabiting Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the Khmer Empire ruled the world from AD 802 to AD 1431. They were a harmonious blend of Buddist and Hindu people who united through many years of war.
What could’ve possibly happened to this peaceful group that created the most amazing Asian temples?
Even though they left behind some pristine temples, the Khmer Empire itself completely ceased to exist. Some scholars believe that the immigration of the Thai people took over the former kingdom, and others think that war or weather caused their downfall.
At the end of the day, their disappearance remains a mystery.
As the first Meso-american culture, the Olmecs left behind an interesting legacy. Living from 1200 BC to 400 BC, they built their community off of devout religion and ornate temples. They were also famous for carving giant stone heads.
Why did such a prolific group abandon their homes and disappear?
The Olmecs were so ancient that historians aren’t even sure what they were originally called or how they communicated. What they do know is that the word “Olmec” translates to “rubber people” in the Aztec language.
Besides their art, the craziest thing is that this culture didn’t leave anything behind – not even bones!
Occupying Mexico and Central America from AD 250 to AD 900, the Mayans were known as the most popular civilization that straight up disappeared. This super advanced culture created its own hieroglyphics, calendars, temples, palaces, plazas, and ball courts.
So how could they suddenly overthrow their kings and abandon ship?
Like most mysteries, there are about a hundred theories that could explain the disappearance of the Mayans. Historians believe that a horrible drought was responsible for the collapse of this ancient nation.
Other researchers think it was a spread of disease or a peasant revolt that brought this group down.
8,000 years ago, the Indus resided in modern-day India and Pakistan. As one of the first civilizations, they actually accounted for 10 percent of the earth’s populace. They even developed a style of writing that was so complex, we still can’t figure it out.
What happened to these ancient people?
By 1900 BC, the Indus totally fell off. Apparently, they ditched their homes and fled to the southeast. While historians originally thought that they were invaded by the Aryans, that theory has been disproven.
Nowadays, researchers insist that the end of the monsoon season ruined their crops and led to their demise.
Ever heard of the Cahokia? They were an indigenous tribe that inhabited St. Louis, Missouri about 1,200 years ago. At their heyday, the tribe had 20,000 residents. They also built a huge wooden barrier around their town and built many plazas.
How did this formerly prosperous group just vanish?
Around AD 1200, it’s widely believed that this indigenous culture was destroyed by a giant flood. By the time that Christopher Columbus showed up, these guys were long gone. All that they left behind were 120 mounds of earth constructed from approximately 14 million baskets of dirt.
Pretty crafty, right?
Living in Turkey from 500 CE to 1000 CE, the Derinkuyu tribe was world-renowned for building the most extravagant underground city ever. Although it was not the only one in their area, it was the most immense.
It even stretched five stories deep underground. How did these mole people die out?
When the Derinkuyu ditched their underground city, it became a haven for people seeking shelter from warfare. From Christian natives to Cappadocian Greeks, the place was a pretty epic hideout. In 1923, the Christians officially abandoned their spot.
It was rediscovered in 1963 after a man found a mystery room in his house!
Inhabiting Nubia around 8000 BC, the Kush people were once known as the most “stratified and complex urban society” of their time. They made building pyramids popular again and were considered early architects.
Unfortunately, their disappearance is as mysterious as their prehistoric script. Only time will tell what became of these ancient civilizations.