Around the entire planet there are numerous ruins of cities and settlements of ancient civilizations. In this post we are going to get to know the main ruins in the world based on their archaeological interest, not for their tourist interest.
WHERE IS THE VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES LOCATED
The valley of the temples extends near the city of Agrigento, and contains the great sanctuaries that the inhabitants of that region in times of Magna Graecia erected in honor of their divinities.
Founded by settlers from Rhodes and Crete, and also from nearby Gela. the city was born in a fertile region (wheat, oil, wine, cattle) and with time it came to occupy a wide walled enclosure that enclosed grandiose buildings.
Soon, however, their might had to face that of the fearsome Carthaginians. And Agrigento, with its powerful fortifications, managed to defeat its enemies in the famous battle of Imera, in 480 BC. of JC, when he had Slracusa as an ally.
However, in the 3rd century BC. JC’s artistic treasures were largely destroyed, as the city was involved in fierce Punic wars.
WHERE THE PARTHENON OF ATHENS STANDS
Between the years 448 and 438 a. JC the Athenians built in honor of the goddess Athena, protector of their city, a precious temple that, in memory of one of the attributes of the goddess, was called Parthenon, that is, a temple dedicated to the virgin (parthenos) Athena.
The Parthenon housed numerous sculptures, many of which were the work of none other than the great Phidias.
These works, unique in the world, are in the British Museum. Thomas Elgin, a young English ambassador to Athens, a great fan of archeology, a skilled businessman and the owner of a great fortune, managed to acquire the most beautiful sculptures that adorned the pediments, metopes and friezes of the Acropolis of Athens and temple of Aegina.
In 1799 he transported these treasures to London and exhibited them in his mansion. Later they were acquired by the English government, constituting today the most valuable treasure of the largest museum in the world.
RUINS OF THE ANCIENT ROMANS
The passing of the centuries has allowed some Roman buildings to come down to us in good condition.
Little would we really know about the true appearance of Roman cities and their popular neighborhoods, if a catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius, in AD 79. JC, would not have suddenly buried under their ashes three prosperous cities — Stabia, Herculaneum, and Pompeii — which excavations have returned to us almost intact and in the prime of their laborious life.
And it is precisely this daily life that we sense around us as we walk through the old streets: we admire the forum and public buildings, theaters, the amphitheater, the gymnasium, the thermal baths, but above all the houses with elegant porticoes, the paintings of the The walls, the mosaic floors, the taverns on whose counter the last coins paid by a customer were left, or the textile shops whose façade the owner had had the trademark painted on.
Strolling through the dead city, along the streets marked by the deep furrow of cars, we can even read the electoral inscriptions with which a candidate from 2,000 years ago exhorted voters to vote for him.
One of the most active volcanic areas in the world is Iceland: apart from the craters that have been extinguished since time immemorial, the island has some thirty active volcanoes.
There is no shortage of other volcanic manifestations in Iceland, such as hot springs and solfataras (emissions of sulfurous gases mixed with aqueous vapor). The best known of these are geysers, curious high-temperature water jets. Icelanders have harnessed these hot springs and created the world’s most gigantic thermosyphon.
RUINS OF GREEK CIVILIZATION
In the past, cities stood at the foot of fortified hills that constituted the last defense zone in the event of an enemy attack. This happened in Athens, whose acropolis, that is to say the summit (acron), housed the “citadel”.
The most important buildings were built in it, which even today continue to be the testimony of one of the highest civilizations of all time. If Greek philosophy is famous, for the original and daring concepts that it was able to express, its art is no less so.
The Acropolis of Athens is still a synthesis of Greek art, both sculptural and architectural.
Above all else, the ruins of the Parthenon dominate, the temple in whose construction the greatest sculptors and architects of the time had participated.
The set reveals a majesty, an elegance and a perfection of forms, which are the synthesis of an incomparable civilization.
THE ANCIENT CITY OF TROY
Until the middle of the last century, scholars considered the epic vicissitudes narrated by Homer in the Iliad completely devoid of historical foundation.
Troy was believed to have existed only in the fantasy of the great Greek poet. But between 1870 and 1872, through a successful campaign of excavations, Heinrich Schliemann found the remains of a great city that had been razed no less than nine times over 3,000 years.
Later excavations, by other important archaeologists, confirmed what Schliemann had already intuited: that that city was the Troy sung by Homer, and that the seventh layer of ruins corresponded to the period of the siege and that the Iliad narrates.
So today we know for sure that Troy existed and that it was located in the vicinity of the Turkish village of Hissarlik.
MACHU PICCHU RUINS
Machu Picchu was not a very important center of the ancient Inca civilization, but simply one of the many fortified complexes built at an average distance of 15 km. from each other, to defend the Inca empire from the incursions of the wild tribes of the jungle.
But it had a great advantage: it was built entirely in stone, which is why, after the abandonment of its ancient inhabitants, it has managed to reach us practically intact. Machu Picchu represents in a way, for the Inca civilization, what Pompeii and Herculaneum for the Roman.
Like the latter, it speaks to us with exceptional vividness about the customs and customs of an ancient vanished civilization, the habits of ordinary people, their way of living, lodging and eating.
Its discovery, which took place in 1911 thanks to Hiram Bingham, was fundamental for the knowledge of some important aspects of Inca history.
The city, which is quite close to the course of the Urubamba River, rises in a range of mountains between the two peaks of Machu and Huyana Picchu, and is limited on both sides by steep slopes.
Alongside the common dwellings, which had sloping grass roofs, were a series of palaces and temples of different styles, cisterns for water, and barracks for soldiers.
In the city, the entire ancient world of the Incas, ancestors of the Indians who today populate the Andes mountain range, revives in miniature. Visiting its eloquent ruins, it is not possible to understand how such a powerful empire and capable of such impressive works could suddenly collapse.
WHERE THE ANCIENT CITY OF SPINA STOOD
In the delta of the river Po, near the area where the town of Comacchio now stands, the remains of an imposing metropolis have been discovered that is believed to have been the city of Spina, important between the 7th and 2nd centuries BC. by JC
Excavations in the area began in 1922, when the remains of several thousand tombs, dating back to that time, emerged in the course of drying work.
The city of Spina was the meeting point of the two great pre-Roman civilizations: the Greek and the Etruscan. It emerged (perhaps on stilt houses) as a commercial center for the exchange of products that arrived from Greece through the Adriatic.
Hellenic writers considered it a Greek city for all intents and purposes. However, it was also an important Etruscan center, from where the warriors of northern Italy departed.
Spina was a border town born in the place previously occupied by an indigenous village. Due to its position, it reached great importance, not only from a commercial point of view, but also from a cultural one.
The presence in the city of a colony of Greek merchants has been verified, reason for which it is possible to suppose that to the Etruscan culture the influence of the Greek was added.
It was, therefore, not only a great market, but also a crossroads of civilizations, where the rude Italic peoples came into contact with the Greek world, which thanks to the filter of the Etruscan civilization spiritually approached them.