Sunken cities are ancient cities that are now submerged underwater. They can be found all over the world, in various locations such as Egypt, India, Greece, and Japan. Some well-known examples include the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus in Egypt, Pavlopetri in Greece, and Dwarka in India. These cities were once thriving centers of civilization, but due to natural disasters, such as earthquakes or rising sea levels, they were swallowed by the sea. Today, archaeologists dive deep to uncover the remains of these lost cities, providing us with valuable insights into the past civilizations that once existed there.
A lot of our Wonder Friends are already familiar with the lost city of Atlantis. The story captivates people. And it’s not difficult to understand why! A magnificent city. A catastrophic event. An entire civilization lost beneath the ocean. The ancient legend of Atlantis has been passed down for ages.
However, is the story actually true? Did Atlantis really sink into the sea? Most likely not. In fact, nowadays, most people don’t believe that Atlantis ever existed. Nevertheless, there are indeed other sunken cities that are very real.
Where can you find these sunken cities? They can be found all over the world! From Greece to Egypt, Italy, and Jamaica, numerous cities have submerged beneath the water. What caused them to do so? Experts attribute it to natural disasters.
The oldest sunken city known is Pavlopetri, in Greece. Researchers began studying its ruins in 1967. Pottery discovered at the site dated back to 3000 BCE. Later on, they determined that the city likely sank after a series of earthquakes around 1000 BCE.
Pavlopetri wasn’t the only city that sank due to earthquakes. The same fate befell Port Royal in Jamaica. In 1692, approximately two-thirds of the city was claimed by the ocean. The remaining third is still above water.
Of course, earthquakes aren’t the only disasters to blame. Volcanic activity caused half of Baiae, in Italy, to sink. Helike, in Greece, was submerged by a tsunami. Dunwich, in England, sank after its shore was eroded by powerful storms. A landslide may have caused the collapse of Olous, in Greece.
Two sunken cities in Egypt have recently gained fame. They are Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. Rising sea levels and earthquakes both contributed to submerging them more than 30 feet underwater. Today, divers can still see the ancient statues of the cities. Even Cleopatra’s palace remains below the surface.
Were you aware that cities are still sinking today? It’s true. Many experts attribute it to natural causes and rapidly increasing sea levels. Some of the cities most at risk include Venice, in Italy; Tehran, in Iran; New Orleans, in Louisiana; Miami, in Florida; Alexandria, in Egypt; and Jakarta, in Indonesia. NASA also identifies the San Joaquin Valley in California as an area of concern.
Will these cities eventually sink into the ocean? Only time will tell. Many people are actively working on finding ways to prevent these places from meeting a watery fate. How would you tackle the challenge of stopping an entire city from sinking beneath the waves? Put on your thinking cap—the solution could come from you!
Give It a Try
Are you ready to continue learning? Explore the activities below with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- Find out more about the discovery of Thonis-Heracleion. Read about the exploration of the ancient underwater city and take a look at the image gallery to see it for yourself. Would you like to visit this submerged city in person one day? Discuss it with a friend or family member.
- Imagine you are swimming in the ocean with some family members. While swimming in the shallow waters, you accidentally brush against something solid. When you look down, you realize that you are swimming above an ancient statue. You have just stumbled upon a sunken city! What happens next? What do you discover about the city? What adventures does this lead to? Write a short story about what this experience could be like.
- Are you interested in exploring sunken cities and other underwater artifacts in the future? Learn about what it’s like to be a marine archaeologist. Does this description make the career appealing to you? Discuss it with a friend or family member and explain why or why not.
Sources of Wonder
- https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2019/02/why-are-cities-sinking (accessed 06 Jan. 2020)
- https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-short/real-sunken-cities/ (accessed 06 Jan. 2020)
- https://www.heritagedaily.com/2017/10/10-ancient-sunken-cities-settlements/116944 (accessed 06 Jan. 2020)
- https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/sunken-cities-exhibition-egypt-greece-london/index.html (accessed 06 Jan. 2020)
- https://www.history.com/news/sunken-cities (accessed 06 Jan. 2020)
- https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed 06 Jan. 2020)