Come with me – we’re going on a short but trés exciting adventure to discover some of the wonders of the mythical world. As if we don’t have enough magic and wonderment in the real world around us, myths and legends still fascinate us and fire our imaginations, and if there is a place associated with the fantastical stories, some of us are intent on finding it. So, just what are the wonders of the mythical world that send people off on a quest?
Having mystified archaeologists for centuries, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon ranks high both on my list of the wonders of the mythical world, and on the list of the seven wonders of the world. The Hanging Gardens is the only wonder of the original seven for which no evidence has ever been found. According to myth, the ultimate husband (...and, landscaper, apparently), King Nebuchadnezzar II, created the gardens for his wife, who was homesick for her homeland’s lush mountains. Progressive irrigation techniques provided for a terraced garden structure, which used giant stone slabs to prevent erosion, allowing the vegetation to survive in the middle of the searing desert. The thing is, the Hanging Gardens’ only remnants to have stood the test of time are the writings of ancient historians. To this day, no concrete evidence of the gardens has been discovered, leaving many to believe the gardens are a poetic fiction that was never actualized.
The mythical ‘White City of Gold’ is said to have been nestled in an obscure area of Honduras. The city’s fabled riches have drawn the greedy since the 1500s, explorers urged onward by Cortez, who referenced the city’s treasures in 1526, and further prompted by the Bishop of Honduras, who claimed that “nobles ate from plates of gold” in the Ciudad Blanca. Thus, everyone from pirates to obsessives to adventurers have set out to find this place, providing, along the way, varied accounts of a land filled with golden statues, white stone, monkey gods and bloody sacrificial offerings. Still, though nothing material has come out of each intrepid expedition, hope for the city’s existence has been renewed by a recent high-tech laser fly-over, which revealed a topographical irregularity in the area, prompting many to believe the ruins of this mythical city may just exist.
This paranormal region of the western Atlantic Ocean has long been tied to mysterious maritime anomalies. The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the “Devil's Triangle”, encompasses nearly 1,140,000 sq km (about 440,000 sq mi) between Puerto Rico, the southern coast of Florida and the island of Bermuda. The reputation of the notorious triangle began to make waves in the mid-19th century, after numerous claims of abandoned ships and strange disappearances were reported. Among the disappearances documented is the complete vanishing of a United States vessel, the USS Cyclops, in March 1918. Furthering the Triangle’s mythical reputation, was the disappearance of Flight 19, a squad of five US Navy torpedo bombers which were training in the area in 1945. The seaplane which was sent to find the squad, too, vanished. Since then, numerous aircraft have flown into the oblivion of the Triangle, prompting much media interest in the area. However mysterious, for many of the cases blamed on the Triangle’s paranormal powers, often the mystery might be explained away logically, with weather, darkness, mechanical problems, or the inexperience of the missing vessels’ crews. Still, the myth continues to run rampant in conspiratorial minds.
Two mountains – one of diamonds, one of gold – are said to surround the City of the Caesars, hidden deep within the Andes. There are many different theories as to who inhabited the city, ranging from 10-foot giants to Spanish shipwreck survivors, from the last of the Incas to ghosts. The riches said to have lined the streets brought many a conquistador to his death in search of the city. Civilizations of the sixteenth century believed adamantly in the existence of the City of the Caesars, but many now believe the myth developed from an illusion of shifting ice.
None of the other wonders of the mythical world are probably as iconic than the lost city of Atlantis. First introduced in 360 B.C. by Plato, the city of Atlantis is said to have been located on an island in front of the Pillars of Hercules. Since then, archeologists have searched dutifully for the city over the span of thousands of years, which, though leading to several promising discoveries, has never led to anything concrete. However, recently, researchers have claimed they’ve found what was lost! Professor Richard Freund of Hartford University, following Plato’s assertion that a natural disaster had destroyed the city (widely believed to have been a tsunami in 9,000BC), has used digital mapping, satellite imagery and deep-ground radar to locate Atlantis in the wetlands of Spain’s Donana National Park. Though Freund’s claims that the city is, indeed, Atlantis, have yet to be proven, his find has fueled renewed belief in the myth’s existence.
A reference to this Islamic Sodom and Gomorrah, a city buried in the sand for its detestable sin, occurs only in the Koran. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that the Iram of the Pillars has long been thought to be a myth. However, many still search for it. With the aid of NASA’s satellite photography in the early nineties, archaeologist Juris Zarins and Sir Ranulph Fiennes claimed to have uncovered the lost city. Excavations discovered a web of ancient roads merging in Rub al Khali desert in Saudi Arabia, which was at first believed to be the ancient and lost Iram of the Pillars. However, the theories amounted to nothing but a simple settlement along a stopping post.
Deep within the Amazon, lies the origins of the myth of a prosperous pre-Columbian metropolis, ‘Z’. However, it wasn’t treasure that set early conquistadors in search of this lost city. In 1753, a Portuguese explorer documented a rather advanced, European-like civilization, in which many inhabitants were said to be engineers, creating a complex city full of beautiful bridges and roads. The metropolis’ advanced state is what drew many explorers, including the well-known British adventurer Percy Fawcett, who vanished in search of Z. Though searches for the city had, up until then, produced nothing, in 2010, satellite imagery displayed evidence of an advanced civilization deep within the Amazon, which just might be the lost civilization, found.
Do you believe any of these wonders of the mythical world exist? Is there another mythical place you’d love to learn was for real?
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