Why do so many ancient cities, especially the big ones, have dissapeared geographically after being abandoned? If nobody destroys them, shouldn’t the structures and general architecture remain intact?

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Why do so many ancient cities, especially the big ones, have dissapeared geographically after being abandoned? If nobody destroys them, shouldn’t the structures and general architecture remain intact?

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People like to reuse stuff. There’s an abandoned city nearby? Free building material!

And anything that’s made out of wood will rot away eventually.

Other than reuse, as it has already been mentioned, constant exposure to the elements leads to erosion which can break down old buildings. Also, catastrophic weather events like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, and mudslides can quickly destroy cities especially when no one is there to rebuild them. Other animals can also destroy parts of buildings and lead to things breaking down quicker.

Sometimes we just build right over the old building as well. If you go to older cities in Europe there will often be many different foundations near buildings that are the remnants of old buildings that were torn down and built on top of.

All things need maintenance to some degree or another. Whether it is man made or natural. A birds nest will decay after a season without use. A beehive will eventually break down after the colony dies off. The same thing happens to human structures.

If you were to look up abandon cities you’ll see them already falling apart after a few decades. Because no one is keeping up with the repairs the roof starts to leak, the glass breaks and isn’t replaced, the walls which get exposed to the elements start to wear out faster and no one repairs those either. The foundation isn’t being patched so plants take root and grow.

And all of this is with modern technology if you’re wondering about older cities they were even more primitive. So any crumbling buildings would wear out faster. Unless it’s a really solid structure like a pyramid chances are it’s not going to last without someone keeping up on the maintenance.

If you visit an old car graveyard you’ll see that even steel breaks down pretty quickly when left to the elements. Some of them have nearly rusted away completely. If you spread that decay rate over a few hundred years, and add the factor of even less sturdy building materials; you can see how a clay, wood, or adobe structure may not survive for that long. Also nature works at a furious rate and reclaims things faster than you would think. It’s estimated it would only take a few hundred years for most traces of modern humanity to disappear if it all ended today.

What cities are you thinking of specifically?

Most big cities are at that specific place for a reason, usually they’re crossroads for trade routes or defensive positions. Big cities rarely get abandoned entirely.

But abandoned cities are all over the globe. Just from the top of my head. Macchu Picchu in Peru. Petra in Syria. Montezuma’s Castle in the USA. The non-pyramid structures at the Giza Necropolis. I’ve been to an encampment in France that dates back to the stone age.

Usually the general architecture does stay intact. The concept of the totally disappeared big city is something that exists in fiction. Speaking of which:

You’re probably thinking of mythical cities like Sodom, Gomorra or El Dorado. The fact that these cities are part of stories rather recorded history should tell you why you can’t find them. Might as well try to find Minas Tirith or King’s Landing.