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The Atlas of Lost Cities
The Atlas of Lost Cities “Not far beneath our feet
  lie the ruins of fabulous
  ancient cities, just waiting
  to be discovered and join
  the amazing examples
  already unearthed. The
  story of these discoveries
  can be just as intriguing
  as the history of the cities

OUR FASCINATION WITH THE PAST is evident from the plethora of books and television programmes that bring history to life. The Atlas of Lost Cities: Legendary Cities Rediscovered, by Brenda Rosen, looks not only at well-known sites such as Pompeii and Persepolis but also at lesser known historical marvels.

One of the reasons for the obsession with the dead cities of the past
is that the history of their decline offers a stark warning to our increasingly urbanized existence. But some of them are so incredible that to visit them is to savour some of the magnificence of a past age and marvel at the skills and artistry of times gone by.

What about delightful Mahabalipuram, with its cave-temples, chariot shrines, sculpted bas-reliefs and structural temples built between the 7th and 9th Centuries? Pilgrims and tourists flock to it — especially to the famous Arjuna's Penance, a huge bas-relief carved from two rocks, with majestic life-sized elephants among the carvings. It is believed
to tell the story of the Mahabharata in which Arjuna does penance to gain the god Shiva's power through a weapon.

The Atlas of Lost Cities explores some of the most extraordinary ancient cities from around the world that have been abandoned, forgotten or simply hidden by time. Stunning photographs of major archaeological sites bring to life recently discovered cities such as Pompeii and Palenque in Mexico. Detailed reconstructions help examine the latest theories of the catastrophic collapse of cities like Tikal in Guatemala and Mesa Verde in Colorado. By examining the role of natural disasters, fierce rulers and hostile neighbours we can see the rise, fall and rediscovery of vanished cities.

One remarkable ancient city lies under snow for half the year — Nemrud Dagi, set atop one of the highest peaks in the Anti-Taurus Mountains of South East Turkey, is a sanctuary built by King
Antiochus I of Commagene in the mid-1st Century BCE.

The Atlas of Lost Cities allows us to discover the intriguing ruins of ancient monuments and structures by tracing their ancient beauty
and forgotten significance. Exhaustively researched artwork and reconstructions show the cities as they would have appeared at the height of their power.

The sacred city of Aphrodite — Aphrodisias — was once the site of
the pre-eminent temple to the Greek goddess of love in Asia Minor.
And Bodhgaya, in the north Indian province of Bihar, is filled with many temples and monuments that commemorate events in the spiritual biography of the Buddha.

In Ethiopia is the holy city of Aksum, the chief city of a kingdom that flourished in the Ethiopian highlands near the Red Sea from around
1-700 CE. The people of Aksum were descended from an indigenous people who spoke Kush and a Semitic people from southern Arabia. Aksumites erected impressive monoliths and practised a unique form
of Christianity. Aksum's church of St Mary of Zion and The Treasury, which is believed to be where the Ark of The Covenant is kept, are major destinations for pilgrims.

There are some really fabulous images, including glorious ancient ruins and there is also a fascinating 20th Century painting by Ilya Glazunov that depicts the drowned city of Kitezh, Russia. Legend has it that the city was hidden in Lake Svetloyar to protect it from Mongol invaders.

This book uncovers the secrets of forgotten civilizations with topics ranging from Cities of the Sea, Cities of the Desert and Plains, Cities of Hills and Mountains, Cities of Kings to Queens and Emperors and Sacred Cities. The Atlas of Lost Cities considers what today's urban dwellers can learn from the fall of once great cities with the most up-to-date research and photography of recently discovered archaeological sites.

The Atlas of Lost Cities: Legendary Cities Rediscovered by Brenda Rosen is a wonderful reference book to have on your bookshelf. It was published by Godsfield Press on 29 February (2008) in hardback at an RRP of 18.99.

About the Author — A full-time author and editor, Brenda Rosen is a student of mythic traditions and ancient cultures. She is the author of a number of titles on mythological and spiritual themes, including Mermaid Wisdom (Godsfield) and Crystal Basics (Hamlyn). She lives in Chicago, USA.