In the midst of a vast solitude
August 19, 2016 4:13 AM Subscribe
In the 1920s the US industrialist wanted to found a city based on the values that made his company a success – while, of course, producing cheap rubber. The jungle city that bore his name ended up one of his biggest failuresDrew Reed, Fordlandia – the failure of Henry Ford's utopian city in the Amazon, The Guardian (19 August 2016).
This essay forms the last installment in a series of essays on Lost Cities that the Guardian is running as part of its Cities sub-site. The other essays, in order of publication:
In the 19th century, European visitors to this abandoned medieval city refused to believe that indigenous Africans could have built such an extensive network of monuments. Such ignorance was disastrous for the remains of Great Zimbabwe.Mawuna Koutonin, Lost cities #9: racism and ruins – the plundering of Great Zimbabwe, Guardian (18 August 2016).
Long before Columbus reached the Americas, Cahokia was the biggest, most cosmopolitan city north of Mexico. Yet by 1350 it had been deserted by its native inhabitants the Mississippians – and no one is sure why.Lee Bey, Lost cities #8: mystery of Cahokia – why did North America's largest city vanish?, Guardian (17 August 2016).
Recent laser surveys have revealed traces of a vast urban settlement, comparable in size to Los Angeles, around the temples of Angkor in the Cambodian jungle. The ancient Khmer capital was never lost … it just got a bit overgrown.Oliver Wainwright, Lost cities #7: how Nasa technology uncovered the 'megacity' of Angkor, Guardian (16 August 2016).
Ancient Egypt’s gateway to the Mediterranean – submerged and buried under layers of sand – is an eerie reminder of how vulnerable cities are to nature’s forcesJack Shenker, Lost cities #6: how Thonis-Heracleion resurfaced after 1,000 years under water, Guardian (15 August 2016).
Once the world’s biggest city, the Silk Road metropolis of Merv in modern Turkmenistan destroyed by Genghis Khan’s son and the Mongols in AD1221 with an estimated 700,000 deaths. It never fully recovered.Kanishk Tharoor, Lost cities #5: how the magnificent city of Merv was razed – and never recovered, Guardian (12 August 2016).
Of all the lost cities in the world, ancient Pompeii is the most ‘found’. The volcanic eruption that destroyed the Roman city also froze it in time – but now, 2,000 years later, it is alive with people who threaten its existence all over again.Emily Mann, Lost cities #4: Pompeii was preserved by disaster. Now it risks ruin all over again, Guardian (11 August 2016).
In the first century BC it was one of India’s most important trading ports, whose exports – especially black pepper – kept even mighty Rome in debt. But have archaeologists really found the site of Muziris, and why did it drop off the map?Srinath Perur, Lost cities #3 – Muziris: did black pepper cause the demise of India's ancient port?, Guardian (10 August 2016).
The location, and even the existence, of the city that inspired Homer’s greatest works has been a source of dispute throughout the ages. Hisarlik in Turkey is the strongest candidate – and its discovery was an epic tale too.Naomi Larsson, Lost cities #2: the search for the real Troy – 'not just one city but at least 10', Guardian (9 August 2016).
Besieged by wars and weather, ‘restored’ by Saddam Hussein, what has become of mystical Babylon?Justin Marozzi, Lost cities #1: Babylon – how war almost erased ‘mankind’s greatest heritage site’, Guardian (8 August 2016).
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