Cities, Interrupted: The Lost Civilizations Quiz

By: Staff

What long-lost civilization built the network of stone temples known as Angkor Wat?

The Khmer people built an empire that stretched across Cambodia and Thailand and included the magnificent Angkor Wat, a series of stone temples that cover an area roughly twice the size of Manhattan.

Where did the Harappan people build their cities from 2200 to 1900 B.C.E.?

The Harappan, or Indus Valley civilization, in southern Asia produced some of the earliest writings ever discovered. The city lie hidden in modern-day Pakistan until it was rediscovered and restored at the start of the 20th century.

The Nabateans built this stunning stone city in what is now the country of Jordan.

The Nabateans carved the city of Petra into cliffs in southern Jordan and managed to support a population of up to 20,000 in one of the driest climates on the planet thanks to some elaborate planning and engineering skills.

What group built an early American civilization across New Mexico and Arizona before abruptly abandoning it around the 13th or 14th century?

The Anasazi carved complex homes and structures straight into the desert cliffs, where they settled for more than a thousand years before drought, climate change or threats of violence drove them out of the area.

Where can you find the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico?

The Cahokia civilization supported as many as 20,000 people from 700 to 1400 C.E., making it the largest known pre-Columbian city north of Mexico. You can still see remnants of the Cahokians in the form of giant earth mounds or flat-topped pyramids that stretch across southwest Illinois.

What civilization settled along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers around 3300 B.C.E.?

The Sumerians built advanced cities along the rivers more than 5,000 years ago in what is now southern Iraq. The Sumerian people lived in more than a dozen walled cities, each of which worshiped its own unique god.

Tikal served as the capital city of this lost civilization.

The Maya built a modern urban center at Tikal in what is now the country of Guatemala. Home to more than 100,000 people, it featured more than two dozen major pyramids, many of which are still standing to this day and ready to be explored in Tikal National Park.

When the mutineers of the HMS Bounty settled on this island, they were surprised to find evidence that it had once been occupied.

Before the Bounty mutineers reached Pitcairn in 1790, the island was home to a mysterious Polynesian society. No one knows where they came from or where they went, but they left behind proof of their existence in the form of tools, statues and petroglyphs.

Who built the giant statues on Easter Island?

The Rapanui constructed dozens of heavy stone sculptures on Easter Island starting around 500 C.E. Contrary to popular belief, these sculptures are not just giant heads -- many have bodies buried deep in the earth, and some once had eyes made from coral.

What ancient people built their mighty civilization along the Andes starting in the 13th century?

The Inca built the largest pre-Colombian nation in the Americas, centered around the city of Cusco in what is now the country of Peru. Their empire stretched more than 2,500 miles north to south and was home to more than 10 million people at its peak.

How many Rapanui were left on Easter Island by the late 19th century?

At its peak, the Rapanui civilization consisted of more than 20,000 people. Deforestation on Easter Island had a harsh effect on the islanders, and just 111 Rapanui remained by 1872.

Explorer Percy Fawcett mysteriously disappeared while searching for evidence of a long-lost city in this region.

Fawcett believed the Amazon was once home to major cities, despite its harsh terrain. Excavations performed during the 21st century proved Fawcett right, when researchers found networks of clearings and roads that indicated the presence of ancient cities dating back as far as 200 C.E.

What civilization left behind the yet-to-be-deciphered language known as Linear A?

The Minoans built an advanced civilization in Greece from 3000 to 1100 B.C.E., leaving behind archaeological gems like the city of Knossos. They also left behind a pair of languages. While Linear B was revealed as an early form of Greek, scientists have yet to decipher Linear B.

The city of Tiwanaku served as the capital of a pre-Incan empire in this South American country.

More than 100,000 called Tiwanaku home, in an area that now falls within the borders of Bolivia. Some scientists suggest that climate change brought this mighty city to its knees between 900 and 1000 C.E. after 500 years of prosperity.

How long ago did the Clovis civilization settle in the southwest U.S.?

Clovis, near modern Arizona and New Mexico, dates back 13,000 years, making it one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas. While the Clovis people left plenty of tools and other artifacts behind, only one set of human remains from this civilization has ever been identified.

What group overthrew the Minoans around 1600 B.C.E., only to be overthrown themselves just 500 years later?

The Mycenaean's took control of Crete around 1600 and enjoyed 500 years of advanced art, architecture and prosperity before their civilization collapsed around 1100 C.E.

What group was responsible for the first advanced civilization in west Africa?

The Nok built an advanced civilization in what is now known as Nigeria, as far back as 900 B.C.E. Remnants of impressive iron furnaces reveal how the Nok crafted the terracotta statues they left behind.

Tenochtitlan served as the capital city of this ancient empire.

With a population of 200,000, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was the largest city in the world in the early 16th century. This advanced urban center became what we now know as Mexico City.

Founded in the 4th century B.C.E., where was the ancient city of Niya located?

Niya was a major city along China's Silk Road roughly 6,000 years ago. It wasn't until the end of the 20th century that the ruins of Niya were rediscovered, buried within the shifting desert sands. Mummies found at the site have distinctly European features, suggesting that this ancient city was actually founded by members of Alexander the Great's army.

Where can you find the city of Catalhoyuk?

One of the largest Neolithic settlements ever established, Catalhoyuk sits in southern Turkey. It consists of 18 layers, or strata, that provide clues to how people lived from 7400 to 5200 B.C.E.

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Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Studying lost civilizations is about more than marveling at pyramids or ancient architecture -- it's an opportunity to learn what kinds of things can bring a once great empire to its knees. How much do you know about some of history's lost cultures?

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