One of the things I like most about travelling is coming across little-heard-of, out-of-the-way, barely-understood, largely-inexplicable archaeological sites (perhaps that explains why I’ve called this website: In Search of Lost Places ). Here are a few of my favourite lost places.
The story of Chilpik sounds made up; it sounds like it is a fabrication, a children’s bedtime tale. A Zoroastrian tower of the dead? Where recently deceased family members and loved ones were brought, and laid out, for their bodies to be picked clean by vultures and other carrion, till nought is left behind but bleached-white bones?
Go for a wander around the dry, sandy, mountainous deserts of northern Oman and sooner or later you’ll stumble across a mysterious pile of carefully placed stones. These are the archaeological sites of al-Khutm, Bat, and al-Ayn. There are hundreds of these sites in northern Oman; all were built sometime between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago.
Thousands of enormous stone jars, arranged in clusters, scattered higgledy-piggledy throughout the grassy, undulating hills of the Xieng Khouang Plateau: that’s the Plain of Jars archaeological site in northern Laos.
A five-tiered pyramid sits at the edge of the ridge. It’s a stumpy structure; not all that large, and made of the same rock material as the mountains themselves. What is this thing?
Know what a ziggurat is? It’s a stepped pyramid, right? They’re found all over the world. Well, Chogha Zanbil, in Khuzestan Province of southwest Iran, is one of the original ziggurats.
A ring of standing stones, each 4.1 metres high, 2.1 metres wide, and weighing 25 tonnes. Stonehenge was built in stages, and continually modified and worked and rebuilt over the millennia. The standing stones, which date to around 2000 BCE, are positioned in a cryptic but clearly deliberate circular pattern; the function of which no one is entirely clear on.