In the world we live in today, incredible feats in architectural engineering has become commonplace thanks to humanity’s innate flair for creativity and the advancements mankind has achieved for the last hundred years in terms of modern technology and machinery. Since we encounter these towering, beautiful and breathtaking structures almost on a daily basis, it’s difficult to picture a time when our streets weren’t filled with museums, coliseums, stadiums, and skyscrapers. And because we consider the modern society we have today as the most advanced human civilization we have seen for thousands of years, most of us find it impossible to imagine that our “primitive” ancient ancestors were capable of building equally if not more impressive structures than what we have today.
However, our underestimation and underappreciation in the abilities of ancient builders are negated by the several age-old structures that managed to withstand the rigors of time and remain erected to this day. These ancient structures completely go against a lot of people’s notion that our ancestors possessed insufficient knowledge and were largely governed by their instinctive propensity for savagery. But while the fact that these advanced ancient structures stand today force many of us to acknowledge their existence, some still deny the possibility that they were constructed by sheer human will.
And so, in this article, let us briefly talk about seven (7) of these ancient structures that are so advanced, they should not have been built at all.
SACSAYHUAMÁN RUINS – PERU
Located on the outskirts of the ancient imperial city of Cusco, Peru. The ruins of Sacsayhuamán continue to amaze and mystify all those who study or visit it. Said to have been built by the Killke culture around 1100 AD and added to by the Inca during the 13th century, the site is famous for its dry stone walls constructed of MASSIVE stones that weight up to 200 tonnes. Not only do researchers have no idea how these giant stones were moved to the site which sits at an altitude of 3,701 m (12,142 ft) they also don’t know how the stones were fitted together so closely that a single sheet of paper would not fit in between most of the blocks.
ROMAN AQUEDUCTS – ROME
The ancient Roman civilization boasts of many achievements in terms of engineering and construction, and among the most advanced of them all is probably their aqueduct system. They may not have been the originator of irrigation and water transport systems, but they most definitely perfected it. The first Roman aqueducts are believed to have been developed around 312 B.C., and they’re considered as engineering marvels for utilizing gravity in transporting waters through stone and concrete pipelines and into the city, supplying fresh flowing water to residential houses, public baths, and fountains. While most of these aqueducts were eventually abandoned, a few of them are still in use today, which speaks volumes to how the design and function of these aqueducts were definitely ahead of their time.
MARIB DAM – YEMEN
The earliest versions of dams are believed to have been built as early as 2000 BC, and the Great Dam of Marib is regarded as the world’s oldest known dam as its initial construction dates as far back as around 1700 BC. The dam as we see it today, however, was built by the Sabeans of the ancient Kingdom of Saba sometime in the 8th century BC in order to capture and store occasional monsoon rains. The Marib Dam is regarded as a world wonder of ancient water engineering since it managed to fulfill its purpose of storing and transporting water for more than a thousand years until the dam’s eventual destruction sometime in 600 A.D.
STONE CITY OF PETRA – JORDAN
Between 400 B.C. 106 A.D., Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire and was once home to around 20,000 people. It was also a very active trading post in the region until it was occupied by Rome and international trade started to decline. What makes this ancient city so popular is its stone-cut architecture and its innovative network of water transport and irrigation systems. So far, only 15 percent of the stone city has been excavated, which means most of its gigantic stone dwellings remain unexplored and buried underground.
GOSECK CIRCLE – GERMANY
Also referred to as the German Stonehenge, the Goseck Circle is a Neolithic circular enclosure which dates back to 49th century BC. To others, this 7000-year-old ancient site is also the world’s oldest known solar observatory for lying on almost the same latitude as the famous Stonehenge and for its connection with the Nebra Sky Disk – the oldest known concrete depiction of the cosmos. Aside from that, the Goseck Circle is considered to be a major discovery because its existence and age suggest that the farmers of ancient Europe around that time were far more advanced than previously assumed. The enclosure also provides clues to the spiritual and religious beliefs of the European farmers that lived during that era.
DERINKUYU’S UNDERGROUND CITY – TURKEY
The massive underground city of Derinkuyu has always been shrouded with mystery since its accidental discovery in 1968. This 18-story city built beneath the surface is found in Turkey’s Cappadocia region – an area that has gained global renown for the vast network of labyrinths which lead to several underground cities. Derinkuyu’s underground city in particular was so large, it could hold as many as 20,000 people. Moreover, its chambers served various purposes, functioning as living quarters, temples, shops, tombs and more. Interestingly, it also had sophisticated water and security systems, ensuring the survival and safety of those who live within this hidden city. No one knows for sure who built the city and why, but some experts say that only someone with advanced knowledge in geography, stonework, architecture as well as engineering could have accomplished such a feat.
PUMAPUNKU – BOLIVIA
This temple complex found within the expansive ancient city of Tiwanaku is regarded as among the most enigmatic ancient sites on the face of the planet. Mainstream historians and archaeologists estimate that Pumapunku dates to around 536 A.D. or later. However, less conventional experts are of the opinion that the temple complex is much older and was probably erected some 17,000 years ago. What makes the Pumapunku so special is that it is built with interlocking stones that fit together so perfectly as if they were carved using hi-tech laser cutters instead of rudimentary tools like chisels and rulers. This led to speculations that the temple complex was either built by a technologically-advanced prehistoric civilization or through the aid of extraterrestrials who were then revered as gods.
Because these ancient buildings look too sophisticated for their supposed age, those outside the realm of mainstream academics believe that the knowledge and technology required to construct these surprisingly advanced structures came from an extraterrestrial source or from a bygone human civilization that’s far superior in many aspects compared to what we’re capable of today.
But regardless of our personal opinion on whether our ancestors as we know them today could have been capable of building these amazing buildings on their own, we cannot deny their indispensable value in providing better insight to mankind’s history and development over the centuries and millennia that passed. And more than conjecture, perhaps it is also time to regard our ancient ancestors less as primitive builders and more as enlightened engineers.