Historians take on the grueling task of mapping out as many details about history as they possibly can.
Keeping track of the rise and fall of nations alone is enough to make anyone’s head spin. In the ancient days of human civilization, it was not uncommon for entire groups of people to mysteriously vanish.
While most of these collapses and disappearances are noted in essays and textbooks, some managed to get lost in the annals of history. Take these 10 societies, for example. So little is known about them that all we can do is speculate, but learning more about historians’ theories regarding their disappearances is always interesting.
1. The Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization once inhabited much of current-day Pakistan and western India. It was settled in 7,000 B.C. Not much is known about this group of people, as their language has yet to be deciphered. We do know, however, that they were responsible for building hundreds of small towns equipped with complex plumbing systems. It is believed that they had a unified government and organized military groups.
Where Did They Go?: Researchers cite two major theories to explain the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization. Some believe that a change in environment might have driven them from their cities. It is also suspected that the Aryans invaded and took over around 1,500 B.C.
2. The Anasazi
The Anasazi dwelled in the Four Corners of the United States. This Puebloan tribe was full of hunters and gatherers who lived in pit houses. They later became a farming community that grew corn, beans, and squash. They are best known for their amazing basket weaving and pottery.
Where Did They Go?: A boost in population and poor farming conditions are believed to have caused the Anasazi to migrate to the Rio Grande Valley.
3. The Minoans
According to Greek mythology, Minoa was the birthplace of the Cretan Bull and his son, the Minotaur. The Minoan society is often cited as being the first documented civilization in Europe. They were deeply artistic people and even developed a language from pictographs.
Where Did They Go?: A volcanic eruption on the island of Thera is believed to have wiped out the Minoans. A possible invasion by the Mycenaeans is also suspected of bringing things to a violent end.
4. The Clovis Tribe
Living in the central parts of North America around 10,000 B.C., the Clovis tribe was a group of prehistoric people that relied heavily on hunting. They even created their own arrowhead design that was unique to the tribe. It is believed that they migrated from Siberia to Alaska during the Ice Age.
Where Did They Go?: The extinction of the mammoth due to an increase in hunting is suspected to have depleted their food source. A comet is also thought to have crashed nearby, further devastating resources.
5. The Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture
This civilization was responsible for constructing the largest Neolithic settlements in all of Europe. Every 60 to 80 years, the civilization burned down their villages and reconstructed new ones overtop the remains of their old dwellings. Women were the heads of households and were responsible for farming and making clothing.
Where Did They Go?: Severe climate change is believed to have brought about one of the worst droughts in European history. This was bad news for a culture that relied heavily on farming.
6. The Olmec
The first record of this Mesoamerican society dates back to 1,400 B.C. in south-central Mexico. The Olmec people were master craftsmen, and each village was comprised of elaborate ceremonial dwellings and stone monuments. Their society used trade to survive.
Where Did They Go?: Environmental changes, possible invasions, and volcanic activity are believed to have wiped out the Olmec people.
7. The Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire, which settled in present-day Cambodia, was one of the most powerful empires in Asia. They were responsible for building the former capital city of Angkor, Cambodia. The empire recognized three religions: Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Theravada Buddhism.
Where Did They Go?: With the introduction of Theravada Buddhism, the ruling power of the god king was quickly questioned. This led to a lack of desire to work, causing a halt in farm production. Eventually, the empire faded into obscurity.
8. The Mycenaeans
The Mycenaeans were great conquerors, having invaded many major Greek cities like Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos, Athens, Thebes, Orchomenus, Iolkos, and Knossos. Their naval presence was extremely strong in the region.
Where Did They Go?: It is suspected that an uprising between the peasant class and the ruling class brought about the society’s demise. An invasion by a northern society could also have been to blame.
9. The Aksumite Empire
The Queen of Sheba is thought to have been a part of the Aksumite Empire. The society boasted major exports of ivory, gold, and agricultural resources. The civilization was incredibly wealthy and was the first African society to issue its own coinage. Their obelisk grave markers still stand in some areas today.
Where Did They Go?: While trade isolation and climate change are believed to have brought about the civilization’s end, local legend posits that a pagan queen named Bani al-Hamwiyah invaded and wiped out Aksumite culture.
10. The Nabateans
The Nabateans were responsible for building the city of Petra by carving it into the cliffs of Jordan. This civilization was a major stop on a complex trade route for silk, spices, precious metals, gems, incense, and medicine. Each citizen was a contributing member of society and slavery was nonexistent.
Where Did They Go?: When the trade routes moved north, Nabateans had no means to recover and were forced to abandon the city of Petra.