Lists and Curiosities

Lost Civilizations: 5 Ancient Mysteries That Still Captivate South Africans Today

Embark on a captivating journey through lost civilizations with 5 ancient mysteries that continue to fascinate South Africans today.


South Africa hides many incredible and little-explored ancient places that keep a lot of mystery together with their history. With its rich history, a part of it continues to intrigue many people, like the mysteries of lost civilizations.

The Great Zimbabwe was built between the 11th and 15th centuries CE. Image: MidJourney.

Ancient culture managed to keep many aspects secret and transmit them over the centuries, surprising us with their discoveries, such as ancient kingdoms, prehistoric statues, lost artifacts, and many other things.

Here are the five most intriguing ancient mysteries that still captivate South Africans today:

The Mapungubwe Kingdom

This Kingdom was an ancient civilization that flourished in the area that is now South Africa between the 9th and 13th centuries CE. 

It was a wealthy and sophisticated culture that traded with other civilizations around the Indian Ocean. The Mapungubwe people created impressive gold artifacts, including the famous Golden Rhino, which archaeologists discovered in the 1930s.

The Mapungubwe Kingdom.

The kingdom’s decline occurred in the 14th century, and people only rediscovered its ruins in the 20th century. Today, the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Golden Rhino is one of the most famous artifacts in South Africa’s museums.

Khami Ruins

Khami Ruins. Image: FreePik.

The Torwa dynasty built the Khami Ruins in the 15th century in southwestern Zimbabwe. They constructed a series of stone walls that did not require mortar. These walls are believed to have housed approximately 5,000 individuals.

The Torwa dynasty built a complex of walls and towers around the 14th century, known as the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Which is considered the most impressive structure in the Khami Ruins. The purpose of the ruins is still unknown, but it is thought that they were used as a palace or a religious site.

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Great Zimbabwe

The Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in present-day Zimbabwe that was built between the 11th and 15th centuries CE. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which was one of the most powerful states in the region at the time. The city was built without mortar, using only stone, and its walls were up to 11 meters high. 

Europeans rediscovered the ruins of Great Zimbabwe in the 19th century after it was abandoned in the 15th century. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a source of pride for Zimbabweans.

The Lost Ancient City In The Kalahari Desert

A view of Kalahari desert red sand dunes. Image: Pixabay.

Another fascinating mystery that still captivates South Africans today is the lost ancient city in the Kalahari Desert. According to local legend, a wealthy city existed in the heart of the desert, inhabited by an advanced civilization. They say that a great king lived in the city, rumored to have been a descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. 

The city supposedly contained treasures of gold and precious stones.

Many have searched for the lost city but to no avail. Some people have speculated that natural disasters or war may have destroyed it. Meanwhile, others believe that its inhabitants simply abandoned it. In recent years, advances in satellite technology have allowed archaeologists to explore the region in greater detail, but the lost city remains elusive.

The Lydenburg Heads

The Lydenburg Heads. Image: Pixabay.

Archaeologists discovered the Lydenburg Heads, a collection of small clay sculptures, in the 1950s. The sculptures are located in the eastern Transvaal region of South Africa. These heads believed to be around 2,000 years old, depict human faces with intricate hairstyles and adornments.

What makes these heads particularly mysterious is that their purpose and origin remain unclear.
Some scholars believe that a highly skilled and advanced civilization created the Lydenburg Heads.

However, others speculate that they used them for ritual purposes, as toys, or even as part of a board game. The sculptures’ unique style and craftsmanship also suggest that the civilization that made them was sophisticated. However, little is known about the people responsible for their creation.

About the author  /  Iana Power

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