Lost Cities of the Ancient World


Kelly Macquire
published on 08 December 2023
Lost Cities of the Ancient World
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Title: Lost Cities of the Ancient World
Author: Philip Matyszak
Audience: General Public
Difficulty: Easy
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Published: 2023
Pages: 288

"Lost Cities of the Ancient World" by Philip ‘Maty’ Matyszak is a wonderful book full of incredible imagery-accompanying short chapters, each focusing on a different city that was, in some way or another, lost. Whether it be submerged, covered in sand, or simply forgotten in the public consciousness over time, this book looks at those once-flourishing cities from across Europe, the Near East, and Asia to reintroduce them to readers in an enjoyable and accessible way.

Lost Cities of the Ancient World by Philip ‘Maty’ Matyszak compiles the individual histories of cities across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia into one volume, linking cities thousands of years and kilometers apart with the simple fact that in some way or another, they are or once were, lost. Following on from his earlier book Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World (2020), Maty introduces and reacquaints his readers with cities that were abandoned, sunk, or destroyed many years ago, and he does so engagingly and excitingly. This book, aimed at general history enthusiasts, still includes pieces of fascinating history that those acquainted with the sites might not know. Despite being familiar with many of the sites explored in the book, I not only learned something new about many of them but was also introduced to various sites I had never heard of. Of particular fascination to me are the submerged cities of antiquity, lost to us beneath the waves and rising seas, which made learning about Thonis in Egypt one of the highlights of this book.

Lost Cities is a book that is so wonderfully accessible, so vibrant and full of incredible imagery, but also informative and a joy to read. The book is split up according to general time periods, from the Neolithic and oldest cities of Çatalhöyük and Skara Brae to cities within and on the edges of the Roman world. This book could be read traditionally from cover to cover, traveling in time and space, or one could just as easily dip in and out, reading Troy one day and Palmyra the next. This feature gives readers full flexibility. With that in mind, it would be difficult for this book not to capture everyone’s interest in some way or another, with the wide range of sites and civilizations discussed.

Considering the geographical and temporal range of the book, each city is presented drawing on a range of available evidence. Each place is shown on a map, followed by the introduction of archaeological, and where possible, textual evidence of the city. For example, when discussing the infamous city of Troy, Maty draws upon the Iliad to discuss the mythological importance of the city. For the city of Persepolis, texts composed by Darius the Great highlight the city's political importance. Overall, the interconnectivity of the ancient world runs as an undercurrent to this book with an emphasis on the trade and movement of people, things, and ideas.

Maty not only introduces the history of a city, its humble beginnings, times of strength, and its fade off into obscurity, but he also discusses the city today. Great for those who want to know if these cities are still physically lost, or may want to visit them one day to check for sure that they really have been found, Maty divulges the current state of the city, and what a tourist today could expect to see when on a visit. This book does a wonderful job of introducing the most important sites in the relevant regions that have been lost in some way or another and bringing them back into the public consciousness. I thought this was a wonderful book introducing numerous important cities from the ancient world and would recommend it to those who love the ancient world, and those who love a book with incredible imagery.

This review was originally posted on Kell-Read.

Buy This Book

By purchasing books through this website, you support our non-profit organization. World History Encyclopedia is an Amazon Associate and earns a commission on qualifying book purchases.

Subscribe to this author

About the Reviewer

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, December 08). Lost Cities of the Ancient World. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/review/387/lost-cities-of-the-ancient-world/

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Lost Cities of the Ancient World." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified December 08, 2023. https://www.worldhistory.org/review/387/lost-cities-of-the-ancient-world/.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Lost Cities of the Ancient World." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 08 Dec 2023. Web. 23 Jun 2024.