A 2,000-year-old ‘lost’ city found off the Coast of Africa

After an unusually low tide revealed what appeared to be the remnants of a 4-kilometer-long wall, a diver discovered what could be one of the most important archaeological underwater discoveries in the last century. According to researchers, Allen Sutten a local scuba diver could have found the remains of Rhapta, an ancient city dating back some 2,000 years.

Rhapta was a prominent marketplace said to have existed somewhere on the southeastern coast of the African Continent. It rose to prominence during the 1st century CE.

Before the low tides revealed the giant wall off the coast of Africa, there were a couple of theories where the city was located. However never before has conclusive evidence been found proving that the ‘lost’ city had actually existed

Based on the ancient Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Rhapta was ‘the last marketplace of Azania’ located two days’ travel south from the  Menouthias islands. However, Claudius Ptolemy, a prosperous merchant said Rhapta was located ‘where the river of the same name enters the Indian Ocean opposite the Island of Menouthias.’

The lost city of ‘Rhapta’ was documented in Ptolemy’s Geography as Africa’s first metropolis. According to Ptolemy, it was one of the wealthiest cities of its time and was considered among merchants as a trading hub for metal weapons and tortoiseshell.

Since the city ‘disappeared’ some 2,000 years ago, little evidence had been found to support its existence.

According to George Wynn Brereton Huntingford a linguist, anthropologist and historian, Rhapta could have been located: at the mouth of the Mkulumuzi and Sigi Rivers,  at the mouth of the Ruvu river, tree miles north of Dar es Salaam, Somewhere in the Rufiji River delta, opposite Mafia Island. However since there was no conclusive evidence the theories could not be proven.

Before discovering the ruins of ‘Rhapta,’ the remains were spotted from a helicopter. Sutten decided to work out what he had seen from the air and decided to go for a dive. It took Allan nearly three years to pinpoint the exact location of the lost city that according to many, could change African history forever.

Interestingly, the ruins are only visible when the spring tides in the region are extremely low.

According to Prof. Felix Chami –an archaeologist from Tanzania– the discover could completely alter our understanding of history. Prof. Chami found a number of artifacts on the island of Mafia and Juani revealing that Eastern Africa was an integral part of the Indian Ocean trade.

Researchers hope that future diving expeditions will reveal the numerous treasures the ancient city took when it disappeared two millennia ago.

The discovery proves that there are countless cities around the globe which disappeared thousands of years ago due to various catastrophic phenomena like floods.

Check out the video for more information about the discovery:

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