Lost Cities of South Asia and the Far East.
This section covers a huge swathe of time, featuring cities dating back to the dawn of civilization in South Asia (in the 3rd millennium B.C.) and cities that flourished in the Middle Ages, reflecting the breadth of cultures in the region.
Siem Reap, Bayon Temple Ruins
But despite the differences, there are parallels between cities as widely separated in time and space as Harappa, in the Indus Valley and Fujiwara-Kyo in Japan.
Harappa and its sister city Mohenjo-Daro were truly lost cities, in the sense that no one knew or remembered that they or the cultures that had given birth to them had ever existed.
Locals knew of the great mounds that contained the remnants of the cities, but there was no way for them to know what the mounds represented. Instead they wove folk tales and fairy stories around them, telling of dancing troupes of little people atop the mounds.
Only in the 20th century did the existence become apparent of a major center of early civilization to rank alongside Mesopotamia or ancient Egypt.
Smiling faced look out to the cardinal points from the towers of the Buddhist Bay on Temple in Angkor Thom, part of the Khmer city of Angkor. Modern Khmer call these faces Prohm Bayon.
By contrast, Fujiwara-Kyo was a comparative latecomer to the world stage, founded some 3,500 years after Harappa. But like the Indus Valley city, it represented its region’s first experiment in urbanism, for it was the first genuine city to be constructed in Japan.
Angkor, in Cambodia, grew more organically, but came to outdo in magnificence and size any city in the Far East.
While it is historically much closer to the modern era, it is in some ways more strange and different from modern expectations of a city than the much more ancient Indus Valley cities.
The modern city-dweller can recognize and relate to the blocks of multi-story brick buildings and the canyon-like streets of Harappa, but Angkor seems not to be a city at all, for there appears to be no sign of common dwellings or even of palaces or government buildings. All that is left is a collection of temples.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the first lost city in this section, which is…
Peter Delivered from Prison
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about 24 km west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River.
“Herod the king” – Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great and son of Aristobulus. He was a nephew of Herod Antipas, who had beheaded John the Baptist and had tried Jesus.
When Antipas was exiled, Agrippa received his tetrarchy as well as those of Philip and Lysanias. In 41 A.D. Judea and Samaria were added to his realm.
2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
In 1922,under the leadership of Sir.John Marshall,the head of the archaeological department,Mr. R.D.Banarjee discovered the remains of Mohenjo Daro in the Larkana District (Sind) 480 Km north of Karachi.It was the astonishing truth that India too produced a civilization which is as old as that of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.The most important settlements so far excavated are Harappa(Punjab-Pakistan),Mohenjo Daro(Sind) Lothal,Rangpur (Gujarat) Rupar and Kalibangan (Punjab) and Alamgirpur (Uttar Pradesh).
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
“Mary” – the aunt of Barnabas. Apparently her home was a gathering place for Christians. It may have been the location of the upper room where the Last Supper was held and the place of prayer.
13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
Fujiwara-kyō was the Imperial capital of Japan for sixteen years, between 694 and 710. It was located in Yamato Province, having been moved from nearby Asuka. However, the name Fujiwara-kyō was never used in the Nihon Shoki.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
“Cesarea” – not only a headquarters for Roman procurators, but Agrippa used it as his capital when no procurators were assigned to Judea.
20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.
Mohenjo-daro, lit. Mound of the Dead, is an archeological site in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BCE, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and one of the world’s earliest major urban settlements, contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete.
“Tyre and Sidon” – the leading cities of Phoenicia (Lebanon today). They were dependent on the grain fields of Galilee for their food.
“Blastus” – the treasurer; not otherwise known.
21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.