“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Something about ruins just captures the imagination. They’re like the closest thing we have to time travel. And anyone who has visited the wreckage of some ancient settlement can testify to the spin-tingling power of those places. They serve as a reminder that all human creations are eventually ravaged by time.
Then again, sometimes our most impressive communities end not with a bang but with an… erie silence. These are the cities that disappear along with their inhabitants, seeming to survive only in stories, passed down through generations. Eventually, they may even be confused for myths, or legends. Something meant to entertain… but not worth taking seriously.
Thank god, then, for the intrepid explorers (or happy bumblers) who rediscovered these monuments to the people who came before us. Like bugs in amber, they give us a glimpse into a time gone by.