The sands of time in Egypt are famous as they are romanticized. These sands have been hiding ancient Egyptian cities for thousands of years. Slowly they are giving up their secrets but it is known there are many more to be found. Egyptologists are still discovering lost cities in Egypt.

Recent discoveries have included the "Atlantis" of Egypt Heracleion/Thonis that was lost beneath the Meditteranean Sea and only discovered in 1999 - it was once Egypt's main trading port. Another city discovered even more recently was Dazzling Aten - that was briefly the capital of Egpyt and was only discovered in 2020!


The Lost Egyptian City of Itjtawy

One of Egypt's lost cities is that of Itjtawy (full Egyptian name Amenemhat-itj-tawy — translating to "Amenemhat, Seizer of the Two Lands". It was a royal city that was founded by Pharaoh Amenemhat I who ruled between around 1991 BC and 1962 BC but has remained lost for thousands of years.

  • Built: In The 1900s BC
  • Capital: It Was Egpyt's Capital For Over 400 Years
  • Period: Middle Kingdom

It is believed that the city is somewhere in the Faiyum region of Egypt and that its cemeteries were located at Lisht, el-Lahun, and Dahshur. It is thought that Pharaoh Amenemhat I moved the capital there to be better placed to thwart Asiatic incursions into Egypt. It is believed that the massive site was close to where the pyramids of the two kings who built are.

So far, it is believed that it existed, but no one knows exactly where it is. But researchers are on the job. One of them is Dr. Sarah Parcak who is using "space archeology" to try to find it. She is using NASA topography data to map out the site of Itjtawy and to see where the Nile used to flow 4,000 years ago.

  • "Space Archeology": A Modern Technic Being Used To Discover Lost Cities And Sites

She is using infrared chemical changes to the landscape caused by the mud-brick building materials, used by the ancient Egyptians.

But while she has had a lot of success discovering other stuff in Egypt she still hasn't managed to find The Lost City of Itjtawy. Her discoveries include 17 potential pyramids, in addition to 3,100 forgotten settlements and 1,000 lost tombs (according to

Related: The Abu Simbel Temples Of Ramesses II Are Some Of Egypt's Most Iconic

The Lost City Of Thinis

Another of Egpyt's known-to-be-lost cities is the lost city of Thinis. It was also the capital of Egypt during the first dynasties of ancient Egpyt.

There is little doubt that it existed as it is well attested by ancient writers, including the classical historian Manetho. It is believed that the city went into decline from Dynasty III when the capital was relocated to Memphis (not in Tennessee).

  • Earliest Evidence: 4,000 BC
  • Probable Location: Near Modern Girga
  • Mentioned: In the Book Of The Dead
  • Capital: Thinis Was The Capital of Egpyt

By the Roman period thousands of years later it had lost its position as a regional administrative. Thinis persisted for many years as a significant religious center and housed the tomb and mummy of the regional deity. Thinis also played a role as a mythical place in Egypt's famous Book of the Dead.

While it remains undiscovered, it is thought to have been located vicinity of ancient Abydos and modern Girga.

Related: Myth and Hypothesis: Could The Lost City Of Atlantis Be Found?

Recently Un-Lost-ed Cities of Ancient Egypt

The City of Tanis:

The city of Tanis was discovered in 1939 by a French archaeologist named Pierre Montet. It is perhaps most famous for being portrayed in the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

"The city of Tanis is relatively unknown among Egypt's wealth of historical sites, though it yielded one of the greatest archeological troves ever found."

National Geographic

Once the capital of all Egypt, Tanis's royal tombs have yielded artifacts on par with the treasures of Tutankhamun.

  • Indiana Jones: Tanis Starred In The Movie Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Artifacts: While Little Known, Tanis Has Been A Source Of Many Discoveries

The Sunken City of Heracleion:

Heracleion (also called Thonis) is perhaps the greatest submerged city ever discovered and we are only just starting to learn more about it. Excavations are continuing and every year there are more and more discoveries being made of this ancient city that had been lost under the waves for over a thousand years.

While the other lost cities mentioned here were former capitals it was barely more than a legend that only appeared in a few rare ancient texts. Most historians didn't bother with it much.

  • Port: At One Time It Was The Main Port City Of Egypt
  • Age: Perhaps As Old As The 12th Century BC
  • Mentioned: By Herodotus, Strabo, and Diodorus

Next: The Lighthouse Of Alexandria And What Can Be Seen Today