Everybody knows the feeling of losing their car keys or wallet, the drop in the pit of the stomach as you realize that you’ve left something you always told yourself you would never leave behind. In the grand scale of things, car keys are an understandable thing to lose, given that they are tiny. When things begin to get bigger, it becomes a little more odd that the object would just… disappear.
One of the most famous “lost” things is the continent of Atlantis. Everybody has heard of it, some sort of a crazy island state that just sank into the ocean one day. We owe that account to Plato and his writings about a city state in the ocean bigger than Asia Minor, safe from harm and blessed by the gods. Plato wrote the version of it in 349 BCE, saying that the city was punished and an earthquake turned the entire continent into an impassable mud flat in the ocean. Early Christian writers somehow glommed onto the idea of Atlantis, and wrote about how the city was destroyed because of their pagan ways. Since that time, historians and treasure hunters have been scouring the ocean floor for the lost city. Nobody has found it, though there are many hypothesis and several National Geographic specials about archaeologists and historians who “found the lost city”.
Next to Atlantis is the continent of Mu. Believed to be found in a Mayan codex, the concept of the proto-civilization of mankind was spread by Augustus Le Plongeon in the late 1800s. Plongeon claimed to have translated the Mayan writings using the de Landa alphabet (since that time, we have found that Mayan language was iconographic like hieroglyphics, not translatable using an alphabet) and found the writings to describe the origin of Mayan civilization coming from the continent of Mu. He said it was somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and when the country was sunk into the waters, refugees from it spread about and began to populate the world in the other locations of great civilizations, Egypt, South America and Asia. While researchers have found some oddly hewn stone formations off the coasts of Japan called the Yonaguni Monuments, there is no proof of Mu. Again though, people have been searching for the lost land for over a century.
As far as non-land based big things to lose go, there are a few:
Cambyses II, king of Persia was going to destroy an Oracle at the Siwa Oasis who angered him. He decided to send 50,000 man to level the city, but at some point during the journey they were swallowed up whole by a cataclysmic sandstorm. Overnight, all of them disappeared. Recently, a pair of Italian archaeologists claim to have found the remains of the lost army of Cambyses in the Western Desert of Egypt. While it hasn’t yet been proven that the bones and artifacts are truly Persian, expeditions are being made to try to dig up more proof.
In Rome, they had a similarly lost army. The Legion IX from Spain (Legio IX Hispana) operated in York, England around 108. They went north of Hadrian’s Wall in 117 and never returned. The assumption is that the legion was crushed by the warlike peoples of Scotland who forced Hadrian to build the wall, but there is no proof or hard evidence to support that. Names of senior officers from the 9th legion were found in other Legions in 120, so the unit could have potentially been disbanded without record, or it was splattered and the survivors who limped back to York got reassigned without mention of the 9th Legion’s shame.
In the grand scheme of things, losing a credit card is bad, but it isn’t the worst thing you could lose.