The Lost City of The Kalahari

The Bushmen and Hottentots (now called Khoi Khoi) have many legends and tales of lost cities in the Kalahari desert in southwestern Africa. These cities were not built by them, they say, but by the ancients. The building of the city had never been completed, and it was still possible to unearth tools from the debris. These mysterious ruins were apparently to be found in different parts of the Kalahari, even north near the Caprivi Strip and Ovamboland. Dr. Gustav Prelude, a well-known historian, reported that a party of Khoi Khoi in the Kalahari who had camped near his expedition had told him of a terrible drought and of large ruins somewhere to the north, and expressed their willingness to lead him there once the rains had fallen. The Khoi Khoi also claimed that precious stones had been found in the desert farther north. In 1895, Gilarmi Farini also interested with the story of diamonds from Kalahari. During his return to the town of London, Farini reported the discovery of the Lost City of the Kalahari.

In the early twentieth century, Farini give birth to a legend of a lost city that circulating in South Africa. Some say they saw an abandoned city, or a stone quarry in the desert. It also attempts to explain the presence of this unknown civilization by comparisons with archaeological discoveries of Great Zimbabwe. William Leonard Hunt also known as Gilarmi farini born in New York City, he became a showman, best known for tightrope walking across Niagara Falls. He changed his name to Gilarmi A. Farini and his show name was Farini the Great. Farini exhibited shows at Coney Island, and when a show did well, it was taken to London. One of the most popular London shows was entitled Farini’s African Pygmies or Dwarf Earthmen from the Interior of South Africa. Essentially a tableaux of Bushman life in the Kalahari, it included six live Khoi Khoi. Farini was very interested in the Khoi Khoi and became even more so when they showed him diamonds they said had come from the Kalahari.

Farini The Great

Farini, his son Lulu, and a black South African showman named Gert Louw who had brought the Khoi Khoi to London, sailed from London to Capetown on January 7, 1895 and arrived on January 29. After meeting certain dignitaries in Capetown, in early February the party departed for the Northern Cape and the Kalahari. Six months later they returned to Capetown, claiming to have discovered a lost city of colossal proportions; they departed for London on July 22, 1895. Back in London, Farini addressed the Royal Geographical Society and later the Berlin Geographical Society. His book, Through the Kalahari was published at about the same time, and it contained photographs of the lost city taken by Farini’s son Lulu.

Farini even staged a Lost City Exhibition in London, which included photos of the city. These photos showed the city to be built of huge, massive stones stacked on top of each other, and of extremely ancient construction. Farini described the megalithic city as a long line of stone laid out in the shape of an arc and resembling the Chinese Wall after an earthquake. The ruins were quite extensive, partly buried beneath the sand at some points, and fully exposed to view in others. They could be traced for nearly a mile, and consisted mainly of huge flat-sided stone. In some places the cement was in perfect condition and plainly visible between the various layers of the heaps. The top row of stones was weathered and abraded by the drifting sand. Some of the uppermost stones were grotesquely worn away on the underside so that they resembled a small center table supported by a short leg.

In his Royal Geographical Society report he described the stones as “cyclopean.” Heaps of masonry, each about eighteen inches high, were spaced at intervals of about forty feet inside the wall. The heaps were shaped in the form of ovals or obtuse ellipses; they had flat bases and were hollowed out at the sides for about twelve inches from the edge. Some of them consisted of solid rock, while others were formed from one or more pieces of stone accurately fitted together. Where they had been protected from the sand the joints were perfect. Most of the heaps were more or less covered with sand, and it took his local guides almost a day to uncover the largest of them.

The following day, with no assistance from his guides, who apparently felt it was all a waste of time, Farini and his companions dug the sand away from the middle arc and exposed a pavement structure built of large stones. The pavement was about twenty feet wide, and so designed that the longer, outer stones were laid at right-angles to the inner ones. A similar pavement intersected it at right angles, and the whole structure resembled a Maltese Cross.

Farini visualized an altar, column or some other kind of monument at the intersection of the two pavements. The remains of the base, which were clearly visible at the junction of the pavements, consisted of loose pieces of fluted masonry. There were no inscriptions or markings of any kind. He concluded that the ruins were probably thousands of years old, and they must be of a city, a place of worship or the burial ground of a great nation. Lulu sketched the ruins and took several photographs. Farini composed this poem for his lost city:

“A half-buried ruin—a huge wreck of stones On a lone and desolate spot;
A temple—or tomb for human bones Left by man to decay and rot.
Rude sculpted blocks from the red sand project, And shapeless uncouth stones appear, Some great man’s ashes designed to protect, Buried many a thousand year.
A relic, maybe, of a glorious past,
A city once grand and sublime, Destroyed by earthquake, defaced by the blast, Swept away by the hand of time.”

Professor A. J. Clement also interested with Farini’s lost city in 1964 and advance a new explanation. In his book, The Kalahari and Its Lost City, Clement does an exhaustive study of Farini’s book, his route and the inconsistencies to be found in the publication (and there are many). Clement is to be commended for his research, though his final conclusions are to be questioned. Farini’s book caused a brief sensation at the time, and was published in both German and French. But then the whole business of a lost city in the Kalahari was generally forgotten until 1923 when the story was revived by Professor E. H. L. Schwartz of Rhodes University. Farini himself died at his ranch in Ontario in 1929.

From the 1920s up through the 1950s, many expeditions set out in search of the incredible lost city, many using aircraft. Since 1932 twenty five expeditions were launched to find the Lost City. They criss-cross the desert based on Farini’s story. F. R. Paving and Dr. W. Mr Borcherds searched the desert, flying over the region by air reconnaissance, and advanced multiple hypotheses. No one was able to find it, largely due to Farini’s wildly inaccurate maps to the spot. Many began to feel that the whole thing was really just a natural limestone formation, yet Farini had photos of the city in his book, and no one had yet come up with a suitable natural formation that fit Farini’s description.

Clement also shows in his book that Farini almost certainly did not travel up to Lake Ngami afterward, as he claimed in his book. Clement believes that he turned back after discovering the city, and used details supplied by his secretary W. A. Healey who had visited Lake Ngami the year before collecting items, as well as Bushmen, for the London exhibit. After poring through Farini’s book, Clement finally concluded that Farini’s lost city must actually lie near the small town of Mier, now called Rietfontein.

With partial sponsorship from the Sunday Chronicle newspaper, Clement set out with his 77-year-old father, a reporter from the newspaper and a professional photographer, on Easter Monday of 1964. At Rietfontein they were shown an extremely unusual “rock formation” known to the locals as Eierdop Koppies (Eggshell Hills). Says Clement, “The unmistakable outline of a large, oval-shaped amphitheater, perhaps a third of a mile in length, was the predominant feature. In numerous places there was striking resemblance to a double wall built from large, glistening black rocks, and it was obvious that many of the individual boulders could easily be confused with square building blocks.

There were several examples of flat slabs of rock perched precariously like table-tops on underlying boulders, and one of them—more impressive than the rest—closely matched the one appearing in Farini’s illustration. One or two of the rocks showed a kind of fluting, several were encrusted with a mortar-like substance, and a few were shaped like a basin. To use the phraseology employed by Farini in his lecture before the Royal Geographical Society: ‘The masonry was of a cyclopean character...’”

Clement showed one of Farini’s photos of his lost city to the oldest man in town who agreed that it seemed to show the same place. Clement, it seems, had genuinely rediscovered Farini’s lost city—known all the time to local residents—but concluded that it was no city at all, merely a highly unusual natural rock formation of dolerite, a hard igneous rock. After showing his photos to a geologist, the geologist suggested that the “ruins” were the product of the weathering of dolerite. In this case, magma intrusions forced their way in the form of sills or sheet along the bedding planes of sediments (some 180-190 million years ago, guesses the geologist) forming the level planes or flat sheets of rock found at the site. As the magma cooled, it formed cracks and splits, making it seem as if the rock had been carefully cut and dressed, with pieces stacked up on top of each other. One of the components of dolerite is pyroxene, and over time a chemical reaction takes place in its decomposition that precipitates a brownish “desert varnish” and kind of cement.

Clement concludes his book by saying, “Like all legends, that of the Lost City will be a long time a-dying, and doubtless there will still be some who are disinclined to let the matter rest in spite of all the contrary evidence. And possibly this is just as well, for there is something rather sad about the destruction of a legend.” Clement was convinced that Farini’s city was a natural formation. He could not conceive of a “cyclopean” structure in the Kalahari that was not natural. He said, “The climatological history of the Kalahari does not appear to have undergone any marked change for several thousand years, and it is obvious that no settlement of the size indicated by Farini could exist without perennial rivers or lakes in the vicinity.” And, “...suitable conditions for the establishment of a ‘city’ cannot have existed along any of the river courses for tens of thousands of years. Furthermore, if the age of the Lost City is assessed in relation to Zimbabwe and the ancient ruins of Persia, it is impossible to conceive of any ‘city’ in the Kalahari having been built more than 15,000 years ago.”

Farini had traveled a great deal in Europe and the Mediterranean and had probably seen cyclopean walls in the Peloponnese in Greece or at Abydos or the Valley Temple of Chephren in Egypt. Farini’s lost city is probably just as he believed it to be, a cyclopean structure from another era, destroyed in a cataclysmic shift of the earth’s crust, possibly 15,000 years ago, but probably more recently, such as about 10,000 years ago. It has been suggested that a shift of the earth’s crust about this time sent Africa moving to the south, causing a huge tidal wave to wash over all of Southern Africa.

Any cities, such as Farini’s, would have been destroyed and depopulated during such an event. Farini was also a Mason, and, depending on his initiatory status within the Masons, had probably been exposed to the Masonic beliefs in Atlantis, cataclysms, Mystery Schools and such. His poem about the city indicates as much. Other clues to the non-natural origin of the rocks can be found in photos taken both by Clement and Farini. The rocks are all neatly squared and the lines of “masonry” are parallel and at right angles. Some igneous formations such as basalt do indeed crystallize in regular patterns, but not like the dolerite rocks at Rietfontein. The final proof is Clement’s own photo of one of the massive blocks with a series of four parallel, horizontal grooves on it. Was it an ancient city? Was it natural? Was this what Farini had found? There seemed no clear answer to any of these questions.

Sources :
Atlantis Rising Magazine Vol. 40 : “Vanished City of the Kalahari” by David Hatcher Childress;

Pics Sources :;
Atlantis Rising Magazine Vol. 40 page 33


wyne said...

Wow good info you have here about lost city.

John Bueno said...

Anybody found this place yet?!


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