I want to burn down a city completely. Nothing must remain, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Even though I'm a supernatural being, I want this to happen in a natural way. I also want the destruction to not leave any traces that can be used by humanity 4,000 years later to identify what exactly happened. The event may however leave traces that make them guess what happened, but it should definitely not lead to the exact cause.



  • Burn down a city completely (read: destroy, I like fire however).
  • The city is situated above sea level in a semi-arid climate.
  • The event may not leave any clues. This means that humanity 4,000 years later cannot exactly identify what happend. The destruction may however leave traces that make people wonder about what exactly happened. The main point is that the city itself should become a legend, meaning that the destruction site should not leave any traces that can prove the existence of the destroyed city. It's however fine if people get to know that some sort of nature disaster happened, but preferably they won't exactly know what type of nature disaster.
  • Time of the event: 2,000 B.C. (approximately).
  • Preferably the destruction happens within 24 hours.
  • Preferably the destruction method can take down a city that is built mainly with rock and clay like substances.

What are my options? Any natural disaster that can be of use? Is this even possible in a natural way? Please be creative.

I was thinking about "fire from above", but a meteorite impact would be visible for more than 4,000 years.

Edit 1: I removed the following requirement, to make more answers possible:

  • The area is not volcanic active or seismographic active.

Edit 2: The amount of answers and comments is overwhelming, thanks! I have rewritten the requirements/details to make things a little bit more clear. I also added the word "preferably" to two of them, meaning slightly more answers should be possible. Just keep in mind "preferably"...

Also note that this question was first talking about two cities. I changed this to one city because: if it works for one city it will probably work for any amount of cities.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – James Apr 6 '18 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ One point that I think will help when considering the various answers is to remember that the most recent estimates of the global human population in 2000 bc is around 72 million. "City" might not mean what comes to mind, so a relatively small event may be sufficient to obliterate a site sufficiently to meet your needs. $\endgroup$ – Stephan Apr 7 '18 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ Some clarification might be helpful. What about something that wipes out the city so completely its memory is lost to time, even if we know what happened at the site? Like the Chicxulub crater? If there was a city at an impact site like that, we wouldn't know about it because it was so thoroughly destroyed. Or a massive volcanic eruption, like happened to the Minoans, except on the island they were on? Or some massive earthquake that swallows the city into the molten lava below? (Etc.) $\endgroup$ – HopelessN00b Apr 7 '18 at 3:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Multiple catastrophes: A meteorite to get the show started. Earthquake to reduce everything left to ground level. Volcano to melt it, burn it, mix it with ash. Glacier to spread it out over miles and miles. Drop the land level to let it sink beneath the sea. $\endgroup$ – Tony Ennis Apr 8 '18 at 17:07

32 Answers 32


You can use nanobots, basically converting anything organic and synthetic to carbon or any material -let's call it ash for now - you choose until they themselves consume themselves leaving but a pile of whatever material you want to be blown across the world by winds. If you choose to just have the nanobots convert just organic and synthetic things then you'd be left with a lifeless barren rock, mountains and water. If you want just people and man-made structures to be consumed then just program the nanobots to do so.

  • $\begingroup$ The fact that the event takes place in 2000 BC would, as far as I'm aware, preclude the use of nanobots. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Apr 6 '18 at 7:32
  • $\begingroup$ Highly carnivorous locusts maybe? $\endgroup$ – Arkhaine Apr 6 '18 at 7:32

Honestly, you can probably just kill off the people who live there through some nasty supernatural means that makes the city "cursed" in the inhabitant's eyes. Then you just let time and the environment do it's thing. Metals degrade and completely break down over thousands of years. Clay and stone would take the use of water to degrade since H2O is a pretty good solvent that can dissolve silicates pretty easily given the time and chance.

So, yeah. You don't need to do much at all, really. Time and environment will do most of the heavy lifting for you.


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