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Top 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries in History

Top 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries in History

February 25, 2008

Over the last few months we have gone through 30 of the worlds greatest mysteries but what we haven’t covered are ancient mysteries. This list aims to put that right! Here are ten great unsolved mysteries of science. Do you have a theory that might solve one of these mysteries? If so, tell us in the comments!

10. Rongorongo

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While many people know of the Moai of Easter Island, not that many people know of the other mystery associated with Easter Island. ‘Rongorongo’ is the hieroglyphic written language of the region’s earlier inhabitants. Rongorongo is strange in that no other neighbouring oceanic people used a written language. It appeared around the 1700s, though was unfortunately lost after the early European colonizers banned it because of its ties to the native islanders’ pagan roots.

9. Lost City of Helike

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In the late 2nd century AD, the Greek writer Pausanias wrote an account of how (4-500 years earlier?) in one night a powerful earthquake destroyed the great city of Helike, with a Tsunami washing away what remained of the once-flourishing metropolis. The city, capital of the Achaean League, was a worship centre devoted to the ancient god Poseidon, god of the sea. There was no trace of the legendary society mentioned outside of the ancient Greek writings until 1861, when an archeologist found some loot thought to have come from Helike – a bronze coin with the unmistakable head of Poseidon. In 2001, a pair of archeologists managed to locate the ruins of Helike beneath the mud and gravel of the coast, and are currently trying to peice together the rise and sudden fall of what has been called the “real” Atlantis.

8. The Bog Bodies

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This mystery may even be a problem for those legendary investigators from CSI and the like! The bog bodies are hundreds of ancient corpses found buried around the northern bogs and wetlands of Northern Europe. These bodies are remarkably well preserved, some dating back 2,000 years. Many of these bodies have tell-tale signs of torture and other medieval “fun”, which have made some researchers postulating that these unfortunate victims were the result of ritual sacrifices.

7. Fall of the Minoans

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The Minoans are best known for the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, but it is in fact the demise of this once-great civilisation that is more interesting. While many historians concentrate on the fall of the Roman Empire, the fall of the Minoans, who resided on the island of Crete, is an equal, if not greater mystery. Three and a half thousand years ago the island was shaken by a huge volcanic eruption on the neighbouring Thera Island. Archeologists unearthed tablets which have shown that the Minoans carried on for another 50 years after the eruption, before finally folding. Theories of what finally ended them have ranged from volcanic ash covering the island and devastating harvests to the weakened society eventually getting taken over by invading Greeks.

6. The Carnac Stones

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Everyone has heard of Stonehenge, but few know the Carnac Stones. These are 3,000 megalithic stones arranged in perfect lines over a distance of 12 kilometers on the coast of Brittany in the North-West of France. Mythology surrounding the stones says that each stone is a soldier in a Roman legion that Merlin the Wizard turned in to stone. Scientific attempts at an explanation suggests that the stones are most likely an elaborate earthquake detector. The identity of the Neolithic people who built them is unknown.

5. Who Was Robin Hood?

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The historical search for the legendary thief Robin Hood has turned up masses of possible names. One candidate includes the Yorkshire fugitive Robert Hod, also known as Hobbehod or Robert Hood of Wakefield. The large number of suspects is complicated further as the name Robin Hood became a common term for an outlaw. As literature began to add new characters to the tale such as Prince John and Richard the Lionheart the trail became more obscure. To this day no one knows who this criminal really was.

4. The Lost Roman Legion

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After the Parthians defeated underachieving Roman General Crassus’ army, legend has it that a small band of the POWs wandered through the desert and were eventually rounded up by the Han military 17 years later. First century Chinese historian Ban Gu wrote an account of a confrontation with a strange army of about a hundred men fighting in a “fish-scale formation” unique to Roman forces. An Oxford historian who compared ancient records claims that the lost roman legion founded a small town near the Gobi desert named Liqian, which in Chinese translates to Rome. DNA tests are being conducted to answer that claim and hopefully explain some of the residents’ green eyes, blonde hair, and fondness of bullfighting.

3. The Voynich Manuscript

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The Voynich Manuscript is a medieval document written in an unknown script and in an unknown language. For over one hundred years people have tried to break the code to no avail. The overall impression given by the surviving leaves of the manuscript suggests that it was meant to serve as a pharmacopoeia or to address topics in medieval or early modern medicine. However, the puzzling details of illustrations have fueled many theories about the book’s origins, the contents of its text, and the purpose for which it was intended. The document contains illustrations that suggest the book is in six parts: Herbal, Astronomical, Biological, Cosmological, Pharmaceutical, and recipes.

2. The Tarim Mummies

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An amazing discovery of 2,000 year old mummies in the Tarim basin of Western China occurred in the early 90s. But more amazing than the discovery itself was the astonishing fact that the mummies were blond haired and long nosed. In 1993, Victor Mayer a college professor collected DNA from the mummies and his tests verified that the bodies were all of European genetic stock. Ancient Chinese texts from as early as the first millennium BC do mention groups of far-east dwelling caucasian people referred to as the Bai, Yeuzhi, and Tocharians. None, though, fully reveal how or why these people ended up there.

1. Disappearance of the Indus Valley Civilization

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The ancient Indus Valley people, India’s oldest known civilization had a culture that stretched from Western India to Afghanistan and a populace of over 5 million. le—India’s oldest known civilization—were an impressive and apparently sanitary bronze-age bunch. The scale of their baffling and abrupt collapse rivals that of the great Mayan decline. They were a hygienically advanced culture with a highly sophisticated sewage drainage system, and immaculately constructed baths. There is to date no archaeological evidence of armies, slaves, conflicts, or other aspects of ancient societies. No one knows where this civilization went.

This list was derived from the excellent article of the same name at livescience

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Ancient Mysteries

Reprinted from PlanetX

The 10 Most Puzzling Ancient Artifacts

The Grooved Spheres

Over the last few decades, miners in South Africa have been digging up mysterious metal spheres. Origin unknown, these spheres measure approximately an inch or so in diameter, and some are etched with three parallel grooves running around the equator. Two types of spheres have been found: one is composed of a solid bluish metal with flecks of white; the other is hollowed out and filled with a spongy white substance. The kicker is that the rock in which they where found is Precambrian – and dated to 2.8 billion years old! Who made them and for what purpose is unknown.

The Dropa Stones
In 1938, an archeological expedition led by Dr. Chi Pu Tei into the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains of China made an astonishing discovery in some caves that had apparently been occupied by some ancient culture. Buried in the dust of ages on the cave floor were hundreds of stone disks. Measuring about nine inches in diameter, each had a circle cut into the center and was etched with a spiral groove, making it look for all the world like some ancient phonograph record some 10,000 to 12,000 years old. The spiral groove, it turns out, is actually composed of tiny hieroglyphics that tell the incredible story of spaceships from some distant world that crash-landed in the mountains. The ships were piloted by people who called themselves the Dropa, and the remains of whose descendents, possibly, were found in the cave.


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The Ica Stones
Beginning in the 1930s, the father of Dr. Javier Cabrera, Cultural Anthropologist for Ica, Peru, discovered many hundreds of ceremonial burial stones in the tombs of the ancient Incas. Dr. Cabrera, carrying on his father’s work, has collected more than 1,100 of these andesite stones, which are estimated to be between 500 and 1,500 years old and have become known collectively as the Ica Stones. The stones bear etchings, many of which are sexually graphic (which was common to the culture), some picture idols and others depict such practices as open-heart surgery and brain transplants. The most astonishing etchings, however, clearly represent dinosaurs – brontosaurs, triceratops (see photo), stegosaurus and pterosaurs. While skeptics consider the Ica Stones a hoax, their authenticity has neither been proved or disproved.


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The Antikythera Mechanism
A perplexing artifact was recovered by sponge-divers from a shipwreck in 1900 off the coast of Antikythera, a small island that lies northwest of Crete. The divers brought up from the wreck a great many marble and and bronze statues that had apparently been the ship’s cargo. Among the findings was a hunk of corroded bronze that contained some kind of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. Writing on the case indicated that it was made in 80 B.C., and many experts at first thought it was an astrolabe, an astronomer’s tool. An x-ray of the mechanism, however, revealed it to be far more complex, containing a sophisticated system of differential gears. Gearing of this complexity was not known to exist until 1575! It is still unknown who constructed this amazing instrument 2,000 years ago or how the technology was lost.


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The Baghdad Battery
Today batteries can be found in any grocery, drug, convenience and department store you come across. Well, here’s a battery that’s 2,000 years old! Known as the Baghdad Battery, this curiosity was found in the ruins of a Parthian village believed to date back to between 248 B.C. and 226 A.D. The device consists of a 5-1/2-inch high clay vessel inside of which was a copper cylinder held in place by asphalt, and inside of that was an oxidized iron rod. Experts who examined it concluded that the device needed only to be filled with an acid or alkaline liquid to produce an electric charge. It is believed that this ancient battery might have been used for electroplating objects with gold. If so, how was this technology lost… and the battery not rediscovered for another 1,800 years?


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The Coso Artifact
While mineral hunting in the mountains of California near Olancha during the winter of 1961, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey and Mike Mikesell found a rock, among many others, that they thought was a geode – a good addition for their gem shop. Upon cutting it open, however, Mikesell found an object inside that seemed to be made of white porcelain. In the center was a shaft of shiny metal. Experts estimated that it should have taken about 500,000 years for this fossil-encrusted nodule to form, yet the object inside was obviously of sophisticated human manufacture. Further investigation revealed that the porcelain was surround by a hexagonal casing, and an x-ray revealed a tiny spring at one end. Some who have examined the evidence say it looks very much like a modern-day spark plug. How did it get inside a 500,000-year-old rock?

Ancient Model Aircraft
There are artifacts belonging to ancient Egyptian and Central American cultures that look amazingly like modern-day aircraft. The Egyptian artifact, found in a tomb at Saqquara, Egypt in 1898, is a six-inch wooden object that strongly resembles a model airplane, with fuselage, wings and tail. Experts believe the object is so aerodynamic that it is actually able to glide. The small object discovered in Central America (shown at right), and estimated to be 1,000 years old, is made of gold and could easily be mistaken for a model of a delta-wing aircraft – or even the Space Shuttle. It even features what looks like a pilot’s seat.


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Giant Stone Balls of Costa Rica
Workmen hacking and burning their way through the dense jungle of Costa Rica to clear an area for banana plantations in the 1930s stumbled upon some incredible objects: dozens of stone balls, many of which were perfectly spherical. They varied in size from as small as a tennis ball to an astonishing 8 feet in diameter and weighing 16 tons! Although the great stone balls are clearly man-made, it is unknown who made them, for what purpose and, most puzzling, how they achieved such spherical precision.

Impossible Fossils
Fossils, as we learned in grade school, appear in rocks that were formed many thousands of years ago. Yet there are a number of fossils that just don’t make geological or historical sense. A fossil of ahuman handprint, for example, was found in limestone estimated to be 110 million years old. What appears to be a fossilizedhuman finger found in the Canadian Arctic also dates back 100 to 110 million years ago. And what appears to be the fossil of ahuman footprint, possibly wearing a sandal, was found near Delta, Utah in a shale deposit estimated to be 300 million to 600 million years old.

Out-of-Place Metal Objects
Humans were not even around 65 million years ago, never mind people who could work metal. So then how does science explain semi-ovoid metallic tubes dug out of 65-million-year-old Cretaceous chalk in France? In 1885, a block of coal was broken open to find a metal cube obviously worked by intelligent hands. In 1912, employees at an electric plant broke apart a large chunk of coal out of which fell an iron pot! A nail was found embedded in a sandstone block from the Mesozoic Era. And there are many, many more such anomalies.

What are we to make of these finds? There are several possibilities:

  • Intelligent humans date back much, much further than we realize.
  • Other intelligent beings and civilizations existed on earth far beyond our recorded history.
  • Our dating methods are completely inaccurate, and that stone, coal and fossils form much more rapidly than we now estimate.

In any case, these examples – and there are many more – should prompt any curious and open-minded scientist to reexamine and rethink the true history of life on earth.

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