There are a lot of things I can’t explain, like why anyone would want to wear socks with sandals. While socks and sandals may be hard to explain, the following 12 things are truly a mystery. I think it’s fun to read about these types of things and see what kind of theories I can come up with. If you let your mind truly wander, you can come up with a few crazy theories on your own. I would love to hear thoughts for number 8.
1. The Mount Owen Moa – The Upland Moa was a flightless bird that became extinct about 500 years ago. Researchers were shocked when they found such a well-preserved claw belonging to one in the caves of Mount Owen in New Zealand dating back 3,000 years.
2. The Longyou Grottoes – These man-made caves are the 9th wonder of the ancient world. They are carved from siltstone and found in China. Scientists from around the world in the fields of archaeology, architecture, engineering, and geology have absolutely no idea how they were built, by whom, or why. They are thought to date back before the Qin Dynasty (in 212 BCE), but there is no record of them anywhere.
3. The Gate of the Sun – Like Stonehenge, The Gate of the Sun is a stone structure that remains a bit of a mystery to this day. Coming in at 13,000 feet, the area in Bolivia may be where the first humans on Earth originated from. The engravings on the gate are thought to hold some kind of astrological and astronomical importance. Some people believe that this ‘gate’ was used as a calendar, causing some to call it ‘The Calendar Gate’. Indeed, it appears to reflect a solar year, however, it cannot be made to fit into the solar year as we divide it at present. The calendar has 290 days, divided into twelve months of 24 days each. Other radical theories suggest it was a portal to another dimension, perhaps to the ‘Land Of The Gods’.
4. L’Anse aux Meadows – This 1,000-year-old site in Newfoundland, Canada proves that Viking settlers made their way to North America long before Christopher Columbus even thought about sailing to India. Vikings occupied the land for somewhere between three to ten years.
5. Gobekli Tepe – This site, which was found atop a mountain ridge in Turkey, did a lot to further our understanding of the development of ancient customs. The temple was built before the city around it and it shows just how highly valued religion was to those who settled. Almost all pillars residing in Göbeklitepe have various animal reliefs on them, depicting the snake, fox, crane, boar and other assorted creatures. The reliefs show us a quite sophisticated sense of art, besides the various animal sculptures, totem poles, and signed tablets that were also unearthed.
6. The Voynich Manuscript – The Voynich Manuscript is a mystery that remains unsolved to this day, with plenty of theories as to what language it is written in. In 2014, two different groups came forward claiming to have solved the puzzle. The only problem was they both had completely different views. One believed it was an extinct Mexican dialect, while another thought it was a coded Asian language.
7. Yonaguni Monument – There is still a debate on whether or not this huge underwater structure was man-made or somehow natural forming. It sits off the coast of Yonaguni, Japan and contains flat edges as well as 90 degree angles. Some experts believe that the structures could be all that’s left of Mu, a fabled Pacific civilization rumored to have vanished beneath the waves.
8. Stone Age Tunnels – This huge network of underground tunnels is completely man-made, and dates back to the Stone Age. Questions remain how they were able to build such an extensive system at that time. The discovery of a vast network of tunnels suggests that Stone Age humans were not just spending their days hunting and gathering. Some experts believe they were a way of protecting man from predators while others believe they were a way for people to travel safely, sheltered from harsh weather conditions, or even wars and violence. At this time scientists are only able to guess.
9. Costa Rica’s Stone Spheres – There are hundreds of granodiorite spheres across Costa Rica that go from very tiny (three or four centimeters) to fairly large (three meters). Archaeologists truly have no idea what they are for. Most of the spheres have been dated between 800 and 1200 B.C.E. Many of these stones have been found near the remains of dwellings and in close proximity to grave sites. Some believed that the stones contained some hidden treasures and a few of them have been smashed to try to get at this supposed treasure. None has been forthcoming, however.
10. An Unfinished Obelisk – This obelisk was carved directly from bedrock, but after cracks appeared in granite, building of the obelisk was abandoned. It is one of the most famous stones left behind. The Unfinished Obelisk is taller than any known obelisk ever raised. The stone, still attached to bedrock, gives important clues to how the ancients quarried granite. Much of the red granite used for ancient temples and colossi came from quarries in the Aswan area (500 miles south of Cairo). The Unfinished Obelisk still lies where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock. Possibly intended as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk, originally at Karnak, now in Rome, it would have measured 120-feet and weighed over 1150 tons when complete.
11. Mohenjo-daro – This site in Sindh, Pakistan is one of the earliest major urban settlements, with signs of both city planning, social organization, and a draining system. An estimated 40,000 people lived in the area.
The Indus Valley civilization was entirely unknown until 1921, when excavations in what would become Pakistan revealed the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.
12. Saksaywaman – These stacked stones and boulders sit outside Peru, and fit together so well without mortar that it’s impossible to get anything between two of the stones.
These twelve mysteries are just a few on the list of many. I for one am grateful for archaeologists and their hard work to study prehistoric people and their cultures. Not only is it interesting to know about the past, I am one of those people who believe those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. What kind of theories do you have about these mysteries?