Image: Movidas Journeys

 

When it comes to our planet, how much do we really know about it? For most people, they will never leave the town they grew up in let alone visit another country. According to recent statistics by the New York Daily News, only 29% of Americans are likely to travel outside of the country. That’s a significantly low number, which leaves it up to the few archaeologists around the world to discover the keys to our past.

There are so many mysteries in the world from ancient ruins to objects that look like they could be from another time and place. And think of how many are still out there waiting to be uncovered! The planet is way bigger than most perceive; in fact, only 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored. And when it comes to land, there’s still roughly 12% of the planet that has not been seen by human eyes. Imagine what discoveries are still left to be found.

However, what has been discovered so far is definitely nothing to scoff at. Every day, new archaeological discoveries are being made that are absolutely fascinating as well as bizarre. For example, the infamous Nazca Lines in Peru; how could human beings create such large works of art on the planet’s surface without seeing what it would like from the sky? And don’t even get us started on the Great Pyramids; do you really expect us to believe that humans were able to move those 1000 pound blocks of stone and stack them on top of one another? We’re still sticking to our alien theory, thank you very much.

As you can see, there have been so many discoveries that defy explanation and we’ve found quite a few that will really leave you scratching your head. From the depths of Qin Shi Huang’s tomb to the lost city of Atlantis, here are 30 bizarre archaeological finds that will make you question humanity (and maybe everything you’ve ever known to be logical).

 

30. Mysterious Stone Spheres

Via crystalinks.com

Discovered on the Diquis Delta in southern Costa Rica, these giant stone spheres continue to confound modern science to this day. Dating back to 600 A.D., they are locally known as Las Bolas and were monuments from a pre-Colombian civilization.  Some experts believe the stones were utilized for astronomical purposes, while others believe they were markers that pointed the way to other locations. Unfortunately, we may never find out their true purpose because the Chibchan people who used to live in the area vanished after the Spanish conquest.

29. Antikythera Mechanism

Image: Tumblr

Discovered amongst the wreckage of a Greek cargo ship, this mechanism is dated to be over 2,000 years old. Designed with an intricate network of interlocking gears, the design has baffled modern archaeologists who believe it was used as an advanced astrological calendar. It currently is one of the most intricate pieces of machinery found from that era in the last 1,000 years.

28. Cleopatra’s Tomb

Image: nrk.no

One of the last of the Ptolemies rulers of Egypt, Cleopatra VII ruled between 305 and 30 B.C. Known for her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, her burial place is still shrouded in mystery. According to ancient historians, Cleopatra was buried with Antony in a beautiful monument near a temple of the Goddess Isis; however, it has never been found. Many believe the tomb is no longer intact or could have been pillaged by grave robbers, however, archaeologists continue to hope for its recovery.

27. Qin Shi Huang’s Tomb

Image: Probing Deep

Emperor Qin Shi Huang ruled China from 259 B.C. to 210 B.C.  and is known for his elaborate tomb which was discovered accidentally by farmers in 1974. The tomb runs for miles in a vast cave system and is actually a palace built underground with a complete surrounding kingdom. There’s even a network of state-of-the-art drainage systems. However, no one has been able to breach the tomb to find what lies within. While surveys of the area know the palace contains high walls and other structures surrounding it, the depth of the palace and high levels of mercury have delayed any serious excavation. The Chinese government also worries that exposing the palace to air could destroy its preservation.

26. Atlantis

Image: Cool Interesting Stuff

The lost city of Atlantis continues to be a prize among the archaeological community, with many so-called discoveries of the city being debunked. Whether it be off the coast of Greece or in the waters surrounding Japan, there are many theories regarding the existence of the city and its location. While most historians believe it sunk off the coast of Greece, nothing concrete has been discovered; although, some artifacts have been found that could be tied to Atlantis. Maybe one day someone will solve the mystery.

25. The Baigong Pipes

Image: Elixir of Knowledge

In a remote area of China that is inhospitable to human life, there three mysterious triangular openings at the top of a mountain that contains ancient iron pipes that date back to the ancient Chinese dynasties. The pipes run deep inside the mountain with some routing into a deep saltwater lake nearby. What’s strange about this discovery is that the pipes are clear of debris and they were obviously meant for some purpose, however, archaeologists can’t figure out what. Some theories involve it once being an ancient astronomy lab. Unfortunately, we may never know.

24. Stonehenge

Image: History.com

One of the world’s most famous landmarks, Stonehenge is a ring of megalithic stones that confounds archaeologists to this day.  Built over 4,000 years ago, many have theorized on the purpose of the monument, with some believing it was an ancient temple of healing and others concluding it’s an astronomical observatory. Currently, the site is a huge point of interest for tourists and religious groups, with Wiccans holding a festival every year to celebrate the Solstice.

23. Ancient Animal Traps

Image: Live Science

Across the deserts of Israel, Egypt, and Jordan are low crisscrossing walls that have confused archaeologists since their discovery. Built over the course of forty miles, it was determined that the walls were used to draw animals in where they would fall into unmarked pits for a mass killing. Miscellaneous bones and tools have been found in the area, which is the most conclusive evidence for the walls’ purpose.

22. Nazca Lines

Image: The Daily Grail

The Peruvian Nazca lines may not seem like much from the ground; however, from the air, they are a design that is nothing short of extraordinary. Archaeologists have determined the designs were made by the pre-Inca Nazca culture as a way to communicate with the Nazca deities. However, some theorists believe they were made for alien landings and ancient astrology. Regardless, you have to wonder how they could make such intricate designs from the ground and know that the end result would be this perfect.

21. The Great Pyramids

Image: Tedy Travel

The Great Pyramids were built over 5,000 years ago and contain the largest monuments in all of Egypt. Built to honor the Pharaoh’s, the ancient Egyptians displayed their reverence through architecture. However, the pyramids continue to baffle historians to this day because of how they were built. Some conspiracy theorists believe there is no possible way the ancient Egyptians could have moved and stacked the large stones to craft the pyramids, which has paved the way for stories of alien alliances. Whether it was simply hard work and innovative design or green men from outer space, one can’t deny the beauty or the mystery the pyramids have to offer.

20. Shroud of Turin

Image: Wikipedia.org

One of the most debated archaeological discoveries in history is the Shroud of Turin, which is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. The long piece of cloth contains stains of blood, as well as a darkened imprint of a man’s body. The first mention of the existence of the shroud came from the Catholic Church in 1353 A.D., however, researchers weren’t able to study it physically until the 1980s.  Utilizing radiocarbon dating, parts of the shroud were determined to be newer than others, with research concluding it was a highly convincing medieval forgery. However, it’s impossible to know for absolute certain. What do you think?

19. Gobekli Tepe

Image: Smithsonian Magazine

The Gobekli Tepe is a rural area of Turkey that dates back to the 10th millennium B.C. and is considered to be the world’s oldest place to worship. Discovered in 1994, it contains rings of huge stone pillars with carvings of animals and other deities. According to archaeological findings, the people who built the pillars were nomadic hunters who knew nothing of agriculture. This poses a question: Did building projects lead to settlements or did settlements lead to building projects?

18. The Copper Scroll

Image: Geocaching

One mysterious find from 1952 is a large copper scroll that was discovered at the site of Qumran. According to researchers, the scroll might detail a large amount of gold and treasure; however, no one knows where it could have been hidden. The scroll dates back over 2,000 years during a time that Qumran was under Roman Empire control. So the question remains, where could the treasure be and why did the settlers hide it, to begin with?

17. King Tut’s Tomb

Image: Daily Mail

King Tut was a Pharaoh from the 18th Dynasty and ruled from 323-1319 B.C. His tomb rests in the Valley of the Kings and was discovered over 85 years ago. The tomb is now on display for tourists, however, it’s expected to be closed in the near future. What’s interesting about the tomb is that parts of it are still walled off and yet to be explored, however, locals warn against it due to a curse they believe is over the tomb. Yeah, mummies and curses? We’ll pass!

16. The Ark of the Covenant

Image: The Fringe

The Ark of the Covenant is one of the more popular unsolved mysteries in the world of archaeology. A large wooden box that’s encrusted with gold, according to the Book of Exodus it contains the original ten commandment stone tablets. The Ark used to be housed in the First Temple within Jerusalem; however, after the Babylonians attacked, it vanished. There have been very few leads as to where the Ark disappeared to, although recent research suggests it’s within a monastery in Ethiopia.

15. Voynich Manuscript

Image: StephenBax.net

The Voynich manuscript is one of the most talked about books of the 20th century. It was discovered by an antique bookseller in 1912 and is written in an unknown alphabet with depictions of nude women and other strange symbols. Scholars have dated the manuscript at over 600 years old. While some believe it is an elaborate hoax, others believe it is the discovery of a new alphabet. Unfortunately, no one has been able to decipher it.

14. The Hobbits

Image: Red Ice

No, archaeologists did not find a real-life Shire from Lord of the Rings, however, in 2003 they did discover the skeletons of humans who only reached to be 3.5 feet tall. Located on a remote Indonesian island called Flores, scientists believed they found a deformed human at first. However, multiple skeleton discoveries confirmed they had found a tribe of hobbits. Where the hobbits would be placed on the family tree of the human race remains a mystery and continues to confound researchers.

13. Noah’s Ark

Image: Ark Discovery

Over the past few hundred years, archaeologists have claimed to find Noah’s Ark. Yes, the boat that survived a flood that lasted 40 days and 40 nights with every animal pairing on the planet. The most conclusive evidence regarding the location of Noah’s Ark is evidence of the remains located on Mount Ararat in Turkey. This is the exact location of its final resting place according to the Book of Genesis, however, many people dispute that the Ark ever existed. This archaeological mystery may never be solved in our lifetime.

12. Disappearance of the Sanxingdui

Ancient Origins

Over 3,000 years ago, the civilization of Sanxingdui collapsed, completely disappearing from human history. However, in 1929 a man accidentally discovered jade and stone artifacts that were linked to this mysterious civilization. After more digging, an entire city alongside a river was discovered. However, the question remained: why did the Sanxingdui people leave? Many believed the civilization collapsed after an earthquake rerouted the river from the city. Unfortunately, we may never know the truth.

11. The Lost Maya

Image: ExtremeTech

Where did the Mayans go? That is a mystery most archaeologists would love to solve.  While the Mayans left their perfectly preserved cities behind, little evidence has been found as to what led to their demise. Many believe a drought could have wiped out the Mayans, while others believe disease was their demise. The facts of the situation do not add up: the Mayan civilization was at its peak in 900 A.D. and then quickly disappeared without a trace. What do you think happened? Could it have been something supernatural?

10. The Khatt Shebib

Image: Daily Mail

Discovered in 1948 in Jordan, this 93 mile-long mystery-wall remains a puzzle to researchers to this day. While you would think such a construction would serve a purpose, most historians can’t figure out who built it or why. Some traces of ancient agriculture have been discovered west of the wall, which has led to theories that it could have been built to separate farmland from the nomads. Sadly, there just isn’t enough evidence to come up with anything conclusive.

9. The Big Circles

Image: Unearthed

It seems that Jordan is home to many archaeological mysteries. The stone circles are another baffling discovery that has left researchers scratching their heads. Dating back 2,000 years, the circles span 1,312 feet in diameter and are only a few feet high. No openings were found that people or livestock would be able to walk through, ruling out animal holding pens and leaving the purpose of these large structures a complete mystery to this day.

8. The Cochno Stone

Image: Ancient Origins

Discovered in 1887, the Cochno Stone is a 5,000-year-old slab of stone that is decorated with swirling geometric images and designs. Considered to be a prime example of ancient European art, it’s located in Glasgow, Scotland. However, due to vandalism and graffiti, the stone has recently been reburied to keep it preserved. Researchers are still trying to discover what the shapes and symbols on the stone mean and what it could possibly have been used for.

7. Super-Henge

QuimiNet.com

If you thought Stonehenge was mysterious, then you will lose your mind over Super-Henge. A massive stone structure located two miles from the iconic Stonehenge, it’s made up of large stone monoliths that were discovered in 2015. No one quite knows the purpose of the structure, although it’s believed to have, at one point, depressed the side of the mountain for redirecting ground water.

6. Underwater Cairn

Via NOJZ.cz

A large stone structure was discovered in 2003 underneath the Sea of Galilee composed of giant monoliths that weigh over 60,000 tons. No one knows what the structure might have been used for, although most cairns in the area were used as burial sites. According to researchers at the Ben-Gurion University, the cairn dates back over 4,000 years and could have been used as a fortified settlement before it was lost to the sea.

5. Holey Jar

Image: The Biblical World

While finding pieces of pottery from ancient times is nothing out of the ordinary, scientists were left scratching their heads when they discovered a jar that was crafted with multiple holes within a storage unit at the Museum of Ontario. Several identical pieces were found and are believed to be dated back to the Romans. Some researchers have suggested the jars were used to house small animals or lanterns, but testing has yet to provide any conclusive details.

4. Mount Owen Moa

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Now, this is a truly frightening discovery. The claw of an ancient wingless bird known as the Moa was discovered intact on Mount Owen, New Zealand, in 1986 by a group of archaeologists. The prehistoric bird was definitely a large predator when it was alive. The claw that was found was surprisingly intact and still had scales and preserved tissue. After analyzing a sample, it was concluded that the claw was over 3,000 years old. What’s even crazier about this discovery is that a Japanese scientist has procured a DNA sample and hopes to recreate it in a chicken embryo. The hope of bringing this bird back from extinction sounds a little too Jurassic Park if you ask us.

3. Terracotta Army

Image: Smithsonian Magazine

The clay statues of the Terracotta Army were discovered in in 1974 by a group of farmers and are sculpted representations of the army of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. According to legend, the sculptures were created to defend the emperor in the afterlife. Recent surveys suggest that there are over 8,000 sculptures within the three pits that the Terracotta Army is located. Mysterious, indeed.

2. Moai Statues

Image: Ten Random Facts

Considered to be one of the more iconic tourist attractions in Polynesia, the Moai statues are monolithic human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people. They were discovered on Easter Island and research suggests they were built between 1250 and 1500 A.D. Only the heads of the statues are visible in some areas, while others are fully excavated. It’s suspected that over 900 statutes were crafted and then moved around the islands, a feat in itself due to their size and weight.

1. Sacsayhuaman

Image: TripAdvisor

Overlooking the city of Cusco in Peru is the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman. Known for its large stone structure that sits at an altitude of 12,000 feet, this ancient citadel was built during the 13th century by the Inca. Many researchers are still baffled at how the Inca could move and position the large boulders that make up the perimeter of the citadel, and it’s still unknown what the entire structure was used for. However, some believe it’s possible that part of the site was used for religious rituals.