10 ancient mysteries researchers still can’t explain
Stonehenge and Easter Island are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unsolved mysteries.
By Marissa Laliberte
From the first ‘computer’ to ancient manuscripts, fields of jars and centuries-old landscape carvings, these are the real-world mysteries the experts are still scratching their heads over.
1. Antikythera mechanism
The 2,000-year-old Antikythera mechanism found in an ancient Greek shipwreck has been dubbed the “first computer,” using a wind-up dial system to track celestial time of the Sun, Moon, and five planets, along with a calendar, the phase of the Moon, and the timing of eclipses.
It was more sophisticated than any other tool that would be invented for the next 1,000 years, which sparked theories that it must have come from aliens.
While most researchers don’t stand behind that theory, they still aren’t sure how the Greeks managed to create a tool so much more advanced than anything we’ve seen of that era.
The Voynich Manuscript was written in Central Europe 600 years ago, but scholars still have no idea what the pages say or even what language it is, as it’s the only known example containing its looped alphabet.
Researchers put forward new translations every year, but none have stuck so far.
Recently, artificial intelligence suggested the words are Hebrew written in code (as previous experts have also proposed), but that study was only able to match 80 percent of the words to Hebrew, and even then produced incoherent sentences.
The Voynich Manuscript has been been carbon dated back to the 1400s and includes illustrations of plants that don’t resemble any known species. Read more about it and check out these equally freaky unsolved mysteries.
3. Plain of Jars
Amid mountains in Laos, a field is home to the Plain of Jars.
The massive stone jars – some are almost ten feet tall – are from 2,500 years ago, and no one knows why they’re there.
Nearby human bones suggest the jars might have been used for burial or to house decomposing bodies before being cremated or going to another part of the funeral process.
Meanwhile, locals say the vessels held whiskey for a mythical giant, or rice wine to celebrate giants helping them defeat enemies.
Undetonated U.S. bombs from the Vietnam War are still scattered in the area, so only seven of the 60 Plain of Jars sites are open to the public.
The “Candelabra of the Andes” carved into a Peruvian hill of petrified sand is similar to the Nazca Lines but presents its own mysteries.
The 600-foot long artifact was created around 200 BC, but no one is sure what it represents – though it isn’t a candelabra, as its name would suggest.
Some say it was created as a tribute to the Viracocha, the Incan god of creation, while others believe it represented the hallucinogenic jimsonweed and would draw in those who were taking it.
About 2,700 years ago, the Egyptian port city Thonis-Heracleion served as the gateway to the Mediterranean, but the urban center was lost in time for thousands of years.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that a group of divers stumbled upon some ancient artifacts.
Eventually, they found out an entire city was buried underwater by the Egyptian coast, complete with bridges, 16-foot statues, animal sarcophagi, and other ancient marvels.
Archaeologists can’t be sure how an entire city ended up in the Mediterranean Sea, but they believe that toward the end of the first century BC, a combination of tsunami, earthquake, and rising sea levels caused the soil to liquefy enough to sink fully before AD 800.
8. Linear A
Two distinct but similar writing styles – Linear A and B – have been found on ancient Minoan relics, but researchers are still scratching their heads over the former.
Greek-based Linear B was cracked in 1952 and represents syllables rather than letters.
Still, that knowledge hasn’t opened the door to deciphering Linear A, which was used between 1800 and 1450 BC.