The past is a mystery that we can’t help but be curious about. Knowing how our ancestors lived and how civilizations thrived helps us understand our present. It can also be a source of ideas and inspiration. Though archaeologists and scientists work to understand ancient civilizations, they are sometimes confronted with baffling things that are impossible to explain, like the mysterious hidden objects that we talk about below. Though experts, amateurs, and conspiracy theorists have come up with theories, hypotheses, and possible explanations for these objects, there has been no definitive explanation for their existence. So, go ahead and read about some of history’s greatest mysteries.
1. The Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera mechanism is believed to have been designed by Greek scientists and dates back to 205 BC. It was probably recovered from the Antikythera shipwreck near the Antikythera, a Greek island, in July 1901. When it was found it was in a wooden box of 13 in x 7.1 in x 3.5 in dimensions. It is one of the first known analogue computers, as well as an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system) that was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendars and astrology.
The mechanism contains more than 30 meshing bronze gears, which form a complex clockwork. A hand crank, now lost, was used to rotate the largest gear which in turn would rotate all the interlocked gears, resulting in simultaneous calculations of the positions of the Sun, the Moon, moon phases, eclipses and calendar cycles. What’s strange about it is, since the time the knowledge of its technology was lost, such complexity of mechanism hasn’t appeared until the development of astronomical 14 century Europe. Also, though the basic operation is understood, the presence and nature of planet indicators still remains to be understood.(source)
2. The Baghdad Battery
The Baghdad battery is a 6-inch yellow clay pot found in the Baghdad Museum and dates back to the Parthian occupation between 248 BCE and 226 BCE. It consists of a cylinder made of copper sheet attached to the pot’s mouth using a seal of 60%-40% lead-tin mixture, which can be compared to today’s cement. A folded copper disk is attached to the bottom of the cylinder using bitumen, and at the top an iron rod is suspended into the cylinder using more bitumen.
On some Baghdad batteries found there has been evidence of corrosion on the iron rod due to an acidic agent, indicating that the apparatus was indeed a battery. Scientists were able to make a replica using crushed wine grapes as electrolyte, and the result generated 0.87 V. Though some believed that they were built to be used for electroplating, the theory was dismissed as the voltage would have been too weak for such a purpose. Some others believe that it could have been built for medicinal purposes, such as pain relief.(source)
3. Band of Holes
Also known as Monte Sierpe (Spanish for Serpent Mountain) or Cerro Viruela (Smallpox Hill), the Band of Holes are a series of 5,000 to 6,000 stone-lined holes. They stretch a distance of 1.5 km and a width that ranges between 14 to 21 meters, and are located in Pisco Valley on the Nazca Plateau, Peru. Some archaeologists hypothesized that these were graves, defensive positions, or storage sites built during the Inca Empire (1438-1533). Another recent hypothesis suggests that they could be a means to measure produce given to the Inca state as a tribute.(source)
4. The Stone Spheres of Costa Rica
Also known as Las Bolas (The Balls) or Diquis Spheres, as they are commonly attributed to Diquis culture, the stone spheres of Costa Rica are a collection of over 3,000 petrospheres. The diameter of these spheres ranges from a few centimeters to over 2 meters while the weight can be up to 15 tons. It is believed that they were created around the year 600, and many more after the year 1000, but all of the Spheres were said to be created before the Spanish conquest in 1519. Though the purpose for the balls is not known, there are several myths surrounding them. Some believe that they are from Atlantis. According to the cosmogony of the Bribri, they are the cannon balls of Tara (or Tlatchque), the god of thunder. There are also claims that they are perfect spheres, but it is impossible to prove or disprove as the spheres have eroded over the years.(source)
5. Quimbaya Artifacts
The Quimbaya artifacts are a set of over 100 gold figurines, made by the Quimbaya civilization, dating between 300 and 1000 AD. These figurines were found in Colombia and measure between 2 and 3 inches in length. While archaeologists say that these are all zoomorphic, representing birds, fish, bats, insects and mammals, astronaut theorists say that they represent ancient flying machines, as quite a lot of them do not resemble any known animals. They are thought to have complete aerodynamic features, with stabilizers and fuselage. In 1994, two Germans created and flew large-sized simplified radio-controlled models of the figurines, though lacking many of their more complex features.(1, 2)
6. The Margate Shell Grotto
Located in Margate, Kent, the Shell Grotto is an ornate subterranean passageway covered with mosaics of 190 square meters made entirely of 4.6 million seashells. Though the purpose of the structure is unknown, it is hypothesized that it was constructed almost 3,000 years ago. It was first discovered in 1835. On May 22, 1838, it was opened as a public attraction.
The passage was originally built with colored seashells, but the shells were blackened by gas lights and dirt over decades. In 1932, the new owner of the Grotto replaced the gas lights with electric lights. Though cleaning trials were conducted, the shells had already lost their color and are now white. Since its discovery in 1835, the Grotto has remained in private ownership.(source)
7. Aiud Object
The Aiud object was found by construction workers in 1974 in the Mures River near a town called Aiud, Central Romania. The object is dated as being from 250,000 years B.P. (Before Present) to 400 years B.P. and is composed of 12 different metals, 89% of which is aluminium – which humans hadn’t learned to process until 1825. Its discovery with confirmed mastodon fossils, an extremely ancient aquatic creature, was what gave rise to claims of extreme antiquity and theories that suggest it was left on Earth by aliens. Others say that it is similar to a part of digging equipment, and could be a row such as those that form the digging edge of a steam shovel or backhoe. Though such parts are usually made out of carbon steel, aluminium is used instead when digging in places with volatile compounds, meaning there is a possibility that the object could be erroneously dated.(source)
8. Ubaid Lizardmen
The Ubaid figurines were discovered in Tell Al’Ubaid, southern Iraq, an archaeological site where many pre-Sumerian 7,000-year-old artifacts were found. The figurines are strange lizard-like humanoid figures, both male and female, standing in different postures with almond-shaped eyes, wearing helmets and/or shoulder pads, and some holding staves. Some of the female statuettes hold babies that are also have reptilian features. Archaeologists believe that these figurines do not suggest anything ritualistic and probably do not represent any gods. There are theories from alien enthusiasts that they are perhaps made in the likeness of a different race of people that once roamed the Earth, but the true purpose or meaning remains a mystery.(1,2)