25 Mysterious Archaeological Artifacts and Their Origins

Posted by , Updated on March 25, 2024

An archaeological artifact is any object made, used, or modified by humans in the past and preserved through the present day. Archaeological artifacts can include many buildings or objects, such as tools, weapons, jewelry, pottery, and other things made of stone, metal, wood, bone, or other materials.

These buildings and objects are important to archaeologists because they help to provide information about the cultures, societies, and technologies of the people who made or used them. Artifacts can be found at various sites, including ancient ruins, burial sites, and other locations where people lived or worked in the past.

Here are 25 Mysterious Archaeological Artifacts and Their Origins


The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon

The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.

These are ancient pyramids located in the western section of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, present-day San Martín de las Pirámides in Mexico. They are thought to have been built before 200 AD and are some of the most immense pyramids in the world.


The Mohenjo-Daro Great Bath

The Mohenjo

This is an ancient public bath located in Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan. It is thought to date back to the 3rd millennium BC and is one of the world’s oldest examples of public sanitation.


The Temple of the Feathered Serpent

The Temple of the Feathered Serpent

This is a pyramid located in the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico. It is thought to have been built around 200 AD and is named after the feathered serpent deity depicted on its walls.


The Baalbek Temples

The Baalbek Temples.

These are ancient temples located in the city of Baalbek in Lebanon. They were built by the Romans in the 1st century AD and are known for their massive size and ornate decoration.

In Roman times the city of Baalbek was known by its Greek name Heliopolis, which means “Sun City.”


The Petra Treasury

The Petra Treasury.

This is a large temple in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Known in Arabic as Khazneh, which means “The Treasure,” it was carved out of sandstone cliffs in the 1st century AD and is considered one of the most impressive examples of ancient architecture in the world.




This is a pre-Columbian archaeological site located in Cusco, Peru. It is an important site in the history of the Inca Empire, and it is known for its massive stone walls and structures.

The site consists of a series of terraces and walls made of massive stones carefully carved and fitted together without using mortar. The rocks, which weigh up to 350 tons, were brought to the site from a quarry located several kilometers away, and they were placed with such precision that it is difficult to fit a sheet of paper between them.

Sacsayhuaman is believed to have been used as a military fortress and a ceremonial center by the Incas. It is thought to have been built in the 15th century and was an important part of the Inca capital of Cusco. The site is now a significant tourist attraction in Peru and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Stone spheres in Costa Rica

Stone spheres in Costa Rica.

Also known as the “mysterious stone balls,” the stone spheres are a group of more than 300 stone spheres discovered in the Diquis Delta of Costa Rica. They range in size from a few centimeters to over two meters in diameter, and many of them are intricately carved with geometric patterns. The stones are made of granodiorite, a complex, igneous rock that is difficult to work with.

The stone spheres were created by the ancient indigenous people of Costa Rica, who lived in the region between 500 BCE and 1500 CE. The purpose of the stones has yet to be discovered with certainty. Still, they are thought to have been used for various purposes, including as ceremonial objects, markers for burial sites, and possibly even for astronomical observatories.


The Sanxingdui Bronzes

The Sanxingdui Bronzes.

These are a collection of ancient Chinese bronze sculptures and artifacts that were discovered in the city of Sanxingdui in 1986. They are thought to date back to the 12th or 11th century BC and are significant because they are from a culture that needs to be better understood by historians.

The Sanxingdui bronzes can be seen in the Sanxingdui Museum near Guanghan in southwest China.


The Pyramids of Meroë

The Pyramids of Meroë.

These ancient pyramids in Sudan are part of a group of pyramids collectively known as the Nubian pyramids. The Pyramids of Meroë were built by the Kingdom of Kush between the 8th century BC and the 4th century AD and are considered some of the most essential pyramids in Africa.


The Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo

This is an ancient Greek statue of the goddess Venus (Aphrodite in Greek mythology). It dates to the Hellenistic period, between 150 and 125 BCE.

The Venus de Milo was discovered on the island of Milos in Greece in 1820 and is now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris.


The Mochica Mummies

Moche Portrait Ceramic

These are mummies found in the Mochica or Moche culture of ancient Peru. The Mochica people practiced mummification and buried their deceased in elaborate tombs with grave goods.


The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth that bears the image of a man who appears to have been crucified. 

It is believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ, and as such, it is one of the world’s most studied and controversial religious relics. The veil is currently housed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

The shroud is about 4.4 meters long and 1.1 meters wide, and it bears the faint image of a man with wounds consistent with those suffered by a person who had been crucified. The image appears to be negative, with the lightest parts of the cloth corresponding to the darkest parts of the body and vice versa. The shroud also bears stains that are thought to be blood, as well as pollen and other trace elements that are consistent with the region of Jerusalem.

The shroud’s authenticity has been the subject of much debate and studies. Some believe it is a genuine relic from the time of Christ, while others believe it is a medieval forgery. Scientists have used various techniques, including radiocarbon dating and microscopic analysis, to study the shroud, but these studies’ results have not been conclusive. Despite the lack of definitive evidence, the veil continues to be a source of fascination and mystery for millions worldwide.


The Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism

This ancient Greek mechanism, which dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BCE, is considered one of the oldest known analog computers. It is believed to have been used to calculate astronomical positions and eclipses.


King Tutankhamun's tomb

King Tutankhamun's tomb

King Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled from 1332-1323 BCE. His tomb, located in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, was discovered in 1922 by the British archaeologist Howard Carter.

The tomb of King Tut is known for its well-preserved state and the wealth of artifacts that were found inside. The burial chamber contains a series of rooms filled with objects, including a solid gold coffin, jewelry, furniture, and other items that were placed there to accompany the pharaoh in the afterlife. In addition, the tomb’s walls are adorned with intricate paintings and carvings depicting various scenes from ancient Egyptian mythology.

The discovery of King Tut’s tomb was a significant event in the field of archaeology, and it remains one of the world’s most famous and well-known tombs. It is now open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction in Egypt.


The Longyou Caves.

The Longyou Caves

These ancient artificial caves, found in China, are thought to date back to the 3rd century BCE. The caves, also known as the Xiaonanhai Stone Chambers, which were dug out of solid rock, are thought to have been used for storage or as underground dwellings, but the exact purpose and method of their construction remain a mystery.


The Copper Scroll

The Copper Scroll.

The Copper Scroll is a document that was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1952. It is written in Hebrew on a sheet of copper and contains a list of 64 locations where gold, silver, and other precious objects are said to be hidden. The locations are described in great detail, and the list includes the amount of treasure at each site and the types of objects that are hidden there.

The Copper Scroll is thought to date back to the 1st century CE and is one of the most unusual and enigmatic artifacts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is unclear who wrote the scroll or why; the locations listed on it have yet to be found. Some theories suggest that the scroll may have been written by Jewish rebels hiding their treasure in the event of a Roman invasion, while others believe that it may be a ritual text or a set of clues for a treasure hunt.

Despite many attempts to decipher the Copper Scroll and locate the hidden treasure, it remains one of the ancient world’s most mysterious and fascinating artifacts.


The Crystal Skulls

The Crystal Skull

These intricate crystal skulls, some of which are claimed to be ancient Aztec artifacts, have been the subject of much fascination and speculation. While some believe they have magical or healing properties, the true origins of these skulls are still unclear.

Some studies have shown that crystal skulls were manufactured in Germany in the 19th century or later.


The Voynich Manuscript.

The Voynich Manuscript.

This mysterious book, written in an unknown language or code, has baffled researchers and cryptologists for centuries. It is believed to date back to the 15th century and contains illustrations of strange plants, celestial diagrams, and other unexplained images.


The Stonehenge

The Stonehenge

This ancient monument in Wiltshire, England, consists of a circular arrangement of large standing stones. It was built between 3000 BCE and 2000 BCE and is thought to have been used for astronomical observations, as a burial ground, and for religious rituals.


The Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza

These ancient Egyptian pyramids, which date back to the 26th century BCE, are thought to have been built as tombs for the Pharaohs and their queens. The largest of the pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Giza, is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.


The Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army

This collection of thousands of terracotta statues, found near the city of Xi’an in China, depicts the armies of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. The statues were created around 210 BCE to protect the emperor in the afterlife.


The Easter Island Heads

The Easter Island Heads.

Also known as Moai, these massive stones depict human figures with elongated heads. These are giant stone statues on Easter Island, a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. The Moai or Mo’ai were carved by the Rapa Nui people between the 13th and 16th centuries and are believed to represent essential ancestors or leaders.


The Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines

These giant geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert of Peru were created by the ancient Nazca civilization between 500 BCE and 500 CE. The lines depict various animals, plants, and geometric shapes and are thought to have been used for religious or ceremonial purposes.


The Gobekli Tepe.

Archaeological Artifacts

Göbekli Tepe is located in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, dating back to the 11th-10th millennium BCE. It is considered one of the world’s oldest and most important archaeological sites. It has been called “the first temple” because of the elaborate and sophisticated structures found there.

The site consists of circular and oval-shaped structures made of stone, some of which are decorated with carved stone pillars and reliefs. The designs are thought to have been used for ceremonies and rituals, and the site has been interpreted as a place of great significance for the people who built and used it.

The discovery of Göbekli Tepe has revolutionized our understanding of the development of human societies, as it suggests that the construction of elaborate religious structures predates the development of agriculture and the rise of the first civilizations. The site has also shed light on the beliefs and practices of the ancient societies that built it, and it continues to be the subject of ongoing research and study.


Photo: 1. Teomancimit, The Gobekli Tepe., CC BY 3.0, 2. Diego Delso, The Nazca Lines, CC BY-SA 4.0, 3. By Ian Sewell , The Easter Island Heads., CC BY-SA 3.0, 4. By Jmhullot , The Terracotta Army, CC BY 3.0, 5. Nina, The Pyramids of Giza, CC BY 3.0, 6. garethwiscombe, The Stonehenge, CC BY 2.0, 7. Hans Hillewaert, The Rosetta Stone, CC BY-SA 4.0, 8. Wikipedia, The Voynich Manuscript. (Public Domain), 9. Klaus-Dieter Keller, The Crystal Skulls (Public Domain), 10. Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin, The Copper Scroll, CC BY-SA 4.0, 11. Zhangzhugang, The Longyou Caves, CC BY-SA 4.0, 12. EditorfromMars, King Tutankhamun's tomb, CC BY-SA 4.0, 13. , The Antikythera Mechanism, CC BY-SA 3.0, 14. Dianelos Georgoudis, The Shroud of Turin, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. Patrick Charpiat, The Mochica Mummies, CC BY 3.0, 16. Livioandronico2013, The Venus de Milo, CC BY-SA 4.0, 17. Wufei07, The Pyramids of Meroë. (Public Domain), 18. Gary Todd, The Sanxingdui Bronzes. (Public Domain), 19. Axxis10, Stone spheres in Costa Rica., CC BY-SA 3.0, 20. Diego Delso, Sacsayhuaman., CC BY 4.0, 21. Sylvain L, The Petra Treasury., CC BY 2.0, 22. Véronique Dauge, The Baalbek Temples., CC BY-SA 3.0, 23. Diego Delso, The Temple of the Feathered Serpent, CC BY-SA 3.0, 24. Saqib Qayyum - WikiMedia, The Mohenjo-Daro Great Bath, CC BY-SA 3.0, 25. Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon., CC BY-SA 4.0