Despite all the things we’ve learned about ancient history, there’s still many unexplained archaeological discoveries. Most discoveries give us a window into the past. However, there are some discoveries that defy popular knowledge about ancient civilizations and their capabilities. Like, how was Stonehenge built? What are the Nazca lines for? What’s the deal with the devil’s bible? But, just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean we can’t try and learn from it. Eventually, we’ll figure it out. In the meantime, it’s fun to enjoy the mystery of the past. Check out these 25 mysterious archaeological discoveries no one can explain.
Gobekli Tepe is a massive archaeological find in Turkey dating back to 11,000 years ago, 6,000 years before Stonehenge. The site features many pillars with carvings etched into the stone of animals and other creatures. Originally, the site was dismissed as a medieval cemetery but later archaeologists discovered it was much more. The leading theory claims it was an ancient temple.
Mystery Hill: America's Stonehenge
Discovered in Salem, New Hampshire, America’s Stonehenge is best described as stone structures and caves. Its origins are surrounded in archaeological controversy. Originally owned by the Pattees family, the site was ignored until it was purchased by William Goodwin in 1937. Since then, theories abounded about the origins of the site. Goodwin proposed it was the result of Irish monks fleeing the Vikings. But there was no evidence of this. Archaeological researchers carbon dated the site and believe human occupation could go back all the way to 2,000 B.C. But the mystery of who lived there and what it was used for remains unsolved.
Las Bolas ("The Balls")
Locally known as Las Bolas (“The Balls”), these spherical monuments are scattered throughout the Diquis Delta of southern Costa Rica. Dating as far back as A.D. 600, the giant stone spheres are made from gabbro, a rock that comes from molten magma. The purpose for these large stones is unknown but speculations range from astronomical purposes to way-finding.
Treasures and the Disappearance of the Sanxingdui
This archaeological mystery is not so much about the item’s found, but rather the creators of the items. In 1929 and then 1986, treasure troves full of Jade; stone and bronze artifacts; and elephant tusks were found in China’s Sichuan province. Researchers believe that these treasures were made by members of the Sanxingdui civilization. Roughly 3,000 years ago, the Sanxingdui culture lived off the Minjing River but suddenly disappeared and researchers are not sure why. Theories range from war to famine. One of the most recent suggestions by archaeologists is the possibility of an earthquake. It’s possible that this earthquake caused a landslide which damned the Minjin River and forced the Sanxingdui to relocate.
The lines and geoglyphs of Nazca are some of archaeology’s greatest enigmas. Located off the Peruvian coast plain, they were scratched into the ground between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. Because of their nature, size, quantity, and structure, the lines puzzle archaeologists to this day. The leading theory is they had ritualistic astronomical functions.