We like to think that we as a human race have advanced enough to pretty much have a handle on the world around us. We believe we can explain pretty much anything that this big blue world can throw at us. But every now and then, actually more often than most would care to admit, the universe throws us a curve ball. An event or occurrence that goes against everything we’ve learned through science and history. Mysteries such as these have persisted for millennia and some have passed into the realm of legend, others are newer and might not be as well-known. All of them have just enough credibility and evidence that they just won’t go away. Daring scientists and researchers, historians and amateur investigators continue to push the envelope in trying to uncover the reality of these mysteries, even though mainstream science just wishes everyone would quietly forget about these enigmas.
An honest scientist would readily agree that we have only scratched the surface on how this great big universe operates around us. Are the answers to these mysteries even something we can understand? Some say we are a race with amnesia. That in our distant past, our ancestors understood the world around us far better than we do today. History might have lost some of the answers we seek, leaving us to work to find them again. In the past, we’ve looked at some of the more disturbing unexplained mysteries, but now join me as we look into the more puzzling mysteries that persisted throughout history. Some are ancient, some are newer; all present an uncanny anomaly in the narrative of the world.
15. The Aramu Muru Gateway
Thirty-five kilometers from the city of Puno, in Peru, lies the Hayu Marca mountain region. Though there is no actual city present, the area has long been venerated as Aramu Muru, “City of the Gods,” by the local natives. Due to the rugged terrain, the area has never been fully explored. There might not be an actual city, but the rocky formations of the area due resemble stony buildings, and in fact there exists one particular structure that is called the “Puerta de Hayu Marca,” the “Gate of the Gods.” This large mysterious door-like structure was carved out of the natural rock at some point in the distant past, no one exactly knows when. This rocky gateway measures exactly seven meters in height by seven meters in width, with a smaller alcove in the center, at about two meters in height.
Those who have visited the area report feeling a surging energy flowing through them when they place their hands on the small door of the alcove. Some say they experience visions of fire and stars, and sometimes odd rhythmic music. Others receive visions of the interior of the rock formation, seeing tunnels. Nobody has ever uncovered any gaps in the rock that would indicate there is an actual doorway, as the whole structure appears to have been carved out of the same rocky wall. Nevertheless, archaeologists are intrigued because the structure bears an uncanny resemblance to a similar gateway located at Tiahuanaco and five other archaeological sites that are all connected by imaginary straight lines forming a cross with Lake Titicaca at its center. What are these gateways? Why do they all resemble each other? In the past, were they really portals as the locals believe? We may never know.
14. Baigong Pipes Mystery
The Baigong Pipes are a string of pipe-like formations found on Mount Baigong, outside the city of Delingha, in the Qinghai Province, China. They appear to be a series of manufactured metal pipes protruding from ancient rock caves. Locals of the nearby city have known of the pipes for centuries. They believe an alien civilization visited the region and built them. Most are skeptical, to say the least, however, there is a sixty-meter pyramid structure near the mountain’s summit that has yet to be explained either.
Portions of the pipes were subjected to testing at a Chinese smelting plant and discovered they are composed of mainly iron, but contain 30% silicon dioxide, which is strange. They also showed to be centuries old. Dozens of these pipes have also been discovered protruding from the mountain high above the original caves. Did some ancient Mongols with a knack for metallurgy and a system of drilling build these? Why? There is no record of modern industry in the area, nor is there really even any now. Having only been discovered in 2002, an in-depth study has yet to be undertaken, although nine Chinese scientists reportedly have begun to undertake such an analysis.
13. What Did Genghis Khan Look Like?
Born Temüjin, he ruled the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world. We know him better as Genghis Khan, founder and ruler of the Mongol Empire. He ruled between 1206 and 1227, conquering 12 million square miles of territory, cutting a bloody path through Asia and Europe, leaving up to 40 million dead in his wake. However, he also modernized Mongolian culture, established an early form of postal service, and embraced religious freedom. For someone who had such an impact on history, we actually know very little about his life. We don’t even know how he died or where he is buried. Most accounts say he died in 1227, but not how. Some say he perished when he fell from a horse, others say it was malaria, an arrow wound, or that he was murdered when he tried to force himself upon a Chinese princess. More importantly, we don’t even know much about his physical appearance. Not one contemporary portrait or sculpture survived the period, if there ever were any.
What little we do know about him comes from unreliable and contradictory stories. Many tales describe him as tall, strong, and ethnically Mongolian, with a long, bushy beard. One account, by 14th century Persian historian Rashid al-Din, claims he had green eyes and long, flowing red hair. This is not unheard of in the ethnically-diverse Mongols, but al-Din never met Khan and had no basis for his claim. One thing we do know is that as he spread across the known world, he procreated; therefore, genetically speaking, approximately every one in 200 men in the world is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. So, some may say that it’s plausible that we all look a little like Khan even if we don’t know what he looked like.
12. The Fate of Boudicca
Never heard of Boudicca? She’s an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom. History remembers her as a giant warrior queen who led an uprising against the Roman Empire. Boudicca was queen of the British Celtic Icenis. She was married to Prasutagus, ruler of the Icenis in East Anglia. When the Romans conquered southern England in 43 AD, Prasutagus was allowed to remain as ruler. However, after he died, Rome decided to rule the land directly, disregarding the authority of the queen, Boudicca. To demonstrate to the people that Boudicca no longer held any power, they stripped and flogged her in public, then raped her daughters.
Around 60 or 61 AD, Boudicca led a rebellion where she successfully defeated the Roman Ninth Legion, destroyed the capital of Roman Britain, and sacked London, killing as many as 70,000. This much we know, not from British accounts, but from Roman stories. Where the stories differ is how and when she died, or where she is buried. Tales of her demise have been told, retold, and dramaticized so much in Roman accounts that no one is quite sure what really happened. The tale of Tacitus depicts an immense battle the resulted in a terrible defeat for Boudicca, leading her to commit suicide by ingesting poison. The Greek writer Dio Cassius says she died from illness and was given a lavish burial under Kings Cross Station. But this is highly unlikely from what we know of the burial customs of Iron Age Britons. We don’t even know where her final battle took place. For someone who help shape the destiny of the United Kingdom, her fate has been lost to history.
11. The Madonna with Saint Giovannino Painting
It’s a famous painting: The Madonna with Saint Giovannino. It was painted in the 15th century by Domenico Ghirlandaio and is currently part of the Loeser collection in the Palazzo Vecchio, in Venice. If you look closely at it, you’ll notice that above Mary’s right shoulder is an odd, disk-shaped object, with rays emanating from it, possibly to indicate a glow. Below the object, you can see a man and his dog gazing up at the object. The man is apparently shielding his eyes from the brightness of the object. What is this scene depicting? Is Mary shielding the baby Jesus and Saint John from the object? What is the object?
Many claim this is an early depiction of an extraterrestrial craft. This painting has been at the center of a debate for decades about strange flying objects being depicted in Biblical paintings. As there were no manmade flying objects in the sky during the 1500s, why would the painting depict something so obvious? Skeptics claim it is just a symbolic representation of an angel or other divine manifestation. Ancient alien theorists argue why the painter wouldn’t just paint an angel instead of a glowing disk-shaped object. I admit the argument does make some sense. They’ve been pondering this mystery for years and more than likely will continue to do so for many more years to come.
10. Who Was Fulcanelli?
Fulcanelli was the pseudonym of a late 19th century French alchemist and author whose real identity is unknown. Alchemy is itself a strange area of study. Many who followed the practice purport abilities to manipulate the laws of chemistry and physics, bending them to construct fantastic and impossible creations (like turning lead into gold). Most of Fulcanelli’s works were published in the early 20th century. He was believed to be born around 1839, and was able to write in numerous languages, such as French, Latin, and Greek. Only about three men have ever claimed to have actually met Fulcanelli, former students Eugene Canseliet, Gaston Sauvage, and Jean-Julien Huber Champagne, who was the illustrator for Fulcanelli’s books. In 1926, Fulcanelli reportedly disappeared.
His life and exploits have become something of a cultural phenomenon. In the early days of World War II, accounts say that German intelligence was actively pursuing Fulcanelli for his knowledge. Former student, Eugene Canseliet claimed he was summoned to a final meeting with his former teacher in 1953, in Spain, at a castle high in the mountains. He reported that for a man who should have been 114 years old, Fulcanelli looked no older than a man in his 50s. He says their reunion was brief and then he disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again. There are many theories as to Fulcanelli’s identity. Some say he was actually Canseliet all along; after all he was responsible for overseeing the publishing of Fulcanelli’s works. There is very little to go on. If you believe his students, Fulcanelli possessed uncanny abilities and could very well be alive today. Or, he might have just been a reclusive visionary scientist who died long ago.
9. The Lost Continents of Mu and Lemuria
Many people have heard of Mu and Lemuria. These supposed lost continents were first hypothesized in the 19th century. Some believe they were two separate continents, some say they are one and the same. Possibly, some believe, that the story of Mu is just a misinterpretation of the stories of Lemuria. Regardless, these lands are said to have been destroyed and sunk into the depths of the ocean. Some say Lemuria was in the Pacific, others the Atlantic, still others say the Indian Ocean. The original premise is that it was located in the Indian Ocean. The whole basis for the theory is based on a failure to reconcile the finding of lemur fossils on Madagascar and also in India, but not along the rational route a land-based primate would’ve taken between the two areas, assuming Madagascar was originally part of Africa.
A man named Philip Sclater postulated that the two land masses were once connected by another continent. The theory gained traction and some still believe it today. Mainstream science believes this not to be true. Many claim that plate tectonics could explain the problem and that no land bridge explanation is needed. The Earth’s plates moved the continents to and from each other, giving reason why similar land animals were found in areas separated by a body of water. We know that islands been lost to the ocean, continents broken apart, land shifted due volcanic activity and earthquakes. Scientists dismiss the claim saying that with modern techniques we should be able to find some evidence of a former land mass, especially if it was a continent. Nevertheless, some still holdout belief that Lemuria, or Mu, or both did exist at one time and will be discovered eventually.
8. The Black Stone of Kaaba
Islam faith dictates that every day, five times a day, Muslims from around the world must turn toward Mecca and pray. When they do this, they are not really facing Mecca; they are actually facing the building in Mecca known as the Ka’aba, or Kaaba, also known as “The House of Allah.” It lies in the center of the Al-Haram Mosque, where millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to visit every year. It is a stone building that many believe dates back to 2030 BCE. On a corner of this building, there lays a cornerstone called the Black Stone of the Kaaba. It is a very mysterious object. Some say it dates back to the time of Adam and Eve. Islam forbids idolatry, so the Black Stone is not revered by them. However, it is still an important part of their faith.
The story says that when Adam was banished from Paradise, he was filled with sin. A white stone from Heaven was given to Adam to absorb his sin, turning it black. In this way, Adam was allowed entrance into Heaven. Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad kissed the Black Stone, so they too kiss the Black Stone, if possible. The Black Stone is described as being about half a meter in length, broken into about seven pieces, all held together by a silver frame. The surface is deep black. There is some speculation that the color derives actually from all the hands and mouths that have touched it over the centuries. Taking a sample of the rock would be highly disrespectful; therefore there has never been any testing. The most popular theory is that stone is a meteorite, possibly found by pagans. Aside from what Islam tells us, we actually have no idea what it actually is.
7. The Mysterious Land of Punt
You got to hand it to the ancient Egyptians. They documented everything! Paintings and writings show detailed accounts of just about every part of their lives in the early period. We know quite a bit about their religion, rulers, wars, and even with whom and what they traded. Archaeologists have uncovered information that claims the land of Punt was a great resource of riches, slaves, exotic spices, and wild animals for the people of ancient Egypt. Descriptions that were found call Punt a peaceful and thriving society that had a variety of highly-valued goods with which to trade. The only problem is that we have no idea where Punt was. It’s not from a lack of trying. No other ancient civilization makes any reference to Punt, which is odd, and could imply that the land of Punt only dealt with Egypt. That isn’t very likely. Perhaps, other civilizations called Punt by another name?
Most of our evidence comes from a temple of Pharoah Hatshepsut, who ruled for about 20 year circa 1465 BCE. There is a large relief of a trading mission to Punt on the walls of the temple. We’ve even learned the names of the rulers of Punt during Hatshepsut’s reign: King Parahu and Queen Ati. According to some surviving art, the men of Punt didn’t look like ancient Egyptians. They had long hair and little facial hair. They lived in round houses built on stilts. There are theories that it existed around the Red Sea, others say it was south of Egypt, in Africa. No remains have ever been found by archaeologists of a civilization similar to that of Punt. Perhaps it still lies beneath the sands waiting to be discovered.
6. Who Were The Three Wise Men?
It’s a tale many of us have heard: “The Three Wise Men,” or “The Three Kings,” or simply the “Magi.” It’s in our Christmas stories and mentioned in the gospel of Matthew, in the Bible. There are many theories but very little facts. The book of Matthew tells us that the Magi came from the east and journeyed to Jerusalem, meeting with King Herod. It fails to mention from where they came from other than it being east of Israel. They tell Herod that had seen a star in the sky that foretold the birth of the King of the Jews, and that they wanted to see this new king. They then continued their journey, finding Jesus and Mary (they never really mention where, or if Joseph was present). The Magi present Jesus with three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The men then return to their native lands. That’s it.
What else do we know? Well, it’s not agreed upon that there were only three of them. True, three gifts were given but that doesn’t mean there was one gift per Magi. In some Syriac churches, they believe there were twelve Wise Men. Also, where they kings? Magi are most often equated with the astrologer/priests of Zoroastrianism. By the 6th century, most Western Christian faiths had established the tradition of there being “Three Kings”: Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India. But really there is no historical basis for this claim. What became of the Magi after they left for their homes is also unknown. A 17th century book tells of the Magi becoming martyrs after converting from Zoroastrianism. Marco Polo claimed he saw the tombs of the three Magi in the Persian city of Saba. We may never who they really were.
5. Legend of El Dorado
This is a good one! The legendary lost city of El Dorado, the city of gold! It was believed to exist somewhere in South America. Historians and treasure-seekers have been searching for it since the 1500s. The legend began with Muisca tribe of central Columbia who’ve existed since 800 AD. They referred to El Dorado, “the gilded one,” as their tribal chief. Ancient texts that mention the name don’t refer to a city of gold at all. Instead, archaeological evidence suggests that initiation ceremonies for new chiefs would have them covered in gold dust and taken to the center of Lake Guatavita on a raft. Once there he would throw precious gems and gold into the lake as an offering to the gods. In 1545, the Spanish tried to drain Lake Guatavita and removed a large amount of gold, but were unable to reach the deepest parts of the lake, leaving untold riches behind. Since the oldest reports of El Dorado were from Columbia, many believe that is the basis for the legend.
Still others describe a legend that grew out Peru. That legend tells of the sack of Cusco, in the Peruvian Andes, and how Francisco Pizarro looted the Incan city of all its gold. The legend goes on to describe how the Incas had many months to prepare for Pizarro’s arrival and hid away much of their treasure, including gold coffins of previous Incan rulers. They were believed to have hidden the treasures away in a network of ancient underground mazes that lay beneath Peru and Ecuador. Pizarro does note that much of what he believed he’d find was not there, despite searching some Incan tunnels. The city of gold remains hidden, if it exists, still waiting to be found.
4. The Lost Island of Hy-Brasil
The lost island of Hy-Brasil is a very intriguing mystery. Also spelled Hy-Brazil, it could be the source of the South American country being named Brazil. The central image on the Brazilian flag, a circle with a channel across the center, is actually the symbol for Hy-Brasil on early maps. The island can be found on maps as far back as 1325, when Genoese cartographer depicted the island west of Ireland. Other maps have it placed southwest of Galway Bay. After 1865, Hy-Brasil began to appear on fewer maps. Nevertheless, the island’s history remained consistent. It was reportedly home to a wealthy and advanced civilization. Those who claimed to have visited the island reported gold-roofed domes, towers, plenty of cattle, and an affluent population.
The most famous visit was reported in 1674, by Captain John Nisbet of Donegal, Ireland. They were off the coast when a fog arose. As it lifted, the ship was upon the rocks. They anchored and a few went ashore, spending the day on the island, returning with gifts of gold and silver given by a kind, old man who passed the time with them. Upon their return to Ireland, a second ship set out for the island, under the command of Alexander Johnson. He too reported meeting the welcoming inhabitants of the island, confirming Nisbets account. The last documented sighting was in 1872, when author T.J. Westropp and companions caught glimpse of the island before watching it vanish from sight. Archaeologists have searched for Hy-Brasil off the west coast of Ireland, and there is some evidence of islands once existing there, as well as a land mass change in that part of the Atlantic Ocean. Only time will tell what else we may find.
3. The Story of Lerina García
This mystery is a bit newer, but nonetheless mysterious. It involves the strange true story of Lerina García, a well-educated woman of 41 years. In July 2008, she woke up on what appeared to another ordinary day. However, as she went about her daily routine, she began to notice small details that seemed to be odd. For example, her bed sheets and pajamas were different from what she remembered from the previous night. She disregarded it and continued on her way to work, where she had been employed for 20 years. When she arrived at her building, she took the elevator to her floor and went to her department, but found that her department wasn’t located there. She definitely grew concerned and returned home feeling something just wasn’t right. When she arrived home, she found a man there that she had separated from six months prior. He acted as if the separation had never occurred. Her new boyfriend, whom she had been seeing for four months, was nowhere to be found.
Garcia hired a private detective to locate her new boyfriend, hoping he could explain what was going on. The detective was unable to find any trace of the man, nor any trace of his family. She was left with the reality that either she had suffered some neurological episode or she woke up in some parallel universe. Doctors are at a loss in finding a medical explanation. Even today, she reports that she is still stuck here and has never been able to return to the life she knew before. She remains known as the woman from another dimension.
2. The Unexplained Pteranodon Photo
For over 200 years, there have been sightings in the United States of gigantic birds soaring through the air. The creatures have been given the name Thunderbirds, taken from Native American lore. One of the more recent, terrifying encounters occurred on July 25, 1977, when a group of three boys in Lawndale, Illinois, reported that two giant birds pursued them and one grabbed 10-year old Marlon Lowe. The bird purportedly clamped down on his shoulder with its claws, lifting him off the ground two feet, and then carrying him a short distance before dropping him. Some sightings report that the birds have lizard-like features, similar to extinct pterosaurs. A particular kind of pterosaur, the pteranodon was one of the largest known flying reptiles. They had a wingspan of over 6 meters (20 feet) and lived in North America, in present-day Kansas, Alabama, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
In the 1950s, an extraordinary photograph was published in a curiosity book in the U.S. The photo shows a group of American Civil War soldiers standing around a massive bird carcass. The carcass looks remarkably like a pteranodon. According to the accompanying story, the creature was shot down by the soldiers during the Civil War in 1864, near the city of Vicksburg. The publications reportedly referred to the creature as “some kind of unknown bird or monster.” Later, a second photograph appeared, which can be found online, that depicts the same scene, but is an obvious fake. Not as convincing, that photo was found to have been created for use on a television program. All the same, the emergence of the second photo began to discredit the original until the whole story faded away. Today, Thunderbird sightings continue to be reported and are one of the more popular cryptids in North America.
1. Luther McCarty’s Ten Seconds of Light
Luther McCarty stood an impressive 6’4”, with a strong left jab and an 80” reach. He made his professional boxing debut in 1911, at the age of 18. Over the next few years, he emerged as a championship contender. On January 1, 1913, McCarty defeated Al Palzer for the White World Heavyweight Championship. Then, on May 24, 1913, McCarty had a title defense against Arthur Pelkey. As the bout was ready to begin, a local minister came up into the ring and made an announcement. The minister said, “I know you men are going to help us buy a bell for our church. Your silver tokens will buy a memento for God’s house and it will be a credit to you on the Great Ledger. Everyone must have credit in his Ledger, for who knows whom the Great Referee will call home at any moment?”
The match began and shortly into the first round, a light punch landed just above McCarty’s heart and he collapsed. The referee began to count him out and then realized that something was wrong. He called for medical personnel. After a few minutes, McCarty was declared dead. The coroner determined the cause of death was a result of an accident suffered prior to the fight. During the referee’s count, an ethereal shaft of light illuminated McCarty’s body. As the count began, the light shined down upon him and ended once the ten-count was reached. The light only lit up the fallen boxer and many of those in attendance were shocked. There is only one known photo of the phenomenon and it has been debated ever since. The entire audience witnessed it and there has never been an explanation for the ten seconds of light that illuminated one young man’s exit from this Earth.