Our world is rife with mystery; try as we might to understand mysterious phenomena of the past, some artifacts remain utterly outside the realm of scientific categorization. To some, it’s a reminder that our civilization is perhaps not as omniscient as we would like to believe. Others view these unknown objects as examples of supernatural phenomena. While some mysteries may go unsolved until the end of time, most of us would like to believe that most of the ancient artifacts archaeologists uncover once held some major cosmic purpose.
Sometimes, a stone is just a stone, or a crude clay pot is very much what is seems to be — not every discovery needs to be of galactic import. Yet other unearthed ancient objects seem to defy all logic, reason, and challenge our understanding of time and space. Though scientists are often quick to discount Lovecraftian theories of unknown, extraplanar happenings, there’s been a handful of truly mind-boggling stuff uncovered over the years.
Some of these items unseat predisposed notions of ancient tribal migration programs, and others provide evidence which spur major shifts in scientific thought. From the tombs of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs to the etchings of a forgotten Easter Island-based tribe, researchers have made some really intriguing — and potentially troubling — discoveries. The tools required to make some Earth-shattering discovers could actually be in our hands — the only barrier between ourselves and such knowledge could be our inability to understand these ancient oddities.
25 The Stone Spheres of Costa Rica
The Diquis Delta of Costa Rica harbors one of the strangest sets of geological phenomena known to man: nestled in the luxurious green territory lie a set of perfectly round boulders. Researchers are relatively certain that these stones are not the result of natural occurrences, and they’ve essentially concluded that these strange stones must have been chiseled into such shapes by an ancient civilization.
An issue with this theory, however, is that these rocks are so perfectly spherical that such accurate cuts would almost have to be made by machinery.
To this day, no one is quite sure what the purpose of these stone oddities may have been.
24 The Saqqara Bird
The ancient Egyptians are known to have been an ingenuitive set of primitive peoples, but the 1898 discovery of this strange artifact has raised questions as to whether this primitive civilization actually mastered the concept of flight.
The Saqqara Bird is a relatively small wooden carving which seems to represent a bird the species of which scientists can’t identify.
Stranger still is the fact that the object’s long wingspan and blade-like tail may demonstrate that this long-forgotten society may have held a rudimentary understanding of the flight.
23 The Terracotta Army
The hundreds of clay soldiers erected thousands of years ago in China’s Shaanxi province, though perplexing, aren’t all that much of a mystery. Researchers have deciphered that the faux army was created to defend Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. The true mystery, however, lies in the location of Emperor Huang’s final resting place. Though the clay army is well understood, nobody actually knows where Huang's tomb is located, which seems to indicate that there may be more clay soldiers yet to be unearthed.
22 The Dropa Stones
Apparently, a set of artifacts of extraterrestrial origin, the Dropa Stones were said to have been discovered by a Chinese archaeologist in 1937. Chu Pu Tei, the man responsible for unearthing the stones, claimed to have found them in the arms of a set of unnaturally small human skeletons.
A professor in Beijing then claimed to have translated the inscriptions on the stones and determined that the humanoid skeletons were actually aliens.
These claims certainly sound fantastical, and many in the archaeological community have claimed the Dropa Stones to be one of the study’s longest-running gags.
21 The Baghdad Battery
Ancient Middle Eastern civilizations may have been more advanced than anyone could have possibly have known, and the discovery of the so-called “Baghdad Battery,” has caused some to speculate that some centuries old cities actually had access to electrical power. These objects consist of six-inch clay pots containing copper cylinders housing iron rods. While ordinarily uninteresting, when an acidic or alkaline substance is introduced, these pots somehow give off an electric charge. The purpose of these primitive batteries is unknown, though the prevailing theory posits that they were used for precious metal electroplating.
20 The London Hammer
Unearthed in London, Texas in 1924, the London Hammer seems to throw a wrench in our conventional understanding of the use of primitive tools by early man. The object is thought to be somewhere around 100 to 115 million years old, which would mean that the tool originated prior to just about every important occurrence in human history. Some purport that this artifact confirms biblical events, while skeptics posit that the hammer is actually no more than a few hundred years old. This debate likely won’t end until definitive proof comes forward.
19 The Nampa Figurine
In 1889, workers in the small town Nampa in Idaho were searching for a spot to dig a well when they came across a discovery which would divide the scientific community for decades to come. At a depth of around 295 feet, their steam pump began to spit out curious bits of clay, one of which was later discovered to have been carved into the shape of a humanoid. The authenticity of the artifact is difficult to determine, but Professor Albert A. Wright of Oberlin college decreed in 1979 that the dime-sized doll was the real deal.
18 The Piri Reis Map
Discovered in 1929, the Piri Reis map has been traced back to a Turkish Naval Officer of the same name and appears to have been written in 1513. While that wouldn’t have been a necessarily groundbreaking discovery, the map is incredibly detailed for the time period. A major surprise, however, is that fact that Reis’ map includes a very detailed map of an apparently iceless Antarctica. Given that the great southern continent wasn’t thought to have been discovered for another 300 years, this information may yet disprove predisposed notions concerning ancient navigation.
17 The Weld-Blundell Prism
Housed in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the Weld-Blundell Prism is one of a series of ancient Sumerian tablets apparently listing a series of the civilization’s rulers. Once considered to be an accurate account of Sumerian history, closer examination revealed several inconsistencies between the different tablets. Beyond that, some stones omit certain rulers altogether or introduce figures not previously known to have existed at any point in time. These ancient records are now considered to detail aspects of ancient Sumerian mythology rather than provide an accurate account of the society’s politics.
16 The Shroud of Turin
Considered to have been the burial shroud of Christianity’s most important messianic figure, the history of the Shroud of Turin is long and uncertain. Historical references to the shroud date back to 30 A.D., though some believe that the sacking of Constantinople in 1204 A.D. may have lead to the original artifact destruction. Carbon dating conducted on the cloak in the 1980s determined the item to have originated somewhere around 1200 A.D. Those who believe the Shroud of Turin to be genuine argue that this measurement is inaccurate as the segment scientists analyze was merely a small segment sewn on to the cloth during that time.
15 Gobekli Tepe
Humans are considered to have first constructed settlements, farms, and organized places of worship some 10,000 years ago. However, the 1994 discovery of Gobekli Tepe, a ruin located in Turkey, may indicate that these events occurred much, much earlier in human history than previously thought.
Dating back to the 10th millennium B.C., the engraved remnants of Gobekli Tepe seem to indicate that humans first gathered into settlements around 2,000 years before they were previously believed to.
Though the accuracy of the Turkish ruins’ origins are often contended, they stand as reminders that facts we take for granted may be faulty.
14 Lady of Atlantis Bust
This mysterious 21-inch limestone bust has been puzzling researchers for more than a century. Originally discovered off the coast of Spain in 1897, nobody has ever come forward with a definite time frame during which the sculpture may have been created. Some have claimed that it may originate from the 4th century B.C. while others claim that it’s merely an elaborate 19th century replica. It has even been proposed that this mysterious figure is a small relic from the legendary lost city of Atlantis, though those claims aren’t considered to be scientifically viable.
13 The Codex Gigas
The Codex Gigas is an ancient book of such massive size that two people are required to lift it. With pages crafted from over 160 different sorts of animal skins and containing mysterious, potentially otherworldly images, this tome, which dates back to the 13th century A.D., is said to have been written in a single night by a monk with the help of supernatural forces. It contains excerpts of the works of Hippocrates, Cosmas of Prague, Flavius Josephus, as well as many others. Also found within the books disturbing pages are depictions of extraplanar beings and heavenly cities, and the text is estimated to have taken over thirty years to complete.
12 The Rongorongo Glyphs
While the mysterious stone heads of Easter Island are world famous, few people are aware of the location’s other secrets. Discovered in 1864 by a group of Catholic missionaries, the Rongorongo Glyphs are lines of indecipherable text inscribed into a series of wooden carvings. Believed to be a rudimentary form of writing developed by the Rongorongo tribe which had lived on the island centuries ago, these strange artifacts may actually help researchers uncover the mysteries associated with the construction of Easter Island’s famous statues.
11 The Voynich Manuscript
Though the Voynich Manuscript first came to public attention in 1912, researchers still haven’t been able to come to a decision regarding the strange text’s intended purpose.
Written entirely in a strange and unreadable language the likes of which no one has before seen, the Voynich Manuscript, to some, appears to be nothing more than gibberish.
Included within the tome’s pages are sketches and apparent descriptions of outlandish botanical discoveries the real-world counterparts of which may yet be undiscovered. Those who have attempted to translate the strange manual believe it to be an ancient guide on women’s health, though a definitive conclusion is yet to be reached.
10 The Williams Enigmalith
Discovered in 1998 by John J. Williams, the Williams Enigmalith appears to be nothing more than a relatively large bit of stone. The one area of interest is a small, circular engraving in which three metal studs have been inlaid. Though bearing a close resemblance to heat rocks, a type of artificial stone lizard owners use to keep their pets warm, the artifact is thought to be around 100,000 years old. If true, the Williams Enigmalith could not possibly have been a creation of humanity, and some speculate that its origins may be extraterrestrial.
9 The Coso Artifact
The Coso Artifact was discovered in the Coso mountains of California in 1961 by a group of industrious gem shop owners searching for valuable wears. The object they came across during their excursion, unbeknownst to them, could potentially change the way we think about human history. Made out of porcelain, copper, steel, and containing a small magnetic rod in the center, the artifact appears to be somewhat similar to a modern day spark plug.
However, the object is thought to be about 500,000 years old, which would make it significantly older than even the first members of the human race.
The Coso Artifact may one day prove that humanity wasn’t the first highly-intelligent race to inhabit our planet.
8 The Roman Dodecahedrons
Named after the strange, complicated shape into which they were carved, the Roman Dodecahedrons are a collection of strange, dodecahedral artifacts crafted from stone and bronze.
Hollow in the center and bearing a set of odd bulbs around the exterior, researchers can’t accurately decipher what these strange carvings may have been used for.
The Romans were notorious for keeping records of everything they did, yet these odd objects aren’t referenced in any piece of ancient Roman text. Our only guess is that they were once used for zodiacal purposes.
7 The Stone Head of Guatemala
The Stone Head of Guatemala was a massive stone effigy discovered in 1930 by a group of explorers. Located deep within the country’s extensive network of jungles, the strange artifact doesn’t represent the facial features of any known South American race, and some believe that the carving doesn’t necessarily appear to be human at all.
Of course, UFO enthusiasts have been quick to claim that the bust is an ancient rendering of an alien race,
but others have come forward speculating that the head is actually a fake constructed in the modern era.
6 Witch Bottles
“Witch Bottles” is a colloquial term used by archeologists to refer to a collection of some 200 stone and glass vases which were once intended to ward off evil spirits. Often filled with oddities such as knitting utensils, strands of hair, and even fingernails, evidence suggests that these artifacts are remnants of the witchcraft hysteria which swept much of England and the American Colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. The location of the bottles was thought to have been kept secret so as not to be discovered by unnatural forces, though their clandestine use means that available documentation concerning these artifacts is rare.
5 The Ubaid Lizardmen
The Ubaid Lizardmen are a set of small figurines thought to be artifacts from the pre-Sumerian Ubaidian peoples. These figurines, however, bare no resemblance to that of a typical human being, and their strange, reptilian appearance earned them the “lizardmen” nickname. Believed by some to be evidence of an ancient race of reptilian extraterrestrials, nobody is exactly sure what these strange statues are intended to represent. The Ubaid people are thought to have practiced skull modification, however, which may be the reason for the abnormally shaped heads of the Ubaid Lizard Men.
4 Rat Kings
Multiple museums contain artifacts thought to be representative of an ancient mythical beast known as a Rat King. These strange beings were supposed to be a cluster of rats with intertwined tails.
The group would function as a sort of hive mind, and the cluster would walk in a direction dictated by a central leading rodent.
Considered to be a byproduct of the fear of rats which was caused by the Black Plague, it’s difficult to determine just how much truth there is to the myth of the Rat Kings.
3 The Sri Lanka Meteorite
Researchers going over a meteorite discovered in Sri Lanka years ago found that the extraterrestrial artifact may in fact have once contained some form of life. The group identified a series of fossils and algae embedded in the space rock, and many claim that this strange stone proves the scientific theory of panspermia: the idea that life exists throughout the cosmos and is spread via meteorites. The fossils, however, are of a freshwater species commonly found on Earth, so the claim of creatures from beyond the stars seems a bit incredible to some.
2 The Betz Sphere
In 1974, the Betz family had been exploring 88 acres of their land that had been ravaged by a wildfire when they came across a mysterious, perfectly round stainless steel sphere. The sphere was discovered to have strange, physics-defying properties, and it was said to be able to roll around of its own accord given the slightest provocation.
The family even claimed that the sphere was observed climbing walls, but the mystery of the metal ball came to a head when the family attributed it to strange, paranormal happenings occurring within their home.
Now thought to be the missing piece of an old art project, nobody is quite sure of the origins or purpose behind this rare oddity.
1 The Antikythera Mechanism
Long posited to be an extremely early example of a computer, the Antikythera Mechanism was discovered at the site of an ancient Grecian shipwreck. Engraved with tons of indecipherable characters and containing many strange dials and gears, no one is quite sure what the mechanisms purpose may have originally been. Though posited to have been used for navigation, the machine’s inner workings suggest that certain ancient societies may have developed very basic computing mechanisms, as the object is extremely advanced given the time period during which it is thought to have been constructed. The prevailing theory, however, states that the device was used as part of a complex form of astronomical navigation.
References: livescience.com, listverse.com, exemplore.com, arstechnica.com, messagetoeagle.com, skeptoid.com