#10 – The Voynich Manuscript
There are a variety of secret codes in the world that people have made up, but one that has continued to stump scholars is the Voynich Manuscript. Named after Wilfrid Voynich who purchased the book in 1912, the manuscript is believed to have been created in Italy during the 15th century. While there are pages missing from the manuscript itself, 240 pages of text, drawings and diagrams are still intact.
Many experts, including the most brilliant code-breakers from both World Wars, have attempted to decipher the Voynich Manuscript without much success. Needless to say, the theories surrounding the origin and the contents of the manuscript itself are quite staggering. Donated to Yale University in 1969, the manuscript remains to this day in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for others who want to try their hand at deciphering its contents.
#9 – The Longyou Grottoes
The grottoes hidden within the caves of the Longyou County in China’s Zhejiang Province could be thousands of years old but, the true origins remain a mystery. Only discovered in 1992, two dozen man-made caves made from silt-stone have been found thus far with only one being open to the public as a tourist attraction.
Though their research is ongoing, archaeologists and other scientists believe that the grottoes were created prior to 200 BCE. Massive in size, these handmade caves have ceilings that reach 100 feet high and cover thousands of square feet. With the entire structures made from the same stone, the walls and ceilings blend effortlessly together to create a truly exquisite architectural masterpiece.
#8 – Gobekli Tepe
In 1996, a German team of archeologists set to work on a mountain ridge in the southern part of Turkey, just seven miles from Sanliurfa. The team worked for 20 years with the intent to uncover anything that might by lying underneath, leading to a very bizarre discovery. Uncovering the Gobekli Tepe, dating back to the 10th millennium BCE, the team unearthed pillars that were once erected in a circle, with a total of 200 pillars in 20 different circles.
With the circles standing 20 feet tall and weighing 20 tons, the archeologists had their work cut out for them as they continued to uncover even more structures near the hill that were also thousands of years old. While the team tried to determine the purpose of the structures, they failed to find an answer and only came up with theories, one of which was that the structures were sanctuaries dating back to the Neolithic era.
#7 – Unfinished Obelisk
Have you ever heard of an obelisk? An obelisk is defined as a “stone pillar, typically having a square or rectangular cross section and a pyramidal top, set up as a monument or landmark”. The oldest obelisk ever built and discovered was actually never finished and is pictured here. Although it lacks an official name, the Unfinished Obelisk, which was discovered in 2005, rests in northern Egypt and is 33 percent larger than any of the other obelisks found in the region.
It’s estimated that if the project was ever finished, it would measure around 140 feet tall. But why wasn’t it finished? As cracks started to show in the granite, workers abandoned the project, leaving it to be buried under the earth over time. Can you imagine uncovering a building buried deep in the earth that was abandoned and left for future generations to find?
#6 – Stone Age Tunnels
It seems that archaeologists truly seem to find the strangest things. In June 2013, a group of archaeologists discovered thousands of connecting tunnels throughout Europe that extended all the way from Scotland to Turkey. Unlike the tunnels found in China that we featured earlier on the list, these tunnels were much smaller, dating back to 12,000 BCE and originating under thousands of Neolithic settlements.
While most of the tunnels were barely large enough to pass through, they featured waiting areas or lobbies where passerby could rest and store items. With odd discoveries like these tunnels, there has been much speculation as to why they were built. Some believe that the tunnels were used to ease travel during rough conditions outside while others believe it was a practical way to hide from predators.
#5 – The Gate of the Sun
Normally when archaeologists uncover a massive structure, others are commonly found in the same general area. However, this wasn’t the case for The Gate of the Sun, located in Bolivia near Lake Titicaca. Discovered lying on its side with a large crack, The Gate of the Sun is one solid piece of stone weighing 20,000 pounds at 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Explorers from Europe found the structure during the mid-1800’s and believe that the gate was actually discovered in a location different from where it was first constructed and used.
There are numerous unidentifiable and odd engravings on the gate, which has led to various interpretations of its origins and use. While many experts believe that the gate was used as a calendar in ancient times, others believe that the gate has something to do with space. Perhaps it was a monument to aliens who lived among us? Who knows!
#4 – The Mount Owen Moa
If you’ve never seen a Moa, there’s no need to worry – no one currently alive on Earth has either! The Moa is a large group of nine different bird species from New Zealand that were wingless and, obviously, unable to fly. Researchers have discovered that the largest of the Moa were actually over 10 feet tall and weighed over 500 pounds.
Extinct nearly 2000 years ago, archaeologists found a great surprise during a 1986 archaeological dig that led to the discovery of a Moa claw in a cave. Far from just a bone, the scientists found that both the muscles and the skin were still intact, which is vastly different from the typical mummified bodies found from ancient cultures. With over 60,000 known Moa in the region, there’s plenty more to discover of this exquisitely strange and unique creature!
#3 – L’Anse aux Meadows
Visiting North America for our next strange discovery, the L’Anse aux Meadows were found on the northernmost point of Newfoundland, Canada in 1960. Thanks to its proximity to Greenland, the Meadows were believed to have been settled by the Vikings with the area and its artifacts predating all the way back to the end of the first millennium in the Common Era.
First discovered by a fisherman who led researchers to the mounds of the meadow in 1960, excavations were carried out to uncover several homes underneath the hills. While you can still visit the area today, tourists won’t see much of the houses as they are reburied after every excavation. What makes this discovery so strange? Historians believe that there weren’t any settlers that far north in Newfoundland, especially since the only real way to get there was by boat.
#2 – Saksaywaman
The capital of the Incan Empire was located in Cusco, Peru, which is just south of where Saksaywaman was discovered. The complex is located on a hill that overlooks the city and is believed to have been used as a settlement more than 1,000 years ago. Researchers also believe that the structures took just over a century to complete especially since they feature a variety of stones and designs, unlike many other structures that feature a single stone pattern.
Patterned in a zig-zag shape, the wall extends nearly half a mile long and protect a tower that was built and used as a temple of the sun. While many archaeologists believe that the complex was built as a stronghold to watch over the city during the rule of the empire, others believe that it was a form of communication due to the angles of the walls themselves.
#1 – Mohenjo-daro
Located in Pakistan, the Mohenjo-daro is believed to have been built circa 2500 BCE as part of the Indus Valley Civilization, making it one of the first urban areas in the world. Nearly 600 years later, the city was completely abandoned and sat undiscovered until the 1920’s, at which time nearly four decades of excavations followed.
As archaeologists worked diligently to uncover the city and its story, they discovered both mud and brick houses with no human remains and very few objects and artifacts. Finally, the excavations were stopped when the city became extremely damaged due to erosion as a result of being exposed to the outer elements. With an entire city left undiscovered and impossible to uncover, it’s hard to imagine the story behind the mud walls and the people who left behind their homes so many centuries ago.