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20 Discoveries That Archaeologists Can’t Explain

Four billion years later and we’re still learning about Earth and human history. There are discoveries even nowadays that go beyond ancient fossils and artifacts, in helping us unfold our history. Archaeologists are on a constant mission to deliver more knowledge of our history for the final conclusion, and some of their discoveries just leave us speechless as if they are not from this world.

Astonishing technologies from the past often leave us feeling like we haven’t advanced in centuries. Other findings are showing a darker human side, more brutal and uncomfortably familiar. Take a tour around the world to explore the most shocking archaeological finds so far.

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1. Vampire Burials

Multiple buried corpses with iron rods run through their chests are discovered in Bulgaria. Archaeological research stated that the corpses are 700 years old. In the past, there was a strong belief in Eastern Europe that vampires are real, as there was a strong belief of witches in the Americas and Western Europe.

Buried corpses are found at the temple of Perperion, ancient sanctuary city, near today’s capital city, Sofia. Locals strongly believed the only way for a vampire to stay dead and not to rise again is to to be buried with a stake through the heart. A fair amount of people were accused of being vampires. On the other hand, there were vampire graves that have been found with the resident’s head removed.

2. A Regular Alien Skull

The world was crazy about aliens at the end of the ’90s after the discovery of multiple alien-like skulls in a Mexican village. This small village kept well in secret 25 human burials, while 13 of them had stretched skulls.
Actually, their look was quite similar to Hollywood’s imagined look of aliens. However, skeletons were entirely human.

Long before the Hispanic population settled down on the areas of Mexico, head flattening was extremely popular, and it was a common practice during childhood. This ritual included two wooden boards and a head, naturally.
This unusual ritual was a sign of higher intelligence or magnified beauty. Head flattening is known as cranial elongation that has been practicing all around the globe by multiple cultures. The earliest evidence of this practice dates back 10,000 years ago.

3. Shroud of Turin

The controversial Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth which bears the image of a man many believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. The cloth first appeared publicly in a French exhibition in 1357. Three carbon dating tests were performed on a corner of the cloth in 1988 dating the item between the years 1260 and 1390.

In addition, DNA testing was also performed on the cloth but it just showed that it was touched by people from all around the world. The authenticity of the cloth is still rather controversial. The Vatican stays silent about its authenticity and keeps its core on what the cloth represents.

4. 97 Dead Babies

Archaeologists discovered what is known today as a baby sewer. In 1988 remains of 97 babies were discovered in an ancient and forgotten Roman sewer at Ashkelon, the modern Israeli city. Until today it’s the largest infant mass grave ever exposed. Further research showed that the babies were old around 10 days and healthy at the time of death.

Bodies were discovered under an ancient bathhouse which is believed to have been a part of a brothel. Romans had the custom of leaving the faith of unwanted babies to Gods. They strongly believed that new-born babies were not fully humans so dumping them was O.K. 97 babies were “left to the Gods” a little after birth, mostly male.

5. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous monuments and mysterious archaeological finds. Located in Wiltshire, the site is 5,000 years old. The site is believed to have been constructed around 5,000 years ago. Archaeologists believe that the initial purpose of the site was to serve as a burial ground. Nowadays Stonehedge sinks each day a bit.

Stonehenge figures are made entirely out of the stone and some of them weight-in around 25 tons. Stonehenge has fascinating links with astrology and over time it becomes an important site to pagans. Charles Darwin discovered that earthworms are to blame for Stonehenge stones sinking. The site and its surrounding are protected by UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.

6. Frozen Children Mummies

Surrounding of Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco was hiding bodies of 3 Inca children until 1999 when the frozen bodies were discovered. Three bodies were mummified and sacrificed by the freezing cold 500 years earlier. Analysis revealed that children consumed alcohol and coca leaves (coca plant is used to produce cocaine) on a regular basis.

Further research showed that the ritual sacrifice was a form of honor with one of the girls having a high status in society. The other two girls probably had lower status and served her as her attendants. It is also likely that she was sedated before the freezing to death.

7. Vikings skeletons

One of the most shocking discoveries in England was unfolding of a mass grave of 51 heads and 54 skeletons of Scandinavian Vikings. The bodies and the heads were buried separately between 970 to 1025 AD. A group of archaeologists discovered the grave in 2009.

All of the skeletons were males and no older than 25. Bodies were full of injuries indicating that severe violence was present before the deaths. Historically looking, Vikings have probably been captured during an attack to the Anglo-Saxon territory.

8. Mummy Howl

Egypt was on a spotlight when a screaming mummy was discovered in 1886. The face of this mummy was in pain implying that he died in tremendous agony and stuck in an eternal scream. Unmarked coffin and body position shows that he had been mummified as a punishment and history had forgotten him.

Flickr: saf2285

Mummy was named “Man E.” Some assume that he was the traitor son of Rameses III, as the research revealed that the mummy could have been as old as 40, which matches with the age of Rameses son.

9. The Great Sphinx of Giza

The Great Sphinx is one of the world’s largest sculptures measuring some 240 feet (73
meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high, located in Giza, Egypt. The Sphinx is carved out of one limestone and it’s half lion and half human mythical creature. Originally, the statue is called “Abu al-Haul” or “The Terrifying One” in English.

Researchers believe that the Sphinx was built around 2,500 years ago under the many underlying chambers and tunnels, not explored yet. Pigment residue suggests that the entire statue was painted in vivid colors. Some assume that it would have taken approximately three years for 100 workers, using only stone hammers and copper chisels to finish the statue.

10. Cannibals

Finding proof of cannibalism is always shocking. Big evidence of cannibalism was found in northern Spain when the remains of 12 Neanderthals were discovered, in the year 2010. The found remains showed that it was probably a family of Neanderthals, which included an infant, two juveniles, three adolescents, three adult females, and three adult males. According to scientists the group were eaten by other Neanderthals and dies around 49,000 years ago.

Archaeological shown numerous times evidence of prehistorical people practicing cannibalism. Killed Neanderthals would be taken to the caves where they were eaten. Often, their skulls and teeth would be used as dishes or jewelry. Cannibalism is probably one of the main reasons that lead to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

11. Terracotta Army

This discovery happened completely randomly. In 1974 local farmer wanted to dig something in Shaanxi province, Chine and he stomps upon something. The pit discovered the Terracotta Army which was buried nearby Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum around 210 BC. The emperor believed that the army would protect him in his next life.

An estimated number of the warriors is over 8,000 as well as 130 chariots and 670 horses. Figures of strongmen, musicians and acrobats were included. Many of the warriors remain buried until nowadays. Each terracotta sculpture was painted, but the colors have faded entirely over time.

12. Easter Island Moai

Rapa Nui people of Easter Island left the world giant humanoid statues carved in stone. The final number of produces statues around the island is 900. Although they are referred to as the “Easter Island Heads” it’s not correct as archaeologist showed, after the digging, that they are the full bodies. Numerous statues are buried just up to their shoulders.

Each Moai statue represents a deceased ancestor of the Rapa Nui people. The Moai were carved all in one location, between the years 1250 and 1500. Once they were carved Rapa Nui would relocate them. The largest statue is almost 33 feet high and weight is about 90 tons. During an earthquake, many of them were toppled over.

13. Desert Kites

British pilots discovered kites like lines in the deserts of three countries, including Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Kite like lines forms lines up to 40 miles long giving the shapes at the end a kite appearance. Desert kites were discovered in the early 20th century.

Kite like lines was probably constructed around 2,300 to 2,400 years ago. The belief is that they were built by the local population to trap some large game animals, many of them and to catch herds of wild ungulates at the same time.

14. City of Pompeii

The city of Pompeii is well known due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The people of Pompeii didn’t know that Vesuvius was a volcano. The city was entirely lost for little less than 1,500 years before it was discovered. Pompeii is well preserved because of the volcano ash, lack of air and moisture. The city and its inhabitants were preserved for over a millennium.

In order to preserve citizens in the same position as they were when they died, plaster molds had to be made. Pompeii is a major Italian tourist destination and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe with 3 million people living nearby today.

15. The Jesus Boat

The Jesus Boat was discovered on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, in 1986, in Israel. This boat is also known as the Ancient Galilee Boat, and originally it was an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD.

Galilee is a freshwater lake, not a sea, so the boat just appeared after a dry out, when the level of water receded. The boat is 27 feet long by 7.5 feet wide. Despite the name, there are no hard shreds of evidence that a boat actually belonged to Jesus.

16. Stone Circles

The far Middle East got more mysterious with the revelation of giant stone circles. The circles are at least 2,000 years old and only a few feet high. Stones are also fully enclosed, meaning that people would have to hop over them every time to get inside.

The circles were seen for the first time in the 1920s by aircraft overflying the area. Some researches believe that the circles were constructed during prehistoric times before the existence of written language in the area.

17. Andrewsarchus

In 1923 in Inner Mongolia, China, a great skull was discovered that belonged to a previously unknown animal. The animal lived during the middle Eocene epoch, around 41 to 48 million years ago.

Currently, the skull is placed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The Andrewsarchus has been marked as the largest known terrestrial mammalian carnivore based on the length of its skull.

18. Gobekli Tepe

Gobekli Tepe is an archaeological site in modern-day Turkey, dating all the way back 11,500 years. It used to serve as a holy site. The name of the place Gobekli Tepe means “Potbelly Hill” in English.

Gobekli Tepe is often called the world’s first temple. It’s known as the first known temple in human existence, older than Stonehenge even. The compound of the area consists of more than 200 pillars in 20 circles. The height of the pillars is 20 feet and the weight goes up to 20 tons each.

19. Baghdad Battery

The ancient battery was discovered in the village of Khuyut Rabbou’a near Baghdad in 1936. The battery, later called Baghdad Battery, dates around 250 BC to 224 AD. Baghdad Battery was used during the Sassanid Empire or Persian Parthian Empire.

The battery itself was rather basic, made of a terracotta pot with an asphalt stopper. An iron rod was stuck through the asphalt, surrounded by a copper cylinder. Overall, the jar produces up to 1.1 volts of electricity. It’s still unclear for what the power was used.

20. The Mount Owen Moa

At first sight, this 3,300-year-old mummified upland moa looks like a monster’s claw, but after all its a claw belonged to a prehistoric bird. A frightening claw was found in the caves of Mount Owen in New Zealand three decades ago.

The Mount Owen Moa mostly resembles modern-day emus, only larger. The DNA analysis shows that the first moa appeared around 18.5 million years ago. However, recently scientists have shown interest in reviving the species by extracting DNA from discovered remains.

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