Modern-day archaeologists and researchers have done some amazing work in decoding the mysteries of the past, but there are still countless things that have been uncovered that have no known explanation aside from a handful of educated guesses and hearty shrugs. There are thousands of things we may never fully understand the ancient lives of our ancestors, but here are seven particularly mindboggling discoveries that still puzzle even the greatest minds.
1. The Antikythera Mechanism
Named after the island that sponge divers first found it off the coast of, the Antikythera Mechanism is a complex and intricate device composed of gear-like arrangements and complicated inner clockworks. It’s exact dating isn’t agreed upon, and has been listed as anywhere from 205 BC to 60 BC.
Those who have studied this device have taken to calling it a 2,000+-year-old computer of sorts, possibly used by the ancient Greeks to calculate astronomical events such as eclipses or to track the four-year-cycle of the ancient Olympic games. No matter what it was used for, the idea of a primitive computer back in ancient Greece is truly astounding.
2. Gobekli Tepe
Discovered in rural areas of Turkey, Gobekli Tepe has disrupted the most commonly accepted timeline of the progression of early human life. Dating back to the 10th millennium, this massive series of carved stone slabs with animal depictions are now thought to be one of the earliest known examples of a place of worship and predates the previously accepted timeline of human settling and building by thousands of years.
3. The Cochno Stone
Also known as the Druid Stone, this massive slab of rock located in Scotland is covered with carvings of cups and rings, featuring around 90 depictions overall. Very little is known about its origins, and it is considered one of the best sets of petroglyphs in all of Scotland.
The stone itself measures 43 feet by 26 feet and has been the subject of much musing in regards to its possible meanings. One archaeologist who worked on the stone believed it to hold information about predicting eclipses, but the data proved inconclusive.
4. Las Bolas
The Stone Spheres of Costa Rica, or Las Bolas, are a series of over 300 stone spheres found on the Diquís Delta and on Isla del Caño. They range in size from a few centimeters in diameter to over 6 ½ feet and weighing over 15 tons.
No one truly knows the purpose of these scattered spheres, though many locals think they were primarily for decoration or landmark purposes. More colorful myths claim they came from Atlantis, or that they were created as they were by forces of nature.
5. Baghdad Battery
Thought to be from one of two eras between 150 BC and 650 AD, the Baghdad Battery was discovered in Iraq and its origin, use, and purpose all still remain unknown. It consists of three pieces; a ceramic pot, a copper tube, and a rod made of iron. Some researchers theorized it was used for electroplating, but such a thing was not known at this time.
Whether it was truly the first known example of a battery created in a time without documented electricity or something else entirely, remains completely unknown to researchers to this day.
6. The Devil’s Bible
The Codex Gigas, or Devil’s Bible, is a massive book bound in leather-covered wooden boards, with intricately decorated metal bindings and weighing around 165 pounds. It is the largest medieval transcript known by far and is preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.
Myths surrounding this twisted Bible include the story of its author being a shunned monk who broke his vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In an attempt to avoid this cruel fate, he promised that within a night he would create a book to bring glory to the monastery and contain all of human knowledge. When midnight drew near, he knew he could not complete the task alone, and prayed to Lucifer for help in exchange for his soul.
The true origin and author of the transcript are not truly known and remain the stuff of legends.
Believed to be dated back to AD/CE 536 or later, Pumapunku is a large series of temples and monuments located in western Bolivia. The walls of Pumapunku are massive and constructed to fit and interlock with each other like a giant, load-bearing puzzle.
While that alone is fascinating, what truly confounds researchers are just how such precise cuts could be made in the stone back in these ancient times. While much of the stonework shows signs of hammer usage, scientists remain complex as to how the builders created cuts that are described as appearing, “laser or diamond-cut” in their precision.
In fact, the blocks were so accurately cut that it suggests prefabrication and mass production was used, yet those technologies would not come to exist for hundreds of years later.