Certain structures, megaliths, and buried items defy explanation, but there are some crazy theories about them. Let’s take a look at some historical artifacts that continue to baffle experts to this day. You might think that real-life archaeology is nothing like what you see in the movies with its treasure maps with spots marked by an X. “And X never, ever marks the spot.” But not so fast! The Copper Scroll is an honest-to-goodness treasure map. It was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it tells the story of exactly how to find major ancient treasures … sort of. According to the text, 64 treasure hoards were scattered across Jerusalem and the Judean desert, and they were used to hide the most valuable treasure in the world from invaders. That treasure includes not just religious artifacts but also a huge amount of gold, silver, and coins. The pieces of archaic text that have been translated give rather precise directions. The problem is that the directions are a little too precise and refer to things like water tanks, reservoirs, and underground passages that we have no way of tracing now. Some think the whole thing is fiction anyway.
But another school of thought believes the Copper Scroll was a record of the actions of a religious sect living in the city of Qumran who were responsible for safekeeping Jewish treasure. Scattered across four different sites in the Costa Rican jungles are the remains of a civilization that date to between 500 and 1500 AD. In addition to the regular sort of archaeological remains, they also contain around 300 stone spheres, known as “Las Bolas”. They’re close to perfectly shaped spheres and are all different sizes. Some could fit in your pocket, and others are estimated to weigh somewhere around 15 tons. For hundreds of years, they were buried under dirt, mud and sediment, and that’s kept them safe from all kinds of unsavory characters. That hasn’t helped experts figure out much about them, though, and we thus have no clue who made them, when they were made, or what they possibly could’ve been for. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to the placement of the spheres, most of which are in residential locations.
One of the sites has a set arranged in a linear pattern, another has an abnormally large sphere, and a sadly large number have been looted, destroyed, or moved. And that means we don’t even know how many there really were. They can’t be carbon-dated, but based on the layers of sediment they were buried in, it looks like someone was carving them over a period of about 1,800 years. Lore says that the gods used them to control the weather, but maybe they were just a sort of divine bocce set. Sometime incredible discoveries get incredibly boring names like “The Big Circles.” Made out of stone, and dating from sometime between 2000 and 4500 BC, The Big Circles were first spotted in 1920, but it wasn’t until 2014 that archaeologists discovered how weird they are. So far, 12 have been found scattered across Jordan along with one in Syria. They range between 720 and 1,460 feet in diameter with a rough average height of three feet.
What’s weird is that they’re pretty perfectly round and that there’s no entrance to any of them. The fact that there’s no entrance puts an end to most of the theories about what they might’ve been used for. There’s no practical reason that you’re going to, for example, keep a herd of cattle in an enclosure you’d have to lift them in and out of. The sheer distance between each of the sites is also confusing. It is known, at least, that some of them have been destroyed. The one in Syria was all but demolished by expanding towns, but that hasn’t gotten us any closer to figuring out what they were built for.
In 2016, archaeologists from the University of Glasgow unearthed a prehistoric site that had already been discovered once. After the Cochno Stone was thoroughly documented in the 1960s, it was then re-buried to protect it from vandalism. Dated to around 3000 BC, the stone sits next to a housing estate and is said to have some of the best depictions of Neolithic and Bronze Age carvings ever discovered.
But we don’t know why people went to all the trouble of carving the exquisite markings into relatively soft stone, or what any of it means. The surface of the stone was already mapped before it was defaced by graffiti and people’s boots. The goal of the 2016 excavation was to map it more extensively, with 3D scanning technology that would allow archaeologists to get a look at the stone as it was originally intended. While we doubt that this is the case, we would love the irony if the carvings turned out to be graffiti from prehistoric hoodlums. How do you say “Eat at Joe’s” in Neolithic? Judaculla Rock is named for the Cherokee legend that Judaculla, an ancient giant, was the one who left the markings on the boulder’s surface.
The tale says that he was jumping from mountain to mountain when he pressed his hand into the stone and left the imprint of his seven fingers. But aside from that, no one’s really sure what the deal is about the North Carolina stone with the prehistoric petroglyphs. Strangely, some of the best images we have of the rock come from the 1930s, when archaeologists filled in the carvings with chalk to show where the markings were. In the decades since, weather has taken its toll on the soapstone boulder, and it’s inevitable that at some point, the carvings are going to wear away completely.
They’ve already been dated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. Not only do we not know what the carvings mean, we’re not sure who made them, either. Even stranger, there’s supposedly two other similar stones in the area, but no one can find them anymore. Theories about the rock suggest that it’s an ancient peace treaty, religious marker, or even something like the Rosetta Stone, giving us the key to unlocking other languages. Unfortunately, whatever it’s unlocking has been so lost to time that we have no idea where to even start, and it might just disappear anyway before we’re able figure it out. “It’s a form of communication … in some ways.. so What are they trying to tell?” Miami, Florida is probably the last place you’d expect to find an ancient stone circle that’s reminiscent of sites like Stonehenge. But in 1998, construction crews were tearing down six blocks of housing to clear space for a few new skyscrapers. In the process, they uncovered a circle of 24 large holes and limestone. Some more digging uncovered a perfect circle that was 38 feet in diameter, dated to around 2,000 years ago, and littered with all kinds of ancient artifacts.
Along with animal bones and shark teeth, archaeologists found tools and ax heads made from basalt. That’s significant, because the closest place to get basalt is hundreds of miles away in what’s now Georgia. Further digging led archaeologists to conclude that the site was left behind by the Tequesta Native American tribe, one of the most mysterious peoples to settle in the southern United States. They were a largely nomadic group that managed to survive into the 18th century.
There’s a lot we don’t know about them, including what the deal is with this ancient circle. The site is still being studied, and it’s also now preserved by state authorities. If you ever find yourself in Miami anytime soon, you now know you have somewhere cool to visit besides the beach. In 1957, an amateur archaeologist found a small coin in what he thought was a purely Native American site at Naskeag Point in Brooklin, Maine. Then in 1974, experts visiting the Maine State Museum announced that it was a Norse coin, and it took another four years to date it to between 1065 and 1080 AD. The site itself was dated to just after that, when the coin would’ve logically been in circulation. But the question of just how it ended up in Maine has been hugely debated. Some people insist it’s proof of Norse contact with Maine, but since it’s the only Norse artifact that’s been found there, others say it’s a hoax. Still others suggest it might have been carried there as a part of some 12th-century trade network.
The coin has a mark that’s led some to suggest it had been made into a pendant, and was brought to the New World that way. If that’s true, there’s something oddly comforting about the idea that even hundreds of years ago, we were picking up souvenirs, turning them into jewelry, and then losing them. The eerily named Starving of Saqqara is a 2-foot-tall limestone statue that now resides at Concordia University in Montreal. It came to the university from a collection of Mediterranean antiquities. But no one has the faintest idea about the statue’s origins or what it’s supposed to be, even though there’s no shortage of experts that have been consulted. Saqqara is the name of an ancient Egyptian burial ground, but no one knows just how the statue came by that name or if the two are really related.
Even stranger, a mysterious script was etched into the statute, and no one’s been able to even come close to identifying that either. If it’s a fake, someone went to a lot of trouble to make up something that’s not recognizable as anything of importance. And if it’s not fake, then we have a lot to learn. Some places aren’t typically on anyone’s travel plans. One of those is surely a remote corner of the Southeast Asian country of Laos about 250 miles outside the capital city of Vientiane.
But if you head out into the literal middle of nowhere, you’ll discover the Plain of Jars. The sprawling site of hundreds of square miles is filled with thousands of these stone containers. They’re in random places, some alone, some in groups, with some up to 9 feet tall. Some have lids, some don’t. Some are decorated with carvings, others aren’t. At this point, you can probably guess that no one has the slightest idea what the jars were for.
One theory says that they were burial sites, or that they were urns for placing a body in to allow it to decompose before the rest of the burial rites were performed. Others say that they’re kilns and were used to make building materials. Still others suggest that they were used for brewing rice wine, and that’s probably our favorite theory. We’re thinking it’s either that, or the beer pong of the gods. In 1986, construction workers near Chengdu, China uncovered something bizarre: an ancient cache of artifacts that included animal bones and elephant tusks, along with around 200 jade figures, massive bronze artworks, and a life-size statue. Most of the Sanxingdui artifacts appeared to have been damaged, dumped into the massive pits, and buried. Further investigation dated them to around 1200 BC and discovered that they were cast with technology that wasn’t thought to have existed at the time.
No one’s sure how they were made. No forges or foundries were ever found, no tools were uncovered, and in fact, until the discovery, it was thought that Chinese civilization was busy growing up elsewhere. Nor does anyone know why the figures were broken and buried. Traces of similar artwork were found at the nearby Jinsha site, which dates to about 500 years after the burial of the Sanxingdui horde. But still, no one’s quite sure exactly what the story is. The pieces have a sort of unearthly, supernatural look to them, with exaggerated features and almost wing-like ears. It could be the work of ancient aliens, or maybe it’s just proof that there’s a huge amount we don’t know about our own collective history. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite stuff are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell so you don’t miss a single one. .
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