Ancient Discoveries That Nobody Can Explain

The trouble with history is that it’s only
as good as the people who write it down. Thus, we know relatively little about ancient
history because written languages didn’t exist for a while. With that in mind, here are some ancient discoveries
we still can’t explain. The Saqqara Bird was discovered in 1898 in
a tomb in Saqqara, Egypt. It’s roughly 2,200 years old and it looks
like an airplane with a bird’s head. Also, papyrus documents found near the artifact
contain the phrase “I want to fly.” That’s led some people to hypothesize that
the Saqqara Bird is actually a model of a literal airplane that the ancient Egyptians
either built themselves or saw someone else fly. And in fact, a couple of people have tested
working replicas of the Saqqara Bird and say that it would’ve been capable of generating
lift. “Perhaps a full-size Saqqara Bird could’ve
flown.” Sometimes these little projects kind of just
prove what everyone wants them to prove, though, and not every reproduction of the Saqqara
bird has had similarly impressive results. In 2002, a glider designer named Martin Gregorie
made a working model of the Saqqara Bird. It demonstrated that in order to fly the bird
would’ve needed a tail wing stabilizer, which was missing on the original model. Even with that addition it was still not particularly
aerodynamic. That would lend weight to the theory that
the Saqqara bird was just a toy that coincidentally happened to resemble an airplane. The Copper Scroll, or “3Q15,” was the last
of 15 Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Cave 3 at the Qumran archaeological site. It was obviously unique just because it was
written on metal, as the rest of the scrolls were written on parchment or papyrus. Furthermore, it was written in a different
type of Hebrew than the other scrolls. Also, it wasn’t a work of literature like
the others, but a list. Specifically, it was a list of precious metals
with a modern estimated value of around one billion dollars. Also, it included directions to all 64 locations
where the treasure could be found. Alas, the directions are vague and contain
references to obscure locations like “the old washer’s chamber.” To date, no one has been able to figure out
where exactly those places are. Despite many treasure-seeking expeditions,
the scroll has thus far failed to turn up a single hoard of silver and gold. The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio certainly
seems like it must’ve had some purpose, but no one has more than a vague theory about
what that purpose actually was. It’s 1,300 feet long and 3 feet high, and
it might’ve been built around 1070 A.D. But it’s hard to say for sure since that date
is based on radiocarbon testing of some charcoal found inside the mound. Also, there’s no proof that the charcoal didn’t
end up there years or even centuries after the mound was built. The mound is made out of clay and ash and
was reinforced with stone, and it’s generally thought to represent a serpent with an open
mouth, which is about to eat an egg or possibly the Sun. Other theorists think the mound actually represents
an eclipse or phases of the Moon. Research conducted in 1987 found that part
of the mound is aligned to sunset at the summer solstice, which means it could’ve served as
a calendar. But it might have had a more sinister purpose,
too. At one time there was a blackened stone monument
in the egg part of the mound, and since then numerous headless skeletons were found buried
nearby, as well as ceremonial knives and blackened stones. Gobekli Tepe is an 11,000-year-old site full
of broken slabs of limestone in southeastern Turkey. It now sits in an empty, lifeless landscape,
but at one time the land would’ve been full of water, fruit and nut trees, and herds of
wild animals. It was the sort of place that would’ve attracted
human nomads, and it’s possible that some of them decided to settle there and build
a holy site. If that theory is true, it would change what
we understand about the rise of civilization. It would mean that humans built temples before
they developed agriculture, and we’ve assumed for a long time that those things happened
in the opposite order. Not everyone agrees, though. Some archaeologists insist there’s no evidence
that anyone ever lived at Gobekli Tepe. And the carvings on the stones are fantastic
and scary. Spiders, lions, snakes, and scorpions dominate. This might suggest that Gobekli Tepe wasn’t
a site of civilization but simply a place where hunter-gatherers could symbolically
confront the dangers of their world. Since the site predates written language by
6,000 years, though, once again we can only guess as to what might’ve actually been going
on there 11,000 years ago. “Inevitably in archaeology if we don’t know
what something is for, we think of ritual. But really, it’s pure speculation.” The Berkeley Mystery Walls run across the
California hills from Berkeley to San Jose. They’re made from randomly sized boulders,
some weighing up to a ton, and they run in strange, broken sections. Some of the sections are only a few yards
in length, while others are up to a half mile long. Some are in bizarre, inaccessible places,
and none of them are really tall enough to have a utilitarian purpose. And since the mere existence of these walls
isn’t weird enough, they eventually lead to some strange stone circles and a 200-foot
wide spiral that encircles a large boulder. The first Europeans settlers in California
reported that the walls predated their arrival, and the local Ohlone tribe apparently said
that the stones predated their arrival as well. Some people think they’re a sign that an advanced
civilization once lived in the Oakland hills. Others think they were built by pre-European
settlers from Mongolia, or by colonists who were left there by Sir Francis Drake. Those are all fun theories, and none of them
can be definitively discounted. “People see these things, and they naturally
wonder, ‘Well, why is that there?’ They create a story around it, and I think
that’s a natural human tendency.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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