For thousands of years, history left us with great mysteries that baffled scientists. But thanks to new technologies, some of them have finally been solved. Here are 12 ancient mysteries that our brilliant scientists managed to figure out.
1. The vanished Nazca civilization
Nazca became well-known for the huge drawings made on the surface of the Nazca Desert in Peru. Some believed they are marked by alien until scientists finally figured out that the Nazca people used these geoglyphs to communicate with their gods by moving along the lines. The vanishing of their civilization had been no less mysterious until recently. Cambridge University researchers determined that their civilization was wiped out due to a severe drought caused by deforestation.
2. The underground secret of the Easter Island heads
Thor Heyerdahl launched an expedition to explore the island that led to the unraveling the secrets of Easter Island and its stone idols. He led the first excavations at the site. They later discovered that the Moai heads actually have bodies, some of them reaching 20 feet in height. Their greatest discovery was their experiment that proved the statues could really be made with the tools used by the people of that time.
3. The whale graveyard in Chile
When experts discovered the enormous whale graveyard in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Chile, they were astounded what might have caused such a mass suicide of whales. Scientists later found out that the remains belong to different time periods. The first of which occurred about 20,000 years ago. The death of the sea giants was caused by the flowering of toxic algae.
4. Mysterious notes in a copy of the Odyssey
Found on the 500-year-old copy of Homer’s Odyssey were perplexing handwritten notes in an unknown language. Experts Daniele Metilli and Giulia Accetta determined that they were a peculiar type of shorthand invented by Jean Coulon de Thévénot. With the help of latest technological advancements and full data access, they later discovered that the notes itself proved to be much more interesting than its meaning — it was a French translation from Greek.
5. The black sinkhole in Florida
The sinkhole in the Aucilla River, south of Tallahassee, FL, has been known by archaeologists for years. But it is so dark that there’s no divers who would want to explore and examine it. But Jessi Halligan, a Florida State University professor , decided to conduct a research. The project brought astonishing results. The diving expeditions found mastodon tusks that had long grooves left by human tools. The amazing discovery suggests that humans inhabited the Florida area much earlier than had been thought initially thought, which dates back as far as 14,500 years ago.
6. The first computer of the Greeks
The Antikythera mechanism has been called as the world’s first computer. Discovered in a sunken ship in about 80-50 B.C., the wooden case rotted off and the metal parts corroded. Scientists have finally figured out its purpose: it was a navigation device. Such discovery baffled experts that such sophisticated navigational machine already existed at the time. Another similar mechanism resurfaced over a millennium later.
7. The lost army of Cambyses II
In 524 B.C., the army of Persian King Cambyses II made their march to fight against the Ethiopians. More than 50,000 soldiers went to conquer the oases, but all of them vanished without a trace, leaving only a legend behind. It was recently recently discovered by scientists Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni that the legendary army that, during their 13 years of hard work, the entire army didn’t just disappear but were killed in a deadly sandstorm.
8. The Bosham Head
The Bosham Head was nameless for two centuries due to its bad condition. But a laser scan helped identify the 350-pound head as one belonging to the great Roman Emperor Trajan. The head has become one of the most important relics of Roman Britain. It is now thought that the head statue hailed travelers in Chichester harbor.
9. “Wandering” rocks in Death Valley
Everyone who sees the stones in Death Valley, California, feels their skin crawling because they appear to move when you turn away from them.
It was later found out by Ralph Lorenz that the phenomenon can be explained by the ice shell forming around the stones in winter. When it thaws, the rocks start gliding because of the winds.
10. The disappearing grave of Richard III
It was previously believed that the grave of Richard III was demolished and his corpse thrown into the river when the monastery where he had been buried in was bought by a private entrepreneur. But scientists from Leicester University hoped they could find the grave, and thankfully they did. The DNA test showed that the remains they discovered were indeed those of Richard III.
11. The lost crew of the Mary Celeste
One of the famous ghost ship in history was the Mary Celeste that was a found in 1872 without a trace of her crew or any damage to the ship. Chemist Dr. Andrea Sella conducted a thorough experiment that explained the phenomenon. It was found that there were about 1,700 barrels of alcohol in the ship’s cargo hold. This resulted to an “invisible explosion” when it caught fire in which a wall of fire is followed by a wave of cool air, leaving neither fire nor soot. The crew could have abandoned ship and perished in the sea.
12. The Ancient Egyptian helicopter
The symbols of a helicopter, a tank, and even a jet on the Abydos hieroglyphs in the temple of Osiris sparked a great deal of discussion and debate among experts. There were lots of theories about the secret knowledge of the Ancient Egyptians.
Scientists managed to restore the original hieroglyphs and prove that they were “tweaked” by time and deterioration. Our brain tricked us into seeing familiar shapes in them.
Bonus: Denmark could have adopted Christianity earlier than we thought
In 2016, archaeologist Dennis Holm was searching the island of Funen with his metal detector when he stumbled upon a gold pendant depicting Jesus on the cross. It was later determined that it is the oldest symbol of Christianity ever found in the country, predating the Jelling Stones. The historic find is now exhibited in the Viking Museum in Ladby, Denmark. This resulted to historians rewriting the history of Christianity in Denmark.