Looking back at ancient inventions found by archaeologists, we realize that many of those artifacts are still mysterious. While some people say they might have been created by aliens, through time travel or other sophisticated theories, we end up wondering what were those objects used for. How have humans invented items that are so out of place for those ages? We won’t be able to answer these questions for the following inventions because not even scientists know how to explain it!
20. Damascus Steel Recipe Still A Mystery
This was used as a calendar, having astrological purposes and could even predict the position of stars. The complex clockwork mechanism had at least 30 meshing bronze gears inside. Also called the “ancient Greek computer,” the Antikythera mechanism (found on a wreck off the Greek island of Antikythera) is still a strange artifact nobody knew how it was invented. A study published in Nature said it is “technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards.”
The recipe for Greek Fire was a recipe that only little people knew of. It was said that it “would cling to flesh and was impossible to extinguish with water.” The Byzantine Empire also used it, and when National Geographic tried to recreate it with some ingredients they guessed they’d be in the recipe, the fire destroyed a ship in just a few minutes!
This manuscript was written in 15th century in Central Europe and its text is written in an indecipherable language. A bookseller by the name of Wilfrid M. Voynich acquired this manuscript in 1912. Apart from the mysterious text, it also contains “a myriad of drawings of miniature female nudes, most with swelled abdomens, immersed or wading in fluids and oddly interacting with interconnecting tubes and capsules.”
Somehow, this artifact invented by Chinese inventor Zhang Hang was used to detect earthquakes. It was created in 132 AD. The mechanism can detect “a four-hundred-mile distant earthquake which was not felt at the location of the seismoscope.” The exact science behind this ancient artifact is still a mystery.
This kind of item was found in different places around the world: Italy, the UK, France, Germany, Hungary, and Vietnam. Scientists believe it was used as a fortune-telling device, as dice, as candlestick holders and even as gauges to calibrate water pipes. They could have been just useless everyday objects, and Romans didn’t even mention them in their writings. Nobody knows what was their actual purpose.
While the Damascus steel swords of the Islamic warriors is still a mystery, Vikings too might have used it to create their “Ulfberht” swords. Archeologists were baffled to see them, saying that “the technology needed to produce such pure metal would not be invented for another 800 years.” A few years ago, a 9th-century Viking grave was found in Scandanavia, and it had an Islamic inscription saying “to Allah,” which meant that the two people shared the same secret about their weapons.
One of the major tourist attractions in Delhi, this pillar is so popular because since it was erected 1,600 ago, it has not rusted at all! It could be either the mild climate keeping the pillar rust-free or the iron that contains phosphorus but lacks sulfur [and] manganese in the iron.” Its mass – six tons – could also help it stay rust-resistant.
The disc was found on the island of Crete in 1908, in the Minoan palace of Phaistos. The origin of the disc and its signs are still a mystery. It was made from a clay that doesn’t exists on Crete and nobody was able to decipher the signs.
Yes, there are massive balls in Costa Rica, created by natives (200 BC – 800 AD) that turned large igneous stone into giant balls through “fracture, pecking, and grinding” techniques. But what nobody knows is what was their reason. Unfortunately, vandals changed the original placement of these balls and scientists couldn’t say whether they were used as calendars or not.
Also known as the Quimbaya artifacts, these (4th-7th centuries AD) airplanes still baffle us. Some scientists theorize that these are just stylized birds and insects. Of course, there are other theorists that say these represented ancient flying machines. What really was impressive is that they tried to create large replicas of the artifacts and they did fly!
Archaeologists have unearthed in 1850 this strangely looking crystal rock in today’s Iraq. It was found in the Assyrian palace of Nimrud and it is similar to a 3X magnifying glass. Scientists haven’t yet agreed whether it was used as a decorative piece or it was a lens, part of a telescope.
Terracotta pots had a copper cylinder with an iron rod. Somehow, Babylonians found a way to electroplate gold onto silver items. Nonetheless, others believe that these were not ancient batteries, but just pots used to store scrolls.
The disc dates back to 3100-3000 BC. It was found in Egypt, in the tomb of Sabu in the village of Saqqara. There are no records of this disc, so nobody knows its purpose. It could be a plate or a wheel?
Sometime between 14-37 AD, an inventor created a flexible glass that was difficult to break. He made a bowl out of it and gifted it to the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. Caesar accepted the gift but then because he was afraid what it would do to the value of gold and silver, he had the inventor beheaded!
Dating around c. 1600 BC, this sky disk was found in Germany, in 1999, near Nebra. At first, people thought to be a forgery, but it’s actually an ancient artifact that shows the course of the sun and the angle between the rising and setting points. It is the oldest “portable instrument” that can be used for astronomical measures.
The famous mystery that we still haven’t cracked is how did the Egyptians build their pyramids in 2667 BC. Leaving aside the alien theories, nothing can explain how the 10 tons stones were carried to build such a monument. Some people claim that the stones were made of concrete right there, at the construction place. And talking about pyramids…
Egyptologists discovered many hallways and chambers that were not constructed to be used for a pharaoh’s tomb. The 5-story-high halls had perfect acoustics, and its complex construction of the ceilings make us wonder what was the tomb’s first purpose. There is no evidence that could help use solve this mystery.
Tiwanaku is the Pre-Columbian archaeological site found in Bolivia. It is filled with monumental stone blocks that weigh a lot of tons. What’s baffling about this engineering wonder is that there are no chisel marks, meaning nobody knows how they were shaped.
We cannot possibly talk about Tiwanacu without mentioning Puma Punku – a large temple complex part of Tiwanaku. The structures show notched stone blocks that were fitted so that they would withstand earthquakes. Scientists haven’t yet learned how the finely cut stones (that are heavier than 100 tonnes) were created and moved.