4 Unexplained Historical Mysteries

4 Unexplained Historical Mysteries
pic credit: TOI

Even with current science and technology, these unsolved historical mysteries have yet to be solved. They have remained a mystery throughout history and continue to confuse enthusiasts and professionals alike.

We bring to you 4 of history’s greatest unanswered mysteries, ranging from impossible architecture to ancient electricity. How did these ancient people come to have such great knowledge and technology?

1. Sphinx

Did you know that the name ‘Sphinx’ was actually given to this well-known Egyptian landmark by the Ancient Greeks and not by the Ancient Egyptians themselves? This probably occurred just before or during the early Bronze Age, when the Ancient Greeks of that time, who were known as the Hellenes, had trade and cultural contacts with Egypt long before Alexander the Great occupied Egypt in 332 BC.

The Greek name was given to the landmark simply because it reminded them of stories from their own culture of the creature with a lion’s body and the head of a man, known to them as a Sphinx. As a result, we all take it that this same statue is a lion’s body and a human head. One of the main reasons it’s largely believed the Great Sphinx of Giza Is around 4500 years old, is not due to reliable technology such as radiocarbon dating, but because of ancient hieroglyphics and documents that state it was created during the fourth dynasty.

Professor Robert Temple, who some consider being a provocative author due to the topics he covers, has stated that there appears to be plenty of evidence that the sphinx may actually be much older than is suggested by some of these ancient documents, and some of the signs for this are on the sphinx itself.

The evidence of weather erosion on the limestone at the top of the Sphinx supports the theory that it’s even older than we think. This is because the last time there was enough rainfall to cause this type of erosion on limestone was in 7000 B.C. Robert Temple further explains that he believes there is evidence that the reshaping of the sphinx was an attempt by one of the Pharaohs of the fourth dynasty to take credit for the achievements of a ruler who preceded him or to simply further establish himself as a person of great importance.


Pharaohs dictating the writings and removing any references to Gods and previous rulers have happened before. One example of this is when Queen Hatshepsut, who was a prolific builder and the regent for her stepson, Thutmose the 3rd, was almost removed from history entirely when he became of age and took the throne in the 15th century B.C. Thutmose removed her likeness from all monuments and other records that mentioned her including the official list of Egyptian rulers.

So, if this happened before, why would it not happen again? When you look at the Sphinx, the evidence looks pretty clear. When you begin judging the head to body ratio you can see something isn’t quite right. The head on the sphinx is very small compared to the rest of the body which is strange, considering the architectural excellence the Egyptians were renowned for.

This helps support the belief that the head has actually been ground down and reshaped from a larger structure. A theory discussed in Robert Temple’s book, The Sphinx mystery, states that the original form was likely that of Anubis. Further supporting this theory are hieroglyphics predating the fourth dynasty that show the God Anubis in his jackal form.

Some of these hieroglyphs are even in the same pose as that of the sphinx, and to add to the claim there are no mentions of a lion at all. Probably the most famous depiction of Anubis in the same pose as the Sphinx was discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the form of a shrine, even demonstrating a perfect head-to-body ratio.

Do all these factors present a strong case for the appearance and naming of the sphinx? How else can you explain the strange head-to-body ratio? Was this incredible ancient monument simply hijacked and reshaped by a vain Pharaoh?

2. Ramsetu Bridge (India)

ramsetu bridge

In 2002 a NASA satellite was passing over the shallow regions of the Indian ocean where it gathered images of what appeared to be submerged rocks spanning a distance of at least 30 miles from the southern parts of India stretching all the way to the northern regions of Sri-Lanka. What makes this interesting and mysterious is how it closely relates to an ancient Hindu Poem that tells the story of Ramayana.

This story speaks of the Hindu God, Rama building a magical bridge from large floating rocks spanning the distance from Southern India to the northern coast of Sri Lanka. The stones that appear in the NASA images are said to be positioned on a naturally forming shoal, which is a term that oceanographers use to describe a submerged bank of sand that’s close to the surface of the water.

Some people believe that the bridge is a natural formation and nothing more. While the formation of a shoal is completely natural, the rocks found at the site do appear to have been placed there, since apparently, the level of erosion of the rocks isn’t consistent with the sand and other material in the surrounding area.

Although we haven’t been able to clarify it just yet, from what we’ve read, the area is now said to be unofficially protected by the governments of both nations, so it’s hard to visit the area to investigate, even for the local people. However, there are a few rare videos such as this one that apparently show one of the stones up close.

Findings published by the Discovery-owned ‘Science channel’ pointed to evidence that came from geologists who carbon-dated the rocks and found that they predated the sand below them. The analysis revealed that the rocks were 7000 years old but the sand below them is only 4000 years old. If this evidence is accurate it would prove that the bridge is not a naturally occurring formation, but one which would have been built by a civilization many millennia ago. This would be an amazing technical accomplishment that is absolutely mind-blowing if true.

3. The Lalibela churches of Ethiopia

The Lalibela churches of Ethiopia are a series of 11 rock-cut monolithic structures which were carved out of a single solid granite block during the 13th century. The 11 monolithic structures are impressively shaped into the mountainous Ethiopian landscape at depths that range between 130 and 165 feet into the Earth. The architectural work is so impressive, it’s an archaeological mystery to this very day as to how exactly they were created with the limited tools that we believe were available during that period in history.

The Lalibela churches of Ethiopia

Each of the churches demonstrates amazing precision, right angles, and perfectly smooth surfaces. The layout is so well designed that they even allow a perfect amount of light to filter in through the holes in the roof of each church. It’s also said that whoever carved these churches also took into consideration to design of the grooves and holes in a way that would let the rainwater drain away before it could enter the churches.

The other mystery surrounding the Lalibela churches is who exactly was responsible for carving them? There are a few theories that point to different creators of these incredible places of worship. One theory suggests that it was the Christian crusaders, but there doesn’t appear to be any solid evidence of their involvement. Another theory suggests that it was under the orders of King Lalibela, who was the ruler of Ethiopia at the time.

And of course, there’s a supernatural explanation, describing how an army of Angels created all 11 churches in a single night. Perhaps the creators remained anonymous deliberately in order to breathe life into their legendary status, or could there be some truth in the divine explanation? An out of place artifact, or OOPArt, as they’re commonly referred to, is any artefact found in an unusual context, and challenges what we think we know about history.

4. Baghdad batteries

One such Oopart is the Baghdad batteries which were found by the Austrian archaeologist Wilhelm Konig in 1938, just outside of Baghdad, in Iraq. No others have been found since then, so it’s possible that they might be a one-off, rather than a common item. They’re estimated to be over 2200 years old, and experts have since built working replicas, proving that the Baghdad batteries were indeed capable of generating electricity.

Just like the artifacts discovered in 1938, the replicas were large clay jars sealed with asphalt and had an iron core surrounded by electrolyte, contained within a copper cylinder, the ends of which would protrude through the top of the clay jar. The replica batteries were filled with grape juice as it’s one of the few electrolytic solutions that would have been easily available to the people during that era.

Baghdad batteries

Having established that the batteries did generate electricity, the next question to answer was what were they used for? One of the lesser-known theories suggested that they could have been used for pain relief, similar to electroacupuncture. This medicinal theory came due to the presence of needle-like items that were apparently found with the batteries.

However, as those that disagree with the pain relief theory rightfully point out, opium and cannabis were already used as strong and effective pain killers at the time. The more likely theory is that the batteries were used for electroplating. This idea was also supported by the archeologist who found them, the previously mentioned Wilhelm Konig.

Having worked in the national museum of Iraq he had noticed that some of the ancient artifacts had a very fine silver coating and small trace amounts of gold. In modern times this type of finish is usually achieved through electroplating. Despite this being the more likely explanation, unless new discoveries are made in connection with the batteries, it’s likely we’ll never confirm their true purpose.

But regardless of their purpose, there’s no doubt that these were real batteries that produced actual electricity over 2 thousand years ago. The last couple of questions this mystery leaves us with are, how did the ancient inhabitants of Iraq grasp the scientific principles of electricity and come to have this technology? And did they apply it to any other inventions that we haven’t discovered yet?

Also Read:

8 famous ancient historical mysteries that have yet to be solved

5 Murder cases were solved in the strangest and most unexpected ways

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