Over the years, a number of great, unsolvable mysteries in the world have come to light. From signs of ancient, yet highly-evolved civilizations to unexplained monuments, these mysteries have resulted in minds around the world being put to the test to come up with an explanation. These seven cases are some of the greatest mysteries of the world.
1. The Bimini Road
This strange rock formation has baffled divers in the Bahamas for years. It was first discovered by Jacques Mayol, a record-holding free diver, and two friends. They dove three fathoms (about 18 feet) deep just off the coast of the North Bimini Island and discovered what they called “pavement”. The Bimini Road is made up of blocks of limestone and appears to be between 1,900–3,500 years old.
By the “main” road, there are two smaller, parallel rock lines made up of the same type of rocks. These roads quickly began causing historians, civilians, and divers to imagine a long-lost civilization, no longer known to mankind. A small cadre of historians proposed that a Chinese fleet could have created the road while on a journey in the area.
The eeriest thing about this road? Edgar Cayce, a trance healer, once prophesied that the remains of Atlantis would be found by the Bimini islands.
2. The Piri Reis Map
This map, of which only about a third survives, was discovered in 1929. It had been wrapped up in a bundle of papers that a museum had deemed unimportant.
An Ottoman cartographer and admiral, Piri Reis, had drawn and signed the map in approximately 1513. The map shows western Europe, North Africa, and the eastern coast of Brazil. The map is said to have been drawn using Christopher Colombus’s infamous lost map as a guide, giving us the only contemporary rendition of this map. The Piri Reis map also shows what appears to be the Antarctic coast – which scholars believe was not discovered until 1820.
One of the most accurate world maps of its time, the fact that the Piri Reis map has only survived as a fragment adds to its mystery. Did Piri Reis somehow have access to a map of Antarctica over 300 years before it was discovered?
One of the most infamous mysteries in the world is that of Stonehenge. Stonehenge lies in modern Wiltshire in the southwest region of England. The strange circle of stones dates back to approximately 2000 BCE. Each piece of Stonehenge weighs about 50,000 pounds – and each stone came from a location approximately 200 miles away.
Clearly, building this monument in the prehistoric era was seemingly an impossible feat. Without even horse drawn carriages to move the stone, how did the people bring nearly 100 of these giant rocks so far? And once they got them to the Salisbury Plain, how did they arrange them?
But perhaps the most important question, and the most pressing mystery, is what exactly Stonehenge was for. Stonehenge was only one of the many, many henges made at approximately the same time (Avebury is the largest of the stone circles created in a similar manner), yet no one knows just what they were for.
The most commonly held hypothesis is that the henges had something to do with a religious or spiritual ritual. Stonehenge was also the site of 63 burials. Some believe that Stonehenge may have had astrological significance, as it is aligned with the sunset during the winter months. Others still believe that it could have been used as part of a healing practice, thanks to the stones’ particular acoustic qualities.
As the people who built Stonehenge left no written records behind, we may never know just what it was for.
4. Shroud of Turin
The mystery of the Shroud of Turin has been debated for centuries. First exhibited in a small church in France in 1353 or 1357, the shroud supposedly shows the image of Jesus of Nazareth. The shroud is believed to be the cloth that Jesus’s body was wrapped in after his crucifiction. Leaving Jesus inside the shroud created an imprint of his face and much of his body, including his hands, folded over the groin for modesty’s sake.
The shroud is frequently the center of controversy, with each side feeling strongly that they are correct about the artifact. In 1988, a carbon dating test was run on a small corner of the shroud, which resulted in a given date of creation between 1260-1390 – well within a range to assume that it was falsely created around the time of its first exhibition.
Believers point to the fact that the shroud was damaged by fire and mended in 1532, which could skew the carbon results. The Vatican has never taken an official stance on the Shroud of Turin, although various popes have supported its claim of showing the face of Jesus.
5. The Nazca Lines
These strange lines in Peru were at first believed to be mere trail markers when they were noticed by conquistador Pedro Cieza de León in 1553. It wasn’t until 1940, when a historian from Long Island University took interest, that the strange and very deliberate patterns created by the Nazca lines were noticed. The Nazca lines, which take up about 170 square miles, create the shapes of a number of creatures, including a condor, a hummingbird, a monkey, and a spider. Over time, more and more images have been found, including a whale (seen above), a spider, a set of hands, and a man.
Much like Stonehenge, it’s unclear both how and why the Nazca lines were made. The ability to draw these precise shapes without any sort of aerial view of the area is nearly unbelievable.
Modern historians believe that the lines could have served a number of purposes. They might have been part of an irrigation system. The images could have been fertility icons. They could have been meant as worship of the god that took their shape. It also could have been an astronomical measure, as Stonehenge was of the winter sun.
6. The Voynich Manuscript
The Voynich manuscript has baffled linguists and cryptographers since its emergence into academic life in the early 1900s. The illustrated codex has about 240 pages – although many have been lost over the years. Despite the fact that the best codebreakers in the world, including codebreakers who served in both World Wars, have tried their hand at the Voynich manuscript, no one has been able to conclusively crack the code or translate the unknown language.
It is widely believed that the manuscript details medical and pharmacological information on medicine in the medieval ages, due to the illustrations found within. But confirming the content has proven to be harder than anyone could imagine. The language contained within the manuscript has been alternately proposed to be a Central Asian language transcribed with a made-up alphabet, Ukrainian without the vowels, a forgery created to mess with scholars, a Flemish creole, a code with each individual letter slyly showing pictures of what it meant, and simply a strangely abbreviated Latin.
None of these theories have been confirmed.
7. British Columbia’s Foot Problem
Fair warning, this one’s a bit more gruesome than the rest. Since late 2007, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, has had a small issue with feet. Namely, that 18 feet have washed up on their shores. An additional four have washed up just south on the coast of Washington state.
All of these feet have been somehow separated from their bodies. Although, other than the fact that these feet are bodiless, there is no real evidence to show that there is any foul play going on in British Columbia. Some believe that these feet are from victims of the major Asian tsunami in 2004, simply washing up after crossing the Pacific Ocean.
Three of the feet have been conclusively identified as two people believed to have committed suicide, with their feet becoming separated from their bodies naturally by the ocean. Some have also attempted to fake further separated feet, with reports of one shoe filled with an animal paw being found, and multiple shoes with raw meat being washed up on the same beach in 2011.
Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons