Although in modern times, we like to pride ourselves on the amount of history that we know about humankind, we still only know a small fraction. Every day, new discoveries are being made that prove we aren’t as knowledgeable as we once thought, and give us more insight into the past that is still a complete mystery in any aspect. Take a look at these more recent discoveries that prove we have only scratched the surface about understanding our ancestors.
A Mask That Isn’t For Wearing
This interesting green mask was discovered at the base of a pyramid in Mexico in 2011 and assumed to have been placed in the ground as an offering to the gods around 2,000 years ago.
Along with the mask, archeologists also found pieces of obsidian and pottery made from the same material of the green stone. It is believed that the mask was not made for wearing but was part of a dedication ceremony, and is most likely made in somebody’s likeness, which gives researchers a glimpse into what these people look like.
An Abandoned Train In The Desert
To many, this may just seem like a train buried in the desert sand, but this is actually the evidence of a feat accomplished by T.E. Lawrence during World War I. In 1917, Lawrence was serving in the Middle East, where he and a band of Arab followers began attacking Ottoman supply trains.
By the end of the war, Lawrence and his comrades had destroyed so many trains that the railroad could no longer be used. Furthermore, rather than cleaning up the trains, the Turkish people just left them in the desert.
No Ordinary Gloves
These gloves are known as gauntlets and were a type of glove that was worn by soldiers and knights during the Middle Ages. Although they could be used for decoration, they were also designed to protect the wearer’s forearms and hands during combat.
However, these are no ordinary gauntlets. Experts believed these were the gloves of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I. Supposedly, Maximilian I wore these gloves for the majority of his life up until his death in 1519.
Primitive Snow Goggles
The sun has had negative effects on the human eyes since the dawn of man. However, the ancient people, such as the Inuits, created ways to lessen the effects of the sun.
For example, more than 2,000 years ago, when the Inuit people would travel across the snow, they hand-carved snow goggles, making little slits that provided enough vision. Researches are impressed by these goggles because they don’t fog over in the polar conditions, which is an issue people still face today.
Not Just A Rock
Here, it may seem that this is a man taking a picture next to a rock, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pictured, in Bernhardt Otto Holtermann, who owned part of an Australian mine where veins of gold were discovered. Here he is next to a giant golden nugget that was discovered on his land.
This photo was taken by an unknown photographer before Holtermann was elected as a member of St Leonard’s parliament in 1882. Unfortunately, he died in a premature exposition of blasting powder at the age of 47.
A Watch Fit For A Queen
This incredibly ornate pocket watch turns out to have been commissioned for Marie Antoinette by a mystery suitor in 1783. Clearly, no expense was spared, and the gold and other materials that were used are assumed to be worth $30 million.
The watch is one of a kind and includes a full calendar, an hour jumping hand, 23 complications, and 823 individual parts. It is considered to be the fifth most intricate watch ever made, although unfortunately, Antoinette never received it as she had been executed before it was completed.
This Statue Tells A Story
This statue was created by 19th-century American artist Chauncey Bradley Ive, and is a representation of the mythological Mediterranean sea spirits known as Undines. Stories about Undines became popular after the release of the novel Undine, written by Baron Heinrich Karl de la Motte Fouqué.
The story follows an Undine that takes on a human form to marry a knight. However, after he is unfaithful, she is then forced to kill him. This statue shows the Undine coming out of the water.
The Horrors Of War
Serving under Napoleon during one of the battles at Waterloo, Antoine Fraveau was a 23-year-old cuirassier that donned this breastplate before taking to the field of battle. This was an important piece of armor because it protected against swords, other weapons, and at times even bullets.
However, one thing it couldn’t protect against was cannon fire. While fighting in 1815, Fraveau was killed after being hit by direct cannon fire. Unfortunately, he was supposed to get married not long after. This perfectly shows the violence of warfare back then.
A Statue That Isn’t All It Seems
Back in 2015, researchers in the Netherlands performed a CT scan on a statue of a Buddha, and they never expected what they would find inside. Inside of the statue, it was discovered that it contained a mummified monk that had been entombed for over 1,000 years.
Incredibly, rather than placing the monk inside of the statue, researchers found that the monk was filled with scraps of papers covered in Chinese characters. Incredibly for a monk to be mummified, they would drink a poisonous tea to ensure that their body would be too toxic to be consumed by maggots.
When most people think about Egypt, they think about mummies, great pyramids, and fancy eyeliner. However, these sandals worn by King Tut show that the people in Ancient Egypt were more modern than most might expect.
Apparently, they were just as into fashion as modern-day humans, with ancient footwear expert, André Veldmeije, noting, “When footwear is mentioned in general books, if at all, it is usually noted that sandals were flimsy and most people were barefoot all the time. Moreover, they say there were only few types of sandals. This is a misconception, probably based on artistic depictions alone.”
The Missing Pilot
Here is a Curtiss P-40 Kitty Hawk, which was a British version of the American Tomahawk that was used during World War II. With a range of only 240 miles, the plane was typically just used as a defensive craft.
This particular plane was found in the Sahara Desert in 2012. It was piloted by 24-year-old Flt Sgt Dennis Copping, who went down in the North African desert in June 1942. The plane remained undisturbed until it was discovered by an oil company worker in 2012, although nobody knows what happened to the pilot.
141-Year-Old Wine As A Reward
Following the events of September 11, 2001, Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Taliban, became public enemy number one in the western world. Everyone wanted him caught and brought to justice, especially one restauranteur Ted Balestreri.
The Californian claimed that he would open up his bottle of 141-year-of Chateau Lafite Rothschild with the US Defense Secretary if they helped bring Bin Laden down. After Bin Laden was killed in 2011, Balestreri said he’s happy to open up the bottle to celebrate.
There Was Toast Before Toasters
Although most people today might throw a piece of bread in the toaster in order to make a piece of toast, that didn’t mean that people of the past didn’t enjoy a crisp piece of bread either.
Here is an early version of a toaster, however, instead of toasting both sides, it only heats up one side at a time. So, when the user is happy with the toast of their bread, they would have to manually flip the bread to do the other side.
The Oldest Astronomical Clock
The Prague Astronomical Clock is one of the world’s oldest and fully functioning astronomical clocks, which tells the time as well as information about the sun, moon, zodiac constellations, and other plants.
The clock in Prague is often referred to as The Orloj, and in order to be a fully functioning clock, it had to be constructed in multiple layers. The main face of the clock features the time as well as glyphs that show ancient Czech time, and Roman numerals for 24 hour time.
Frozen In Time
Although this might look like a typical ornamental shoe, it’s actually a preserved woman’s boot that dates back over 2,000 years ago. Incredibly, they remained almost completely preserved due to the freezing temperatures of the Altai Mountains.
The boot dates back to 300 BC and is made of a variety of materials including pewter, pyrite, glass beads, gold foil, and more. Incredibly, even back then, people put a lot of effort into fashion, and the work shows.
That’s Not Art
While this might look like a beautiful piece of glasswork, it’s actually from outer space. Discovered in Fuang in Xinjiang, a region of northwest China, this incredible rock is made up of a variety of materials including Pallasite, which is recognizable for its pieces of olive crystal that are embedded in a nickel-iron crystal.
When light is shown through the back of a crystal, it looks like stained glass, but it’s actually a piece of meteorite. Scientists aren’t exactly sure of the origins of Pallasite, but they assume that the meteorite was formed around 4.5 billion years ago.
Civil War Surgeon’s Kit
Since there have been violent conflicts, there have been those on the battlefield tending to the wounded. While they may not have the same equipment that we use today, here is what a pretty standard surgeons kit looked like during the American Civil War.
It may not have been much, but it did help to save countless lives on the battlefield. We can be lucky that our medics today are a little more prepared.
A Musical Typewriter
Although first patented in 1936, the Keaton Music Typewriter initially only had 14 keys, but by the 1950s, had an impressive 33. The machine worked by placing a sheet of paper beneath the typical mechanism before the notion marker started typing.
Although the machine looks difficult to use, it proved to be efficient. Typewriting made writing sheet music easier, but the user had to work cautiously, or else they would have to start all over with a new sheet of paper.
The Carriage With No Rider
In 2013, archaeologists in Bulgaria discovered an entire carriage connected to two skeletons of horses in the village of Svestari, located in eastern Bulgaria. Incredibly, the carriage still has all four wheels, a seat, a boot, and is believed to have belonged to a member of the Thracian nobility.
It’s assumed that the horses became injured falling into a hole and were put out of their misery by the rifer. To many archaeologists, it’s astounding how well preserved the find is.
The Safe That Killed A Man
Although this may appear to be a regular safe that resulted in the death of the owner, it’s not exactly what one might think. On October 9, 1911, a Tennessee businessman was indeed ironically killed by his own safe. However, there was nothing too strange about it, as all he was doing was trying to retrieve something out of it.
When the safe wouldn’t open, he began kicking it, which resulted in a nasty infection on his toe. The infection grew worse and began to spread throughout the rest of his body. The safe was then turned over to his favorite nephew, Lem Motlow, just before the owner died of the infection.
Not An Ordinary Fire Truck
Although this may appear to be a fire truck that was involved in some terrible accident, what it actually is is one of the first responders on the morning so September 11, 2001. One piece of the equipment remains at the site in reemergence, which is Ladder 3.
This particular truck was driven by Captain Patrick Brown and the rest of his team lost their lives when the North tower collapsed, landing on the truck. After the truck was recovered, it was placed in a hangar at JKF International Airport until it was moved to the Memorial Museum in 2011.
Olmec Warrior Sculptures
These massive heads of Olmec sculptures are considered to be some of the most recognizable pieces of tribal art in the world. Incredibly, each is unique and shows the distinctive features of the images that are carved, which provides us with insight into a culture that we still don’t know all that much about.
Carved by hand out of a single piece of basalt, it’s incredible how these ancient people managed to move and arrange them at all, considering their weight.
Fancy Spoons For Ice Cream
While today, most people might grab any old spoon out of the drawer and dive into a bowl of ice cream, that wasn’t necessarily the case during the Victorian era. Every utensil during that time served a specific purpose, and these particular spoons were used exclusively for ice cream.
Although they may seem over-the-top, this was not uncommon for people at the time, and these specials spoons were just right to eat ice cream at the end of the evening.
Original Sewing Machine
In the years between 1832 and 184, Walter Hunt developed his first sewing machine in his workshop on Amos Street in New York City. The first version of the product was built by hand and contained a curved needle that helped to interlock a stitch over two threads.
Over the next 30 years, the machine would be enhanced and bring about a whole new set of possibilities to the fashion industry. At the time of the original sewing machine, there were also plenty of copycat designers looking to make their own original patent, but this was the first.
To many, this might not seem much more than a loaf of bread but it’s significance is pretty incredible. When the village of Pompeii was destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., many people, homes, and artifacts were preserved under a thick blanket of ash.
It’s incredible some of the things that managed to be preserved, for example, this loaf of bread. The loaf was so preserved, in fact, that you can still see the baker’s stamp which reads, “Celer, slave of Quintus Granius Verus.”
Not Your Typical Halloween Decoration
Made of cast iron and shaped like a bat, this lamp was made sometime in the 1930s, and would be the perfect Halloween decoration in today’s culture. However, back when this was made, it’s likely that it was on display year-round, since so much effort when into forging it.
Nevertheless, we’re willing to bet that a Halloween enthusiast would pay a pretty penny to have this around their house.
Not An Ordinary Ring
When this ring is closed, it may not look like much more than an ornate gold ring. However, upon opening the top, you’d find that it’s actually a sundial as well.
This watch was made back in the 1600s when a sundial was the best bet for a common man to tell the time. So to have one on your finger would have been quite convenient. Furthermore, the ring is also engraved with a coat of arm, which shows that it was probably a family heirloom.
Heading Into The Abyss
Unbelievably, people have been diving beneath the waves and exploring the deep ocean since at least the Victorian era. Granted, they couldn’t get deep enough without the proper equipment, so they made their own.
Pictured above, is a diving suit that was put in use in 1882 and was built by the Carmagnolle brothers of Marseilles, France. The suit had an unbelievable 22 joints and a helmet with 25 individual 2-inch glass viewing points. Unsurprisingly, the suit weighed over 800 pounds.
Hearses Aren’t A New Thing
Picturized here is an antique hearse from Dresden, Germany. Although during the Victorian era, there was never any shortage of decoration, this hearse goes above and beyond. Supposedly, the carved angels and arched windows were made specifically for this carriage which makes it even rarer.
Although the driver of this carriage remains unknown, it’s clear that anyone riding in this Hearst definitely had some means because this was above the average vehicle to transport a body.
The Underground City Of Derinkuyu
Located in Nevşehir Province, Turkey, Derinkuyu is an underground city used by inhabitants of ancient Anatolia to hide from invaders. After a series of volcanic eruptions, the inhabitants realized that it had softened the stone which allowed them to essentially carve an entire underground city into the hillside.
The city is eighteen different levels and is estimated to have had the capacity of housing up to 20,000 people relatively comfortably. Within the city, researchers have found houses, bathrooms, kitchens, food storage rooms, churches, school, and just about anything a population might need to survive. The complexity and detail of the underground system still baffle researchers today.
The Phaistos Disk
Discovered in Crete in a Minoan palace in 1908, the Phaistos Disc has been a hot topic for debate among scholars around the globe. A circular object made out of clay, the disc is adorned with 241 different symbols that were pressed into it.
However, the symbols are not related to any other written language during that time or previously, so their meanings are unknown. The artifact is assumed to have been made between 1850 and 1600 B.C., placing it in the late Minoan Bronze Age.
Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army
In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers unearthed an ancient life-sized terracotta army for Emperor Qin Shi Huang. To this day, the discovery is considered to be one of the greatest archeological finds of all time. However, people were wondering what the purpose of the army was, and it was deduced that the terracotta army was built to defend the emperor in the afterlife.
With that mystery solved, the real question arose which is where the emperor himself was buried. According to an ancient document describing the emperor’s tomb, he is buried in an underground palace that is complete with a surrounding kingdom. Surely, the discovery of his tomb will be mind-blowing to researchers around the world.
The Antikythera Mechanism
Otherwise known as “the world’s oldest computer,” the Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient Greek device that was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendars and other astrological means. The mechanism was discovered amongst wreckage off of the coast of the Greek island Antikythera in 1902.
The device has been estimated to date back to 87 B.C. and is assumed to have been designed by Greek scientists. It’s made up of 30 bronze gears and 37 gear wheels which allow it to follow and calculate and measure the movements of the moon, sun, and other elements of space.
The Voynich Manuscript
Dating back to the 15th or 16th century, the Voynich Manuscript is an undecipherable book that is currently stored in Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The manuscript is a handwritten codex using an unknown writing system paired with illustrations and diagrams.
The writing is yet to be deciphered by researchers although it has been studied by professional cryptographers including American and British codebreakers from World War I and World War II. The origin and meaning of the manuscript have fascinated researchers since it was first brought to the attention of the public by Wilfrid Vooynich in 1912.
The Aluminum Wedge of Aiud
The Aluminum Wedge of Aidu was discovered in 1974 by Romanian workers next to 11,000-year-old mastodon bones. While the shape of the wedge is interesting, what’s really fascinating to scientists is that the five-pound object is made of 89 percent aluminum as well as zinc, lead, and copper, among other elements.
Aluminum, however, isn’t found in nature and wasn’t produced until the 1800s, presenting a rather large question. Where did it come from? For some, this mysterious wedge is apparently proof that Earth was visited by extra-terrestrial beings who left the wedge for us to discover.
The Stone Spheres
The stunning stone spheres of Costa Rica can now be found in museums, affluent people’s gardens, and still in the jungles of Costa Rica. Believed to be the work of ancient indigenous people, these perfectly shaped spheres range from being a few inches in diameter to seven feet across and weighing 16 tons.
Referred to as Las Bolas or “The Balls,” over 300 of them have been discovered varying in different types of stone. Some have proposed that the spheres were used as decorations leading up to the house of chiefs, however, their true significance remains unknown.
The Saksaywaman Walls
The Saksaywaman Walls in Cuzco, Peru are believed to predate the Incan Empire although the exact date of their construction is unknown. What’s amazing is how all of the stones fit so perfectly together even though it’s assumed that the creators didn’t have the proper tools or knowledge to succeed in such an endeavor.
With the entire structure estimated to weigh around 200 tons, how they managed to get the stones there as well as stack them is yet another astonishing mystery. Yet, they succeeded, and the site is assumed to have been an ancient temple where religious ceremonies were performed.
The Nazca Lines
While walking the desert plains of Nazca in southern Peru, you may not notice the giant geoglyphs that cover the floor of the desert. There are over 100 of these designs that are thought to have been created between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. and were made by removing a layer of topsoil to reveal the yellow-grey subsoil beneath.
There are figurative designs of various plants, animals, and people as well as less-distinctive designs. Yet, the amazing thing is that these geoglyphs can only be seen from above, which begs the question who they were for and how they were designed without access to the sky.
The Baghdad Battery
While leading an archaeological dig in 1838 in what is modern-day Iraq, German archaeologist Wilhelm Konig discovered a cache of clay jars that dated back to 200 B.C. Yet these weren’t ordinary jars; they each contained an iron rod wrapped in a copper cylinder. Although confused at first, after some research, he concluded that the jars were actually ancient batteries.
To test this theory, a college professor made a replica of the jars found by Konig and amazingly, they produced an electric current. However, the purpose of these supposed batteries remains a mystery as well as how these ancient people knew anything about electricity.
The Rongorongo Glyphs
Discovered in the 19th century on Easter Island, rongorongo is a system of glyphs that have yet to be deciphered. While some believe the glyphs have calendrical and genealogical information, none of the actual symbols can be read. If rongorongo is discovered to be writing, it would be one of the very few independent inventions of writing in human history.
Two dozen irregular tablets have been found with inscriptions engraved onto them with the majority of them sharing the symbols of a chieftain’s staff, a bird-man silhouette, and two crescent-shaped symbols. The tablets are believed by many to have once been sacred to the island’s inhabitants although their time of creation is unknown.
The Bolshoi Zayatsky Labyrinths
Believed to be around 2,500 years old, the stone labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island are a group of around 14 labyrinths located one a one square mile island off the coast of Russia.
The majority of the small island is covered in these elaborate designs although archaeologists don’t know who created them or exactly what they were used for. Yet, one popular opinion is that they were believed to be portals to the underworld, used to trap evil spirits, or used as altars for religious ceremonies.
The Sajama Lines
Much like the Nazca Lines, the Sajama Lines in Bolivia can only be seen from above. However, they differ greatly from the Nazca lines, as the lines don’t depict any images. Instead, they are simply intersecting lines that cover over 8,700 miles, making it one of the largest archaeological sites in the world.
Discovered by Aime Felix Tschiffely in 1932, the lines are dated to be around 3,000 years old with nobody having any solid evidence as to what the lines were used for or if there was a purpose at all.
These Roman dodecahedrons are hollow objects constructed from bronze and stone. They’re designed with twelve flat faces with each face having a circular hole. They’re believed to originate back from the 2nd or 3rd centuries and have been found all over Europe including Wales, Spain, Italy, and Hungary. So far, around 100 of them have been discovered, although there isn’t any reference to them in art or historical accounts.
Some experts have theorized that they were used as candlesticks, dice, a tool to gauge distances, or even gauges to calibrate water pipes. Several of these objects were also found in coin hoards, so it’s assumed that they were considered to be valuable.
While we know that Stonehenge was constructed between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago, the prehistoric monument still has many mysteries surrounding it. Some researchers have concluded that it was part of a larger sacred area that was made up of other stone and wood structures.
It has also been discovered that the area was used for hunting with more than 350 animal bones discovered in the area. Yet still, the major questions remain unanswered such as why it was built, who built it, and how did they manage to construct it with such rudimentary tools and limited knowledge?
The Khatt Shebib
In Jordan, there are the remains of an ancient wall that has perplexed archaeologists since its discovery in 1948 by Sir Alec Kirkbride when flying over Jordan. The wall is made of stone and is a total of 93 miles going north-northeast and south-southwest. Pottery was found near the wall which helped researchers estimate that it was constructed between the Nabataean period 312 B.C.- A.D. 106 and the Umayyad period A.D. 661-750.
The purpose of the wall remains an even greater mystery as it’s too small to have been used for defensive purposes. However, some believe that it was used as a separation line between ancient farmers and nomadic people.
The Gobleki Tepe in Turkey is the oldest temple ever constructed by humans. It was built around 11,000 B.C., making it 6,000 years older than Stonehenge. Its discovery was revealed in 2008, which marveled researchers and historians alike. They didn’t think that something as complex as this would have been possible so long ago.
It helped answer questions about ancient humans, what they were capable of, and the societies they lived in. However, people are still dumbfounded at how they were able to build such a structure without the aid of metal tools or deep knowledge of architecture.
The Plain Of Jars
Believed to be over 2,000 years old, the Plain of Jars is located in Laos in the Xieng Khuang province. French researcher Madeleine Colani suggested that the jars were used as ancient burial grounds which turned out to be true, as human remains were discovered in the same location.
However, much of the land and many of the jars were destroyed due to war in the 1960s and 70s with researchers still hesitant to visit the site due to the threat of buried landmines. Researchers assume that there’s still much more to learn and understand about the jars’ area.
Located in Bolivia, Puma Punku or “The Door of the Puma” is one of the most famous and mysterious archaeological sites in the world. It’s the remains of a temple that was built around 536 A.D. and has astonished scholars since it was first revealed to the academic community.
What makes it so amazing is the precision of the cuts of stone and the layout of the entire structure. Some researchers have even argued that advanced tools would be required to create something the likes of Puma Punku.
While people often associate pyramids with ancient Egypt, over the years, pyramids have been discovered all over the world. The shape has shown to be of meaning to numerous different cultures so it’s no surprise that they weren’t restricted to Egypt.
For example, the Hellinikon Pyramid in Argolis, Greece was built in 2721 B.C. and is much older than the Egyptian pyramids. It is believed that it was built as a tomb for the people that had died fighting for what was once Argos. Yet, there still hasn’t been significant proof as to what the purpose of the pyramid actually was.
An Ancient Belt Buckle
In 2011, a University of Colorado team stumbled upon an old Eskimo settlement that in Cape Espenberg, Alaska believed to date back over 1,000 years. Yet, they found something even more fascinating which looked like a small belt buckle, however, it dated hundreds of years earlier than the settlement it was discovered at.
What makes it so interesting, is that it was made using a mold and is the only ancient artifact ever found in Alaska that was cast from bronze. One theory is that it was an heirloom from East Asia that was passed down for generations. Thus, experts are still unsure.