-->

8 of history's most enigmatic mysteries that were eventually solved

Part of what fascinates modern minds about the worlds of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Celts, and other once-great civilizations is what they accomplished before the development of technology. How did they manage it? Here are a few examples of the outcomes.





Stonehenge


Stonehenge
pic credit: Getty Images/matt cardy



Stonehenge, a prehistoric ring of standing stones on England's Salisbury Plain, is one of the ancient world's great mysteries, partly because the theories surrounding it revolve around the classic "five W's and an H" line of inquiry: Who built it? What does this imply? What are the origins of these rocks? When was it constructed? What was their motivation for doing it in the first place? How did they acquire these massive rocks over there in the first place?



It's as if Stonehenge was built by a three-year-old as an excuse to have fun. Researchers have made progress in answering at least one of those issues, which is good news for your itchy brain. Evidence suggests that at least some of the stones used to build Stonehenge came from quarries in Wales, some 180 miles away, according to scientists who know these things. 


Because slabs of stone in these quarries are typically vertically oriented, transporting these "ready-made" blocks from the Welsh quarries for nearly 200 miles was apparently easier than carving stones from a more local source. It would have been even simpler if they had simply made it 18 inches tall! 



Roman concrete


Roman concrete
pic credit: Shutterstock


During the classical era of the Roman republic, which lasted until the fall of the Western Empire, the Romans employed concrete extensively in their architecture. Its adaptability and rapid hardening ushered in the Roman architectural revolution, and the Romans' independence from the limitations of rock and brick allowed them to create the arches, vaults, and domes that are synonymous with ancient Roman architecture.


Its relative durability is also why so many classic Roman monuments have survived to the current day, including the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Baths of Caracalla, the Pont du Gard, and numerous bridges and aqueducts. "Today, Rome and all modern cities would look extremely different if it weren't for concrete." 


However, after the fall of the Western Empire, the technology for creating concrete was lost until the mid-eighteenth century, and modern concrete is made of a different material. So it was a mystery for about 2,000 years how the Romans created the substance that allowed them to build an empire.


However, in 2015, Tiziana Vanorio, a geophysicist at Stanford University, claimed to have cracked the code thanks to a disaster from her own youth, the 1982 eruption of the volcano Campi Flegrei, which prompted the evacuation of the Italian city of Pozzuoli. 


Vanorio identified a concrete-like substance that was nearly identical to Roman concrete when examining the volcano. The Romans, skilled watchers of nature, appear to have drawn inspiration from nature's own concrete to create a material that transformed history.




Norse code


Norse code
pic credit: Shutterstock


Runes. The word itself sounds mystical and mysterious, yet runes were simply letters in different Germanic nations' alphabets before they adopted the Latin alphabet to write their languages. However, certain runic writings are more difficult to read than others. 


This is, in fact, deliberate: Several of the inscriptions are written in code, and one of these centuries-old Viking codes, known as jötunvillur, was only deciphered in 2014. According to The Guardian, University of Oslo runologist K. Jonas Nordby figured it out thanks to the discovery of a stick on which two people had written their names in both jötunvillur and standard runes.


The regular runes would be replaced by the final letter in the name of the rune, for example, the rune maðr, which ordinarily makes an "m" sound, would be replaced by the rune for "r," because maðr ends in "r." Such rune sticks would have been used to communicate, but the use of code appears to have been more for the sake of a game intended to teach runes, or perhaps just to show off.




Also Read: 5 Mysterious Historical Cases That Were Eventually Resolved




The honeycomb skull


The honeycomb skull
pic credit: Wikipedia 



Following a 15-day siege, Ottoman admiral Gedik Ahmed Pasha seized the Italian city of Otranto on August 14, 1480. Women and children were sold into slavery, while tens of thousands of men were slain. According to mythology, Otranto's remaining 800-plus able-bodied men were given the opportunity to convert to Islam. 


They were all put to death because they refused. These anonymous men, known as the Otranto Martyrs, were glorified as the patron saints of Otranto by Pope Francis in 2013. The skulls of those individuals have been displayed in big glass cabinets in the Cathedral of Otranto for hundreds of years, all with their faces directed toward visitors.


Except for the so-called honeycombed skull, which is structured in such a way that its cranium displays a pattern of 16 perfectly round holes. For centuries, the how and why of this skull's perforation remained a mystery. Researchers at the University of Pisa, however, appear to have broken it in 2015, according to Gizmodo


The perfectly rounded, conical holes indicated that the perpetrator would have used a half-moon-shaped trepan, which is a drill bit designed exclusively for drilling into the skull, as everyone knows.


However, the how may not be as fascinating as the why: The driller was most likely extracting that excellent bone powder, and it occurred decades after the martyr's death. Why? Powder created from the bones of saints or martyrs was thought to be particularly effective against paralysis, stroke, epilepsy, and other brain illnesses in the late Middle Ages.




The Nazca


The Nazca
pic credit: Getty Images/Martin Bernetti



The mysterious Nazca lines, elaborate and sophisticated miles-long line drawings of topics such as a hummingbird, a jaguar, trees, flowers, and a monkey, were created by an ancient culture in what is now Peru. The Nazca people created these geoglyphs between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D., and they were a smart and advanced culture in many other ways, including establishing a complex irrigation system for their crops.


Despite the Nazca civilization's intricacy and sophistication, it perished some 1,500 years ago, and no one could explain why. That is, until 2009. Researchers determined that they had vanished owing to deforestation, according to the BBC


Basically, the Nazca cut down too many huarango trees to plant maize, not realizing that huarango trees were the ecosystem's only lifeline. Without the trees, the area would have turned into a desert, and the Nazca would have been swept away by El Nino-related floods.


It almost seems as though there is a lesson for modern civilization to learn from the devastation of a once-thriving civilization due to their own hubris and environmental damage.





Also Read: After decades of investigation, five cold cases will be solved in 2021





The Antikythera 


The Antikythera
pic credit: Louisa Gouliamaki/Getty Images



Divers examining a Roman-era shipwreck off the shore of the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901 uncovered the remains of a little wooden box among other artifacts. Scholars were baffled by the sophisticated array of gears found inside the box. 


Researchers discovered that the apparatus was likely meant to recreate the movements of the heavenly bodies, the Sun, Moon, and planets, thanks to developments in X-ray technology in the 1970s and 1990s. Beyond that, the mysteries of the green-encrusted bronze cogs were too difficult to decipher and failed to pique the interest of anyone other than ancient aliens.


That is, until about 2006. According to Smithsonian, modern technologies like CT scans uncovered more of the Antikythera mechanism's inner workings, including previously concealed inscriptions that proved the device was essentially an old analog computer. 


The device's intricate system of over 30 interconnecting bronze gears allowed ancient Greeks to track the Sun and Moon's travels across the zodiac, anticipate eclipses, and model the Moon's erratic orbit. It also functioned as a calendar.




The lost army


The lost army
pic credit: Wikipedia 



According to Herodotus, the Persian ruler Cambyses the second dispatched an army of 50,000 troops to assault the Egyptian Oasis of Siwa probably around 525 B.C. However, a tremendous sandstorm struck, burying the entire army, which was never seen again. 


Many historians regarded it as fiction, but in 2009, archaeologists near the Oasis of Siwa unearthed various items that appeared to be Persian in origin, as well as a mass burial containing human bones. So much for mythology! 





Also Read: 4 Historical Mysteries That Still Haven't Been Solved





The Palmyra Desert


The Palmyra Desert
pic credit: AFP Contributor/Getty Images



Palmyra, which is now part of Syria, was once one of the Roman Empire's wealthiest and most important cities. Because of its affluence, it was able to construct huge public works such as the Great Colonnade, the Temple of Bel, and countless tower-shaped tombs across the city. 


All of this is fine and dandy, but it begs the following problems for current observers: Why would you put such a significant city in the middle of a desert, for example? What did the people eat and drink? The explanation is actually rather simple: Palmyra was not a desert during the Roman Empire's reign! It was more of an arid steppe than anything else.


Rainwater would have been kept from being absorbed by the earth by grassroots; it would have pooled in small creeks and rivers, providing enough water to water crops and provide drinking water.


1 comment:

  1. Awoyinfa says as a person or group of people, sports management may refer to the head alone or to all the senior staff, committee, etc.; while as a discipline, management is a field of study with various subjects and topics. The author illuminates that sports management as a process is about a systematic way of doing things. https://www.ladypalmranch.com

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.