Who does not like a good unsolved mystery story? For despite all the technology and access to information we have today, there are some facts, messages and intriguing objects whose purpose and provenance could never be explained. The staff of the mother nature network site has posted an interesting story that brings together some of the greatest mysteries in the world that have never been solved, and you can check out some of them in the selection below.
Few stories have the power to captivate us more than those that remain unresolved. Codes, puzzles and cryptic public art tease us with their intrigue: Why is their message coded? What great secrets might they hide?
Despite the efforts of our most revered historians, cleverest cryptographers and most determined treasure hunters, history is replete with riddles that continue to confound us today. Fictional tales like those featured in “The Da Vinci Code” and the movie “National Treasure” have got nothing on these real-life puzzles. Here’s our list of 20 of the world’s most cryptic unsolved mysteries and codes that still need answers in 2020!
1 – Beneath Stonehenge
Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous monuments. It stands on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, and its giant stones can be seen from miles around. Stonehenge was built over many hundreds of years. Work began in the late Neolithic Age, around 3000 BC. Over the next thousand years, people made many changes to the monument. The last changes were made in the early Bronze Age, around 1500 BC. We may never know exactly why Stonehenge was built, but people probably gathered there for religious ceremonies. Explore below to see what Stonehenge looked like 4,000 years ago.
Unprecedented underground mapping technology revealed that Stonehenge did not always stand alone. Beneath the 5,000-year-old stone structure is an archeological treasure trove made up of thousands of monuments that include shrines, burial mounds, deep pits and other unexplained features. Stonehenge was previously thought to be a standalone, isolated structure, so this discovery has thrown researchers for a loop.
“Stonehenge may never be the same again,” said Vince Gaffney, the project’s lead researcher. And this is just the beginning — the vast majority of information from the site has yet to be analyzed. “What you’re hearing about is simply a mere little finger of the amount of data that we have now,” Gaffney told Mashable. “We think we’ve got at least another year’s work on this.”
2 – Bermuda Triangle
Over the last 500 years, ships and airplanes have gone missing inside a triangular section of the North Atlantic Ocean called the Bermuda (or Devil’s) Triangle. This mysterious area is bounded by the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda; Miama, Florida, U.S.; and the American territory of Puerto Rico.
The earliest article to reference a disappearance was in The Miami Herald in 1950. However, the “Bermuda Triangle” itself was coined by Vincent Gaddis in a 1964 article.
Since then, scientists and amateurs have floated various theories – from sea monsters to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) – but nobody has been successful in decoding the mystery. In August 2018, a Channel 5 documentary – “The Bermuda Triangle Enigma” – suggested the disappearances could be attributed to 100 feet (30 meter) tall “rogue” waves that engulf ships and planes attempting to navigate the area.
3 – Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt — a land of unsolved mysteries. No other civilization has so captured the imagination of scholars and laypeople alike. Mystery surrounds its origins, its religion and its monumental architecture: colossal temples, pyramids and the enormous Sphinx. The Egyptian pyramids are the most famous of all the ancient monuments, the only remaining wonder of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Just as life arose from the waters, the seeds of civilization were first sown along the banks of the Nile. This mighty river, which flows north from the heart of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, nourished the growth of the pharaonic kingdom. The long, narrow flood plain was a magnet for life, attracting people, animals and plants to its banks. In pre-dynastic times, nomadic hunters settled in the valley and began to grow crops to supplement their food supply. Seen as a gift from the gods, the annual flooding of the river deposited nutrient rich silt over the land, creating ideal conditions for growing wheat, flax and other crops. The first communal project of this fledgling society was the building of irrigation canals for agricultural purposes.
Ancient’s Egypt’s Great Pyramid has inspired theories, both conspiratorial and historical, for centuries, and a new discovery of a mysterious void has added to the mystique. The void is 153 feet long and 26 feet tall, and it lies above the corridor leading to the burial chamber of Khufu, an Egyptian pharaoh. Is the void one or several rooms? What’s inside it? What purpose did it serve? These are questions that remain to be answered.
Archaeologists have yet to access the void in person. That’s because it was found using muon radiography, a type of imaging that uses subatomic particles to peer through walls or solid structures.
4 – Kryptos
Kryptos is a sculpture by the American artist Jim Sanborn located on the grounds of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia. Since its dedication on November 3, 1990, there has been much speculation about the meaning of the four encrypted messages it bears. Of these four messages, the first three have been solved, while the fourth message remains one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world. The sculpture continues to be of interest to cryptanalysts, both amateur and professional, who are attempting to decipher the fourth passage. The artist has so far given three clues to this passage.
In 2006 Sanborn let slip that there are clues in the first inscriptions to the last one, and in 2010 he released another clue: the Letters 64-69 NYPVTT in part 4 encode the text BERLIN. Think you have what it takes to solve it?
5 – Beale Ciphers
The Beale ciphers (or Beale Papers) are a set of three ciphertexts, one of which allegedly states the location of a buried treasure of gold, silver and jewels estimated to be worth over US$43 million as of January 2018. Comprising three ciphertexts, the first (unsolved) text describes the location, the second (solved) ciphertext the content of the treasure, and the third (unsolved) lists the names of the treasure’s owners and their next of kin.
The treasure was originally obtained by a mysterious man named Thomas Jefferson Beale in 1818 while prospecting in Colorado. Of the three ciphertexts, only the second one has been cracked (pictured). Interestingly, the U.S. Declaration of Independence turned out to be the key — a curious fact given that Beale shares his name with the author of the Declaration of Independence.
The cracked text does reveal the county where the treasure was buried: Bedford County, Virginia, but its exact location is likely encrypted in one of the other uncracked ciphers. To this day, treasure hunters scour the Bedford County hillsides digging (often illegally) for the loot.
6 – Mohenjo Daro
A WELL-PLANNED STREET grid and an elaborate drainage system hint that the occupants of the ancient Indus civilization city of Mohenjo Daro were skilled urban planners with a reverence for the control of water. But just who occupied the ancient city in modern-day Pakistan during the third millennium B.C. remains a puzzle. “It’s pretty faceless,” says Indus expert Gregory Possehl of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
The city lacks ostentatious palaces, temples, or monuments. There’s no obvious central seat of government or evidence of a king or queen. Modesty, order, and cleanliness were apparently preferred. Pottery and tools of copper and stone were standardized. Seals and weights suggest a system of tightly controlled trade.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient civilization emerged some 4,500 years ago, thriving along the fertile plains of the Indus River until it mysteriously collapsed. The city of Mohenjo Daro was unknown till 1911, when archaeologists first visited; excavations didn’t start till 1921.
Known for advanced drainage systems and a grid-style construction, the fate of the people and the civilization remains unknown. Theories to explain that fate include a sudden change in the course of the river to an attack by invaders wielding advanced weaponry.
7 – Voynich Manuscript
Named after the Polish-American antiquarian bookseller Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912, the Voynich Manuscript is a detailed 240-page book written in a language or script that is completely unknown. Its pages are also filled with colorful drawings of strange diagrams, odd events and plants that do not seem to match any known species, adding to the intrigue of the document and the difficulty of deciphering it. The original author of the manuscript remains unknown, but carbon dating has revealed that its pages were made sometime between 1404 and 1438. It has been called “the world’s most mysterious manuscript.”
Theories abound about the origin and nature of the manuscript. Some, like historian and artist Nicholas Gibbs, believe it was meant to be a pharmacopoeia, to address topics in medieval or early modern medicine. In a recent essay for the Times Literary Supplement, Gibbs writes that it’s “a reference book of selected remedies lifted from the standard treatises of the medieval period, an instruction manual for the health and wellbeing of the more well to do women in society, which was quite possibly tailored to a single individual.”
Many of the pictures of herbs and plants hint that it many have been some kind of textbook for an alchemist. The fact that many diagrams appear to be of astronomical origin, combined with the unidentifiable biological drawings, has even led some fanciful theorists to propose that the book may have an alien origin.
One thing most theorists agree on is that the book is unlikely to be a hoax, given the amount of time, money and detail that would have been required to make it.
8 – The Wow! Signal
It is one of the real biggest unsolved mysteries. One summer night in 1977, Jerry Ehman, a volunteer for SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, may have become the first man ever to receive an intentional message from an alien world. Ehman was scanning radio waves from deep space, hoping to randomly come across a signal that bore the hallmarks of one that might be sent by intelligent aliens, when he saw his measurements spike.
The signal lasted for 72 seconds, the longest period of time it could possibly be measured by the array that Ehman was using. It was loud and appeared to have been transmitted from a place no human has gone before: in the constellation Sagittarius near a star called Tau Sagittarii, 120 light-years away.
Ehman wrote the words “Wow!” on the original printout of the signal, thus its title as the “Wow! Signal.” All attempts to locate the signal again have failed, leading to much controversy and mystery about its origins and its meaning. In 2017, a team of researchers suggested the signal was a then-unidentified comet. This mystery still remains unresolved.
9 – The Late Bronze Age collapse
The Late Bronze Age collapse of societies throughout the Levant, the Near East and the Mediterranean some 3,200 years ago has been a mystery. Powerful, advanced civilizations disappeared, seemingly overnight.
Around 1200 BC, the entire Eastern Mediterranean, Anatolia and Aegean region collapsed in a sudden, violent and disruptive manner. Almost all the cities were destroyed, and the cultural collapse of the kingdoms brought about the Dark Ages. Historians believe it might have been due to foreign invasion, drop in international trade or natural causes like earthquake and/or drought.
10 – William Shakespeare
The “authorship question” of the English bard — who wrote such renowned plays as “The Merchant of Venice,” “Julius Caesar” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — continues to haunt scholars with many trying to figure out how a glover’s son from the countryside entered the literary world.
Modern-day historians believe that some of his works may have been partially written in tandem with others. But some scholars and even fellow writers are skeptical that Shakespeare wrote any of his celebrated sonnets or plays, and that “Shakespeare” was actually a pseudonym used to disguise the true identity of the real author. Surrounded by difficult issues regarding social class and education, the Shakespeare authorship question isn’t new, with dozens of possible theories about who the “Bard of Avon” really was — or wasn’t.
Popular conspiracy theories suggest he was a ghostwriter or actually Francis Bacon, an essayist; Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford or even Christopher Marlowe, another playwright from the same era. It is one of the real biggest unsolved mysteries.
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