So many people on Earth today have started looking outward towards the stars when pondering the mysteries of the universe, including myself. Curiosity is a hallmark trait of mankind, so it makes sense that we’d want to know more about the aspects of life that elude us.
But, while there is quite a bit of knowledge yet to be learned out in the great expanses of space, there remains plenty of mystery here on Earth for us to discover and study. And it’s not in the depths of the ocean (though our oceans are mysterious in their own right--we’ve only explored about 5 percent of them).
Here are seven historical monuments that you can visit on Earth today that are still shrouded in mystery:
Lying amongst the ruins of a city that was once flourishing and prosperous, the Baalbek temple is one of the most mysterious structures to have ever been built. Why? Because it is believed that Romans did not possess the necessary technology that would allow them to create the massive stone blocks that make up the temple’s foundation.
For comparison, the largest blocks used to build the Great Pyramids in Egypt weighed an impressive 90 tons. This temple’s blocks weigh up to 1000 tons, leading some to speculate that the Egyptians helped build it or even some race of giants. Others believe it is the foundation of the Tower of Babel.
Lying at the end of the Siq Canyon is Al-Khazneh, or ‘The Treasury’ when translated from Arabic. This monumental structure was literally carved into the side of the canyon wall and reaches 900 feet above sea level. Many people believe it is a temple or a mausoleum, but the true mystery is in its construction.
A feat like this would have been nearly impossible without the use of scaffolding, a technology that the rock-carvers did not have at the time of Al-Khazneh’s creation.
The Terracotta Army, China
This fascinating tale is the discovery of some 8000 statues of Chinese soldiers and their horses buried several feet undergound. Located in the Mausoleum Qin Shi Huang, each handmade statue features incredibly acute detail, including each individual soldier having a different face and subtle changes to appearance.
Perhaps even more mysterious is the fact that scientists found incredibly high levels of mercury within the Mausoleum, lending truth to the legend that the emperor had it filled with ‘rivers of mercury’ to bring the rivers of China with him to the afterlife.
The statues of Easter Island in Chile
The name ‘moai’ refers to the giant monolithic statues carved by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island sometime between 1250 and 1500 A.D. The mystery of these massive figures is how they were seemingly moved from one region to another. And the fact that their ritual stands weighed more than the moai themselves.
Through experimentation, it’s been deemed that these statues indeed could have been moved, but no one knows exactly how, because the last descendants of the Rapa Nui people perished in the slave trade.
Stonehenge in England
Legends would tell you that Stonehenge was erected by the mystical figure Merlin, but this structure is believed to have been built before the time of King Arthur. The biggest mystery surrounding Stonehenge is how the massive stones were moved and placed on top of one another--considering Stonehenge’s location is several hundred kilometers away from the nearest quarry.
Some believe it is a type of observatory, as the structure’s pattern mimics our solar system. Others believe it was a place of ritual for Druids and Celtic priests.
As is the case with most Mayan settlements, Tikal was hidden in the depths of the jungle. The mystery of this location is not the beautiful ponds, palaces or fields where sports were played, but the temple or pyramid-like structures. Tikal has been given the nickname ‘City of Voices’ because every single sound uttered within echoes vibrantly--even whispers.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The Angkor Wat structure is build with such precision that its European discoverers cast doubt that the Khmer people could have ever built it themselves. Its stones are some of the smoothest ever seen and you’d be hard pressed to find any sort of seem indicating the building blocks of construction.
Its design is also quite meticulous. The structure is a collection of some 200 temples, but to the wayward traveler approaching from its sides it looks as if there are only three temples.