Top 10 Explorers Of The Ancient World


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Top 10 Explorers Of The Ancient World

MARK OLIVER APRIL 22, 2017

http://listverse.com/2017/04/22/top-10-explorers-of-the-ancient-world/

Man explored the world long before the days of Columbus and Magellan. Even in the earliest moments of human history, when the known world was little more than what extended within sight, there were men who were sent out to explore the unknown.

When the first explorers set out into unknown parts of the world, they had no way of being prepared for what they saw. They saw parts of the world that were completely unlike anything they had ever imagined. Then, they had to come home and try to find a way to put the things they had seen into words.

 

10Hanno and the Burning Jungle

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Around the sixth or fifth century B.C., a Carthaginian called Hanno the Navigator set out with 30,000 people in 76 ships and sailed along the western coast of Africa. It is believed that he made it as far as modern Ghana—at the time, the furthest anyone had gone into the continent.

Nobody in his world, at this time, had any idea of what to expect in West Africa, and Hanno came back with some strange reports about the people who lived there. He described people with almost mythic powers, claiming that there were a group of men living in caves who could run faster than horses.

His most harrowing story, though, comes from his exploration of an island. “In the daytime we could see nothing but the forest,” Hanno reported, “but during the night we noticed many fires alight and heard the sound of flutes, the beating of cymbals and tom-toms, and the shouts of a multitude.”

An oracle he had brought with him urged him to leave the island and soon as possible. When he was back on his boat and looked back at the island, it was on fire. “Large torrents of fire emptied into the sea, and the land was inaccessible because of the heat,” Hanno wrote. “Quickly and in fear, we sailed away from that place. For four days, we saw the coast by night full of flames.”

9Himilco and the Sea Monsters of Britain

sea monsters

While Hanno went south, down Africa, another Carthaginian, Himilco, traveled north, along the coastline of Europe and all the way up to modern England. He set up colonies along the way and opened trade routes with the people who lived there, who he called “a vigorous tribe” that were “proud spirited, energetic and skillful.”

The strangest part, though, is how Himilco describes his trip. According to Himilco, Britain was under a constant fog, with shallow waters so full of seaweed that it was nearly impossible to move a ship an inch. And, he claimed, it was filled up with “numerous sea monsters.”

It is not entirely clear what Himilco actually saw. He may have struggled with some animal he had never seen before and mistaken it for a monster—or he might have just lied. That is the most popular theory—that Himilco thought his discoveries in Britain were so valuable that he had to keep them secret from the world. When he came home, he told the Greeks there were killer sea monsters to keep them from exploring Britain for themselves.

 

8Necho and the Trip around Africa

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Sometime in the sixth century B.C., the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho outdid Hanno’s trip. He sent men out down the Red Sea and had them follow the coast of Africa, heading all the way down to the tip of South Africa, up along the west, and back through the Nile. These were the first people in all of history to circumnavigate the continent.

The trip took more than two years to complete. Every autumn, the men would dock their ship wherever they were and set up farms to survive through the winter. Then, in the spring, they would head back aboard their ship and sail off again.

These people traveled further south than any Egyptian had before them—which made them the first to see the sky from the southern hemisphere. When they came home, they reported that they had seen the sun shine from the north.

To the people of the ancient world, though, the idea of a southern hemisphere was incomprehensible. They thought the men were delusional. Our main record of this trip comes from the Greek Herodotus, who scoffs at their claim that the sun was further north. “Some believe it,” he wrote, “but I do not.”

7Hecataeus’s Journey around the World

hecataeusMap

During the sixth century B.C., Hecataeus, a Greek geographer, explored as much of the world as he could. He had been to Egypt and parts of Africa, and was pretty sure that he had seen and heard enough to chart the whole world.

He tried to catalog every part of the world in a book called “Journey Around the World” and even made his own world map. His map showed the world as a round disc with Greece in the center. The world, he believed, stretched no further west than the Strait of Gibraltar, no further east than the Caspian Sea, and no further south than the Red Sea. Beyond these points, there was nothing but water.

Not every Greek believed him. Herodotus made fun of him, writing, “I laugh when I see that many have designed maps of the earth” that made it look “exactly circular” with “an ocean flowing round the Earth.” He was pushing his own map of the world—his, though, was pretty much the same, except that he made the earth a bit more of a misshapen blob, and he had helpfully written the word “cannibals” over northern Europe.

6Pytheas and the Frozen Ocean

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Around 325 B.C., Pytheas became the first Greek to sail up the northernmost point of Britain and circle the islands. He came home and gushed about everything he had seen—and nobody believed him.

Almost every record we have of Pytheas’s journey is from somebody who thinks he is lying. The Greek Strabo wrote off his entire trip as a lie, referring to him as “Pytheas, by whom many have been misled.” In particular, he mocked Pytheas for saying that Britain had a coastline 4,545 miles (7314 km) long. To Strabo, that seemed impossibly big—but, if anything, Pytheas’s measurements were too small.

His reports include some descriptions that seem to suggest he reached the Arctic. He said that, north of Britain, there was a “frozen ocean” where the nights get so long that “on the winter solstice there is no day.”

Some of his word choices, though, make it pretty clear why the Greeks did not believe him. North of Britain, he claimed, “there was no longer either land properly so-called, or sea, or air, but a kind of substance concreted from all these elements, resembling a sea-lungs.” Nothing, he said, could cross the sea-lungs.

It sounds mythical and impossible, and kind of made-up—but he might just not have known how to describe what he was seeing. Some today think that he saw slaushed ice drifting in the sea and was just doing his best to try to explain it.

 

5Nearchus’s Violent Trip down the Indus River

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Around the same time, Alexander the Great sent out a man named Nearchus to explore the Indus River, wanting to see if there was a safe path down the river. Nearchus was given men and ships and went out—and ended up getting into enough fights with natives to make the Spanish Conquistadors look peaceful.

As soon as he started, Nearchus was stopped by a monsoon. He had to spend a month waiting for the weather to calm down. The native people, though, attacked his camp so often that he ended up having to build afortified base out of stone just to hold them off.

When he finally got going, he found another group of natives with stone age technology who tried to scare him away from landing. According to Nearchus, these people were completely covered in hair, with nails “rather like beasts’ claws.”

Nearchus immediately tried to kill them all, launching missiles at them from their boat and sending an armored phalanx in to slaughter the rest. He boasted, “They, astounded at the flash of the armor, and the swiftness of the charge, and attacked by showers of arrows and missiles, half naked as they were, never stopped to resist but gave way.”

He slaughtered or took captive every person he could run down, only complaining afterward that “some escaped into the hills.”

4Zhang Qian’s Journey to Mesopotamia

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Around 113 B.C., the Emperor of Han sent an explorer named Zhang Qian out west, to find out who lived there, and, it seems, whether they could be added to his empire.

Zhang Qian made it into part of Mesopotamia, exploring parts of Parthian Persia and the Seleucid Empire that were tightly connected to the European powers. He came back with some of the first descriptions the Chinese ever heard of these places.

He was fascinated by Western coins. “They bear the face of the king,” he reported back. “When the king dies, the currency is immediately changed and new coins issued with the face of his successor.”

He came to the Seleucid Empire when it was collapsing after years of Civil Wars. In its weakened state, he saw it as a place “ruled by many petty chiefs,” subservient to the Parthians.

On the whole, though, he was not impressed. “All these states,” he reported back to the emperor, “were militarily weak.” With a few gifts from the Han Empire, Zhang Qian believed, every one of them could be made subservient.

3The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and the First Chinese Contact

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Around A.D. 60, the Greeks wrote a book called “The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.” It was their description of the Indian world—but it is particularly unique for having one of the first European descriptions of a Chinese person.

The unknown writer reported seeing a tribe he called the “Sêsatai,” believed to be Chinese, journey into India. He describes them as “short in body and very flat faced” and says that they came carrying massive packs “resembling mats of green leaves.”

The Sêsatai would lay out their great mats and hold a festival in India. Then, after days of celebration, these people would leave their mats behind and head back into China.

This was one of the first contacts between the European world and the Chinese—although not a single word was spoken. The Greek writer simply watched them celebrate and leave, writing them off as a primitive tribe—unaware he had made contact with a massive eastern empire.

2Gan Ying’s Journey to Europe

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Shortly after, in A.D. 97, the Han Empire sent an explorer named Gan Ying out west to make contact with Europe. It is likely that they had heard stories about the empires to the west, and Gan Ying was to find out if these places were real.

Gan Ying made it out west to Parthia and spoke to the sailors there, but they convinced him not to go on to Europe. “The ocean is huge,” the sailors told him, warning him a trip across the sea could take up to three years. “The vast ocean urges men to think of their country, and get homesick, and some of them die.”

Instead, Gan Ying got them to describe Rome in as much detail as possible. He reported back that it was a massive kingdom with five palaces in the capital. “The people of this country are all tall and honest,” he reported back. “They shave their heads, and their clothes are embroidered.”

Rome, he learned, was aware of the Han Empire, and had tried to trade with them. The Parthians, though, had kept them apart to dominate Rome’s trade with the East.

1The Wei Zhi and the Tattooed People of Japan

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In A.D. 297, explorers from the Chinese Wei Kingdom traveled around the Japanese islands and reported back what they had heard. They were not the first people to make contact with Japan, but they explored the eastern sea more thoroughly than ever before. If there is any truth to what they wrote, Japan has gone through some major changes.

“Men, great and small, all tattoo their faces and decorate their bodies with designs,” the Wei explorers reported back. The people of Japan, they claimed, covered themselves in these tattoos to “keep away large fish” when they go swimming.

They traveled south of Japan, too, where they claimed to have found an “island of the dwarfs where the people are three or four feet tall.” They put the Island of the Dwarfs about a year’s travel southeast of Korea, near the “Land of the Black-Teethed People” and the “Land of the Naked Men.”

MARK OLIVERMark Oliver is a regular contributor to Listverse. His writing also appears on a number of other sites, including The Onion’s StarWipe and Cracked.com. His website is regularly updated with everything he writes.

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Top 10 Dazzling New Discoveries From Ancient Egypt


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Top 10 Dazzling New Discoveries From Ancient Egypt

JANA LOUISE SMIT APRIL 23, 2017

http://listverse.com/2017/04/23/top-10-dazzling-new-discoveries-from-ancient-egypt/

Too often, it might appear as if Egypt’s dunes no longer deliver Giza-grade delights. While it would be extremely difficult to top the famous pyramids, incredible discoveries are still being made. New ruins reveal vast, rich tombs and even when the plague came to Thebes. Even modern places such as Cairo’s museum and slums deliver unexpected historic gems.

 

10Bonaparte’s Weapons

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Photo credit: english.ahram.org.eg

Ancient Egypt experienced invasions from several overlords, and Napoleon Bonaparte eventually joined that club. In 1798, he sailed with an armada of over 100 warships and surprised the famous city of Alexandria in the early hours of the morning.

Determined to rule the land of the pharaohs, he fought off the British successfully until the lure of power got the best of him. The English nabbed Egypt while Napoleon was attempting a coup in France.

In 2014, Russian divers found traces of his army near Pharos Island, which is located near Alexandria. The island once held the highest building of the time—a lighthouse that reached 117 meters (384 ft) into the sky.

While exploring the waters of Pharos Island, the team found 18th-century guns, pistols, and even cannons belonging to Bonaparte’s men. The cache is believed to have belonged to the crew aboard the French vessel Le Patriot, which lost in a skirmish with the British at the port of Alexandria.

9The Unexpected Pyramid

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While Egypt is not the most surprising place to find a new pyramid, one pointy wonder appeared unexpectedly. The structure was no longer recognizable since all that remained were some of its lower ruins.

Located inside the Dahshur necropolis south of Cairo, the remains consisted of rooms, alabaster paving blocks, and a stone corridor. The building was misidentified as an early tomb building attempt. A reexamination in 2017 revealed the truth.

It wasn’t merely an elaborate or experimental grave but a pyramid built around 3,700 years ago. The closest pyramid to this newcomer is the well-known Bent Pyramid. The latter was raised around 2600 BC on the orders of King Snefru.

It’s unknown whose body was supposed to be interred within the newly discovered Dahshur pyramid. Its age places it in the 13th dynasty and was most likely meant to be the eternal resting place of a highly born individual. The necropolis that surrounds it was also constructed on the west bank of the Nile, an area reserved for the tombs of royalty.

 

8The Thousand Statues

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Photo credit: abc.net.au

A magnificent moment came for Egyptian archaeologists when they unearthed another tomb on the Nile’s west bank. This one was also within the boundaries of a necropolis. The Dra Abu-el Naga site in Luxor yielded a wealth of artifacts as well as caskets.

When the tomb was opened in 2017, it was discovered to belong to a nobleman who died 3,000 years ago. Named Userhat, he worked as a judge during his lifetime in the New Kingdom era (1500–1000 BC).

The tomb complex consisted of an open courtyard connected to a pair of halls. In one, there were four coffins. When the researchers investigated the second hall, they found six more sarcophagi.

Yet another room was uncovered, and inside was an army of over 1,000 small statues. The diminutive figurines represented the kings from several different dynasties, and more are expected to be found before excavations are completed. In the same room, there was also a wooden mask and the handle of a sarcophagus lid.

7A New Necropolis

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Photo credit: Live Science

A necropolis (burial ground) is common in Egypt. However, when a new one was located in 2016, it tweaked the area’s history and presented a mystery. Gebel el Silsila was thought to be a quarry camp. The shrine and 42 tombs show that it was a flourishing community with families, religion, and commerce.

This led archaeologists to look for the ruins of homes, but there was no sign of them. There was the necropolis, quarry, statues, and stelae but no village or city. The tombs were discovered when archaeologists tried to reverse flood damage. They were aware of the rock-cut hollows but didn’t find out their exact nature until the Nile silt was being removed.

The double-chambered shrine was the first to be found. Inside one room was a carved solar disc with wings, a powerful protection symbol. The tombs had been looted, and human bones were in disarray.

The burial site appeared to have been for elites. The statues depicted important families from 1543–1189 BC. A scarab amulet displaying Pharaoh Thutmose III’s name also supports the notion that Silsila was far more important than just a quarry.

6The Bird Dancers

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Photo credit: newhistorian.com

In 2015, this treasure received the honor of being named “one of the 10 most important archaeological discoveries in Egypt.” At first glance, the rock art appears dull and faded. But its worth flows from the fact that it predates the pharaohs.

Almost nothing is known about the Neolithic Nile culture that later became the unique ancient Egyptian society. Egyptologists working at Qubbet el-Hawa, a necropolis near Aswan, found images dating to the fourth millennium BC. They survived the eons because they were carved and not painted.

The style was interesting. Instead of lines, tiny dots formed the outlines of a dancer and an archer stalking an ostrich. They cannot be seen unless the dots are connected. The dancer, shown with arms raised in perhaps encouragement or a blessing for the hunt, wears what looks like a bird mask.

This could be a much sought-after link between the two cultures. Several years ago, similar clay masks and paintings of female dancers with bird masks were found in Hierakonpolis. They also date to the fourth millennium BC.

 

5Meteoric Jewelry

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Photo credit: sciencedirect.com

Nine metal beads from northern Egypt, the oldest iron artifacts in the world, are from space. A burial ground in Gerzeh produced the tiny items from two different tombs. Grave goods helped to securely date the rare metal to 3200 BC.

Made of meteorite iron, the beads were created by hammering the metal into thin sheets before rolling them into the final form. The tubelike jewelry was highly prized.

Four were strung on a necklace with other valuable minerals such as gold, carnelian, agate, and lapis lazuli. Another three were found on the waist of the same corpse. The remaining two were at the hands of a person buried in another richly furnished grave.

The cemetery was excavated in 1911 and contains the remains of predynastic people who died sometime during the fourth millennium BC. Although the brittle and rough meteoric iron was harder than copper (which was more commonly used at the time), this ancient community already possessed the smelting skills to finely hammer sheets as thin as 1 millimeter (0.04 in) and roll them without causing any fractures.

4The Third Kingdom

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Photo credit: The Guardian

Flinders Petrie uncovered a site in 1902. But for some reason, the world-famous Egyptologist decided not to waste his time on the modest tombs. Had he done so, Petrie would have added another sterling discovery to his career.

In 2014, archaeologists took their spades, headed over to this area of Abydos, and found an unknown king. But this wasn’t just any old pharaoh. The looted body of King Senebkay dates back 3,600 years ago.

The significance is that scholars theorized about a dynasty that existed during that era but had no physical proof for their theories until now. Even more remarkable, it rewrites the long-held belief that Egypt only had two kingdoms before its unification.

In the central territory between the northern and southern kingdoms, another one existed and it was controlled by Senebkay’s dynasty around 1600 BC. What role this lost state played is unknown, but it will be interesting to find out with whom it was allied or whether it acted like a buffer between the other two.

Archaeologists remain hopeful that the remaining tombs will turn up more royalty and missing history.

3Plague Of Cyprian

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Photo credit: Live Science

A grisly find occurred during the 1997–2012 excavations of Luxor. A team working at the funerary complex of Harwa and Akhimenru, once used by the ancient people of Thebes, discovered a human disposal site.

Three kilns at the complex produced massive amounts of lime, a disinfectant in olden times. There were bodies covered with lime and the remains of a bonfire with skeletons. The fire was fed the victims of a plague so horrific that the writer Saint Cyprian thought the end of the world was near.

Pottery dates the complex to the third century AD when a plague swept through the Roman Empire and decimated populations everywhere, Egypt included. Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage and described the harrowing sickness that occurred between AD 250–271. Symptoms included persistent vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, mouth sores, and rotting extremities.

The monument was meant to receive two grand stewards, Harwa and Akhimenru, but was used as an emergency funeral parlor instead. Examination of the victims shows that people died at such a rapid pace that none received burial rites. A strain of measles or smallpox is likely behind what history later called the “Plague of Cyprian.”

2The Cairo Manuscript

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Photo credit: The Guardian

A unique relic was forgotten for years in the storage section of the Egyptian museum in Cairo. The leather book’s modern origins are hazy. The French Institute for Oriental Archaeology purchased it after World War I. The seller was an antiquities dealer, but nobody knows who it was.

Just before the start of World War II, the book was donated to the museum where it lay forgotten until 2015. When it was rediscovered, the roll of leather was in pieces. After careful reconstruction, it turned out to be a 4,000-year-old manuscript brimming with religious spells and color images of sacred and supernatural creatures.

Writing and images adorn both sides of the 2.5-meter-long (8 ft) artifact, and it even predates the infamous Book of the Dead, which is also a collection of rituals. Created between 2300–2000 BC, the Cairo scroll is the oldest leather manuscript from ancient Egypt. Among the new religious texts, the reader is also taught the specifics of how to gain access to a restricted sacred site guarded by powerful magical beings.

1Slum Statues

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Photo credit: The Independent

In 2017, two statues were found in a Cairo slum. One was the upper half of a life-size man, and the other was a breathtaking colossus measuring 8 meters (26 ft).

Although the smaller man was identified as Pharaoh Seti II, the jury is still out on the identity of the giant. The yet-to-be-named royal was submerged in groundwater and was unfortunately not in one piece. The head was lifted from the mud with a forklift but was incomplete as far as facial features went, obscuring any features that might have helped with a name.

One candidate is Pharaoh Ramses II (r. 1279–1213 BC). The other limestone statue is the upper part of his grandson, and nearby ruins belonged to a temple built by Ramses II.

As one of Egypt’s most revered leaders, one can imagine a massive statue being made in Ramses’s honor. Carved from quartzite, it was found in the slum of Matariya where roads are unpaved and buildings are incomplete.

Ironically, this is where the ancient Egyptians believed that the Sun god created the Earth. The pair of statues requires renovations and further study, but they are already being praised as one of Egypt’s most important discoveries.

Top 10 Intriguing Mysteries Of South America


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Top 10 Intriguing Mysteries Of South America

ESTELLE THURTLE APRIL 22, 2017

http://listverse.com/2017/04/22/top-10-intriguing-mysteries-of-south-america/

It is believed that the continent of South America broke free from the supercontinent Pangaea more than 220 million years ago. Since then its countries’ populations continued to grow and flourish even during hard times. Today, because of the rich history and diverse culture found here, millions of tourists flock to well-known sites including Macchu Pichu, the Amazon rainforest and the Nazca Lines every year.

South America also has its fair share of mysteries, especially the unsolved variety. From strange disappearances to weird occurrences in nature, it remains to be seen whether explanations for some of its biggest mysteries will ever be found.

 

10The Eye

eye-island

In a swampy area of the Parana Delta near northeastern Argentina, lies an island with a difference. Named The Eye, the island is a near-perfect round circle of land surrounded by an equally round thin circle of water. The water is very clear and very cold in comparison to the other bodies of water in the area. The diameter of the island is said to be 130 yards (119 meters) across the outer circle. On top of all this strangeness, the island also seems to rotate (or float) slowly around its own axis. Comparing first images taken of it in 2003 and using the slider tool on Google Earth, clearly shows that the circle of land has moved around within the hole it is located in.

Most people share the opinion that the island is too perfectly shaped to be a natural formation, but if it was indeed man-made, what is the purpose of it? Conspiracy theories are rife, with the most popular of the lot being that the island is concealing an alien base below its surface.

A filmmaker is now working on a crowd-funding project to allow scientists and other experts to research the phenomenon and hopefully come up with an answer to the mystery.

9Parallel Worlds

Parallel-Universe-traveller-feat

In the early 1970s, a professor from the University of the Andes walked across the parking lot of the campus chatting to people on the way to his car. He waved at a bunch of students before opening the door and climbing into the driver’s seat. The car remained stationary. When people went to investigate after a while, they were astonished to find the car empty.

Witnesses confirmed to police that they saw the man get into the car after which the vehicle never drove off. The professor remains missing to this day. The most popular theory surrounding this mysterious disappearance is that the professor entered a portal when he opened the car door which sucked him into a parallel universe.

In 2015, scientists reported that they found evidence of eternal inflation. This basically means that other universes (and our own) float in and out of reach of one another with ever-expanding space between them. This in turn, according to the scientists, could prove the existence of parallel universes.

However, looking back at the mystery of the unnamed professor, it seems that parallel universes might have been a reality all along.

 

8Upside-Down Stairs

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Amongst the chambers, citadels, and other structures found within the Sacsayhuaman ruins, one phenomenon, in particular, has grabbed the attention of explorers and architects alike: a massive granite rock withupside-down stairs on its top half.

Experts muse that the rock may have been part of another structure which could have been destroyed by an earthquake or another natural disaster, causing it to land upside-down. Others feel another power may have had a hand in turning the giant stone so that the stairs now lead to nowhere.

It is also unknown what kind of technology the builders of Sacsayhuaman had available to enable them to lift these granite boulders into place, or what the purpose of the upside-down stairs may have been (if they were built upside-down on purpose). One theory has it that in order to be able to lift these massive rocks, they would have been towed with the help of a ramp, lowered onto a pile of logs which would then have been removed one by one in order to slowly drop the rocks into place.

7Amazonian Stonehenge

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In Amapa, north of Brazil, archaeologists have made a discovery that does not quite fit in with what they know about the Amazon so far. An arrangement of massive, very heavy stones protrudes from the ground on top of a hill—127 of them. The belief was that before colonies settled in Europe, there were no advanced societies to be found in the Amazon. The discovery of these stones, arranged in a similar fashion to the stones at Stonehenge, negates this.

The stones have even spaces between them and stand upright, leading archaeologists to believe that they might collectively be a solar calendar or an observatory. This would indicate that the Amazonians would have been able to determine their crop cycles by observing the moon cycles and stars.

Shards of ancient pottery found here indicate that the site has been around for at least two thousand years. However, all of the above remains speculation at this point, as ongoing research is needed to determine the exact purpose of this “Amazonian Stonehenge” as it has been dubbed.

6Los Roques Curse

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On January 4, 2013, a small plane carrying fashion boss Vittorio Missoni, his wife, and four others disappeared on route from Los Roques to the airport just outside Caracas. When authorities failed to find the wreckage, rumors of the “Los Roques” curse began making the rounds.

Before this particular plane disappeared, there had been more than fifteen reports of other small planes experiencing difficulties or crashing or even disappearing while flying the same route or in the same area. In one instance, a plane carrying fourteen passengers crashed into the ocean, and only one body was recovered. The wreckage was never found. Naturally, people began to ignore rational explanations such as human error and natural disasters, and instead focused on conspiracy theories such as the parallels that these disappearances held with the Bermuda Triangle, the Devil’s Sea, etc.

Six months after Missoni’s plane crashed, authorities located the wreckage off the coast of Key Carenero. And while it was reported that the bodies were found as well, reports a year later stated that all were found except for Missoni himself.

 

5STENDEC

Avro_Lancastrian

Another mystery involving a plane played out on August 2, 1947. On this ill-fated day, a British South American Airways airliner called Star Dust carrying six passengers and five crew members crashed during its journey from Buenos Aires to Santiago. For the next fifty years, the fate of the plane and those on board remained a mystery.

As is always the case, the accident was blamed on aliens, espionage, sabotage, etc. Especially since the incident occurred during a time of political unrest in South America. Then in 1998, climbers came across a piece of wreckage on a glacier fifty miles east of Santiago. An ice storm delayed the ensuing recovery mission, but eventually, a group of mountaineers reached the site in 2000.

Investigation showed that it was likely that Star Dust flew into inclement weather, cleared it, and the pilot then indicated that he would be landing the plane in approximately four minutes. The radio operator then tapped out STENDEC as a message to the receiving operator in Santiago. Star Dust proceeded to fly into the Tupungato glacier killing everyone on board. The meaning of STENDEC remains a mystery.

4Band of Holes

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A rather overlooked phenomenon in Pisco Valley lies right on the same plateau as the very well-known Nazca Lines. A band of shallow holes has been carved into rock covering miles of uneven surface.

These holes number into the thousands; each a meter wide and up to two meters deep. Considering that they had been carved into mountain rock, a lot of hard labor must have gone into creating them. There is no discernible pattern to the holes, with some being in a straight line and others just haphazardly dotting the rock surface.

The only certain thing about these mysterious carvings is that they were man-made. Their purpose and who created them remains an unsolved mystery. A recent theory has been put forward that the holes could be the remains of an ancient Inca tax system. Other theories include vertical burials, food/water collection points, and trail markings.

3Mystery Tomb

mystery tomb

“Within these walls are deposited the bodies of Mrs Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death which happened upon the 25th day of Nov 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgence to him.”

The above is an inscription on a tombstone located in Plymouth, Tobago. This inscription remains unexplained and has given way to many theories, one wilder than the next. One of the more popular theories has it that young Betty proceeded to get the man she was in love with to marry her, by supplying him with so much alcohol that he did not know what was happening. She then became sick after falling pregnant and given birth while unconscious. Another out-there theory suggests that there was a taboo relationship between Alex and a black female slave and the inscription was meant to be a concealment of the truth.

Perhaps the craziest theory has it that Betty gave birth to four children, all while unconscious and was never aware of it. Hence the “mother without knowing it” being included on the tombstone.

2Twins of Atlantis

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For many years now, scientists have been trying to put together the puzzle pieces of the mystery that is, or was, the lost city of Atlantis. Popularly told as a mythical tale around the world, experts now believe they may have found a hint of evidence that Atlantis not only existed but that it may have been part of Bolivia at one point.

This new theory comes from the fact that several ancient depictions of twinswere made in the Andes; including both human and animal examples. While this in itself may not be the most interesting thing, it does become intriguing when looking at the legend of the Great Flood and the many variations of the story.

Bolivia’s version of the tale has it that the gods destroyed a city located at the edge of a lake by means of floods and earthquakes. The leader of the gods, Tunupa, then disappeared underneath the water of the lake. Another story says that Tunupa disappeared into the mountains of Pampa Aullagas instead. Pampa Aullagas is believed by several scientists to be the site of what used to be Atlantis.

In Greek mythology, Poseidon and Cleito had five pairs of twins who eventually ruled ten provinces which as a whole, made up Atlantis. The story of these twins is also found in Bolivian legends; two brothers survived the flood, after which one of them drowned in a lake. The remaining brother married one of the women he and his sibling were involved with and made the other his mistress. He had five sons with each. It is thought that this Bolivian tale ties in with its Greek counterpart.

It is thought that the legends of the twins may have originated from Bolivia which in turn may mean that the country could have been part of Atlantis.

1Disappearance of Keith Davis

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In August 2015, Keith Davis, a fisheries observer, boarded the MV Victoria No. 168, a tuna transshipment vessel with Taiwanese and Chinese crew members on board.

Five weeks into the voyage, the vessel was just over 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Peru and receiving tuna from another vessel. Davis was observing the transfer from the deck. Ten minutes later he was called by the crew to sign a declaration, but Davis was nowhere to be found.

Four hours later the captain of the Victoria ordered a search of the surrounding ocean. Several other vessels assisted in the search, but it was called off 72 hours later with no trace of Davis found. The observer’s life jacket and survival suit lay untouched in his cabin. To this day, the ultimate fate of Keith Davis remains a mystery.

Previously, he spoke to his friends about lawlessness at sea and crimes that go unpunished. At one point he shared a video with them depicted four men being shot in cold blood while their murderers posed for selfies on a fishing vessel. Even so, the last email Davis sent to his father did not raise the alarm that things were not as they should be, deepening the mystery of what may have happened to the young man.

Estelle lives in Gauteng, SA.

RIP Cassini: A Look Back At the Doomed Probe’s Most Stunning Saturn Pictures


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RIP Cassini: A Look Back At the Doomed Probe’s Most Stunning Saturn Pictures

4/04/17 10:37am

Photo of Saturn by Cassini, taken on December 18, 2012. (Image: NASA)

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Today, NASA will announce the details regarding its Cassini spacecraft’s Grand Finale—a resplendent ending to its 20-year-long adventure in space, which will begin later this month. From late April to September 15th, Cassini will perform 22 dramatic dives between Saturn and its rings. Then, the brave little orbiter will plunge itself into Saturn’s atmosphere and burn up like a meteor—all while sending information back to Earth.

The orbiter, which launched on October 15th, 1997, reached the Saturn system in 2004. Since then, it’s beamed back countless gigabytes of data and breathtaking photos, enabling the publication of more than 3,000 scientific reports, according to NASA. It’s had a good run, but now, it must die—Cassini is running out of fuel, and scientists fear that if it crashes into one of Saturn’s 62 moons, the orbiter could contaminate them.

To be fair, going out in a blaze of glory (literally) is the most dignified way to go. Before she leaves us forever, let’s take a look back at some of Cassini’s greatest hits:

View of Saturn’s moon, Titan (December 4th, 2015)

Image: NASA

Saturn and its moon, Tethys. Tethys isn’t that small—Saturn’s just huge. (November 26, 2012)

Image: NASA

Spinning vortex on Saturn’s north pole, AKA “The Rose.” (April 29, 2013)

Image: NASA

Saturn and its large son (read: moon), Titan. (August 29th, 2012)

Image: NASA

Saturn and five of its moons. (September 12, 2011)

Image: NASA

Saturn’s tiny moon, Pan, AKA the “dumpling moon.” (March 7th, 2017)

Image: NASA

View from within Saturn’s shadow. (February 3rd, 2016)

Image: NASA

Enceladus’ north pole. (October 15th, 2015)

Image: NASA

Saturn’s moon, Helene. She’s small. (September 17th, 2010)

Saturn’s “Death Star” Moon, Mimas. (October 22nd, 2016)

Of course, some rings. (May 23rd, 2005)

Image: NASA

RIP Cassini (1997-2017)