The Science of the 10 Plagues

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The Science of the 10 Plagues

Credit: Credit: ESA/Getty


To unleash the first plague upon the Egyptians, Moses struck the river Nile with his staff, turning its waters to blood. At the same time, his brother Aaron performed an identical transformation in the canals, tributaries, ponds and pools throughout Egypt.

After the water turned to blood, “thefish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water,” according to the Bible, Exodus chapter 7, verse 21,English Standard version.

The sudden appearance of red-hued waters in the Nile could have been caused by a red algae bloom, which appears when certain conditions enable a type of microscopic algae to reproduce in such great numbers that the waters they live in appear to be stained a bloody red.

This phenomenon is known as “red tide” when it happens in oceans, but red algae are also well-represented in freshwater ecosystems. And these algae blooms can certainly be harmful to wildlife, as the algae contain a toxin that can accumulate in shellfish and poison the animals that feed on them. Fumes from densely-concentrated algae blooms can also disperse toxins in the air, causing breathing problems in people that live nearby.


Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty


What do you do next, after turning a nation’s water supply into blood? If you’re following Moses’ playbook, you inundate them with frogs.

For the second plague, Moses allegedly conjured vast quantities of frogs that swarmed into people’s homes — even finding their way into the Egyptians’ beds, ovens and cookware.

As it happens, the phenomenon of “raining frogs” has been reported multiple times throughout history and in a range of locations around the world. A report published July 12, 1873 in Scientific American described “a shower of frogs which darkened the air and covered the ground for a long distance,” following a recent rainstorm. The account was one of dozens of similar anecdotes collected in “The Book of the Damned” (1919), though its somewhat skeptical author suggested that the frogs may have simply dropped from trees.

And in May 2010 in Greece, thousands of frogs emerged from a lake in the northern part of the country, likely in search of food, and disrupted traffic for days, CBS News reported


Credit: Shutterstock


The third plague, lice, could mean either lice, fleas or gnats based on the Hebrew word (Keenim). If a toxic algal bloom led to the first plague, and a pile of dead frogs followed, it’s not surprising that a swarm of insects of some sort would have followed. That’s because frogs typically eat insects; without them, the fly population could have exploded, Stephan Pflugmacher, a climatologist Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, said in a television special about the plagues that aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2010. Interestingly, both body lice and fleas can theoretically transmit the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. If so, then an infestation with lice could have set the stage for the later plagues, such as boils, a 2008 review of plague science found. Scientists have also argued that the sickness that killed the beasts of the field for Egyptians in later plagues might have been Bluetongue or African horse sickness, both of which can be spread by insects from this plague, according to a 2008 Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.

Wild beasts

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Wild beasts

Once again, the Hebrew word for the fourth plague, arov, is ambiguous. It roughly translates to a “mixture,” and over the years, rabbis had interpreted that word to mean either wild animals, hornets or mosquitoes, or even wolf-like beasts that prowl in the night, according to biblical commentary found in the Exodus Rabbah 11:3; Tanchuma, Va’eira 14. Most commonly, people interpret the text to mean wild animals such as venomous snakes or scorpions, or even lions or bears. However, according to a 1996 study published in the journal Caduceus, which attempts to explain the plagues as epidemiological problems caused by an initial climate disturbance, J.S. Marr and C.D. Malloy argue that the fourth plague represents a swarm of flies such as the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans). Bites from these flies could have led to the boils that occurred later on in the story, according to that study.

Diseased livestock


Diseased livestock

The fifth plague called down on Egypt was a mysterious and highly contagious disease that swiftly killed off the Egyptians’ livestock. This biblical scourge is reminiscent of a real plague known as rinderpest, an infectious and lethal viral disease that decimated populations of cattle and other ruminants across Africa and Europe from the 18th through the late 19th centuries.

Rinderpest was caused by a virus in the same family as canine distemper and measles; infected animals developed a high fever, diarrhea and ulcers in their mouths and noses, according to a manual diagnosing rinderpest, produced by the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations.

The disease is thought to have originated in Asia, and traveled to Egypt 5,000 years ago along prehistoric trading routes, the New York Times reported in 2010. Its mortality rate was exceptionally high, often exceeding 80 percent. It killed an estimated 200 million cattle in the 18th century, according to a study published in the journal Medical History in 1997, and when rinderpest emerged in Africa in the 19th century, it killed 5.2 million cattle, causing one-third of the population of Ethiopia to die of starvation, a study published in the journal Science reported in 2008.

Rinderpest was last diagnosed in Kenya in 2001, and was declared completely eradicated in 2010, according to the New York Times.


Credit: Shutterstock


Shortly after the Egyptians’ livestock died off, they were distracted by the sixth plague — an extremely uncomfortable plague of boils that covered their bodies. Boils are painful bumps usually surrounded by red, swollen skin, and are typically caused byStaphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria commonly found on the skin’s surface, according to the Mayo Clinic.

An outbreak of the highly infectious disease smallpox, which caused distinctive raised blisters, could result in a large number of people simultaneously coming down with rashes and welts. Smallpox is thought to have affected communities in Egypt at least 3,000 years ago, based on evidence of smallpox scars found on several mummies dating back to that period — including the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses V, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fiery hail

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Fiery hail

The seventh plague brought a heavy hail accompanied by thunder and streaming fire. The chaotic weather struck down people, livestock and trees, although the area of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was spared, according to the book “Tanakh, A New Translation of The Holy Scriptures” (The Jewish Publication Society, 1985).

A nearby volcanic eruption about 3,500 years ago on Santorini, an island north of Crete in the Aegean Sea, may explain this plague, as well as others. It’s possible that the volcanic ash mixed with thunderstorms above Egypt, leading to a dramatic hailstorm, Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, told the Telegraph.

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When the Pharaoh once again refuses to let the Jewish people go, hungry locusts descend as the eighth plague. Moses warns the Pharaoh: “They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land.” Such a pestilence would devour all the remaining plants that the hail did not destroy, Moses said, according to the “Tanakh.”

The volcanic eruption on Santorini may have created favorable conditions for the locusts, said Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian molecular biologist and author of “The Plagues of Egypt: Archaeology, History and Science Look at the Bible” (Gorgias Press, 2005).

“The ash fallout caused weather anomalies, which translates into higher precipitations, higher humidity,” Trevisanato told the Telegraph. “And that’s exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts.”

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The plague of darkness may have been a solar eclipse or a cloud of volcanic ash, scholars say.

According to the Old Testament, a darkness so thick that “people could not see one another” descended on Egypt for three days. However, the “Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings,” according to the book “Tanakh, A New Translation of The Holy Scriptures” (The Jewish Publication Society, 1985).

Perhaps the darkness coincided with an eclipse on March 5, 1223 B.C. — you can see the path here on NASA’s website — according to a study written by Iurii Mosenkis, an archaeoastronomy researcher who lives in the Ukraine. However, the fact that Israelites had light in their homes might mean “lights out” for the eclipse hypothesis, as it doesn’t make scientific sense why some people, but not others could overcome the darkness.

Another idea is that a volcanic eruption about 3,500 years ago on Santorini, an island north of Crete in the Aegean Sea, spewed ash that caused the darkness, according a to National Geographic special, as reported by the Telegraph. However, the eruption happened about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Egypt and before the exodus event, according to the Christian Courier.

Killing of the firstborn

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Killing of the firstborn

In the 10th, and last plague, Moses tells the Pharaoh that all the firstborns in the land of Egypt would perish.

Perhaps, the algal bloom that turned the rivers blood red released mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can cause disease and death in humans, according to a 2003 review in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews. Grain contaminated with these mycotoxins could have been deadly, and could explain the death of the firstborn children, said epidemiologist John Marr, who was the chief epidemiologist at the New York City Department of Health, as reported by Slate.

The firstborn might have been the first to pick the grain, and thus would have fallen victim to it first as well, according to the Telegraph.

Tomb Full of Mummies Unearthed at Luxor

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Tomb Full of Mummies Unearthed at Luxor

Tomb Full of Mummies Unearthed at Luxor

The tomb complex contains the remains of numerous coffins, skeletons and assorted artifacts.

Credit: Photo courtesy Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities

Several mummies and more than 1,000 figurines have been discovered at an ancient cemetery located at Luxor in Egypt, archaeologists reported.

A team of archaeologists with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities uncovered the funerary complex during the ministry’s ongoing excavations at the site. The funerary complex contains multiple tombs that were originally built for a man named Userhat, who was a judge in Luxor sometime during what modern-day archaeologists call Egypt’s New Kingdom (1550–1070 B.C.) period, the ministry said in a statement.

During the New Kingdom period, Egypt was unified, and it often controlled a large amount of territory in the Middle East and modern-day Sudan. After the New Kingdom ended, the complex was re-opened and more mummies and burials were put into the structure, the ministry said.

Researchers discovered a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers containing the remains of mummies and assorted human remains, as shown in photos released by the ministry. In some cases, the colors on the mummy coffins are well preserved, despite the passage of millennia.

The tomb complex is part of a larger ancient cemetery at Luxor that today is often called Dra' Abu el-Naga.

The tomb complex is part of a larger ancient cemetery at Luxor that today is often called Dra’ Abu el-Naga.

Credit: Photo by Roland Unger, CC 1.0 Generic

Additionally, a “collection of ushabti figurines carved in faience, terracotta and wood was also unearthed,” in the tomb complex, the ministry said in the statement. Ushabti figurines were frequently buried with the dead in ancient Egypt, and Egyptologists generally believe that ushabtis were buried with the dead so that the figurines could work for the deceased in the afterlife.

“We found a large number of ushabti, more than 1,000 of them,” Egypt Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told the Agence France-Presse.

Archaeologists also discovered the remains of clay pots in the cemetery.

The ministry’s team is led by Mostafa Waziri, the head of the ministry’s Luxor department. Excavations are underway that the ministry said will lead to the entire complex being uncovered. The complex is part of a larger ancient cemetery that today is often called Dra’ Abu el-Naga.

Original article on Live Science.

Top 10 Species We Have Threatened Or Destroyed For Personal Reasons

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Top 10 Species We Have Threatened Or Destroyed For Personal Reasons


With drugs fully capable of curing erectile dysfunction hitting the shelves in 1998, it would seem that people would move away from ingesting rare plants and animals for sexual purposes. Unfortunately, this is not the case, largely due to local culture and the cost of said pills. Men have sought a cure for sexual dysfunction for thousands of years in the form of various animals and their parts. Because of this, we have threatened and even forced some organisms into extinction just so we can get it on.


10Houbara Bustard


Photo credit: Wikimedia

This rare bird was nearly hunted to extinction along the Arabian Peninsula due to its meat’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities. The species is now listed as threatened and is still hunted by those looking to satisfy their urges through the ingestion of this bird’s flesh.

Hunting the bustard is banned in Pakistan, but that doesn’t stop Arab royals from going on their annual hunts for the chicken-sized birds. Pakistan quietly issues between 25–35 special permits to wealthy sheiks so they can hunt the birds in their winter habitat. The hunts are very controversial due to most who take part exceeding their 1,000-bird limit, further threatening the species.



Photo credit: Wikimedia

When we think of birth control in the 21st century, we usually picture condoms, pills, and other devices. Long before any of these things were invented, people used a plant called silphium.

Silphium was harvested by our ancient ancestors due to its contraceptive effects when ingested. Silphium was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for more than 700 years before it was finally over-cultivated into extinction by the first century BC. They used the farmland so much, the soil became exhausted and unable to sustain further plant growth. Silphium went extinct due to the overactive sexual activities of our ancestors not wanting to have . . . well, us.


8Yarsagumba—Caterpillar Fungus ‘Himalayan Viagra’


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Yarsagumba is a Nepalese fungus used for centuries as an aphrodisiac. It is sold for $25–$150 per gram, and costs have risen as supplies are drying up. Due to over-cultivation, the fungus has become threatened and may soon face extinction. Unlike others on this list, it is not used solely by men for erectile dysfunction and is instead used as a libido booster by men and women.

The fungus is so desired throughout Southeast Asia, its sales worldwide are $5–$11 billion per year. The demand is killing the fungus due to farmers picking it before it reaches sexual maturity—the point when it spreads its spores. This is keeping new spores from reaching the soil and making its extinction a near-certainty.

7Black Rhinoceros


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Chinese medicine has been prescribing rhino horn for more than 1,800 years, but recent interest in Vietnam has all but ensured the black rhino’s extinction. Thought to cure cancer, liver problems, and much more, the rhino horn has become more valuable than gold in Vietnam, fetching as much as $100,000 per kilogram. Doctors prescribe it for the wealthy elite of Vietnam, and an increased appetite has diminished the species significantly.

The belief that the horn is used as an aphrodisiac is a Western myth, but the myth has become so widespread over the years, people in Vietnam have increased demand to meet this need. A rhino horn is nothing more thankeratin and has no recognized medicinal properties, but that hasn’t stopped people from ingesting it to boost their virility. The black rhinoceros is currently listed as critically endangered.



Photo credit: Wikimedia

Oysters have long been thought of as an aphrodisiac by numerous cultures around the world, which is why the oysters in the wild have become threatened with extinction. Wild oysters have become functionally extinct in many places throughout the world’s oceans due to overfishing, disease, and dredging.

The loss of wild oyster beds around the world is a serious problem for several reasons. Oysters are very efficient nitrogen filters and remove the dangerous aquatic pollutant by as much as 50 gallons each day. Whether you eat them for their believed virility-boosting effects or simply because you like them, you should know that they may one day become a thing of the past.



5Citropsis ‘Sex Tree’


Photo credit: Trade Winds Fruit

Some men in Uganda have become increasingly aware and fearful for the fate of the citropsis tree, locally known as “omuboro” and also the “sex tree.” The roots of the citropsis have been used to combat erectile dysfunction, and its potential extinction is a serious concern. Men interested in ingesting the roots tend to uproot the tree and make no attempts to replant it, which has led to the overall decline of the plant.

Scientific research on the effectiveness of citropsis has come to an interesting finding. When tested on male rats, their mounting frequencyincreased significantly, as did their testosterone levels. The plant contains a chemical that affects the vascular system, which is why it seems to be effective for men.



Photo credit: Wikimedia

Occasionally, an animal is chosen as a target for male enhancement simply because it is seen as being incredibly virile on its own. Tigers have long been a target of Eastern medicine due to their simple badassery. Anyone who happens to come upon one would assume that it could pretty easily kill the largest and strongest person on the planet (and they would be 100-percent correct in that assumption).

Tigers have been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Just about every part of the tiger is used medicinally, from the eyes, whiskers, and brains to their blood, flesh, and yes, their phallus. To help a man’s impotence and waning libido, the hu gu (Mandarin for bones) are ground up and used. Because people have been slaughtering these animals for so long, they’re endangered, and several subspecies have already gone extinct such as the Bali, Caspian, and the Javan tigers.

3Sperm Whales


Photo credit: Wikimedia

No, these giant mammals are not targeted for that substance in their names, but rather something produced in their guts. Sperm whales produce a substance called ambrein in their digestive tracts. It has long been used by numerous cultures to treat sexual function in men and women. What’s so different about this particular aphrodisiac and the others on this list is that there is scientific evidence that it works—even when the male who takes it has no female partner.

Scientists conducted a study with male rats to determine promiscuity without the presence of females. Yes, we subjected a bunch of male rats to the stuff to see if they would get it on. They did. The study concluded that “The present results . . . support the folk use of this drug as an aphrodisiac.” Sadly, like many species of whale, the sperm whale is considered vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.



Photo credit: Wikimedia

If you have never seen a pangolin before in your local zoo, all you need to know is that it is an adorable cross between a small anteater and an armadillo. What you have is an armored anteater, which, for some reason, people have determined over the centuries helps with the male libido. Because of this, pangolins are one of the most illegally trafficked animals in the world.

Pangolins are indigenous to Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia, but the market for them has thousands of the little guys frozen and on ships bound for China. The pangolin’s meat has long been thought of as an aphrodisiac, so it is cooked and eaten in several ways while the scales have been used to treat everything from lymph node issues to increasing breast milk production in women. The species is currently listed as threatened and will likely become extinct in the wild before the end of the century if the rate of consumption remains.

1The Scrotum Water Frog


Imagine walking along and seeing something that could only be described as a scrotum water frog. Okay, now pick it up and eat it. Sounds pretty nasty, doesn’t it? Somebody once did it, and now the animal is close to extinction.

Okay, to be fair, the little guy is formally called the Titicaca water wrog and it is indigenous to Lake Titicaca in South America. It is often called the scrotum water frog because of its excessive skin, which look like a . . . well, you get the idea. The species is nearing extinction and has been listed as critical thanks, in large part, to humans harvesting them as an aphrodisiac.

People enjoy taking a frog, dropping it into a blender alongside some honey, the roots of a local plant, and other local products to make a smoothie. It is believed that the smoothie produced from this concoction will get anyone in the mood for some fun and play, but there is of course no scientific evidence to support this. Regardless, the frog that closely resembles a human beanbag may one day be lost forever due to man’s endless need to sate his desire.

10 Mysterious Discoveries That Could Completely Rewrite History

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10 Mysterious Discoveries That Could Completely Rewrite History


Most of history comes from what gets written down. But what we know of our past is only a sliver of everything that happened. A great deal of where we came from was never etched into a stone and, today, has been lost.

We don’t know what’s missing from the patchwork of history. But every now and then, archaeologists find things that don’t quite fit with what’s been written down. We find relics from a society left in a place that should have been a world away from its owners.

Nobody knows for sure how these things got there, but they suggest some incredible events that might never have been recorded. Some of the greatest adventures may have happened to people who never made it home to tell the tale—and they might completely change the history of our world.

Featured image credit:


10A Roman Sword In Canada


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On Oak Island, Nova Scotia, a TV crew accidentally stumbled upon the last thing they ever expected to find: an ancient Roman sword that seems to have been there since AD 200.

The sword alone is shocking—it suggests that a Roman might have made it to North America 800 years before the Vikings. But it’s not even the only thing they found. Other people have stumbled upon other strange things that shouldn’t be in Canada: a crossbow bolt wedged into a tree, a Roman-style burial mound, Carthaginian coins, and even a stone with what appears to be Roman writing on it—all made about 1,800 years ago.

It’s theorized that a group of Roman and Carthaginian explorers might have traveled out West about 1,800 years ago. They may never have made it home and may have buried their dead on the island—explaining why there are Roman graves in Canada and no record of their trip in Rome.

None of this has been proven yet—and the fact that the sword was found by a TV crew instead of archaeologists makes it easy to be a little suspicious. Still, it’s a lot of evidence. If expert testing backs it up, it could change the history of the first Europeans to visit the Americas.

NOTE: According to this source (thanks Fuzzybunny), the sword is a fake.

9Chinese Oracle Bone Writing In The United States


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According to John Ruskamp, another group made it to the Americas thousands of years before the Vikings: the Chinese.

Ruskamp found strange symbols etched into old stones in 82 places around the southern United States. Every etching follows the same style, and none of them match anything made by the local cultures. Ruskamp, however, is convinced that they’re not just random squiggles. He believes that they are messages written in Chinese oracle bone script.

Oracle bone is one of the oldest forms of Chinese writing, which nearly faded out of use entirely around 1046 BC. If Ruskamp’s theory is right, this would mean that these Chinese settlers reached North America about 3,000 years ago.

The etchings match up to oracle bone eerily well. One in Arizona appears to read: “Set apart (for) 10 years together; declaring (to) return, (the) journey completed, (to the) house of the Sun; (the) journey completed together.” It seems to be a message left behind by explorers in a new world.


8Ancient Ape Bones In Ireland


Photo credit: Poleary91

At the Hill of Tara in Ireland, a body has been carefully laid to rest. Its bones were given a full royal treatment, but they don’t look like the bones of a normal king. Instead, the bones look an awful lot like those of an ape.

It’s not even the only set of ape bones found in Ireland. Another ape skull has been found in County Armagh that appears to have been there for about 2,300 years. Nobody knows how these apes got there. Someone in the ancient world, for some reason, was taking apes up to Ireland and burying them there.

The apes might have been traded along early routes, but there’s a fringe theory that takes it in a very different direction. An ancient Irish legend claims that a group of strangers with magical powers came to Ireland on a massive ship and ruled the people from the Hill of Tara. Some think that legend was based on a real event and that the people they thought were magic were really a group of Egyptians with advanced technology.

That’s a big leap to make just because of some ape bones—but there’s more evidence than just that. DNA testing on ancient Irish bodies suggests that they have an ancestor from the Middle East. And, not too far from the Hill of Tara, the 3,800-year-old remains of a boy have been found, wearing what appears to be an Egyptian necklace.

7Native American Legends Of White Giants


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In 1857, a Native American of the Comanche tribe stood in front of a crowd and told them a story. “Innumerable moons ago, a race of white men, [305 centimeters (10′) high], and far more rich and powerful than any white people now living here, inhabited a large range of country,” he said. “They drove the Indians from their homes, putting them to the sword, and occupying the valleys in which their fathers had dwelt.”

It seemed like a parable of what was happening now. But all that changed when what appeared to be a Greek medallion and two coins was found in Oklahoma. After that, genealogist Donald Yates started piecing together the evidence and realized that this wasn’t an isolated story.

The Choctaws also had a story about “a race of giants” with white skin who lived in what is now the state of Tennessee—and other tribes had some stories that were oddly similar. The Greek writer Strabo wrote about a “Western Continent,” suggesting that he might have had some knowledge of the Americas.

Yates believes that these native stories might not be entirely made up. Greek explorers may have actually made it to the Americas and fought with the people there, leaving behind a legacy that grew bigger every time the story was told.

6Mayan Murals Showing White-Skinned Warriors


Photo credit: Ancient Origins

Inside the Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza, there are murals depicting a scene that doesn’t seem to fit the Maya’s surroundings. The murals show brutal battles fought between a very diverse group of people for pre-Columbian Mexico. Some have pale white skin, some are pitch-black, and others are brown.

On its own, that could just be an artistic choice. But other evidence supports the theory that different races of people might have fought around modern Mexico. For one, when Hernan Cortes reached Mexico, he claimed that the people there hailed him as a returning “white lord”—suggesting that another white person had been there before.

And the Maya left behind a story called the “Dance of the Giants.” In it, a white giant pairs up with the Maya and helps them fight off a black giant who’s harassing them. According to one controversial theory, all this really happened. The black-skinned giants, it’s believed, were Aztecs moving in from the North. And the white-skinned giants might be Vikings.

As early as 1789, there was speculation about Viking explorers reaching modern Mexico. One in particular, Ari Marson, was sent off course by a storm while trying to make it to Greenland. According to the theory, Marson may have ended up in Mayan territory a little after the Aztecs and he might have left his mark on their history.


5A Temple To An Egyptian Goddess In India


On the western coast of India, there are the ruins of a temple to the goddess Pattini. It’s not a particularly strange thing to find in India—except that there’s a secret chamber underneath that’s rumored to hold an underground shrine to the Egyptian goddess Isis.

The ruins are now owned by a Hindu temple, so nobody’s been able to actually check what’s underneath them. But according to writer Chris Morgan, the idea that it was a secret shrine to an Egyptian goddess fits. He believes that an Egyptian traveler may have come to India and started a cult dedicated to his own goddess.

Morgan believes that the idea of the goddess Pattini came from this cult. He points out some major similarities in the two legends, both of which are about women defined by the brutal murder and dismemberment of their husbands. He thinks that Pattini might be an Indian evolution of the concept of Isis spread through that shrine—a little in the way that Egyptian culture influenced Hinduism.

4The Giant Village Of Peru


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When the Spanish first came to Peru, conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon recorded everything he could in a book called The Chronicles of Peru. It’s full of incredibly detailed and accurate descriptions of the cultures of the natives, the conquests by the Spanish, the details of the environment—and strangely, a village built by giants.

Cieza de Leon recorded a native legend about giants who arrived “in boats made of reeds, as big as large ships.” He said, “From the knee downward, their height was as great as the entire height of an ordinary man.” According to the legend, the giants built wells that were beyond the native technology as well as massive villages to accommodate their size. Later, a great fire came down and consumed the giants.

Oddly, though, Cieza de Leon claimed to have seen the village and the well built by the giants. He said that they were big enough to fit the story. He even claimed to have seen a giant’s skull and a femur and attested that other Spaniards saw teeth that must have weighed 0.2 kilograms (0.5 lb).

We don’t have these artifacts anymore, so we can’t confirm it. But it’s hard to understand why Cieza de Leon would make up lies to support a native legend.

It’s not clear what he saw. Was he deceived? Did he make it up? Or did the Spanish conquistadors really find something in Peru that suggested they weren’t the first foreign visitors to arrive?

3The Marcahuasi Ruins


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In the Andes Mountains, there are strange rocks known as the Marcahuasi Ruins. They appear to be rocks carved by human beings, sculpted to beshaped like human heads. One, in particular, looks almost exactly like a crude copy of the Egyptian Sphinx.

It’s possible that these rocks took their shape by pure, random erosion. But there are some people who don’t think it’s possible. The theory that the rocks were deliberately sculpted by an unknown people is out there—although it’s mostly supported by some pretty off-the-wall theories, including stories about aliens and mystical healing powers.

One of the more popular theories comes from an archaeologist who claims that the site was built by a biblical civilization called the Masma, who traveled to Peru and carved crude imitations of the wonders they’d seen in Egypt. His theory, though, comes from having seen it in a dream, which is a slightly less-than-scientific approach to history.

Still, even if they weren’t built by aliens or by biblical tribes, it’s not out of the question that someone carved these rocks—making them an incredible work of art still without a name for its creator.

2The Three Handbags Of Heaven


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There’s a strange design that keeps popping up all around the world. It shows something that looks like a little handbag, usually drawn in groups of three and usually up in the sky. And nobody really knows what they mean.

The oldest one in Turkey shows three handbags floating over all of creation. It’s far from the only one, though. The same handbags have been seen in art from all around the world, including India, Egypt, and even Central America. It seems to be something that’s been passed on from an ancient Middle Eastern culture—which might make it a way to trace where groups of people came from.

That’s why it’s interesting that the Maori of New Zealand used the three handbags, too. They have a myth about a hero named Tane who went up to Heaven to get three baskets of knowledge—an image that seems strangely similar to the one carved in a rock in Turkey.

It could just be a coincidence. But this might be a strong sign that the Maori have ancestors who once lived in the Middle East, long before they moved to New Zealand.

1The Redheaded Giants Of Lovelock Cave


Photo credit: Ken Lund

In 1911, miners working in Nevada’s Lovelock Cave were digging through piles of guano when they stumbled upon a massive wealth of ancient Indian relics. The miners started searching through the relics and found something even more incredible—the mummified remains of a 198-centimeter (6’6″) man with red hair.

The cave soon turned into an archaeological dig site, and some incredibly strange things were found. Inside, there were 38-centimeter (15 in) sandals, which appeared to have been used by a very large person, and a giant handprint that was twice the size of that of a normal man.

Some believed that this backed up the Paiute legend about redheaded, “freckle-faced” cannibals called the Si-Te-Cahs coming onto their land. The giants, they said, came by boats and preyed on them until the Paiute managed to chase the giants into a cave and set it on fire.

The original redheaded mummy has been destroyed, making the story impossible to prove, and some alternative explanations have been created. Several people, though, insist that they saw it firsthand. If they’re telling the truth, it might just mean that the Si-Te-Cahs were a real group of violent European explorers—people who tormented the Native Americans and met their end in Nevada.