The Enigmatic Mysteries Behind the World’s Famous Monuments

We all love mysteries, but when we know those mysteries are unsolved, we might get a bit irritated by that fact. The world is full of monuments that have left archaeologists confused to the core. The discoveries of these ancient cities have brought upon many questions to the surface. Our beliefs and view-points have been challenged. We are all curious to find out the answers to the self-evident questions that have arisen as we go deeper into the existence of these ancient cities and temples.

Each discovery leads to many mind-boggling theories related to aliens and dinosaurs. Sit tight and try to control your curiosity as you go through the mysteries of some of the world’s most fascinating and oldest civilizations. They will leave you begging for answers.

 Lost City of Petra, Jordan

Wiki Commons / Public Domain

If you have ever got the chance to visit the wondrous Lost City of Petra or have seen pictures, you will be engrossed by the historic yet modern architecture. The hauntingly beautiful city in the Middle Eastern country Jordan has left scientists perplexed. Why, you ask? Well, it has to do with the architecture and engineering of this nine-thousand-year-old city. The whole water work system in the town along with the baroque architectural style is so ahead of its time that scientists plus archaeologists are confused about how did the people of that time, manage such intricacy and modernistic approach of development.

Petra is a part of the World Heritage Site since its discovery in 1985. It has been a hot-topic between scientist and archaeologists because of the mystery behind it. Scientists believe that it is impossible to find out the history behind the Lost City. Nobody knows who lived there, which ancient civilization inhabited the rocks of Petra or where did the residents disappear to. There haven several conclusions that have come out, but they remain unconfirmed. Recent discoveries have led people to believe that the Edom Civilization lived in Petra at some point in time; however, there are many contradictions on that topic.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Wiki Commons / Public Domain

Machu Picchu in Peru is a hit site for tourism. It has scored a place in the seven wonders of the world. It is situated on the steep mountains of Peru, striking many questions like how in the world did such humongous rocks end up there. Reportedly, it was built in 1450 AD, at a time when there was no modern machinery to haul up the massive boulders in that amount. Even with such extensive examination, research and observations, there is a lot about it we still do not know. Archaeologists claim that the city was designed to accommodate 750 people.

However, after recent excavations, about 200 human skeletons were found. The exact purpose of the Machu Picchu is also yet unclear. People have different theories regarding it. The presence of the temples and other religions building scattered all over the city indicates that maybe it was a holy city where people came from cities close by. The same is suggested by the number of skeletons found. It also directs us to Machu Picchu being a getaway destination. Due to the geographical location of Machu Picchu, earthquakes are not a rare occurrence. However, there is not a single crack that can be found in the rocks. These questions are yet to be answered.

The Carnac Stones, France

Wiki Commons / Public Domain

What is the point of building almost 3000 stones which circle the French town of Brittany? The rocks are all placed in lines that are equally apart from each other. They are erected in an extremely peculiar way, dotted in rows in someplace and scattered in someplace else. It is such an interesting puzzle that has raised an ample amount of questions. There is a theory that these stones were actually people on a march when a wizard turned them into stone.

Many people agree to the idea that there was an astronomical basis for the erection of these stones. If that is the case, then the stones were probably used as a calendar or were a weather prediction method. Some people think that the ancient residents of Brittany stood up these stones to honor their ancestors. Alexander Thom who studies megaliths in France and Britain, claims that the Carnac Stones were a lunar observatory. It has been a difficulty for scientists to predict the accurate date of erection of the stones, but the approximate date as per researchers is 5000 and 3000 BC. There are still so many secrets hidden beneath the surface of these stones for which the scientists are trying to find answers.

 The Yonaguni Monument, Japan

Real-life Atlantis, Yonaguni Monument in Japan is a sunken underwater city. The biggest mystery is quite apparent. How did it sink? Theories state that it’s not a human-made city and that they were underground rocks that have gone through erosion and a town was created after that. This theory has been rejected because the angles, in addition to the architectural aspects, prove that humans make it. Kihicharo Aritake, the diver who discovered this magical underwater city, described it as “Underwater Machu Picchu” geologists and archaeologists have been on the battlefield regarding the origination of the Yonugani Monument.

The unsold mystery has been discussed in several documentaries and books. There have been ten different structures found in this underwater city ranging from pyramids, entrance gates to staircases. The most believable of all theories that have come out is that it is an ancient city that sunk into the depth of the ocean due to a massive earthquake. Scientists strongly believe that the underwater city remains on the Japanese island is about 5000 years old. Many controversies have surfaced ever since its discovery, some believing it is human-made and some believing that it is just nature’s miracle.

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

A wonder of the world, Temple Ta Prohm leaves the people visiting it dumbfounded regarding its existence. The filming of the movie ‘Tomb Raider’ took place in this magnificent ancient temple. Many controversies have emerged regarding this temple surrounded by giant trees, the existence of dinosaurs being one of them. People discovered drawings of dinosaurs carved onto the walls of this breathtaking ruin.

Scientists suggest that dinosaurs existed way before man came onto the earth, so how did these people know something like that, without modern technology. This discovery has confronted the rock-solid beliefs of man and science. The Khmer Empire that thrived from the ninth to the fifteenth century built this majestic temple and the sad fall of the entire empire led to it being deserted. Nature took back its belonging by growing out threes that surround the whole temple with roots so deep that if removed the entire temple will crumble into rocks. It is now just the beautiful ruins of the enigmatic temple. Why did people of Khmer civilization abandon such a monumental temple? A question that several archaeologists are searching the answer to.

The Nazca Lines, Peru

Nazca lines are massive images carved onto the ground; they are so huge that if you see them from the ground, they look like meaningless scribbles on the floor. If you look at them from above, from a hill or a mountain, you get to see the whole picture. They aren’t meaningless lines or ruins of an old road; instead, they are colossal animal carvings. The Nazca lines are deemed as the eighth wonder of the world, a mystery that has an appeal to not only archaeologists but also history enthusiasts.

The size of the drawings has led people to believe that they are the work of aliens or other supernatural beings as they are not humanly possible. Or instead, they think that the people of Nazca were given instructions by extraterrestrial bodies to make such drawings. There is also a drawing that somewhat resembles a man wearing an astronaut suit, which people believe is the biomorph of an alien. Many mysteries surround the Nazca desert, such as the elongated skulls of the mummified bodies found in the desert or the latest discovery of a three-fingered mummy. This gave birth to the theory that the bodies were not actually of humans but of aliens.

Gulf of Cambay, India

The Gulf of Cambay is a relatively recent discovery, made in 2001 along the coast of India. It is another city that was a victim of drowning into the sea. Archaeologists claim that its formation goes back to 9,500 BC. People have curated many theories regarding the reason behind the city’s sinking. Since its discovery, archaeologists have tried to find out about the origins of this mysterious civilization that flourished across northwest India and Pakistan from about 3000 BC. Indian scientists researching on the Gulf of Cambay suggest that the mysterious Harappan people descended from another advanced mother culture, which flourished by the end of the last Ice Age, and then submerged due to the rising sea levels before the beginning of history.

Theories mostly revolve around the idea that a huge-scale earthquake that made the ocean swallow the town, or some other disaster related to the tectonic plates. However, some contradict saying that it was a massive flood that caused the city to sink deep into the ocean. Some old Indian relics and writings have been found indicating that the origin of the civilization living in this underwater city is probably the oldest civilization in the world, it was way before the Harappan or Mesopotamian civilization. This has left historians baffled because they never thought that a sophisticated human civilization could have lived that long ago.

Teotihuacan, Mexico

Photo: Daniel Case / Wiki Commons / Public Image

Teotihuacan was the metropolitan city of Mexico in its heyday. It was populated till up to 200,000 people. Now all of these people have disappeared into thin air. What happened to them, where did they go? They left without a trace or a single written record. This urban city center was deserted by the people that once inhabited it, but why did this happen? The name of the city suggests that this is the place where gods were created. This aspect generated another question, who ruled the town-humans or Gods? The town has many pyramids, temples and royal palaces that were created for the people living there. Another question remains. Who made the city and which civilization inhabited Teotihuacan?

Many people say that it was the Toltec civilization, but archaeologists rejected that theory. Archaeologists claim that immigrants arriving from another city that was ruined by a volcanic eruption later settled in Teotihuacan.  It is as old as 400 BC. Many bodies were found that were later said to be victims of religious sacrifice. Little is known about the demise of this city. Most of the buildings were burnt to ashes. The figurines and artwork were destroyed by either the rulers. Maybe Teotihuacan was attacked by invaders that ruined the populous city.

Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge diagram showing the joints used in the outer sarsen circle (left)
Wiki Commons / Public Domain

The mystery of Stonehenge is yet to be solved by archaeologists. Archaeologists and astronomers both have different views regarding the purpose and origin of these rocks. These rocks were erected in around 3000 or 2000 BC. The biggest mystery revolving it is how it was built? A theory states that they were transported first through water and then through log rollers. However, no proof was ever brought forward to support this theory.

A somewhat believable idea tells us that the stones were naturally transported there by the help of glaciers at the time of the ice age. How did the larger stones get there, as it was impossible to get them there without the use of modern machinery? If men did it, it probably needed the workforce of 1000 people. Furthermore, the rocks carvings also point at the hard work of a thousand people.

Stonehenge is said to be the work of a genius. That is because of the beautifully constructed or engineered placement of the rocks. So why were they erected? Was it to find the stars or to know more about the day or night, or was it because of religious purposes. Was it for the use of a cult? We might never find out.

Puma Punku, Bolivia

Model of the temple complex / Wiki Commons / Public Domain

Puma Punky is part of a group of monuments or a large temple complex that collectively form the Tiwanaky Site in Tiwanaku, western Bolivia. Reportedly, it was built in AD 536. However, there’s still a debate going on regarding the real age of this complex. The Puma Punku is a terraced earthen mound that initially faced the megalithic block, each of which weighed several tens of tons. The andesite and red sandstone were so precisely cut that they perfectly fit into and intertwine with each other without even using mortar. The technical precision and finesses at display in these blocks have mesmerized scientists for centuries as nothing, not even a razor blade, can be inserted into the blocks.

In the Aymara language, the name Puma Punku means The Door of the Puma. This complex comprises of an unwalled western court, a terraced platform mound facing stone, and a central unwalled esplanade. There’s a walled eastern court as well. At Puma Punku’s peak, there are remarkably adorned metal plaques and bright colored fabric and ceramic ornamentation. There’s no such written record available for this site and due to constant treasure hunting, stone mining for construction of railroad ballast, looting, and weather calamities the site is in a deteriorated state.  It holds a significant value in Inca traditions primarily because it is believed that the world was created right at the place where Puma Punku is situated.

Sayhuite Monolith, Peru

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The map-like, intricate surface of the Sayhuite Monument has baffled not only visitors of the site but scientists and archaeologists alike. What it is, why was it built, and what purpose could it have served, as questions that scientists haven’t been able to answer to date. It is speculated that given the gigantic size of the monument, aliens might be involved in its construction back in the days. Such is the mystery surrounding Sayhuite Monument, which is a pre-Columbian era archaeological site discovered in Abancay in the Peruvian region of Apurímac.

This site, as per researchers, dates back to the Inca Empire period that flourished during the 15th and 16th centuries AD. The Sayhuite Monolith is the most noteworthy feature of the Sayhuite monument. It is a mysterious boulder about 2 meters long and 4 meters wide. The stone although was discovered on the raised platform of the Concacha, scholars claim that this isn’t where it was originally placed. The boulder features various carvings; on its upper surface, there are more than 200 geometric and zoomorphic figures. Most of the zoomorphic figures symbolize reptiles, felines, frogs, and shellfish. Scholars agree that these animals indeed have a symbolic meaning for the Incas. Such as, the felines may represent the elites of the Incan capital Cuzco, especially the first ruler of the Inca Empire and the ninth Sapa Inca, Pachacuti.

Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Photo: Raphael Chay/ Dwayne Reilander / Stairs leading to Ciudad Perdida (right)
Wiki Commons /Public Domain

Ciudad Perdida was once a thriving city comprising of approx. 8,000 people and featured tiered terraces, which were cut into the rocky mountainside. The once-booming city suddenly lost its spark for reasons unknown even today. The town was built by the Tairona civilization back in 700-800 AD, which means it is over six centuries older than the Machu Picchu. The Ciudad Perdida was home to a strong township of farmers and potters who created many carved terraces and earned a living from the 5,700m Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.

The fall of the city happened after the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the late 16th century with smallpox, Catholicism, and syphilis. Like a fairytale castle, this site was later abandoned, and all of its memories were forgotten until the guaqueros (looters) discovered it in the mid-1970s while hunting for tropical bird feathers.  At the deserted site, the guaqueros found burial plots filled with jadeite figurines, golden earrings, and fine pottery. The city’s remains now stand at 1,200m above sea level. Reaching the city is not an easy feat to accomplish as it is a 52km trek that comprises of 8 riverbed crossings, 1,400 steps, swimming ponds and several twists and turns along the way. The Tairona originally named it Teyuna, and it was renamed Ciudad Perdida after its rediscovery.

 Newgrange, Ireland

Photo: John M / Wiki Commons /Public Commons

The Newgrange is a massive stone building older than the Great Pyramid of Gaza and the Stonehenge. It is believed to be constructed around 3,200 BC; however, scientists are still confused over the purpose of building this monument. It could have been a religious temple or might be a burial vault since researchers found human remains inside the monument. It is located at a 30-minute drive from the city of Dublin, Ireland, in a fertile valley around the Boyne River. The Newgrange is regarded as one of the oldest man-made structures on Earth.  During the Stone Age, this tranquil spot was inhabited by an advanced civilization comprising of accomplished engineers and artists. The settlers tended crops and raised livestock apart from building sacred enclosures, the most noteworthy of which is Newgrange. The heart-shaped hill is surrounded by 97 massive, richly decorated curbstones featuring geometric carvings.

The Newgrange tomb is 36feet high and has a diameter of 280feet. In the inner chamber, three recesses form a cross. There is an intricately created corbeled ceiling having a height of 20feet. A single capstone tops the various overlapping stones that form the conical dome. The ceiling is roughly 5,000 years old but is still very much intact and keeps the inner chambers completely dry. How the settlers designed such intricate and precise structure remains a mystery.

 Tikal, Guatemala

Photo: Pedro Szekely / Wiki Commons / Public Domain

Tikal’s innovative architecture is enough to baffle the analytical mind of any scientist, but apart from its design, another question that is still unanswered is why Tikal’s people leave? Some signs suggest that this Mayan city was set on fire before its people left. But, what truly happened we may never know. Tikal was founded in 200 BC and soon became a regional superpower. It dominated other neighboring city-states that stretched as far as Western Honduras and the Yucatán Peninsula. However, its reign ended abruptly after the Mayan people abandoned this city in 900 AD.

 It is surrounded by jungle and wasn’t discovered until 1848. Still, only 15% of the site is excavated so far. The ruins of Tikal are magnificent but represent only a fraction of the city-state’s original glory. During its peak time, claim archaeologists, downtown Tikal was around 6 square/miles and the population of the city-state sprawled at least 47 square/miles. Six temple-pyramids are dominating the skyline, which is visible even today. The Temple IV is the tallest of all with 212 feet height. Visitors have to use wooden ladders or protruding roots to check out this temple.

 The Masuda-no-Iwafune, Japan

IWAFUNE of MASUDA (Stone Ship) left / Wiki Commons / Public Domain

The Masuda-no-Iwafune is a bizarre monument located in Japan. Researchers and scientists are literally stumped over the purpose behind building this monument. Some believe that it served as an agriculture calendar while some negate this theory entirely. It could also be a burial mound as during the time it was built, the Tumulus Period from 250-552 AD or the Kofun Jidai (the Old Mound period), a particular type of burial mound was very popular. Particularly the earthen mounds shaped like a key and surrounded with moats.

The Masuda-no-Iwafune is located in the ancient land of Asuka, where there is multiple carved granite stone scattered throughout the region. The Masuda is the most unusual and most extensive of all carved stones. The name Masuda-no-Iwafune means the Rock Ship of Masuda. It is basically a stone carving located at the top of a hill in Asuka. It is 8 meters wide, 11 meters long, and 4.7meters high. The monument weighs approx. 800 tonnes. Its top is now completely flattened, and there are two holes about one-meter long carved into it. There are lattice-shaped indentations at the base of the stone that scholars believe are related to the process used to flatten the sides of the rock. But, we still have no clue regarding who built it and why.

The Three Dolmens, Spain

Cueva do Viera (left), the Cueva de Menga (top right), and the Tholos de El Romeral (bottom right) Wiki Commons / Public Domain

The Three Dolmens of Spain are megalithic tombs located outside Antequera, Spain. The three dolmens are named the Cueva do Viera, the Cueva de Menga, and the Tholos de El Romeral. Scientists agree that these dolmens were built in 3,700 BC, but they are still confused regarding how ancient people with such limited tools and resource managed to move such gigantic stones each of which weighed more than 100 tons.

For your information, a dolmen is a prehistoric site featuring two or more heavy stones standing upright with a capstone to form a chamber.  Dolmens are mainly found in Southern, Western, and Northern Europe.

Spanish dolmens were built in the Bronze Age, and are one of the oldest things on Earth. You can consider them Spain’s Stonehenge. These dolmens were discovered by Antequera-based brothers José Viera and Antonio in 1903-05. The megaliths feature large stone blocks with roof-covered spaces. The roofs are lintel or false cupolas, and the structure resembles caves. The stones blend perfectly into the area’s landscape but are all differently shaped. Their anomalous positioning makes them most unique dolmens in Europe. The Menga has a human-shaped head known as Lover’s Rock. The El Romeral is positioned such that it faces the El Torcal de Antequera hiking areas, whereas the Viera is the only dolmen facing the sun.

 The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

Photo: Dr Mahul Brahma / Wiki Commons / Public Domain

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt still remains the favorite mystery of xenoarchaeologists worldwide. This pyramid is a mandatory site to visit in almost every human’s ultimate bucket list. It is a massive stone structure that still stands proud and had outlasted all other Wonders of the Ancient World. Scientists are amazed at how people back in that time with limited mechanical lifting devices and technological advancement could construct tombs with such heavy stones.

There are three pyramid structures in the city of Giza, and the Great Pyramid is the oldest and largest of all. It is located on the outskirts of Cairo. This pyramid is also called the Pyramid of Cheops or the Pyramid of Khufu. Although it was included in the Wonders of the Ancient World after the Renaissance, there are accounts that Ancient Greek travelers spoke about it during the 1st century BC.

The Great Pyramid is assumed to be encasing the final resting place and the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu. It is also believed that the pyramid was completed in 2560BC. It is about 146.5meters or 481 feet high, and for at least 3,800 years it remained the tallest built structure on the face of the Earth. The Lincoln Cathedral, built in 1311, eventually took this record from the Great Pyramid. However, the pyramid remains fully intact while the cathedral couldn’t stand the test of time and lost its central spine in 1548.

 The Temple of Ggantija, Gozo

Temple of Ggantija Arial view
Photo: Fritz Photography / Wiki Commons / Public Domain

The Temple of Ggantija is a megalithic complex located in the Maltese Islands of Gozo. The scientific community agrees that this temple is older than Egypt’s Great Pyramid, but the purpose behind its constructions is still unknown. The Ggantija temple was excavated in 1827, and it started crumbling soon.

The Ggantija temples in Xaghra, Gozo are one of the world’s most mysterious archaeological sites. The temple is situated on a plateau and has incredibly huge dimensions that still amazes its visitors. Researchers claim that this gigantic structure was erected in the Neolithic Age, during 3600-2500 BC. This is more or less the same timeline as the Stonehenge. Recent scientific excavations have proven that these temples are at least 6000 years old. Originally, the temples in the complex had plastered and painted roofs. It is speculated that these temples were built for worship. However, given their gigantic size, it is believed that giants built the Ggantija and other temples in the Island. In fact, the Maltese language name Ggantija means Belonging to the Giant.