Many strange artifacts have been discovered over the years that don't conform to the current theories of the history of man. An educational Web site called About, Inc. lists the 10 most puzzling ancient artifacts.
1) The Grooved Spheres. For several decades, miners in South Africa have been digging up mysterious spheres made of a blue metal. Approximately one inch in diameter, many of them have three parallel grooves circling the equator. Some are entirely solid metal and others are hollowed out with a spongy white substance inside. The origin and purpose of these objects are unknown, and they have been dated to 2.8 billion years old.
2) The Dropa Stones. In 1938, caves were discovered in a mountainous area in China that had apparently been occupied by an unknown ancient culture. Hundreds of stone disks were found on the cave floors. Each disk was about 9 inches in diameter with a circle cut into the center and etched with a spiral groove containing tiny hieroglyphs. Considered to be 10,000 to 12,000 years old, the hieroglyphs tell the story of spaceships from a distant world, piloted by people who called themselves the Dropa, that crash-landed into the mountains.
3) The Ica Stones. In the 1930s, an archeologist discovered more than 1,100 burial stones in the tombs of the ancient Incas in Peru, estimated to be 500 to 1,500 years old. These stones bear various astonishing etchings; including precise depictions of dinosaurs, brontosaurs, triceratops, stegosaurs and pterosaurs.
4) The Antokythera Mechanism. In 1900, off the coast of Antokythera Island near Crete, sponge-divers found a shipwreck containing many marble and bronze statues. They also found some sort of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. X-rays revealed a very complex, sophisticated system of differential gears. Writing on the casing of the mechanism indicated it was created in 80 B.C. Its origin and purpose are unknown.
5) The Baghdad Battery. Found in the ruins of a Parthian village, this device dates back to between 248 B.C. and 226 B.C. It consists of a 5.5 inch high clay urn containing an oxidized rod inside a copper cylinder that was held in place by asphalt. Experts concluded the object merely needed to be filled with an acid or alkaline liquid to produce an electrical charge. It was basically an ancient battery, perhaps used to electroplate objects with gold.
6) The Coso Artifact. Some gem collectors found a rock in northern California in 1961 they thought was a geode (having a cavity lined with crystals). Upon cutting it open, they discovered an object inside that seemed to be made of white porcelain, surrounded by a hexagonal casing. X-rays of the object revealed a "man-made" device inside the casing that looked similar to a sparkplug. The rock was estimated to be 500,000 years old.
7) Ancient Model Aircraft. Many artifacts linked to ancient Egyptian and Central American cultures resemble modern-day aircraft. For example, an object (made of gold) found in Central America, estimated to be 1,000 years old, could easily be mistaken for the space shuttle. It even features what appears to be a pilot's seat.
8) Giant Stone Balls of Costa Rica. While clearing an area in the jungle of Costa Rica, workmen found dozens of stone balls, varying in size from as small as a baseball to 8 feet in diameter. Many of them were perfectly spherical and considered to be man-made. Who made them and for what purpose is unknown.
9) Impossible Fossils. Fossils of human handprints have been found in limestone estimated to be 110 million years old. A fossilized human finger was discovered in Canada dating back to 100 million years ago. The fossil of a human footprint was found in a shale deposit in Utah estimated to be 300 million to 600 million years old.
10) Out-of-Place Metal Objects. Metallic tubes dug out of Cretaceous chalk in France were estimated to be 65 million years old. A nail was found embedded in a sandstone block from the Mesozoic Era. In 1885, a block of coal was broken open to reveal a metal cube that appeared to have been created by intelligent beings. In 1912, an iron pot fell out of a large chunk of coal that had been broken apart. And so on.
My family also has a strange artifact. We call him grandpa.
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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels, which are available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.