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The Nazca Lines are a collection of giant geoglyphs—designs or motifs etched into the ground—located in the Peruvian coastal plain about 400 kilometers south of Lima, Peru. Created by the ancient Nazca culture in South America, and depicting various plants, animals, and shapes, the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines can only be fully appreciated when viewed from the air given their massive size. Despite being studied for over 80 years, the geoglyphs—which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994—are still a mystery to researchers.
Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, England
The bluestones in the middle weigh about 3.6 tonnes each (that’s the same as two cars!), while the bigger sarsen stones each weigh a whopping 22 tonnes. Archaeologists believe that the sarsen stones were hauled to the site on big wooden sledges from 32km away, but the bluestones have been traced to rock outcrops 225km away in Wales! It’s thought they could have been dragged on sledges to a waterway and then floated on rafts to the building site.
Ancient site of Troy
The name Troy refers both to a place in legend and a real-life archaeological site in modern day Turkey, near Gallipoli. In legend, Troy is a city that was besieged for 10 years and eventually conquered by a Greek army led by King Agamemnon. The Trojan horsewas a huge hollow wooden horse constructed by the Greeks to gain entrance into Troy during the Trojan War. Despite the warnings the horse was taken inside the city gates. That night Greek warriors emerged from it and opened the gates to let in the returned Greek army, who slaughtered the Trojans and burnt the city.
Machu Picchu, in Peru
This is one of the most iconic and important archeological sites in the world, but the origins of the Inca's Machu Picchu remain a mystery. The Inca left no record of why they built the site 600 years ago,or how they used it before it was abandoned in the early16th century. It is amazing that this dramatic and towering fortress of stone cut from cliffs was fashioned by men without the wheel, tools or mortar, yet the stones fit so tightly together that not even a knife's blade could fit between them.
Moai statues of Easter Island in the Pacific
In 1722, Dutch explorers found a remote island in the Pacific off the coast of Chile dotted with hundreds of huge stone statues. Where had the Islanders originally come from? Why and how had they built the figures? There are nearly 900 moai on Easter Island, in various stages of construction. Opinions differ widely on how they were moved and raised (Some think they were walked; others that they were pushed on log rollers.) but no one disputes the years of effort involved in getting the statues carved and into place. Some stones weighed 80 tons, twice the weight of Stonehenge's, and were transported 16km from the quarry.
Mungo Man, Central Australia
When the bones of Australia's oldest and most complete human were unearthed in the 1970s, it rewrote history. Dubbed 'Mungo Man' after the dried-up lake basin where he was found, the skeleton dates back about 42,000 years, and is the world's first evidence of a human ritual burial, a cremation. Mungo Man provided a further glimpse into a past that all of a sudden appeared far more complex than archaeologists across the world had previously thought possible.
Tollund Man, Denmark
Tollund Man is one of many “bog bodies” that have been discovered in the peat bogs of Northern Europe, where unusual conditions allow natural mummification to occur. Over the centuries, the acid dissolves the calcium phosphate of their bones, and their skin turns a deep, dark brown. Tollund Man was so perfectly preserved that when he was discovered in 1950 by two brothers, they reported to the police what they thought was a recent murder, but it turned out to be a 2,400 year old murder. He died by hanging one winter’s day or early spring, and shortly after the hanging he was cut down. The rope is still around his neck. Somebody closed his eyes and mouth and placed him in a sleeping position in an old bog.The reasons for his murder are still a mystery.
Stonehenge is woven into the earliest Arthurian legends and has been analysed by everyone from archaeologists, to town planners, to the Druids who have made it their spiritual home. By refusing to adopt one theoretical position, Rosemary Hill provides the most wide-ranging and expansive history of the megalithic structure to date, from its creation in 3000 BC to the threat of the thunderous main roads that flank it today.
The legendary city of Troy was the stage on which devastating battles were fought and heroic deeds were done during Troy's conflict with the Greeks. Homer's 8th-century BC works 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey', which were often sung, kept the Trojan-Greek War alive in the minds of millions of people. However, the stories suddenly came to life in 1871, when an amateur archaeologist announced he had found the gold that belonged to Priam and the city that had been destroyed by the Greeks. Plenty of other archaeological finds have been made, and Homer's epic poems have been translated from the Greek time and again.
No one knows why the Moai, nearly a thousand megalithic volcanic statues, were carved, transported, and erected or why they were all found facedown by European explorers. In addition, did a Stone Age population of less than 10,000 actually deforest the land, causing environmental devastation? Though the island is one of the most studied and probed places in the world, Easter Island remains one of the most mysterious places on the planet.