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Year 7: Ancient History Mysteries

Welcome

The Task

Construct a PowerPoint about a history mystery. Choose from the topics given under 'Useful Websites'. Remember, you need to address these questions:

  • What is the mystery behind your topic?
  • What theories/hypotheses do historians, archaeologists etc have about this topic?
  • What do you believe (based on your research) is the most likely explanation for the mystery(ies) of your topic?

Search the Oliver Library Catalogue

Search for some relevant websites in here. Put your topic (eg 'Stonehenge') in the search box, then choose 'Subject' in the drop-down menu instead of 'Basic search'. Just select the websites when they pop up.

Oliver Library Catalogue

 Look here for books, eBooks, DVDs and websites.

(Add / Edit Text 

Blank Script Template For You to Use

Print this out and use to write your script.

How to Print Handout of PPT Slides and Script

You can print out your Slides + Notes so you can read from your script when you do your narration if you prefer. Go to your PowerPoint presentation. Choose File > Export > Create Handouts > Choose the default Notes Next to Slides > OK. You can later hand this in to your teacher as evidence of your presentation, including narration.

Famous History Mysteries

Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, England

The bluestones in the middle weigh about 3,600  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.

Mycenaean mask of beaten gold, Greece

Only 100 years after the  Mycenaean civilization reached its peak in 1300 BC, around 1200 BC, it began to disappear - no one knows why. The society was famous for its immense wealth, particularly gold. One grave alone contained over 15kg of gold, making it one of the largest gold finds in all of European archaeology. There were hundreds of items, among them jewellery, attachments for clothing, decorated weaponry and funeral masks accompanied by other rich finds made of rare or exotic materials, such as ivory, silver, ostrich egg (from Africa), amber (from Northern Europe), and glass (maybe from Crete or Egypt).

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.

Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun's golden funerary mask

Experts have speculated about possible causes of the teenage Egyptian king's mysterious death ever since British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in 1922. This discovery is considered to be one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. After years of painstaking excavations, Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tutankhamun, just after he had been told that money was running out for future work. The pharaoh then became a household name, and his magnificent treasures have inspired the world.   

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. 

 

Peat bog bodies, Northern Europe

Since the 18th century, the peat bogs of Northern Europe have yielded hundreds of human corpses dating from as far back as 8,000 B.C. They are exquisitely preserved because unusual conditions allowed natural mummification to occur. Highly acidic water, low temperature, and lack of oxygen and bacteria preserved the skin, internal organs, hair, and leather accessories. Despite their great diversity—they comprise men and women, adults and children, kings and commoners—a surprising number seem to have been violently dispatched and deliberately placed in bogs, leading some experts to conclude that the bogs served as mass graves for offed outcasts and religious sacrifices. 

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.

Hummingbird Nazca Line, Chile

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.

Bradshaw cave painting, Central Australia

The Gwion Gwion rock art is claimed to be the earliest figurative art in the world. 65,000 years ago, people crossed by boats in groups from Timor into Australia. It is just possible some members of these groups were assigned the task of recording their beliefs, hopes, fears and spirits by painting on the rocks of carefully considered locations. If that is the case, the cave paintings of the Kimberley region of north-west Australia could be among the earliest figurative paintings ever executed.

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.

Useful Websites on Given Topics

General
St Stephen's College Library: History Mysteries
Includes Easter Island, Tollund Man, Bradshaw (Gion Gion) paintings, Mungo Man and Stonehenge.

Stonehenge
History.com : Stonehenge

LiveScience: Stonehenge: Facts and Theories About This Mysterious Monument

Museum of Unnatural History: Stonehenge: Mystery on the Salisbury Plain

World Mysteries: Stonehenge

Mycenaeans
Ancient History Encyclopedia: Mycenaean Civilisation 

Live Science: Did an Earthquake Destroy Ancient Greece?

Classical Wisdom Weekly: The Rise, The Fall and the Mystery of the Mycenaeans

Great Discoveries in Archaeology: The Mystery of Mycenae

Easter Island
History.com: Easter Island

BBC Science & Nature: The Mystery of Easter Island

World Mysteries: Easter Island

National Geographic: Easter Island Mystery Solved?

Tutankhamun
National Geographic: Mystery of King Tut's Death Solved? Maybe Not

Scientific American: 5 Unsolved Mysteries of King Tut's Tomb

The Independent Newspaper: Solved - The Mystery of King Tutankhamun's Death

Ancient Origins: Mystery of King Tutankhamun's Death Solved After More Than 3000 Years

Canadian Museum of History: Mysteries of Egypt: Tutankhamun

Mungo Man
News.com.au: The Discovery Sent Shockwaves Through Archaeology, But the Remains of Mungo Man Still Hold Secrets of First Australians

St Stephen's School: Mungo Man

Visit Mungo: Mungo Lady and Mungo Man

ABC Science: Mungo Man

Peat Bog Mummies
History.com: Peat Bodies

NOVA: The Perfect Corpse: Bog Bodies of the Iron Age

Mummy Tombs: Bog Bodies

Historic Mysteries: The Ancient Bog Bodies

National Geographic: Who Were the Ancient Bog Mummies?

Tollund Man
The Tollund Man: A Face From Prehistoric Denmark

The Smithsonian Museum: Europe's Famed Bog Bodies Are Starting to Reveal Their Secrets

Ancient Origins: Tollund Man

Vasser University: Tollund Man - Peat Bog Bodies Today and in the Iron Age

History.com: Tollund Man

KidsNet.au: Tollund Man

Museum Silkeborge: Why Did Tollund Man Have to Die?

Nazca Lines
Museum of Unnatural History: Nazca Lines

Archaeology Online: The Nazca Lines: A Mystery on the Plains

National Geographic: Nazca Lines: The Sacred Landscape

World Mysteries: Nazca Lines

Historic Mysteries: The Mysterious Nazca Lines

Bradshaw Cave Paintings (Gwion Gwion)
Bradshaw Foundation: Bradshaw Paintings

Creative Spirits: Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) Rock Art

Convict Creations: The Lost World of the Bradshaws

The Australian: Secrets of the Stones

Australia for Everyone: Gwion (Bradshaw) Rock Art

Sydney Morning Herald: Why Scientists are Intrigued by the Gwion Gwion Rock Art 

Machu Picchu
Ticket Machu Picchu: The Mystery Hiding the Skeletons Found in Machu Picchu

Useful Ebooks

You can authenticate by using your student number as both username and password.

Pompeii Example History Mystery Narrated Powerpoint Prentation on Pompeii

This example of a History Mystery Narrated PowerPoint was kindly loaned to us by Mrs Wheeler, Middle School Teacher-Librarian at our neighbouring St Peters Lutheran College.

Terracotta Warriors PowerPoint from Mrs Woodruff