Totally Unexplainable Artifacts from the Ancient Past

In this modern age we live in where we have reached a point where we think that all information, all the things that there is to know have been collected and is indeed accessible on the world wide web, there may be stuff in our history that is surprisingly mysterious even to the experts who are dedicated to studying these materials from our almost vivid past.

Let's take a look at four things that seem to indicate to have been important during their time period but have historians completely baffled (though not for the lack of effort) as to either their origin and/or true purpose. 

1. The Voynich Manuscript

rare book codex
Image via

The Voynich Manuscript is a book, but not just any sort of book, it's a book that completely written in a language that's untranslatable, not to mention that the book's origin is also completely unknown as well as its author or its true purpose. In any case, it first appeared to the public eye in 1915 when an artifact collector known as Wilfrid Voynich presented it as a part of his collection. Since then, the book has captured the interests of the leading cryptographers from World War 1 and World War 2, who all tried, in vain to shed light into this utterly mysterious piece of work. Today, it is kept safely in a rare book library in Yale University, waiting for somebody to unravel its secrets.

2. Damascus Steel

Tamil Persian Damascus Sword
Image via

This special kind of steel was the most advanced steel of its time and was prized for its strength and its unique design. The Damascus steel was used to make special swords from 1100 to 1700 AD. Swords made from Damascus steel was said to have been so sharp and sturdy that they had become the stuff of legends, with records of it being able to cut rifles in half and other swords made from the standard steel of that time. The ingots were said to have come from a part of India or Persia and were imported to Europe, where a mysterious clan of blacksmiths made this metal from a secret formula that each was sworn to protect under the pain of death. Such was the intensity of the secret that when the trade routes from India to Europe had slowly closed down towards the 1800's, the enigmatic clan had been lost from the pages of history, along with their secret.

3. Antikythera Mechanism

Ancient Greece Clockwork
Image via

This object has been taken from a shipwreck off the coast of Greece by a team of diving researchers on May 17, 1902. This partially crumbled artifact appears to be a clockwork device of an obscure purpose. The mechanism has 37 gears on it, made of bronze, all connected to work together. Now, this is all well and good, until we factor in the fact that it's over 2,000 years old, making it anachronistic for its time. This seemingly complex device is sometimes referred to as the first analog computer. However, researchers are still at a loss how this device came to be, what its true purpose is and how a machine, with complexities that would not be seen only until at least a thousand years later, ended up in the hands of the ancient Greeks. 

4. Greek Fire

Fire Naval Warfare
Image via

The Byzantine Empire controlled what is today modern-day Turkey with a civilization that is far advanced for its time. They also controlled much of the Mediterranean Sea because of their superior naval power. Nothing too unusual about that until we learn of the secret to their naval success. Records and art depictions from both the Byzantine Empire and their fiercest rivals, the Turks, tell of a clear liquid that when ignited, can produce flames that never gets extinguished by conventional means such as water. This mysterious liquid is called the Greek Fire. Sources indicate that the Greek ships were attached with a siphon, or a cannon-shaped flame thrower at the prow and was loaded with this Greek Fire. A controller would then blast fire onto the enemy ships causing the latter to burn down almost instantly, without having any help from all that water that surrounds them. Today, chemists and scientists are still at a loss as to how this liquid is being made, all attempts to recreate this jaw-dropping substance have failed so far.