20 Greatest Mysteries In History Which Remain Unsolved

Human civilization started around 5000 years ago in the fertile regions of Mesopotamia and Egypt. And ever since, we humans are leaving traces of our lives, to be discovered by future generations. In the 21st century, some of these remains don’t make any sense to us and scholars struggle to even understand the basic idea behind them. Here are 20 of the greatest mysteries of all times.

#20. The Sphinx

Right next to the Pyramids of Giza stands a gigantic statue of a feline body with a human face, that is famously missing its nose. Its name –The Great Sphinx of Giza– was shaped by the ancient Greeks who recognized one of their mythological beasts in it. The problem is though, that the statue is thousands of years older than the ancient Greeks and that even back then, nobody knew its builder or its given name.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Today, modern Egyptologists believe that the Sphinx was erected for the builder of the Second Pyramid of Giza, Pharaoh Kafre and that it is a symbol of his royal power. That would mean that the Sphinx has been standing in the desert for 4500 years. Enough time to lose its nose and every human record of its construction.

#19. The Dancing Plague Of 1518

Imagine you’re going outside and you see your neighbor Mrs. Troffea dancing on the street. You leave your town, come back a month later and not only is she still dancing but now 400 people have joined her, literally dancing themselves to death. Exactly this happened in the town of Strasbourg in 1518 and in many other European cities between the 14th and 17th century.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Medieval authorities were overwhelmed by the mysterious plage and their solution to provide music to the involuntary dancers usually made things much worse. Modern-day explanations vary from food-poisoning by psychoactive mushrooms to mass hysteria triggered by the poor living conditions at that time. But the truth is, we simply do not know why one day in July Mrs. Troffea started to dance and didn’t stop until September.

#18. Jack The Ripper

In 1888, a series of brutal murders shook London. Five prostitutes were found around the neighborhood of Whitechapel with their throat cut and organs missing. Since the police did not arrest anybody, the media jumped on the case and called the murderer Jack the Ripper. Numerous confession letters appeared and soon people speculated the unidentified serial killer might have committed eleven other murders.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Today, most of us know the Whitechapel Murderer from Pop Culture, such as the 2001 movie From Hell. But who was the historical Jack the Ripper? Well, we don’t know. All we do know is that the killer must have had some anatomical knowledge. More than 100 suspects have been named but nobody was ever convicted for the crimes. Likely, the most famous serial killer of all times will never be identified.

#17. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was a badass. In 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She wrote several books and became a feminist icon in the US, breaking gender stereotypes and flight records at the same type. In 1937 she decided to become the first person to fly around the world at the equatorial route. She made it from the US over Africa to the Pacific and then just vanished.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Neither herself, her plane nor her navigator were ever found. Today most researchers believe, she ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Some speculate, that she was captured and killed by Japanese forces and others even say she survived the crash, moved to New Jersey and changed her name. Truth is we will probably never know what happened to this impressive woman.

#16. Voynich Manuscript

There is one book in the world nobody can read and chances are nobody ever will. The Voynich Manuscript, named after Wilfried Voynich, who bought it in 1912, is full of unreadable texts, drawings of plants that never existed and sketches of naked women sitting in bathtubs. Who wrote the book and what did the author want to tell us?

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Some believe Roger Bacon († 1929) was the author of the manuscript. Others scholars say the manuscript is some kind of medieval joke and doesn’t mean anything. In 2019 a researcher claimed that the text is written in proto-Romance. This would make the Voynich Manuscript the only known text in this language and doesn’t solve the problem, that we will never know who wrote this strange book.

#15. Mary Celeste

In 1872, Benjamin Briggs was charged with bringing the Mary Celeste from New York to Genoa in Italy. He brought his family and a crew of eight to board and set sail on November 7. Never to be seen again. On December 4, Captain Morehouse found an empty ship close to the Azores Islands: The Mary Celeste. He found nobody on board and reported, that the ship was: “a thoroughly wet mess.”

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Some argue, that the loaded 1700 barrels of ethanol released toxic gas and forced the crew to abandon the ship. Others say the crew might have thought the ship to be sinking due to a seaquake and fled rashly to the life raft that was missing. One sailor theorized, Captain Briggs anchored on a small Atlantic island and the tide released the ship, leaving the crew all alone. A truly horrendous imagination.

#14. The Princes In The Tower

In 1483, King Edward IV of England died, leaving his two sons Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury in the care of his brother Richard III. If you have seen The Lion King, you might guess what happened then. Just like Scar, Richard III had his own aspiration to become king. The two minor boys were arrested, brought to the Tower of London and disappeared.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Now, we don’t know if Richard III is really the one to blame. After all, he had already eliminated the princes from succession and other suspects such as the later King Henry VII of England had their own motives. In 1674, workmen in the Tower of London recovered two small skeletons. They were never DNA tested though, so we still don’t know what happened to the Princes in the Tower.

#13. Crystal Skulls

Have you ever seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and wondered how anyone would come up with the idea of alien crystal skulls? You might want to sit down because they do actually exist. Well, human crystal skulls to be precise, that alien part is coming from Spielberg.

Photo: Courtesy of All That’s Interesting

In the 19th century, they appeared all over Europe and were thought to be Mayan or Aztec. However, experts argue that the skulls are way too detailed to have been produced by Pre-Columbian societies. They think the skulls were carved in 19th century Germany and sold as fake artifacts. Some individuals today believe the skulls to have magical abilities and even cure cancer. Not too far from Spielberg’s vision.

#12. Stonehenge

If you have seen pictures of Stonehenge, you might ask yourself: “What is so special about some rocks on a hill?” Well what about the facts that they are up to 5000 years old; they were transported 150 miles (240 km) through England, aligned perfectly with the sunrise at midsummer and we still have no idea why they were put there in the first place?

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Stonehenge was first mentioned in the 10th century and believed to be erected by the Wizard Merlin from the Arthurian legends. While that is probably not true, we still don’t know exactly what Stonehenge is. Theories vary from it being a tomb, a temple or a symbol of power to a gigantic calendar. Today Neopagans regularly use the site for their ceremonies.

#11. The Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are more than 1500 enormous geoglyphs in the soil of a desert in Peru. Some are about 1200ft (370 m) long, others stretch much shorter. Hundreds are simple lines, while others depict animals such as monkeys or jaguars. The whole complex is so huge, the Spanish conquerors thought them to be abandoned roads.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Their true nature was discovered in the 1920s when pilots flew over the region. But we still only know, that they were probably drawn between 800-600 BC by removing the topmost layer of the soil. Some scholars say, the Nazca Lines were used for irrigation, others see a religious or astronomical purpose in them. We might never know what drove the Nazca Culture to draw in the desert.

#10. Robin Hood

Robin of Loxley was probably not a fox nor did he rob the rich and gave it to the poor. The legendary outlaw is a part of English folklore since at least the 15th century, but was he really dressed in Lincoln green and fought the Sheriff of Nottingham? Or did he even exist?

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Some say he was based on an outlaw called Robert Hod, others think that the excellent archer was, in fact, Roger Godberd, who did raid the County of Nottinghamshire. Barrie Dobson, the leading Robin Hood expert, believes though, that he never actually existed and that the name was simply an expression for “bandit” in the 13th century.

#9. The Black Dahlia

On November 9, Elizabeth Short left her hotel in Los Angeles, never to be seen alive again. Six days later her mutilated body was found on a vacant lot in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. The body was completely drained of blood and the killer had slashed the corners of the mouth to her ears, carving a gruesome smile.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Up till now, that murder was never solved and it probably never will. For forensic experts, the excessive mutilation of her body suggests that she was killed by someone who knew her well, maybe even a former lover. Steve Hodel, a former LAPD detective, discovered in 1999 that his deceased father, George Hodel, might have been the killer but this was never finally proven.

#8. The Irish Crown Jewels

Imagine you’re in charge of guarding the Irish Crown Jewels. Shortly, before the visit of King Edward VII of England you want to take them out of the safe, but they are gone. Exactly this happened in 1907 to Sir Arthur Vicars and the jewels belonging to the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, valued around £1,660,000 today, which never appeared again.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

The theft quickly became a political scandal, with some blaming the Unionists for destroying the traces of the Irish culture and others blaming the Irish Republican Brotherhood for using them for their separatist movement. Some journalists believe, they were quickly sold in Amsterdam and a 2002 book even suggests, they were secretly returned to the Royal Family, where the jewels stay hidden.

#7. The Calamity of the Bronze Age

Between 1200 and 1150 BC, every major culture the Mediterranean collapsed. The great kingdoms of Mycenae, the Kassite dynasty of Babylonia, the Egyptian Empire and many others fell, leaving the region in chaos. Because there are only very few written sources of that time, historians still riddle what caused the Ancient Dark Age.

Photo: Courtesy of Ancient.eu

As this calamity happened more than 3000 years ago, we will never know what caused the fall of this civilization. Some suspect environmental disasters, such as the eruption of a volcano or a climate change, that brought long-lasting droughts. Other scholars claim, these empires didn’t adapt to new technology and warfare and were quickly overrun by competitors.

#6. The Treasure Hunt of Oak Island

Since 2000 years, the remote Oak Island in Canada is being dug over by treasure hunters. In 1795 Daniel McGinnis discovered a sinkhole, began digging and found slates and thoroughly placed logs. He stopped his hunt after digging 30 feet (9 m) deep. More than 200 years later, people are still digging on Oak Island, without ever having found any treasure.

Photo: Courtesy of Scuba News Canada

Now, what exactly is buried in Oak Island? Treasure hunters hope to find the pirate treasure of Captain Kidd, a treasure belonging once to a wrecked Spanish galleon, the jewels of Marie Antoinette, the manuscripts of Francis Bacon or other legendary loot. But maybe it was all a gigantic waste of time as geologists believe the sinkholes to be natural phenomenons.

#5. Dan Cooper

On November 24, 1971, the worst nightmare of every flight passenger happened. A man, calling himself Dan Cooper, claimed to have a bomb in his briefcase and hijacked the plane. He made the pilot land in Seattle and asked for $200.000 and a parachute in exchange for the lives of his hostages. After the exchange, the plane took off and somewhere over the state of Washington, Cooper jumped out.

Photo: Courtesy of WXYZ Detroit

In 1980 an 8-year-old found some $20 notes next to the Columbia River, that were identified as part of the ransom. Since then, the FBI believes, Dan Cooper drowned in the river but never found his body nor any other notes. The case is officially closed since 2016 but who knows, maybe the hijacker is still alive.

#4. The Devil’s Footprints

When we think about the Devil, we usually imagine a huge red creature with hoofs and horns. Now picture how scared the citizens of South Devon, England must have been when they found trails of hoof-like marks in the snow and thought the Devil himself had visited them.

Photo: Courtesy of the Dark Histories Podcast

Nowadays we live in a rational world and most of us don’t believe in Satan walking through fields to scare us. So people have come up with different explanations, such as an escaped monkey, an experimental balloon or even a kangaroo. And no, probably not Aliens. But most likely, we will never solve this mystery, as we have no primary sources of the incident.

#3. Mothman

Na na na na na na MOTHMAN! Between November 1966 and December 1967 several people spotted a winged man with glowing red eyes in West Virginia. He was dubbed Mothman and people are still claiming to have seen (and survived) that horrifying creature.

Photo: Courtesy of Role Player’s Imaginarium

Many conspiracy theories have linked the Mothman to UFOs, secret military technology or paranormal activities. The truth is probably that those who claim to have seen him, either saw a bird or a shadow or simply made it up, as it makes up for a good story. Unlike the other mysteries, no scholar actually believes Mothman really existed.

#2. The Zodiac Killer

He murdered at least five people in the 1960s and 1970s and goaded the police with cryptic letters containing weird symbols and medieval signs. We are of course talking about The Zodiac Killer. To the surprise of many, the deciphered letters he also sent to the press, contained many grammar mistakes and seemed like a child had written them.

Photo: Courtesy of Bio.com

The police always believed Arthur Leigh Allen to be The Zodiac Killer but his DNA didn’t match with the saliva on the stamps. Allen died in 1992 without confessing to any crime. Several copycats imitated the murders and were arrested but none of them was probably the real culprit. This might be another case, we will never find be able to solve.

#1. The Lost Colony

John White returned in 1578 to the aid of the 118 men and women he left on Roanoke Island three long years earlier. But instead of finding his family and friends, he only found the word “Croatoan” carved into a palisade. Many people have speculated since then, what happened to The Lost Colony. Were they massacred? Did a plague eliminate the settlement or did the settlers left the word for White to find their new home?

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

Some archaeologists suggest the colony decided to live together with the native tribe of the Crotoans. Later reports say, the tribe had unusually light-colored skin and were able to speak English. But we don’t really know if any of this is true and what truly happened to the settlers. John White himself disappeared in 1593 as well and was never seen again.

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    Lukas K.

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