Since the world began, we have been surrounded by mysteries. Some are solved by science, but others remain unexplained and might stay unsolved forever. Some are as ancient as humanity, but our fascination with them keeps them timeless. Here are ten such historical mysteries, to both entertain you and make you wonder.
10. The Fate of Hitler’s Stolen Wealth
This is supposedly the greatest and biggest cache ever: an unimaginable hoard of looted gold bars, jewelry, and foreign currency, with an estimated value of $4 billion. These stolen riches disappeared in the blink of an eye from the vaults of the German Reichsbank. In the decades after World War II, troves of looted valuables were found in Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, and Sweden, but they hardly compare in value to Hitler’s supposed hoard.
Groups all over the world are still hunting for his treasure, but even after all these years, the question remains: Where is the gold of Hitler? The only sure thing is that the mystery of the treasure remains unsolved, with all its rumors, speculations, and myths still entwined around it. One of the most popular beliefs is that Hitler himself buried it in a secret location somewhere in Deutschneudorf, Germany. Some treasure hunters believe that the plunder is lying at the bottom of Lake Toplitz in Austria, while others suggest that it’s stashed in banks around the world. The only certain thing is that, when there’s nothing but speculation about the location of a $4 billion treasure, it grows into a legend.
9. The Disappearance of the USS Cyclops
The Bermuda Triangle is famous for mysterious disappearances that have taken place there over the years. Even though scientists are nowadays able to provide logical explanations for most of the disappearances in that area, some have never been explained, including the disappearance of the USS Cyclops, a Proteus-class collier of the US Navy.
During the First World War, the USS Cyclops was sent to Brazil to fuel British ships in the South Atlantic. Returning from Rio de Janeiro, she made a brief stop at the island of Barbados, then departed for Baltimore on the 4th of March, 1918. From that time forward, no one saw or heard anything about the Cyclops ever again. The crew and all 306 passengers vanished once and for all, and no trace of them or the ship has ever been found. It remains the single largest non-combat loss of life in U.S. Naval history. Even though American Naval authorities have tried for years to give a logical explanation, the disappearance remains an absolute mystery with many unanswered questions.
8. Locating the Remains of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus is probably the most famous explorer of all time, and we know pretty much everything about his life — except for one mystery: After his death in 1509, his remains continued to travel, and we don’t know where they ended up. Originally buried in the Spanish city of Vigiadolid, in 1537 his bones were transferred to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, in accordance with his wishes. But when the Spanish lost the region to theFrench in 1795, his remains were transferred to Cuba, where they stayed until the Spanish-American war. They were eventually returned to Seville, Spain, in 1898.
The Dominican Republic’s official version, however, claims that the remains of Columbus never left Hispaniola. In 1877, in the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, a box was discovered bearing an inscription stating that the remains inside were those of the “glorious and eminent Cristobal Colon.” A DNA analysis conducted on the bones in Seville, and on those of Columbus’s brother Diego (who is buried in the same city) showed that the two samples matched perfectly. When researchers announced these findings in 2006, the controversy surrounding Columbus’s earthly remains should have come to a definitive end. However, the Dominican Republic openly challenges the results of the DNA testing, and for years has demanded a DNA analysis of the bones in Hispaniola, leaving open a window of doubt.
7. Secrets of the Phaistos Disc
The Minoan Civilization is considered by most historians to be the first organized Western civilization, and it has been named “the first link in the European chain.” The Phaistos Disc, which was discovered in 1908 by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the ancient city of Phaistos, gave hope to even the least optimistic among us that it would help us understand the Minoan civilization in more detail.
But the Phaistos Disc is a global conundrum that has kept its secrets hidden for thousands of years. Suggestions about what its inscription means include a hymn, a prayer, a geometric theorem for the calendar, and the narrative of a story. However, the global scientific community has not been able to confirm any of these. After decades of research, a diverse team of scientists intensively studying the Minoan language and the text of the Phaistos Disc may have come close to solving one of the biggest mysteries of archaeology, but so far the Disc remains an absolutely unsolved mystery.
6. The “Wow!” Signal
It lasted for 37 seconds, and it came from outer space — but what exactly was it?
On August 15, 1977, astronomer Jerry Ehman, working on a SETI project at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Perkins Observatory, glanced as usual at the prints generated by the radio telescope known as the “Big Ear,” but what he saw this time made him write “Wow!” on the printout. But what did he see exactly that caused such a reaction? According to him, it was the strongest, clearest, and most significant signal ever recorded, and a mystery that astronomers have been debating for decades.
That was thirty-six years ago, and still no one knows what caused the signal or where it came from exactly. The scientific world is unable to provide a clear explanation, strengthening the myth surrounding this case. Even skeptics now wonder if the signal could have been the first human contact with extraterrestrial life.
5. Genghis Khan’s Final Resting Place
In 1206, Genghis Khan united the warring tribes of his region, becoming the leader of the Mongols and creating an empire that reached from China to Hungary. But the location of the tomb of the famous warrior has been a mystery since his death in 1227. According to legend, a group of his loyal followers buried him and then killed all the witnesses. All the soldiers and slaves who were present at the funeral were murdered, and horses trampled the burial site to destroy any traces of it. His loyal subjects are even said to have diverted a river to roll over his grave so it could never be detected.
However, the most likely scenario is that Khan was buried near his birthplace in the Khentii Aimag province of Mongolia. Over the years, a number of attempts to locate the tomb were barred by the authorities to prevent disturbing the locals or disrespecting the history of the area, but in 2004 a team of archaeologists discovered the palace of Genghis Khan. It is now speculated that the tomb lies nearby, but after nearly ten years of exploration and search, nothing has been found.
4. Pinpointing the Star of Bethlehem
For Christians, the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem is a faith-based event, and no further explanation is required. But for scientists and non-Christians, many questions remain. For nearly 2000 years, the bright star has been a mystery. Was it a miracle as the Christian religion teaches, a natural phenomenon, or maybe an alien spacecraft? St. John Chrysostom even suggested that it was not a star, but some unseen force that took this form.
The phenomenon has been the object of intense study for researchers, astronomers, historians, and archaeologists since antiquity. Modern scholars sometimes suggest that it was an unidentified flying object because, according to Scripture, it was visible constantly day and night and did not follow a course from east to west like other stars do. Some British researchers propose that the star of Bethlehem was a bright nova, like the one described by the Chinese in the spring of 5 BC. The great German astronomer Johannes Kepler argued that it was the conjunction of two planets forming a temporary “new star,” and Origen of antiquity (185-254 AD) claimed that it was a bright comet, as did the astronomer A. Stentzel in 1913. But no satisfactory scientific account has been provided to this day, and the mysterious star remains unexplained.
3. The Gods of Olympus Could Have Been Aliens
Is it possible that intelligent life forms visited Earth thousands of years ago, bringing with them technology that drastically affected the course of history and human evolution? If so, would people regard them as Gods? According to a few heretic and alternative historians and scientists, this is exactly what happened. “We modern humans, according to Hesiod, belong to the fifth faction created by Zeus, the iron race, a mixture of good and evil,” says Swiss author Erich Von Daniken.
According to his book Odyssey of the Gods, the ancient Greek gods were in fact extraterrestrial beings with superior intelligence who visited Earth, bringing with them their advanced technology. They were not mythological creatures, but actual space aliens. Of course, none of these theories can be proven historically accurate, but as Von Daniken points out to his doubters, neither can Jesus’s divinity.
2. The Truth Behind Bimini Road
In 1968, under the seabed off the coast of Bimini Island in the Bahamas, divers discovered dozens of huge flat limestone blocks forming a perfectly straight highway one kilometer long – a formation unlikely to be created naturally. Many claim that the blocks are the ruins of anancient civilization, while others are convinced that this is a unique natural phenomenon.
But none of these explanations can account for a prophecy made in the early decades of the 20th century. A famous prophet and healer of that time, Edgar Cayce, made a prediction in 1938: “Part of the ruins of Lost Atlantis will be discovered in the sea around the islands of Bimini … This will be done in 1968 or 1969.” Cayce’s prediction was indeed oddly – and creepily – accurate.
1. The Identity of the Babushka Lady
In the films and photos recording the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, an unknown woman can be seen in the crowd standing near the Kennedy limousine. She is seen wearing a brown coat and a scarf on her head, which gave her the nickname “the Babushka Lady.” In certain moments of the film, this woman seems to be holding a camera up to her eyes. After the shooting, while most people dispersed, the Babushka Lady remained there calmly recording the events. Shortly afterwards, she vanished in the crowds walking up Elm Street.
What makes the case even more bizarre is that although the FBI, through the press, asked this woman to produce her film, she never appeared. In 1970, a woman named Beverly Oliver claimed to be the Babushka Lady, but her story had many gaps and inaccuracies, and she is largely considered to be a con artist. Nobody knows who the woman with the babushka scarf was, or why she never delivered what she had recorded with her camera.