From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Archeologists and explorers alike have discovered awe-inspiring relics from our ancient world many times over. In all we’ve seen and learned in our recorded history it seems implausible that there remains any stone left unturned. However, digging a little further, we are coming to understand the roots of humanity may run deeper than we ever believed.
See, for every artifact mankind has uncovered, there are dozens more waiting to be revealed. Case in point: these 10 discoveries were hiding in plain sight for thousands (if not millions) of years, but they were only recently discovered—and they’re turning our view of the world completely upside down.
1. In 1938, archaeologists reportedly discovered an ancient burial cave deep in the Himalayas. The walls were full of pictures depicting the sky and the stars, suggesting a shocking level of cosmic and scientific awareness. That wasn’t the craziest find, though.
Using radiocarbon analysis, scientists concluded that humans inhabited the caves as far back as 11 million years ago. They also found 716 stone discs, now called dropa stones, that were each marked with an intricate series of unreadable hieroglyphs.
At the same site, they also found the remains of a race of people with abnormally small bodies and large heads. They resembled no other known humans and their origin remains a mystery to this day. Some speculate they were aliens!
2. In 1936, a married couple traveling around London, Texas, found this strange piece of rock connected to a smooth wooden handle. It was, in fact, an iron hammer, but scientists were still baffled—and for a good reason.
Glen J. Kuban
Radiocarbon analysis allegedly revealed it was roughly 500 million years old. Incredibly, not only did the object—known today as “The London Hammer”—predate what we thought were the earliest humans, but it showed no traces of rust.
3. In 1513, Ottoman admiral and lover of maps Hadji Muhiddin Piri Ibn Hadji Mehmed, better known as Piri Reis, compiled a map of the world for the purposes of sea travel and military expeditions. Though only a third of it survived, it was amazingly accurate… which raised some questions.
Scientists claim that such a detailed map would be impossible without satellite imagery. So how did Piri Reis manage it? Some speculate he synthesized well over 20 maps into one.
Library of Topkapi Palace Museum, No. H 1824
4. In the 1930s, anthropologists discovered the Dogon tribe, a group of about half a million people located in West Africa’s Burkina Faso. They were almost completely cut off from the rest of the world, but they had a rich culture full of rituals and legends. For example…
The Dogon claimed that, in ancient times, a race of extraterrestrial creatures visited the Earth to tell them that they originated from the star Sirius B, which they called Paul Tolo. How wild is that?
J. Drevet / Wikimedia
5. In 1912, Wilfred Voynich, a dealer of rare books, purchased what became known as the Voynich Manuscript and brought it to the public’s attention. The book covered different scientific topics from herbs to cosmology, but something about it puzzled everyone…
Strangely, despite clear drawings and depictions, the book wasn’t written in any known human language. Those who’ve tried decoding it have suggested everything from forgery to Latin shorthand, but the truth remained a mystery.
6. Discovered in 1900 in a shipwreck off the Greek coast, the Antikythera navigator featured an intricate series of bronze discs that determined astrological cycles and tracked the stars in the sky as well as the Olympic Games cycle. What does that mean, you say?
Well, it means the Antikythera navigator was a sort of analog “computer!” Best estimates say it originated in 100 B.C.E., which was 16 centuries before Galileo’s groundbreaking discoveries—and 1,000 years before other complex devices just like it.
7. A 2012 excavation of Montana’s Dawson County revealed this triceratops horn, which was then given to the University of Georgia for radiocarbon analysis. There, scientists estimated that it was only 35,000 years old—and that made them pause.
Dinosaurs were generally believed to have died 65 million years ago. The discovery of this horn, then, suggested that if this triceratops lived 35,000 years ago, it could have lived among humans!
sabreguy29 / Flickr
8. The aboriginal Zuni tribe lived in what is now New Mexico over 4,000 years ago. Their language stumped linguists, as it didn’t resemble any other local dialect. In fact, it shared similarities with a language based very, very far away…
That language? Japanese! Even more amazingly, modern Japanese people can even understand bits and pieces of the Zuni language. How did the roots of Japanese make it to the Americas—or vice-versa?
9. Archaeologists in the Mexican Toluca Valley discovered this terra cotta head statue—eventually called the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head—in 1933. Evidence suggested it’d been buried in about 1500 A.D. The strange part?
Carbon dating placed the head’s origins between the ninth and thirteenth century B.C.E. Stranger, it’s consistent with Roman architecture, like the terra cotta head of Dionysus seen below—so how did it end up in Mexico City?
Metropolitan Museum of Art
10. The 80-ton boulder known as the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone was found in 1933 on a hillside in Los Lunas, New Mexico. When archeologists wiped away the moss on the boulder, they found Hebrew inscriptions. But that only generated more questions…
Brainardo / Wikimedia
For instance, studies estimated that the stone was anywhere between 500 and 2,000 years old, long before Hebrew found its way to the Americas. So how did a 160,000-pound boulder make it across the Pacific Ocean? And why?
Sarah Heidt / YouTube
Before the advent of science, many cultures had legends and rituals to explain the inexplicable. But just because there are concrete scientific explanations for many ancient beliefs, that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t mysteries to be solved.
When a group of natives approached the scientific community with claims that were contrary to their professional consensus, researchers were quick to dismiss them. These scholars soon learned, however, that everything they thought they knew about history was a complete lie.
The First Nation indigenous to British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, the Heiltsuk people have laid claim to the remote Triquet Island for nearly 5,000 years. But archaeologists have dismissed their claim of ownership for one glaring reason…
Simon Fraser University
The continental glacier that formed over Canada during the last Ice Age would’ve also covered Triquet Island, making it uninhabitable. But even with the facts stacked against the Heiltsuk, a small group of researchers took it upon themselves to uncover the truth once and for all.
The Robinson Library
The archaeologists began an extensive excavation of the remote island in the hope of discovering traces of a past civilization. What they found there not only shocked the entire archaeological community, but it also changed history forever.
Beneath several layers of earth, they found remnants of an ancient, wood-burning hearth. But how could this be? According to researchers, it would’ve been impossible for humans to dig their way through the glacial ice to get to the soil below.
As they continued digging, researchers unearthed additional artifacts, including tools and weapons. This discovery stumped the team as the Heiltsuk people traditionally didn’t use tools of this kind.
The Heiltsuk people had derived their food source from fishing and smoking salmon, utilizing small, precise tools to harvest the fish. The tools and weapons found were much larger and likely would’ve been used to hunt large sea mammals, such as seals, sea lions, and walruses.
What’s more, the team also uncovered shards of obsidian, a glass-like rock only found in areas of heavy volcanic activity. This discovery also puzzled the archaeologists, as there were no known volcanoes near that part of British Columbia. So, how did this rock — and these people — get there?
The historians deduced that whoever left these artifacts must have traversed the land bridge that existed between Siberia and Alaska during prehistoric times. Yet researchers still needed cold-hard facts…
Luckily, a closer inspection of the hearth revealed ancient charcoal remains, which the archaeologists quickly brought to the lab for carbon dating. When they received the results, the researchers couldn’t believe their eyes: everything they knew was a lie.
According to the carbon dating report, these bits of charcoal were an astonishing 14,000 years old, making them the oldest carbon remains ever to be discovered in North America.
Even by global standards, this was an extraordinary find. After all, these simple pieces of charcoal were older than the Great Pyramid of Giza and even predated the invention of the wheel! But that’s not the most remarkable fact about this discovery.
The 14,000-year-old discovery placed the earliest Heiltsuk at Triquet Island 2,000 years before the end of the ice age. Therefore, the island couldn’t have been covered by the massive continental glacier. And that’s not all.
Since Triquet Island was surrounded on all sides by water, the early Heiltsuk would’ve used boats to traverse the open waters. Because boats were not believed to have been invented until centuries later, this presented the possibility that early humans could’ve navigated along the North American coastlines in order to settle the continent.
This meant that the Heiltsuk settled the area 2,000 years before initially believed. If this was the case, then these early men likely crossed paths with some of history’s most formidable beasts.
As the Heiltsuk people made their way south from the land bridge, they likely had to fend off giant creatures like mastodons, woolly mammoths, and giant sloths. But somehow, these humans survived, and it’s likely for one crucial reason.
Thanks to the Pacific Ocean itself, the sea level at Triquet Island remained constant for over 15,000 years. So as the sea gradually eroded the surrounding islands, the great beasts of the Pacific Northwest were kept at bay, leaving the Heiltsuk to a peaceful, secluded existence.
The most astounding realization that’s come to light is the fact that the Heiltsuk people were able to preserve their history orally for nearly 14,000 years. However, they are still being deprived of their history’s legitimacy.
When the media caught wind of the story, they seemed to focus more on what the discovery meant for the scientific community rather than acknowledge the rich history of the Heiltsuk. To many, the media’s portrayal of the nation was seen as highly disrespectful.
As a result, University of Victoria student Alisha Gauvreau — who was present during the excavation — has dedicated herself to shifting the focus of the dialogue toward the Heiltsuk people.
The Heiltsuk claim to Triquet Island stands as one of the oldest land-ownership claims in the world. Not only does this discovery speak volumes about the strength of the Heiltsuk people, but it also represents the indomitable spirit of mankind.
kris krüg / Flickr