Top 10 Archaeological Mysteries of the United States

Top 10 Archaeological Mysteries of the United States
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A CENTURIES-OLD STONE WALL, STRETCHING for miles; huge pictures scratched into the ground of a desert; rocks arranged in a circle. You know what these landmarks are, right?  Guess once more. rather than the Great Wall of China or Stonehenge, these are all ancient American ruins and landmarks. The U.S is a relative newcomer to the world stage, however there have been people long living on this continent, and they’ve left traces of their presence even as mysterious as those found in other countries.So, here is list of Top 10 Archaeological Mysteries of the United States.

10. Hemet Maze Stone

Hemet Maze Stone

Unlike the other stones in this list, the Hemet Maze stone only has a single carving, however an intriguing one: a 3-foot square with an intricate interlocking maze pattern.

Archaeologists have only found a handful of other instances of this specific design used in North American rock art, all of them in California, and have no idea about their origin, meaning, or significance.

The swastika-like pattern is more common in Hindu and Buddhist art than on this continent. sadly, the pattern inspired a vandal to add his or her own swastika to the design sometime in the 20th century, and the rock is now only visible from behind a chain link fence.

9. Miami Circle

Miami Circle

A recent discovery, the Miami Circle was only unearthed in 1998 once a Florida developer knocked down a 1950s apartment complex, revealing a circular pattern of holes in the limestone bedrock.

Further excavation turned up tools almost like those used by the once-local Tequesta people, and radio-carbon testing suggests the site is nearly 3,000 years old.

The State of Florida now owns the plot, that still sits at the water’s edge beside a series of high-rises, to safeguard it from developers.

Archaeologists believe the holes are actually signs of a bit of prehistoric development: post-holes for a few quite of permanent shelter.

8. Berkeley Mystery Walls

Berkeley Mystery Walls

Also called the East Bay Walls, the Berkeley Mystery Walls are a series of stone walls running during a rough path through the Bay Area of California, from Berkeley to San Jose.

Their purpose is unknown; they’re too low to be a defensive wall, there are gaps within the structures, and at one point they form ornamental spiral patterns. It’s also unclear who created them.

Early Spanish settlers found them already standing, and therefore the local Ohlone people reported they’d always seen them there, too.

Whenever they were built, it was long enough ago for sections of the stones to have sunk into the earth. A 1904 archaeologist suggested they were designed by Mongolian sailors who’d come to the California coast well before the time of Columbus, but his theory seems to have been based more on wishful fantasy than scholarship.

7. The Great Serpent Mound

The Great Serpent Mound

This 1,300-foot earthwork shaped like an undulating snake swallowing an egg was first noticed by European settlers in 1812, and left undisturbed until the Smithsonian sent 2 surveyors out to map the site in the 1840s. The Great Serpent Mound has been the topic of study ever since.

But while scholars agree it was designed by pre-Columbian peoples, they disagree on who and when.

They also can’t decide on on the mound’s purpose, with some claiming it absolutely was a vast tomb, and others suggesting it had associate astronomical purpose.

6. Dighton Rock

Dighton Rock

Like the Judaculla Rock, this is another petroglyph-clad boulder, however no one knows who made carved it.

Most scholars credit Massachusetts’ Dighton Rock to the local pre-Columbian clans, and one of the petroglyphs does resemble a mark on a similar rock in Vermont. alternative theories credit Vikings, Portuguese sailors, and even Phoenicians.

The rock itself is currently housed in a museum inside Dighton Rock State Park, complete with exhibits creating the case for each theory.

5. Bighorn Medicine Wheel

Bighorn Medicine Wheel

There are many “medicine wheel” monuments scattered around North America, with stones arranged in a wheel shape—a structure sacred to several clans across the northern Great Plains.

However at 75 feet in diameter, Wyoming’s Bighorn Medicine Wheel is the biggest. amazingly, it also pre-dates the time when the neighboring Crow people first lived in the area.

In the 1970s, Astronomer John Eddy also detected that some of the wheel’s spokes pinpoint the direction of the sunrise on different solstices, and other spokes mark the rising point of other stars, suggesting the site may have once been an observatory. It’s still a mystery, though, who first designed the wheel.

4. Judaculla Rock

Judaculla Rock

For years, the Cherokee people who lived close tothe soapstone boulder now known as Judaculla Rock used it as a sort of billboard, etching so many petroglyph designs into the North Carolina stone that even today it’s difficult to tell exactly how many there are.

The boulder also sports seven grooves, the mythical footprints of a legendary giant, which contemporary archaeologists attribute to ancient masons mining the soaprock to make bowls.

Research has been slow; soapstone is naturally fragile, and the Cherokee also still see the rock as a sacred artifact. however the Cherokee are working with visitors and researchers to give them access while still preserving the stone.

3. The Blythe Intaglios

The Blythe Intaglios

Several landmarks compete for the title of “America’s Stonehenge,” however it’s clear that the Blythe Intaglios are “America’s Nazca Lines.” Much like their Peruvian cousins, the Blythe Intaglios are a group of geoglyphs depicting giant human figures etched into the California desert sometime between 450 and 2,000 years back.

The figures are so big—the largest is over 170 feet long—that they escaped the notice of California settlers, and remained undisturbed till the 1930s when a pilot bound for Nevada spotted them from the air.

Researchers believe the native Mojave people were the likely creators of the site. However, like the Nazca Lines, they can’t justify how the Mojave would have seen them from their intended aerial view, or what purpose they served.

2. Casa Grande Ruins

Casa Grande Ruins

Archaeologists understand some things regarding Casa Grande in Arizona. They know that it was probably constructed in the early thirteenth century, that the builders used adobe, and that the full complex included several other adobe structures and a ball court, and was once encircled by a wall.

What they don’t know is what the four-story central building was for: a guard tower, a grain silo, a house of worship, or something else.

The site was abandoned nearly half a century before Columbus’s voyage to the Americas, long after the nearby Hopi had moved away, and was too ruined for early Spanish explorers to do their own investigating into what it was.

Today the most building is under a protective roof built by Civil Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s, and the full ruins are a federally protected national park—the initial prehistoric ruins to become such a park in the United States

1. Mystery Hill: America’s Stonehenge

Mystery Hill: America’s Stonehenge

Although locals sometimes call this “America’s Stonehenge,” Mystery Hill bears little resemblance to the English megalith structure. Instead, it’s a complex of stone structures and artificial caves, most likely only as old as the seventeenth century.

However, actual geological dating may never be possible, as the ruins suffered from tampering at the hands of a 1930s landowner who was convinced the structures were the remains of a 7th-century Irish monastic colony. So convinced, in fact, that if parts of the site didn’t match his theory, he’d “fix” them.

The site’s “mysterious” reputation has made it a popular tourist attraction for many years, and it’s even earned some pop culture fame—H.P. Lovecraft reportedly visited the site for inspiration, and therefore The X-Files set one episode nearby.

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.