Top 10 America's most mysterious archaeological discoveries

Top 10 America’s most mysterious archaeological discoveries

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Most people consider the start of US history to be 1776, but nothing could be further from the reality. There are, in fact, thousands of years of North American history. Who lived there? What did they leave behind? This rundown explores these questions by taking a look at some of the most interesting and mysterious archaeological discoveries ever made in the United States, So here is a list of Top 10 America’s most mysterious archaeological discoveries..

10 Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone

Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone

Found in 1872 buried close to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, the eponymous mystery stone is dark, smooth, egg-shaped, and about 10 centimeters (4 in) tall and 6.4 centimeters (2.5 in) wide. On its surface are a number of carved symbols and pictures, including a face, ears of corn, and a teepee, among other unknown pictures.

Questions have emerged regarding the stone: Who made it? And what is it? One theory proposes that the stone may have been made by Native Americans to commemorate a peace treaty between two clans. Other theories contend that the stone could be Celtic or Inuit in origin.

The mystery was further confused when researchers investigated two holes in the stone, one at the top and one at the bottom. These holes were drilled with a level of precision that seems inconsistent with the ability of premodern devices. This has led some to believe that the stone may be an elaborate hoax, while it has persuaded others that the stone may be a “thunderstone” crafted by supernatural forces.

9 Indian Cave Petroglyph

Indian Cave Petroglyph

In Harrison County, West Virginia, a small cave was explored in the nineteenth century. Inside this cave there are various of incredible prehistoric petroglyphs. These petroglyphs portray a number of animals, including poisonous snakes and fish. Indian Cave is unique for its incredibly preserved state and has been portrayed by archaeologists as “virtually unchanged.” Its petroglyphs are unique for their curious use of the color red, which can be seen on a some of the figures

Archaeologists have determined the petroglyphs to be the work of early Native Americans but cannot recognize which culture. Pottery found within the cave suggests that it was occupied some point between AD 500 and 1675. Similar to other petroglyphs, the motivation for their creation is unclear.

8 America’s Stonehenge

America’s Stonehenge

Outside of Salem, New Hampshire, lies the remains of what some believe to be an ancient settlement. Known today as America’s Stonehenge, the site is made up of various man-made stone chambers, walls, and other stone structures.

The site has started a series of heated debates among historians and archaeologists as to the origins and use of the complex. The most prominent theory is that it was built by Native Americans some 2,500 years back and was used for centuries as a place for religious ceremony. Another popular theory suggests that the structures were created and used by Irish priests around AD 1000

More fanciful origins have additionally been proposed, but artifacts found on the site led archaeologists to the conclusion that the stones were actually assembled for a variety of reasons by local farmers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For example, there is a so-called “sacrificial stone” which contains grooves that some say channeled blood, but it closely resembles “lye-leaching stones” found numerous old farms that were used to extract lye from wood ashes, the first step in the manufacture of soap.

In 1982, David Stewart-Smith, director of rebuilding at Mystery Hill, conducted an excavation of a megalith found in a stone quarry to the north of the main site. His research team unearthed the quarry site under the supervision of the New Hampshire state archaeologist and discovered hundreds of chips and flakes from the stone. They concluded that this was proof of tool manufacture, consistent with American Indian lithic techniques, although no date could be found . Archaeologist Clive Runnels stated, “No Bronze Age antiques have been found there, in fact, no one has found a single artifact of European origin from that period anywhere in the New World.”

7 Poverty Point

Poverty Point

In Louisiana, there is an broad complex of earthworks known as Poverty Point. The complex contains a series of mounds and ridges and was built by Native Americans sometime in the range 1700 and 1100 BC. What makes Poverty Point interesting is it’s the only known example of large construction done by a hunter-gatherer society.

No one knows exactly what purpose Poverty Point served. A few archaeologists suggest that the site was used for periodic ceremonial events, while others contend it was a permanent settlement. Similarly, we don’t know which culture built it, as there have been few artifacts found to link to any particular people.

On June 22, 2014, UNESCO approved Poverty Point as a World Heritage Site at its convention in Doha, Qatar. Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne had sent a two-person delegation to the Middle East to urge the inclusion of Poverty line in this group, alongside such cultural landmarks as Stonehenge in England, the Pyramid Fields at Giza in Egypt, and the Great Wall of China. The designation makes Poverty Point the first World Heritage Site in Louisiana and the 22nd in the United States

6 The Upton Chamber

The Upton Chamber

Throughout the New England countryside, there are hundreds of mysterious stone chambers and structures. There are various theories as to who built these structures, including everything from Native Americans and early settlers to Norsemen and Irish Monks. One of the most impressive of these man-made chambers can be found in Upton, Massachusetts. The Upton Chamber is built into a hill and has a long passageway that opens up into a beehive-like dome.

The chamber indicates a fundamental knowledge of stonework on the part of its builders and is also astronomically aligned. On the summer solstice, the entrance of the chamber aligns perfectly with the Sun, allowing the inner dome to be fully illuminated. This has led some experts to believe that the chamber was not built by any settler but could be the work of an ancient people.

According to some researchers, the chamber could be the work of Irish monks. These researchers claim that the beehive structure of the chamber as well as the stonework bare striking resemblances to structures found in Ireland dating back to the eighth century.

5 Great Serpent Mound

Great Serpent Mound

The Great Serpent Mound is an ancient earthwork discovered in Ohio. It’s an effigy mound, which is a mound in the form of an animal, in this case a giant snake. Archaeologists have been unable to figure out what culture built it, when it was built, or what its use was. Radiocarbon dating has suggested that the mound may have been built around AD 1000, while other studies have suggested it could be around 2,000 years old.

There are a number of theories as to what the effigy was utilizedfor. Some researcher believe it was used in religious ceremonies and possibly sacrificial offerings. Others believe it is some sort of calendar, due to its astrological alignments.

The dating of the outline, the original development, and the identity of the builders of the serpent effigy are three questions still debated in the disciplines of social science, including ethnology, archaeology, and anthropology. In addition, contemporary American Indians have an enthusiasm in the site.  A few attributions have been entered by academic, philosophic, and Native American concerns regarding all three of these unknown factors of when designed, when built, and by whom.

Recently the dating of the site has been brought into question. While it has long been thought to be an Adena site based on slim proof, a couple of radiocarbon dates from a small excavation raise the possibility that the mound is no more than a 1000 years old. Middle Ohio Valley people of the time were not known for building extensive earthworks, however; they did display a high regard for snakes as shown by the various copper serpentine pieces associated with them.

Radiocarbon dating of charcoal found within the mound in the 1990s indicated that people worked on the mound circa 1070 AD

4 Petroglyphs Of Winnemucca Lake

Petroglyphs Of Winnemucca Lake

Close to the dry Winnemucca Lake in Nevada, archaeologists believe they have found the oldest petroglyphs in North America. They’re situated on a number of large boulders and vary in their design. Some of the boulders have circular designs, while others have diamond-like shapes. These petroglyphs are unique for a several reasons: First, they’re much more various than other petroglyphs found across the country. Second, the markings are at least Ten Thousand years old.

Many questions remain as to the origin and meaning of the designs. They’re undoubtedly the work of early Native Americans, yet nobody is quite sure as to who exactly these people were. Similarly, the purpose for such artistic creation and what the glyphs themselves are supposed to mean, if anything, remains obscure.

3 Cahokia

Cahokia

Cahokia was the biggest city in pre-Columbian North America, with a populace of around 15,000 people. Situated in the fertile Mississippi Valley near where St. Louis is today, it lasted from about AD 700 to 1300. By all accounts, Cahokia was a complex urban culture with a unique culture and a ruling class. They farmed, fought other tribes, and also apparently honed human sacrifice.

Then, without a trace, they vanished. Historians have discussed what happened but haven’t come to a consensus. It has been suggested that deforestation, environmental changes, disease, and fear of invasion may have been factors.

Historian Daniel Richter noticed that the apex of the city occurred during the Medieval Warming Period. This period seems to have fostered an agricultural revolution in upper North America, as the three-fold crops of maize, beans (legumes), and gourds (squash) were created and adapted or bred to the temperate climates of the north from their origins in Mesoamerica.

Richter likewise notes that Cahokia’s advanced development coincided with the development in the Southwest of the Chaco Canyon society, which additionally produced large-scale works in an apparent socially stratified society. The decline of the city corresponds with the Little Ice Age, although by then, the three-fold horticulture remained well-established throughout temperate North America.

2 The Maine Penny

The Maine Penny

While uncovering a Native American settlement in Maine in 1957, archaeologists discovered something amazing. Buried in the dirt was a small coin of obscure origins. The coin was first misidentified as a twelfth -century British penny, but upon further inspection years later, English researchers declared the coin to be Norse. Specialists at the University of Oslo stated that the coin probability minted between 1065 and 1080. It is the main pre-Columbian Norse artifact ever found in the US.

So how does a Norse coin right around 1,000 years old end up on the coast of Maine? Some are convinced that the coin is proof of contact between early Norse settlements in Newfoundland and mainland Native Americans. If this is the case, it would change the whole time frame of first contact between the New World and the Old World.

However, the possibility that it may be a hoax has been raised. Strikingly this Norwegian silver coin and other similar coins of that era were available on the open market during 1957. Thus Mellgren could have had the means and the chance to plant the coin at the site, or he could have been deceived by someone planting the coin – though it is unclear what the motive may have been.An assessment of the validity of the find by anthropologist Edmund Snow Carpenter concluded: “Not demonstrated”.

The American Numismatic Society has stated that “There is no reliable confirmation on the documentation of the Goddard coin, and much circumstantial proof suggests that someone was deliberately trying to manipulate or obfuscate the situation. The Norse coin from Maine should probably be viewed as hoax.”A November 2017 paper by Norwegian numismatist Svein Gullbeck suggests that the coin is a genuine find.

1 Dighton Rock

Dighton Rock

Dighton Rock is a 40-ton boulder that was found in the Taunton River of Berkley, Massachusetts, in 1690. It’s surprising for its mysterious markings. The markings are seemingly inconsistent with any specific writing style, and the mysterious beginnings of the rock have baffled many. Throughout the years, a number of theories have been floated as to who the creators of the cryptic inscription may be.

One of the most popular speculations is that the markings are Norse in origin. This theory suggests that the rock was a portrayal of a Viking voyage into the zone as early as AD 1000. Another popular theory suggests that the markings are crafted by Native Americans. There was a significant population of natives in the area where the rock was discovered, and similar markings have been found and attributed to various native clans across the Northeast. Other theories suggest that ancient Phoenicians, the Portuguese, or the Chinese may be charge for the markings.

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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.

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