An oopart, otherwise known as an “out-of-place artifact,” is an archeological discovery that does not fit into our established understanding of history. Given the artifact’s advanced level of technology or general sophistication, its existence seems impossible within the physical, chemical, and/or geological constraints of its time. Then, how can they exist? Science measures them as being very old, and yet, they appear to be quite modern in construction and innovation. Despite our extensive knowledge of the past, however, ooparts continue to baffle and frustrate conventional scientists. What are some of these strange artifacts and how do they radically alter our view of the world?
Gold prospectors in the Ural Mountains of Russia made an astounding discovery in 1991 when they stumbled upon thousands of spiral-shaped metal objects buried by a small river. The various sizes of the artifacts varied from three centimeters down to a shockingly small 1/10,000 of an inch and were buried anywhere from 10 to 40 feet deep in the mud. The large spirals appeared to be composed of copper, while the smaller ones were made from two rare metals often used in the hardening of steel. While the function of these strange spirals is still not understood, all relative testing has determined them to be approximately 20,000 years old. Yes, you heard that correctly–20,000!
In London’s Museum of Natural History, there is a Paleolithic skull on display dating back 38,000 years from what is now Zambia. Pulled from 60 feet of lead rock in 1921, the left side of the skull shows a perfectly round hole that could not have been made by traditional weapons of the time such as arrows or spears. Opposite the hole, the cranium is shattered which suggests the skull was blown apart from the inside out, as if from a gunshot. Testing has conclusively proved the injury was inflicted by some kind of projectile weapon with the intent to kill. Given the established age of the skull, the findings suggest there may have been firearms in the Stone Age.
This incredible artifact was recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901. Discovered initially as one lump, it was later separated into three main fragments and eventually divided into 82 separate pieces, all made of bronze. It appeared to be an ancient analog computer designed to calculate astronomical positions; however, when Jacque Cousteau visited the wreck again in 1978, he discovered new evidence that proved the construction of the mechanism dated back to around 205 B.C.E. Considering this level of technological complexity did not appear in history until the 14th century C.E., this verified artifact has left scientists baffled. It is considered the oldest known complex gear mechanism in the world and is currently displayed at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece.
Could it be the first battery in history? Discovered in 1936 near Baghdad, Iraq, this artifact consists of a terracotta pot about five inches tall with a one-inch wide mouth and containing a copper cylinder made of a rolled-up copper sheet and a galvanized nail rod running through the center. Both rod and cylinder fit snugly inside the jar, which suggests if the jar were filled with some kind of liquid “acid” like lemon juice or wine, it may have generated an electric current between the copper and iron electrodes. If so, this artifact would predate the original invention of the battery by Alessandro Volta in the 1800s, a full millennium before history’s knowledge. If that’s true, what else do we not understand about peole who lived back then?
These strange round metallic objects have been collected over the years by miners and rock aficionados near the town of Ottosdal, South Africa. Their round shapes and unusual parallel grooves running around the center suggest they were created by intelligent beings. The problem? These artifacts have been found within 3-billion-year-old pyrophyllite deposits, a time when no intelligent life existed on earth…or did it?
In a mysterious pyramid within China’s Qinghai province, there are three old caves filled with a series of iron pipes that lead to a nearby salt-water lake. Similar pipes have also been discovered under the lake bed and along the shore, although no one seems to know what they were for. Even more mysterious is their apparent age; researchers determine them to be 150,000 years old. Were they made by humans? If so, the current belief that humans only inhabited this region in Asia for the past 30,000 years would have to be completely reevaluated. The pipes themselves are apparently a combination of iron and sandstone, yet eight percent of the strange material can’t be identified. To make matters stranger, the China Earthquake Administration has found some of the ancient pipes to be highly radioactive.
This abnormal human skull was found in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1930, and has been hotly contested by scientists and paranormal enthusiasts alike. Discovered in a mine tunnel next to a normal human skeleton lying on its back, the strange bones appeared to be those of a child. The volume of the skull’s interior suggested the brain size was considerably bigger than that of a normal human, and strange orbital sockets, misplaced nerve canals, the absence of sinuses, and an unusual amount of bone collagen suggested the skull was far from normal. Radiocarbon dating completed on two separate occasions determined the skull was over 900 years old and did have a mother, although the human bones nearby were not related. Who was this mysterious child with a completely different skull structure than ever seen before?
Although it may not look like much, this ancient artifact made from sycamore wood and discovered in an 1891 excavation of a tomb in Saqqara, Egypt, suggests these ancient people may have had a sophisticated understanding of aviation. Considering it dates backs to 200 B.C., the wooden model may be evidence that knowledge of the principles of flight and aircraft existed centuries before history’s record.
In 1929, a group of historians found one very old map drawn on a gazelle skin. Research showed it was a genuine document drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, a famous admiral of the Turkish fleet in the 16th-century. Within the map’s details were a series of notes that the admiral admitted to copying from a large number of other sources, some dating back to the 4th century B.C. or earlier. Granted, there are many ancient maps in existence, but this one happened to illustrate perfect details of South America and the coast of Antarctica. How could Reis know this geographical information when the Antarctic regions were not discovered until 300 years later? Even more bizarre was the fact that he documented a great deal of terrain that was once covered in giant sheets of ice. All of this mystery suggests parts of the world could have actually been mapped and charted as early as 4000 B.C.E.
This wedge-shaped object was found in the 1970s on the banks of the Mures River in Romania. It was found under 35 feet of sand alongside some well-preserved mastodon bones, suggesting it was in its original context. If so, this means the artifact is at least 11,000 years old. Aside from just being an extremely ancient relic, the fact that it was made from aluminum, which was not even discovered until 1808, has made it extra mysterious. Aluminum also requires about 1,000 degrees of heat to be produced, and a wedge of this craftsmanship could not be crafted through basic fire.
Although humans pride themselves on their knowledge of the past, these unexplainable artifacts are a tangible reminder that Socrates may have been right when he said, “I know one thing: that I know nothing.”
And the rest is history.