10 Mysterious Ancient Inventions Science Still Can’t Explain
Googling “mysterious ancient discoveries” or “unexplained ancient inventions” leads to dozens of sites listing artifacts supposedly so baffling the only possible answer could be aliens, time travel, the paranormal, the Iluminati, or aliens. Wait – did we already mention aliens? Sorry: they’re a go-to explanation for anything apparently too sophisticated, weird, or “out-of-place” for “humans figured it out, okay?” to be a satisfying explanation.
It’s a disheartening discovery, because once you separate the hoaxes and nonsense from the finds of actual archeological interest, there are still cool mysteries to explore. The list below features mysterious ancient inventions, unexplained ancient discoveries, and some slightly more recent finds still baffling to scientists in the 21st century – but not because they’re a sign of alien tech. Give ancient humanity a little more credit, y’know?
1: Deadly “Greek Fire” Was a Family Secret
It’s not like anyone is aching for napalm to make a comeback, but scientists and historians are nonetheless very curious about 7th-century “Greek Fire,” a deadly proto-napalm fired from ships that “would cling to flesh and was impossible to extinguish with water.” Sounds like a nightmare!
The Byzantine Empire wielded it with aplomb, but, like Coca-Cola Classic and Bush’s Baked Beans, the recipe for Greek Fire™ was a protected family secret. National Geographic pulled a Mythbusters and took a guess at the ingredients in 2002, using a “bronze pump” and a “mixture of light crude oil and pine resin.” The results? It destroyed a ship “in minutes.” Good guess!
2: The Recipe for Damascus Steel Remains a Mystery
Returning from the Crusades, a lot of perplexed Europeans started talking about swords wielded by Islamic warriors “that could slice through a floating handkerchief, bend 90 degrees and flex back with no damage.” Fast-forward to the 21st century and the recipe for so-called “Damascus steel” is still a mystery.
The best guess is that the blades consisted of “crucible steel,” which is created by melting iron with plant matter. Still, no one knows the specific type of crucible steel used to yield such a blade. It might as well be a lightsaber.