10 ancient structures whose construction methods are still incomprehensible
People are capable of erecting incredible structures. Modern architects and engineers can boast of truly impressive buildings: high-rises of hundreds of floors, magnificent sports arenas, monuments and cathedrals. But let’s not forget that to make their dreams come true they are helped by lasers, cranes, helicopters, composite materials, superglue, and other amazing achievements of human genius. Our distant ancestors did not even think about something like this, but they worked so precisely and jewelry, that their creations still puzzle specialists and the general public. Today we will tell you about ten structures, looking at which people invariably ask: “Were they able to build like that back then?”
1. Nan Madol
The architecture of the abandoned city of Nan Madol and the examples of art found there are truly amazing. They completely change the idea of what people who lived in the middle of the Pacific Ocean from five hundred to one thousand years ago were capable of. This ancient monument is located in Micronesia, in a lagoon near the coast of the state of Pohnpei. Nan Madol is located on about 100 artificial islands, and at one time it could accommodate more than a thousand people. Historians believe the town was the religious and political capital of the Saudelaer dynasty, which ruled from about 1100 AD to 1628 AD. The builders of Nan Madol secured the structures by relying solely on the weight and placement of the stone columns rather than the strength of the mortar, as is common practice. According to local legends, the heavy basalt pillars were brought here by giant birds. Experts cannot yet say for sure what technology was used to build Nan Madol. What is undeniable is that a project of this scale would have required enormous effort and the impressive economic power of the state.
2. Puma Punku
No list of this kind would be complete without mentioning the mystery of the building blocks of Puma Punku, a temple complex located in the Bolivian Andes. It is believed to have been built in the 6th century AD, but many experts claim that its stone structures are much older. No one can yet understand how the ancient builders moved these giant megaliths. The heaviest of them weighs 131 tons, but the Indians managed to raise this block to a height of almost 4 kilometers. The sophistication of the fitting and manufacturing of such massive building elements is also striking. They are carved with perfect precision, which seems completely unattainable for people who lived a thousand and a half years ago. The stone, by the way, possesses magnetic properties.
3. the Asuka Megaliths
The village of Asuka is located in Takaichi County, Japan. Its origins date from 250 to 552 AD. The monuments of that distant era are of great interest to historians. There are 20 unusual-looking megaliths scattered around the settlement. The largest and most mysterious is Masuda-Iwafun, which translates as “stone ship Masuda. The structure reaches eleven meters in length, eight in width and almost five in height. Its weight is estimated at 800 tons. Who, when exactly and, most importantly, why erected these structures, is unknown. Hypotheses, nevertheless, exist. Masuda-Iwafun is located in a region traditionally famous for its Buddhist shrines and temples. Therefore it is possible to assume that the authors of the strange monumental ensemble were representatives of this religion. Though, of course, it looks absolutely unusual and does not fit in any of known architectural styles of this region of the planet.
4. Black boxes of “aliens»
In a cave near the pyramid of Djoser, archaeologists discovered 24 “black boxes” resembling coffins. They are carved from solid pieces of very strong Aswan granite, which is difficult to work with even with modern equipment. Thus ancient stonemasons, most likely, possessed the technologies allowing to achieve truly jeweller accuracy. The coffins are very heavy – each of them weighs more than a hundred tons. But their parts fit together so perfectly that they are completely sealed. This leads archaeologists to believe that the “containers” had a special purpose. The bravest of the experts are not afraid to argue that the Egyptians in their manufacture were helped by representatives of a much more advanced civilization. That’s right-an alien civilization.
5. Walls of Sacsayhuaman.
Cusco is rich in the ruins that the Incas left behind, but one structure still stands out prominently among them. On the northern edge of the city is the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the residence of the dynasty that once ruled. Not much has survived of the complex, but even these pitiful fragments show that the Incas were outstanding builders. Of particular interest to scientists are the walls of the fortress. They are built of very heavy boulders, which fit together perfectly and are put together like pieces of a puzzle. The boulders are irregularly shaped, but they fit so tightly that not even a needle could fit between them. The walls are more than six meters high. The longest one stretches for 400 meters. They do not fit in the usual picture of the world, and the Spaniards, when they captured Cusco, began to destroy them, sincerely believing that only otherworldly entities could have built them. As is clear, not from the good camp. Most of the boulders, however, proved too heavy, and the Europeans were unable to move them.
6. The rock temples of Lalibela
The eleven stone churches of Lalibela testify to the fact that Christianity has been practiced in Ethiopia since ancient times. The cult constructions go down to a depth of 12-15 meters. The cross-shaped openings serve as windows, air ducts and even, when it rains outside, as a sort of water duct. There are several hypotheses about the origin of these amazing temples. According to the most popular, they were ordered built by Emperor Lalibela, who ruled Ethiopia in the 12th century. This theory tries to support the small museum located at the entrance to the complex, but as proof it offers only a seemingly not very strong hatchet, an axe that is more suitable for farming than for working the hard stone rock. However, one of the competing hypotheses is incomparably less likely. Many Ethiopians believe that Lalibela summoned an army of angels to help and completed the construction of the churches in just one night.
7. The Caves of Lunyu
From time immemorial in the Chinese province of Zhejiang there has been a legend among the local population about very ancient and mysterious caves. And then one enthusiast decided to check the authenticity of this “myth”. He organized a fundraiser and bought a powerful pump. The purchase was not at all accidental: the rumor was that the dungeon was at the bottom of the city pond. On the seventeenth day of pumping, those gathered on the shore saw the entrances to the caves exposed. Then the public was joined by the state. Archaeologists found 35 dungeons of clearly man-made origin at least two thousand years old. The entrances were cut in siltstone and are up to 30 meters deep. Scientists wish they could not understand with what methods and techniques ancestors of modern Chinese managed to extract such a huge amount of solid rock – a million cubic meters of stone, which, incidentally, has not been found anywhere later. This is another mystery that remains unanswered for now.
8. Terraces of Moray
The city of Moray is located in Peru, about 50 kilometers northwest of Cuzco. Here, amazing ruins, the remains of the Inca civilization, stand before the amazed people’s eyes. These are ancient amphitheaters with concentric terraces stretching far down. The depth of the largest “well” is about 150 meters. These structures have excellent drainage, thanks to which the water is not delayed in them, even after heavy rains. It is also noteworthy that the temperature difference between the upper and lower parts of the terraces is sometimes 15 degrees Celsius, that is, on their “working surface” several different microclimates are artificially created. This suggests that the ancient inhabitants of South America used wells as a kind of laboratory to study the impact of different environmental conditions on the crops. According to another hypothesis, the facility was used for growing agricultural products – without the research component.
9. Petra’s Treasury
According to archaeologists and historians, the treasury of Petra was built in the 1st century BC. Its architecture is unparalleled in the region, but it is assumed that followers of the Hellenistic cultural tradition had a hand in it. The purpose of the premises is unknown. The complex got its present nickname from the Bedouins who believed the tolos (round, central building) was used by pirates to store loot. The Arabs made every attempt to unearth the treasure and now and then fired on the dome – there are characteristic bullet marks on it. The builders of the treasury, though they ultimately remained anonymous, were certainly masters of their craft. Only a handful of buildings on the entire planet can compare in aesthetic appeal to their creation. The construction of the building, by the way, is quite simple. It has one large hall and two smaller rooms on either side of it. All this is carved inside the mountain slope.
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and its history is surrounded by quite a few mysteries. It is believed that it was built in the 8th century by the rulers of the Mataram state of the Sailendra dynasty. It is truly a grandiose construction, the erection of which, according to available estimates, must have taken at least a century because of the enormous amount of work on the decoration of the complex. Archaeologists suggest that the original design of Borobudur was somewhat different – a single giant stupa encircling five balustrades. Later, three more were built around it, apparently to prop it up and save it from collapse. The plan of the temple resembles a mandala, which has led to speculation that the authorship of Borobudur belongs to the Indian Buddhists. Inside the complex is 504 statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 small stupas – one sculpture each.
5 unusual mysteries of Peru
One of these mysteries can rightfully be considered the city of Machu Picchu, hidden from prying eyes at the top of the mountain. For many centuries, neither Spanish conquistadors nor other conquerors suspected about it. Only in 1911, American archaeologist Hiram Bingham found the mysterious city, lost in the Andes. Numerous stone temples, wells, terraces and “administrative” facilities suggest that the city was an important part of civilization. Its appearance from above resembles that of a condor. According to the extant information, not everyone was allowed to enter the city. Only nobility, priests, craftsmen and attendants of the cult of the Sun god Inti could enter the city.
The peculiarity of the construction of the city is the absence of any binding substance. Like the Egyptian pyramids, in Machu Picchu everything is held on the calculations verified to the millimeter and thanks to the gravity of the stone slabs. The temple building can be distinguished from the residential one by the special finishing of the stone, and the stepped terraces that served as vegetable gardens have survived almost unchanged to this day.
The City on the Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, testifying to its immeasurable importance in the evolution of all mankind, and perhaps of the entire Universe…
The second Peruvian “wonder” is the city of Cuzco. It was the capital of the Inca Empire and bore all the features typical of a major city: numerous dwellings, temples and palaces. But, unfortunately, the Spanish conquest changed its appearance considerably. A small part of the ancient buildings that have survived to this day is still admired! For example, located on the outskirts of the city – the fortress of Saksayhuaman. Masters built it like a construction set, combining plates of different shapes and weights. Special notches and cutouts on the weighing plates allowed the blocks to be securely joined, which gave additional stability to the construction. The stone bumpers found in the old quarries, apparently, served as grinding tools, but how the builders managed to raise the heavy blocks to the proper height is still unexplained. Jean-Pierre Protzen, a researcher of Peruvian architecture, tried to explain this through experiments. Having mastered the technique of processing stone monoliths, the American scientist still could not explain the mechanism of lifting the plates. Perhaps the genius of the ancient architects was inextricably linked to the intervention of heavenly forces!
To the northeast of the city of Cuzco is another Peruvian curiosity, the Kenko temple complex. It consists of two parts: an amphitheater carved into the rock and a system of interior corridors that lead to a place of sacrifice. In Quechua, Cuzco means “labyrinth” because of its intricate galleries, hidden passages where the sunlight never reaches. The entrance to the temple is dominated by a boulder, on top of which a ray of sunlight falls on the summer solstice.
There is a version of the medical purpose of this place: the smoothly polished boulders look like operating tables, and found on a high pedestal bones of many frogs may speak of chemical experiments – experiments on obtaining anesthetics.
When the spirits of the ancient masons and healers have lifted the veils of their secrets a little, we can try to learn about how the Incas related to… water. They considered water to be a deity on a par with the Sun, and dedicated another stone complex – Tambomachay, popularly known as the Inca Baths. It got its name because of the intertwined system of aqueducts, wells, canals, fountains, and ritual pools. According to one version, this ancient spa complex was the resting place of the Chief and his family. However, the special ceremonial treatment of the stones testifies to the religious importance of the place. Slightly removed from the hiking trails, Tambomachay carries the peace and tranquility so needed after a long journey. A small market offers tourists a variety of souvenirs, and the natives will demonstrate, for example, how to make real yarn from alpaca wool right in front of your eyes.
The ancient Incas had a tradition to give each city in the form of an animal. But the most famous place of accumulation of giant “drawings” is the Nazca Desert. It can rightly be considered a mystery not only of Peru, but also of the world archeology as a whole! The area of the desert stretches over 500 square kilometers and is a “canvas” for hundreds of giant drawings. They are made in an amazing technique – a single line, without interruptions and intersections. Among the huge number of geometric figures and lines, whose length sometimes reaches 8 km, there are very impressive drawings of animals, people, stars, flowers and trees.
The earliest lines appeared in the desert around the 6th century BC. They are called “geoglyphs”, i.e. lines, patterns or shaped drawings drawn on the ground and visible only from a bird’s-eye view.
The purpose of these lines is still unexplained. Scientists have not been able to come to a common denominator. The most popular version is the statement of Swiss researcher Erich von Daniken that the drawings are a message to extraterrestrial civilizations. Some consider them marks for the convenience of aeronautics, something ancient civilizations may well have succeeded in. But perhaps mankind will never be able to figure it out completely.
It is understandable why illusionists find it so difficult to reveal the secrets of their mysteries, because there is nothing more boring than a solved mystery. The ancient Inca civilization is in no hurry to part with their secrets, leaving descendants with inexhaustible material for research, debate and, perhaps, great discoveries…