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The 10 Most Intriguing Mysteries of Lost Civilizations

Tantalizing clues to the possible true history of our distant past

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HOW CAN WE know who we are if we don't know where we come from? It is clear from many fragments of evidence, traditions and lore that we have an incomplete picture of the earliest days of human civilization. It's possible that whole civilizations, some with advanced technology, have come and gone. At the very least, human culture reaches much further back in time than conventional history admits. There are many mysteries in our ancient past, but there may be clues to that past around the world in the form of sunken cities, ancient structures, cryptic hieroglyphics, artwork and more.

Here are ten of the most intriguing pieces of the puzzle that is our past. They are shrouded in mystery and varying degrees of doubt, but all are nonetheless fascinating.

1. Egyptian Treasures in the Grand Canyon

The April 5, 1909 edition of the Arizona Gazette featured an article entitled "Explorations in Grand Canyon: Remarkable finds indicate ancient people migrated from Orient." According to the article, the expedition was financed by the Smithsonian Institute and discovered artifacts that would, if verified, stand conventional history on its ear. Inside a cavern "hewn in solid rock by human hands" were found tablets bearing hieroglyphics, copper weapons, statues of Egyptian deities and mummies. Although highly intriguing, the truth of this story is in doubt simply because the site has never been re-found. The Smithsonian disavows all knowledge of the discovery, and several expeditions searching for the cavern have come up empty-handed. Was the article just a hoax? "While it cannot be discounted that the entire story is an elaborate newspaper hoax," writes researcher/explorer David Hatcher Childress, "the fact that it was on the front page, named the prestigious Smithsonian Institution, and gave a highly detailed story that went on for several pages, lends a great deal to its credibility. It is hard to believe such a story could have come out of thin air."
More information:
Archeological Coverups
Ancient Egyptian Treasures In The Grand Canyon?

2. Age of the Pyramids and Sphinx

Most Egyptologists believe the Great Sphinx on the Giza plateau is about 4,500 years old. But that number is just that - a belief, a theory, not a fact. As Robert Bauval says in "The Age of the Sphinx," "there was no inscriptions - not a single one - either carved on a wall or a stela or written on the throngs of papyri" that associates the Sphinx with this time period. So when was it built? John Anthony West challenged the accepted age of the monument when he noted the vertical weathering on its base, which could only have been caused by long exposure to water in the form of heavy rains. In the middle of the desert? Where did the water come from? It so happens that this area of the world experienced such rains - about 10,500 years ago! This would make the Sphinx more than twice its currently accepted age. Bauval and Graham Hancock have calculated that the Great Pyramid likewise dates back to about 10,500 B.C. - predating the Egyptian civilization. This raises the questions: Who built them and why?
More information:
The Age of the Sphinx
The Mystery of the Sphinx
Redating the Sphinx

3. Nazca Lines

The famous Nazca lines can be found in a desert about 200 miles south of Lima, Peru. On a plain measuring approximately 37 miles long and one mile wide are etched lines and figures that have puzzled the scientific world since their discovery in the 1930s. The lines run perfectly straight, some parallel to one another, many intersecting, making the lines look from the air like ancient airport runways. This prompted Erich von Daniken in his book Chariots of the Gods to suggest (ludicrously, we think) that they actually were runways for extraterrestrial craft... as if they would need runways. More intriguing are the gigantic figures of 70-some animals carved into the ground - a monkey, a spider, a hummingbird among others. The puzzle is that these lines and figures are of such a scale that they can only be recognized from a high altitude. (They were rediscovered by accident in the 1930s by an overflying airplane.) So what is their significance? Some believe they have an astronomical purpose, while others think they served in religious ceremonies. A recent theory suggests the lines lead to sources of precious water. The truth is, no one really knows.
More information:
The Lines of Peru
Nazca

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