So much in this world is unexplained. The more mysterious it is, the more we like it. The more unexplainable, the harder we try to explain. Such is the nature of the human condition. Why else would there be so many television programs and channels devoted to solving the Earth’s mysteries? Why else would my husband watch an average of 20 hours of History Channel per week? Because he has to KNOW, obviously. Not because the couch is so comfy.
Some internet searching has left me with some questions, as well. Namely, what the heck are these things, and where did they come from? Here you have, my three most mysterious mysterious ancient objects.
THE GROOVED SPHERES
Most websites will tell you that these spheres, found in South African mines, are totally unexplained, 2.8 billion year old objects. Geologists, on the other hand, will tell you that rather than being metal Precambrian spheres, they are actually naturally-occurring concretions of volcanic sediments. The cool thing is that they probably are almost 3 billion years old. The reason that they are spherical is that they probably started out as bubbles of volcanic matter that solidified into the shapes discovered by miners and archeologists. The ridges can be explained by the reaction of the object to coarser sediments that came into contact with it. Either way, these are old, and very cool.
THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM
Ancient computer, what? The Antikythera mechanism was recovered from a 1st or 2nd century BC shipwreck found in the early 1900s off the coast of Greece. The Greek Island closes is Antikythera, hence the name of the object. The mechanism is estimated to have been built in 100-150 BC, and is a mechanical computer that calculates astronomical data. It is, in essence, an analog computer that has three dials and an outer ring that is marked off with a 365-day year, likely based on the Egyptian calendar. The middle dial is divided into degrees and marked with signs of the Greek Zodiac, and the front probably had hands at one time to show the date, the position of the sun, and the position of the moon.
The front dial also has an early version of an Almanac, which was used to track the appearance of certain stars. It’s use? Well, scientists and historians have devoted a lot of time and money to figuring that out, and the mechanism continues to be studied today.
THE COSO ARTIFACT
This is an example of something being in the wrong place at the wrong time – literally, or so it would seem. In 1961 the owners of “LM & V Rockhounds Gem and Gift Shop” in Olancha, California, uncovered a number of geodes in the dry bed of Owens Lake. Mike Mikesell, the “M” of the shop’ s name, was busy cutting into the geodes to find mineral specimens to sell at their shop and very nearly broke his diamond blade saw on one of them. It turns out there was a cylinder of porcelain inside, and inside that was a shaft of magnetized metal.
Since the outer layer of the geode was encrusted with shells and other fossils, it was assumed that the geode had been formed over 500,000 years prior, so how did this mechanism get inside it? Speculation was that it was evidence of aliens, advanced ancient civilizations, or time travelers.
It turns out that what was inside was a spark plug. Spark plugs weren’t invented until the 1800′s, so this was puzzling indeed. Two researchers looked deeper into the situation, and determined that the spark plug was a Champion spark plug from the 1920′s that likely came out of a Ford Model T or Model A.
Supposedly, the oxidation of iron cause the geode-like formation around the spark plug, and that the rock covering with alleged fossils were likely from sediments that flowed over the ball of iron, making it appear to be made of ancient stone.
So much for mystery, but who’s to say that these scientific resolutions are true, anyway?
FEATURED, SCIENCE — BY ELIZABETH ON OCTOBER 20, 2010 8:12 AM