Two Unsolved Mysteries of Ancient Times

Throughout the history of humanity, mankind has been witness to thousands of strange, mysterious, an...

Throughout the history of humanity, mankind has been witness to thousands of strange, mysterious, and unexplained events and phenomena.

by Graham Pick

Many of them can undoubtedly be explained as regular, everyday events that were simply misunderstood.

However, there remain a large number that defy all logic, reason, and scientific explanation.  This article will seek to explore a couple of these phenomena, not only recent enigmas, but also those mysteries from our remote past that still remain unsolved today.

I. The Enigma of Coral Castle

The gate to Coral Castle. A finely balanced 9 ton block of stone, erected by a lone man!

How were huge monuments such as Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sacsayhuaman fortress, and hundreds of other ancient megalithic monuments built? 

Construction involved quarrying, moving, dressing, and placing thousands of huge stone blocks, blocks so gargantuan that even utilising contemporary technology and employing modern lifting equipment, engineers could not replicate those structures today.

The majority of archaeologists believe that in most cases workers numbering in the tens of thousands were needed simply to move the massive stones to the construction site.

As for the construction itself, theories abound that attempt to explain how these megalithic building blocks, some weighing hundreds of tons, were positioned.

All of them though rely on the exploitation of hundreds or thousands of workers or slaves expending huge amounts a physical labour, inching the blocks slowly into position.

However, a small Latvian man insisted that these ancient structures were assembled with much more ease than we might imagine, using a building secret that has been lost to the ages. He even claimed to be able to put these techniques into practice at the inexplicable and enigmatic Coral Castle.

At 25, Edward Leedskalnin was engaged to marry a woman 10 years his junior. Agnes Scuffs, whom he affectionately nicknamed his “sweet sixteen.” was his bride to be.

Lamentably, the night before his wedding, Edward’s bride changed her mind, never to return to his side. Surprisingly, Leedskalnin later went on to construct a truly magical castle in memory of his lost love.

Following his heartbreak and a bout of tuberculosis, Leedskalnin departed from his native Latvia, and set sail for the United States.

He eventually made his way to Florida City, where he was able to realize one of the most impressive and enigmatic construction efforts ever undertaken by a single man: “Coral Castle” or as Leedskalnin affectionately called it, “Rock Gate Park.”

Erected entirely of stone that Leedskalnin quarried, cut, and set himself, this grand edifice was constructed of gigantic slabs some of which weighed up to 30 tons.

Following twenty eight years of solitary work, and with only the aid of simple tools of Edward’s own design, Coral Castle became a reality.

One of the known tools used was a tackle and chain hoist made from old telephone poles. However, other tools and equipment used to manipulate these massive blocks remain a complete mystery to this day.

Instead of sharing his mysterious building methods with the world, Leedskalnin made every effort to guard the mysterious secrets of his stone moving accomplishments.

Many have since speculated on his process, but no one has been able to recreate the seemingly effortless movement of such large blocks. 

According to one account, some children spied on Leedskalnin one night whilst he was constructing his edifice. They witnessed massive stone slabs floating in the air like “helium balloons.”

Another documented account tells how in 1936, Leedskalnin wanted to move his entire structure to a nearby Homestead, and hired a truck to carry the stones. This was the one and only time he enlisted help in his endeavours.

Always intent on protecting his secret, Leedskalnin insisted that the driver leave his truck at the site overnight, so that he could load the huge slabs himself. 

The driver doubted his claim as Leedskalnin had no kind of lifting equipment to assist him, and many of the blocks weighed several tons, but he left the truck as requested.

As promised, the next day when the driver returned, Leedskalnin had the stones stacked  on the large trailer ready to transport.

The construction of Coral Castle is riddled with mystery and leaves one with a myriad of unanswered questions.

How for example, could a lone person move the 1,100 tons of large stone slabs needed to build this impressive structure?

Whilst alive Leedskalnin never explicitly disclosed his building secrets. However, following his passing writings were discovered suggesting a series of experiments using magnets, hinting that his methods came through study of the earth’s magnetic fields.

Did Leedskalnin, as some have claimed, discover how to defy gravity?

Leedskalnin was always evasive when directly questioned about his methods employed in the construction of Coral Castle, but he claimed to possess techniques once known only by ancient builders.

Techniques like those used to construct the great Egyptian pyramids and other enigmatic edifices around the world. He even teasingly referenced that his method was quite simple, once one knew the secret.

One of the more miraculous features of Coral Castle is the nine ton stone block used as a gate at the entrance of the castle. 

Leedskalnin set this large stone with such precision that it could be easily opened with the gentlest push. 

In 1986, over thirty years after Leedskalnin’s passing, the gate had to be repaired and the job required a six man crew with a twenty ton crane to move the gigantic stone slab. 

Yet despite the extra muscle, this group of men were still not able to set the gate with the same precision as before.

The interior of the Coral Castle itself is a display of exquisite artistry and engineering marvels.

It is officially considered an historic monument, and has been transformed into an open museum for all who are curious, and wish to try their hand at unveiling the mystery of how the eccentric Latvian lived and worked.

Sets of tables and chairs decorate the coral garden, while staircases and sundials are set with amazing precision, a testament indeed to Leedskalnin’s mysterious abilities.

It is said that Leedskalnin was never seen working on his Coral Castle, though neighbours reported a light in his workshop tower accompanying strange singing late into the night.

What sort of technology did Leedskalnin use and why would he want to keep such a miraculous discovery a secret? 

Did he in fact rediscover those same building techniques employed by prehistoric architects and builders, in their construction of other ancient monolithic wonders? 

One is merely left to speculate, as Leedskalnin left behind only the clues of the structure itself, taking the secrets of building it to his grave.

II. The Mysterious Cart Ruts of Misrah Ghar il-Kbir

The enigmatic cart ruts of Malta, at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir 
affectionately known as “Clapham Junction”

The islands of Malta and Gozo in the Maltese archipelago are scarred with hundreds, maybe thousands of parallel lines seemingly cut deep into the bedrock.

Some of these strange tracks abruptly end at the edge of cliffs, others start on dry land and end deep in the ocean. Who could have made these enigmatic tracks, and for what purpose?

The tracks are gouged into the rock, crisscrossing the islands, most notably at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir, a prehistoric cliff site in Malta.

Similar to the impressive Nazca lines of Peru, or giant stone circles in the Middle East, the mysterious origins of the tracks has confounded researchers and historians for centuries.

However, unlike the desert markings created for ceremonial, pagan, and religious purposes, the so-called cart ruts of Malta are speculated by archaeologists to have more of an industrial purpose and origin.

Dubbed cart ruts simply because of their resemblance to tracks left by carts, it’s a mystery how they were made or for what purpose. These seemingly man-made ruts are dual channels, parallel grooves carved into the limestone bedrock of the islands.

The ruts measure on average 8 to 15 centimetres deep, but some can reach a depth of 50 centimetres. The width between the tracks extends approximately 140 centimetres, but not in all instances.

The tracks measured at the San Gwann site in Malta are half a meter in depth, making them the deepest to be found on the island.

Some of the ruts are narrow and deep, squared off at the base as if cut with tools, while others are wide, V shaped, and shallow, as if worn away by time and weather.

Maybe, if the tracks were constructed for transportation purposes, this indicates different uses for different vehicles, or perhaps it simply means the tracks have worn differently over eons.

Whilst many investigators believe the tracks are associated with some kind of ancient transportation system, this explanation of the ruts seems to defy logic as some tracks unexplainably travel directly off cliff edges, or up and down very steep ridges.

Some even drive off the island and into the sea, continuing underwater. Whilst the underwater tracks might be explained by changing sea levels over the ages, it does not explain the cliff top ruts.

The ruts are so prevalent at Misrah Ghar il-Kbir that the location has been nicknamed “Clapham Junction” by an Englishman named David Trump. The ruts there are so numerous that they resemble the complex network of tracks found at the busy railway station switching yard in London, England.

Whilst similar types of tracks can be found in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, France and Germany, they’re not of the same origins and were created for different and known purposes.

Some of those tracks were built purposefully with masonry, and some of the patterns were caused by natural erosion on wagon tracks.

These historically documented differences make the Malta tracks unique, with no other comparable tracks anywhere else in the world.

Many archaeologists presume the ruts in Malta were made by repeated use of carts, skids or sleds (wheeled or on runners) going over the same route over decades or centuries. It’s thought that goods may have been transported using this system.

Still others wonder if the apparently man made channels were some kind of prehistoric irrigation system stretching across the islands. A less accepted theory suggest the lines served an astronomical purpose. To this writer however, none of those explanations seem plausible.

Further complicating the transportation theory is how the carts were moved. If animals were used to draw the carts, their footprints should be evident between the parallel grooves, especially considering a large heavy animal would be more likely to wear a track than a wheeled cart, but there’s no evidence of any animal prints anywhere.

Some researchers thus imagine the carts were pulled or pushed by humans but that explanation seems equally unlikely.

It is also speculated the lines were left by new settlers who came to Malta from Sicily at the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 2,000 B.C..

Maltese archaeologist Anthony Bonanno disputes this age and theorizes that the ruts are Phoenician constructions, which would date them to the more recent seventh century B.C. Accurate dating however is presently not possible.

The mysterious tracks have been connected by some researchers to the ancient temples of Malta. The temple sites of Malta and Gozo are famous around the world, with more than 30 stone temple complexes and structures dating from 5,500 to 2,500 B.C.

They are said to be the oldest known free standing monuments in the world, supposedly older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.

It is speculated that the tracks might be the remaining evidence of a transportation system used to convey heavy rock slabs from far off quarries to the temple sites. The evidence for this though is anecdotal at best.

 So called cart ruts diving into the sea at St. Georges Bay

Another proposed scenario alludes to the idea that the cart ruts were created during this temple building period whereby topsoil was transported to and from sites in order to create nearby fields for growing crops.

Despite the many flaws in the theory of a transportation system, and the total lack of any evidence to support this theory, archaeologist Anthony Bonanno believes that the ruts are undoubtedly associated with the temples.

He cites as proof the Buskett area group of tracks, which run next to the largest and most important quarry in Malta.

Bonanno surmises they were intended to transport huge construction blocks from the quarry to a road in ancient times. Not unlike during the construction of Stonehenge where some of the heavy stones were transported as far as 225 kilometres.

However the ruts do not seem to have obvious starting or ending points at any temples in Malta, There are no cart-ruts running directly to any of the temples, and there are locations where ruts run past temples.

Other ruts run uphill and down. One remarkable example climbs an angle of 45°, making for an unrealistic manoeuvre whatever the load. Evidence of association between the two is ambiguous.

Other major contentions to the ‘temple-stone’ theory include the fact that the ruts meander almost unnecessarily.

Others appear to start as suddenly as they stop, not seeming to go anywhere, and many of the ruts have junctions and criss-crosses that make little sense in terms of efficiency as a transport system.

Archaeologists however are not known for their ability to think “outside the box”, preferring instead to ignore any lack of evidence and always plump for the orthodox explanation.

It has never been proven that any of the ruts were ever fashioned by heavy loads. A number of tracks seem to be so perfectly formed that they may even have been cut by hand. Researcher and author Graham Hancock writes in his book  Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization:

“It is certain, too, that they were not simply worn away in the tough limestone by the passage of cart-wheels over periods of centuries, as many have wrongly theorized; on the contrary, there is no proof whatsoever that cart-wheels ever ran in these ruts – which were initially carved out of the bedrock with the use of tools.”

So many questions remain surrounding the enigmatic cart ruts of Malta.

The channels obviously played an important purpose in the lives of the ancient people who lived there and who created them, but their significance, and the role they played may never be known. The answers have become a secret lost in time.

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