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Mysteries of History

Mysteries are all around us. While some mysteries are being unraveled, others are lost to history. How have these historical mysteries affected how we see the world today? Here are some mysteries that have puzzled specialists for years and influenced communities for generations.

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Stonehenge in England makes people tilt their heads not only back in wonder but also to the side in confusion. These stones are estimated to have been placed over 5,000 years ago, and some of the stones came from several hundred miles away in Wales. Beyond the enigma of how these stones were gathered is the secret of Stonehenge’s purpose—why did people dedicate so much time and energy to building it?

Some theorists believe that this great formation was a spiritual site, while others claim it was a meeting place for chiefdoms. As people have tried to discover the reason behind Stonehenge’s ancient design, it has made its way into British culture. Stonehenge has inspired those who see it to sing, dance, paint, write, and imagine what really happened all those years ago. It allows people to look beyond their everyday lives and take a moment to wonder.

The Ifugao Rice Terraces

The mountains of the Ifugao province in the Philippines have been cultivated up and down with rice terraces following the natural contours of the terrain. These fields blend with the setting of the mountains to create a natural beauty that visitors and locals alike enjoy. But scholars cannot agree on when they were first built—estimates range from 300 to 3,000 years ago.

For generations, farmers have passed down both the fields and their knowledge of how to maintain them, having lost the origin story along the way. People still grow rice here today, with their entire culture revolving around the cyclical and seasonal systems of planting. Creating and irrigating the terraces took incredible engineering and labor, and current farmers take pride in the result of their ancestors’ efforts.

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins

The Great Zimbabwe Ruins are the largest ruins in sub-Saharan Africa. This medieval city is estimated to have held a population of 10,000 to 20,000 people back when it was an important trading post. And these great stone ruins extend across about 200 acres (80 hectares).

While no one knows why this city was abandoned, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins are a point of national pride for the people of Zimbabwe today. Their country’s flag features the Zimbabwe Bird, an emblem inspired by ancient carvings found at the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Even the country’s name comes from the Shona word meaning “stone houses.” When you visit these great ruins, take a moment to reflect on their cultural significance for the modern people of Zimbabwe.

The Lost Colony of Roanoke

Both scholars and everyday people have wondered at the disappearance of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. In the 16th century, this English colony was settled in present-day Dare County, North Carolina, USA. Back then, Roanoke acted as a foothold in a new land. Faced with local conflict and dwindling supplies, some people from this colony sailed back to England for help. But when they returned, the colony had disappeared, with nothing but “CROATOAN” carved into a tree.

Whether the people had tried to move elsewhere or joined a native population, no one was ever able to find the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Today, this mystery inspires books, TV shows, and movies imagining what could have become of these people. As Americans today look back on that time, they remember the beginnings of their nation. And the Lost Colony of Roanoke acts as a connection to their past.

Mysteries around Us

These are just a few of the mysteries that surround us. Thinking about and visiting these and other mysteries can change our perception of the world. They can help us to escape the business of life, build ties to the past, and inspire us to create for the future. They truly begin to live within the hearts and minds of those who think on the mysteries of the past.