Uncovering History’s Biggest Secrets
Without a way to go back in time to find the truth, most historical secrets will remain safely buried, but historians have certainly worked hard to solve some of history’s greatest mysteries. In some cases, pieces of the puzzle have been put together thousands of years to finally reveal the truth.
If you can’t rest without knowing the identity of the man in the iron mask or where in the world they buried Genghis Khan, then get ready to learn the answers to these questions and more. As fate would have it, some secrets didn’t stay buried after all.
In Bangkok, Thailand, an enormously heavy Buddha statue known as the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon stood outside Wat Traimit, towering 9 feet tall and covered in plaster. Bangkok enjoyed and revered this sculpture for 600 years until it was moved to a new location.
Mysterious Byzantine Weapon
In the Byzantine Empire, Greek Fire was a mysterious type of fuel used for a flame-throwing weapon that was rumored to be fueled by water, yet was curiously able to burn on water. (Did you get all that?) The weapon was used from around 670 to 1450, and the fuel resembled a flammable jelly made of a mystery substance that was likely calcium carbonate.
The Man in the Iron Mask
During the monarchy in France in the 1680s, King Louis XIV imprisoned a man for life and locked him in an iron mask until his death, concealing his identity. Historians have speculated for centuries about who the man was, with some theories focusing on the king’s hidden twin brother or a cousin who was plotting a revolt.
King Tut's Hidden Tomb
For almost 3,000 years, the Pharaoh King Tut’s tomb remained untouched by human hands, which was unusual, because Egyptian tombs were commonly plundered by disreputable fortune hunters. Researchers believe the reason for this is that King Tut died suddenly early in his life, and the tomb where he was buried wasn’t meant for a pharaoh.
Rome's Recipe for Concrete
Rome is famous for its fantastic architecture, and it’s considered almost miraculous that builders constructed the signature domes found on many buildings about 2,000 years ago. Researchers didn’t understand at first how the Romans accomplished this. They eventually determined they integrated volcanic ash and saltwater into their concrete, but the exact recipe is still unknown.
President Roosevelt's Wheelchair
President Roosevelt contracted polio and lost the use of his legs at the age of 39, but he didn’t want the American public to know about his disability. He even had a tunnel built from Grand Central Terminal to the Waldorf Astoria to allow him to leave the White House without the public viewing his wheelchair.
The Rosetta Stone helped researchers decode some hieroglyphic symbols in the 1820s. The stone proved the symbols represented sounds or whole words and were not an alphabet, as previously believed. However, not all the symbols were deciphered by the tablet, and some remain a mystery.
George Washington's Spies
Agent 711, otherwise known as U.S. President George Washington, was the leader of the Culper Spy Ring, a network of spies tasked with spying on the British during the Revolutionary War. The spy ring was founded by a man named Benjamin Tallmadge, and it provided critical information on covert plans of the British.
Roman Birth Control
The Roman medical community had a secret recipe for herbal birth control for its citizens — the herb silphium. If you’ve never heard of silphium, it might be because it became so valuable to the Romans that they used it excessively, and now the plant is extinct.
China's Silky Secret
Silk manufactured and distributed from China — often sold on the Silk Road — used to be known as "white gold," and the western world longed to learn the secret of making this product. China also had a monopoly on porcelain until Europeans finally figured out how to create it in the 1500s.
The Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a secret project focused on creating a massively destructive weapon capable of destroying Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The U.S. correctly assumed that Hitler was attempting to create the same type of weapon and wanted to be the first to accomplish it.
Britain's Fake Naval Officer
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, devised a secret mission called Operation Mincemeat to fool the German military into thinking the British were going to invade Greece. The British SOE took the body of a dead homeless man and made it appear as if he was a naval officer carrying plans for the make-believe invasion.
Greek and Roman Underground Cults
Before Christianity took over, there were some secret Greco-Roman cults that prevailed for almost 2,000 years. Unfortunately, they didn’t document their activities or practices, so very little is known about these mysterious cults that are believed to have practiced underground in ancient times.
Jack the Ripper
In London in 1888, a person known as Jack the Ripper mutilated and murdered at least five women. He reportedly sent letters to the police, taunting them and daring them to find him and prosecute him. Scholars disagree on whether the letters were from the actual murderer.
The Whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa
On July 30, 1975, the Teamster known as Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from Oakland County, Michigan. Known for his connection to organized crime, Jimmy Hoffa is presumed to have died long ago, but police and forensic anthropologists have yet to identify his killer or discover his body.
The ancient writer Plutarch (A.D. 45-120) recorded that Cleopatra VII and her lover Mark Antony were buried together in a "lofty and beautiful" monument filled with gold, silver, emeralds and other treasures in 30 B.C. The exact location of this burial chamber, however, remains a mystery.
History says that President John F. Kennedy was tragically shot and killed on November 22, 1963, in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald, but many historians speculate that he didn’t act alone. Two days later, Oswald was then shot and killed by a nightclub owner named Jack Ruby. Ruby subsequently died of cancer four years later.
Oak Island Money
Oak Island, located off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, has been rumored to be home to large amounts of buried treasure for more than two centuries now. In fact, many expeditions have been made to find the hidden booty, all to no avail. The notorious pirate Captain William Kidd (1645-1701) reportedly left his treasure there before he was caught and hanged in England.
The Copper Scroll Treasure
In 1952, a copper scroll was discovered by archaeologists at the Qumran archaeologist site in a cave, accompanied by other Dead Sea Scrolls. The etchings engraved into the copper scroll recorded an enormous amount of gold and silver treasure, which some researchers claim is too large to exist.
The Ark of the Covenant
King Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Jerusalem with his Babylonian army in 587 B.C., completely destroying the First Temple in the process. The First Temple was used to worship God by the Jewish people and contained the Ark of the Covenant, which carried the tablets with the 10 Commandments written on them.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Philo of Byzantium wrote around 250 B.C. that in the ancient city of Babylon (now Iraq) there were "plants cultivated at a height above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than the earth." The hanging gardens were often referred to as a "wonder of the world."
The Greek philosopher Plato wrote a story in the fourth century B.C. about a land called Atlantis, located in the Atlantic Ocean. He wrote that in prehistoric times, Atlantis had conquered most of Europe and Africa. Afterward, the Athenians struck back, and Atlantis lost the battle and subsequently disappeared into the ocean.
Jesus, the Man
Because the earliest known gospels date to the second century, well after the death of Jesus Christ, biblical scholars have many questions. For example, "When were the gospels written?" and "What was Jesus like in real life?" still plague the curious.
The Princes in the Tower
King Edward IV died in 1483 and left two sons — the new King Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York. The boys resided in the Tower of London to await the proclamation and coronation of the new presumptive king, as was the tradition.
The Kentucky Fried Chicken Recipe
Harland Sanders perfected the KFC Original Recipe by July of 1940, after transforming his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky, into a restaurant/motel. His recipe utilizes pressure cooking as well as 11 herbs and spices. Worried that others would steal his creation, he created a franchise called "Kentucky Fried Chicken" in the 1950s with possible theft in mind.
Born in 1341 BCE, Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun belonged to the 18th dynasty and ruled during the New Kingdom (1132-1323). Not much information is known about his reign. It’s also unclear whether his death was purposeful, accidental or due to combined congenital defects or an infection.
The Voynich Manuscript
Thought by some to be the world’s most mysterious book, the Voynich manuscript is an incomprehensible 15th-century work written in an indecipherable language. Many researchers have pored over the exquisite writings and admired the illustrations of nudes and plants — but failed to crack the code.
On December 5, 1872, the merchant ship Mary Celeste was discovered drifting along in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean — off the Azores Islands — with no crew. Curiously, the ship’s lifeboats had been removed, but she seemed to be in absolutely impeccable condition. Obviously, people found the mystery to be extremely strange and disturbing.
Roanoke Island is located off the coast of North Carolina and was populated in 1587 by English settlers led by John White. White’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, was the first English child born in the New World.
Tomb of Genghis Khan
Although many have searched for Genghis Khan’s tomb, no one has ever been able to locate it. Before he died, the Mongol ruler demanded a secret burial and commanded his troops to murder anyone who came anywhere near his funeral procession in order to protect its location.