The desire to know what happened is irresistible, but despite the efforts of scholars, history is riddled with mysteries.
There are some, like where Cleopatra is buried or what secrets Japan’s kofun tombs hold, that we may one day reveal.
Others, such as who built Stonehenge, a megalithic monument in England, and why, will probably never be resolved.
And the lack of answers only makes these puzzles more intriguing.
1. The Mary Celeste
What happened to the crew and passengers of this British-American brig remains one of the sea’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
The Mary Celeste set sail on November 7, 1872 from New York City with more than 1,700 barrels of alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy.
On December 5, he was found adrift 740 kilometers east of the Azores by the crew of another cargo transport ship, the Dei Gratia.
When they boarded the mysterious ship, they found that although it had water with a height of one meter in the hold, it was seaworthy.
In addition, they found that the cargo and personal belongings were practically intact , although a launch was missing.
The Mary Celeste was taken to Gibraltar, where a British board of inquiry unsuccessfully tried to ascertain the cause of the ship’s abandonment.
There were no signs of violence or missing cargo, casting doubt on suspicions of mutiny, murder and piracy.
There was also no evidence that an explosion caused by alcohol vapors had been the cause of the abandonment.
No trace of Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, his wife and young daughter, or the seven experienced crewmen was ever found .
His name became a worldwide synonym for abandoned “ghost ships” .
2. Kenneth Arnold ‘s ” Flying Saucers “
The birth of the modern UFO phenomenon can be traced back to private pilot Ken Arnold’s sighting of nine peculiarly shaped flying objects over Washington’s Cascade Mountains on the afternoon of June 24, 1947.
Arnold told reporters that objects with bat-like wings moved like a saucer would “if you made it jump through the water.”
He calculated its speed as faster than that of the most advanced jet aircraft of that time.
A sub-editor came up with the phrase “flying saucers,” and the ensuing media coverage sparked an epidemic of seeing things in the sky that continues to this day.
Two weeks after Arnold’s sighting, the US Army Air Force announced that the remains of a “flying saucer” had been recovered from a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico.
A modern myth was born, but also a great controversy about what Arnold actually saw.
3. The Shroud of Turin
The piece of canvas that is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, in northern Italy, is one of the most investigated objects in the history of mankind, but it retains its secrets.
Many Christians believe that the holy relic is the shroud in which Jesus of Nazareth was buried .
There is no doubt that it bears a negative impression of the face and body contours of a man who has sustained injuries consistent with crucifixion, but scientists have been unable to reach a consensus on how it was created.
Radiocarbon tests conducted by three laboratories in 1988 dated the cloth to the Middle Ages, with some claiming it as proof that it was a medieval forgery.
But this interpretation remains the subject of intense debate, leading a former Nature editor, Philip Ball, to declare that the relic remains shrouded in mystery.
4. What happened to Amelia Earhart?
In 1937, Amelia Earhart, one of the world’s most famous aviators, apparently disappeared without a trace during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Although searches began just an hour after Earhart’s last recorded message, nothing was ever found and her fate remains one of the greatest historical mysteries of all time.
Or maybe not? In fact, the body of a woman was located on Gardner Island , part of the Phoenix Islands, Kiribati, in the western Pacific Ocean, in 1940.
With him were a campfire, a navigational sextant, and the remains of shoes. The body was later considered to be that of a white female of Northern European descent, about Earhart’s height.
Expeditions since 2001 have found other evidence indicating the presence of a living American woman in the 1930s. Earhart may have lived as a castaway after an emergency landing.
5. Why did Joan of Arc die?
When asked why Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, the answer is usually “heresy.”
But while the so-called Maid of Orleans was mistrusted for claiming that God had led her to fight as a soldier during the Hundred Years’ War, the real reason for her execution in 1431 is more unusual.
In May 1430, Joan was captured and imprisoned by her English and Burgundian enemies.
A trial for heresy began in 1431, with questions centering on his faith and visions. The crime of wearing men’s clothing , also a heresy, was persecuted. Juana had done this repeatedly, first as a soldier in armor and then during her imprisonment as a defense against rape.
Surprisingly, it was for this last offense that she was eventually executed, for she returned to wearing male clothing, even though she had promised to give it up.