Astronaut

Top 10 Mysteries of History – Part 1!

1.Tunguska Cauldrons

In year 1853, Russian explorer R.K.Maak allegedly discovered a giant, partially submerged metal cauldron in the region of Tunguska. In following decades, more and more reports about these strange objects appeared, however, their exact origin and function remains unknown to the present day.

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Drawing of a tilted Tunguska Cauldron

The area where all these cauldrons were found, is today known mostly for the Tunguska event, that happened there in June 1908, and also remains unresolved to this day. Ancient name for this area was Uliuiu Cherkechekh, which translates as “the Valley of Death”.

After the discovery of first cauldrons in 1853, subsequent expeditions in 1922, 1930 and 1936 reported finding more of these objects. According to descriptions, most of them were hemispherical in shape, from 50 to 60 feet in circumference, reddish-silvery in colour, and entirely made of steel. Their walls were about one inch thick, and their edges were ”sharp enough to cut a fingernail”.

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Drawing of a submerged “cauldron”

Natives reported that during the winter, they often used the cauldrons as a night shelters because of the unusual warmth radiating from their walls. However, majority of them soon started to exhibit symptoms similar to these of radiation sickness.

Although we have numerous historical reports about these cauldrons, further expeditions from 1950 onwards didn’t manage to find anything. Were the mysterious cauldrons of Tunguska only a deliberate hoax? Or are they still there somewhere, buried deep in the Siberian soil? Only time will show…

2.Baalbek megaliths

Located in the town of Baalbek, Lebanon, exact origin of these giant stones remains unknown to the present day. Also known as the ”trilithons”, they used to form the base of the ancient temple dedicated to god Baal, which, according to archeologists, dates back nearly 8,000 years ago.The original complex was destroyed by ancient Greeks and Romans, during construction of their own temple complex, Heliopolis, however, these giant stones remained, and served as a foundation for the later temples.

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Trilithon in Baalbek

Each of the ”trilithon” is around 65 feet(20 m) long, 14 feet(4.3 m) high and 12 feet(3.6 m) wide, weighing around 800 tons. They are among the largest ancient monoliths ever made, however, not the largest.

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Stone of a pregnant woman – largest stone monolith in the world

In the quarry nearby lies even more massive building block, sometimes called ”Stone of the Pregnant Woman”, weighing around 1,240 tons. Many historians tried to explain the origin of these stones and the way they were transported, however, none of their explanations gained widespread acknowledgement and acceptance so far.

3.Nazca lines

One of the best known mysteries of the South America, these geoglyphs are located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. The lines were probably made by removing the uppermost layers of the desert soil, uncovering the white bedrock underneath. The largest of these line formations are more than 660 feet(200 m) across, portraying various animals, as hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, sharks, llamas, jaguars and humanoid figures.

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Nazca lines – “the Dog”

They were first discovered in 1927 by Peruvian archaeologis, and further examined in years 1940-41 by historian Paul Kosok, who proposed a theory that the lines were created for astronomical reasons; as a markers on the horizon, showing the rising points of the sun and other celestial objects.

There are numerous theories, about how the ancient Indians achieved such a geometric accuracy when making the lines. Numerous scholars have theoretized, that the use of simple tools, mathematics and surveying equipment would be enough to make most of the lines. According to scientists in the University of Kentucky, these lines could be easily reproduced today, without use of any remarkable technology.

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Nazca lines – “the Astronaut”

However, their purpose still remains an unsolved mystery. Many experts think that they were representations of constellations, or used for ceremonial purposes.

Alternative theories propose, that the lines were either work of aliens, or that they were drawn to get extraterrestial attention.

4.Saqqara Bird

The Saqqara bird is strange, bird-shaped wooden object, discovered in 1898 during excavation of ancient Egyptian tomb of Saqqara. It has been dated to be manufactured sometimes around year 200 BC. According to majority of archaeologists, the Saqqara bird was probably made as a child’s toy or a weather vane.

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Saqqara bird

However, unlike other ancient Egyptian avian sculptures, the Saqqara bird has very unusually shaped tail, and is also legless. This has led to various controversial theories, such as being miniature representation of aircraft or glider. Contemporary Egyptian archeologist and parapsychologist Khalil Messinha has speculated, that the bird has vertical stabilizer on his tail, and its wings were intentionally shaped to resemble those of an aircraft.

In year 1942, enlarged models of the Saqqara Bird were tested in aerodynamic tunnel in an attempt to prove this theory, however, the glide performance was disappointing, and models were completely unstable without additionally added tailplane.

Nonetheless, further research has shown significantly better results. According to Simon Sanderson, Liverpool University aerodynamics expert, the Saqqara Bird could acually fly quite well, if not better than many modern gliders, being capable of producing four times its own weight in lift.

5.Baghdad Battery

One of the most baffling archaelogic discoveries of last 80 years, the Baghdad Battery was found in year 1936 in the village of Khujut Rabu, Iraq.

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It was composed of three pieces, a terracotta pot, approximately 5 inches(13 cm) tall, with 1.5 inches wide mouth. The pot contained a cylinder composed of a rolled copper sheet, housing a single iron rod, isolated from the cylinder by plugs. According to available evindence, this artifact has been manufactured in the Sassanid period.

In year 1940, German archaeologist Wilhelm König speculated for the first time, that the Baghdad battery could have been used as galvanic cell, for plating gold onto metal objects. This hypothesis was based on object’s design, and chemical signs of acidic corrosion on all three parts of the artifact, possibly caused by the use of acidic electrolyte.

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Diagram of the “Baghdad battery”

However, there are many problems with the interpretation of the artifact as galvanic cell. We don’t have any evidence of alleged Sassanid use of electricity, be it wires, conductors or other electrical equipment. According to majority of modern archeologists, the ”Baghdad Battery” was actually used as a storage jar for sacred scrolls. Acidic corrosion was perhaps caused by decay of the papyrus inside, leaving a slightly acidic organic residue.

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Wadlow

5 Largest Giants in History!

Throughout the history, people were always amazed by plethora of stories and legends about mythical giants, people or gods reaching incredible heights. While most of them were nothing more than myths, for instance Goliath, King Og or the Titans, some of these legends were based on real foundations.

We have many records of incredibly high people living in the past. Although some of them are greatly exaggerated, many are backed by solid evidence. In this article, we are going to explore the lives and feats of 5 most famous historical ”giants”, and maybe even find out how they grew to such an exceptional height.

1.Robert Wadlow

Robert Pershing Wadlow, often known as the Giant of Illinois, was the tallest man who ever lived.

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Robert Pershing Wadlow, compared to his father Harold Wadlow (measuring 5 feet 11 1⁄2 inches)

Born to Addie Johnson and Harold Wadlow in Alton, Illinois on 22.nd of February, 1918, he was the oldest of five children. Few months after his birth, he was diagnosed gigantism, a rare genetic disorder that causes over-production of growth hormone. During his childhood, he was growing rapidly, reaching height of more than 3 feet 6 inches(106 cm) at the age of only 11 months, outgrowing both of his parents at the age of six and reaching 200 cm at the age of eleven.

During elementary school, he had to sit in special desk made for him, because of his exceptional heigh and weight(180 pounds). In 1936, after he graduated from Alton High School, he was 8 feet 4 inches (2.55 m) tall. His size soon began to take its tool; Robert Wadlow needed special leg braces to be able to walk, and lost feeling in his feet. However, he never used a wheelchair.

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Shoe of Robert Wadlow

In 1936, Wadlow went on a U.S. Tour with the Ringling Bros. Circus, and continued to participate in various tours and public appearances, until his death in 1940, caused by parasitic infection(only 22 years old). After his death, he was buried on July 19, in a 10-feet long(3 m) long coffin, weighing more than 1,100 pounds. Thousands of people attended his funeral in Upper Alton.

Eighteen days before his death, he was measured at 8 feet 11.1 inches(2.72 m), more than any other human in history. His shoe size was 37AA, largest in the world, and at the age of 21, one year before his death, his weight was recorded as being 492 pounds.

Little known fact; Robert Wadlow was also a Freemason, and his ceremonial ring was the largest ever made.

2.Angus MacAskill

Although this Scottish-born Canadian(1825 – 1863) was not as tall as other people on this list, he was the tallest recorded ”natural giant” in history, suffering from no growth abnormalities, with perfectly normal proportions. He was also the strongest man to live in modern history, and had the largest chest circumference of any non-obese man; about 80 inches(200 cm).

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Angus MacAskill

Angus MacAskill was born in the Hebrides, Scotland, in year 1825. According to historical sources, as a baby, he was not as large as the other children.During his childhood, he was also of normal stature, however, after he entered puberty, he started to grow rapidly and by his 24.th birthday he had attained about 7 feet 9 inches(2.36 cm). During much of his adulthood, he is said to weigh more than 500 pounds (230 kg). His hands were eight inches wide and more than a foot long, and his shoes 17.5 inches(44 cm) long. According to historical sources, Angus McAskill had deep-set blue eyes, curly black hair, a deep musical voice, and a pleasant personality.

McAskill was well-known for his immense strength. He allegedly managed to lift an 2,800-pound(1,300 kg) ship anchor to shoulder height, and easily carried barrels full of wine under his arms. In year 1849, he started to work for the P.T.Barnum’s circus, touring the Caribbean in 1853. He frequently appeared with Tom Thumb, a natural midget 3 feet 4 inches(102 cm) tall. In year 1854, he allegedly visited Queen Victoria in the Windsor Castle.

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Grave of Angus Macaskill

However, in 1856, during his famous anchor lifting, he accidentally broke his arm when one of his shoulders got caught under one of the anchor’s flukes, ending his circus career.

In August 8, 1863, McAskill died peacefully after a week-long ilness. Exact cause of death remains unknown, but it was probably meningitis.

3.John Rogan

John Rogan, the second tallest person to ever live, was born in Tennessee, between years 1865 and 1868(exact year unknown). During his childhood, he was of normal stature, however, only until his 13.th birthday, when he started to grow rapidly.

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John Rogan

However, his growth soon led to the development of severe ankylosis(stifness of joints), leaving him completely unable to stand or walk. He then used a goat cart to get around. By year 1899, he had already reached a height of 8 feet 6 inches(2.59), and became a local celebrity, often known as the ”Negro giant”. Known for his friendly personality and exceptionally deep voice, he earned for a living by selling portraits and postcards at local train station.

His hands were 11 inches(28 cm) long and his feet 13 inches(33 cm) long. At the time he died in September 1905, he was measured at 8 feet 9 inches(2.67), however, he weighed only 175 pounds. That makes him the second tallest person in history, and also the tallest African American ever recorded.

His body was buried in Sumner County, Tennessee, under concrete panels, preventing anyone to exhume and further examine his remains.

4.Zeng Jinlian

Zeng Jinlian(1964-1982) was the tallest female ever measured in medical history, surpassing the historical world record 7 feet 11 inches, previously set by English woman Jane Bunford(1895-1922). She is also the only woman who has reached verified height of 8 feet or more.

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Zeng Jinlian

She was born on June 26 1964 in Yuian, China. 4 months after her birth, she started growing rapidly, and at age 4 ,she had already reached height of more than five feet. Her growth patterns exhibited exceptional similarity to these of Robert Wadlow. On average, she grew 5 inches every year, was able to lift a 110 pound(50 kg) stone at the age of 5, and slept in specially made bed, 8 feet long.

Zheng Jinlian was later diagnosed pituitary tumor, which caused her gigantism, and she was also suffering from diabetes, disease that also caused her death at the age of 17 in Hunan. Few days before her death, she would have been 8 feet 1.75 inches tall, but she could not stand straight because of her severely deformed spine.

5.Maximinus Thrax

However, reports about people of immense stature are not limited to modern times.

Maximinus Thrax(Gaius Julius Verus Maximinus Augustus), also known as emperor Maximinus I, was an Emperor of Rome in years 235-238. Born in Thrace, hence the name Thrax, he was the first emperor never to enter the Rome.

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Bust of Emperor Maximinus Thrax

Contemporary sources, most prominent being Historia Augusta depicted Maximinus Thrax as a man of immense size, exhibiting large eyebrows, nose and jaw(symptom of acromegaly). His thumb was allegedly so large, that he often wore a bracelet of his wife as a ring on it. Famous historian Herodian noted:

“He was definitely a man of such frightening appearance and colossal size, that there is no possible comparison at all with any of the best-trained Greek athletes or the most fierce of all barbarians.”

According to historian Cordus, he was approximately 8 foot 6 inches(2.5 m) tall, but exhibiting normal proportions(similar to Angus McAskill). In his works, Cordus notes, that Maximinus was so strong that he could pull an fully loaded ox cart on his own.

While the exact size of Maximinus will be never known, he was likely to be a man of immense size and significantly taller than than the average Roman citizen of his time.

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