The biggest historical mysteries that will probably never be solved

Marry Bell

The desire to know what happened is irresistible, but history is riddled with mysteries despite the efforts of scholars.

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
Photo:© iStock (Main Image)

What happened to the crew and passengers of this British-American brig remains one of the sea's greatest mysteries.

On November 7, 1872, the Mary Celeste sailed from New York City with more than 1,700 barrels of alcohol bound for Genoa, Italy.

On December 5, she was found adrift 740 kilometres east of the Azores by the crew of another cargo transport ship, the Dei Gratia.

When they boarded the mysterious ship, they found that she was seaworthy, although she had one-meter high water in the hold.

In addition, they found that her cargo and personal belongings were practically intact, although a boat was missing.

What is the greatest mystery in history?

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 vapours had been the cause of abandonment.

No trace of Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, his wife and young daughter, or the seven experienced crew members was ever found.

His name became a worldwide synonym for abandoned "ghost ships".

2. Kenneth Arnold's "Flying Saucers."
Kenneth Arnold

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, and a great controversy about what Arnold saw.

3. What happened to Amelia Earhart?
Amelia Earhart, after setting a record for altitude in an autogiro, Philadelphia, 4 August 1931© Bettmann/Getty Images

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 most significant historical mysteries of all time.

Or maybe not? 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 nautical sextant, and the remains of shoes. The body was later considered to be 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.

4. Why did Joan of Arc die?

When asked why Joan of Arc was burned at stake, the answer is usually "heresy."

But while it is true that the so-called Maid of Orleans was mistrusted for claiming that God had guided 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 her faith and her visions. The crime of wearing men's clothing was persecuted, also a heresy. 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 that last offense that she was ultimately executed, as she changed back into male clothing, even though he had promised to give her up.

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2020. Mystery Of ‘Ghost Ship’ Full Of Food But Nobody Onboard Found In The Middle Of Atlantic Ocean. [Blog] Available at: <> [Accessed 10 April 2022].

HISTORY.COM, 2022. What happened to Amelia Earhart?. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 April 2022].

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Marry Bell is a dedicated blogger who is particularly interested in writing about what she learned, a great storyteller, ideas to make your life simpler, and how you may achieve your objectives. Her sole passion is to explore the internet in search of outstanding articles that will provide her with new ideas for article writing. She despises being a commoner who squanders her time. she is also on Medium, Forbes, dirt, and many more

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