There are plenty of ancient artifacts, explainable or otherwise, strewn across the world. These relics from another time give us a glimpse into the lives, culture, religious practices and day-to-day experiences of those who inhabited the Earth before us. From Neolithic cave paintings to the Great Wall of China, there is no shortage of such wonders.
However, the sheer scope of the world makes it impossible to discover every man-made treasure. That’s why we keep finding more! And one extremely special artifact was only revealed recently, shedding light on one of the world’s most practiced religions.
India is a country with an incredibly rich history, and contains cultural and religious influences from a ton of different traditions. In particular, the nation is host to a large variety of Hindu devotional sites and temples.
Hinduism is a religion that doesn’t have one singular book such as a Bible or Quran that lays out its principles, but is instead a conglomeration of many different religious texts and guidelines.
Some of the core concepts of Hinduism include Karma, the belief in a sort of cosmic retribution, Dharma, the moral code that underpins the universe, and Samsara, which refers to reincarnation.
Among the sites in India that serve as devotional locations for Hindus are the Somnath temple, Ellora caves, and Amarnath shrine, but there are countless more, all with their own rich histories and significance.
Tour My India
All of these areas are places that attract a lot of worshipers, some of them even traveling on long pilgrimages in order to visit them. However, one of these devotional locations only came to light in recent years.
The mystery was unearthed when a drought in Karnataka State dried up the banks of the nearby Shalmala river, revealing some very important and storied artifacts that for years had been hidden beneath the murky waters.
YouTube – Nature
Revealed was a series of linga statues, phallic objects that are supposed to be representative of the deity Shiva. Each of the individual statuettes also had a miniature bull pointed towards it.
The bulls, naturally, are significant in their own right. They are actually manifestations of Nandi, the gate-guardian deity which serves as a mount to Shiva.
Now, the icon-filled riverbed is a place where thousands gather to celebrate the holiday of Mahastra Shivaratri, a religious day with a very interesting theological canon behind it.
The main trinity of gods that make up the basis of Hindu worship (although there are many more) are Brahma, creator of the universe, Vishnu, preserver of the universe, and Shiva, god of destruction and rebirth.
The story goes that one day Brahma and Vishnu were fighting over their respective capabilities and power, each trying to outdo the other in a show of domination and bravado.
The other gods then became worried about the intensity of the argument and asked Shiva if he could step in to alleviate some of the tension and restore peace to the group. Shiva agreed and came up with a bold plan.
So the mighty god transformed himself into the form of a linga, the aforementioned phallic symbol that is an abstraction of Shiva. Then, he relayed his suggestion to Brahma and Vishnu.
He told Brahma to fly up, in the form of a swan, and Vishnu to travel down, as a boar, instructing them to attempt to find the ends of the gigantic lingum.
So the two went off in their respective directions, and unsurprisingly, due to the gargantuan size of the lingum, were unable to reach its limits. However, Brahma attempted to find a way around this…
While on his way up, he encountered a flower known as the ketaki flower, which used to live at the very top of the linga. This gave him an idea, and when he flew back down to reunite with Shiva and Vishnu he carried it out.
He arrived back at the spot where he had first encountered the other two gods, and he lied to Shiva, telling him that he had found the ketaki flower and thus reached the top.
However then, in a spectacular showing, Shiva split out of the linga, revealing his true and mighty form. Both Brahma and Vishnu were awestruck and had no choice but to put aside their squabble and accept the supremacy of Shiva.
Still angered with Brahma for trying to lie to him, Shiva declared that no one should be able to pray to him. This is the reason for a real life discrepancy that exists today…
Sure enough, there only exist four significant temples devoted to Brahma, while there are vastly more dedicated to the gods Vishnu and Shiva.
In any case, this is the fascinating history behind Mahastra Shivaratri, the occasion that sends worshipers running to the special riverbed that, all thanks to a drought, has revealed itself as a truly special place indeed.
Of course, the watery depths of the world have revealed themselves to contain many mysteries, and some of them are less pious and more hedonistic in nature. One such finding was unveiled at the bottom of the ocean…
The Ocean X diving team is a group of modern day treasure hunters whose mission is to “explore the ocean and bring it back to the world.” They’ve been in action for decades now, and throughout that period have happened on some otherworldly discoveries.
The members of Ocean X are no strangers to bizarre happenings. Back in 1997 they stumbled upon 2,000 bottles of vintage champagne lying at the bottom of the ocean. What did they do with the unexpected stash?
The Finest Bubble
Because of a handy stipulation known as the maritime salvage law, the divers were entitled to take the bottles for themselves. When the men found out how much each spirit was worth on auction, they had to take a breath.
Astoundingly, each individual bottle sold for somewhere between five and ten thousand dollars. This very profitable discovery was no doubt an impressive feat on the part of the team. However, decades later they would find something that confounded them completely.
In 2012, the team’s radars detected a mysterious mass beneath the sea. Luckily, their technology was able to capture an image of the strange object. When they saw the grainy picture, they had to do a double take.
Looking closer, the structure appeared to be manmade! The divers thought that they could make out the presence of unnatural formations such as ramps and stairways. Some of the theories surrounding the mysterious finding are downright chilling.
Some interpretations have claimed that the image actually shows a UFO that sank into the ocean years ago, while others insist that the circular object is a portal to another world. Encouraged by their groundbreaking discoveries, the crew continued to traverse the oceans.
On their most recent excursion, Ocean X decided to take on exploring Kyros, a Swedish cargo ship that was sunk by a German U-boat more than 100 years ago, during the heights of WWI.
The Germans shot down the maritime vehicle even though it hailed from neutral Sweden. Nonetheless, they had direct orders to attack any vessel carrying goods into Russia, their sworn enemy. But what happened to all the people on board?
In a surprising moment of mercy, the German soldiers allowed the Swedish crew to leave with their lives. They deboarded the ship before sinking it and sent the downtrodden sailors packing their bags back home to Sweden.
With such a rich history, Ocean X had no idea what they would find when they sent their underwater drones down to investigate the wreckage. With bated breath, they waited to see what unknown plunder would be pulled up from the watery depths.
To the shock of everyone involved, the team recovered over 900 bottles of liquor on the ill-fated ship. In total there were 50 cases of cognac brandy and 15 cases of herbal liqueur Benedictine, a brand related to modern day Bacardi.
The booze ended up at the bottom of the Baltic sea, but all those years ago it had a royal destination. It was the last shipment of liquor made to Russian aristocracy and may even have been intended for Czar Nicholas II.
There was only one more question to be asked: was the stuff drinkable? Scientists got straight to work testing the bottles. Some of the corks pushed in due to pressurized conditions, allowing sediment to filter inside. Others were in pristine condition.
If it turns out the bottles are still potent, they could go for millions at an auction. The members of Ocean X were ecstatic. Not only had they discovered a remarkable historical time piece, but they were even slated to be well-compensated for their efforts.
However, there was something else recovered from Kyros that gave the researchers pause. They’d found steel and machine parts, possible evidence that the ship had been secretly aiding the Russian war effort. Things were about to get even stranger…
Even more startling than the steel found on board was the discovery of a German pistol and a bullet. If, in fact, more than one of these were on board, it would suggest that the Swedish crew had been smuggling illicit contraband into Russia.
According to Space X team members, the retrieval of the liquors likely represents the last vestiges of alcohol lying on the Baltic sea floor. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more rumored treasures hidden deep in the ocean’s depths.
One relic of particular note to the adventurous group are Faberge eggs belonging to Nicholas II himself. If they could somehow recover these beautiful lost treasures, it would be an unprecedented accomplishment of exploration.
Finally, Space X also hopes to learn more about the incredibly elusive Baltic Sea anomaly — the one that could be anything from a UFO to an interdimensional portal. For now, sci-fi buffs are waiting with anticipation, hoping the team can eventually solve the intriguing conundrum.
Meanwhile, Jon Adams, another deep sea explorer, and a professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton in England, was leading another team to conduct geophysical surveys of submerged ancient landscapes. It might not sound exciting, but don’t let the science-speak fool you…
Black Sea Map
Since 2015, this team scoured nearly 6,000 feet below the surface of the Black Sea, which no human had seen since the end of the Ice Age! Since humans can only travel to a recommended depth of 130 feet, Adams needed special equipment to reach the seafloor.
Black Sea MAP
The team’s off-shore vessel was equipped with the world’s best underwater technology and equipment. There were two Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to survey the ocean floor and send data back to the main vessel.
Black Sea MAP
One of the ROVs carried bright lights and high-definition cameras. Additionally, the ROV had a laser scanner and other equipment to record data which had gone undiscovered for centuries.
University of Southampton
The purpose of this mission was not only to map previously unexplored areas of the Black Sea, but scientists hoped to discover a world that long since forgotten. They hoped to gain insights on how the pre-historic communities lived.
Since 2015, Adams and his team spent three seasons mapping the Black Sea, covering over 800 miles of sea floor and collecting more than 330 feet of sediment core samples in various strategic locations.
Black Sea MAP
And they’d discovered over 60 shipwreck sites during their mission. Some of the sites dated back to the Byzantine, Roman, and Hellenistic periods. The oxygen depleted water made for an extraordinary possibility of preservation for the treasures they found.
Black Sea MAP
This third season proved to be their most successful season so far. In the last few weeks of exploration, they found 20 new shipwrecks from hundreds to thousands of feet below their vessel. Ships with masts still standing, rudders intact, and equipment still lying on the deck. Impressive!
These discoveries were exciting because they showed structural features, fittings, and equipment that only drawings and literature had described prior. Still, these were not the most exciting discoveries the team made…
Black Sea MAP
Off the coast of Bulgaria in late 2017, the team was scanning the sea floor when they noticed an anomaly: a 75-foot-long ship that was partially buried on its side more than a mile below the surface.
University of Southampton
The sunken ship was perfectly preserved so that its mast and rowing benches were still intact. Marine archaeologist Brendan Foley stated, “The usual critters that eat wood and other organics elsewhere… cannot live in these anoxic waters, so shipwrecks… are preserved as if they were in a… big pickle jar.”
Black Sea MAP
From the video footage and imagery, the vessel was thought to be an oar-and-sail-powered Greek vessel. The features on the ship looked similar to that of the Greek trading vessel that appeared on the famous “Siren Vase” located in the British Museum in London.
This famous vase depicts Odysseus tied to the mast of the ship as depicted in Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey.” The vase itself has been dated to about 480 B.C. Not much is known about its creator, so scientists were intrigued about whether there was a connection between the two.
Adams’ team collected a small piece of the ship using the ROV (so as not to disturb the specimen) for radiocarbon dating. When they got the test results back, the whole team realized how important this scientific discovery really was.
Black Sea MAP
Carbon dating revealed the vessel dated back to around 400 B.C. That meant that the ship had been lying undisturbed at the bottom on the Black Sea for more than 2,400 years — and everything about it was perfectly preserved!
Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal
Additionally, the vessel just discovered was the oldest intact shipwreck to ever be discovered! Adams stated, “A ship, surviving intact, from the Classical world, lying in over two kilometers of water, is something I would never have believed possible.”
Prior to this discovery, only fragments of ships had been found that pre-date the Greek vessel — the oldest being 3,000-years-old. But with this discovery, and its perfect preservation, the team was able to gain insight as to how far off the coast Greek trading ships would have traveled.
Black Sea MAP
The team concluded that the likely demise of the vessel was a result of an intense storm that brought water aboard. Archaeologists believed the ship probably had a crew of about 15 to 25 men who couldn’t bail water overboard quickly enough.
The technology available these days is remarkable. Foley stated, “The new systems reduce the costs of deep ocean survey and search, and increase the area that can be investigated in a given time. Now it’s becoming possible to map an entire basin (think: the whole Black Sea) and discover every shipwreck on the seafloor.”
Black Sea MAP
Adams and his team plan to leave the Greek vessel at the bottom of the ocean where it belongs. Bringing it to the surface would require them to take apart joints, which would ruin its preservation. They also planed to keep the coordinates of this discovery a secret.
Black Sea MAP
Adams said, “This will change our understanding of shipbuilding and seafaring in the ancient world.” They planned to share their discoveries with the world in the upcoming years, as most of their expeditions were followed by BAFTA-winning filmmakers.
But halfway across the world, another underwater discovery was also beginning to rock some boats. Beneath the calm waters of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, there is a massive secret, one that lay hidden for hundreds of years. But it didn’t stay that way forever.
Flickr / Christian Loader
It is the wreck of the Whydah, a massive ship built to hold 150 men and several hundred tons of cargo. It went missing off the coast of New England in 1717, and many assumed it was lost forever.
However, explorer Barry Clifford discovered the wreck of the Whydah in 1984, and he has been digging up artifacts from the site ever since. His exploits make him one of the greatest treasure hunters of all time.
Wicked Local Yarmouth
Barry has long been on the hunt for a treasure that will make him a legend. He once believed he found the remnants of the Santa Maria from Christopher Columbus’ original 1492 voyage, but tests later determined it was a different vessel.
The Whydah, however, was a monumental find. It was the flagship of one of history’s greatest pirates: Black Sam Bellamy. This captain was known as the ‘Robin Hood of the Sea,’ and for good reason.
For one thing, Bellamy only targeted wealthy merchants and tried to use as little violence as possible. His crew members received equal pay and respect, even those who were Native Americans or former slaves.
In fact, the Whydah was originally the property of slave traders until Bellamy seized it by force and freed the captives aboard.
Valparaiso University, Wikimedia Commons
Most famously, Bellamy pulled off the biggest heists in pirate history. Historians estimate that he plundered the modern equivalent of $120 million throughout his career.
These daring exploits made Bellamy one of the most talked-about pirates of his time. He rose above his criminal origins to become a bona fide folk hero.
Unfortunately, Bellamy didn’t have much time to enjoy his success. A massive storm sank the Whydah, claiming untold amounts of treasure and most of the crew, including Bellamy himself.
Centuries later, Clifford and his colleagues have unearthed countless relics and treasures from the wreck, and they established the Whydah Pirate Museum to share Bellamy’s story.
Even though Clifford’s team has been studying this site for decades, he still felt like they were only scratching the surface. Then, one diving mission in late 2016 changed everything.
The explorers located a large chunk of debris from the Whydah that had many artifacts trapped inside of it. They hauled it up to dry land for a closer look.
It presented a virtual treasure trove, with genuine coins and seafaring equipment jutting through the rough surface. But this motherlode contained one thing the scientists didn’t expect to find… human bones.
They came across a femur just a short distance away from what appeared to be Bellamy’s pistol. Could it be the remains of the late great Captain himself?
Wikimedia Commons / WellCome Images
Clifford knew they needed proof, so he recruited a team of forensic scientists. They extracted DNA from the bone and compared it to that of one of Bellamy’s descendants in the United Kingdom. At last, the results came in…
Flickr / vâniamoreira1
But it was not a match. This bone likely belonged to an anonymous crew member, but certainly not to Captain Bellamy. The elusive Black Sam slipped away from authorities once again.
The bad news sunk Clifford’s theory faster than the Whydah. Nevertheless, the bone gave researchers the chance to learn more about the typical sailor from that era.
Clifford can still take pride in his ongoing excavation of the Whydah. After all, no other famous pirate ship has been studied so closely. Nobody can question his accomplishments or contributions to history.
Besides, the mysteries of the Whydah are still out there in the briny deep, and Bellamy’s final resting place may even surface someday. All it will take is the right person to find it.