10 Bizarre Historical Facts About Ancient Civilizations You Never Learned in School

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History is a vast tapestry woven with the threads of time, and while we often learn about the major events and prominent figures in school, there are countless bizarre and intriguing facets of ancient civilizations that remain hidden in the shadows. From peculiar customs to astonishing achievements, let’s delve into 10 lesser-known historical facts that will spark your curiosity about ancient civilizations.

The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript

In the early 20th century, a rare manuscript known as the Voynich Manuscript was discovered, dating back to the 15th century. What makes this text truly bizarre is that its contents, written in an unknown script and adorned with intricate illustrations of unidentified plants and celestial bodies, have baffled historians and cryptographers for centuries. The manuscript’s origin, purpose, and the meaning of its cryptic language remain unsolved mysteries.

Ancient Brain Surgery in Peru

Archaeological evidence suggests that ancient civilizations engaged in advanced medical practices. In Peru, specifically at the site of the ancient city of Caral-Supe, researchers have uncovered trepanned skulls dating back over 4000 years. Trepanation, a surgical procedure involving the removal of part of the skull, was performed for various reasons, including treating head injuries or addressing spiritual beliefs. The precision and success rate of these ancient surgeries are astonishing, challenging modern perceptions of ancient medical knowledge learn more.

The Antikythera Mechanism

Considered one of the greatest archaeological mysteries, the Antikythera Mechanism was discovered in the wreckage of an ancient Greek ship in 1901. This intricate device, dating back to the 2nd century BCE, is often referred to as the world’s first analog computer. Its purpose was to calculate astronomical positions and eclipses, showcasing an unparalleled level of technological sophistication for its time.

The Sogdian Merchants of the Silk Road

While we often focus on major ancient trade routes like the Silk Road, the contributions of the Sogdian merchants, who played a crucial role in bridging East and West, are frequently overlooked. These skilled traders from Central Asia served as intermediaries, facilitating the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures between the Chinese and Roman Empires. Their extensive networks and cultural adaptability made them key players in ancient global commerce.

The Oldest Known Winery in Armenia

Wine has a long and rich history, and the oldest known winery was discovered in the Armenian village of Areni. Dating back to around 4100 BCE, the site revealed a complex wine production facility, complete with fermentation vessels, a grape press, and storage jars. This finding challenges the notion that wine-making originated solely in the Mediterranean, highlighting the sophistication of ancient Armenian viticulture here.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

While the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are often included in the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, their existence remains a subject of debate among historians. Unlike other wonders, there is limited archaeological evidence supporting the existence of these lush gardens, said to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in the 6th century BCE. Some scholars argue that the gardens might have been a product of poetic imagination rather than a physical reality.

The Nazca Lines of Peru

Etched into the arid landscape of southern Peru are the enigmatic Nazca Lines, enormous geoglyphs created by the Nazca people over 1500 years ago. These massive drawings, depicting animals, plants, and geometric shapes, can only be fully appreciated from the air. The purpose behind their creation remains a mystery, with theories ranging from astronomical alignments to religious rituals.

Ancient Chinese Seismoscope

In 132 CE, during the Han Dynasty in China, a brilliant inventor named Zhang Heng created the world’s first seismoscope. This remarkable device could detect and determine the direction of an earthquake, even from a considerable distance. Zhang Heng’s invention showcased the ancient Chinese understanding of seismology, a field that wouldn’t be fully developed in the Western world for many centuries.

The Mysterious Indus Valley Script

The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the oldest urban cultures in the world, left behind a script that has yet to be deciphered. Despite numerous attempts by linguists and archaeologists, the written language of the Indus people, found on seals and artifacts, remains a puzzle. The lack of a bilingual text and the script’s elusive nature continue to confound researchers, leaving the secrets of the ancient civilization locked away in its inscrutable symbols.

The Library of Ashurbanipal

In the 7th century BCE, King Ashurbanipal of Assyria amassed an extraordinary collection of cuneiform tablets in his royal library. Housed in the city of Nineveh, the Library of Ashurbanipal contained a vast array of texts covering subjects such as astronomy, medicine, literature, and law. This ancient repository of knowledge provides valuable insights into the intellectual pursuits and cultural achievements of the Assyrian Empire, showcasing the importance of libraries in preserving the wisdom of the past.


These 10 bizarre historical facts about ancient civilizations offer a glimpse into the complexity, ingenuity, and mystery of human history. As we continue to unravel the secrets of the past, these lesser-known aspects challenge our understanding of ancient cultures and civilizations, inviting us to explore the countless untold stories that lie beneath the surface of the historical narrative taught in schools.