3 of the Most Puzzling Ancient Megaliths in the World

Megalithomania; a world of mega stones.

There are countless megaliths scattered across the globe.

The word megalith originates from two ancient Greek words: Megas meaning Great, and Litos, meaning Stone.

The word Megalith is used to make reference to structure that was made of supermassive stones, without the use of mortar or concrete.

Some of the earliest megaliths can be traced back to the early Neolithic age, although there are sites that date back to around 9,500 BC, to the Mesolithic period.

Somehow, thousands of years ago, different civilizations around the globe saw the necessity to build monuments made of stone. It was perhaps because they knew that stone was a material that would stand the test of time, and they wanted to erect something that would last through the ages.

Eventually, they created megaliths. And some of these structures are just beyond puzzling.

In this article, we will take you on a journey as we explore three of the most puzzling megaliths that have been discovered on Earth.

Megalithomania; A World of Mega Stones

Countless megalithic sites have been discovered around the world. A lot of interesting sites have been found across Turkey for example, where we find massive megalithic complexes some of which date back more than 12,000 years. That’s just about when the last Ice Age ended, and agriculture and animal husbandry were in their incipient phases.

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Two of the best examples are Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe. These two sites are home to what is now acknowledged as some of the most ancient megalithic structures known to man. In fact, they are so ancient that some authors have proposed that later European megaliths may have derived from them.

The stones at Gobekli Tepe are not only massive, but they are also intricately carved with a number of bas-reliefs etched onto them.

But megalithic sites are not limited to Turkey, although massive standing stones and dolmens have been found in numerous sites spreading across the Middle East near the Turkish border with Syria, close to war-ravaged Aleppo.

But megalithic sites can be found all over the place and archeologists have excavated sites in  Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The largest concentration can be found in southern Syria and along the Jordan Rift Valley. The after-mentioned sites are thought to date back to the Early Bronze Age.

But generally speaking, there are Megaliths in Europe, Africa, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, America. In other words, just as there are countless pyramids across the globe, there are countless megaliths that have been built as early as 12,000 years ago.

Costa Rica Spheres

Some of the most puzzling megaliths in the world are found in present-day Costa Rica. There, thousands of stone spheres adorn the beautiful Caribbean landscape.

More than just an ancient mystery, the thousands of spheres have been studied by experts for decades, but no one seems to have been able to fully explain or understand their purpose.

To date, more than 300 of these mysterious spheres have been discovered on the Diquís Delta and on Isla del Caño. Locally, they are known as Las Bolas (literally The Balls).

Believed to have been positioned strategically across Costa Rica, the spheres range in size from just a few centimeters to well over 2 meters. Some of the Costa Rica spheres weigh more than 20 tons.

Stone Spheres of the Diquís Delta in Costa Rica. Shutterstock.
Stone Spheres of the Diquís Delta in Costa Rica. Shutterstock.

Most of these spheres were sculpted in accident times from Gabbro, an equivalent to basalt, although archeologists have identified spheres crafted from shell-rich limestone, and another dozen made from sandstone.

Legends surrounding the spheres suggest the massive spheres are the remnants from the Atlantean civilization, while locals argue that in the distant past, the natives of the area possessed a kind of liquid that was able to soften stone.

Interestingly, it has been found that limestone can be dissolved by a certain acidic solution that can be obtained from plants. But not many of the spheres were made from limestone.

Studies have suggested that the spheres have incredible precision and are nearly perfect in roundness. However, as noted by experts, since the stone spheres are very old, they have eroded over time so it is nearly impossible to understand their original form or shape.

Many of these spheres were cracked open and destroyed during the Spanish conquest. It was though that the spheres safeguarded treasures, so many conquistadores eventually cracked them open, forever damaging a piece of history.

Some of the spheres are believed to date back to around 2,000 B.C.

The puzzling thing about them is that there are many similar spheres that have been found thousands of kilometers on different continents.

Gobekli Tepe (Göbekli Tepe) the oldest Temple on Earth?

Without a reason of a doubt, one of the most impressive, ancient temples ever discovered on Earth is located in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey some 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. Gobekli Tepe, or, “Potbelly Hill” is a site that dates back to around 12,000 years.

There, an ancient culture erected massive T-Shaped stone pillars in idiosyncratic circles.

The stones discovered at the site are so large that experts say they are some of the oldest and largest megaliths in history.

So far, more than 200 stone pillars have been excavated at Gobekli Tepe. These 200 pillars were placed inside of 20 circles. The pillars of Gobekli Tepe have an average height of six meters and measure more than ten tons.

The massive pillars at Göbekli Tepe. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
The massive pillars at Göbekli Tepe. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Fitted into sockets that were hew of the bedrock, the entire complex is a giant archeological enigma.

The site’s exact function is a mystery. The site was first discovered back in 1963 in a survey done by the University of Istanbul and the University of Chicago. The site didn’t receive much attention at the time since the massive stone slabs were mistaken from grave markers, which led experts to believe the site was overlain by a Byzantine cemetery.

It wasn’t until 1994 when  Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute decided to study and excavate the site, uncovering what would eventually become one of the stranges archeological sites on the surface of the planet.

A close-up image of one of the pillars at the site. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A close-up image of one of the pillars at the site. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Although there still remains much to excavate and study at Gobekli Tepe, researchers seem to agree that the site is a stone-age mountain sanctuary. Radiocarbon dating, as well as comparative, stylistical analysis, indicate that it is the oldest known temple yet discovered anywhere.

Malta: Ġgantija (Ggantija) and Mnajdra

Ġgantija or giantess, the name of the site speaks for itself.

Ġgantija is a megalithic temple complex and one of the most ancient megalithic temples in Malta. The Ġgantija temples are so old that they predate even the Pyramids of Egypt.

According to archeological excavations, some of the Ġgantija temples were built during the Early Neolithic, meaning they date back more than 5,500 years.

The ruins of the Ggantija temple. Shutterstock.
Shutterstock.

This means that these temples are the worlds second oldest existing megalithic temples, only after Gbekli Tepe in Turnkey.

The temples were built at the Xagħra plateau, erected thousands of years ago facing southeast.

The megalithic monument encompasses two temples and a third one that was left unfinished.

The builders created the third temple’s facade and then abandoned it for reasons unknown.

It still remains an enigma as to how the ancients managed to transport the stones from their quarries to the site, or even how they lifted the massive stones.

Megalithic stones at the Ggantija temple in Malta. Shutterstock.
Shutterstock.

It is beyond impressive to known that the temples were erected during a time that the wheel was not yet introduced to then, and there were no metal tools available to the Malese Islanders.

However, archeologists did recover small, spherical stones that may have been used as ball bearings for the vehicles that may have transported the supermassive stones to the temples.

Within the temples, archeologists have discovered figurines and statues associated with a fertility cult.

Mnajdra located some 500 meters from the Ħaġar Qimmegalithic complex was built around the fourth millennium BCE; together with Ggantija, these Megalithic Temples are among the most ancient religious sites on Earth, described by experts as “unique architectural masterpieces.” The prehistoric Mnajdra complex is made up of three distinct temples, conjoined, but not connected: the upper, middle, and lower.

According to archeologists, the upper temple is the oldest structure in the Mnajdra complex and dates to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BC).

Ancient Mnajdra temple complex in Malta. Shutterstock.
Shutterstock.

Researchers have found that the lowest Mnajdra temple is astronomically aligned and thus was probably used as an astronomical observation and/or calendrical site.

The exact purpose of the temples remains a profound enigma since there are no written records that describe the purpose of the monuments. However, archeologists believe they were used as places where anima sacrifices were made, after discovering remnants of flint knives and animal bones.

Other artifacts discovered from the temples indicate they may have been used for religious purposes related to promoting fertility.