We like to feel superior to the people who lived centuries ago, what with their shitty mud huts and curing colds by drilling a hole in their skulls. But we have to give them credit: They left behind some artifacts that have left the smartest of modern scientists scratching their heads.
For instance, you have the following enigmas that we believe were created for no other purpose than to fuck with future generations.
The Voynich manuscript is an ancient book that has thwarted all attempts at deciphering its contents. And it's not like some idiot just scribbled a bunch of nonsense on paper and went, "Figure THIS out, fuckwads." It is actually an organized book with a consistent script, discernible organization and detailed illustrations.
It appears to be a real language--just one that nobody has seen before. And it really does appear to mean something. But nobody knows what.
Translation: "...and when you get her to put the tennis racket in her mouth, have her stand in a fountain for a while. Then draw pictures of her."
There is not even a consensus on who wrote it, or even when it was written. And we sure as fuck don't know why.
Why Can't They Solve It?
Could you? Look at this shit:
Don't even try. Expert military code-breakers, cryptographers, mathematicians, linguists, people who get paid to find and decipher patterns, have all been left unable to decipher a single word.
As you can imagine, proposed solutions have been all over the board, from reasonable to completely clownshit. Some say it's an unbreakable code that requires a key to solve. Some say it's a hoax, and a damned fine one if we do say ourselves. Some say it's glossolalia, which is the fine art of speaking or writing something you don't understand but that is being channeled to you by God or aliens or whatever (note that the word was chosen specifically to make you sound retarded when saying it).
It's written in English, by a person who was extremely shitty at writing in English.
The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient, intricate machine found in a shipwreck near Greece that dates back to about 100 BC. The Antikythera mechanism contains gears and structures that were not found in devices again for 1000 years, and only then when the Muslims and Chinese were busy inventing shit while the Europeans were busy killing each other.
Why Can't They Solve It?
First, no one can agree on where the Antikythera mechanism was made or who designed it. Popular belief was that it was made by the Greeks due to its instructions all being in Greek (about a million of our tax dollars were probably spent arriving at that genius conclusion) but serious research published in serious places suggested the design came from Sicily.
And a billion parts with indecipherable instructions suggest it comes from Ikea. Ba-zing!
The mechanism, aside from placing you at serious risk for severing a finger, was supposedly used to figure out astronomical positions. The problem with that is that at the time this thing was made, no one had yet discovered laws of gravity or how heavenly bodies moved.
In other words, the Antikythera mechanism appears to have functions that no one alive at that time would have understood, and no single mechanical purpose of that era (such as navigating ships) explains the crazy number of functions and settings this machine has.
It's a scrap from a time machine that exploded the moment it arrived in the past.
In an area of China not known to ever contain people, let alone industry, there are three mysterious triangular openings on top of a mountain containing hundreds of ancient rusty iron pipes of unknown origin. Some of the pipes go deep into the mountain. Some of them go into a nearby salt water lake. There are more pipes in the lake, and more still running east-west along the lake shore. Some of the larger pipes are 40 cm in diameter, are of uniform size and are placed in what seems like purposeful patterns.
Hey, vagina caves.
So what's the big deal? Well, archaeologists have dated the pipes to a time when people were still trying to figure out how to cook meat without setting their back-hair on fire, let alone casting iron.
Why Can't They Solve It?
Oddly, the pipes are clean of debris despite being older than Zeus. This suggests that they were not simply shoved into the ground for the hell of it, but actually used for something. Oh, and did we mention the mountain is completely inhospitable to human life?
As usual, a faction of nutjobs believes the Baigong Pipes to be an ancient astronomy lab or even spacecraft launching site left by extraterrestrials. This is possible, since the pipes contain a proportion of silica close to what occurs on Mars. Of course, the manhole cover outside your house does also, so take that with a grain of salt.
Some say they are a hoax. We must politely remind those people that you can't wipe your ass in China without the government knowing, let alone set up a fucking iron forge and start burying pipes in the ground for the purpose of confusing passers-by.
Long ago, a group of frustrated fishermen with lots and lots of spare time spent their whole lives building a plumbing system to drain that nearby lake. Then they figured they'd just walk right down there with wheelbarrows, scoop up the fish and eat like kings.