3Ancient Roman Statues in Mexico
Anyone with a third grade understanding of world geography (or access to Google Maps) knows that Rome and Latin America aren't neighbors (fiery tempers and flat bread recipes don't count as proximity in the map world). Even when Rome was at its apex and was conquering Africa, England and everyone's hearts, places like Mexico were nowhere on their radar. Not just because radar didn't exist, but because as far as the Old World was concerned, the Western Hemisphere didn't exist. Once you got past Portugal, it was nothing but Neptune, water dragons and the edge of the planet.
Standing somewhere high and noticing the curve of the Earth was just too much for the Romans.
Which was why scholars were baffled when an ancient statue of a Roman head popped up in an old temple in Mexico.
In 1933, an archaeologist was digging around a burial ground about 40 miles away from Mexico City when he discovered this tiny little figure among the other offerings. And we should mention that this wasn't just a typical out-in-the-open burial dumping ground. The spot he was digging was previously under not one, but two undisturbed cement floors that were untouched since the 1500s. So it's not like a jokester could have purchased it at the nearest Roman-centered novelty store and dumped it in a cemetery to be hilarious.
"I left an ancient Egyptian dildo in there for him to find, but wait until he realizes it's from the wrong dynasty!"
And yes, we're aware that Columbus touched ground a few years before that, but white guys didn't make it to Mexico until 1519, and even then, it's unlikely they would have been carrying around Roman artifacts. And yes, they know it was Roman -- the beehive bouffant (or hat) and facial features match Roman artifacts of the second century.
Romans clearly went through a difficult puberty before becoming masters of the world.
So how did it get there? No one knows. But another discovery might shed some light on the mystery.
In 1982, an underwater archaeologist discovered a buttload of third century Roman vases in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. A little more digging around led to the discovery of two rotting Roman-style ships, which were then promptly buried with sand by the Brazilian government. Apparently Brazil hates adventure, and also the idea of anyone messing with their version of history, which was that their land was discovered by the Portuguese, not the Romans. Seems like it'd be cooler to have been discovered by the Romans, but whatever.
"We don't want a bunch of unruly Italians covering everything in marinara sauce and pictures of the Pope."
2A Norse Coin in Maine
Imagine it's 1957 and you're on an archaeology dig in Maine. If it helps set the scene, picture yourself listening to Elvis Presley in a white tee with a cigarette pack in your sleeve while you dig around. The spot you're working on was once the largest Native American settlement in Maine, so you're looking for Native American-y stuff. Arrowheads and the like. But among all that is this coin that just doesn't fit. "That's because it's British!" said everyone at first, but the truth turned out to be much weirder. The coin was Norse (think descendents of Vikings), and a thousand years old at that.
It actually took 21 years for anyone to pay attention to the coin that looked like a half-eaten Oreo ...
Prenibbled for the best filling-to-cookie ratio.
... but when they did, the evidence was pretty conclusive. Not only was this an ancient coin minted during the reign of Norse King Olaf Kyrre, but the window of its production was pretty limited: 1065 to 1080. That's 15 years, for those of you too lazy to bother with rudimentary math. This coin must have been made within those 15 years, and in Norway. And it was found in Maine, USA, 5 inches beneath the surface of the earth, among 30,000 genuinely Native American artifacts found during the dig.
"Dammit, Thor, I told you not to flip that coin. Now we have no change for the parking meter."
One lone Scandinavian coin among tens of thousands of American Indian relics. So how did it get there? There was zero evidence of the Vikings ever settling past the very top of Eastern Canada, and even that wasn't so much of a "settlement" as it was a "temporary campground, maybe." And that was hundreds and hundreds of miles away. So the story was probably amazing, and also one that we'll never, ever know.