Religion is an area that often attracts people with bad intentions. There are preachers who run away with the church's bankroll, cult leaders who molest their followers, and literally all of Scientology. But all those little ploys that modern faith healers and shady preachers use to fleece the masses have been around for thousands of years, and if anything, they've only gotten less inspired over time.
5Statues in Ancient Alexandria Moved on Their Own and Even Flew
When Greek Macedonian Ptolemy I, a former general of Alexander the Great, took over Egypt, he brought a new god called Sarapis with him. Ol' Ptol was dead set on convincing people Sarapis was something of a big deal, so he built a massive temple for him in Alexandria. A particular conversation piece in the Sarapeion temple was a small iron sun, which was not so much known for its blingness as it was for the fact that it floated in thin air. In an era where coughing without immediately dying was something of a miracle, hovering iron was basically proof that the divine exist, and they're metal as fuck.
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But the sun emblem was not alone, for the city of Alexandria was a place where statues did strange things regularly. Noted historian Pliny the Elder describes other statues that seemed to stand suspended in mid-air, and even statues of Mars and Venus that could move towards each other independent of outside influence. Priests used them during nuptial ceremonies, because nothing gets young couples hotter than haunted artwork.
Hey, all's fair in love and dong statues.
In what was perhaps the first instance of getting peanut butter all up in somebody's chocolate, the ancient Greeks harnessed feats of science to make their religion more impressive. All of the "magical" statues did their thing as advertised, all right. It's just that they were powered by engineers instead of angels.
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Ah, engineers. The angels of the labs.
That mystical, floating sun was actually made of iron, and briefly "flew" thanks to tactically placed great lodestones -- primitive, naturally occurring magnets -- in the ceiling. The Mars/Venus statue couple was powered by the same technology: Venus was sculpted from magnetic stone, and Mars was iron. And that's perhaps the greatest tragedy of all that those ancient priests missed such a golden opportunity for a "magnetic attraction" pun.
4The Oracle of Delphi Prophesied the Future Through Mysterious Means
The Oracle of Delphi was one of the most famous fortune tellers in the ancient world. A priestess of the god Apollo, her divination game was to other oracles what Kobe Bryant is to your drunken driveway pick-up games. Her advice was often obscure and somewhat hard to decipher: the Lydian king Croesus famously consulted the oracle about invading Persia, was told that a great enemy would be destroyed in the battle, and ended up getting his ass thoroughly kicked because, hey, the oracle never said whose great enemy would eat dirt.
The next day, he planned a picnic because the Oracle confirmed there would be weather.
The oracle was so popular that the position eventually had to be worked in shifts by three priestesses (two oracles, one backup) to cope with the sheer volume of people seeking audience.
Yes, a backup. They had surplus psychics.
"I had no idea we'd be this popular."
"... Wait a minute."
Literally anyone could be an oracle in Delphi. The legend of the oracle actually preceded the arrival of the cult of Apollo in the area and revolved around a strange chasm in the ground that caused anyone near it to enter a state of trance and "see the future." This is because the chasm spat out hallucinogenic vapors that caused everyone in its vicinity to trip their tits off.
The Delphi temple was built directly above underground springs that tectonic activity has mixed with ethylene, a gas that can produce a narcotic effect and a sense of euphoria. All they had to do was pop a squat over the ol' drug-hole and breathe. Though we're still not sure why their stoned ramblings were considered "holy prophecies of the future" and ours don't even gather a dozen hits on YouTube.