#2. Nan Madol
This is Nan Madol, a thousand-year-old ruined city near the tiny island of Temwen.
Temwen is home to only a few people, all of whom are scared shitless by Nan Madol. They refuse to visit it. To them, the city is taboo, evil, cursed, and, like, really far from any quality restaurants. Just not a good vacation spot, all things considered.
"That was the worst B&B I've ever stayed at. I'm Yelping this place into oblivion as soon as we get cell service."
Of course, that doesn't stop archaeologists, who have to fulfill an annual curse quota or risk losing tenure. They've been searching the massive ruins for a while now, taunting its various angry ghosts and trying to discover its origins. And yep, you guessed it: They basically have no clue. We know very little about Nan Madol. It was likely the seat of the Saudeleur dynasty, but why they built this implausible place, and how, remains a mystery. We know that the 200-plus-acre city is comprised of roughly a hundred tiny man-made islands, consisting of about 800,000 tons of building materials. Some of the individual boulders weigh over 50 tons all by themselves.
All of this makes precisely zero sense. It's a bunch of miniscule islands surrounded by water in every direction -- what's with all the friggin' mammoth stones? Archaeologists believe they came from neighboring islands, but that doesn't explain how. They've tried to replicate a possible method of transport by floating the blocks over on wooden rafts, only to have the rafts promptly sink -- because, y'know, 50-ton stones.
Man, ancient LEGOs were harsh.
The petrified locals, of course, have their own theories: They believe the blocks were levitated there by dark magic that pervades the place to this day ... to which Science laughed, and continued sinking boulders in the ocean.
#1. Goseck Circle: The Murder Observatory
Way back in 1991, local surveyors were going through aerial photographs of a sleepy German town called Goseck when they spotted something strange. It appeared to be a gargantuan circular ridge underneath a field:
The German version of Signs is somehow even worse than the original.
And upon further inspection, it turns out that's exactly what it was.
Not exactly helpful information, we know.
It took German archaeologists 11 more years to conclude that the circle was the remains of an ancient observatory, roughly 250 feet in diameter, and with gateways pointed toward sunset, sunrise, and the north. Slightly more informative! Other than that, though? Not a goddamned thing. We have no clue who built this thing, or how (because "Steve" and "carefully" don't make the history books). The structure is at least 7,000 years old -- older than, well, pretty much anything else around, really. Our ancestors back then weren't even supposed to know how wheels worked, never mind how to build something so huge, elaborate, and purposeful. They were supposed to be a bunch of murderous savages bashing each other to pieces. And hey, would you look at that? They totally were!
This wasn't just an elaborate clock, after all -- archaeologists also found the remains of ritual fires and human bones with cut marks on them. This indicates that this circle was not just great for stargazing, but also for human sacrifice.
Ancient Germans did not kid around when it came to timeouts.
It makes sense: When you get bored gazing at the majestic stars, you can just do a 180 and take in a nice leisurely murder. So no, we don't know very much at all about the culture that built the circle; we do, however, know a bit about the people who revived it. In 2005, the Goseck people rebuilt the entire circle from scratch.
There's always room for more astrology-themed slaughter, apparently.
We're not saying that the Gosecks are still engaging in brutal and bloody death rituals in an attempt to raise some horrible and ruthless Space God; we just think it's a little weird that no Goseck tourism pamphlet denies it either.
N. Christie is currently traveling the world to determine once and for all what the Seven Wonders of the World really are.
Related Reading: You'd be surprised at the sort of thing people can keep secret- like the secret spire in the Chrysler Building. If impossibly impressive ancient creations are more your bag, check out the dam built in 750 B.C. that worked for more than 1,000 years. Ready for the exciting future of batshit crazy architecture? Click here.