The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

The World’s Greatest Unsolved Mysteries

Everyone loves a good mystery. Luckily for us history is chock-full of unsolved mysteries that are just waiting for a brilliant scholar to finally solve. If you’re up for it, see if maybe you can solve one of these: here are the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries.


24. Who Was Jack The Ripper?

This guy is probably the most notorious serial killer who ever terrorized London. Jack the Ripper was the name taken from a letter he sent to the local newspaper. Currently, there are over 100 different theories about who Jack was and why he horrifically dismembered five London prostitutes but to this day, even with modern police methods, no one knows for certain who the Ripper was.

23. Whatever Happened To Jimmy Hoffa?

Jimmy Hoffa disappeared from a parking lot in Detroit on July 30, 1975 and was never seen again. Known for his involvement in organized crime, Hoffa had allegedly been due to meet up with a couple Mafia leaders that night. Popular rumors stated he was shot and buried in Giants stadium, but that has since been debunked. Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, a hit man, claimed to have killed Hoffa and dumped his body in a scrap yard, but police doubt the validity of the confession. To this day, Hoffa’s body has never been found and the mystery of what happened is all that remains.

22. Where Is Cleopatra Buried?

After her death in 30 BC, Cleopatra was said to have been buried in a tomb with her lover Marc Anthony near a temple of Isis. The tomb itself reportedly was  a “lofty and beautiful” monument containing treasures made of gold, silver, emeralds, pearls, ebony, and ivory. However the location of Cleopatra’s final resting place remains a mystery to this day. In 2010, during excavations at a site near Alexandria, multiple tombs dating to the era when Cleopatra ruled Egypt were  discovered. Unfortunately, Cleopatra’s tomb was not among them and archaeologists have noted that even if Cleopatra’s tomb survived it likely was hit by tomb raiders. This would make it unidentifiable so this is likely a mystery that may never be solved.

22. Who Killed John F Kennedy And Why?

On November 22nd, 1963, President John F Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas, by Lee Harvey Oswald. On November 24th, before Oswald could stand trial, he was fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who would later die of lung cancer in January of 1967. While the official explanation is that Oswald killed JFK on his own and Jack Ruby shot Oswald to spare Kennedy’s widow the discomfort of Oswald going to trial, numerous theories have been brought forward that claim otherwise. From the Babushka lady, to the second sniper on the grassy knoll, to an assassination attempt by the KGB, Kennedy’s assassination is one of the largest unsolved mysteries in American history.

21. What Is In The Oak Island Money Pit?

For over 200 years, stories have circulated about a mysterious money pit located on Oak Island. Supposedly, the pit contains buried treasure left by the pirate Captain William Kidd. Numerous expeditions have traveled to the small island off the coast of Nova Scotia searching for the lost treasure. However, no bounty has ever been discovered. Legends claim it holds everything from the Holy Grail to two million dollars worth of pirate treasure. We know for certain the pit exists and something is down there, but given the pit’s propensity for flooding, we may never know what is actually going on inside.  

19. What Happened On The SS Ourang Medan?

One of the most mind-boggling mysteries in seafaring history began with an SOS message in 1947 from the SS Ourang Medan reading: “S.O.S. From Ourang Medan * * * we float. All officers including the Captain, dead in chartroom and on the bridge. Probably whole of crew dead * * * I die.” And then nothing more.  When the American vessel Silver Star located and boarded the undamaged ship in a rescue attempt it was found littered with corpses. One of the Silver Star sailors who boarded the ship described the scene: “they were sprawled on their backs, the frozen faces upturned to the sun with mouths gaping open and eyes staring, the dead bodies resembled horrible caricatures.” The rescue crew found no survivors and no visible signs of injury on the dead bodies. Shortly after boarding the ship, a fire broke out in the cargo hold and the rescue party was forced to evacuate. Soon after, the Ourang Medan exploded and sunk to the bottom of the sea. No one knows what happened aboard that ship, and we likely never will.

18. What Happened To The Ark Of The Covenant?

In 587 BC, a Babylonian Army led by King Nebuchadnezzar II conquered Jerusalem, sacking and destroying the first temple. The first temple contained the Ark of the Covenant, said to carry the tablets recording the Ten Commandments. The fate of the Ark is unclear as ancient sources claim the Ark may have been carried back to Babylon or hidden in Jerusalem before it was captured. Some even state the Ark was destroyed during the attack. Ever since the Ark’s disappearance, numerous stories have been told about its fate. The historical documentary “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” claims that the Ark of the Covenant was found in the Egyptian city of Tannis by the Nazis was eventually recovered by US forces, and that it is currently being stored in Area 51, so that’s what we are going with.

17. Were The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon Real?

Ancient writers describe a fantastic garden constructed in the ancient city of Babylon. Some writers were so impressed by the garden that they called it a wonder of the world. Around 250 BC, Philo of Byzantium wrote that the ’hanging gardens’ had “plants cultivated at a height above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth.” Archaeologists today who excavated the remains of Babylon have been unable to find the remains of a garden meeting this description. Some even question whether the Hanging Gardens ever actually existed. However, over the past two decades, Babylon and the nearby Assyrian city of Nineveh where the gardens may have also been, have suffered significant damage from war and looting and it’s unlikely that any remains of the garden would still exist.

16. What Happened To The City Of Atlantis?

Plato described Atlantis as a formidable Naval power that had conquered much of Europe and Africa in 9000 BC. After failing to invade Athens, it reportedly “sank into the ocean in a single day and night of misfortune.” Ever since Plato spoke about Atlantis, people have been trying to find it. While the actual existence of Atlantis is probably a myth, some scholars believe that the story of Atlantis was inspired by the fall of the Minoan civilization that had flourished on the island of Crete until the eruption of the volcano Thera. This destroyed much of their civilization and even sank some of the island into the sea. The Minoans were eventually forced to join the Mycenaeans on Mainland Greece but people still debate the tale of Atlantis and it’s unlikely that  it will ever be settled for good.

15. Where Is Shakespeare’s Head?

1616 Shakespeare was laid to rest in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. And while his headstone reads “blessed be the man that spares the stones and cursed be he that moves my bones”  Many experts believe Shakespeare’s head was stolen in the late 1700s. The theory states that grave robbers stole Shakespeare’s head as the ultimate Shakespearean trophy or perhaps to study the skull using the pseudoscience of phrenology, To determine Shakespeare’s personality and intelligence.

14. What Happened To The Crew Of The Mary Celeste?

Generally considered the greatest maritime mystery of all, on December 4th, 1872, the Mary Celeste was discovered floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. What makes this so mysterious is that its entire crew had vanished. The ship was not damaged, was not at risk of sinking, was stocked with food, and was otherwise perfectly normal. Theories of what happened to the crew range from pirates to sea monsters. Given the ship’s intact condition and full cargo a pirate attack is an unlikely explanation and sea monsters don’t exist. All that being said, the mystery remains why an experienced captain would order his crew to abandon a perfectly good ship. We may never know.

13. What Happened To Adolf Hitler’s Treasure?

During his time as dictator of Germany, Adolf Hitler amassed a huge amount of treasure, valued at over 4 billion dollars. Since his death, many have tried and failed to find this treasure. Every so often, small pieces of Hitler’s treasure are found in different countries, but no one is sure where the majority of the treasure is. Some historians believe that money was deposited into the banks of various countries or that it was hidden in an isolated area near Deutschneudorf, Germany. Another popular theory is that the treasure can be found at the bottom of Lake Toplitz, Austria. One thing is certain though, this massive valuable treasure is out there just waiting for someone to find it.

12. What Happened On Roanoke Island?

In August of 1590, the entire colony living on Roanoke Island North Carolina vanished. While it was not uncommon for an individual to go missing in the wilderness of North America, the fact that an entire colony of 115 people essentially vanished overnight is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history. Established in 1587 by John White, the Roanoke colony vanished while the founder was on route to England to bring back more supplies. While the voyage should have only taken a few months, White was prevented from returning for three years. When he finally did return, all he found was the word Croatoan etched into a tree. That’s it. No bodies, no guidebook, just the word Croatoan. Popular theories state the colonists at Roanoke became overwhelmed after realizing White wasn’t returning and went to live with the native tribes nearby but no one knows for certain.

11. What Caused The Tunguska Explosion?

In 1908, a blazing fireball fell from the sky and an area about half the size of Rhode Island was absolutely devastated in the wilderness of Tunguska, Siberia. The explosion has been estimated to equal more than 2,000 times the power of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima. For years, scientists have speculated that this was a meteor strike however there has never been evidence to prove that conclusion. Rumors range from a UFO crash to some sort of weird Tesla coil experiment.  To this day no one knows for sure what caused the explosion in Tunguska.

10. What Happened To Amelia Earhart?

In an attempt to be the first female aviator to circumnavigate the globe Amelia Earhart disappeared somewhere over the Central Pacific Ocean in 1937. Officially, she ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. However, there are many who speculate that she was captured by Japanese forces and lived out the rest of her days as a prisoner of war in Japan or even that she became a spy for the CIA.

9. Why And How Was Stonehenge Built?

Sometime between 3000 and 2000 BCE, a group of people built Stonehenge. That’s pretty much the extent of what we know about Stonehenge. No one knows why or even how Stonehenge was built. We certainly have theories, particularly on the how it was built, but with no definitive evidence it’s impossible to say and the mystery of Stonehenge lives on.

8. What Is The Taos Hum?

A low pitched sound, described as a diesel engine in the distance, has been heard numerous places around the world. Most famously in the small town of Taos, New Mexico, where in 1997 congress hired some researchers to try to identify the source of the hum. They came back empty-handed and the source remains a mystery.

7. Who Was The Tamam Shud Man?

In December 1948, on Somerton beach in Adelaide, Australia, a man was found dead. Normally this would not be weird enough to grant an entry on this list, however, the man could never be identified. Additionally, hidden in a secret pocket inside of his pants was a piece of paper with the words “Tamam Shud.” Some digging around revealed “Tamam Shud” translates as “ended” or “finished” and is a phrase used on the last page of a collection of poems called “The Rubaiyat” of Omar Khayyam. Additionally, the man had a copy of The Rubaiyat on him that contained a scribbled code in it. Theories range from an elaborate suicide, to the man being a spy that was murdered. The fact remains that to this day we don’t know who he was or how he died.

6. The Rongorongo

The Rongorongo are the mysterious glyphs discovered on Easter Island, believed to represent a lost system of writing. While the glyphs are undecipherable, some believe they could offer hints about the collapse of the Easter Island civilization and the origin of the Easter Island statues. Unfortunately, like those who built the statues, the truth may be lost forever… unless someone finds a way to decipher the glyphs.

5. What Was The “WOW!” Signal?

On August 5th, 1977, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) worker named Jerry Ehman detected a radio signal from the constellation Sagittarius. It was, and remains, unlike any natural phenomenon ever observed by cosmologists, with some claiming it had to have been a transmission from an alien civilization. This theory is supported by the sharp frequency of the signal at precisely 1420 megahertz, a  frequency right on the hydrogen line, which is a universal standard that is reserved for radio astronomy. Unfortunately nothing like the signal has ever been detected since.

4. Where Did The Voynich Manuscript Come From?

This mysterious book was written sometime in the 15th or possibly 16th century in Central Europe. One of the most beautiful books ever made, we have no idea what it actually says. As far as everyone can tell, the book has been painstakingly crafted but it’s text is so unlike any known language that it might just be total nonsense. To add even more mystery, it’s pages are filled with drawings of strange diagrams, plants that do not seem to match any known species, and astronomical charts. Some believe the Voynich manuscript Is a textbook for alchemists, while others claim it must be alien in origin.

3. What Caused The Dancing Plague Of 1518?

In July of 1518, Frau Troffea, of Strasbourg, suddenly took to the streets and began dancing. Soon others joined her, all dancing uncontrollably. Within a month, over 400 people were dancing in the streets, and many of them died from exhaustion or heart attacks. This became known as the dancing plague of 1518. While the plague died down by the mid 17th century, it’s still unknown whether this was a real illness or some sort of social phenomenon.  Currently, researchers chalk it up to some form of mass hysteria, but the true explanation of why so many people danced their way into their graves is a great mystery.

2. Who Was Kaspar Hauser?

On May 28th, 1828, a young man was found wandering the streets of Nuremberg with a letter addressed to a military captain, reading “The boy would now like to be a cavalryman as his father was” and invited the captain either to take him in or to hang him. Beyond that he knew that his name was Kaspar Hauser, and that was it.  Over time he began to tell people he had spent his entire childhood locked up in a dungeon with nothing but a straw bed to sleep on and two horses and a dog carved out of wood for toys. Hauser claimed he had never had contact with another human until he was 16 years old, and that the man he met then taught him how to write his name and how to say “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was,” though Hauser claims he had no idea what those words meant. On December 14th, 1833, Hauser was stabbed, his attacker leaving a cryptic note reading “Hauser will be able to tell you quite precisely how I look and from where I am. To save Hauser the effort, I want to tell you myself from where I come _ _ . I come from from _ _ _ the Bavarian border _ _ On the river _ _ _ _ _ I will even tell you the name: M. L. Ö.” Hauser then died of his wounds on December 17th, 1833. Who he actually was, and whether or not any of his story was true, remains a mystery to this day.

1. Whatever Happened To The Irish Crown Jewels?

Originally worn by The Grandmaster of the Order of St Patrick on special occasions, the Irish Crown Jewels were stolen from Dublin Castle in 1907.  What makes this all the more impressive is that the jewels were kept in a safe that had two locks. Behind a door that required seven different keys for entry. So, who was this master thief? No one really knows. The leading suspect was the Jewels’ custodian, Arthur Vicars. He was known to get drunk and parade around wearing the crown jewels (which just seems like something you shouldn’t do while on the job). Even Scotland Yard was never able to procure enough evidence to convict Arthur, and the jewels are still missing to this day.