Every so often, a discovery happens that forces us to re-imagine what we think we know about humanity, and how we got to where we are today.
Turkey’s Göbekli Tepe is certainly one such discovery. The site, located at the top of a mountain ridge, is composed of more than 200 pillars, up to 20 feet in height and weighing up to 20 tonnes, arranged in roughly 20 circles.
Many of the pillars have predatory animals engraved on them. And none of this would be surprising if it was built in, say 2000 B.C., but Gobekli Tepe was built more than 13,000 years ago, predating Stonehenge by more than 8,000 years.
The Antikythera mechanism is an incredibly intricate analogue computer found in a shipwreck near Greece in the year 1900.
The device was used to determine the positions of celestial bodies using a mind-bogglingly complex series of bronze gears.
The device in and of itself would already be impressive, but the unbelievable part of the mechanism? It was created 100 years before the birth of Christ, and more than 1,000 years before anything even approaching its level of technological complexity and workmanship would be discovered again.
The device also came long before our modern understanding of astronomy and physics. The Antikythera mechanism was built over 1,600 years before Galileo was born, and over 1,700 years before Isaac Newton was born.
Thanks to all the successes of science (including a lot of things called “science” that are really just plain ol’ ingenuity and creativity), a lot of people labor under the impression that we’ve got pretty much everything figured out. We do have a lot of stuff figured out, but the world is way bigger than we like to think.