All across North America mysterious sites and inexplicable artifacts can be found. Cultural diffusionist historians believe most of these locations and artifacts are the result of several different cultures visiting the continent over many centuries. Who the builders of most of these sites might have been remain hotly debated. The artifacts and monuments are called out of place artifacts (OOPAs). The following is the top ten list of the most mysterious sites in North America:
10. Peterborough Petroglyphs: One long white crystalline marble outcropping in Petroglyphs Provincial Park features a full array of Algonquin petroglyphs, along with others that seem oddly misplaced for southern Ontario. The out of place markings are remarkably similar to ancient native art found in Scandinavia while several others are reminiscent of prehistoric images from the American Southwest. The more than 800 Peterborough Petroglyphs represent one of the best-preserved and stylistically diverse rock art sites in North America. To many successive cultures, it was a billboard to advertise an event, praise a deity, or teach mythology.
9. Bighorn Medicine Wheel: On a shoulder of Medicine Mountain is the most famous medicine wheel in North America. Described as a sort of Rocky Mountain Stonehenge, Bighorn Medicine Wheel was famous with local native tribes as a location for sunrise and sunset rituals, as well as for other celestial observations. This medicine wheel consists of many hundred half-sunken stones resembling the shape of a wagon wheel. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel near the summit of Medicine Mountain marks the sunrise and sunset of summer solstice, and indicates the rising of prominent summer stars. Its astrological alignments represent a profound understanding of seasonal and celestial navigation.
8. Runestones near Heavener, OK: Located in several remote wooded areas near the Arkansas River were found at least five finely cut texts, written in an old runic language reminiscent of the Middle Age Norse alphabet. The inscriptions were located near the small towns of Heavener and Poteau, and another in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The Heavener Runestone is a giant rock slab inscribed with Old Norse writing, possibly indicating a boundary marker called “Glome Valley.”
7. Newark Earthworks: The enormous Hopewellian earthen enclosures scattered around the town of Newark, OH are among the most compelling and mysterious architectural remains of ancient America. The Newark Earthworks were the single largest complex of joined geometric earthen enclosures ever built. Because of their immense size, the site has come to be known as the “greatest outdoor church in the world.”
6. Blythe Intaglios: The Blythe Intaglios are located alongside one of the most famous waterways in North America just before it enters Mexico and empties into the Sea of Cortez. Along both sides of the Colorado River are numerous enigmatic geoglyphs, or “earth carvings.” These intaglios feature images of gigantic humans, animals and geometric figures, created by scraping away darker surface debris to expose the lighter colored soil underneath. Similar to the Nazca lines in Peru, the massive Blythe Intaglios are best viewed from the air.
5. Temple Mounds of the South: Along the many tributaries of the Mississippi River are the remnants of a once grand Indian culture that constructed large platform and conical-shaped mounds. The culture has been termed “Mississippian” because of the many mound cities that were located near the extensive waterway. The original name of what these people might have called themselves has been lost to history. The temple mounds of the Mississippian Culture were directly influenced by the advanced societies of pre-contact Mexico. Artifacts recovered at Poverty Point closely resemble artifacts found at early Olmec sites. Temple mounds of the South had sometimes been used successively by overlapping cultures at different times. Some sites have a history of continuous usage for over 2,000 years.
4. Kensington Runestone: In the fall of 1898, near the small town of Kensington, MN a Swedish immigrant farmer named Olof Ohman and his son Edward struggled to get a particularly stubborn tree out of the ground as they were clearing a field to plow. What they found was a large stone carved on two sites with mysterious writings. The lengthy runic inscription on a dated stone without detection of forgery, and the mixed alphabets on the Kensington Runestone firmly establish its authenticity. It also confirms several centuries of Viking exploration on the North American continent.
3. Newport Tower: Located in a small park above the harbor on Aquidneck Island is a weathered stone tower uniformly regarded as the oldest structure in Newport. The antiquity of the tower is where the unanimous opinions abruptly end. Newport Tower is the most hotly disputed structure in New England. Some believe it’s a poorly designed English windmill, others the Bishop’s seat for an early Catholic settlement. The latter theory would make it the oldest Christian building in North America.
2. Waubansee Stone: Tucked away in a Chicago, IL museum, the Waubansee Stone is a huge glacial erratic granite boulder with a larger-than-life head sculpted upon its upper surface. The expertly fashioned relief carving shows the face of a man with a chin beard, depicted with his mouth open and eyes closed. The diffusionist theory of the Waubansee Stone describes it as a sacrificial altar for ancient Celtic and Phoenician traders in the millennium before Christ.
1. Prehistoric stone buildings of New England: Upon settling on their new farms in New England, colonial homesteaders were surprised to discover curious one story stone buildings embedded into hillsides or completely underground. Scattered across a half dozen states are hundreds of remarkable stone chambers made of dry masonry. Some of these structures are freestanding or sunken into the earth, whereas others are accessed by passageways driven into the hillside. The most elaborate are described as “beehive” chambers, indicative of the conical shape of their ceilings. The mysterious stone structures of New England remain as evidence for a long-suspected pre-Columbian association with the Old World of Europe.
Reprinted with permission from Sacred Places North America: 108 Destinations by Brad Olsen. (c) 2013.