PRE-COLOMBIAN PLANE: The delta-winged object at right, crafted of gold, was found in Central America and has been dated to A.D. 50o to 800. Some scientists call the tiny piece a zoomorph, saying it is designed to represent an animal, but it bears an obvious resem-blance to a 2oth century airplane; it even seems to include a pilot’s seat. Such an aircraft would have made an ideal vehicle from which to view the famed Nazca lines formed on the high desert plains of Peru.
VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT: Paging The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown! This mysterious, incomplete book consists of 240 vellum pages filled with illustrations of herbs, plants and the zodiac. Written in a strange script that has defied deciphering by the world’s top cryptologists, it has been called the Holy Grail of code-breakers. Believed to date from the 15th or early 16th century, it was bought by incunabulist Wilfrid Voynich in 1912; it is now owned by the Yale University Library.
PIRI REIS MAP: Made in 1513 Piri Reis, a Turkish cartographer mariner, this map drawn on gazelle skin, was discovered in 1929 in Istanbul. It seems to show part of the coastline of Antarctica, years before that polar continent was first discovered and mapped.
FRENCH TOKEN: How did the circular flying object at left, which might be a refugee from a loth century account of a “flying saucer,” end up on a token minted in France in 168o? Among other past references to UFOs are a 1561 event in Nuremberg, Germany, when many residents reported seeing disks and spheres in the sky; citizens of Basel, Switzerland, saw similar flying machines over their city five years later.
KENSINGTON RUNESTONE: The slab of sandstone at left is at the heart of a long-running dispute. Discovered by Swedish-American farmer Olof Ohman in 1898 while he was plowing in Kensington, Minn., the stone is covered with runes recounting a visit to the area by 14th century Scandinavian explorers. Generations of linguists cast doubt on the accuracy of the runes, but in more recent years some scholars have argued that the writing is authentic. The stone remains one of history’s most intriguing mysteries.
VINLAND MAP: Discovered in 1957 and believed to date from the 15h century, this map of the world shows a land mass titled Vinland, corresponding to today’s Greenland. This map claims Vinland was found in the nth century by Vikings from Scandinavia. Some scholars say the map, now owned by Yale University, Is a hoax; the issue is unresolved.