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Weird History

Historians Reveal History's Best Kept Secrets

List Rules
Vote up the best-kept secrets from history.

Though people pretend it's written in stone, history features tons of famous mysteries - many of which remain unsolved. From the location of Genghis Khan's tomb to the instructions for making a Byzantine weapon that inspired Game of Thrones, this list collects the best-kept secrets in history. Some secrets remained hidden for centuries until an accident uncovered them, such as a solid gold Buddha hidden in plain sight. Surprisingly enough, that's not the only million-dollar secret on this list. Other top-secret information, from the Manhattan Project to Britain's World War II intelligence operations, eventually came out after the war, stunning the public. 

From the many unsolved ancient mysteries that still baffle people to all those shady government cover-ups, historians have shared history's most explosive secrets on Reddit. And more than one of these secrets even changed the course of the world. Some of the unanswered questions in history still make headlines today, including the identity of the man in the iron mask or what certain mysterious Egyptian hieroglyphics mean.

When you dive into history's best-kept secrets and biggest questions, don't expect many answers.

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  • A Solid Gold Buddha Once Hid In Plain Sight
    Photo: Chirag Gupta / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
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    1,373 VOTES

    A Solid Gold Buddha Once Hid In Plain Sight

    From Redditor /u/Brackto

    The "Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon," a nine-foot tall stucco Buddha statue, was actually solid gold underneath.

    For over 600 years, a 9-foot-tall stucco Buddha statue sat in Bangkok, Thailand. Known as the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon, it was so heavy that it sat outside for years, with a simple tin roof covering the statue. Then, in 1955, the statue was accidentally dropped while being moved to a new location. Pieces of the stucco broke off, and the shocked onlookers realized the entire Buddha was solid gold.

    Worth an estimated $250 million, the statue may have been covered with stucco to protect it from Burmese invaders back in the 1700s. The ploy worked in that case, as no one noticed for centuries. 

  • No One Knows How To Make This Byzantine Secret Weapon
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    711 VOTES

    No One Knows How To Make This Byzantine Secret Weapon

    From Redditor /u/quiaudetvincet

    Greek Fire... was essentially gasoline for flamethrowers that was used by the Byzantine Empire from around year 670 to their final fall in 1453. The fire was also not only able to still burn on water, but seemed to be fueled by water, with the flames spreading even more as people tried to put it out. So the Byzantines strapped these flamethrowers to their vessels to simply burn enemy ships before they even got close.

    But the ingredients for this flammable jelly were such a closely guarded secret by the empire that no one knows just what the stuff was made of, and any efforts to recreate it haven't been successful so far.

    Greek fire, sea fire, liquid fire: the Byzantines invented a weapon so perilous that it could supposedly only be extinguished with sand, vinegar, and old urine - some say a mixture of all three. And for over a thousand years, no one has been able to replicate the fire's secret recipe.

    The Byzantines deployed the weapon using a pump to douse enemy ships, or they sealed it up inside clay pots to throw like grenades. The concoction even inspired a fictional version of the weapon: wildfire in Game of Thrones.

  • British Intelligence Invented A Fake Man To Trick The Nazis
    Photo: Ewen Montagu Team / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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    697 VOTES

    British Intelligence Invented A Fake Man To Trick The Nazis

    From Redditor /u/Slide_Jeremy

    [During] Operation Mincemeat, the British SOE created a fake ID for the corpse of a homeless man cleaned up to look like a naval officer and attached a briefcase full of fake plans for an invasion of Greece to his wrist before having the body wash up on shore in [Spain]. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the German Abwehr (military intelligence), had been feeding Britain intelligence information since 1939 and made sure that the plans were taken seriously by the German military command. The Western Allies next move would be the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) instead on 9 July 1943.

    The British boasted a number of intelligence advantages during World War II, including cracking the Enigma Code. They also managed to keep many secrets during the war, including the ambitious Operation Mincemeat, which involved Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.

    During that operation, the British government disguised the cadaver of a homeless man as a naval officer, allowing his body to wash ashore in Spain for the Germans to find. Along with a briefcase of documents showing a planned invasion of Greece by the British, the decoy managed to throw off Axis powers about Allied invasion plans.

    By distracting the Germans with plans showing an invasion in Greece, the British managed to invade Sicily successfully.

  • No One Has Located Genghis Khan's Tomb
    Photo: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    From Redditor /u/GoGoButters

    The location where Genghis Khan was buried [is unknown]. Legend has it that his funeral escort killed anyone they passed in order to conceal the burial site. There are speculations on the where Genghis Khan was buried, but no one has found it.

    Conqueror Genghis Khan died over 800 years ago, and despite many searches, no one has located his tomb. And the Mongol ruler wanted it that way: he asked for a secret burial, even ordering his army to hide the location by killing anyone they passed during his funeral procession.

    According to legend, his soldiers rode 1,000 horses over the grave to make sure no one would discover it. And while most agree his tomb resides in Mongolia, that still leaves a space roughly seven times the size of Great Britain to search. 

    Among Mongolians today, there exists little interest in uncovering the tomb. Many people consider searching for Khan's grave a sign of disrespect - he never wanted to be found, and they wish to honor the conquerer's final request.