• Weird History

Historians Reveal History's Best Kept Secrets

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.

  • 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.

  • Photo: Chirag Gupta / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

    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. 

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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 only be extinguished with sand or vinegar. And for over a thousand years, no one has been able to replicate the 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.

  • Photo: Anonymous / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    From Redditor /u/Eurymedion

    [No one knows] the true identity of the Man in the Iron Mask.

    In the 1680s, King Louis XIV ruled France as an absolute monarch, even imprisoning a man for life who was locked in an iron mask to hide his identity. But who was the man in the iron mask, later made famous in a novel written by Alexandre Dumas?

    Could he be the Sun King's own child? Or the king's cousin, who plotted revolt against the monarch? Or, as Dumas and Voltaire theorized, the king's twin brother, locked away and hidden to protect the ruler's legitimacy?

    The mystery lingers, although one historian claims most serious researchers believe the prisoner was a lowly valet - but he and the others can't explain how the man earned such a punishment.