The Strangest Things Ever Dug Up In The Desert

By Emily 6 months ago

1. An Alien Claw

Image source / Yahoo News

If like me you love a conspiracy theory then this is one for you… A group of self-proclaimed paranormal investigators in Peru called ‘The Institute Inkari-Cusco’ claimed to discover an alien claw when searching South American tunnels in 2016. An x-ray was conducted on the mummified claw hand, showing it to be 33cm long and complete with 3 fingers and metal implants!

2. Ata - The 6 Inch Alien

Image source / National Geographic

In 2003 there was a shocking discovery in the Chilean desert… an alien-like creature was found. Rumors circulated around what the figure was - some said it was proof of alien life, others argued it was a mummified monkey and some even said it was an aborted foetus. 10 years later, a documentary film about the ‘alien’ named Ata confirmed that it was indeed a disfigured human who had lived until it was around 7 years old.

3. Creepy Desert Woman

Image source / Reddit

One night a man was driving through a desert highway when he spotted something pretty freaky… A figure that looked very much like a human female, hundred over in white with long, black hair. Concerned for her wellbeing, the man flashed his lights to see if she needed help. This was when things changed.. The figure hunched towards the man and began moving slowly towards him before limping faster in his direction. The terrified driver who remains anonymous sped off but not before he managed to get a photo of the desert woman.

4. Ancient Shipwreck in the Namibian Desert

Image source / CNN

In 2016 diamond miners were working in this African desert when they made a shocking discovery - the remains of the ‘Bom Jesus’ ship, one of the oldest wreckages to have been discovered there, complete with $13,000,000 worth of gold coins! The Bom Jesus set sail from Portugal over 500 years ago, loaded up with treasures: gold, ivory and hundreds of copper ingots. These bars of copper are thought to have helped preserve the ship and its contents as sea life steer clear of copper.

5. Retro Games Cartridges

Image source / Youtube

1983 was a bad year for game manufacturers including Atari who had to close their Texas factory, leaving hundreds of unsold games cartridges. What happened to these? Well, it was rumored that they were buried deep beneath the ground in New Mexico. These rumors were proven true when in 2014 a curious film crew began digging. They located the games, some of which sold for over $100,000!

6. Buried Egyptian Film Set

Image source / Entertainment Weekly

Ok so this one isn’t all as it seems….  In 1923 a film about Ancient Egypt was shot in the Californian desert. In a time before CGI and green screen props were all made by hand and this film, called The Ten Commandments, was no exception. A 35-foot-tall statues of Rameses II, sphinxes weighing 5 tons and a 800-foot long temple were all made for this epic movie. When filming was up, the director was determined to hide his incredible props so that they would not be reused in budget movies. So they remained under the sand for 60 years until a project was launched to excavate the set.

7. The Desert Phone Booth

Image source / MindBounce

The Mojave Desert in Nevada was a mining location back in the 40s and 50s. Despite its remote location, the workers still needed a means to contact the ‘outside world’. So what better way to communicate than install a phone booth! The mine has long since closed but the phone booth remained and became somewhat of an internet sensation with people calling the phone desperate for an answer and others even camping out nearby in the hope of receiving a call. It was removed in 2000.

8. A 4000 Year Old Beauty…

Image source / Wikimedia Commons

Over 100 years ago, in 1900, a Swedish explorer by the name Sven Hedin discovered an ancient city called Loulan buried under the sands of the Taklamakan Desert in China. 80 years later, interest in the site remained strong and a mummy was dug up! Despite being over 4000 years old she was so well preserved and was nicknamed ‘The Beauty of Loulan’ as a result.

9. Buried Cadillacs

Image source / Wikimedia Commons

I’m starting to realize that people seem to like to make artworks in the desert. I guess it’s a cool backdrop.. Anyway in the dusty Texan desert there is a piece of ‘art’ - 10 half-buried, graffiti-covered Cadillacs are lined up. The cars are nose down and lined up and look pretty impressive. They are the product of a San Francisco art collective called The Ant Farm.

10. Whale Graveyard

Image source / The Independent

In 2010 work was underway in Chile to build new highways. This meant construction on some arid deserts, untouched for many years. Amazingly, as work began, the remains of 75 whales were discovered! It is believed that the whales became stranded on an estuary after ingesting toxic algae rendering them unable to swim. How sad!

11. Coober Pedy, Australia. A City Underground

Image source / Business Insider

We’ve heard of plenty of exciting stories of ancient cities being dug up beneath the sand. However this underground city is inhabited and thriving. When Coober Pedy in Australia became a mining town back in 1915 people flocked there to dig up riches. The heat was an issue though, reaching 113 degrees in the shade! So, they did what any miner would do - built underground homes! Today, about half of the population still live in the subterranean network which includes homes, restaurants, bars and a hotel. How cool is that!?

12. Top Secret Iraqi War Planes

Image source /

Remember the seemingly never ending search for ‘weapons of mass destruction’? This search by US soldiers in Iraq went on for years with very little actually found. Apart from one major discovery… 30 brand-new Iraqi fighter jets were discovered buried in the sand. It must have been pretty tricky to conceal 30 planes but then countries do behave very strangely when in war.

13. Abandoned Diamond Town

Image source / BBC

Picture the scene.. you’re working hard in the Namibian Desert when suddenly you spot something… a pile of diamonds just sitting atop of the sand! That’s exactly what happened in 1908 and soon after the news leaked hundreds of Germans (random!) relocated to the African Desert with hopes of finding their own fortune. A whole town emerged of German immigrants hoping to make it rich. The town is now abandoned and looks pretty eerie.

14. A Metal Treasure Map

Image source / Youtube

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found between 1946 and 1956 and comprise of nearly 1000 texts, magically preserved beneath the sand. The Copper Scroll is one of the most famous as it is a real life treasure map (!) The map gives specific instructions to 64 locations where gold and silver is buried. No treasure has yet to be found but many remain convinced it’s out there somewhere!

15. Ancient Cannabis!

Image source / Archaeology Wiki

When a 2700 year old tomb was being excavated in China back in 2007, archaeologists were surprised to find the preserved body of a blue-eyed shaman and his cannabis! Unbelievably, the stash was still visibly green despite being buried for nearly 3000 years. It was typical to be buried alongside your possessions and in addition to his weed, the sham had archery equipment and even a makeup bag!

16. Dog Graveyard

Image source / Archaeology Wiki

When searching the Saqqara desert of Egypt, archaeologists located a catacomb (an underground cemetery) containing 8 - wait for it - million dogs! Apparently, these poor creatures would have been given as offerings to the gods. Dogs have represented death for millenia, you may have heard of the jackal-headed god of death, Anubis.

17. A Hand in the Sand

Image source /

In the Chilean desert there is a strange looking sculpture… a giant hand rises an impressive 36 feet out of the sand. The art work is by sculptor Mario Mario Irarrázabal and it’s said to represent the vast emptiness of the desert and human vulnerability. Interesting! Sadly, the sculpture is often vandalized but an annual clean up sees the hand resorted to its beautiful origins in no time.

18. WW2 Plane in the Sahara

Image source / The Mirror

Found around 200 miles from any inhabitable land, this plane was discovered by chance by an oil company worker. Since its discovery a horrifying truth has emerged - the remains of the 24 year old pilot named Dennis Copping were nowhere to be seen leading scientist to assume that he survived the crash and attempted to walk out of the desert. With a broken radio and no food or water supplies, it’s a terrifying thought to imagine what Dennis went through in his final days.

19. ‘Desert Breath’

Image source / Colossal

Google Map fantastic were sent into a spin when they discovered a rather strange looking arrangement in the sands of Egypt. A beautiful galaxy like pattern can be spotted in the sand and got people guessing as to what it was and how it got there. Turns out it’s an art installation called Desert Breath and its been there since 1997 but until Google Earth, few people knew of it. Apparently it took two years complete, with more than 8,000 cubic metres of sand spread across 100,000-square-metres of desert, woah!

20. Fairy Circles

Image source / The Guardian

In Nabia a strange phenomena occurs in the desert that has baffled scientists for years. A pattern of evenly spaced, concentric circles are very odd indeed. From wind storms to aliens, the theories are plentiful but only two are said to be actually possible. The first states that these ‘fairy circles’ are formed by termites clearing out the ground to make pockets of water. The second idea is that it’s plants, fighting for water sources in the barren land. Neither theory can be proven though as there’s no substantial evidence for either…. Weird!

21. Prada In the Desert

Image source / Prada Group

In 2005, high-end fashion store Prada opened a new shop in a rather unusual location - the middle of the Texan desert. Complete with actual Prada merchandise, this remote store had people asking questions. You may think it was a clever publicity stunt by the brand. In fact, it was the work of Berlin artists  Elmgreen and Dragset. The fake store was built from biodegradable materials which eroded representing the short lifespan of fashion.

22. The Gobi Grid

Image source / Pinterest

Another one for the Google Earth fans amongst us. In 2011, eagle-eyed browsers spotted a strange collection of white shapes that appeared to be carved into the Gobi Desert. The bizarre patterns included concentric circles and blocks of silver squares. People speculated that they were weapon targets, eek. Turns out they are actually satellite calibration targets - patterns used to ensure satellites used for things like satnavs stay accurate. Pretty cool.

23. A Lake In The Middle Of Nowhere

Image source / MyBestPlace

In 2014, rural Tunisian shepherds got quite a shock - appearing overnight was a pool of water. Well, more than a pool - a huge lake! This mysterious water source covered an area a hectare in size and at its deepest, measured 18m down. The new lake was named Lac de Gafsa and became quite the hot-spot for locals keen to see this bizarre new feature on their landscape.

24. The Abandoned Domes Of Casa Grande

Image source / Youtube

In the 70s and 80s, these circular structures were built as locations for computer manufacture however they were never completed. It does seem a rather odd place to build them. These never-quite-finished facilities weren’t removed and as such have been left to erode causing them to be an attraction for local trespassers. Rumor has it they have been used as a site for satanic worship. No thank you!

25. Mystery Missiles

Image source / Titan Missile Museum

The Titan Missile Museum is located in the Arizona desert. It was once a highly secret place but is now open to the public who can book into tours of the control room and take part in a missile launch exercise. Most excitingly, you can go 200ft underground and see the Titan II missile up close. As the only missile of its size that still remains, it’a a pretty impressive sight to behold.

26. A City Beneath The Sand

Image source / Discover Magazine

With the advancement of satellite technology came incredible discoveries such as this one… hidden in the Libyan sand, aerial photos revealed a long-lost ancient city known as “Garamantes”. These people lived hundreds of years ago - before the Romans even! Living in such hot climates, they built networks of tunnels and mines to get water from deep below the sand.

27. Mystery Arrows

Image source / HowStuffWorks

Another for our Google Earth enthusiasts… In the 20s and 30s, the US Air Traffic Control Association built a series of ginormous concrete arrows and installed them across the Arizona desert. Any idea what these were used for in a pre-GPS world? You guessed it - navigation. Pilots would follow the arrows to stay on course. It’s pretty incredible to think how much has changed in the last 100 years.

28. Flintstones Amusement Park

Image source / Wikipedia

Yabba Dabba Doo! Bedrock City was opened in Arizona in 1972. Inspired by the famous TV show The Flintstones, the park had ‘prehistoric homes’ and other fun features from the iconic show such as large statues of the characters. Despite its authentic backdrop, the park’s location was simply too remote to attract enough visitors and in 2015 was closed for good.

29. The Works Of Old Men

Image source / Sputnik News

Now this one is odd… In the Azraq Oasis in Jordan there are hundreds of wheel-like structures dotted across the sand. They were first spotted by a British pilot named Percy Maitland back in 1927 who was puzzled as to their origin. The wheels, named as ‘The Works Of Old Men’ have since been found to be over 8,500 years old! Amazingly, still today people are unsure why these wheels exist. The best theories are that they were used for astrology - to align with sunrises and sunsets but still, the jury is out.

30. Egyptian Funeral Boat

Image source / Unilad

It’s well-known that the ancient Egyptians had a thing about being buried with their possessions. But did you know that they were also often buried in a vehicle such as a boat. In 2016, this is exactly what Czech archaeologists discovered - an amazingly preserved 62-foot-long boat was found in a mud brick tomb. It was over 4,500 years old!


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