If you are looking for a place to hide something you could do a lot worse than hiding that something in the desert. The wonderful thing about the desert as a hiding place is that it is a somewhat inhospitable environment where very few people venture and it also covers, in most cases, hundreds of square miles. This means the chances that someone will discover your hiding is very small.
When you have a place that is this good for hiding things you will be amazed at some of the strange and weird things that people have hidden in the desert.
1 – A Fleet of Fighter Jets
If you are anything like me you will probably not have noticed the severe lack of enemy aeroplanes during the 2003 American/British invasion of Iraq. The invading American forces knew that Iraq had a whole air squadron in its command so when no air resistance was encounter it was assumed that they had remained grounded due to realising they had no chance against American firepower. It wasn’t until a few months after the invasion that someone noticed the tail fin of a fighter jet stocking out of the sand near a military base.
This led to a huge digging effort that revealed 30 brand new military jets buried beneath ten feet of sand. The US and UK governments were quick to point out that while the hidden fighter jets were not weapons of mass destruction they had been only meters from American troops for months without anyone ever noticing them. Donald Rumsfeld wasted no time in pointing out if fighter jets could be so easily hidden then weapons of mass destruction were probably hidden in the exact same way.
2 – Treasure Maps
In 1946 the world famous Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a local shepherd buried in a cave in the middle of the desert. The next decade saw archaeologists from all over the world began searching the nearby desert caves and area in the hope of unearthing more ancient documents. It took until 1952 for someone to stumble upon two rolled-up copper scrolls which took more than five years for anyone to work out how to unroll them without destroying them.
Once unrolled researchers set about translating the Ancient Hebrew writing found in the scrolls. It was impossible to decipher the entire thing but what we do know for certain is the scrolls contained directions to find a huge stash of treasure. It is believed that the treasure described in the text consisted of a money chest and its contents which had a weight of seventeen talents. This is estimated to be worth at least a million dollars in today’s money.
Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to locate the hidden treasure since the directions contained in the scrolls have become useless in the last 2,000 years. If however you happen to know where the “gutter” of the water tank is, and from there you can find the tunnel under the “second enclosure,” then you may be well on your way to becoming a millionaire. If not then we must accept that this treasure may be lost under the sand of the desert forever.
3 – A Priceless Library
Timbuktu was once a thriving city located on the edge of the Sahara Desert which was, for 30 years, the home to the University of Sankore. Over the course of three decades the founder of the university, Mohammed abu Bakr al-Wangari, went about purchasing books on the subjects of Islamic and African history, religion, the sciences and literature. When Mohammed abu Bakr al-Wangari died in 1594 his huge library of books ended up being divided among his surviving relatives. They were all stored away and forgotten about for hundreds of years.
It is only very recently that a project to recover the books has begun. So far dozens of the forgotten books have been recovered, most of which are priceless, hand-written texts. They have been found hidden in derelict buildings, caves, underground chambers and hidden in chests. A large number of the books have been unfortunately damaged by water or destroyed by termites while others are in surprisingly excellent condition thanks to the heat and dryness of the surrounding desert.
Today a separate project is underway attempting to preserve the books, most of which are unprecedented in their coverage of medieval West African history.
4 – The World’s Oldest Marijuana Stash
You would have to be pretty lucky to discover a stash of marijuana lying around so you can imagine the surprise of archaeologists when in 2008 they discovered almost two pounds of marijuana in a 2,700 year old grave located in the Gobi Desert.
Dr Ethan Russo believes that the stash may have been used for pain control or other medical conditions. Discovery News has reported that the ancient stash of pot is now at Turpan Museum in China. It is unknown if anyone has tried a sneaky sample from the stash.
5 – Incriminating Documents
Shell Oil, as I am sure most people will remember, has seen its fair share of problems over recent years. One such problem occurred in 2003. Back in the mid 1990’s a huge oil spill happened from one of their pipelines and shell since sold that very pipeline to another company, a company which was being sued over the well water contaminated by the spill.
The present owner of the pipeline needed official documentation from Shell to help with the whole legal process. Shell Oil, being the responsible company it is with nothing to hide, decided the best course of action would be to take more than 190 boxes of environmental reports and accounting ledgers from the time of the spill and bury them 40 feet deep in the desert of New Mexico.
When the official request for the documents landed in the offices of Shell Oil they simply claimed that no one knew where they were. The documents were only discovered when a former employee of Shell Oil confessed that he knew where the documents were hidden.
As you can imagine the hiding of such documents could have caused all kinds of legal trouble for Shell Oil so they simply claimed that the documents must have being buried when confused with everyday office refuse. Since there was not landfill in the area where the documents were buried the Attorney General was quick to point out, “It’s just very unusual to bury records in the middle of the desert.”