OOPart: Out-of-place artifact

Out-of-place artifact

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“OOPArts” redirects here. For The Pillows’ album, see OOPArts (album). For the SYUN album, see OOPARTS (SYUN album).

Out-of-place artifact (OOPArt) is a term coined by American naturalist and cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson for an object of historical, archaeological, or paleontological interest found in a very unusual or seemingly impossible context[1] that could challenge conventional historical chronology by being “too advanced” for the level of civilization that existed at the time, or showing “human presence” well before humans were supposed to exist.

The term “out-of-place artifact” is rarely used by mainstream historians or scientists. Its use is largely confined to cryptozoologists, proponents of ancient astronaut theories, Young Earth creationists, and paranormal enthusiasts.[2] The term is used to describe a wide variety of objects, from anomalies studied by mainstream science and pseudoarchaeology far outside the mainstream to objects that have been shown to be hoaxes or to have mundane explanations.

Critics argue that most purported OOPArts which are not hoaxes are the result of mistaken interpretation, wishful thinking, or a mistaken belief that a particular culture couldn’t have created an artifact or technology due to a lack of knowledge or materials. Supporters regard OOPArts as evidence that mainstream science is overlooking huge areas of knowledge, either willfully or through ignorance.[2]

In some cases, the uncertainty results from inaccurate descriptions. For example: the Wolfsegg Iron was said to be a perfect cube, but in fact it is not; the Klerksdorp spheres were said to be perfect spheres, but they are not; and the Iron pillar of Delhi was said to be “rust proof”, but it has some rust near its base.

Many writers or researchers who question conventional views of human history have used purported OOPArts in attempts to bolster their arguments.[2] Creation Science relies on allegedly anomalous finds in the archaeological record to challenge scientific chronologies and models of human evolution.[3] Claimed OOPArts have been used to support religious descriptions of pre-history, ancient astronaut theories, and the notion of vanished civilizations that possessed knowledge or technology more advanced than that of modern times.[2]



The following are examples of objects that have been argued by various fringe authors (see list) to have been OOPArts:

Unusual artifacts

A minority of OOPARTs are at least debatably unusual within the scientific mainstream, although not impossible for their time period.

  • Antikythera mechanism: Its clockwork-like appearance, dating to about 1,000 years before clocks were invented, has been claimed by fringe sources to be evidence of alien visitation,[4] and authors such as Zecharia Sitchin argue that this artifact is a product “not of Man, but of the gods”.[5] However, mainstream scientists consider the Antikythera mechanism to be a form of mechanical computer created around 150–100 BCE based on the theories of astronomy and mathematics developed by the ancient Greeks whose design and workmanship reflect a previously unknown, but not implausible, degree of sophistication.[6][7]

Questionable interpretations

Unlikely interpretations

The iron pillar of Delhi

One of the Quimbaya “airplanes”

Natural objects mistaken for artifacts

Erroneously dated objects

  • Coso artifact: Thought to be prehistoric; actually a 1920s spark plug.
  • Malachite Man: Thought to be from the early Cretaceous; actually a post-Columbian burial.
  • Wolfsegg Iron: Thought to be from the Tertiary epoch; actually from an early mining operation. Inaccurately described as a perfect cube.

Modern-day creations

An Ica stone depicting a dragon-like animal

Entirely fictional


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