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I know that in ancient times puzzles and riddles were as popular—if not more popular—than they are now. (Let us define "ancient times" as any time predating the fall of the Roman Empire, around A.D. 470).

Many of these puzzles survive to this day, e.g. the Sphinx Riddle ("What animal walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening?"), or variants of "measure X amount of liquid, having only vessels of Y and Z sizes".

Are there any riddles or puzzles left from these times for which the answer was either lost or never known? Can you provide any?

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    $\begingroup$ Please avoid such broad questions. Generally speaking, “name some examples of” is not a question, it's a heading for a list. These don't work well in Stack Exchange's questions and answers format. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 19 '14 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles: I'm not asking for an infinite list. The core question is "Are there any?" which is boolean. In case of "yes" I require an example, and any single example would do. If I asked "give me as many as you can", it would be a different matter. $\endgroup$ – SF. May 19 '14 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ Same difference — no matter how you word it, it's the same question, calling for answers that say “here's one example”, and ending up in a collection of items rather than genuine answers. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 19 '14 at 12:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles: The only reason the rule against open-ended questions exists is to avoid infinite lists of answers, from which choosing the best is impossible. If other restrictions (say, obscurity of the solution) reduce the list to manageable size (specifically, to avoid argument about "manageable size": between 0 ans 1 solutions), the rule is moot. Sure if the answers kept rolling, it would mean this was a poor question, but its current status proves otherwise; the problem you're trying to oppose simply is not the case here. $\endgroup$ – SF. May 19 '14 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes broad questions like this are rewarded with great answers. But this isn't one of those questions. Let's find a way to narrow this down with an edit or leave it closed. $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson May 20 '14 at 21:05
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Perhaps not in the spirit of the question, but all the scripts we haven't yet decoded from that period could be considered unsolved puzzles.

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  • $\begingroup$ Only if any of these undeciphered scripts contains puzzles/riddles, or was created as a crypt. :) Sure many secrets of the past are hidden from us, but these weren't created as secrets. Let's distinguish between puzzles created by ancients, and things created by ancients that archaeologists can't puzzle out. A pulsometer watch is not a puzzle just because you can't figure out the controls without a manual. :) $\endgroup$ – SF. May 19 '14 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link! i love this stuff. i only knew about the voynich manuscripts. $\endgroup$ – moonbutt74 Aug 25 '15 at 16:08
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See Daniel 10:4 – 12:9:

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14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the end of days…

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8 And I heard, but I understood not; then said I: 'O my lord, what shall be the latter end of these things?'

9 And he said: 'Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end.…'

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  • $\begingroup$ But is that a viable source to cite? Does it give a distinct puzzle to which no answer is known? Or do we just infer one exists. $\endgroup$ – JohnJPershing May 18 '14 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnJPershing, it's a Sphinx-like puzzle: ambiguous wording whose meaning is clear once it's explained. (Which it hasn't yet been.) $\endgroup$ – msh210 May 18 '14 at 19:20

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