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The Ultimate Puzzle, 27,000 Fragments of about 90 Puzzles

Think a 5 Bolt Stave Trick is hard? How about assembling 27,000 pieces of ancient stone that complete about 90 different artifacts. How long do you think it would take you? A team of archaeologists from Germany recently completed this task. It took them about 10 years to assemble, and the process was a lot more complicated than even the 2000 piece wooden puzzle we recently assembled. (Just joking.) So the back story on this was about 100 years ago a wealthy German collector brought the ancient sculptures and other items back from an expedition he had been on. They were all approximately 3000 years old. Eventually they were displayed in a museum in Berlin, that is until 1943 when the building they were housed in was hit by Allied bombs. Surprisingly the artifacts survived the bombing to some extent.

However, the subsequent dousing of the flames caused them to fracture into about 27,000 pieces ranging from minuscule in size to 1.5 tons or stone. They were subsequently put away in storage until about 60 years later when some ambitious modern archeologists decided to try and put a few of the larger pieces together. The first step was laying out the pieces, which took some time and covered over 5000 square feet of space. Can you imagine trying to find a piece in a 5000 square foot room? They had considered using computers to help in the assembly, however, the cost was too expensive so they just did it the old fashioned way (which we puzzlers are very familiar with) and used their minds. As the project progressed they realized they really wanted to try and put all of the items back together. One of the team members even said they originally thought they would just assemble the shells and fill the rest in with cement, but they decided to do their best to reconstruct them with all the original pieces. As they completed more items it got harder as there were a lot of smaller pieces with no clear place for them. In the end there were about 2000 out of the 27,000 pieces that never found a home. However, they did manage to complete most of the items.

I am just amazed at the patience they had in assembling these. To put it in perspective, this is the equivalent of having 27,000 puzzle pieces that make up over 90 puzzles, all the same shade of grey; do you think you could complete that in less than 10 years?