These soldiers were supposedly meant to protect the Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang after his burial, back in 210 BCE. They depict his armies, and were meant to be accompanying him into the afterlife, keeping him safe. They were discovered in 1974, by local farmers in Xi’an, and were found in three pits, altogether housing more than 8,000 soldiers, as well as chariots, horses and cavalry. They also found non military figurines, such as musicians and even acrobats!
This skull was found by archaeologists near Venice in a mass grave in Nuovo Lazzaretto. It is believed to be the first perceived vampire burial, and the people of that time were so scared that this so-called vampire was going to feed on the 16th century plague victims, that they put a brick in her mouth to stop her from blood-sucking! It says a lot about the superstitions of the time, and seems much more effective than a stake through the heart!
The whole process of burial for the Egyptians was unlike anything we experience in the modern day. One quirk of the way that Egypt put it’s dead to rest, was that the chin came lose from the skull, falling open and making it look as if the mummies were screaming. Of course, sometimes they really were screaming at their moment of death, such as this man, found by Gaston Masparo in 1886, and probably tortured to death.
This skeleton is known as the first leper, and is a body which suffered from Hansen’s disease, which is widely known as leprosy, as you can see. The idea of being a leper in modern language means someone who is cast out from society, and this comes from leprosy itself-as it so harshly disfigured the sufferer that they were not able to live amongst their own. Hindu culture usually favors cremation, but this body was found outside the city, a true leper even in death.
In 2004, evidence was found which supported the idea that the Aztecs were extremely fond of their bloody sacrificial rituals and festivals. A number of mutilated bodies, including some which had been decapitated were found just outside of Mexico City. Some were human, while others were animals, giving us a glimpse into how crazy things could get. These paintings show the normality of this kind of horror in their culture.
In 1933, tunnels were found under a Roman battlefield by Robert Du Mesnil du Buisson. They were uncovered to be siege tunnels, where the Romans and the Persians had fought a manipulative and brutal battle. In the tunnels were 19 Roman soldiers, who died thanks to a trap laid by the Persians. When the Romans attacked where the Persian soliders had seemed to be, they were met by burning sulphur, dying in agony.
The Rosetta Stone might be one of the most famous archaeological finds of all time, found in 1799 by a French solider who was travelling in Egypt. It has helped modern day historians and linguists understand Egyptian Hieroglyphs for the first time, with the help of three languages which are inscribed, not just hieroglyphs, but also Demotic script and Ancient Greek. It is a small part of a much larger stone, which was a decree given by King Ptolemy V in 200 BC.
Sewer of Babies
In terms of disturbing discoeries, this one is certainly up there. Archaeologists went digging in an old Roman sewer in Ashkelon, Israel when they came across something a lot worse than ancient Roman waste. They began digging up hundreds of bones from infant babies, both males and females. Archaeologists have no solid explanation for this mass grave of babies that they discovered, but it’s definitely disturbing, nonetheless.
Some people call these spheres, while others call them balls, but no one is really sure what they are for, or why they were put on the Diquis Delta and on Isla del Cano. They might have been used to signify the homes of the chiefs of the extinct Diquis culture, but we can’t be sure. There are excavations happening around the area in Costa Rica, to see that else might be able to be found which can shed some light on their existence.
He might not look too attractive to you and me, but this mummified body was in shockingly good condition when he was found, with perfect nails still in place, as well as hair well preserved. He is known as the Graubelle Man, and historians have pieced together some information about how he died from where he was found and a wound on his neck, from ear to ear. They have surmised that he was sacrificed to the gods, perhaps for a better harvest that year. Hope that helped.
These low stone walls in the Negev desert were a real mystery for many scientists and archaeologists, when they were discovered at the beginning of the 20th century by some pilots. In certain areas they were as much as 40 miles long, and were known as Kites, simply because of how they looked from the sky. In more recent times, there is a theory that they were used by hunters to move large animals into a trap where they could be easily killed.
City of Troy
One of the most famous ancient cities of all time, Troy has been different things at different times. Once thought to be legend, and now fairly widely accepted to be what we call Hisarlik, in Turkey. In 1865, trenches were excavated there by Frank Calvert, and then later he continued his work with Heinrich Schliemann. It was believed to have been founded in 3000 BC, and then abandoned in 500 AD, making it part of the Bronze age to the Byzantine era.
Around the turn of the 20th century, this was found in a shipwreck just off Antikythera, a Greek island. It is over 2000 years old and known as the world’s first calculator. It has dozens of gears, and is able to measure the position of the sun, planets and the moon, by the user putting in any date. Showing that the ancients were impressively sophisticated with their mathematical knowledge, no one is exactly sure what the use of this device was, but it sure is cool!
The stone heads on Easter Island are one of the most memorable archaeological discoveries ever made. The island is in Chile, and the statues were believed to have been carved around 1300 AD. Altogether, there are 288 statues and they are all around the island. Some are as heavy as 80 tons, and as high as 13 feet. They were made from dead volcanic rocks. Cleverly built, they can be moved with strong ropes.
These skulls were found in Motala, by Swedish archaeologists who were heading an excavation into a dry lake bed. What was interesting about these skulls, and proved that the way they died was anything but natural, was that they had stakes through their brains, as well as some of the other skulls bone fragments inside their own heads. That must have been one hell of an argument that happened there 8,000 years ago!
Piri Reis Map
This map is well known to show South America, Europe and Africa, in a really detailed and well explained way, helping the users understand the coastlines of these places back in the early 1500’s. It was created by Piri Reis, who was a general and also an established cartographer, and he used small parts of dozens of other maps in order to put it together. This was a common way of building maps before travel was made simpler.
The Nazca Lines
At the beginning of the 1900’s, archaeologists found the Nazca lines, which are almost invisible unless you are looking at them from above. Until then, people did not notice their existence, literally underneath their feet. There are no real answers for why they exist, although there are plenty of conspiracy theories, including UFO’s! They are another example of an ancient civilization who was clearly very technically and mechanically advanced.
Dead Sea Scrolls
The real name for these biblical documents are the Qumran Caves Scrolls, as they were found in that area, as well as in other locations around the Judean desert. As none were found far from the dead sea, they are widely known by that name. They are the earliest known copies of biblical documents, and they date back to 150 BC. Most of the texts are in Hebrew, but some are written in Aramaic. They were found in 1947 and 1956.
The Antikythera Mechanism
This strange mechanism was found under the sea depths in a shipwrecked Greek cargo vessel from over 2,000 years ago. Although no one knows exactly what it does, it is clear that the mechanism is advanced, as it is made up of bronze interlocking gears and has indecipherable characters written all over it. It is thought to be some sort of navigational device and very complex astronomical calendar.
The Copper Scroll Treasure
The Dead Sea Scrolls weren’t the only ancient treasure dug up in what is now the West Bank of Israel. The Copper Scroll was found alongside the Dead Sea Scrolls, and has a very interesting history. It dates back about 2,000 years ago, when the Roman Empire was controlling what was then called, Qumran. Experts believe that the scrolls are some sort of treasure which the locals had hidden to keep it out of Roman hands.
Mount Owen Moa
This gigantic claw was found in 1986, when an expedition into the caves of Mount Owen in New Zealand was undertaken, deeper than anyone had ever been before. It was really quite well preserved considering its age, which led researchers to be confused at first about the age of the creature. Once they got it back to the lab, the truth became clearer, and they realised it was the claw of an Upland Moa, a prehistoric bird.
If something is known as the “world’s most mysterious manuscript” then I want to know more! Found in 1912 in the North of Italy, the world does not yet know what language this manuscript is written in, or who wrote it. It contains drawings of herbal plants, most of which cannot be matched to any real-life species that we know of. It was probably written in the 15th century, and also includes a lot of information about astronomy and biology.
Found in Peru, in Machu Picchu, this is a complex structure which was mainly built by the Emperor Pachacuti in 1440, although there is evidence that it was used as early as 900 BC. It took a century for the structure to be complete, and it’s made of many different types of rocks. As it’s so high, it has often been referred to as a Fortress, and it was instrumental in many wars and battles, notably the siege by Manco Inca in 1536. It had numerous rooms and spaces, filled with military equipment.
Library of Ashurbanipal
While we think of books on a screen or at the very least a handful of white pages, these ‘books’ might have been one of the earliest known enjoyments for avid readers. Discovered in the 1850’s, these date back to the seventh century BC. There are more than 30,000 pieces of writing on clay tablets, some of which are history, others legal documents, and some literary works, including the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Head to Turkey, and you can see the oldest archaeological site in the world. The stone pillars here were constructed in the stone age, around 11,000 years ago, and are made of limestone. They would have weighed between 15-22 tons, showing the incredible power and technological ability of the stone age people, working without machinery or engineering. There have been more than 200 pillars during the expedition, and think the area might have been a temple or a gathering place.
This one is another mystery in the world of archaeology. No one knows why these stones, of different sizes are located here in Salisbury, England, or what they signify. The largest stone is 30 feet high, and weighs as much as 25 tons. It was made between 3000-2000 BC and the stones were brought over 150 miles from a place called Preseii. Many believe this is a burial ground for as many as 240 people.
The most recent research suggest that the ancient Egyptians started constructing pyramids in 2700 BC as tombs to preserve royal bodies, in mummification. The great pyramid of Giza is the largest and oldest pyramid in Egypt, and is made with millions of lime stones, taking two decades to complete. Inside was often filled with valuable treasures alongside the mummies, and gorgeous ornate drawings ordained the walls.
Lost City of Atlantis
The lost city of Atlantis has never been proven, and many believe that it is merely a myth or a legend. The first mention of it was by Plato in 360 BC, discussing a city which had sunk into the depths of the ocean. As the ocean is so vast and deep, there is no way to definitively disprove this theory, and many researchers believe a 10th millennium BC tsunami might have sunk the city. Legend has it that the city was built by Poseidon himself!
King Tutankhamen’s Tomb
The tomb of King Tutankhamen, arguably the most famous Egyptian Pharoah, was discovered in 1922 by a team of archaeologists. King Tut only lived for 18 years, nine of them as King. His tomb was clearly rushed to completion, which proves that his death was unexpected. Due to the microbes on the wall, we can tell that the paint on the walls was not dry for example, when he was laid to rest and his tomb was sealed shut.
Machu Piccu is one of the most travelled destinations for tourists looking to see the wonders of the world. It was rediscovered in 1911 by a Yale University professor, Hiram Bingham the third, which is why the ancient ruins are so well kept. It’s widely believed that the area was the estate of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, who was an Inca ruler in the 14th century. It is 326 sq km, and includes houses, temples, strong walls and terraces, too.
Pompei was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in a volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD. The remains of the city lay undisturbed under ash and stone until the 16th century, when Domenico Fontana stumbled upon it completely by mistake. In the 18th century, Pompeii was then intentionally excavated, and it’s now a really popular tourist attraction. You can also see objects from the site at the Naples Archaeological Museum.
A similar story to Pompeii can be heard if you learn about the ancient city of Akrotiri, in Greece. It was buried in ash and stone after a volcanic eruption in 1500 BC, and in the 19th century, excavations into the remains began. It took until 1967 for a full-scale search to be completed, which uncovered paved streets, and rich homes, which even had indoor toilets. An interesting fact, was that there were no human remains, which led researchers to believe they had some warning about the eruption.
This ravine is called Olduvai Gorge, and it has the oldest known remains of human beings. It was unearthed by a husband and wife paleoanthropologist team, Louis and Mary Leakey, who found tools, as well as a primate skull which was 25 million years old! They later found the skull and upper teeth of a human predecessor, known as Paranthropus boisei, which is though to have lived 1.75 million years ago. This evidence has shown that the first humans came from Africa.
Otzi the Iceman
A quite recent discovery, Otzi the Iceman was found in the Italian Alps in 1991. He is a glacier mummy, from the Copper age, who was believed to be a shepherd. In 2012, a study into the way he died published that he bled to death from an arrow to his shoulder and a blow to the head. We still don’t know whether the arrow knocked him to the ground and he hit his head as he fell, or whether he was stunned by the arrow and then bludgeoned.
Palace of Knossos, Crete
This Palace is from the Bronze age, and built by the Minoan civilization in about 1950 BC. It’s huge, around 150,000 square feet, and has a town around it, too. It is now known to be the site of two palaces, one which was damaged and then another built on top in 1700 BC. By 1450 BC, it has been destroyed, along with other areas in Crete, thanks to either a natural disaster or a powerful invasion by enemy forces.
One of the most famous archaeological discoveries to happen in the UK, is an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, uncovered in 1939 by Edith Pretty who owned the estate, and archaeologist Basil Brown. They found a 27 meter ship, and the skeleton of an Anglo-Saxon leader. Not just that, but the ship was filled with treasure, including an iron helmet, silverware, and jewels. You can see many of the treasures at the British Museum in London.
This is the oldest surviving map of Israel, with a particular emphasis on Jerusalem. It is from the Byzantine Church of Saint George in Madaba, and is part of a floor mosaic. It was not uncovered until 1884 when the church was renovated, but restoration and research has dated the map itself to between 560 and 565 AD. The entire map showed the area from Syria to Egypt, but much of it was destroyed before it was uncovered.
Richard III’s Grave
If you’re up to date with your British King and Queens, you might have heard of Richard III. This guy wasn’t exactly the nicest King in the world, as he was often called the Prince Killer, who had a crooked back and was extremely power-hungry. Nevertheless, his remains had never been found and had been a mystery for centuries – until 2012, when the skeleton of the former King was found underneath the parking lot in the city of Leicester.
The Cave of Altamira
Until 1880, scientists had little information about the prehistoric human and mammals, and based much of their research on speculation and random discoveries. However, when the Cave of Altamira was found, it changed prehistoric perception. This Spanish cave is decked out in ancient paintings and artwork that are dated back 20,000 years – when it was formerly thought that these humans lacked enough intellectual ability to show artistic expression. Instead, it proved that prehistoric humans were capable.
The Roman Baths
Roman Baths similar to this one are commonplace in England and Italy, and they’re not really archeological discoveries. However, what has been found at the bottom of these baths is a discovery. As archaeologists analyzed the Roman Baths in more detail, they noticed strange figures in the sewers. Before too long, they confirmed that the bones belonged to young babies, and discovered that these children were often killed by their own parents and the rest of society. Charming!
We all know that Greece is full of hidden wonders – but this is one of the most spectacular discoveries so far. In 1878, Minos Kalokairinos and Arthur Evans were wandering the streets of Knossos when they stumbled upon a stone wall. As the explored a little further, they discovered an ancient city buried beneath the ground. Images of a bull were found strewn across the entryways and walls, which has led many people to believe it to be connected to the Minotaur.
The Galilee Boat is often called the Jesus Boat. Discovered in 1986 by two fishermen and amateur archeologists on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, this boat is around 27 feet long, and 7 and a half feet wide and is perfectly preserved – which is incredible, considering its history. Since its discovery, researchers have suggested that this boat can be dated back to the 1st Century AD, and many have even connected it to Jesus himself.
The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin is an extremely intricate artifact, and many people still debate its origins. This fine piece of cloth is infamous because of its incredible likeness to Jesus Christ – and those who believe in the cloth also believe it to be Jesus’s burial garment. However, many people disagree with this. Scientists have tested the material and concluded that it was created during the Middle Ages, but that does not make the incredible cloth any less impressive.
This unique figurine is often called the Willendorf Venus, or Mother Goddess. This 11-centimeter high statue was discovered in 1908 in Austria and is carved out of oolitic limestone – which is not local to the Austrian people. After its discovery, the figurine was intricately researched and examined, and archaeologists determined that it was first created between 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. Thanks to its exaggerated assets and its voluptuous figure, it is believed that this figurine is a depiction of Mother Goddess.
The Pilate Stone
Those who believe in the story of Jesus believe in the existence of Pontius Pilate – the man who sentenced Jesus Christ to death by crucifixion. While there has been little quantifiable evidence for this belief, the discovery of The Pilate Stone has put this into question. This stone was discovered in 1961 in an archeological site in Caesarea Maritima and is dated back to 26-36 AD. The inscription on the stone links directly to the Roman Prefect, which many take as definitive proof.
When you think of batteries, you normally think of modern technology and innovative inventors. However, it seems modern scientists weren’t the first ones to think up this idea. These Parthian Batteries, often called the Baghdad Batteries are thought to date back to between the 1st and 3rd Centuries AD. It’s believed that these pots were built with cylindrical cladding and a copper spike which is filled with grape juice. It’s thought that this produced a small electric charge, just like a battery.
The Romans are known for creating various unusual objects – but this Roman dodecahedron is perhaps one of the most unusual. This intricate object is dated back to the 2nd and 3rd Centuries BC, but it’s unknown what its usage is. Many of these objects have been found across Europe, and archeologists have had their say on what they believe the objects are. Most have come to the conclusion that these objects were used in astronomy or distance estimation.
The Headless Vikings discovery is more commonly known as the Headless Vikings of Dorset after these Viking remains were discovered by railroad workers in the countryside county of Dorset in England. The bodies of these Vikings were removed from their heads and buried separately. Many believed this was due to decomposition, but researchers have since discovered that the heads were cleanly severed, leading to more gruesome results. It’s believed these Vikings were killed in battle and buried together in one mass grave.
Ardi is the name of a fully fossilized skeleton found in 1994. This discovery marked a landmark achievement in the world of archeology, as it was one of the most perfectly preserved skeletons in history. It’s believed that this female skeleton is around 4.4 million years old, and features hands, feet, a skull, and pelvis still intact. Not only was Ardi one of the most preserved, but it was also one of the oldest, which gave researchers the chance to explore prehistoric humans.