With this article, we hope to not only inspire you with these archaeological finds but also to help you appreciate the fantastic and wonderful field of archaeology.
Piri Reis Map
Archaeologists finding old maps is not entirely new. However, this map from 1513, created by an Ottoman admiral and cartographer named Piri Reis, was shocking the entire archaeological world. That's because the map very accurately shows continents and coastlines that were thought to still be undiscovered at that time.
One example of this is how it has already shown the continent of Antarctica, which was still yet to be discovered in 1818 (more than three centuries later!). Remarkably, the continent of Antarctica that can be seen on this map is how it looked before it was covered in ice!
The Mount Owen Moa
An interesting discovery was made in the caves of Mount Owen in New Zealand three decades ago. It is a claw that looks very similar to something from a dinosaur species. It was mummified, so it retains most of its features and has not yet decomposed. It was from a 3,300 years old mummified upland moa - a prehistoric bird.
It most closely resembles the modern-day emu, which is the second-largest living bird. But, the moa is even bigger still, with some species measuring over 10 feet in height. With advanced dating processes from its DNA, it was found to have first appeared 18.5 million years ago!
An unfinished ancient obelisk was found in the northern region of the stone quarries of ancient Egypt in Aswan. It was thought that this unfinished obelisk was built to complement the Lateran Obelisk, which is the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk.
What’s amazing about this is that it is nearly one-third larger than any Egyptian obelisk that was ever erected. When completed, it would have measured 137 feet high and weighed 1,090 metric tons. During its creation, however, cracks appeared in the granite, and the project was abandoned. The Egyptians’ masterful stone-working techniques can also still be seen and observed from it.
Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin might be the most controversial archaeological artifact to date. It is a linen cloth that has the image of the face of what many believe to be Jesus Christ imprinted on it. This cloth is believed to be the cloth that was used to cover the face of Jesus after his crucifixion.
It was first shown to the public in France in 1357. However, carbon dating tests on the cloth have shown that this cloth was probably from the region of the years 1260 to 1390, which means that it could not have been the face of Christ.
Mesoamerican Pok ta Pok
Archaeologists often have a deeper purpose behind their digs - learning and understanding the culture behind their finds. In this case, they discovered details about a sport enjoyed by a civilization which is today called “Pok ta Pok.” This arose from the discovery of other ancient Mesoamerican sites. As of today, more than 1,300 ball courts for this sport have been found.
This sport, however, did not only serve as a game to be played but also served many ritualistic and political purposes in the same region. The rules of the game are not exactly known today, but it was speculated that it probably was very similar to racquetball.
Stonehenge is now considered one of the official wonders of the world. It is believed to have been constructed 5,000 years ago, although the questions: “who built it, how, and why?” are still left unknown. It consists of several huge stones, each standing around 13 feet, and weighs around 25 tons. There are many speculations regarding why Stonehenge was built.
Over time, it has been used by pagan religions, especially druids, for their rituals and celebrations. Some also suggest that Stonehenge was once used as a sacred place for healing the sick, while others have suggested that it was a celestial observatory.
Plain of Jars
Archaeologists have discovered thousands of stone objects that were believed to be used as jars and that are arranged in some kind of a significant order. Discovered in Laos, the purpose of these jars is still unknown, although some believe that they were used for burial.
This theory is based on the fact that human skeletons and tools that are known to be used for burial were discovered along with the jars. Tests have shown that these jars have been there from 500 BC to 500 AD. Some researchers have suggested that these jars were used to collect monsoon rainwater.
The Copper Dead Sea Scroll was discovered by one archaeologist in a cave near Qumran, Israel, in 1952. It was part of the Dead Sea scrolls, written in Hebrew, and was estimated to be from around 50-100 BC. The difference with the Copper Dead Sea Scroll is that it was made of a huge block of copper which had to be cut into sheets and laid flat to be able to read what was written on it.
Upon inspection and study of the scroll’s inscriptions - the text describes a map where certain treasures from either the first or second temple of Jerusalem can be found.
Pit of Hands
In 2010, a team of archaeologists had discovered a pit of 16 human rights hands while searching around one ancient Egyptian palace. Tests conducted have shown that these hands were buried around 3,600 years ago. This was seen to be evidence of an ancient Egyptian tradition of soldiers exchanging the cut-off right hand of an enemy soldier for some amount of gold.
It was believed that these hands were from enemies of the Pharaoh at that time. More evidence for this tradition was found in ancient Egyptian artifacts. These also detailed how the ancient Egyptians have gruesomely treated their captives and enemies.
A group of skeletons from 12 Neanderthals were found in a cave in Northern Spain on an expedition in 2010. Tests conducted have shown that the group of Neanderthals died around 49,000 years ago. Some evidence was also found in the same location that suggests that they were eaten by other Neanderthals.
Many archaeological studies have shown that cannibalism was a practice that was not exclusive to the Neanderthals, and this is the exact same reason why they went extinct. Evidence that was found points to humans killing Neanderthals, bringing them back to their caves to eat, and also using their remains as dishes and jewelry.
Tunnels of Baiae
While exploring the cliffs of Baiae, Italy, archaeologists discovered an ancient tunnel system. For many years after its discovery, it generally remained unstudied, although many believe that it was part of a Necromanteion. A Necromanteion is a temple where people went to consult the dead; this specific one was given the name “Oracle of the Dead.”
One reason this place remained unstudied by archaeologists is that most of the town of Baiae has now been submerged underwater because of volcanic activity. The few expeditions that have been attempted to study it, however, have shown that it contained numerous Roman sculptures and temples to various Roman gods.
Straight out of "Lord of the Rings," a joint team of Australian and Indonesian archeologists discovered the remains of what is believed to be an extinct species of hobbits. Nine separate sets of human remains were found at the site on the island of Flores, Indonesia. With the scientific name of Homo-floresiensis, they were found to be around 3.3 feet high and 55 pounds when fully grown.
They have also been shown to inhibit the island of Flores as recently as 13,000 years ago. This discovery was very surprised at the time and was dubbed the most spectacular finding in paleoanthropology in over 50 years.
The Great Sphinx of Giza
Located at the west bank of the Nile River in Giza, Egypt, the Great Sphinx of Giza is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx. A sphinx is an Egyptian mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. It was believed to be built around 2,500 years ago and originally measured to be 73 meters long from paw to tail, 20.21 meters high, and 19 meters wide.
It is still surrounded by mystery as the underlying chambers and tunnels within and underneath have not yet been explored. Some evidence, like traces of pigment, also suggests that it was once painted with vivid colors.
This group of very large writings, or geoglyphs, created between 500 BC to 500 AD, can be found in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They consist of various drawings of animal and plant shapes. A total of 900 of these mysterious drawings have been found in that area. They were first discovered by hikers in 1927 and were observed as a whole from an aircraft in the 1930s.
Researchers are still debating about its true purpose. Some believe that they were based on astronomy and cosmology, while others believed that they were used for religious worship. Then, there is a small group of people who believes that they were created by an advanced alien civilization.
The Zhou Chariots
While exploring around 3,000 years old tombs in Luoyang, China, archaeologists discovered a large pit that contained the remains of horses and wooden chariots. A total of five chariots and 12 horse remains were found. Further tests have shown that these excavated items were from way back in 770 BC. The remains of the horses reveal evidence that they were first slaughtered before being buried.
Many other items were also found in the tombs, which include bronze-wares and ceramics that are from the early Western Zhou dynasty. For archaeologists, this discovery shines a light on how people back from that period in time performed funerals.
Easter Island Moai
The Moai or Mo’ai are a group of giant monolithic humanoid statues that are created by the Rapa Nui people on Easter Island, Polynesia. A total of 900 of these statues were found to be produced and transported by the Rapa Nui people around the island. Many of these statues are buried with only their heads are showing, which caused them to mistakenly be called “Easter Island Heads.”
These statues were each created to represent one deceased ancestor of the Rapa Nui people. What was really impressive about these statues is that they were all carved in one location and then transported around the island to their present locations.
Ancient Victims of Poisonous Gas
Archeologists have found the bodies of 19 Roman soldiers and one Persian soldier who apparently died from poisonous gas inhalation. These soldiers were believed to have died during a Persian attack on the city in 256 AD. To easily infiltrate the city and avoid Roman defenses, the Persian soldiers tried to dig a tunnel that passed through the city walls.
The Romans knew of this strategy and dug a counter-tunnel to meet the Persian soldiers and attack them by surprise. When they were caught, the Persians used a poisonous gas created by burning Sulphur and bitumen crystals to kill the Roman soldiers.
Hagar Qim is a megalithic temple complex that is located on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Not only was the architecture very impressive, but it also contained a lot of decorative pottery and statues. The whole temple complex was built around 3,600-3,200 BC.
Animal bones found in the Hagar Qim temples suggest that they were also used for ritual sacrifices. Because of its very old age, the temple's limestone suffered severe damage due to weather conditions. To prevent further damage and conserve the site, a protective tent was built over the whole thing in 2009.
The Terracotta Army is a group of sculptures that are derived from the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Archaeologists believe that these sculptures were created and buried near the location of the emperor’s burial site so that the army would be able to protect him in his next life.
Though not all of the sculptures have been unearthed, the total number of sculptures has been estimated to be over 8,000. 130 chariots and 670 horses were also found with them. There were still also some signs on these sculptures that indicate that they were once painted.
The Cochno Stone
The Cochno Stone is a large rock with dozens of different engravings, which include grooved spirals, carved indentations, geometric shapes, and mysterious patterns of many kinds. It was discovered in 1887 by a man named Rev James Harvey and is 42 feet by 26 feet. Tests conducted on this rock have shown that it is around 5,000 years old.
The purpose or meaning of the engraved patterns on the Cochno Stone remains unknown to this day. After its discovery, it was buried again to preserve and protect it from vandalism. It was then carefully uncovered again in 2015 for further research.
The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient Greek analog computer. It was composed of more than 37 moving gears that are made of bronze. It was used by the Greeks to predict the positions of heavenly bodies and could predict when eclipses would next occur.
The Antikythera Mechanism was found inside a sunken ship in the seas near the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901. The tests conducted on the Antikythera Mechanism have shown that this instrument was created around 150 to 100 BC. The technology behind this device remained a mystery until the fourteenth century, when a similar device was found.
The Voynich Manuscript was handwritten on animal skin or vellum, using an unknown writing system. Tests conducted on this manuscript have shown that it may have been written during the early 15th century, during the time of the Renaissance.
Many experts, including professional cryptographers and code breakers, have studied the written text in an attempt to understand the meaning hidden away in the strange lettering. However, until now, no one has ever been successful in doing so. This led many to think that the text in this manuscript does not really mean anything and was a hoax.
Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a group of ancient Jewish religious manuscripts that were found in the Qumran Caves in the West Bank, near the Dead Sea. These scrolls are considered to be very important in terms of their historical, religious, and linguistic value.
Archaeologists strongly believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls were from an ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes. Tests conducted on these manuscripts have shown that they were from around 400 to 300 BC. They are currently stored in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.
The Baghdad Battery was discovered in the village of Khuyut Rabbou’a in 1936. Tests conducted on this ancient battery have shown that they were in use from around 250 BC to 224 BC. The terracotta pot included an asphalt stopper which also worked as its cover.
This asphalt stopper has an iron rod attached to its center that was surrounded by a copper cylinder. Surprisingly, the Baghdad Battery was capable of producing around 1.1 Volts of electricity. Archaeologists are still trying to determine where and how this battery was used.
Pompeii was buried under four to six meters of volcanic ash after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. All of Pompeii was lost after this explosion, and the ruins remained buried for 1,500 years before being rediscovered. What is surprising about this archaeological discovery is that the whole city was preserved due to the lack of air and moisture.
There are pictures available on the internet that shows Pompeii’s inhabitants in the exact position that they were in when they died. The whole city was excavated, and plaster was used to recreate and preserve the voids in the layers of ash that once held human beings.
The Pilate Stone
The Pilate Stone is a block of limestone that has carved texts that were attributed to Pontius Pilate. He was most famously known for being the one who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He served under Emperor Tiberius as a prefect from AD 26 to 36. This huge stone was considered to strengthen the authenticity of the biblical texts.
This is because still no evidence has been found at that time that supports the idea that Pontius Pilate really existed. The Pilate stone was created to be used as a part of a set of stairs in Caesarea's Herodion theatre following the orders of Herod the Great.
The Rosetta Stone is a big chunk of granodiorite steel that contains inscriptions of a royal decree during the Ptolemaic dynasty in three different languages: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek. The stone was a very important tool that was used by archeologists to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and understand ancient Egyptian history even more.
The Rosetta Stone was found in 1799 and was dated as having been created in 196 BC. However, the ancient hieroglyphics written on it were not deciphered until 1822. Its discovery was essential to our understanding of ancient Egyptian literature and civilization.
The Ancient Galilee Boat
The Jesus Boat is also famously known by the name “The Jesus Boat.” It holds historical significance to the Jews as this shows them the type of boat that was used by their ancestors for fishing and transportation in the 1st century. It was discovered on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel in 1986.
Even with the name “The Jesus Boat,” there were no other scraps of evidence found that point to this boat is the one used by Jesus and his disciples. During a drought, the waters in the Sea of Galilee receded, which caused The Jesus Boat to be discovered.
Andrewsarchus is an extinct mammal that lived during the middle Eocene epoch (41 to 48 million years ago) in Inner Mongolia, China. It was only discovered when its skull and a few of its other bones were found in 1923. The shape of the skull vaguely resembled that of a wolf, which indicates that this animal was a predator.
The size of its three-foot-long skull indicates that it was the world’s largest predatory Mammal. Due to the lack of bones found, however, we still do not know anything about what the rest of its body might have looked like.
Middle Eastern Stone Circles
These giant stone circles that are located in the Middle East have been surrounded by mystery as archeologists are still trying to determine why they are made and how. Tests conducted have shown them to be at least 2,000 years old. These stone circles are fully enclosed with walls that are made from stone.
Although much is still unknown about them, some researchers agree that they likely would have been constructed during prehistoric times when written language had not yet been invented by the people living in that area. They were only discovered in 1920 by a flying aircraft.
Low dry-stone walls that form lines that are up to 40 miles long were discovered in the deserts of Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Viewed from above, these stone wall lines resemble a very large kite. Almost 2,000 of these Desert Kites have been discovered across Jordan and Syria until today.
Upon further study of the Desert Kites from the Negev and northeast Sinai, it was found that they were established in the late 4th millennium BCE or early 3rd millennium BCE. They were generally believed to have been used to catch herds or groups of wild animals that were consumed for food.
The Gobekli Tepe was discovered in an ancient city in southeastern Turkey by Klaus Schmidt. It is made from very large carved stones that are believed to be as much as 11,000 years old. What is amazing about this discovery is that the prehistoric people who built it had not yet even developed metal tools at the time.
It is composed of more than 200 huge stone pillars that are arranged in 20 circles. Each of these stone pillars has a height of around 20 feet and weighs as much as 20 tons. It is believed to be the world’s first temple.
This discovery was considered to be the oldest known use of sharpened stone-tipped weapons. These weapons were used by a species called Homo heidelbergensis sometime around 500,000 years ago. This discovery came as a shock for archeologists around the world because, at that time, the consensus was that the first use of these weapons was 300,000 years ago.
Spears have been used as far back as five million years ago, not only by human species but also by some species of monkeys. This discovery, however, was the earliest time in history where spears were equipped with sharpened stone tips on the ends.
The Screaming Man E
A very disturbing discovery was found in 1888 in Egypt. It was a mummy that was found to be in a position that suggests that that person was screaming in pain while being mummified. It was believed that being mummified alive was a punishment given to that person. The mummified man was given the name Man E. Many believe that he was the son of Ramesses III, who was found to be a traitor.
Tests conducted with the body revealed that Man E. was around 40 years old at the time of his horrific mummification, which was historically consistent with the age at which Ramesses’ traitorous son died.
Bodies of three Inca children were found frozen near a volcano called Llullaillaco, which is found at the border of Argentina and Chile. What was really amazing about this discovery is that their bodies were mummified because of the freezing cold. Tests were conducted, and they have shown that these three children were sacrificed around the year 1500.
Large traces of alcohol and coca leaves were also found in their bodies. It has been found out that these three children were sacrificed in the form of ritual. Substances that suggest that they were sedated before dying were also found in their tiny bodies.
In 1999, skulls that looked very alien-like were found in a small Mexican village. 25 human skeletons were found, but 13 of those had skulls that were very similar to how we now see aliens from movies. Don't get too excited — these skeletons were not from aliens but were indeed from humans.
The long elongated skulls from these were probably a result of a process called cranial elongation. It was commonly done by several cultures all over the world and started around 10,000 years ago. This process commences in childhood when two wooden boards would be used to compress and elongate their skulls.
The Perperikon Vampire
Nikolai Ovcharov discovered a skeleton with an iron rod that is driven through its chest while excavating the ruins of Perperikon. The collected evidence suggests that this skeleton died around 700 years ago. This city was inhabited since 5,000 BC but was only discovered 20 years ago.
The custom of driving an iron rod through the corpse of a dead person is believed to be done to stop an evil being from rising from the dead. There were also recorded cases of some people that were accused of being vampires and then killed. Others discovered “vampire graves” were also found where the skeleton’s head had been removed.
One group of archaeologists discovered one of the most shocking mass burial sites to ever be found. They uncovered 51 heads and 54 skeleton bodies that were believed to be from Scandinavian Vikings in Weymouth, England. It was shocking because the heads were buried separately from the bodies.
Tests have shown that these bodies were from around 970 to 1025 AD. Further analysis of these human remains has shown that all of them were males. The remaining skeletons have also shown a lot of gruesome injuries, which makes many believe that these were bodies of Vikings that were captured when trying to invade the Anglo-Saxon territory.
In 1888, archaeologists found the largest infant mass grave to ever be discovered in an ancient Roman sewer that ran underneath the modern Israeli city of Ashkelon. They found at least 97 infant skeletons in that mass grave.
The reason for this mass burial is still unknown as further examination of the remains has shown that the babies were healthy and did not seem to have any illnesses during the time of their deaths. It was not uncommon in the Roman culture to abandon babies as they believed that newborn babies still could not be considered fully human.
Pyramid of the Sun
The greenstone mask was shown in the picture below dates back more than 2,000 years ago. It was discovered in 2011 by researchers in Mexico, who were investigating the base of a pyramid. The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico, got its name from the Aztecs. This ancient civilization was a lot more advanced than we had originally believed.
The Aztecs had access to many technologies and rituals which have only been discovered in the last few centuries. These let them carve rock into beautiful sculptures like this unique mask, even before the tools for such creations were invented.
A 4.5 Billion-Year-Old Meteor
Sometimes, it isn't the archeologists that are making groundbreaking discoveries. About two decades ago, an anonymous hitchhiker was traveling across Fukang in Xinjiang, China, when he suddenly stumbled upon this extraordinary mass from space.
This beautiful rock is now known as the Fukang Meteorite. It is covered with pieces of olivine crystals and embedded in an iron-nickel matrix. Scientists aren’t exactly sure where this came from, but they do know that it’s extremely valuable. The meteorite weighs slightly over a ton, and just a few grams of its crystals are worth over $500.
It's hard to imagine that the entire wall of Petra was carved by hand on a wall of sandstone. It's an archaeological site that's matched by no other. The area was inhabited as early as 7,000 BC, and the landmark was likely made around 2,000 BC. It was the home of the ancient settlers, the Nabataeans.
The Nabataeans constructed Petra using their master skills in crafting and building. Historians are baffled to this day regarding how exactly they pulled it off. Unfortunately, most of this area was destroyed during an earthquake in the 6th century. At least the most impressive architecture there survived and can still be visited today.
This Beautiful Boxwood Miniature
Some artists take a painstaking amount of time to perfect their artwork. This is impressive today, but even more so when speaking of artwork from over five centuries ago. This piece represents the crucifixion of Christ and shows the brutality of the Romans' treatment, as well as the religious leaders of the time.
Archeologists believe that this kind of art was a symbol of wealth back in the 16th century. Most box carvings were based on depictions of various religious events, which is why they were done with such passion and care.
A 16th-Century Ring
Rings were a common piece of jewelry dating back more than 5,000 years ago. While they were mostly used as ornaments to symbolize wealth, some have used them as a way to conceal things. This aesthetic 16th-century ring actually folds into a series of smaller rings.
These rings create an astronomical sphere, which is a remarkable achievement considering it was made more than five centuries ago. The identity of the ring maker has not yet been discovered, but it's believed that the ring was originally crafted in Asia.
Vikings were warrior-like seafarers Norseman that raided and took over villages all over Europe between the 8th and 11th centuries. When most people hear the word Viking, they may picture Ragnarök or funerals that involve a ship being set on fire and sent out to sea.
In recent years, scientists have discovered quite a few artifacts that they believe belonged to the Vikings. These artifacts, which include bows and arrows, shoe parts, and even reindeer traps, have mainly been found throughout Norway. Among the treasures were skis, which they used to get around more quickly throughout the frozen lands.
The World’s Oldest Functional Sunglasses
Most people don’t know that the sun is actually a lot harsher on the eyes in snowy, cold areas rather than scorching hot deserts. The Inuits were more than aware of this fact, as they trudged through snowy regions more than 4,000 years ago.
Back then, Inuits couldn’t just stroll into a Ray-Ban store and pick up a pair of sunglasses. So they carved their own out of various rocks and wooden objects. These sunglasses worked in principle, as they helped limit the sun’s exposure to their eyes. Unfortunately, they also severely limited the wearer’s line of sight, which often resulted in some very unfortunate accidents.
An Altai Boot
We can’t remember the last time a shoe lasted for more than one winter. However, keep in mind that today, most of us don’t walk for more than a mile or two on an average day. But imagine a boot that was used to track thousands of mountains in the winter snow, being preserved almost perfectly for over 2,300 years.
The boot in the picture dated back to 300 BCE and was used by travelers in the Altai Mountains. It was preserved thanks to the freezing cold, which kept it in perfect condition for researchers to admire and contains various materials.
A Roman Warrior’s Skull
The Gallic Wars were a series of battles led by Romans on behalf of Julius Caesar. The Romans secured an easy victory over the Celtic tribes due to their vast military superiority. More than 30,000 Romans died during the wars, and over a million Celts died.
These victories paved the road for Caesar to become the sole ruler of the Roman Republic. This Roman soldier who fought in the Gallic War was impaled by a spear through the brain, which was most certainly his cause of death. His skull remains perfectly preserved to this day, with the same spear still inside it.
Thracian Horses and Carriages
Archaeologists have found these 2,500-year-old remains of two horses and their chariot, along with perfectly preserved wheels, a seat, and boot. These are believed to have belonged to the Thracian nobility. This discovery was made in a Thracian tomb along with other expensive artifacts of the time. The tombs were located in northeast Bulgaria in the village of Sveshtari.
These are the single most well-preserved remains of horses and a chariot, and it's unlikely that a better one will ever be discovered. The Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes that spread across Eastern Europe. It's believed that the first Greek Thracian colonies were founded in 800 BC.
A Piece of Bread
Bread has been around since biblical times, just in a much more basic form. This piece of bread was originally baked in the village of Pompeii, which was completely drowned in lava during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
The cool thing about lava is that it often preserves the very things it destroys, which is how you get this 2,000+-year-old piece of bread. This bread remained preserved along with its plate. It is so well preserved that its baker's stamp is still clearly visible on the top. The stamp reads: “Celer, slave of Quintus Granius Verus."
Ancient Egyptian Sandals
Ancient Egyptians wore almost exclusively sandals in the Egyptian hot deserts. These sandals were recently discovered, and they were attributed to the late King Tutankhamun, who presided over Egypt many centuries ago.
King Tut’s sandals featured incredible carvings and decorations in every which angle. If you’re ever in the market for new sandals, today, you can search through eBay and get the same kind of shoes worn by King Tutankhamun. In his time, these took weeks to handcraft.
A Stone Head Portrayal of a Warrior
The Olmec were a society of villagers that lived along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. These people were mostly known for the special statues they carved out of stone, often weighing around 20 tons each. These stone heads were carved to commemorate their rulers and are still well preserved today.
The boulders were brought by the Olmecs from the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas mountains in Veracruz. The heads they sculpted out of them were arranged in lines at important Olmec locations. Like many archaeological mysteries, it remains unknown just how they managed to move these massive boulders from one place to another.
Shoes From Damendorf, Germany
A body was discovered in 1900 of a man who originally hailed from Damendorf, Germany. The body was aptly referred to as the Damendorf Man though almost everything was gone except for the man's jewelry and garments. The Damendorf Man's shoes were preserved in perfect condition, and they were clearly hand-made from leather.
These shoes show us what sandals might have looked like back then, as they attempt to cover the feet while still leaving air holes for breathability. They were studied by many researchers and even helped historians make a few new discoveries.
A Mummified Monk
Monks have been known to perform near-superhuman feats of mind control on more than one occasion. In 2015, archeologists in the Netherlands were stunned when they discovered what is perhaps the greatest monk prank of all time.
More than 1,000 years ago, one monk decided to drink a highly poisonous tea to appear as dead in a full lotus position. He was then turned into a real-life mummy. The dead monk was then cast into a statue and remained hidden inside it for almost twenty generations.
A Breastplate Piece of Armor
Napoleon Bonaparte led the French revolutionary forces until eventually being defeated at the famous Battle of Waterloo. Antoine Favreau was one of the many young men who followed the distinguished military leader into combat, and he wore the standard metal breastplate armor.
Breastplate armor helped protect soldiers from blunt weapons, sword stabbings, gunshots, and other potentially fatal methods of warfare. Unfortunately, no matter how thick the armor was, there was simply nothing that could protect a man from a heavy cannonball flying directly towards them. Favreau was blasted in the chest during the famous 1815 fight.
A Mysterious Tibetan Skull
Millions of people are fascinated with the idea of looking for bargains at markets and antique shops. One such story of success happened in Vienna back in 2011, when a 300-year-old skull was found in a small antique shop.
According to the Austrian store owner, this skull belonged to a man who provided medical assistance to Tibetan monks. The man's teeth and skull were perfectly preserved, and his head was carved with various depictions of the macabre. The true origins of the skull remain a mystery, but it is still considered a rare piece of history.
The body was discovered in Canada in 1999, and scientists dated the corpse to be between 300-600 years old. Aside from the well-preserved body, the hunters that discovered him also found his walking stick and a fur coat.
What’s interesting about this case is that through DNA testing, they were able to find over 15 living relatives of the man in the ice, who had simply been dubbed “Canadian Ice Man.”
The Prehistoric Moose
This poor European Elk, also known as a moose, ran into some seriously troubled (and frigid) waters. The animal was found underneath a frozen lake in Alaska. Scientists believe that the animal tried to cross the lake and fell in and either froze or drowned to death.
This frozen beast revealed a lot to scientists. Among these things is an understanding of ancient creatures. First off, it shows that these ice-age beasts were similar in phenotype to a few of the animals that live today. This is because it has fur and antlers—and ostensibly for the same reasons that modern-day mosses do.
The remains of the ancestors of modern elephants, woolly mammoths, have been discovered all over the world, from Alaska to Siberia. These gentle giants had tusks that could reach up to 15-feet in length and could weigh up to 15 tons, although they weren’t necessarily the largest species of mammoths. Remains of these creatures have been dated back between 39 and 40,000 years ago.
In 2013, researchers discovered perhaps the most well-preserved woolly mammoth to date, deep in Siberia in a tomb of ice. They believe that the female mammoth had lived nearly 40,000 years ago. The body was still so intact that it still had some blood.
Egypt holds many incredible archaeological treasures that have revealed much about the sociological traditions of ancient times. One of the fascinating discoveries is Tutankhamun’s Tomb which was found in 1922 by a British archaeologist named Howard Carter.
What else was remarkable about Tutankhamun’s Tomb is that the walls are overlaid with gold, and his sarcophagus itself is made of solid gold too! Additionally, it is believed there are two different rooms hidden in his tomb, but it is not yet clear what may be inside.
The Grave of Richard the Third
The grave of Richard the Third was discovered in a parking lot in August of 2012 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester. It is thought that the English king had been buried there for over 500 years. Richard the Third is said to have died at the Battle of Bosworth and was only 32 years old.
What was notable for archaeologists was how the king appeared to be buried without the traditional respect in which a royal would be laid to rest. By the looks of his remains, archaeologists believe he was buried with no ceremony or even in a coffin. Historians assume that, whoever buried him, were not supporters of the royal.
Cave of Altamira
The Cave of Altamira is located in the north of Spain and contains some prehistoric engravings and paintings that were discovered in 1868. The cave was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and is covered in paintings and engravings of bison, cryptic symbols, and horses.
The validity of the paintings and engravings have been called into question in the past but are generally considered to be about 22,000 years old. Because of the delicate state of the paintings, tourists were at one time only allowed to see a replica of the paintings and engravings in a museum.
The Staffordshire Hoard may look like movie props, but the beautiful treasures were actually found in 2009 on farmland near Lichfield, Staffordshire. The Hoard is considered the largest Anglo-Saxon collection of gold and silver found to date and contains both pagan and Christian symbols.
Many of the objects are intricate, geometric patterns and animals. It is thought that treasures belonged to a male warrior or high status, but very little is known about the circumstances surrounding these abandoned objects.
Valley of the Kings
Located in Luxor, Egypt, the Valley of the Kings holds over 60 tombs of Egypt’s pharaohs. Here you can find the final resting places of pharaohs from the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties, including Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, Ramses the Second, and Seti the First, among others.
Tutankhamun, Nefertiti, Ramses the Second, and Seti the First, among others. The tombs are elaborately painted with scenes of the deceased royal with gods of the afterlife. The tombs were also, at one time, filled with all the necessities that Egyptians thought were needed for the afterlife.
The Megalopolis is located in Arcadia, Greece, and is thought to have been established in 371 BC as one of the first urban cities in the region. This ancient town of Megalopolis spans between Tripoli, Kalamata, and Sparta.
It contains a theatre that would have held around 20,000 people and is believed to have been built by the ancient Greek architect Polykleitos the Younger. Over many years, the ancient city has seen wars and invasions, but the ruins have survived. Today, Megalopoli (as it is called today) contains the usual, modern-day comforts of hotels, shops, and other attractions.
Cachette of the Priests
Egypt boasts yet another riveting archaeological find in the Cachette of the Priests. The Cachette is a collection of astoundingly well-preserved mummies that were discovered in an ancient cemetery near Luxor, Egypt. Within the Cachette, which is believed to be 3,000 years old, there are 23 males, five females, and two children.
Notably, the paintings on the coffins were exceptionally preserved, with detailed renditions of hieroglyphs and Egyptian deities. The mummies (many believed to have been priests) were moved from Luxor to the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The Bronze Shields
These remarkable bronze shields were discovered in Danish boglands and are estimated to have been made between 1100 - 700 B.C. What is really fascinating about the shields is that it is believed that they were not used for war but were ceremonial instead.
The shields were from the Bronze Age, a time period known for its advancement in metalworking (hence the name). It is thought that the etchings on these shields may signify ritual dances that they were used in.
Discovered in Western Iran, the remains of a wall stretching 71 miles are estimated to have been built between the fourth century B.C. and the sixth century A.D. Named the Gawri Wall, its remains were initially discovered via satellite but were reportedly known to those living in the area.
Even though archaeologists have been studying the remains, they are poorly preserved, making it difficult to find answers. Researchers say that who built the wall and why are still shrouded in mystery.
A rather chilling discovery, archaeologists in Salango, Ecuador, uncovered child skeletons outfitted with “helmets” made from other children’s skulls. One of the skeletons is thought to have been around 18 months old at the time of death, and the other 6 to 9 months old.
Archaeologists assume the helmets were part of a burial ritual, perhaps as a way to protect the child in the afterlife. Grotesque as this may be, it’s also thought that the helmets may have been made from the deceased children of a rival group.
Ice Age Art in the Amazon
In Colombia, archaeologists discovered an eight-mile mural of drawings dating back anywhere from 11,800 to 12,600 years. The art was created using ocher, a natural clay.
The images found on the mural were human handprints along with depictions of alligators, tapirs, monkeys, giant sloths, mastodons, and other creatures that are now extinct. It is thought that the drawings were made by some of the very first people to reach the Amazon as the Ice Age was ending.
Tomb of Romulus
The tomb of the legendary founder of Rome was discovered under the Curia Julia, or the Senate House in Rome, Italy. Inside the tomb was a sarcophagus, but it was found to be empty.
The tomb is made of volcanic stone, and the sarcophagus itself is only about 4.5 feet long. The tomb of Romulus is an on-going excavation, with archaeologists using a 3-D laser scanning method to better understand the site. Further excavations hope to reveal more about the site and perhaps more about the Roman legend.
Assyrian Rock Panels
A set of very rare, Assyrian panels depicting Assyrian deities were discovered at a canal in northern Iraq. The archaeological project was a joint effort between Italian and Kurdish researchers.
The canal, located near Mosul, is estimated to be more than 2,700 years old. It’s thought that the ancient canal may have been planned by the Assyrian King Sargon, who reigned between 720 - 705 B.C. The uncovering of both the canal and the panels is most likely just the beginning of more discoveries in the area.
A structure made from the remains of 60 mammoths was found in Russia. The structure was also made from the bones of foxes, reindeer, bears, horses, and wolves. The bone “labyrinth” is 36 feet in diameter and is estimated to have been created over 20,000 years ago, during the Ice Age.
Curiously enough, it is believed the bones may have still had meat on them when they were used for the structure. It’s unclear why the builders created the structure, leaving the only guesses for archaeologists to be for ritual or food storage purposes.
Ancient Chinese Art
Bird-like sculptures dating back 13,500 years were discovered in China. The sculptures are thought to be birds and measure about an inch high and three-quarters of an inch long and two-tenths of an inch thick.
What impressed archaeologists most was the craftsmanship of the sculpture for the time period. The subtle pedestal carved out at the bottom of the structure shows the artist’s attention to detail. In fact, archaeologists believe the birds were created using six different sculpture techniques.
The Red Lion Playhouse
The remains of what is believed to be the Red Lion Playhouse, the very first playhouse in England, was discovered in London, England.
The Red Lion was most likely built in the 1560s and was thought to have been constructed under the direction of grocer John Brayne. Additionally, holes were found close to the Red Lion, which were most likely part of the seating or scaffolding. The Red Lion did not survive long as a playhouse but probably became a model for future playhouses.
An inscription found on an ancient mound site in Southern Turkey is thought to be a recording of the military victories of Anatolian King Hartapu. Archaeologists from the University of Chicago unearthed the inscription, but little is known of the enigmatic ruler.
The inscription does confirm, however, that Hartapu was a Neo-Hittite ruler. The region where the inscription was discovered, Turkmen-Karahoyuk, was once a sparsely populated area that, during the time of Hartapu, grew into a much larger, bustling town spanning over 300 acres.
Oldest Mayan Temple
The largest and oldest Mayan ceremonial structure was found on a Mexican cattle ranch close to Guatemala. The temple is estimated to have been built between 1,000 and 800 B.C. This makes it older than the Mayan pyramids!
Now called Aguada Fenix, the platform-like structure was hidden in plain sight as it appeared to be a natural part of the surrounding ranchland. The Mayans were known for their advancements in technology, but their civilization was extinct by 800 A.D.
Peru is well-known for the Nazca lines or pre-Colombian geoglyphs that have been etched into the sands. One of the most recent geoglyphs discovered is in the shape of a cat which has been named the Gato Nazca.
The Gato Nazca is estimated to have been built between 200 and 100 B.C. Though it was severely eroded when it was first discovered, careful work by archaeologists has helped reveal the details of the impressive geoglyph. The Gato Nazca may look like a simple drawing, but it is an important finding that can reveal much about an ancient civilization.
The Alaskan Volcano
The Okmok volcano is located on Umnak Island in Alaska. Shockingly, archaeologists now wonder if the Okmok volcano’s eruption may have somehow contributed to the downfall of the Roman empire.
When the volcano erupted in 43 B.C., it is believed that the toxic ash that traveled through the air is responsible for triggering an extreme climate change that led to cold weather and failed crops. The discovery was made after scientists studied six ice cores in the arctic (which can be studied like the rings of a tree trunk) and compared them to the volcanic material found in the surrounding ice.
A legend began that art dealer Forrest Fenn had hidden a treasure chest filled with gold and precious stones in the Rocky Mountains. Fenn had written a semi-cryptic message about the treasure’s location, but many speculated where it was exactly.
The treasure was estimated to be worth about 2 million, and many searched for it, some even perishing in pursuit of the supposed treasure. It was finally discovered by a medical student named Jack Steuf. The finding of the treasure has been met with controversy, however — others claim that they had located it first but were simply unable to reach the location before Steuf.