Though there are new archaeological discoveries all the time, every now and then, excavators will find something big. These important findings change our understanding of the past and help to fill in missing details that have been lost to history. Some of them have an impact on all the discoveries that follow. If you’re a history buff, you can’t help but be excited, even years after the remains and artifacts are found!
Who knows what fascinating things archaeologists will find in the years to come? For now, we’ll have to be satisfied with these 10 extraordinary findings that have revealed lots of information about the past.
10 The Tomb Of King Tut
It’s been nearly 100 years since a group of researchers discovered the nearly intact tomb of Tutankhamun, but the discovery remains one of the most exciting events in archaeological history! Inside the tomb, researchers found the mummy of the long-dead Egyptian royal, as well as several artifacts, masks, art, and jewelry.
The discovery of King Tut’s tomb ended up being hugely influential because it surged the interested of the general public in Ancient Egypt. Since the find, the treasures found in the tomb have been exhibited in museums all over the world.
9 The Lost City Of Troy
Those who have read Homer’s Iliad would know all about the ancient city of Troy. For centuries, historians believed that the legendary city, which was the site of the Trojan War and the famed Trojan Horse, was nothing but a myth. Then in 1870, the remains of the city were discovered in northwestern Turkey.
In 1873, treasure was found in the lost city, which was believed to have belonged to King Priam. According to Greek Mythology, Priam was the ruler of Troy whose son Paris fell in love with Helen and whisked her away from her Spartan husband. These events sparked the beginning of the Trojan War.
8 Knossos Palace, Crete
Between 1900 and 1905, excavations led by Arthur Evans uncovered a palace dating back to the Middle Bronze Age in Crete. The palace, which had around 1,300 rooms, was said to have been standing since between 1900 and 1450 BC.
The excavations also turned up thousands of slabs of baked clay which contained inscriptions written in an entirely new language that historians had never seen before. The writing was labeled Linear B and, according to World Archeology, is now known as the oldest deciphered language to come out of Europe.
7 Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge
The ravine in Tanzania’s Great Rift Valley known as Olduvai Gorge doesn’t seem like an important archaeological discovery. After all, there was no treasure or mummies buried there. But the site contained something far more fascinating: Evidence of the earliest humans.
Live Science explains that stone tools and skull remains were unearthed in the gorge back in the 1930s, the latter of which is thought to have belonged to a primate that lived 25 million years ago. Years later in 1959, remains of early human ancestor remains began to be discovered at the site, confirming that humans did first evolve in Africa.
6 Spain's Cave Of Altamira
Humans evolved in Africa, but they then began spreading throughout the rest of the world. The prehistoric paintings in the Cave of Altamira discovered in 1879 are believed to have existed for between 14,000 and 18,500 years before they were found. Some scientists believe that they are actually even older than that, and were first painted when humans first appeared in northern Europe around 35,000 years ago.
The paintings found in the Spanish cave portray bison, horses, deer, and the outlines of human hands. They were created using charcoal and natural earth tinctures.
5 The Easter Island Statues
The Rapa Nui people of what westerners know as Easter Island first carved giant monoliths between 1250 and 1500 AD. Historians believe that they did this to evoke protection from their ancestors by honoring them with statues. It wasn’t until the 18thcentury that the western world discovered huge carved heads on the remote islands, which are now referred to as the Easter Island Statues.
At first, it was believed that the people just carved heads. But the monoliths, called Moai, actually contain their own carved bodies as well.
4 The Grave Of Richard III
It’s not every day that you stumble upon the grave of a king! In 2012, more than 500 years after his death, King Richard III was discovered beneath a modern-day car park in Leicester, England. He was buried at Greyfriars Church following his death in 1485, which was lost to history. In 2015, he was reburied in the nearby Leicester Cathedral, in a marble tomb fit for royalty.
Though it has not been proven, some believe that Richard had his two nephews, Edward V and Richard of Shrewsbury, murdered in the Tower of London so that he could take the throne of England for himself.
3 The Rosetta Stone
Historians would understand far less about Ancient Egypt were it not for the Rosetta Stone. Discovered in Egypt by French soldiers in 1799, the stone helped scholars to finally understand how to decipher Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. That is why it is still considered one of the world’s most important archaeological discoveries.
There were three different scriptures found on the stone. Hieroglyphics was the first one, which was the script of the empire. There was also Egyptian demotic, which is what the common people spoke, and Greek, which was the official language during the Macedonian rule of Egypt.
2 The Mount Owen Claw
Though dinosaur bones would still be an exciting discovery to any archaeologist, a team in New Zealand’s Mount Owen got more than they bargained for upon discovering a preserved claw of an upland moa. The moa was a prehistoric bird that weighed about 500 pounds.
The moa was a flightless bird, similar to an emu or ostrich, that was covered in feathers. The mummified claw that was discovered in the late 1980s looked like it belonged to something that had only recently died, even though it is thought that the bird died more than 3,000 years ago.
1 The Frozen Inca Mummy
In one of the most fascinating archaeological discoveries to date, the mummy known as La Doncella had already been preserved for 500 years by the time archaeologists found it in 1999. The girl was sacrificed on a freezing mountaintop with two other children as an offering to the gods.
The mummy revealed a lot to historians about the Incas, thanks in large part to her ceremonial clothing and her finely braided hair. The girl, who was just a teenager when she died, was discovered in Argentina and had recently drunk corn liquor which had put her to sleep.