Archaeological findings have been the key to unlocking humanity’s past. So let’s put on our fedoras and a crack the whip on some of the strangest archeological discoveries!
The Creepy Mount Owen Moa
In 1986, a group of archeologists embarked on an expedition deep into one of the caves of Mount Owen, New Zealand, where they found this huge claw from an unidentified creature. This scale-skinned claw turned out to be well-preserved and belonged to a 3,300 year old upland Moa, a large prehistoric bird.
The Reburial Of Richard III
After Richard III was killed in the Battle Of Bosworth, he was dethroned by Henry VII. His corpse was then taken to Leicester to be buried. 527 years later, after an archeological excavation was conducted at a parking lot, The University Of Leicester found a skeleton and identified it as Richard III. Carbon dating proved the skeleton’s identity and on March 26th, 2015, the remains were reburied in Leicester Cathedral.
The Boat That Rocked The Religious World
During a drought in the Sea of Galilee, two fishing brothers, Moshe and Yuval Lufan found a boat after the water level lowered. Archeologists were alerted and their results found that the boat dated back to first century CE, a time widely regarded to be when Jesus Christ and his disciples roamed the Levant. The materials and design of the boat were also near identical to the type of boat that Jesus would have used. The boat is now displayed at the Yigal Allon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar.
Shrouded In Mystery
The Shroud Of Turin is an uncanny image of what many presume Jesus looked like. Despite dating back to 1260-1290 AD, carbon testing has done little to clarify the inception of the mysterious shroud. The Catholic church made no formal endorsement of the image, but Pope Pius XII approved it in 1958 and Pope John Paul II called the shroud a “Mirror of the Gospel.” The shroud remains mysterious and the subject of intense debate by both the church and the archeological community.
The Pilate Stone
According to the New Testament, Pontius Pilate was a significant figure in the life of Jesus Christ, and his existence was given further credibility after an archeological discovery in 1961. Dr. Antonio Frova found in Caesarea what is known today as “The Pilate Stone,” a tablet inscribed with a loose translation from Latin, “To the Divine Augusti [this] … Pontius Pilate … prefect of Judea … has dedicated [this].” It has been suggested that Pilate established his military base in Caesarea, hence why the tablet was found there. The Pilate Stone is currently located in The Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Enter The Sanxingdui
In Sichuan, China, the majestic Sanxingdui archaeological site can be found in all its glory. Believed to date back to 12th century BCE due to its carbon dating, the trapezoidal shaped city is believed to be the original home of the ancient kingdom of Shu. The mysterious facial patterns surround the site along with wide canals believed to have been built for irrigation. Sanxingdui has been found twice, both in 1929 and 1986, providing artifacts that have given archeologists a clearer vision of the Bronze Age.
The Army Of The Afterlife
The Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang is one of the most extravagant tombs to ever be designed. The huge number of sculptures were created to protect the Emperor in the afterlife, preventing living beings from intruding his tomb to disturb him from his eternal slumber. Surprisingly, it wasn’t archeologists who discovered in China’s Shaanxi province. A group of farmers accidentally stumbled across the life size army, who must have been terrified before alerting the authorities about their epic discovery.
The Hobbit Skulls
In 2003, tiny human skulls were discovered by researchers on Flores Island, Indonesia. Although the skulls have been confirmed as merely smaller versions of the modern human skull we are accustomed to today, researchers playfully named them, “Hobbit Skulls.” The technical term for the type of being is Homo Floresiensis (Flores Man), but the colloquial term gained publicity and Lord Of The Rings fans particularly warmed to the story. The first skull discovered was of a 3.5 feet tall woman.
The Mysterious Voynich Text
The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex believed to have been written in Northern Italy over 600 years ago. The mystery has attracted much debate due to its unidentified language and to this day, no one has managed to decipher the text. But researchers have deduced various interpretations from the Voynich’s illustrations, suggesting that it was possibly a nature manual. The text includes pictures featuring a variety of imagery such as scantily clad women and archaic medicinal remedies.
The Ferocious Andrewsarchus
In 1923, American explorer and Director of the American Museum of Natural History, Roy Chapman Andrews and his team made an incredible discovery when they found a gigantic skull of an unidentified animal in Mongolia. In honor of the researcher’s findings, the creature was named “Andrewsarchus.” No more parts of the skeleton were found, but through analysis the mammal was thought to have the strongest jaw of any animal in history. It was also estimated to weigh anywhere between 2,200 and 4000 pounds.
The Ancient City Of Knossos
In 1878, after referring to a variety of ancient Roman texts, Arthur Evans and Minos Kalokairinos made a groundbreaking discovery. The pair worked on the island of Crete, discovering what they believed to be the ruins of Knossos. The ancient city that features illustrations of raging bulls is rooted in Greek lore as the Labyrinth of the legendary Minotaur, a mythological creature with a bull’s head and the body of a man. Knossos is often regarded as Europe’s oldest city.
The Hunter Became The Hunted
In 2012, one of the more obscure yet important discoveries in this list was made. A team from the University Of Toronto found evidence that humans had used stone-tipped weapons at least 500,000 years ago. Jayne Wilkins from the Toronto institution and colleagues from Arizona State University and the University of Cape Town examined the ancient stone spear heads from the South African archeological site of Kathu Pan 1 and agreed that they had originally been used as weapons to hunt, at least 200,000 years earlier than originally thought.
Long Live King Tut
Tutankhamun is widely regarded as the most famous Pharaoh of the New Kingdom. The golden death mask of “King Tut” as he is colloquially known, was unearthed in 1925 by British archeologist, Howard Carter. Like his death and the tomb in which it was found, King Tut’s mask has become an iconic symbol of archeology and is the subject of intense speculation. One strange phenomenon surrounding the mummy of Tutankhamun is that it apparently caught fire after it was sealed away in its tomb.
The Copper Scroll
One of the Dead Sea Scrolls known as “The Copper Scroll” was found in the caves of Qumran between 1946-1956. Unlike the other scrolls that were written on parchment or papyrus, this particular document is made of copper, mixed with one percent tin. Dated around 70 CE, the scroll is written in a unique form of Hebrew and is believed to describe a location where large amounts of gold and silver are hidden. Since 2013, it has been on display at the Jordan Museum in Amman.
The Cave Of Altamira
The Cave of Altamira was discovered in Santillana Del Mar, Spain by Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola. The cave displays many charcoal illustrations of fauna and human hands and the story goes that Sautuola’s nine-year old daughter pointed out the paintings that were on the ceiling of the cave. According to research, most of the paintings date back to the Upper Paleolithic period, while the earliest ones are believed to have been created 35,600 years ago. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is about 1000 meters long and includes many chambers and twisting passages.
The Pyramids Of Giza
Some of the most iconic archeological marvels can be found in Egypt. Generally regarded by the Western world as a symbol of Egyptian culture, the ancient complex includes the three Great Pyramids (some of the largest ever built), The Great Sphinx, cemeteries and a workers’ village. The monuments collectively are considered to be one of the oldest ancient wonders of the world and the only one still in existence. New tunnels within the pyramids’ walls are still being discovered to this day.
On the outskirts of Cusco, Peru lies the historical capital of the Incan Empire, the Sacsayhuaman. Regarded as an ancient engineering phenomenon, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has been praised by archeologists for its perfectly fitting wall slabs. Despite age potentially playing apart in the walls tight fitting, the engineering efforts of the Incas can not be ignored. Nowadays, Peruvians celebrate Inti Raymi close to the site, a festival originally celebrated by the Incas in honor of the Sun god, Inti.
The Mysterious Nazca Lines
The Nazca lines can be found in the Nazca Desert of Southern Peru. Scholars believe that the lines were created by the Nazca people between 500 BCE and 500 CE. The pre-Aztec people created these gigantic shapes to depict animals, humanoid figures and plants related to the culture. The largest figures measure up to 1,200 ft, having stood the test of time due to a removal of the original red surface. But since 2012, the lines have reportedly started to deteriorate due to an influx of squatters.
The Original Rosetta Stone
You’ve probably already heard of the term Rosetta Stone. But before the learning language software took off, the name originally applied to the Rosetta Stone, which a French soldier found in the Egyptian sands in 1799. The significance of the stone is undeniable, helping to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. The largest stone was essentially one of the first forms of cross-translation, as King Ptolemy V issued a decree to write the stone in three separate languages: in Hieroglyphics, Ancient Greek and Demotic Script.
Rings Around The Arab World
These rock formations have baffled archaeologists around the globe and are actually visible when flying over parts of the Middle East. In the 20th century, British pilots spotted the giant structures. Later recognized as ancient traps, the people of the time designed these impressive rings in order to capture prey. The main series of rock formations can be found between Wadi el-Hasa and the edge of the Shara slope.
The Iconic Stonehenge
Another British landmark with huge archeological significance is Stonehenge. Dating back as early as 3,000 BC, it is undoubtedly one of the most iconic ancient sites in the world, attracting millions of tourists from around the world every year. The prehistoric monument is shrouded in mystery but one thing for sure is that it’s located in Wiltshire, the densest area of monuments in the whole of England. People even use the site as a pilgrimage during the Summer Solstice.
The Enigmatic Easter Islands
Rapa Nui, better known as the Easter Islands is most famous for the Moai, large monolithic human heads carved by the Rape Nui people of the same name. However, the strangest detail about the structures isn’t necessarily how they look, but rather their location. Rapa Nui’s closest mainland is Chile, which is 2,182 miles away from the remote Pacific islands. Despite the mystery behind the Moai, it’s amazing to think that humans of the past were able reach and settle in Rap Nui.
The Piri Reis Map
The Piri Reis Map is an extremely accurate early map of the Atlantic world. Created at some point in the early 1500s by Ottoman admiral Piri Reis, the map is believed to have been made from dozens of maps that were put together. About one third of the Piri Reis map still exists, depicting the west coasts of Europe and North Africa, as well as the Brazilian coast. Other real life Atlantic islands can be seen including the Azores and the Canary Islands.
Las Bolas Of Costa Rica
Isla Del Caño, Costa Rica is home to some oddly placed stone spheres, formed by magma. Although the mainstream theory is that the spheres marked the Chiefs’ territories, the answer behind this mystery will only be fully understood by the Chibchan people who once dwelled in the Diquis Delta, home to the Palmar Sur archeological excavation sites. These sites date back to two periods: the Aguas Buenas Period (300–800 CE) and Chiriqui Period (800–1550 CE). The stones were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2014.
The Wall Of Khatt Shebib
One of the more enigmatic discoveries on this list is the Khatt Shebib, a rock structure located in Jordan. The 93 mile long ancient wall has perplexed archeologists since 1948 when Sir Alec Kirkbride, a British diplomat first reported it during his visit to the country. The most confusing part about the wall is it’s short height. At only 3.3 feet, the purpose of the wall to this day remains unclear. The wall ruins are currently being studied by the Aerial Archaeology of Jordan Project.
From The Depths Of Atlantis
In 1988, marine archeologists found an extremely rare metal that has been mentioned in Pluto’s Atlantis. 39 rectangles known as ingots, made out of a rare metal called orichalcum were found on a shipwreck off the coast of Sicily. The ship was believed to have sunk over 2,600 years ago off the coast of Gela. According to the Greek mythology, it was Cadmus, the first king of Thebes who created the mysterious metal. Needless to say, the archeologists couldn’t believe what they found.
The Cochno Stone
At a staggering 43 feet by 26 feet, the Cochno Stone of Glasgow, Scotland is an abnormally massive archeological find. The peculiar swirling patterns on the stone surface are not the first time archeologists have found such patterns. According to the Glasgow University researcher, Kenny Brophy, an ancient artist may have created the distinctive symbols, using the swirls as his trademark wherever he travelled. However, this is pure speculation on Brophy’s part. The stone was recently discovered in 2016, and is believed to be at least 5,000 years old.
The Roman Dodecahedrons
Archeologists are still baffled by these peculiar twelve-sided shapes, the Roman Dodecahedrons. A mystery to this day, researchers haven’t been able to work out exactly what the instruments purpose was during the times of the Romans, despite being very common throughout central Europe. Some theorize that these objects, dating back to 100 and 200 CE, were used for decorations, possibly as candle holders, while others claim that they were used to measure distance. The most obvious theory is that they were popular toys of the time, but there is no evidence to prove this as of yet.
The Multipurpose Roman Jar
This 1800 year old Roman Jar was part of an unprecedented discovery in a storage facility at the Museum of Ontario. After being dug out of a World War II bomb crater in London, William Francis Grimes gave the jar to the museum in the 1950s. It was originally shattered into 180 pieces and is thought by scientists to have either been a lamp or an animal cage due to being covered in holes. According to LiveScience, the restored jar is one of a kind.
The Uncrackable Blade
Ancient weapons have the most epic stories. But this 800-year-old medieval sword was found in England’s River Witham and its past remains obscure. Running down the center of the blade is a code that archeologists have struggled to crack since its discovery in 1825. Despite researchers from the British Library having appealed to the public to help solve the supposedly uncrackable code, they are sure that a knight would have defended the church using the sword. This sword is growing to be as mysterious as Excalibur!
The Discs Of Zhirnovsky
In 2015, a group of researchers and hunters found mysterious giant stone discs in the Zhirnovsky district. The Volgograd district is home to at least 12 of these discs that vary in size (one measures four-meters in diameter) and whose origins remain a complete mystery. Bloknot Volgograd news says that researchers continue to investigate Zhirnovsky because of its continuous mysterious incidents. They are studying the discs to work out their age and material. Some believe that the discs may not be man-made at all and were simply formed naturally over time.
Gokpeli Tepe, The Original Turkish Delight
In 1996, the ancient masterpiece that is Gobekli Tepe (literally meaning “Potbelly Hill”) was discovered by German archeologists, under the direction of Klaus Schmidt. Despite Schmidt’s team believing that the site was neolithic sanctuaries used as a holy site, this may not necessarily be the true reason for the sites original construction. The site located in the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey is considered extremely important by the archaeological community since being created over 11,000 years ago by its prehistoric inhabitants.
The Faces Of Marcahuasi
In 1952, Daniel Ruzo discovered a plateau in the Andes Mountains. The archeologist believed that the large stones in the area had been carved to look like human faces and animals, but there is no concrete evidence to support this. Ruzo claimed that whenever the existence of all living beings could be threatened, sites may be used to conserve human knowledge. His other theory was that about 10,000 years ago, the stones were made into sculptures by the Masma people.
The Emerald Island Awakens
Skellig Michael has at the very least received constant human attention for the good part of nearly 1500 years. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was uninhabited until a Christian monastery was found at some point between the 6th and 8th Century CE. In recent times, Skellig Michael has been in the public eye since providing the backdrop to a pivotal scene in the blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since the film came out, the island off the coast of Ireland has seen a significant rise in tourism, but at the potential cost of threatening its natural landscape.
The Codex Gigas, AKA The Devil’s Bible
Colloquially named “The Devil’s Bible,” because of its large illustration of the Devil and the legend surrounding the book, The Codex Gigas is the largest medieval manuscript in the world. The book was originally thought to have been created by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery in what was originally Czechoslovakia. After surviving multiple battles and falling in the hands of many custodians, the Gigas returned to Prague and was put on display at the Czech National Library until January, 2008.
The Antikythera Mechanism
What could easily be mistaken as a modern day gadget is actually over 2,000 years old. The Antikythera Mechanism was found in a Greek cargo ship and has perplexed the most educated of archaeologists since its discovery in 1901. Researchers consider this puzzling bronze maze to be an astronomical calendar, but its uses continue to be debated to this very day. The ancient device has an intricate design of interlocking gears and a mysterious code of characters etched into its surface.
El Castillo, The Ancient Mayan Ruin
Before its mysterious disappearance, the Mayan civilization of Central America was considered to be one of the most advanced in human history. Despite extensive research into why the Mayans seemed to just vanish after six centuries of existence, a definitive answer remains to be seen. While scientists believe a combination of drought and deforestation possibly had a large part to play, historians cite the Spanish conquest, between 1511-1697AD, to be a crucial factor in the Mayan’s rapid decline. El Castillo is also known as the Temple Of Kukulcan, a Mayan serpentine deity.
The Pompeii Ruins
The ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii are some of the most visually stunning sights to be scene in the world of archeology. In 79 AD, the major volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroyed the nearby Roman city, burying its civilians and their homes with volcanic ash and pumice. The tragic event was heavily documented in ancient manuscripts, providing future generations with detailed descriptions of the events that transpired. The Pompeii ruins along with Mount Vesuvius are to this day a popular tourist destination, attracting approximately 2.5 million visitors per year.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
From 1946-56, various discoveries were made that are now considered to be the remains of Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the most important biblical discoveries of all time. There reason they were called the Dead Sea Scrolls is pretty obvious. Archeologists found 981 different manuscripts written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in a cave about 1.2 miles away from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The scrolls are of great religious, historic and linguistic importance and date back to the last three centuries and BCE and the first century CE.