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10 Strange Archaeological Discoveries That Changed History

Time kills memories but also creates much curiosity. Archeologists have worked for years trying to settle the questions on where humans came from and what they did in their many years of advancement. While many questions still last, some archeological discoveries have given fascinating facts and disproved many theories that people had about ancient human activities. These are the ten most important discoveries that archeologists still use when explaining just how far the human race has come.

1. Pompeii


Pompeii is one of Italy’s greatest archeological and residential sites just as it was 2000 years ago when it killed some 2000 people. Ancient Rome had so much to teach generations to come but weather and time did not give much room for that. However, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on Pompeii, the side of the city reserved for the most dignified Roman citizens preserved a piece of the 79 AD lifestyle for more than 2000 years. Many people had a chance to escape, but the bodies buried under the volcano were still intact with evidence of all activities in the city at the time kept intact. It was first discovered in 1748 opening up the most excavated side of Italy up to this day. Archeologists were able to dig up villas just as they were built with the ancient architectural designs guiding the architecture in many parts of Britain and Europe.[1]

Medieval Europe basically attempted to replicate Pompeii in everything they did. Scholars would soon learn that almost everything tried out nearly 2000 years on had been tested in Pompeii including food preservation and medicine. It is the piece of Rome that has literally guided our generation to greatness, but don’t be happy just yet, the angry mountain erupted in 1944 and may erupt again any time, this time, it may bury the 3 million residents for the next generation.[2]

2. The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta stone

A small Brocken piece of rock discovered Napoleon’s soldier in the 18th century has changed linguistics more than any teacher. The text was written in 3 different languages, all we needed was a person who could read the Greek part of the text to help interpret the understand it and Thomas young was the right man for the job. When the name Rosetta is mentioned today, many people think of the software used to learn and translate languages the same way this rock brought Hierographic, Ancient Greek and domitic texts to light.

The stone was a decree by the Ptolemy cult sometime in the third century written to the people by the council of priests. It was not necessarily discovered by archeologists, but its role in interpreting Hieroglyphs which is used in most ancient Egyptian texts has helped the world understand ancient Egypt. The ownership of the rock is claimed by the Egyptians, but the British national museum maintains it owns it rightfully after taking it away from Napoleon. Considering Napoleon’s crimes, maybe it is a well-earned gift after all.[3]

3. Olduvai Gorge

Old Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania is the most intact significant host of the early man’s culture discovered by archeologists. 30,000-year-old bones and stone tools preserved in the faulting of the gorge years ago explain human intelligence and violence dating back millions of years. Louis and Mary Leakey discovered what is termed the earliest evidence of human knowledge dating back to 2 million years ago.

The discovery of the Zinjanthopus and the Homo habilis which are the first men to start using tools and concentrate on flesh eating for faster-expanding brains were also confirmed by the discovery of 302 bones of a female hominin in the gorge in 1986. The Australopithecus was earlier believed as the Homo genus ancestor of man until the Leakey discovery changed everything. They also discovered that human evolution among different hominins overlapped bringing the Darwinian theory of evolution more support.[4]

4. Shroud of Turin

Shroud of Turin

This is probably the most contested Christian relic in history. It is believed to be the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in for burial after his crucifixion. Christians have trusted in the cloth to perform miracles and represent the power of the savior on earth for years after it’s discovery. It was put in a particular church in Edessa after the Persian invasion. The journey of this piece of fabric from Edessa to Constantinople and its survival of the city’s looting is still unexplained.

The cloth also survived the London fire and the 1972 fire in Italy strengthening the belief in its supernatural connectivity. However, a group of forensic scientists studying the cloth to find out the shape of Jesus’s cross lay more doubts on the previous ones when they said the stains were not consistent with a crucified man. Either way, the cloth holds a special place in religious artifacts as one of the most revered sacred objects on earth.[5][6]

5. The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Everyone knows the bible was written by people, but no one had the manuscripts until a boy threw a rock in the cave east of Jerusalem. This discovery of the Westbank has forced western archeologists and religious scholars digging in the caves around the dead sea for decades. The Hebrew Bible is the most read book in the world and this discovery attached hard proof details to all the books except the book of Esther. The first discovery was made by a boy who happened to find a scroll wrapped in sheepskin left behind by an immigrant.

Continuous excavation has revealed more scrolls mostly written in Hebrew. Other scrolls were written in Aramaic and Greek mostly explaining the religious beliefs of individual communities. The 800 documents discovered were written on papyrus, sheepskin and copper engraved tablets dating back to 200 CE. More scrolls are being dug out, who knows? Maybe the bible will get more books in the long run.[7]

6. The Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera Mechanism

Of all the archaeological discoveries, this is the most advanced. A computer from an alien spaceship, well that is what many people believed until x-ray vision in the 70s proved otherwise. This sophisticated machine was found on the bed of the Mediterranean by sailors returning to Greece from Africa. When compared to other tools discovered within the same timing, this bronze piece was too advanced, in fact too sophisticated for its own time of discovery. This was a clear indicator that a generation 2000 years behind us had a sophisticated way beyond our understanding. The years under the sea had turned the bronze beauty into a mass of green ugly looking metal.[8]

After opening and examining, researchers discovered the excellent angles and well-cut gears with encryptions. It was able to rotate seven hands that tracked celestial movements for the sun, moon and five visible planets. The person that created it was a genius, it is believed to be the first computer ever made and used to calculate the time for the Olympics or whatever events ancient kings needed to track.[9]

7. Gobekli Tepe

Gobekli Tepe

Which came first, agriculture or civilization, well, everyone believed that human beings build cities after quitting nomadic lifestyles for a more productive agrarian culture. This is another site. However, that redefined evolution regarding what came first. Believed to be the first temple of man, Gobekli Tepe is a complete town build before the stone ages with the advancement of a city.

At 6000 years before the stone age, this site has structures aged 11,500 years making it the oldest permanent structure built by man. The archeologists believed that it was a temple of some kind because of the nature of structures used and the animal drawings accompanying them. Well, no one knows whether the chicken or the egg came first, after Gobekli Tepe, we are not so sure exactly where civilization falls in the human evolution either.[10]

8. King Tutt’s Self-Burnt Body

King Tutt’s Self-Burnt Body
Photo by Jennifer Taylor

This is a story of two people, one dead one living that saved each other and changed the world. Carter the British archeologist that made the discovery was on the brink of losing his career. On the other hand, no one knew anything about Tutankhamun’s fate until Carter found his resting place in 1922 making him the greatest ever archeological discovery in the valley of the kings. So, everyone won, but not just yet, Tutankhamun’s tomb changed Egyptology and archeology on a global scale. More people flocked the valley because it was clear there was more to Egypt than the world already knew.[11]

His mummified body was found having burnt at 400 degrees in his coffin. Spontaneous human combustion is scientifically impossible but not so foreign. Cases of this unlikely event have been recorded at one point or another, but King Tut seems to be the first man that blew into flames. The 18-year-old king ruled for nine years after his father’s death. His successors eager to wipe out his name cleaned Egypt of everything related to him leading to his tomb is the last to be found. The attempt to make him extinct actually made him the most famous pharaoh because grave robbers did not know where he was buried leaving his tomb intact.[12]

9. Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

The greatest thing about being the emperor of China is that when you die, everything you need including soldiers and musicians follows you to the tomb. Well, at least their clay models. The 18-year-old hero of China that united the warring kingdoms and became their king around 246 BC has shown the world just how advanced ancient China was. The first piece of the clay kingdom was discovered in 1974 by well-diggers in Xian. The site has been excavated for years now with thousands of clay soldiers in battle postures and a complete supply of swords, bows, and arrows being discovered. More chambers have been unlocked over the years revealing an intact section with musicians and dancers in performance posture ready to entertain the emperor. His body has not been discovered yet, but his soul is probably the safest and happiest one in the realm of the dead, well at least it was until the discovery.[13]

10. The Altamira Caves

Art is the first form of learning for most children, but this discovery proved it to be man’s earliest hobby. The Altamira caves are part of a range of caves in Northern Spain that was inhabited by humans around 25,000 BC. While no one can really tell the actual time when art became part of man’s daily life, these caves give an insight into how early man may have preserved information.

Pictures of hands and deer are drawn on the cave wall with a splint and colored in red and black to identify nose, eyes, and hair. It sounds too advanced for these years. The most significant drawings in these caves are those of bison, yes bison! Not a very common animal in that part of the world but clear images of these grazers are still visible in the cave. Just amazing how smart our ancestors were right?[14]

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