Digging History: The latest 67 discoveries from the ancient world
From ancient tombs to newly discovered graves, from underwear of the Middle Ages to ancient Chinese warriors, by learning more about the past we learn more about ourselves.
3600 mummy egypt.jpg
Spanish archeologists have unearthed a 3,600-year-old mummy in the ancient city of Luxor, Egypt's Antiquities Minister said Thursday. Prosecutors accused nine people including three Germans of smuggling stone samples from pyramids.
Find out more about this ancient find here.
Britain Early Humans footprints.jpg
British scientists have discovered human footprints in England that are at least 800,000 years old -- the most ancient found outside Africa, and the earliest evidence of human life in northern Europe.
For more, click here.
Italy Uffizi Ancient cemetery.jpg
Archaeologists work in an ancient cemetery with dozens of skeletons that was unearthed during works to expand the Uffizi Gallery's exhibit space, In Florence, Italy. In five months of digging, archaeologists uncovered 60 well-preserved skeletons in the cemetery. Archaeologist Andrea Pessina said DNA testing will aim to find evidence of what "certainly was an extremely lethal epidemic," possibly the plague.
Read more here.
They weren’t cooking brontosaurus burgers -- but maybe mammoth meat?
A team of researchers has uncovered the oldest hearth in Israel, a 300,000-year-old fire pit where prehistoric humans roasted ancient meats. Scientists estimate that humans discovered fire over a million years ago, and this find helps determine when our ancestors learned to cultivate it and use it as a tool.
Find out more here.
The Weizmann Institute
A 1,500-year-old church complete with a sophisticated mosaic was uncovered by archaeologists in southern Israel.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) say the Byzantine-era structure "probably served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities."
The building is approximately 72 feet long by 40 feet wide and consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. An open courtyard at the front of the structure is paved with a white mosaic floor and a cistern.
Click here to find out more.
Yoli Shwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority
The remains of a bustling port and barracks for sailors or military troops have been discovered near the Giza Pyramids. They were in use while the pyramids were being built about 4,500 years ago.
The remains of a woman kept in an Indian church likely belong to an ancient queen executed about 400 years ago, a new DNA analysis suggests.
The DNA analysis suggests the remains are those of Queen Ketevan, an ancient Georgian queen who was executed for refusing to become a member of a powerful Persian ruler's harem.
Find out more here.
Images of winged beings adorn a pair of gold-and-silver ear ornaments a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave. Archaeologists found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens, in the imperial tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey.
Daniel Giannoni/National Geographic News
Hundreds of ancient coins, oil lamps and gold jewelry have been discovered in Israel, mysteriously thrown away centuries ago in a Byzantine garbage dump. The excavation site is located on the outskirts of the ancient Israeli city of Arsuf, just north of Tel Aviv.
Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority
Archeologists conducting excavations at the site of a church in Turkey have unearthed a stone chest containing a relic that may be part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
The items were discovered during a large-scale excavation at the Balatlar Church, which was built in A.D. 660 near the Black Sea, Today's Zaman reported.
A few characters on the side of a 3,000-year-old earthenware jug dating back to the time of King David have stumped archaeologists until now -- and a fresh translation may have profound ramifications for our understanding of the Bible.
Experts had suspected the fragmentary inscription was written in the language of the Canaanites, a biblical people who lived in the present-day Israel. Not so, says one expert who claims to have cracked the code: The mysterious language is actually the oldest form of written Hebrew, placing the ancient Israelites in Jerusalem earlier than previously believed..
Needless to say, his claims are stirring up controversy among those who do not like to mix the hard facts of archaeology -- dirt, stone and bone -- with stories from the Bible.
Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein told FoxNews.com that the Ophel Inscription is critical to the early history of Israel. But romantic notions of the Bible shouldn't cloud scientific methods.
Read the full report on FoxNews.com.
Key to David's City/Youtube
An aerial picture of the site archaeologists believe to be one of King David's palaces.
Over the past year, archaeologists have excavated a site that they believe to be the fortified Judean city of Shaarayim, where David smote Goliath as described in the Bible.
Sky View/Hebrew University/Israel Antiquities Authority
Archaeologists have uncovered a mysterious coffin-within-a-coffin while excavating the final resting place of King Richard III.
The University of Leicester team opened the lid of a medieval stone coffin this week during the final week of their second dig at the Grey Friars site where the British king was found last September.
The lead coffin can be seen inside of the stone coffin found at the Greyfriars dig site. Damage to the right side of the lead coffin reveals the feet of the unknown deceased inside.
University of Leicester
British archaeologists have uncovered the remains of stone foundations in a pattern which suggests that there may have been a series of medieval buildings on a modern construction site. The mystery lies in exactly what the buildings were once used for.
A nearly 1,500-year-old Mayan stone monument, inscribed with a story of an ancient power struggle, has been unearthed in Guatemala.
The stone slab, which dates to A.D. 564, was found in a small tunnel that adjoins the tomb of an ancient queen beneath the Mayan temple at the site of El Per-Waka'.
The slab, almost 6 feet high and 3 feet wide, is carved with the image of a large man in its center, and is inscribed with Mayan hieroglyphics. The text on the monument describes a tumultuous seven-year period when two dynasties battled for rule of the ancient kingdom.
Francico Castaneda/Proyecto Arqueológico El Perú-Waka´y PACUNAM
A handle stamped with a seal consistent with the kingdom of Judah found at the site of what what some archaeologists are calling the Biblical city of Libnah. The site overlooks the Philistine capital of Gath, home to the tale of David famously slaying the giant Goliath with a well-slung stone.
The 'Silian 3' stone was discovered by chance alongside a stream in the Welsh village of Silian.
The stone, which is thought to be an ecclesiastical monument, possibly used as a boundary or grave marker, is one of three known stones in Wales that have the same cross in lozenge design; the Llanllawer 3 from St David's Church and the Llandecwyn 1 from St Tecwyn's Church have the same pattern.
Nikki Vousden/ RCAHMW
Dec. 6, 2012: Chinese archaeologists have unearthed the palace of China's first feudal emperor, best known for the terracotta warrior army guarding his tomb. The Chinese state media reports that archaeologists have excavated the palace complex of Qin Shihuang in Xi'an, China, site of the life-size terracotta soldiers. The palace consists of 10 courtyard buildings and one main building, the paper reported. The complex runs about 2,264 feet long and 820 feet wide. The total area is about a quarter of the size of Beijing's Forbidden City, built in the 1400s.
Nov. 8, 2012: Archaeologists say they have unearthed an almost 2,400-year-old golden hoard in an ancient Thracian tomb in northern Bulgaria. The treasure was found on Thursday near the village of Sveshtari, 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of Sofia, team leader Diana Gergova said.
Dec. 5, 2012: Paleolithic people living more than 10,000 years ago had a better artistic eye than modern painters and sculptures at least when it came to watching how horses and other four-legged animals move. A new analysis of 1,000 pieces of prehistoric and modern artwork finds that "cavemen," or people living during the upper Paleolithic period between 10,000 and 50,000 years ago, were more accurate in their depictions of four-legged animals walking than artists are today. While modern artists portray these animals walking incorrectly 57.9 percent of the time, prehistoric cave painters only made mistakes 46.2 percent of the time.
PLoS ONE / Horvath, Farkas, Boncz, Blaho, Kriska
Dec. 2, 2012: A secret code letter sent in 1812 by Napoleon Bonaparte boasting that his French forces would blow up Moscow's Kremlin has sold at auction for ten times its estimated presale price. A Paris museum -- the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts -- was finalizing its purchase of the Oct. 20, 1812, document for euro187,500 ($243,500), including fees. That's far above the pre-sale estimate of euro15,000 ($19,500).
Dec. 1, 2012: The obscure book's margins are virtually filled with clusters of curious foreign characters -- a mysterious shorthand used by 17th century religious dissident Roger Williams. For centuries the scribbles went undeciphered. But a team of Brown University students has finally cracked the code
Nov. 30, 2012: Call it a card player's dream. A complete set of 52 silver playing cards gilded in gold and dating back 400 years has been discovered. Created in Germany around 1616, the cards were engraved by a man named Michael Frömmer, who created at least one other set of silver cards.
Nov. 19, 2012: Rock carvings that graced a sacred American Indian site in California's mountains for thousands of years have fallen prey to modern thieves armed with power saws. At least four petroglyphs were hacked from lava cliffs in the Eastern Sierra, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Bureau of Land Management
Nov. 28, 2012: Is this a photograph of the iceberg that did the unthinkable: sinking the RMS Titanic? On April 12, 1912, Captain W. F. Wood aboard the steamer S. S. Etonian photographed a massive iceberg with a distinctive elliptical shape. Wood found the picture remarkable enough to print it out and annotate it with the current latitude and longitude. Two days later, on April 14, the unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg and sank to bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. That iceberg had the same elliptical shape, according to sketches made on the ship. Wood had captured the remarkable piece of ice, said Craig Sophin, a Titanic expert and consultant to the auctioneers.
Nov. 9, 2012: More than 8,000 years ago, a 19-year-old woman and a slightly older man fell or were they pushed? into a well. Archaeologists have now uncovered the remains, revealing a Stone Age mystery. No one knows whether the couple fell into the well by accident or whether foul play was involved, but archaeologists say the choice of final resting place closed the water source for good.
Israel Antiquities Authority
Nov. 7, 2012: A hoard of jewelry, figurines and other objects crafted by early farmers in Serbia nearly 8,000 years ago is set to go on public display for the first time at a German museum.
Oct. 26, 2012: More than 4,000 archaeological artifacts looted from Mexico and seized in the U.S. have been returned to Mexican authorities in what experts say is one of the largest such repatriations between the countries.
The items returned Thursday mostly date from before European explorers landed in North America and include items from hunter-gatherers in pre-Columbian northern Mexico, such as stones used to grind corn, statues, figurines and copper hatchets, said Pedro Sanchez, president of the National Archaeological Council of Mexico.
AP PHOTO/THE EL PASO TIMES, MARK LAMBIE
Nov. 1, 2012: A prehistoric town unearthed in eastern Bulgaria is the oldest urban settlement found to date in Europe, a Bulgarian archaeologist said Thursday.
Vasil Nikolov, a professor from Bulgaria's National Institute of Archaeology, said the stone walls excavated by his team near the town of Provadia are estimated to date between 4,700 and 4,200 B.C. He said the walls, which are 6 feet high and 4 ½ feet thick, are believed to be the earliest and most massive fortifications from Europe's prehistory.
AP Photo/Valentina Petrova
Nov. 3, 2012: The massive sandstone bricks used to construct the 12th-century temple of Angkor Wat were brought to the site via a network of hundreds of canals, according to new research.
The findings shed light on how the site's 5 million to 10 million bricks, some weighing up to 3,300 pounds, made it to the temple from quarries at the base of a nearby mountain.
Oct. 22, 2012: The Penn Museum is unwrapping the mystery of mummy conservation, giving the public an unusual close-up of researchers' efforts to preserve relics from ancient Egypt.
Human and animal mummies, as well as an intricately inscribed coffin, are among the items undergoing treatment and repair at the Philadelphia institution's newly installed Artifact Lab.
Housed in a special gallery, the glass-enclosed workspace lets visitors share in "the thrill of discovery," museum director Julian Siggers said. "It demonstrates to you the work that's actually being done behind the walls of these galleries," Siggers said
AP PHOTO/JACQUELINE LARMA
Oct. 27, 2012: Amateurs using metal detectors have discovered a trove of Roman artifacts, including a bust possibly depicting a male lover of a Roman emperor, a silver and gold brooch of a leaping dolphin and a penis-shaped animal bone.
The wide array of art, found across Britain, dates back about 1,600 to 2,000 years, when the Romans ruled the island.
A. DOWNES / WEST YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGY ADVISORY
Oct. 18, 2012: The remains of a 5,500-year-old tomb near Ale's Stones, a megalithic monument where, according to myth, the legendary King Ale lies buried, has been discovered by Swedish archaeologists. The discovery is the product of a geophysical investigation of the area carried out in 2006.
Intrigued by a circular structure measuring about 165 feet in diameter with a rectangular feature in its center, archaeologists of the Swedish National Heritage Board decided to dig a trial trench.
Nov. 3, 2012: Czech archaeologists have unearthed the 4,500-year-old tomb of a Pharaonic princess south of Cairo, in a finding that suggests other undiscovered tombs may be in the area, an official from Egypt's antiquities ministry said Saturday.
Mohammed El-Bialy, who heads the Egyptian and Greco-Roman Antiquities department at the Antiquities Ministry, said that Princess Shert Nebti's burial site is surrounded by the tombs of four high officials from the Fifth Dynasty dating to around 2,500 BC in the Abu Sir complex near the famed step pyramid of Saqqara.
Oct. 17, 2012: The English city of St. Albans will be displaying a large batch of late Roman gold coins found by an amateur using a metal detector.
City official Claire Wainwright said Wednesday the 159 coins can be seen later this week at the Verulamium Museum.
The coins are example of the solidus, a high-value coin struck in the late 4th century. David Thorold, a curator at the museum, says the coins would have been used for major transactions such as buying land or ship cargoes.
AP/ST ALBANS CITY AND DISTRICT COUNCIL
Oct. 26, 2012: That image of a caveman gnawing on a hunk of bison meat may need a makeover. A new chemical analysis of modern diets suggests Stone Age humans ate less meat than thought.
The findings, published in the November issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, may explain why many archaeologists estimate that prehistoric people got most of their calories from lean meat or fish when modern humans would be literally poisoned by such a protein-heavy diet.
Oct. 19, 2012: Armed with shovels, trowels and new biotechnology tools, archaeologists plan to march into Troy next year for excavations at the famed ancient city.
"Our goal is to add a new layer of information to what we already know about Troy," said William Aylward, a classics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will lead the expedition. "The archaeological record is rich. If we take a closer look with new scientific tools for study of ancient biological and cultural environments, there is much to be found for telling the story of this world heritage site."
BRIAN HARRINGTON SPIER
Sept. 18, 2012: A Harvard University professor on Tuesday unveiled a fourth-century fragment of papyrus she said is the only existing ancient text quoting Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife. Karen King, an expert in the history of Christianity, said the text contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to "my wife," whom he identifies as Mary. King says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.
Sept. 22, 2012: Two headless Roman statues have been discovered holding up a medieval-era platform in Turkey an example of antiquities being reused by later generations as humble building material. The ancient statues have lost their heads, but their clothing suggests that one was a representation of a local notable and the other an imperial office-holder, said R.R.R. Smith, who directs the New York University Excavations at Aphrodisias, an ancient Roman city in what is now Turkey. One statue dates back to about A.D. 200, while the other is from A.D. 450 or so. They were likely recycled by the 600s, Smith told LiveScience.
R. R. R. Smith
Sept. 27, 2012: Leonardo da Vinci painted a younger and happier Mona Lisa some 10 years before painting the famous painting, art experts are claiming. Slightly larger in size than the famous portrait, which now hangs in the Louvre in Paris, the painting features a darker tonality, a different and unfinished background framed by two columns, and shows a younger lady with a less enigmatic smile. Known as the Isleworth Mona Lisa, the artwork was unveiled in Geneva by the Mona Lisa Foundation, a Zurich-based consortium which has kept the painting in a Swiss bank vault for 40 years.
Sept. 18, 2012: A giant poolside mosaic featuring intricate geometric patterns has been unearthed in southern Turkey, revealing the far-reaching influence of the Roman Empire at its peak. The mosaic, which once decorated the floor of a bath complex, abuts a 25-foot (7-meter)-long pool, which would have been open to the air, said Michael Hoff, a University of Nebraska, Lincoln art historian and director of the mosaic excavation. The find likely dates to the third or fourth century, Hoff said. The mosaic itself is an astonishing 1,600 square feet (149 square meters) the size of a modest family home. "To be honest, I was completely bowled over that the mosaic is that big," Hoff told LiveScience.
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Sept. 18, 2012: The first ever Etruscan pyramids have been located underneath a wine cellar in the city of Orvieto in central Italy, according to a team of U.S. and Italian archaeologists. Carved into the rock of the tufa plateau -- a sedimentary area that is a result of volcanic activity -- on which the city stands, the subterranean structures were largely filled. Only the top-most modern layer was visible.
Sept. 20, 2012: Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday. National Museum official Eusebio Dizon said the village on Mount Kamhantik, near Mulanay town in Quezon province, could be at least 1,000 years old based on U.S. carbon dating tests done on a human tooth found in one of 15 limestone graves he and other archaeologists have dug out since last year.
AP/Philippine National Museum
Sept. 12, 2012: A human skeleton with a cleaved skull discovered beneath a parking lot in England may belong to King Richard III, researchers announced, though they have a long way to go in analyzing the bones to determine the identity.
University of Leicester
Sept. 10, 2012: Archaeologists have found an ancient water reservoir in Jerusalem that may have been used by pilgrims coming to the Temple Mount. The IAA said the cistern could have held 66,000 gallons (250 cubic meters) of water; it likely dates back to the era of the First Temple, which, according to the Hebrew Bible, was constructed by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. and then destroyed 400 years later.
Sept. 10, 2012: The world will soon get its first good look at the wreckage of the only U.S. Navy ship sunk in combat in the Gulf of Mexico during the Civil War, thanks to sophisticated 3-D sonar images that divers have been collecting this week in the Gulf's murky depths.
Aug. 30, 2012: A British couple finally figured out why their living room floor wasnt level when they took up the floorboards and discovered a 33-foot deep well that historians say dates back to Shakespeares day.
Aug. 29, 2012: Archaeologists have uncovered two 9,500-year-old cultic figurines in excavations just outside of Jerusalem. Found at the Tel Moza archaeological site, one of the Neolithic figures is a limestone ram with precisely carved spiral horns. "The sculpting is extraordinary and precisely depicts details of the anima's image," the IAA excavators said in a statement about the ram, adding that "the head and the horns protrude in front of the body and their proportions are extremely accurate."
Yael Yolovitch, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Aug. 30, 2012: The genome of a recently discovered branch of extinct humans known as the Denisovans that once interbred with us has been sequenced. Genetic analysis of the fossil revealed it apparently belonged to a little girl with dark skin, brown hair and brown eyes, researchers said. All in all, the scientists discovered about 100,000 recent changes in our genome that occurred after the split from the Denisovans.
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Aug. 22, 2012: An ancient Roman lead scroll unearthed in England three years ago has turned out to be a curse intended to cause misfortune to more than a dozen people, according to new research.
A brassiere from the late Middle Ages is pictured at the University of Innsbruck, archaeology department July 24, 2012. The textiles date back to the year 1440-1485 and were discovered in 2008 during renovations of the castle Lengberg in East Tyrol, according to the university. The decayed finds were pieced together recently.
Amelia Earhart's fate reconstructed: A variety of fragmented objects collected by archaeologists at a site on the uninhabited island may have originally been American beauty and skin care products, all dating to the 1930s.
Members of an archaeology team work at the excavation site inside the No.1 pit of the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, on the outskirts of Xi'an, Shaanxi province, June 9, 2012. It is the first time that shields have been unearthed during an excavation. A large number of the terracotta warriors and horses bear traces of burn marks, which are suspected to have been caused by Xiang Yu, a military leader who rebelled against the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC), according to local media.
A member of an archaeology team unearths the head of a terracotta warrior at the excavation site inside the No.1 pit of the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, on the outskirts of Xi'an, Shaanxi province, June 9, 2012.
This July 16, 2012 image released by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) on Monday Aug. 6, 2012, shows a human burial that was found next to what may have been a "sacred tree" at one edge of the plaza in Mexico City's Templo Mayor, the most sacred site of the Aztec capital.
In this May 11, 2012 photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, shows some of the archaeology dig finds, including this 19th century coffin handle, at the future site of the new Maricopa County Sheriffs Office headquarters in Phoenix. Besides these mid to late 1800s Arizona pioneers findings, archaeologists said they have found ancient artifacts at the construction site that they believe are pottery fragments that predate the Hohokam Indians and date as far back as 1,600 years.
Researchers plan to rebuild the 54 ½-foot vessel, which will become the centerpiece of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. The supply ship was built in 1684 and sank two years later in a storm on Matagorda Bay, about midway between Galveston and Corpus Christi, Texas.
A ceramic Censer Lid with Founder Portrait is shown at the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Philadelphia. The exhibit is scheduled to open May 5.
Residents of Cahokia, a massive pre-Columbian settlement near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, consumed "black drink" from special pottery vessels like this one. The drink made them vomit and was likely consumed during purification rituals.
L. Brian Staufferl
The three Llullaillaco mummies, including that of the 7-year-old boy (shown here), are preserved at Museum of High Mountain Archaeology (MAAM) in Salta, Argentina.
This undated handout photo provided by Museum of London Archaeology shows skeletons in the East Smithfield Cemetery in London, where Black Death victims were buried in the 13th Century. Scientists used skeletons from this graveyard to decode the genome of the plague.
A 17th century cannon, found near the Lajas reef near Fort San Lorenzo, Colon. The cannons are in conservation at the Patronato Panama Viejo laboratory in Panama City, Panama. The cannon most likely belonged to Captain Henry Morgan's lost fleet of 1671.
July 25, 2012: The Maiden mummy of a 15-year-old girl who was sacrificed some 500 years ago suggests she likely suffered from a lung infection at the time of her death.
In this photo taken Tuesday, June 19, 2012, archaeology students study the remains of a mammoth at an open pit coal mine in Kostolac, 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Belgrade, Serbia. Archaeologists in Serbia say they have discovered a rare mammoth field containing remains of at least five of the giant animals that lived here tens of thousands of years ago.
Underwear from the late Middle Ages is pictured at the University of Innsbruck, archaeology department July 24, 2012. The textiles date back to the year 1440-1485 and were discovered in 2008 during renovations of the castle Lengberg in East Tyrol, according to the university. The decayed finds were pieced together recently.
An army of clay warriors guards the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC. The tomb is still under excavation near Xi'an, China. The Terracotta Warrior exhibition, featuring artifacts from the Qin dynasty and nine life-size statues from the extended burial complex built for Qin Shi Huang, is on display through Aug. 26, 2012.
Clara Moskowitz/Live Science
This Aug. 8, 2012, photo shows Chad Gulseth cleaning a piece of wood from the 17th-century French ship La Belle at the Texas A&M University Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation in Bryan, Texas. The wood has spent months inside a 40-foot-long, 8-feet-wide freeze dryer being used to remove moisture from the wreckage of the ship used by famed explorer La Salle that sank more than 300 years ago off the Texas coast.