Top 13 archaeological discoveries of 2013

2013 was a big year in the world of archaeology. Archaeologists in Jerusalem claimed to have uncovered the palace of the Biblical King David, a 1.8-million-year-old skull shook mankind’s family tree and the 'Gate to Hell' guardians were recovered in Turkey. Here are our top 13 picks for this year's archaeological discoveries.


    King David's palace

    In July, archaeologists in Jerusalem claimed to have uncovered two large buildings fit for a king -- Biblical King David, that is. But not all historians agreed; one group even argued that King David was no king at all. Over the past year, archaeologists excavated the site that they believed to be the fortified Judean city of Shaarayim, where David smote Goliath as described in the Bible. Click here for more.

    Discovery of earliest Buddhist shrine

    Archaeologists in Nepal uncovered the earliest-known Buddhist shrine, physical evidence that puts a concrete date and location on the life of the man who founded Buddhism. Read more here.
    Ira Block/National Geographic

    Forgery of the century?

    A 10-year legal battle drew to a close in the Holy Land this year over several astounding biblical relics, including a limestone box said to have held the bones of the purported brother of Jesus and the first-ever relic of biblical King Solomon's First Temple. For more, click here.
    Biblical Archaeology Society

    'Gate to Hell' guardians recovered in Turkey

    Archaeologists digging in Turkey found the guardians of the "Gate to Hell" -- two unique marble statues which once warned of a deadly cave in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, near Pamukkale. Click here for more.
    Francesco D'Andria

    Archaeologists recover 5 cannons from wreck of Blackbeard's ship

    Archaeologists recovered five more cannons from the wreck Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, off the coast of North Carolina. For more, click here.
    David Weydert/US Coast Guard

    1.8-million-year-old skull shakes mankind’s family tree

    The world's first completely preserved adult hominid skull from the early Pleistocene era looks surprisingly different from other skulls of the same era, yielding a remarkable insight: Man’s early ancestors appeared as physically diverse as humans do today, researchers said, and our family tree has perhaps fewer branches than today's schoolbooks teach. Read more here.

    Oops! Etruscan warrior prince really a princess

    Archaeologists in October announced a stunning find: a completely sealed tomb cut into the rock in Tuscany, Italy. The untouched tomb held what looked like the body of an Etruscan prince holding a spear, along with the ashes of his wife. Several news outlets reported on the discovery of the 2,600-year-old warrior prince. But the grave held one more surprise. A bone analysis has revealed the warrior prince was actually a princess. Click here for more.

    Living relatives of iceman mummy found

    Ötzi the Iceman has at least 19 living male relatives in the Austrian Tirol, according to a genetic study into the origins of the people who now inhabit the region. Scientists from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University analyzed DNA samples taken from 3,700 blood donors in the Tyrol region of Austria. During their study, they discovered that 19 individuals share a particular genetic mutation with the 5,300-year-old mummy, whose full genome was published last year. Read more here.

    Rare Jewish prayer book predates oldest known Torah scroll

    Scholars are calling a rare Hebrew text dating back to the 9th century the earliest known Jewish prayer book, predating the world's oldest Torah scroll. For more, click here.
    Green Scholars Initiative

    Find from era of King David may confirm Old Testament text -- if politics don't interfere

    A carved pillar discovered near Bethlehem may be linked to the Biblical King of Kings, David himself, or perhaps validate the scope of wise Solomon's majestic kingdom. If they ever get around to digging it up, that is. Israeli tour guide Binyamin Tropper, who thought he was the first to discover the major historical artifact, was astonished to find out that authorities had known about the pillar for decades -- and had been keeping it a secret all that time. Read more here.
    Binyamin Tropper/ Kfar Etzion Field School

    Ancient rock etchings found in Nevada could be oldest in North America

    Ancient rock etchings along a dried-up lake bed in Nevada have been confirmed to be the oldest recorded petroglyphs in North America, dating back at least 10,000 years. Click here for more.

    Message decoded: 3,000-year-old text sheds light on biblical history

    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 this year -- and a fresh translation may have profound ramifications for our understanding of the Bible. Read more here.
    Key to David's City/Youtube

    Massive submerged structure stumps Israeli archaeologists

    The massive circular structure appears to be an archaeologist's dream: a recently discovered antiquity that could reveal secrets of ancient life in the Middle East and is just waiting to be excavated. It's thousands of years old -- a conical, manmade behemoth weighing hundreds of tons, practically begging to be explored. The problem is -- it's at the bottom of the biblical Sea of Galilee. For now, at least, Israeli researchers are left stranded on dry land, wondering what finds lurk below. Read more here.
    Shmuel Marco
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