An ancient Egyptian funerary boat found at the cemetery of Abu Rawash. Courtesy of Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

Archeological discoveries made in the last decade

Over the years, archaeologists have discovered some astonishing ancient remains in different parts of the World. Such discoveries give us a clue about the lifestyle of people living in that era and provide us with valuable study material about the evolution of human beings. In the past decade, we have seen some remarkable archaeological discoveries that made us understand the human body and our planet more comprehensively. 

As the 2010s come to an end, I have highlighted some astounding discoveries over this period, which has solved many mysteries related to humankind. 

2010

From the discovery of the remains of the earliest Protestant church in North America to the 3.6 million-year-old beanpole on the Ethiopian plains, 2010 was a good year for archeological discoveries.

  1. For years, scientists were baffled by the discovery of the short-legged “Lucy” skeleton that led them to argue that the early human ancestors were unable to stand fully right, but the 3.6 million old beanpole “Kadanuumuu” has laid these speculations to rest as it demonstrates that the earlier ancestors were fully bipedal.
  2. Archaeologists at Jamestown, Virginia, discovered the remains of the earliest Protestant church in North America. It is speculated that the church built in 1608 was 60 feet long and made up of wood. Several important events in history took place there, the most notable being the marriage of Pocahontas to tobacco farmer John Rolfe in 1614.
  3. Looters in Milas, Turkey, led the archaeologists to discover one of the most fascinating tombs in history. It is believed that the tomb belonged to Hecatomnus, the ruler of Caria, in the fourth century B.C. It was of great importance in understanding the artistic skills of the craftsmen of that period.
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3.6 million old “Kadanuumuu”

2011

Many archaeological discoveries took place in 2011, the most remarkable being the discovery of one of the World’s first buildings in Jordan and a boat with a 1000 years old Viking buried inside it.

  1. A buried Viking was discovered in a remote region of Western Scotland, which is thought to be 1,000 years old. He was buried in a 16 feet long boat along with his sword and other goods. According to a Viking specialist from the University of Glasgow, it is one of the most important Viking burials ever found in the U.K.
  2. A burial chamber was discovered at the archaeological site of Nakum in northeastern Guatemala, which contained a 1,300-year-old skeleton along with some other ancient remains. It is speculated that it may have been the tomb of a female ruler from the second or third century A.D.
  3. A 4,500 square foot structure was discovered at Wadi Faynan in South Jordan, which is speculated to be almost 12,000 years old. It is considered as one of the first buildings in the World as it dated back to the era where construction of buildings was not a routine. 

2012

When it comes to discoveries, 2012 was no different than other years in the context of archeology. We have seen some fantastic discoveries ranging from Europe’s oldest wall engraving to the 2,000-year-old treasure wrapped in cloth in Israel. 

1. Archaeologists uncovered an engraving on a limestone block at Abri Castanet in France, which is arguably one of the earliest wall art in Europe, dated back to almost 37,000 years ago.

2. A 20-foot long boat was found at Abu Rawash, which is the oldest boat ever unearthed in Egypt, dating back to 2950 B.C. According to experts, this boat was used in carrying out the burial ceremonies at that time, but its exact function is still a speculation.

3. Archaeologists in Southern Israel also discovered a treasure of jewelry and coins wrapped in a cloth and buried inside a pit. It is speculated that a wealthy woman from the Bar Kokhba revolt time, which lasted from 132 A.D. to 135 A.D., hid them in the ground to be used later in life, but she didn’t return.

bar-kokhba-coins-jewelry-horiz.jpg

Kokhba coins and jewelry

2013

From Royal tombs to the oldest rock art in North America, here are some of the exciting finds in archaeology in 2013.

  1. In February, researchers in Leicester, England, found a grave containing remains of King Richard III. Analysis of the skeleton has revealed that the king was subjected to painful scoliosis treatment and was buried in a hasty grave after sustaining various head injuries without any ceremony.
  2. In the Nevada desert, archaeologists found signs of ancient rock art that dated back to between 10,500 and 14,800 years ago and is the oldest in North America. Scientists have not found any information related to this rock art yet.
  3. Archaeologists in Peru discovered a 1,200-year-old royal tomb that had the bodies of three queens who ruled the Wari Empire between 700 and 1000 A.D.

2014

2014 was eventful as well, from discovering an ancient tomb in Greece to the World’s oldest known cheese, quite a few discoveries were made.

  1. In August, archaeologists in Northern Greece discovered 2,300 years old tomb that had been the largest of its kind in the Greek World. It is unclear who was buried here, but some have speculated that it could be someone from Alexander, the great’s close personages.
  2. In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, a near-complete skeleton of a teenage girl was found at the bottom of an underwater cave called Hoyo Negro (“Black Hole” in Spanish). Scientists revealed that her DNA resembled modern-day Americans, which could help solve the long controversial debate over the identity of the first Americans.
  3. In northwest China’s Taklamakan Desert, archaeologists discovered the World’s oldest known cheese on the bodies of 3,800-year-old mummies. It is speculated that the cheese was left in the graves as a refreshment to be enjoyed in the afterlife.

2015

2015 was a spectacular year for archaeologists as they discovered the World’s richest shipwreck in Spain, a rare unlooted grave of a wealthy warrior in Greece, and a new species of the genus Homo, a mystery related to human evolution.

  1.  Archaeologists uncovered an unexpected grave of a wealthy warrior in Greece that dated back to almost two centuries ago. The warrior was surrounded by around 1,400 objects, including a bronze sword and other precious items. It was surprising for archaeologists as only female warriors were used to be buried with their valuable goods.
  2. Considered as the “the most valuable shipwreck discovery of all time,” archaeologists also uncovered a Spanish ship that dated back to the 18th century and was laden with around a billion dollars worth of precious jewelry. 
  3. An unexpected species of genus Homo was discovered in South Africa, which has a small brain and a large body, replicating some apelike features. It is still under observation how this mysterious species fits into our family tree.
The remains of Homo naledi were discovered in South Africa

2016

Like other years, we saw some amazing discoveries in 2016, ranging from a bronze age city in Northern Iraq to a sizeable 2,500-year-old iron age mound. 

  1. Archaeologists discovered a massive bronze age city near Dohuk in northern Iraq, which is thought to be established in about 3,000 BC and was sustained for almost 1,200 years. It is also speculated that it might belong to the Akkadian Empire period (2340-2200 BC), which is considered as the first world empire in human history.
  2. Archaeologists in Yorkshire have discovered a spectacular 40-foot long mound, which is thought to be built around 2,500 years ago. It is an unprecedented Iron age monument discovered in Britain so far, as only small mounds have been found before it.
  3. Bronze age houses were discovered in East Anglian fens, thought to be almost 3,000 years ago, dating to the Bronze age (1200-800 BC). Although these settlements were destroyed by fire, their contents were well preserved.

2017

From discovering mysterious stones in Saudi Arabia to a woman buried with her husband’s heart in France, here are some of the interesting discoveries of 2017.

  1. Archaeologists found hundreds of mysterious stones, called gates, in Saudi Arabia. They were of different lengths, the longest being 518 meters long. 
  2. The Oldest Homo sapiens were identified in a cave in Morocco after the archaeologists uncovered skeletons of three adults, one teenager, and a child. These skeletons dated back to almost 300,000 years ago, researchers claimed. According to experts, these individuals looked similar to modern humans.
  3. Archaeologists in France have discovered a grave containing a woman’s body and the heart of her husband lying over her coffin. Archaeologists were amazed by the founding, that the heart of this woman was also removed, and it might have been placed with her husband in his grave, though her heart was not found.

2018

From the discovery of the oldest human found outside Africa to the body of an intact horse found in the Roman city of Pompeii, here is a round-up of the intriguing discoveries of 2018.

An upper jawbone found in Israel. Credit: Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv Univ.
  1.  In January, archaeologists discovered an upper jawbone fossil in Israel, which is thought to be the oldest human fossil found outside Africa as it was almost 50,000 years older than the other human fossils found outside Africa, which dated back to 90,000 to 120,000 years ago.
  2. There was also the discovery of amazing things related to some of our foods by archaeologists around the World. In Sicily, they found traces of olive oil, a 3,300 years old cheese was found in Egypt, and the World’s earliest beer-making operation was uncovered in Israel.
  3. An intact body of an ancient horse was discovered in the Roman city of Pompeii by archaeologists, which is thought to be almost 2,000 years old, dated back to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed this ancient city.

2019

As the end of the decade neared, there were more surprises to unpack. From the most colorful discovery of 2019 to one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in the U.K., here are some of the mouth-watering findings of 2019.

  1.  Archaeologists in Egypt discovered a 4,400 years old colorful tomb of Khuwy, which is thought to be the most colorful discovery of 2019. Evidence suggests that the tomb belonged to an important person at that time. The most interesting thing about the tomb was its well preserved colorful paintings.
  2. A mysterious discovery took place in central Ecuador when archaeologists found out bodies of two infants wearing helmets made from other children’s skulls, dated back to almost 2,100 years ago. The purpose of placing helmets is not clear, but it is speculated that these helmets might have been used to protect these infants.
  3. A 2,200 years old grave was found in the United Kingdom having remains of a man who died in his 40s and was buried with a 30 inches long bronze shield, two horses in a leaping position, and other materials. It is considered one of the most important ancient archaeological discoveries ever made in the U.K.
Egypt unveils coffins buried 2,500 years ago | Deccan Herald. Archaeological discoveries
A sarcophagus that is around 2500 years old is displayed at the Saqqara archaeological site. Credit: AP Photo

2020

Although 2020 has not ended, we have already seen some interesting discoveries so far, from intact coffins in Egypt to the 12,000-year-old human footprints found in New Mexico.

  1.  Archaeologists in Cairo, Egypt have discovered 13 completely sealed coffins speculated to be almost 2,500 years old. The coffins have not been opened, and their paints were preserved too.
  2. A unique cemetery was discovered in Egypt in May, which dated back to the el-Sawi era known as the 26th Dynasty. The cemetery consisted of a room built with limestone, but it didn’t have any furniture.
  3. There was also the discovery of old human footprints in New Mexico, which are thought to be almost 11,500 to 13,000 years old. According to experts, these footprints are of great importance in understanding our ancestors’ similarities and differences.

We have seen some remarkable archaeological discoveries in the past ten years ranging from the oldest homo sapiens found outside Africa to the most valuable shipwreck discovery of all time in Spain. With new technologies and disciplines appearing in archaeology, we will witness some astonishing discoveries in the coming years, too, which will give us a clue about our history and help us understand ourselves and humanity. Experts believe that in the coming years, archaeologists may stop digging entirely and focus on using technology to explore underground, leaving the treasures to benefit future generations. Whatever the method be, one thing is clear that we will surely witness some mind-blowing archaeological discoveries in the future.

References: Archaeology.org, Livescience.com, National Geographic, Heritage Daily, History, Sci-News.com, al-monitor.com

Also Read: Research suggests why you could be making poor decisions

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