From a forgotten shipwreck to an ancient sarcophagus with unknown secrets, and even some pointed shoes from the time of the plague - here are ten mysterious archaeological finds!
10: SHIPWRECK TREASURES
A team of researchers surveying the sea floor off the coast of Greece has discovered four mysterious shipwrecks that could hold clues to trade in the ancient Mediterranean. The discovery took place off the coast of the Greek island of Kasos, with the help of the Institute for Historical Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation. Inside the shipwrecks, archaeologists have excavated a treasure trove of ancient pottery.
The most important find was from the oldest bowl dating from the second or third century which was a large collection of pottery from ancient Rome. The earthenware was called amphora, and it was filled with oil produced in Spain and Africa and then transported across the Mediterranean to different empires.
The amphora got its name from the Greek term "amphoraeus," which means, "carried on both sides." This explains 2 handles! These flasks may not be gold or jewellery, but they are 2,500 years old and hold many clues to life in antiquity.
The really amazing part of the discovery is that, according to the leader of the expedition, this was the first time archaeologists had found amphorae from both Spain and North Africa in the shipwreck itself. The oil may have been on its way to the ancient city of Rhodes when the ship sank. But what about the other three ships that were found? It spans over a period of about 1,000 years, the last of which is from the modern era. The expedition was part of a 3-year research project to map the sea floor near Kasos. The team has done more than 100 dives and next time they hope to get some advanced machines that will help in discovering more ancient treasures!!
9: GUMUSLER MONASTERY
The history of Gumusler Monastery dates back to the Byzantine era. It is a monastery built right next to the cave. But it is actually more than just an ordinary monastery. It is one of the best preserved in all of Turkey, a country known for having dozens of ancient rock-cut monasteries and some of the oldest temples on the planet.
According to scholars, the most important part of Gumusler Monastery is its church, which is located a little to the north. At least three separate masters worked on the paintings that adorn the interior. But here's where things get really interesting. The monastery was recently rediscovered in 1962. Also on one of its walls is something not seen anywhere else in the whole area: paintings of fishermen fishing.
The pictures show several different animals being hunted, which is odd considering that the rest of the paintings mostly depict religious scenes, with figures such as John the Baptist and Saint Stephen. This beautiful cave monastery dates back to before the 7th century, although scholars do not know exactly when. The paintings have been dated between the 7th and 13th centuries AD, which is incredible when you think about it, as the monastery has been painted continuously for at least 500 years.
8: WORLD’S OLDEST TEA
Do you like to drink tea?? It has been around for a very long time!! Archaeologists have discovered the world's oldest tea inside the tomb of an emperor of the Han Dynasty in China. The history of tea goes back 2,150 years! The discovery came when archaeologists were excavating inside the Han Yangling Mausoleum, a massive tomb built for Emperor Jing Di, found near the modern Chinese city of Xi'an. It is an amazing discovery because it not only confirms that Chinese royals drank tea thousands of years before people in the West, but also because it shows historians some interesting facts about the ancient Silk Road. The mausoleum was first excavated in 1990, where researchers discovered amazing chariots with horses, weapons, pottery figures, and more.
The most unusual part of the discovery came in the form of wilted and decaying plants. Researchers couldn't figure out what was going on in the 1990s, but with new technology and specialized equipment, they finally identified the mysterious plant matter as ancient tea. This is a fact. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the first written mention of tea dates back to 59 BC. Which is roughly in line with this latest discovery.
However, the exact origins of the tea remain unknown. Tea was hugely popular among the Uyghur people in northern China beginning in the 7th century AD, but tea drinking may actually have existed a few thousand years before that.
7: NUDE HORSEMAN
Volunteer archaeologists excavating an ancient Roman castle in northern England have found an insanely rare sculpture of a nude warrior lounging with his horse. It is a completely exotic statue of incredible value. It was excavated in Vindolanda, by a pair of volunteers named Richie Milor and David Goldwater.
They had already been working at the heritage site for 15 years and still couldn't believe their luck when they found the statue hidden only a few inches below the topsoil.
The Roman fortress of Vindolanda is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and often reveals interesting and unique artifacts! But what exactly does the sculpture represent? It is the first of its kind to be found in a Roman fortress, and to be honest, experts are at a loss.
The sculpture is approximately 12 inches tall, which was quite large at the time. Marta Alberti, a Vindolanda-based archaeologist, says the figure's nudity suggests he could have been a god rather than a man. She continues, since the naked man (or god) holds a spear in his left arm, it may be a representation of the god of war, Mars. But here is where things get intertwined.
The deity also appears to have wings, and this is an attribute of another deity, Mercury, the god of travel. Mercury was often depicted with horses, as he was the protector of travelers. Whether it's Mercury or Mars, it's still a fascinating discovery.
Because of where the fort was found, inside the Knights' Barracks, archaeologists say the soldiers stationed here could have made their own deity, giving it an abundance of various features.
6: ANCIENT NECROPOLIS
Local archaeologists in Croatia have discovered a cemetery full of ancient remains. 32 bodies to be exact, some of their remains buried inside ceramic jars.
The history of these dead dates back to the beginning of the fifth century AD, or a little over 1500 years ago. It was found on the territory of the Radosevic Palace, which was built on the island of Hvar in the 17th century. But forget the old castle because the ancient ruins are exceptional. Experts say that the burials were so well done that even after all these years, the bodies were in perfect condition. Archaeologists have even found funerary objects such as pots, coins, and ceramics.
If you're wondering why people are buried in urns, so are archaeologists. It is strange because usually, burials in urns were intended for infants or very young children in this area.
This makes sense because their little bodies were easily put into jars. It was a huge task to put an adult's body into a jar, and the experts were a little confused as to why the ancient people who lived here put so much effort. Looks like they made the jugs bigger to be able to make them fit.
The urns here are huge, over six feet tall with enough room inside to hold an adult with enough treasure to be rich in the afterlife.
5: MATHEMATICAL SECRETS
Archaeologists have discovered a clay tablet from Babylon dating back 1,000 years before the invention of the Pythagorean theorem. The clay tablet is rather amazing because whoever made it discovered this famous theory - and made the clay tablet in the trigonometry table more accurate than the ones used by scientists today. What?
Who was this Babylonian genius? Nobody has any idea, but he defeated Pythagoras by a thousand years.
This unnamed genius discovered that the square of the longest side of a right-angled triangle would always be equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides, then went on to make a clay slate and a reed pen to mark out mathematical equations with shocking precision.
This happened about 3,700 years ago, according to Columbia University, where the artifact is kept. The tablet is known in scientific circles as the Plimpton 322.
Found before the 1930s, it was excavated from Iraq by a man named Edgar Banks. Edgar is believed to be the original inspiration for Indiana Jones.
He even went looking for Noah's Ark, although, of course, he never found it. Or did? The biggest mystery here is why did the Babylonians discover complex mathematical equations at least a thousand years earlier than anyone else? Experts are convinced that Babylon was much more advanced than previously thought, with perhaps some of the most brilliant mathematical minds in history.
It is difficult to know for sure because much of their history and written records have been lost.
4: WEIGHING SYSTEMS
Researchers have recently made some pretty fascinating discoveries in the world of currency. There has long been a debate over whether the Bronze Age saw any kind of complex trading market that used a form of money. Now, researchers believe that even without standardized currency or a governing institution, traders and merchants across Europe used a weighing system to trade currency for goods. Researchers looked at weighing systems that were used from Western Europe all the way to the Indus Valley, from between 3000 to 1000 BC. What they found was that the system for weighing currency became standard across the ancient world, meaning someone could travel from Mesopotamia to Europe and their goods would be worth the same amount.
It was basically the first global trading network. Professor Lorenz Rahmstorf from the University of Gottingen says that free trade and entrepreneurship was active starting in the Bronze Age, and may have been the start of our global trade network today. And They don't call it the Bronze Age for nothing! If you’re wondering what was used as currency, it was usually bronze scrap. This included everything from broken swords and axes to fragments of jewelry.
These scraps were weighed using the standard system and traded for other goods, anything from oil to furs. Plus, research has shown that across the ancient world, the weighing system would almost immediately correct itself and adjust to the fluctuations in prices.
3: POINTY SHOES
According to a new study, the British people have been suffering for fashion ever since the days of medieval Europe. Researchers in Cambridge investigated the bodies of dead people buried in the center of town and noted that the wealthier citizens and those belonging to the clergy had suffered bunions much more frequently than those of poorer status. What is a bunion? It’s a malformation of the big toe caused by wearing shoes that end in a point, similar to what happens to ballerinas who force their feet into tiny ballerina shoes.
A bunion is a minor deformity in the large toe in which it gets angled outward. It’s not that common today but used to be a pretty nasty affliction. The study has shown that the wealthy citizens of Cambridge were able to afford fancy shoes with tipped points, and this resulted in a plague of bunions throughout medieval England. Even weirder is that the corpses showed that those who suffered from bunions because of wearing fancy footwear were much more likely to have suffered one or more broken bones from a fall. In other words, the wealthy urbanites became obsessed with pointy shoes, they got deformed feet because of them, and a lot of people couldn’t even walk in the shoes, and so they often fell and broke their bones.
2: POTTERY WORKSHOP
The remains of a huge pottery workshop believed to have been built in the Greco-Roman era have been discovered in Egypt, in the Egyptian Beheira Governorate, north of Cairo. It dates back to around the 3rd century BC and until now, archaeologists have discovered pottery forming and drying areas and kilns. They also discovered pots and pans made of clay mixed with unknown additives.
These dishes, which are basically what they were, are still kept in perfect condition, in the same shape they were 2,500 years ago. In the forming area, where the pottery was formed, archaeologists found pieces of a potter's wheel, metal tools, and partial pottery. It was a very complicated process, with furnaces, ventilation and adobe walls.
It is possible that the workshop was used to help furnish the neighboring settlements with pots and other everyday crockery. In addition, archaeologists have found mud-brick tombs in the area, with some tombs full of dead people buried in squatting positions. Perhaps it was the craftsmen who were buried here. These tombs contain pottery likely made in the workshop, with funerary vessels made of alabaster and copper.
1: ANCIENT SARCOPHAGUS
In the ancient city of Bath, inhabited by the Romans when they conquered England 2,000 years ago, archaeologists have discovered a limestone sarcophagus containing the bodies of two people. They say the corpses may have been used as offerings to Roman deities.
Inside the limestone sarcophagus, archaeologists found the remains of a person in a prone position. The strange situations of the dead have led archaeologists to speculate that they may have been part of pagan burial rituals. Nearby, they found small blue and red glass beads, which could have been left as offerings. It was common in Roman times to make these kinds of donations to the gods. Sylvia Warman, scientific advisor to Historic England, said the find was astonishing, and that this was the first sarcophagus of its kind to be excavated in modern times.
It is actually found below the Sydney Gardens, and is a place once frequented by the famous Jane Austen. It was discovered while workers were landscaping. To make matters even more shocking, the team also uncovered cremated remains, which are rare in the ancient Roman world since they almost always buried their dead. Little is known about the people who buried and cremated their bodies, although experts are sure that they had something to do with ancient and unknown pagan rituals.