“Archaeology” is the scientific study of the physical remains of past human life and activities. Historically, it has been patronized by kings and queens desirous of showcasing past glories of their nations. One of the interesting things about science is that one discovery leads to another, and the world gets glimpses of their illustrious past. This is evident in recent discoveries, which reveal so many facets of the life and culture of ancient times. Even in olden times, people possessed superior architectural and creative ingenuity. There was an acute precision in all of their works. One can only wonder how many more such treasures the Earth holds inside her. Here are 10 Archaeological Discoveries that will leave you amazed.
1. Angeac-Charente, France, is an important site for fossil discovery. A perfectly preserved, 140-million-year-old, 500-kg sauropod femur is the heaviest and biggest in the region discovered to date.
The Charente region of France is well-known for discoveries of 7,500 fossils of at least 40 species since 2010. Now, after about a decade, scientists have discovered yet another huge femur bone. It is believed to be that of a sauropod, a herbivorous dinosaur that roamed the earth in the late Jurassic era.
Discovered along a large pelvis bone hidden beneath the same layer of clay, the 140-million-year-old thigh bone is two meters long and weighs about 500 kg. This makes it the biggest and heaviest bone unearthed in the region by far. Discovered in a thick layer of clay, the bone is still unbelievably intact, given its huge size, which would otherwise have been expected to have cracked and fragmented. The well-preserved fossil makes it possible to see the insertions of muscles, tendons, and scars. (source)
2. A 4,300-year-old ancient Egyptian tomb with incredible colorful artworks was discovered inside a vast burial ground. The tomb belongs to a high-ranking official who served the 5th Dynasty Pharaoh.
A startling discovery of a tomb with colorful drawings and inscriptions adorning the walls of a large chamber was made in April 2019 in Saqqara, Egypt. It was uncovered during an assessment of pyramids belonging to the then Pharoah Djedkare Isesi (25th century BCE to 24th BCE).
The paintings and inscriptions have stood the test of time, and for a 4,300-year-old monument, they are as vibrant as if they were painted just a few years ago. Colored in hues of royalty, these exceptionally decorated “limestone walls,” colored in special resins are said to have been inspired by the Giza pyramids. Paintings depict Khuwy, who served the Pharoah, seated at an offerings table. He held important positions in the royal court such as Secretary of the King, Companion of the Royal House, and Overseer of the Tenants of the Great House.
The frescoes also depict men in boats, servants bringing food and drink, and birds wearing skirts with embellished borders. The design of the resting place of Khuwy is no less fascinating. The L-shaped tomb has a tunneled entrance and is also decorated, similar to a pyramid. (1, 2)
3. An ancient, 70-mile-long wall was found in western Iran in 2019. Considering it was built to serve as defense, only local materials were used for construction.
An extensive stone wall, stretching across miles, unknown to archaeologists was identified in November 2019 as the Gawri Wall in western Iran. While the locals knew it all along, the archaeologists learned about its discovery from a journal article in Antiquity. The wall is located in Sar Pol-e Zahab County in western Iran. It stretches from Bamu Mountains in the north to an area near Zhaw Marg village in the south. Like similar structures found in northern and eastern Iran, the wall was built for defensive purposes during the rule of the Sasanians and Parthians.
The 70-mile-long wall is built from cobbles and boulders and reveals the use of gypsum mortar in places to hold the stones. Pottery findings along the wall indicate that it was built between the 4th century BCE to 6th century CE. Owing to its poor condition, guesstimates place its width at four meters and height at three meters. Along with the wall, remnants of associated structures such as turrets were also found. The volume of the wall is approximately one million cubic meters of stone.
4. A painting discovered on the wall of an Indonesian cave has been found to be 44,000 years old. The world’s “oldest-recorded story in pictures” reveals the imaginative and creative work of an unknown artist.
In 2017, a Sulawesi-based archaeologist and caver discovered a bright red rock art painting of an animal on the wall of a cave, Leang Bulu’Sipong 4, to the south of Sulawesi, an Indonesian island. A year later, Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, reported these arts to be 40,000 years old, double the age of European rock art. Formation of calcite “popcorn” on the drawings of a pig began forming 43,900 years ago, while that on two buffaloes was at least 40,900 years old confirms their age.
Scientists are intrigued by the drawing, which appears to depict an abstract hunting scene, with an anoa, a type of buffalo, and wild pigs found on the island. There are human-like figures too, but with tails and snouts. In one panel, several figures holding spears are shown around an anoa. Archaeologists are guessing if the art is symbolic of the man-animal relationship and exploring the mythological or supernatural angle to it. After a lot of debate, it is now being hailed as the “oldest story told in pictures.”
5. In 2018, the world’s oldest brewery, dating back to 13,000 years ago, was discovered in Israel near a burial site of Natufians. The discovery sheds light on the importance of beer in the funerary customs of this semi-nomadic tribe.
The discovery of a brewery in September 2018, along the burial ground of the Natufians (semi-nomadic foragers) in the Raqefet Cave, near Haifa, Israel, has set some records straight. One, beer brewing was not a side-product of baking bread as was popularly thought, and second, brewing beer had religious and cultural significance for Natufians. Another interesting aspect is that the importance of beer in Natufian ceremonies may have actually led to the cultivation of food-grains.
As it so happened, a team of researchers from Stanford University was looking at plant foods the Natufians ate when they found traces of wheat-and-barley-based alcohol. Three 13,000-year-old stone mortars, and pits used to store and brew beer, revealed the use of wheat, barley, legumes, oats, and flax in beer production. They followed a three-step process of malting, heating, and fermenting, followed by resting it for a day or two. It was nothing like the beer we get today. The Natufians’ beer was low in alcohol content and was more like a porridge or thin gruel. (1, 2)