Eight mummified children, probable victims of human sacrifice; the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, lost for over a century in Antarctic waters; the remains of woolly rhinos that once roamed southern England. Those are just a sampling of some of the amazing findings researchers have uncovered in the past 12 months. Read on for fascinating insights into what archaeologists have been up to during the year.
Related: 10 Amazing Archaeological Finds Uncovered In Pompeii
10 resistance encountered
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s exploits of polar exploration in the early 20th century are the stuff of legend. One of his missions, the British Imperial Transantarctic Expedition, set out in the summer of 1914. The ambitious goal was to cross Antarctica via the South Pole. But
After months trapped, the 28-member crew’s only option was to abandon ship and attempt to reach civilization by any means possible. Against all odds, they all managed to survive. Meanwhile, the stricken ship sank under the ice. The last time anyone saw the ship was in November 1915, when Shackleton and his group abandoned it. Or that was the case until March 2022, when a team using underwater robots found it 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) below the Weddell Sea ice. Project leader Dr. John Shears said: “We have achieved what many people said was impossible.”
9 Human Sacrifice
Sometimes archaeological finds can be pretty scary, and this grim discovery from 2022 surely falls into that category. The researchers were working on an excavation in Peru, about 24 kilometers (15 miles) east of the country’s capital, Lima. They were excavating the tomb of what has been described as a “high-ranking person” from pre-Inca times, between 1,000 and 1,200 years ago. This individual, about 25 or 30 years old and perhaps a wealthy merchant, had been mummified.
But something else rose from the grave. Bulldozers unearthed eight mummified children wrapped in cloth. One of the team leaders, Pieter Van Dalen Luna, said: “The children, according to our working hypothesis, would have been sacrificed to accompany the mummy to the underworld.” In a gruesome ritual common enough in pre-Inca Peruvian societies, people of rank were often buried with human sacrificial victims.
8 big game
British wildlife experts will tell you that the largest land animal you’re likely to see in your homeland is a red deer. When it comes to predators, foxes and badgers are at the top of the list. But not so long ago, the British mainland was home to a much richer diversity of animals that roamed the wilds of the undeveloped lands. That truth was firmly bolstered by an archaeological find announced in February 2022.
According to the lead archaeologist for this excavation, this find was not only “a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those involved” but also “a major discovery of national importance.” Excavation in the southern England county of Devon, at the site of a new urban development, has revealed the remains of some extraordinary creatures. Mammoths, woolly rhinos and even hyenas have been discovered, with bones dating to 30,000 to 60,000 years ago, around the middle of the last Ice Age.
7 Finding A Goddess
As this discovery shows, it’s not always professional archaeologists who make the most amazing finds. A Palestinian farmer, Nidal Abu Eid, was cultivating his land in Khan Younis, located in the Gaza Strip. Abu Eid told the BBC: “We found it by chance. He was muddy and we washed him off with water.” He may not be an archeology professor, but he knew that he had found something significant.
Abu Eid continued: “We realized that it was something precious, but we did not know that it had such great archaeological value. We thank God and we are proud that he has remained in our land, in Palestine, since the time of the Canaanites.” And the 4,500-year-old 22-centimeter (8.7-inch) stone head is certainly from the time of the Canaanites. It is the head of Anat, the Canaanite goddess of love and war.
6 ghost footprints
In July 2022, archaeologists stumbled upon some extraordinary footprints in Utah’s Great Salt Lake desert, described as ghost footprints. The bare foot prints, of course, were not really made by ghosts, but by our own ancient relatives, perhaps 12,000 years ago, when the last Ice Age was ending. Investigators saw some of the tracks by chance while driving to a site they were working on nearby.
Further investigation using ground penetrating radar uncovered a total of 88 tracks. The researchers estimate they belonged to a group of adults and children, with the youngest child perhaps only 5 years old. These ancient people walked through what were then extensive wetlands. One of the archaeologists, Anya Kitterman, called these ancient footprints a “once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”
5 A Royal Shipwreck
It is May 6, 1682 and the Duke of York is sailing aboard HMS of the Royal Navy. gloucester. He is an important man, next in line to the throne if something happens to his brother, the current monarch, Carlos II. But disaster strikes when the ship sails off the North Sea coast of England. The ship is stranded on a sandbank and begins to sink. As the waves close in on it, up to 250 of the 330 passengers and crew on board perish.
And that was the last time anyone saw the gloucester until 340 years later, when enthusiastic divers, brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, discovered the wreck. They had set out to find the gloucester but, after four fruitless years, they were about to give up when their breakthrough came. Lincoln told the BBC: “It was impressive and really beautiful. It instantly felt like a privilege to be there; It was so exciting.” And the Duke of York? He providentially survived, acceding to the British throne as James II in 1685.
4 Historical Phallus
It might well be the most commonly scrawled crude graffiti in all of human history. We’re talking about the instantly recognizable stylized representation of the male genitalia. As this particular archaeological find shows, the familiar symbol of the phallus has been around at least since the time of the ancient Romans.
This formidable 18-inch (45-centimeter) phallus is actually a carved relief that sits proudly on a large chunk of rock, part of a ruined building in southern Spain. The Iberians originally lived on this site, but the Romans took it over about 2,200 years ago. Principal archaeologist Andrés Roldán said: “It was common to put [phallic symbols] on the facades of the houses, and the soldiers carried small phallic amulets as a symbol of virility. But this one is unusually large.
3 40 lovers
Some of Syria’s archaeological treasures have taken a terrible beating due to the civil war that has plagued the hapless nation in recent years. But in 2022, researchers unearthed an impressive Roman mosaic, and despite dating back some 1,600 years, it’s surprisingly well-preserved. The mosaic, measuring 65.5 by 20 feet (20 by 6 meters), is located in the city of Rastan in central Syria.
The beautiful artwork shows various mythological scenes described by the ancient Greek poet Homer in his epic works. The Iliad and The odyssey. Hercules can be seen putting the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, to the sword. Also included is the Roman god of the sea, Neptune, accompanied by his 40 lovers. The building where the mosaic was discovered was in the hands of rebel fighters for a period. They even tried to sell it, fortunately, without success.
2 USS Samuel B. Roberts
The US Navy ship Samuel B Roberts it went to the bottom of the Philippine Sea during the Battle of Samar in October 1944. And yes, in this case, “off” is correct. The ship was sunk by the Japanese after an intense battle during which the Samuel B Roberts he launched himself against overwhelming odds. When she sank there were 224 men on board and 89 lost their lives. The remaining crew members were rescued after spending 50 hours in the water. 
Texan businessman Victor Vescovo was the man behind the discovery, using his own two-person submarine, the Limiting Factor. Describing the battle in which the American ship sank, Vescovo said: “It was simply an extraordinary act of heroism. Those men, on both sides, were fighting to the death.” He Samuel B Roberts it lies at a depth of 22,621 feet (6,895 meters), making it the deepest shipwreck ever discovered. The second deepest shipwreck ever found was the USS Johnson at 21,180 feet (6,460 meters). She too was lost in the Battle of Samar and was also discovered by Vescovo.
10 24 Etruscan bronze statues
It is somewhat surprising to learn that an effective way to preserve a bronze statue for many centuries is to immerse it in a mixture of boiling water and mud. But archaeologists found not just one, but 24 impressive bronze statues at an ancient Italian spa, San Casciano dei Bagni. The beautifully carved statues are believed to be over 2,000 years old.
It was the Etruscans who built a network of spas in this area of Tuscany near the city of Siena. After the Etruscans, the Romans further developed the complex, and the hot pools on the site are still in use today. But why did these remarkable statues end up at the bottom of a muddy pool? Archaeologists believe that wealthy citizens may have placed the statues in the hot springs as offerings to the old gods.
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