Archeological discoveries often give us great insight into the lifestyles of people who lived in the distant past. Some of these discoveries are usually a great way to see century old objects, and how they have evolved.
Ever been friends with an archeologist? Well, I bet not, they aren’t really the social type, but in case you ever stumbled into that one relative or sibling who is an archeologist, then you will notice that they aren’t the most normal human beings. While their personality might not be the most interesting bit about them, what they unearth from the planet is the most bizarre.
Ever wondered about what bizarre or fascinating treasures from ancient civilizations are still hidden in crypts, caves and deep within the earth? Well, most archeologists spend years and practically a lifetime brushing sand of ancient antiques but once in a while, they stumble and unearth a darker and scarier side of ancient humanity, such as: cannibalism, mass murders, and stories about vampires and witches. While archeology might not seem like the most exciting job in the world, it certainly has its moments. And while you will not be unearthing mummies every single day of your life, you might find yourself face to face with some interesting artifacts. Here are 15 Shocking Archaeological Finds From Around the World.
20. The Vampire of Venice
When archaeologists dug up a group of medieval plague victims, one body in particular really stood out. They found a skull that had a brick roughly shoved between its jaws, and they were broken. According to old scriptures from Europe, this was a technique that was used on suspected vampires during that time in Europe. They implemented this practice especially if they saw dark, blood-like liquid gushing down from the side of the vampire’s mouth after its death. According to the literature, they determined that not only was the accused an elderly woman suspected of being a vampire, but she might have been accused of wizardry too. Most people at that time did not live long enough to get to her age (61-71) and it was believed that only witches had the power to cheat death. Tough times, don’t you think?
19. The Screaming Mummies
Ever imagined getting to open a casket only to find the mummy that was buried seems to be screaming? Well, the first time a screaming mummy was discovered archeologists thought that they must have been killed or buried alive or by torture. However, after several discoveries, they all agreed that mummies that are discovered in such a manner are due to their heads falling back after death. Some of the most shocking mummies ever discovered was in Egypt; it was a mummy found in 1886 that was believed to be the son of Ramses III. Another more shocking find was the one that was unearthed in Peru.
18. A Pile of Headless Vikings
Ever heard of the Vikings? Well, according to history they were some of the most fearless warriors ever to roam the earth. However, according to an archeological find, there is evidence of a shocking massacre after archeologists unearthed 51 thousand-year-old skulls, along with a pit that contained headless bodies. This find was discovered in Weymouth, UK back in 2009. It is believed that this brutal mass killing took place between 910 and 1030 CE. According to the teeth analysis done on the remains, it’s believed that the Vikings were from Scandinavia. During that time, war captives were slain by having their heads cut off. Now you know where those gory scenes from “The Game of Thrones” came from.
17. The Neanderthal Cannibals
Archeologists discovered 12 shocking bones belonging to Neanderthals in a cave in Spain. The bones had been cut and snapped meaning other Neanderthals had processed them as food. The find comprised of a possible family that included three adult females, three adult males, three adolescents, two children and an infant. This find is one of the most significant examples of cannibalism among Neanderthals. While it might be hard to prove that the find showed any cannibal activity, there are a variety of markings made on the bones, including traditional cut marks, that signify the human bones were once used as food.
16. The Bathhouse Baby Disposal
This is perhaps one of the most saddening and brutal archeological finds. It gets you thinking why more than 100 bones of infants were discarded as trash in a Roman sewer beneath a bathhouse. According to the Archeologist who discovered the find in Ashkelon, the babies were barely three days old, and studies show that they had no signs of disease or skeletal malfunction. A lot of scholars argued that the babies must have been girls since female infanticide was common during that period, but conclusive studies show that many were in fact boys. It’s still a mystery why they were killed.
15. The First Leper
One of the earliest archeological signs of leprosy was found in an unearthed remains of a 4000-year-old skeleton that was found in India back in 2009. Leprosy isn’t the easiest disease to study; the causes of the bacteria that triggers leprosy is hard to study and it’s still hard to figure out where the disease might have migrated from. However, this discovery was marked as the earliest leper and is the earliest discovery of leprosy in India. This find helped to back the theory that leprosy might have originated in Africa and Asia during the Urbanization period, with growing population density and even new trade routes.
14. Murdered Bog Bodies
The murdered bog bodies are perhaps one of the richest sources of ancient human remains in the world today and were discovered in the peat bogs of Northwestern Europe. These bodies had been so perfectly preserved that they still contained blood and even stomach remains. Some of the bog bodies discovered, such as the Grauballe Man, are dated back from 8000 BCE to the early medieval period. According to research, these people might have not been buried in the peat bog, nor did they simply die there, they might have died violently and then disposed of in the bogs. According to past literature, they might have been sacrificed or executed for crimes committed.
13. Human Skull-Cups
Perhaps one of the most shocking finds in archeology. Three human skulls were unearthed in Gough’s Cave, Somerset, England. These skulls had been carefully shaped and worked into bowls, meaning that they were used to drink from. Aged at 14,700 years, these are perhaps one if the oldest skulls ever discovered. The find was also discovered among other human remains that had been snapped and cut to get the marrow inside, a clear indication of cannibalism. Well, next time you find yourself in a mad house with skull mugs, you might just be dinner or better yet, fresh meat! This find revealed the existence of cannibalism in ancient European societies.
12. The Undead Corpses of Bulgaria
Ever wondered why in Hollywood movies people needed to drive wooden stakes through a vampire’s heart to kill them? Well, it might not all be fiction after all. Bulgarian archeologist unearthed two vampire corpses at an excavation near a monastery in a town known as Sozopol, that’s close to the black sea. The “vampires” were more than 800 years old and had heavy iron rods pinned down their chests. This practice was common in Bulgaria up to the first decade of the 20-century. This might have resulted from gravediggers opening up crypts to bury plague victims and stumbling upon dead bodies with gases and mouths open that seemed like they were sucking in their burial shrouds.
11. The Ancient Roman Chemical War
According to an archeological find, 19 Roman soldiers who died in a cramped underground tunnel in Syria about 2000 years ago might have been the first victims of chemical warfare. According to studies, this happened during a battle with Persian soldiers; the Roman soldiers were poisoned with a wall of black smoke that quickly turned their lungs into acid killing them instantaneously. A separate skull from the pile of 19 soldiers is believed to have been of the Persian soldier who fired the toxic weapon. This find also proved the authenticity of several scriptures that told stories of the Roman-Persian Wars. They are not just tales rolled out as Hollywood movies.
10. The Elongated Skulls of Peru
Archeologists have unearthed bizarrely elongated skulls that were found in Peru and also Mexico. This remains elicited claims that aliens do exist among those prone to conspiracy theories. However, the truth is much more mundane than that, but it’s still exciting. The skulls are evidence of artificial cranial deformation; this is the distortion of the natural growth of a young child’s head after it is binding with wood or cloth. The earliest of this practices date back to the Neanderthals, but it’s still practiced by some cultures today. This was likely done to signify a group affiliation or to demonstrate some sort of social status.
9. Human Bone Tools
Archeologists have unearthed femurs and skulls that are believed to have been of the dead and were used by relatives to make household tools such as combs and buttons. This practice was common with the pre-Aztec civilization of the modern day Mexico. 5000 bones found in the city of Teotihuacan were analyzed by research, and it was found out that the bones were transformed into household items shortly after the victims died. Stones were used for removing the flesh and muscle since they became too fragile to sculpt once time passed on. Would you wear a cloth made out of your dead relatives bones?
8. Massive Skull found at the Bottom of a Lake
Another fascinating yet shocking find was at Teotihuacan, Mexico, where archeologists unearthed a pile of ancient skulls that was discovered by archeologists in an empty field that was once a lake. The 150 skulls represent one of the largest evidence of mass human sacrifices ever to have been discovered. This event likely occurred 1,100 years ago. However, no pictures of this bizarre finding have been released to the public out of respect for indigenous cultures that may have been related to the victims. Some of these findings help us understand ancient violence and reasons behind early migration patterns. The Teotihuacan find is perhaps one of the most exciting finds today.
7. The Circle of Baby Skeletons
It is believed that the babies were buried a thousand years ago with false wooden heads. A lot of mummies were discovered in a Peruvian tomb that was surrounded by a ring of baby skeletons that were placed in a fetal position. It is believed that the tomb might have been a final resting place for pilgrims who were diseased and came to Pachacamac for a miracle. However, while some of the people might have died naturally, it’s hard for researchers to determine whether the babies had been sacrificed. Peru had a group of mysterious Ychsma people that were believed to have had healing powers.
6. The Prehistoric Pickled Brain
Are you up for a some pre-historic, pickled brain? I bet not! According to this find, an Iron Age man had been hanged and then decapitated. His remains were then found in a waterlogged peat that was big in the UK. The submersion of his body into the liquid helped preserve the body for 2,684 years. This is perhaps the oldest most intact brain in Europe and Asia. The human brain tissue will normally decay quickly after exposure to air and will start decomposing long before the muscle and other soft tissues. Explains the fact why the human brain was able to be in such a state after all these years.
5. The Voynich manuscript
This manuscript has been titled as the world’s most mysterious ancient manuscript. This document was discovered back in 1912 in northern Italy. The scribe and language of the author are still unknown, but according to archeologists, so many pages of this manuscript are missing, and only 240 remain today. The manuscript contains drawings of a variety of herbal plants. However, scientists have been unable to match any of the plant species to any plants we have currently. This manuscript is believed to have been created in the 15 century. Apart from its rare herbal section, it also contains information on astronomy, cosmology, biology, and pharmacy. Well, we clearly didn’t start groundbreaking discoveries after the 19th century.
4. Preserved Claw Of Extinct Bird
Back in 1986, a group of archeologists discovered a claw belonging to a bird while they were digging in a cave in New Zealand. A fascinating thing about this find is that the flesh and the claws of the bird were still intact and attached to it. Later on, it was confirmed that the foot of the bird was from an extinct, wingless bird called Moa that disappeared from the face of the planet more than 2000 years ago. This bird was huge, and measured up to 12 feet and up to 250 kilograms. They were however hunted to extinction by early humans. This bird’s nasty claw can be viewed at the natural history museum in the Netherlands
3. The Sacsayuman
This is an ancient walled complex that is located in Machu Picchu, Peru. The construction of this complex structure is believed to have started back in 1440 by the emperor Pachacuti. What’s fascinating is that the complex took more than 100 years to construct. The wall contains several different types of rocks that include diorite blocks, dark andesite, and yucay limestone. The Sacsayuman is about 600 meters long and is made in a zigzag structure, and each block from the wall weighs hundreds of ton. This wall was built to protect the famous archeological tower known as the muyu marca. One wonders how they were even able to build such a complex without access to modern tools we are used to now.
2. The Nazca Lines
These lines are an unusual formation of white lines that are visible from space. In case you want to see them, take a flight trip over the desert south of Peru. This is also one of the popular UNESCO world heritage sites in the country. The ancient, mysterious formation has a mixture of triangles, rectangles trapezoids, and swirls. If you make a close observation, you will notice 70 animals, 300 geometric shapes, and various plant structures. The purpose of these ancient lines is still unknown. These lines were created by ancient Nazca Indians between 500 BC and 700 AD, and they have been intact for 2000 years.
1. The Terracotta Army
Back in 1094, a group of Xian Archeologists made an interesting excavation that become the discovery of the greatest funeral art ever. They discovered thousands of clay soldiers that were buried near a tomb of the emperor Qin Shi Huang. This was the first emperor of China. It’s believed that the clay soldiers were buried with him to protect him from different forces after his death. This complex is more than 2200 years old. Different weapons were also discovered along with the sculptures. The weapons had been perfectly arranged between the clay soldiers. Many parts of the complex and tomb remain unexplored.
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