Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers

Before construction projects are started, construction workers dig up some incredible discoveries. Here are the most incredible discoveries made by them!


Considering ancient secrets can lie just a few feet underground, it’s hardly surprising that construction workers often stumble across some pretty amazing stuff. But, over the years, some of these discoveries have been truly astounding. From ancient mummies to a very costly spider, let’s explore some of the most incredible discoveries ever made by construction workers.

10. Messages To The Future

During the construction of a new nanotechnology building for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015, workers uncovered a peculiar, sealed glass container. Some investigations revealed it to be a time capsule buried in 1957 to commemorate the opening of hi-tech labs focusing on electronics, computing and nuclear science.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers sealed glass container

The capsule contained scientific papers and paraphernalia, including an electronic device called a ‘cryotron’, which had been expected to revolutionize the computing world. It never did, which means the future is probably as disappointing for those MIT professors as it is for us.

The capsule was buried for 58 years but bore a strict demand on the front: “Do not open until 2957”. We were 942 years early when we opened it, earning us another disappointed look from the ghosts of science past.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers time capsule

That same year, a Scottish construction crew renovating a bridge near Kingussie dug up a rusty metal box containing a newspaper clipping from September 1894, a paper scroll and a bottle of whiskey.

While it seemed the perfect reward for a hard day’s work, the Highland Folk Museum swept in before the workers were able to enjoy 121-year-aged scotch. The identity of the person who buried the time capsule it remains a mystery, but it’s fair to assume they’re probably not coming back for it now.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers sealed glass container

9. Street Sailing

If cruise ships are the hotels of the sea, what does that make ships that are buried under hotels on land? This case from Alexandria, Virginia in 2016, raises this odd question and many more. During the construction of the riverside Hotel Indigo, a large, heavy ship that sailed between 1775 and 1798 was discovered.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers a large, heavy ship

After construction workers initially happened upon the ship’s bow, archeologists took over, unearthing the almost 50-foot-long remnant of an era long past. Though it initially seemed strange to find a ship buried on land, a little digging uncovered the truth.

The area in which the ship had been discovered had once been a dock, but the town had slowly grown outwards and over it in the years since the mysterious ship’s burial.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers

What’s more amazing is that the wood barely decayed in all those years, since oxygen couldn’t reach it in its muddy grave, keeping decay-causing bacteria at bay. The ship was originally used for either cargo or military purposes, but a career change is overdue: Boaty the Bell-Boy at the Hotel Indigo has a certain ring to it.

Even more unusual was the discovery of a shipwreck at Ground Zero in the middle of Lower Manhattan. In July 2010, construction workers uncovered the ship during reconstruction at the former site of the World Trade Center, 22 feet below street level.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers shipwreck

Analysis of the rings in the wood suggested the ship was constructed around 1773, in Philadelphia. While it’s unclear whether the ship sank accidentally or was intentionally submerged to help extend the Manhattan coastline, a historic sea vessel was the last thing those workers expected to unearth.

8. Expensive Arachnid

Usually, when a multi-million-dollar project is delayed, it’s due to budget constraints, lack of resources or similar complications. But one project in 2012 was halted by an extremely unusual interruption: spiders! A type of spider called the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver was responsible.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers Expensive Arachnid

The stoppage wasn’t because the builders were too scared to work. The spider, previously thought to be extinct, was found in the middle of a $15.1 million highway construction project in San Antonio, Texas. The specimen was found in a 6-foot-long, underground spider hole, and was identified by its strange, translucent body.

As the species hadn’t been spotted in 30 years, construction was halted until the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Federal Highway Administration determined the best way forward. Two years later, they made their decision, much to the dismay of the project’s financial team.

To continue without disturbing the translucent, eyeless spider’s habitat, it was determined that the original plan to construct an underpass would be redesigned as an overpass. This meant increasing the cost of the project by $30 million. That’s gotta be the most expensive ‘do not disturb’ sign of all time.

7. Found Fortune

Fresno property owner Tim Jones hit the jackpot when he hired a construction team to renovate his new investment, a former jewelry store. While removing some old shelves, a worker stumbled across multiple stashed envelopes brimming with diamonds.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers diamonds

Luckily for Jones, the honest worker handed them straight over. The previous owner, who passed away 6 years before the find, appeared to have hidden the jewels away for a later purpose, but never got a chance to retrieve them.

After his death, the family sold the business, though I bet they wish they’d had a more thorough sweep before they did. The previous owner’s daughter attempted to claim the diamonds, but as the building’s sale had already gone through, she was too late. We can't blame her for trying, who’d have thought some old shelves could be worth so much?

6. Subway To The Past

While carrying out excavation work for a new Metro line in Rome in 2016, construction workers stumbled upon a jaw-dropping reminder of their city’s incredible history. What initially seemed little more than an old, buried rock wall soon revealed forgotten mosaics, rooms, and eventually the full picture: an entire ancient roman barracks.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers ancient roman barracks

The expansive barracks, which stretch out almost 10,000sq ft were used in the 2nd century AD when Emperor Hadrian ruled. The site included a 330ft hallway with 39 rooms, believed to have housed the emperor’s finest personal guards. As if the discovery wasn’t impressive enough, the barracks also contained human bones, bronze coins and bracelets.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers ancient roman barracks

It’s likely that, over time, the building was destroyed and buried as foundational support for newer structures. But as for the bones, we can only guess how they got there. Because of the exceptional find, the station’s design was altered to include the barracks, and hopefully Boney the Roman will be manning the ticket office.

5. Explosive Discovery

In December 2016, the German city of Augsburg received a rather explosive early Christmas present. A week before St. Nick came to town, alive, a 2-ton British Royal Air Force bomb was uncovered by construction workers in the heart of the city.

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But despite Britain’s twisted sense of humour, it wasn’t a mean-spirited Christmas prank; it had been there for over 70 years. Augsburg was heavily bombed during World War II, and this was the biggest bomb ever found in the city.

It’s incredible that it hadn’t exploded in all that time, but that made the threat even more serious. 54,000 people evacuated their homes while two bomb specialists toiled for 4 hours to make the device safe. Talk about a ground-shattering discovery!

4. Wrapped And Buried

While widening a road in the Chinese city of Taizhou in 2011, workers struck a strange object buried six feet beneath the surface. They were baffled as the object was not listed in any records, meaning it was potentially older than the city itself.

It appeared at first to be an inexplicable concrete block, but when archaeologists arrived, they realised the truth. The archaeologists found the box had a lid, and opening it revealed– beneath layers of linens and fabrics – an incredibly well-preserved mummy!

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Based on the jewellery and preservation techniques, the archaeologists determined that the woman – thought to be a prominent member of the Ming Dynasty – had lived around 700 years ago. But as far as well-preserved mummies uncovered by unwitting construction workers, no one compares to Xin Zhui.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers mummy Xin Zhui

Now considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, the mummy of this Han dynasty noble has her own hair, soft skin and pliable limbs. But what’s most impressive, and what earns her the title of ‘best-preserved mummy in human history’, is that despite her minimal signs of decay, Xin Zhui is more than 2,000 years old.

Since her discovery by construction workers in 1971, her preservation still baffles scientists. But an assortment of acidic liquids, pastes, absorbent charcoal, clay and layers of silk fabric seems to have kept microbes and oxygen at bay. So, if you want to look this good when you’re 2,000, it might be time to re-think your skincare routine.

3. Buried Treasure

Next time you’re short on change to pay for a bus, instead of digging in your pockets, you may be better off digging in the ground. In 2016, while laying pipes in southern Spain, construction workers found half a ton of Roman coins inside 19 decorative Roman jars.

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The assortment of 50,000 coins dates back to the late third and early-fourth centuries and are stamped with inscriptions of emperors Maximian and Constantine. While the find was potentially worth millions, it seems the workers donated the coins for the higher purpose of historical analysis. But anyway, not a single one of the coins could fit into a vending machine, so maybe it was for the best.

2. Shooting Historic Hoops

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers Mexico ball game court

Before the likes of Michael Jordan and Lebron James, the star hoop shooters may well have been the ancient Mayan people. In an unbelievable coincidence, while digging foundations for a new basketball court in Yucatan, Mexico in 2012, workers came across an intriguing find: another ball game court. Only, this one was centuries old.

The buried court had once been used for a Mayan ballgame, of a variety that was regularly used to settle political disputes in pre-Hispanic Mexican civilisation. Players attempted to bounce a rubber ball through stone hoops attached to the sides of the court without using their hands.

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However, unlike the NBA today, losing one of these games was a matter of life and death. Losers were often sacrificed to appease the Gods, or to serve a political purpose. Sounds tense, but if we ever get bored of the NBA, at least we know how to raise the stakes.

Honorable Mentions

Before the final incredible construction-crew discovery is revealed, here are a few honorable mentions worthy of some exploration. Firstly, there’s the construction crew in Brazil who were met with a slithering surprise at their site in 2016: a 33-foot, 900-lb anaconda.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers Anaconda

The giant reptile invaded their worksite after a controlled explosion blew open a cave it was occupying. The beast was eventually killed, which seems a little cold-blooded, considering they’d blown up his home too.

The next curiosity was discovered during excavations in Edinburgh’s Old Town in 2013. The demolition of a car park revealed the skeletal remains of a medieval Scotsman, alongside an ornately-carved memorial stone. The sandstone slab depicted a Cavalry Cross and a sword, suggesting the skeleton had once been a knight.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers medieval Scotsman

Buried under a parking lot – it’s every young knight’s dream. But jokes aside, parking lots seem to be popular hangouts for nobles, and one particular car park was apparently fit for a king.

The remains of King Richard III were found beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England in 2012, 500 years after he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field. His discovery was celebrated, and he was reburied in March 2015. Probably under a bus shelter or a public restroom.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers King Richard III

1. Scrambled Dino

While carrying out road repairs in the Chinese city of Heyuan in 2015, workers came across something quite un-egg-spected. Mere feet below the sidewalk lay 43 fossilised dinosaur eggs, 19 of which were fully intact. Each of the eggs ranged from 4 to 5 in. in diameter, and while the species is as yet unidentified, their preservation in such a built-up area astounded archaeologists.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers fossilised dinosaur eggs

The red sandstone in which they were encased has preserved many other specimens of this kind in more rural areas of the city, but nowhere nearly as central as this. Amazingly, the Heyuan Dinosaur Museum claim that more than 17,000 fossilized eggs have been found in the city since 1996.

The city has even dubbed itself China’s “home of dinosaurs”, an identity that seems to be ingrained in its people. This was clearly shown when one worker on the scene attempted a not-so-great egg-scape with two of the specimens but was stopped by a crowd of locals.

Amazing Discoveries Made By Construction Workers

Amazingly, they formed a human chain around the site until the artefacts could be safely taken away for examination. The heart-warming unity the discovery inspired, it seems, flipped the community sunny-side up.

After all this, you probably want to take a shovel down to the local construction site. I hope these amazing discoveries made by construction workers interested you. Thanks for reading!

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