Incredible Recent Discoveries
Let's investigate some incredible recent discoveries!History
History stretches back a really long time. By definition, it stretches back as long as anything can! That leaves a lot of time and room for treasures to get left behind, ancient artifacts to become lost, and even for entire cities to get buried in the sand.
Every now and then, though, an ancient wonder from a bygone era is suddenly rediscovered. From unexploded bombs and gigantic jewels, to long-lost “yo mama” jokes, these are several amazing ancient discoveries, only recently unearthed.
The Coast Wasn’t Clear
Diving can be an incredibly fun and even magical experience. You get to soak in the wonderful colors of the ocean, meet curious little aquatic friendlies, and sometimes even discover an ancient, cursed Neptunian blade.
The discovery in the picture below isn’t some kind of storm-infused sword from a fantasy movie. It’s a real weapon that was discovered off the coast of northern Israel by a diver back in October 2021.
The sword dates back around 900 years and is thought to have been the weapon of a Crusader attempting to conquer the Holy Land. It makes sense the sword ended up in the sea, as many Crusaders found themselves engaged in battle the moment their ships reached foreign beaches.
The owner of this particular blade was likely a powerful warrior, as the weapon weighs four pounds and is four feet long. So, it’d be like wielding something the height of a child with the weight of a two-liter bottle of soda. That makes it slightly heftier than typical weapons of the period.
Still, if it ended up in the ocean, it likely wasn’t enough to save the unlucky wielder! The sword then lay dormant for 900 years before shifting sands revealed it to the world once more!
The diver, Shlomi Katzin, was happy to donate his discovery to a local museum, but everyone wanted to grab a few pictures with it first. Can you blame them? It certainly makes for one heck of a profile picture.
No Bones About It
In 2011, heavy-machinery operator Shawn Funk was going about his regular workday. He operated a cable shovel; a large machine that moves hundreds of tons of dirt a day.
All of a sudden, the bucket clinked into something hard and unusual. Inspecting the strange rock, Funk and his fellow workers were surprised to find what appeared to be row after row of sandy brown disks. It was some sort of fossil, and an absolutely massive one at that!
Not long after, paleo-technicians were called in to assist in the excavation. They encased the mysterious fossil in plaster to protect it and began slowly moving it before it suddenly snapped in half under its own weight! The team was utterly devastated, but luckily, all was not lost!
Lab workers at the Royal Tyrrell Museum began the grueling process of restoring the fossil. And finally, after six long years, they unveiled the Nodosaur. This lumbering beast was a herbivore that roamed the earth approximately 110 million years ago in what is now western Canada.
The Nodosaur was a truly impressive creature, weighing in at a mind-boggling 3,000 pounds and measuring a monstrous 18-feet in length. The Nodosaur had incredibly dense armor on its back, apparently thick and spiky enough to have resembled a pineapple.
What’s more, this unusual beast also boasted a basic form of camouflage known as countershading, where an animal's coloration is darker on the upper side and lighter on the underside of the body.
Many species still use it today as a way to make themselves less conspicuous in their natural habitats. Makes you wonder what even larger dinosaurs this big beasty was trying to hide from!
Would you give your right-arm to go down in history? Well, someone certainly did. A group of treasure hunters in Switzerland armed with metal detectors made a remarkable discovery back in October 2017.
Digging through the rock and dirt near the shores of Lake Biel, they unearthed a strange, beautiful metal hand. The unusual bronze hand was adorned with a gold cuff and contained a socket at the bottom.
This means that the 3500-year-old hand was once mounted on something, perhaps as part of a statue or on a scepter, or maybe this is evidence of humanity’s first-ever cyborg, dating all the way back to the bronze-age?
Archeologists found this discovery so strange that at first, they weren’t sure if it was real or not. Keen to uncover the mystery, they began digging around the area where the hand was found. Before long they discovered an ancient grave, a spiral-shaped hair ornament, a broken bronze finger, and the bones of an adult man.
It’s currently theorized that the man in the grave was someone important to the people who constructed it. The bronze hand may also have been fashioned and placed with the deceased to replace a lost limb before his journey into the next life.
Think what you will, I’m still placing my bets on a Bronze-age cyborg. Maybe that arm can unfold into a cannon? This is starting to sound like the plot of a sweet new ancient anime!
Fear is a natural response that’s been a part of our collective unconscious for thousands and thousands of years. It’s fear that keeps us safe from things that might hurt us, like spiders, ghosts, and clowns.
Amazingly, researchers at the British museum have just found proof people have always feared one of those things, at least. Back in October 2021, an ancient Babylonian clay tablet was uncovered in the gloomy vaults of the museum.
More than 3,500 years old, and only just large enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the tablet doesn’t look like much at first. But on closer inspection, the museum’s curators realized it contained the first ever depiction of a ghost!
As you can see, the bearded spirit is being led along, hands-bound, by a woman. The tablet’s meaning was previously misunderstood because, eerily, the ghost image only comes to life when viewed under light from a certain angle.
Even more exciting is the purpose of the tablet, which includes a series of instructions and images informing the reader how to deal with unwanted spirits, like an ancient Wikihow!
The instructions for the would-be-exorcist on the other side of the tablet demonstrate a surprising amount of compassion for the ghost. They suggest an unwanted spirit may be lonely and in need of companionship.
The reader is instructed to create two small figurines, dress them finely, and set up some beer for them. The spirit will then apparently be happily escorted to the underworld. As a culture, we’ve really regressed in 3500 years. We’ve gone from helping ghosts to busting them!
What’s the most valuable thing in your kitchen? Some classy cookware, maybe? A slow cooker? A juicer you paid $400 for and immediately broke trying to make some sort of weird pork-rib smoothie?
Well, whatever your kitchen contains, it won’t compare to what a 90-year-old woman in France discovered when she was preparing to sell her home. For years, she had this painting hung above a hot plate in her kitchen.
Thinking it was simply a cheap print, she tried to sell it on. But when an auctioneer saw it, their jaw hit-the-floor. They quickly realized it was a long-lost piece of artwork from celebrated Italian master Cimabue.
The painting, Christ Mocked, is more than 700 years old, and nobody has any idea how it ended up collecting bacon fumes in a French kitchen.
Initially the auctioneers thought the painting would be worth between $350,000 and $460,000. However, to be on the safe side, they brought it to the attention of Eric Turquin, a master-appraiser.
Turquin informed the auctioneers it was likely worth between $4 - $6 ½ million, more than ten times their initial assessment. Hold onto your butt, though, because Christ Mocked eventually sold for $26.8 million.
Yo Mama So Old
How do you want to be remembered when you die? Through a great work of art? Fond stories told by your loved ones? A sprawling business empire? Maybe as the inventor of a good “Yo Mama” joke.
In 1976, archaeologist J.J. van Dijk uncovered a cracked 3500-year-old tablet in Iraq. The tablet then mysteriously vanished, but Van Dijk luckily noted what was inscribed on it.
It took until only a few years ago for scholars to finish translating the ancient text, and what pearls of wisdom did the old stone slab have to tell the world? Jokes! Seriously, the ancient slab contained a series of riddles with comedic answers or “jokes”, if you wanna be unscientific. They pertain to beer, politics, and yo mama!
The current translations and understanding of how the joke is told leave a lot to be desired. As it is, what remains of the riddle reads: “… of your mother is by the one who has intercourse with her. What or who is it?”
It’s a little lacking in pazazz, isn’t it? If we modernize it a bit, it might sound more like this: “Yo mama's like a 5-foot-tall basketball hoop… it ain't that hard to score.”
As bad as that joke is though, it’s good to know even in ancient Babylon, people were making fun of each other’s mothers!
Ninja’s were essentially the special forces of medieval Japan, doing jobs no one else could. If you were able to harness their secrets, you’d be able to slip through crowds undetected, pilfer priceless treasures with ease, and fart in an elevator without anyone noticing.
Wish no more, because in 2018, Japanese researchers discovered an ancient Ninja scroll written some 300 years ago. The scroll was penned by a ninja-in-training known as Inosuke Kizu, a warrior of the Iga clan, which protected a mountain town near the imperial capital of Kyoto.
The scroll revealed that the ninja code was incredibly strict, with Inosuke promising never to reveal the secrets to his children or even his brothers!
Towards the end of the scroll, Inosuke promises that if he ever revealed any ninja secrets, he would be punished by big and small gods across all 60 provinces of Japan. This promise might have meant more if he hadn’t signed it at the bottom of a document discussing the ninja code!
Gem of a Find
Zambia is a country whose surface is teeming with life. It’s home to the enormous Mosi-oa-Tunya Falls, the Big Five of African wildlife, the world’s largest man-made lake and a job that requires you to spend your days 40 feet underground. That’s the tough life of an emerald miner!
Recently, in 2018, the Zambian Kagem emerald mine unearthed something very special; an enormous, brightly colored emerald weighing in at two-and-a-half pounds.
The gemstone has been dubbed the “Inkalamu”, which means “lion” in the local Zambian language of Bemba and measures in at a staggering 5,655 carats.
It’s okay if that number doesn’t mean much to you, we can’t all be emerald hunters. A carat is the unit of measurement used to weigh gems like diamonds or emeralds and comes in at about 200 grams.
Keeping in mind that the Inkalamu weighed 5655 carats, typical emeralds can sell for anywhere between two hundred and eighteen thousand dollars per carat. Eventually, the Inkalamu sold for a phenomenal fifty million dollars.
Oh No, Picasso!
Movies lead us to believe that art thieves are brilliant, competent, and suave individuals who have a cunning plan for every eventuality. But it turns out, that’s not always true!
Greek construction worker George Sarmantzopoulos was a bit of an art freak. A painter himself, George visited the National Gallery in Athens constantly, and became taken with a few particular paintings. So taken, in fact, he decided to take ‘em!
For about six months, George would walk through the gallery taking note of camera positions, painting locations, and guard shifts.
In January 2012, armed with several construction tools from his day job, George was able to sneak into the gallery at night and make off with three works of art: Picasso’s A Woman’s Head, Mondrian’s Mill, and a sketch by Italian master Guglielmo Caccia, which he got blood on and flushed down a toilet.
Definitely not a criminal mastermind, this guy. Even so, George got away with the crime scott-free for nine years before the police reported they were close to finding the thief in 2021. Panicked, George moved the paintings to the only place he could think of, a ditch.
He threw a near hundred-year-old Picasso worth $19 million in a ditch. Not long after that, he confessed everything to the police and led them to the location of the paintings, and they were carefully recovered and cleaned.
Gardening is meant to be a relaxing activity; a way to take some time out, tend to your flowers, and remove the giant explosives in your back yard. Well, if you’re Ian Royce of Victoria, Australia, anyway!
Ian was cleaning out his garden when he discovered a several foot wide, 550 lbs undetonated explosive. The bomb in question was an ocean mine dating back to World War Two.
These mines were covered in thin spines and would explode if anything brushed against them. These kinds of mines were typically attached to long chains on the ocean floor and were used to deter foreign ships and submarines from approaching important territory.
After the war, it wasn’t uncommon for these mines to be decommissioned and used as incinerators. Fortunately, it was this kind of decommissioned mine Ian discovered in his garden.
But how he didn’t notice the enormous bomb next to his azaleas is a question that has sadly gone unanswered. Ian eventually sold the bomb for $3,000, but still had to move it.
With a little elbow grease, he was able to chuck it in the back of his truck. It’s decommissioned, but driving through Australia is scary enough without having a giant bomb in the trunk!
Gimme Some Tongue
Back in February 2021, archeologists excavating the ancient temple of Taposiris Magna in Egypt struck gold but not in the way they expected. Surveying the depths of the Ptolemaic structure, the team discovered a 2000-year-old mummy with a brilliant golden tongue placed in its mouth.
The tongue is made from a golden foil, and archeologists currently believe it was meant to act as a charm of sorts, ensuring the deceased could speak and communicate in the afterlife.
It’s also possible the individual in question had a speech impediment or lost their tongue before dying, hence the need for a replacement.
That wasn’t all though! The team also discovered an incredibly eerie sight, a woman in a full-body death mask. When someone important died in ancient Egypt, a mask of their face would be created and placed on the body.
This was so the deceased’s soul would know which body to return to when the time came for it to journey on to the afterlife. As the name suggests, though, a death mask usually only covers the face, making this find unique.
Pompeii and Circumstance
Back in 2018, excavations uncovered and translated a piece of graffiti written in Pompeii; the ancient Roman city destroyed by a volcanic eruption nearly 2000 years ago. The graffiti itself is fairly tame: XVI K Nov, which means the 16th day before the "kalends" or first of November, so October the 17th.
The thing is, it’s written in charcoal, something that should have been washed away by rain in just a few months. The fact it lasted, preserved beneath the ash and debris of the past till now, indicates it was written shortly before Pompeii was wiped off the face of the earth.
Thanks to this, it might answer an age-old mystery. Ancient historian Pliny the Younger, who witnessed Pompeii’s volcanic demise, documented the event 25 years after the eruption, and recorded it occurred in the summer. His account is one of the oldest remaining recordings of the event, but this timing didn’t jibe with certain things discovered in the ruins.
Many of the bodies recovered were wearing warm clothes unfit for summer and were drinking unseasonal wines. If the graffiti was written the year of the eruption, this may put an end to the summer vs fall debate.
This isn’t the first amazing piece of graffiti from Pompeii they’ve discovered, however. Pompeii graffiti ranges from the bizarrely simple “Today, on April 19th, I made bread” to the heart-breaking “Vibius Restitutus slept here alone and missed his darling Urbana”.
And then there’s the downright hilarious “Chie, I hope your haemorrhoids rub together so much they hurt worse than ever before!” In fact, most of the Pompeii graffiti is actually too raunchy to be shared, even today! If only they had social media back then, just imagine the ancient trolling!
The Sphinx is one of the most iconic Egyptian symbols there is. Did you know, though, that the classic human-headed Sphinx isn’t the only kind there is? As it turns out, there are a lot, so many, in fact, that they’ve discovered some new ones very recently!
In October 2021, Egyptologists uncovered three giant stone Ram’s heads in Karnak temple. The heads were built during the Ptolemaic period, between 2000 and 2300 years ago. The Rams were likely part of the nearby “Avenue of Sphinxes”, a 1.7-mile road between Luxor and Karnak temple.
The Avenue of Sphinxes is a wonder to behold, featuring 700 statues of different shapes and sizes. It was once paraded along for celebrations, and in its heyday was thought to feature 1350 Sphinxes that’s the equivalent of about one Sphinx every two yards!
Though the Ram’s heads are currently broken off their bodies, archaeologists are working hard to re-attach them, and return the Sphinxes to their former glory!
Beware The King-Bear
Even if you’ve never come face-to-face with one, we can all agree that bears are intimidating animals. Heaps of muscle, incredibly powerful jaws, razor-sharp claws – and if you’re a salmon? Forget about it.
What if I told you, however, that scientists recently discovered something that makes the strongest grizzly that exists today look like Winnie the Pooh in comparison?
An ursine skull was discovered back in 2017 by archeologists in Walakpa, Alaska. The skull has been determined to be around 1300 years old and is thought to belong to a previously undiscovered species of polar bear.
Take a look at how big and intimidating it is when you compare it to modern bear skulls:
The skull measures in at a beastly 16-inches from nose-to-back, and may lend credibility to the local indigenous legend of the “King Bear”. In the folklore of the local Birnirk people, the King Bear, also called the “weasel bear”, was a monstrous 12-foot-long bear that roamed the icy Alaskan wilderness!
When asked if bears the size of the King Bear could still be wandering the arctic, one scientist quickly answered that they certainly could.
Footprints In The Sand
It might surprise you just how far back the evidence of human life really goes. The oldest garment ever discovered is the Tarkhan dress, which dates back 5000 years. Older still is the world’s oldest city, Uruk.
Uruk was an ancient Sumerian city in Mesopotamia and was founded 6500 years ago. Before even that is the world’s oldest woodcarving, the Shigir Idol, which was found in Russia and dates back an insane 12,500 years.
This means the Shigir Idol was carved by human beings during the Ice Age!
But if you can believe it, something was recently discovered in the White Sands National Park that’s nearly twice as old as even the Shigir idol.
The image below shows footprints found in the New Mexico Park, which are an estimated 21,000 years old. This makes them the oldest footprints ever found in North America!
What’s more, these footprints tell a story. Based on the size and indentation, researchers were able to figure out the age and walking speed of the people that left these footprints behind. It’s believed they were left by about 16 people, who were mostly teenagers and children.
It’s theorized that younger members of prehistoric tribes were given tasks like searching and foraging, so they may have been out looking for wood or vegetation. It’s nice to know that even 21,000 years ago, teens were being forced to do chores with their annoying younger siblings.
If you were amazed by these incredible recent discoveries you might want to read this article about discoveries found underground that changed History.