Archaeology is a complex science which deals in humans and human lifestyle. The most fascinating thing about archaeology is that the more it discovers, the more mysteries it unfolds. The more answer it provides, the more questions are raised. Humans from time immemorial have an impetus to unlock the secrets of the past to study the ambiguity of the future. It has been correctly said that ‘history repeats itself’, but the question which tickles us the most is ‘which history’? Archaeologists constantly endeavor to uncover the past, so that we can know who we were and what we will become in the coming time. This notion has led to some of the most amazing archaeological discoveries which have drastically changed the course of history. Read on to know about the 10 major archaeological discoveries that changed history forever and made history much more interesting!
10. The Rosetta Stone
Egyptian Civilization has a very rich history and is considered to be one of the most advanced civilization to ever grace this planet. So, when we find something that gives us the key to unlocking its secrets, then undeniably it is the greatest find ever! That is where Rosetta stone gets the limelight for unlocking deep secrets within Ancient Egyptians Hieroglyphics. This stone is unique because it contains the translation of the Hieroglyphics in two languages, namely Demotic and Ancient Greek. It was discovered in 1799, by the Napoleon army and due to its significance, it was transported to Alexandria. Using these translations, it became very easy for linguists to decipher this eluding language due to which many more languages were discovered in inscriptions.
9. Bulla of Baruch
Baruch Ben Neriah was the right hand man of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. he was also his scribe who used to record all his prophecies and life accounts which was dictated to him by the prophet himself. He is highly revered by Jews and Christians because he wrote his own Biblical book, which was later removed from the Protestant Bibles in 1500s. In 1975 a clay bulla (seal) was discovered in an antiquities market which bore not only his seal but also his fingerprint! If this archaeological discovery is proved to be authentic then it would be a huge discovery which contains both the seal and fingerprint of the man who was a prophet in his own right.
Pompeii was a legendary city which got buried in volcanic ash and lava due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. This city was considered to be a myth until 1738, when the nearby city of Herculaneum was discovered which led to the discovery of this city. Lost for nearly 1700 years, this city is believed to be destroyed by God in retribution for its sexual perversities. In olden times, Pompeii was called as the city of “Sodom and Gomorrah” because it was filled with sexual and erotic arts all over the place. Moreover, Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre (the discoverer), found mummified corpses of people who were preserved due to molten lava and came to the conclusion that the calamity came fast and unexpectedly.
7. Nag Hammadi Library
In 1945, Mohammed Ali Samman who was a local peasant made an incredible discovery in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. He discovered twelve leather bound papyrus codices inside a large jar, which turned out be fifty two unknown Gnostic texts. For those who do not know who Gnostic were, they were a condemned Christian sect whose teachings were banned by Bishop Athanasius in 367AD which led to destruction of all Gnostic texts. So, the discovery of Nag Hammadi Library opened a way to the historians to know more about this damned sect and its teachings.
6. Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls discovered in a cave on the shore of Dead Sea marked a huge impact on the Christians since their discovery in 1946. These scrolls are 972 in number with their age dated back to the early 2nd century AD. These documents are so significant because the oldest document which was discovered before them was dated 9th century AD . This gave the Biblical scholars the chance to read about the Christian events which happened after just two hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ. These documents are written on papyrus, parchment or bronze and are the oldest surviving copies of the Biblical documents in existence. Moreover, these documents are written in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek, indicating intermingling of communities in ancient times.
5. The Pilate Stone
The Pilate stone is most probably the least known archaeological find on this list. It was discovered by Dr. Antonio Frova and his team in 1961 near Caesarea while excavating for a Roman Theater built by Herod the Great in 30 BC. The thing which made it significant was the inscription on it which read: “To the Divine Augusti Tiberium … Pontius Pilate … prefect of Judea … has dedicated “. This inscription is the evidence for the existence of the Biblical Pontius Pilate. Moreover, this stone was used as a part of staircase to the theater and its authenticity is universally recognized by historians.
4. The Cave of Altamira
The discovery of Altamira in 1880, Spain, caused a huge sensation among the leading archaeologists. This cave shattered theories upon theories on a daily basis and it totally changed the way we perceived prehistoric human beings. The leading theory among the archaeologists in the early 20th century was that the prehistoric human beings were incapable of any form of art, language or communication skills. After the discovery of this cave by an amateur archaeologist Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, the above mentioned theory was put to rest because of amazing paintings and art discovered inside it. When the cave was finally verified as authentic after 20 years of discovery, it made the people believe that our distant ancestors were more advanced than we gave them credit for.
3. Terracotta Army of Xi’an
The life size army made out of clay was discovered by some farmers in 1974. Terracotta Army was a ritual for the funeral of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, dating back to third century BCE. Archaeologists have excavated 8,300 life-sized soldiers, 130 chariots, 140 horses and all the important officials and courtesans. Moreover, more of these are buried underneath the emperor’s mausoleum and is considered as the most spectacular man-made sites in the world. The neat artistry and intricate details have made this archaeological site as a tourist attraction, where thousands flock each month to glance at the glorious site.
“At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment – an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by – I was struck dumb with amazement.” These are the exact words of Howard Carter, the man who discovered King Tutankhamen’s tomb. This discovery is one of the biggest archaeological discoveries in human history and has paved the way for a better understanding of the ancient Egyptian Civilization. The sarcophagus and its treasures were exhibited throughout the world to mark its impact on modern history. It is currently being exhibited at Cairo National Museum, Egypt.
1. The Olduvai Gorge
The Olduvai Gorge is located in Eastern Africa and is considered as the most important archaeological site in the world due to its significance in human evolution. This places houses the remains of humans who have been dated to be 1.9 Million years old! Moreover, this place was continuously occupied for thousands of years and was most probably the first human civilization. Archaeologist have excavated tools, rock art formations and most importantly, the evidence of scavenging among humans. The evidence of scavenging arises from bones with teeth marks on them instead of cut marks by some tools. Moreover, this civilization consisted of humans who were hunters and gatherers, and were a closely packed community due to the amount of remains and signs of human interaction.
These archaeological discoveries have pushed humans to dig deeper into their past, so that we could get the answers to the most commonly asked questions like: “Who are we”? “What is our purpose”? We might not be very close to getting the answers, but the day is not far when humans will realize their true purpose and potential.