6 archaeological discoveries to rival Tutankhamun’s tomb

From the Terracotta army to the Flores ‘Hobbit’, these are the discoveries that authorities argue are more important than the unearthing of Tutankhamun’s resting position

Human beings

2 November 2022

Historical chariots from the Yinxu site in China

Imaginechina Minimal/Alamy

Archaeologists have designed quite a few beautiful discoveries down the yrs. These have altered our contemplating on how our species grew to become the only people on the planet, how civilisations arose throughout the planet and how worldwide trade to start with commenced.

As the environment marks the 100th anniversary of just one of the most famed archaeological finds of all time – the unearthing of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt – New Scientist questioned archaeologists who function at web-sites scattered across the entire world, from Greece to Indonesia, to nominate the discoveries they assume are even more significant.

Mycenae Grave Circle

In the late 19th century, archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann excavated a circle of 6 royal graves at the citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. He observed a hoard of golden treasures from the 16th century BC, which include the “Mask of Agamemnon”, which Schliemann considered was worn by Mycenae’s mythological ruler, who fought in the Trojan war. That is not likely, but the uncover “revolutionised our comprehension of the Mediterranean”, states Jack Davis at the College of Cincinnati in Ohio, revealing the formerly unidentified Aegean civilisations that preceded historical Greece.

The Mask of Agamemnon discovered at Mycenae in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann.  The mask is a gold funeral mask, found over the face of a body located in a burial shaft.  Schliemann believed that he had discovered the body of the legendary Greek leader Agamemnon

The Mask of Agamemnon, a person of the most famous discoveries at Mycenae

Planet Heritage Archive/Alamy

Terracotta Army and the historical internet site of Yinxu

In 1974, personnel digging around the town of Xi’an, China, uncovered a existence-size clay soldier poised for fight. Archaeologists soon identified an total terracotta military, guarding the tomb of the 3rd-century-BC emperor Qin Shi Huang. Rowan Flad at Harvard University highlights the web site together with Yinxu, the previous funds of the Shang dynasty (see image at the prime of the web page). This metropolis, which dates to the late 2nd millennium BC and so is a great deal older than the Terracotta military, unveiled a golden age of early Chinese culture, like palaces, a flood-control technique and inscribed oracle bones – the earliest proof of the Chinese prepared language. Equally “were real discoveries of issues and stories that had been extensive forgotten”, says Flad.

terracotta army

The Terracotta military began to re-arise from the ground in the 1970s

Melvyn Longhurst China/Alamy

Hand axes of Hoxne

In 1797, antiquary John Frere wrote to colleagues describing sharpened flints uncovered by brickworkers in Hoxne, England. The stones lay 4 meters deep, together with the bones of monumental, not known animals and beneath layers apparently at the time at the bottom of the sea. Frere advised they belonged “to a pretty remote period… even over and above that of the existing world”. His discovery of what we now know are Palaeolithic hand axes “revealed for the initially time the prolonged-time period, deep-time human past”, says Mike Parker Pearson at College Faculty London, “hard the biblical idea that the globe was made in 4004 BC.”

Hand-Axes from Hoxne

Stone Age hand-axes were found out in Hoxne, England, in the late 18th century

Science History Photographs/Alamy


This Bronze Age shipwreck, found off the coastline of Turkey in 1982, stands as “one of the great underwater discoveries”, claims Brendan Foley at Lund University in Sweden. At the time explained as “Wall Road in a ship“, it transformed historians’ comprehending of the era by revealing an astonishing web of trade contacts. The wreck’s vast cargo represented at the very least 11 distinctive cultures and involved weapons, jewellery, ostrich eggs, resin, spices and copper ingots from as considerably afield as Egypt, Cyprus and Asia.

Uluburun II Wreck Replica

A replica of the Uluburun ship wreck, a boat missing in the Mediterranean throughout a Bronze Age storm


The Flores ‘The Hobbit’

The shock discovery of diminutive people who at the time lived on the Indonesian island of Flores was the “JFK moment” of present day archaeology, suggests Adam Brumm at Griffith University in Australia, in the feeling that researchers in the discipline however don’t forget exactly where they had been when they heard the information. The very small bones, found out in a cave in 2003, showed that people (subsequently dubbed Homo floresiensis) grew to just around 1 meter tall and lived alongside big lizards. For Brumm, “it was an electrifying and entirely surprising find”.

Homo floresiensis

Homo floresiensis, an historic human species that astonished anyone

Cicero Moraes et al. (CC BY 4.)

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