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Top 10 Greatest and shocking Archaeological Discoveries of All Time

While we're all locked at home, there's no better way to escape to another time and place than to learn about amazing archeological sites and discoveries from around the world. Here are the 10 greatest and shocking archaeological discoveries —and don't be shocked if they inspire future trip plans whenever it's safe to do so again.

While we’re all locked at home, there’s no better way to escape to another time and place than to learn about amazing archeological sites and discoveries from around the world. Here are the 10 greatest and shocking archaeological discoveries —and don’t be shocked if they inspire future trip plans whenever it’s safe to do so again.

1. Pompeii

Photo credit: IGV news /

Pompeii, an ancient Roman city, was buried in ash and pumice during a cataclysmic volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. The explosion ruined the city and murdered its inhabitants, leaving behind a massive archaeological site and a treasure of Roman riches.

Because there is no air or moisture while buried under ash, structures, items, and cadavers have remained well-preserved for thousands of years. The simple existence of Pompeii is responsible for a considerable deal of our knowledge of everyday life in a Roman city.

Featured in 10 world’s most destructive and dangerous volcanic eruptions in history

2. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone
Photo credit:

The Rosetta Stone, which dates from 196 BC, bears a writing from Ptolemaic King Ptolemy V in three languages: Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek.

It was the first Ancient Egyptian bilingual text discovered in contemporary times when it was discovered in 1799. The language had previously been impossible to read, and a multilingual find like this allowed us to start deciphering hieroglyphs. Thanks to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, we can now translate practically any item using Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

3. Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army
Photo credit: Resalat Rasheed /

The Terracotta Army is a fascinating collection of terracotta figurines depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. It’s a piece of funerary art created with the symbolic goal of guarding the emperor in the afterlife.

The army, which dates back to the third century BC, has about 8,000 troops, 130 chariots, and 520 horses. It reveals a lot about how Chinese soldiers were outfitted at the period, including their weaponry and clothing.

4. Cave of Altamira

Top 10 Greatest Archaeological Discovery Cave of Altamira
Photo credit: Rameessos /

The Altamira Cave is a fascinating example of how archaeology and anthropology come together to portray a beautiful story. The cave in Spain features prehistoric drawings of creatures and human hands, and it was the first of its kind when it was found in 1880.

The revelation revolutionized our understanding of prehistoric humans, who were previously thought to be incapable of artistic expression due to their lack of intellectual capability. The items range from 14,000 to 20,000 years ago, offering us a peek into the lifestyles of our distant forefathers and mothers.

5. Dead Sea Scrolls

Top 10 Greatest Archaeological Discovery Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls are an 800-manuscript collection discovered in 11 caves about 2 kilometers inland from the Dead Sea, at Khirbet Qumran, an ancient West Bank village.

The texts originate from 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ and are among the earliest known Hebrew biblical literature. They’ve given biblical translators invaluable insight into what the Bible was like 2,000 years ago and how it was put together throughout time by various persons.

6. Easter Island Moai

Top 10 Greatest Archaeological Discovery Easter Island Moai
Photo credit: Alamy Stock Photo

Easter Island, a Chilean Polynesian island in the Pacific Ocean, has 887 enormous statues, according to archaeologists. The Moai statues, which date from between 1250 and 1500, are magnificent monuments to the Rapa Nui people.

What fascinates me about the Moai is the wonder of transportation they must have to get across the island. The Rapa Nui people tell stories of how they harnessed heavenly power to make the sculptures walk.

7. Angkor Wat

Top 10 Greatest Archaeological Discovery Angkor Wat
Photo credit: IGV CHESLEY/National Geographic

According to the BBC, the works of French naturalist Henri Mouhot in the mid-nineteenth century inspired a slew of archeologists to travel to Cambodia to study more about the once-sprawling city of Angkor Wat. The huge Buddhist temple complex is a source of Cambodian national pride and is regarded one of the world’s largest religious monuments.

8. The Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens
Lana Law /

While Greece is full of amazing archeological sites, none is more famous than Athens’ Acropolis. The site dates back to the Bronze Age and was built over thousands of years. Around the turn of the century, researchers began rehabilitating and protecting the site. According to UNESCO, the Acropolis of Athens is now regarded as a world symbol “of the classical spirit and civilization.”

9. Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines
Editors /

Flying above Peru’s Nazca Desert, you’ll notice massive geoglyphs that seem like animals and plants. The archeological discoveries, known as the Nazca Lines, dates back between 1,500 and 2,500 years. The first researcher to perform an in-depth investigation of the Nazca Lines, whose function is still unknown, is American historian Paul Kosok.

10 Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Daniella Beccaria /

In 1911, the “lost” Inca citadel of Machu Picchu was rediscovered in Peru by explorer Hiram Bingham. The well-preserved archeological complex, which was built in the mid-1400s, provides historians with a glimpse of the Inca Empire’s technological capabilities at its peak. The cave graves and terraced platforms also provide insight into how people lived in this area on a daily basis.

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