The dream of every archaeologist is to make a find that changes the way we think about history. Something ancient, unexpected and marvelous. While most archaeology isn’t as exciting as it’s portrayed in movies, some of it is. These archaeological discoveries were all truly incredible. Many of them pose mysteries that remain unsolved.
For starters, this claw, found in 1986 in a cave on New Zealand’s Mount Owen, was puzzling to people. Was it the discarded claw of some unknown monster? No, it turned out to be a very well-preserved Upland Moa claw. The Upland Moa was an enormous prehistoric bird.
2003 was one of the most earth-shaking years in the history of anthropology and archaeology. It was the year scientists discovered the remains of a small hominid species that has been colloquially named “Hobbit” on the island of Flores in the Philippines. The Hobbit’s proper name is Homo floresiensis. They stood about three and a half feet tall and, perhaps most remarkably of all, only went extinct 12,000 years ago. Some people speculate that the region’s “Orang Pendek” sightings, the South Asian version of Bigfoot, may indicate relic populations of Hobbits still living today.
Chichen Itza was a large Mayan city that was built well before the arrival of Columbus. The city was built in what is now Yucatán State in Mexico. It boasts a magnificent pyramid, and is one of Mexico’s most-visited tourism sites. Its architecture is surprisingly diverse, probably a reflection of the city boasting the most culturally heterogenous population of the pre-Columbian world.