Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries in 2010

Jan 3, 2011 0 comments

Last month Archaeology Magazine released their list of the top ten discoveries in 2010. Among the findings is a room under the El Diablo pyramid in Maya city of El Zotz in Guatemala, containing a "bizarre cache" of severed fingers and other artifacts that they believe were the remnants of a dynastic leader. In Canada, a research team found the abandoned ship Investigator right where its crew had left it in 1853 when it became stuck in the ice of Mercy Bay. And a research team in Jamestown, Virginia uncovered the footprint of the earliest Protestant church in North America, which was built in 1608 and is believed to be the site of Pocahontas's 1614 marriage to tobacco farmer John Rolfe.

In this gallery we shall look at these ten biggest discoveries and learn some of the stories behind them. Visit Archaeology Magazine to read about each in detail.

1. The Tomb of Hecatomnus Milas, Turkey

Turkey Hidden Tomb

The Tomb of Hecatomnus (391-377 years BC. Er.) King of Cary. Hecatomnus was the father of the king himself Mausolus, whose tomb was one of the seven wonders of the world - Halicarnassus Mausoleum. The Tomb of Hecatomnus was actually discovered by a group of looters who engaged in illicit antiquities trade. The arrest of the illegal excavators led to the amazing discovery.

2. Paleolithic Tools Plakias, Crete


Stone tools belonging to the Paleolithic age (about 2.6 million years ago) were found on the coast of Crete. The tools resemble those made by Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus, showing that one of these early human ancestors boated across at least 40 miles of open sea to reach the island, the earliest indirect evidence of seafaring. "If hominins could move around the Mediterranean before 130,000 years ago, they could cross other bodies of water as well," says team member Curtis Runnels of Boston University, who helped analyze the tools. "When similar finds on other islands are confirmed, the door will be opened to the re-evaluation of every assumption we have made about early hominin migrations."

3. Royal Tomb - El Zotz, Guatemala

A deep looters' trench led archaeologists to a series of amazing, macabre finds beneath the El Diablo pyramid at the modest Maya city of El Zotz. They discovered, just 10 feet beyond where the looters had stopped digging, increasingly bizarre caches, including bowls containing severed fingers, teeth, and a partially cremated infant.


The offerings were adjacent to an Early Classic Maya tomb containing the remains of a king dressed as a ritual dancer, complete with a belt adorned with shell "bells" and mammal teeth. He was buried with the skeletons of four infants, the skulls of two older children, textiles, carvings, and an array of ceramics, including a tamale bowl depicting a peccary. Based on the position, wealth, and date of the tomb (A.D. 350), researchers believe the king may have been the founder of a dynasty.

4. Early Pyramids Jaen, Peru


In Peru, near the city of Jaen in the jungle, pyramids have been discovered dating back approximately 2800 years.

5. HMS Investigator Banks Island, Canada


In the Beaufort Sea, in Arctic, were found the remains of the legendary British research vessel Investigator which disappeared 157 years ago. This ship in 1850, went looking for the missing Franklin expedition in the Arctic, but in the course of this operation, the ship was iced up and the crew was forced to leave his June 3, 1853

6. Decoding the Neanderthal Genome Leipzig, Germany

PODEVIN-Neanderthal fro Arhveology Magazine

The decoding of the Neanderthal genome was announced by a team led by Svante Paabo of Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. It was found that the DNA of modern humans and Neanderthals are almost 99.5% similar.

7. Child Burials - Carthage, Tunisia


A team led by University of Pittsburgh physical anthropologist Jeffrey Schwartz has refuted the long-held claim that the Carthaginians carried out large-scale child sacrifice from the eighth to second centuries B.C. Having examined the remains scientists from the University of Pittsburgh came to the conclusion that all the children of the surveyed graves died of natural causes and not as a result of a ritual killing.

8. “Kadanuumuu” - Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia


The discovery of a 3.6-million-year-old beanpole on the Ethiopian plains—christened “Kadanuumuu,” or “Big Man” in the Afar language— demonstrates these early human ancestors were fully bipedal.

9. 1608 Church - Jamestown, Virginia

Archaeologists searching for a men’s barracks at Jamestown, Virginia, site of the first permanent English colony in the New World, have found instead the remains of the earliest Protestant church in North America. Led by Bill Kelso, Historic Jamestowne’s director of archaeology, the team exposed five deep postholes spaced 12 feet apart. Records indicate the wooden church, built in 1608, was 60 feet long.

10. Nondestructive Radiocarbon Dating - College Station, Texas


Over the past 20 years, chemist Marvin Rowe of Texas A&M University has developed a nondestructive method for carbon dioxide extraction in which the sample is not destroyed. Thus far, he’s dated samples of wood, charcoal, animal skin, bone from a mummy, and ostrich eggshell. “Everything so far that we’ve tried to do with the nondestructive technique has agreed statistically with regular radiocarbon dating,” Rowe says, “and you basically don’t see any change in the sample.”


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