10 Amazing Archaeological Findings That Were Purely Accidental

Archaeologists dedicate their lives to unravel the material history of our world. However, some discoveries are made by common people who don’t even realize what happened. Imagine finding an entrance to ancient catacombs in your backyard — how cool is that?

1. Remains of a giant woolly mammoth were discovered by farmer

James Bristle and his other farmer friend were digging in their soybean field like usual when they realized they hit something. It was none other than the discovery of a 15,000-year-old giant woolly mammoth that took them by surprise. The incident took place in 2015 in south Michigan where a skull and two tusks were found along with the vertebrae.

2. French laborer digs up Childeric’s treasure instead of dirt.

Back in 1653, a laborer named Adrien Quinquin was digging on the land of the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai when, instead of dirt, he found gold coins.

3. Did hobbits actually exist?

A team of archaeologists from Australia and Indonesia were looking for proof of human migration from Asia to Australia. But the discovery of hobbits was a completely unplanned event and it took them by surprise as they found a complete skeleton of a hominin.

Could hobbits possibly be deformed modern humans? Or were they a completely different species? The mystery hasn’t been fully solved yet but a lot has been cleared up. A research team dug up a skeleton of a woman in the Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia in 2003.

4. Palatial Roman villa in the backyard

Image: Wikimedia

It was sheer luck for British rug designer, Luke Irwin, when he asked the electricians working in his backyard to lay cable wires underground and not overhead. The digging led to the discovery of an ancient palatial Roman villa. Just like Irwin, even archaeologists were astonished by this discovery.

5. Farmers digging a well discover the Terracotta army

Image: Wikimedia

On March 29, 1974, seven farmers were digging a well outside Xian, China, in an effort to provide water for their village. As they were progressing, the men struck the head of a life-size clay statue. The men immediately informed local authorities who called archaeologists to study the finding. Archaeologists started excavating the site and discovered that the statue was one of an estimated 8,000 terracotta soldiers.

6. Sea of Galilee boat under a lake

Image: Wikimedia Commons

7. The Derinkuyu Underground City: an incredible network of tunnels

Image: Wikimedia

It was in 1963, when a man discovered a mysterious wall structure behind one of the rooms in his house. As archaeologists were called for further investigation, a whole passage of tunnels was found which is now popularly known as The Derinkuyu Underground City.

8. French teenager discovers Lascaux cave paintings

Image: Wikimedia

In 1940, 18 year old Marcel Ravidat was walking in the woods outside his home village of Montignac, southwestern France, when he spotted an entrance to a hidden cave. One rumor states that Marcel’s dog chased a rabbit into the cave while another one says he found it himself. Whatever the case may be, Marcel returned to the spot with his three friends and they explored the cave. They were mesmerized by beautiful paintings in the walls and made a pact that they would keep it a secret.

9. Shepherd boys find the dead sea scrolls

Image: Wikimedia

In 1947, three shepherd boys were searching for a goat that went rogue, a mile away from the Dead Sea. Instead of the goat, they stumbled upon a cave and decided to take a quick peek. Inside, they discovered seven papyrus scrolls contained in clay jars.The shepherds sold the scrolls to a local antiques dealer and soon word got out about the mysterious cave and the findings. Archaeologists were quick to discover the cave and several expeditions throughout the years yielded more than 981 texts.

10. The Grauballe Man: a unique mummy

Image: Wikimedia

It was a normal peat bog where workmen were digging for peat, when suddenly one of the workers realized his spade hadn’t touched the peat but something else. It ended up being the mummy of the Grauballe Man, and his hair and fingernails were intact even after centuries. This mummy was the first to be fully preserved as a whole body.

Bonus: Horse and chariot pits in Zhou Dynasty tomb

© ZHANG XIAOLI, XINHUA/FAME/BARCROFT/National Geographic

Scientists and archaeologists believe that this burial pit belonged to one of the noble families of the Zheng state (806–375 BC). The grandeur of this find is commendable as was witnessed by the diggers of the tomb headed by Ma Juncai.

The dig was conducted in central China, in the city of Xinzheng, where dozens of chariots and almost 100 skeletons of horses were found that are 2400 years old. One of the highlights of this excavation was a chariot that was 2.4m long and around 1.7m wide and adorned with bronze and bone.

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