11 Breathtaking Archaeological Discoveries That Happened By Accident

- in My World
Accidental discoveries

Archaeologists devote their lives to unravel the material history of the world. However, even ordinary people can make accidental discoveries without even realizing it. Imagine discovering an entrance to ancient catacombs in your backyard — wouldn’t that be cool?

Here is a list of such accidental archaeological findings, some of which have had a profound impact on history. Be prepared for some digging!

1. A farmer discovered a giant woolly mammoth

Wooly mammoth


Two German tourists were hiking at the mountain pass of Hauslabjoch and Tisenjoch when they made the discovery of a lifetime. It was the oldest known natural human mummy in Europe. The tourists first mistook it for the deceased body of a mountaineer. The mummy was discovered in September of 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, from all of this it earned the nickname Otzi.

The discovery was significant because it cast a light on the Chalcolithic (Copper Age) Europeans. Another intriguing story involving Otzi is that some people involved in his discovery have died under mysterious circumstances implying that Otzi is cursed. However, scientists say that not a few but hundreds of people are working on the mummy and are absolutely fine.

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

The Derinkuyu Underground City

© Wikipedia

It was in 1963 when a man found a mysterious wall structure behind one of the rooms in his home. He called archaeologists for further investigation, and they found a whole passage of tunnels, which is now famously known as The Derinkuyu Underground City.

It is believed that the city was built in the Byzantine era to protect the inhabitants from Muslim-Arabs during the Arab—Byzantine wars. The tunnels were generally used by Christian natives, and they were thought to have given shelter and provided food saving approximately 20,000 people.

The underground city is in the Derinkuyu district of the Nevşehir Province in Turkey. It has been open to the general public since 1969.

8. The breathtaking Lascaux cave paintings

Lascaux cave


18-year-old Marcel Ravidat happened to discover the stunning entrance to Lascaux. Taken by surprise, he returned to the site with three friends, where they saw that the rock walls of the caves were full of depictions of animals. Later, Ravidat was recognized for his finding.

The cave opened to public for visits on 14 July 1948. Nevertheless, due to problems including air pollution, dust, and carbon dioxide exposure, the paintings started to lose their original characteristics. It was then decided to close the attraction to tourists. The paintings were then restored to their original form, and a strict daily monitoring system was put in place. These paintings mainly depict the Upper Paleolithic era.

9. Jehoash Inscription

Jehoash Inscription


This finding of the Jehoash Inscription was surrounded by plenty of controversies when it was initially discovered on a building site and Muslim cemetery close to the Temple Mount of Jerusalem. Once the inscription was decoded, it was revealed that it talked about the repairs made to the temple in Jerusalem by Jehoash.

The controversy is whether the inscription is authentic or is a modern-day forgery. The Israel Antiquities Authority had raised doubts over its authenticity.

10. Sea of Galilee boat under a lake

Sea of Galilee boat under a lake

© Wikipedia

Two fishermen from Kibbutz Ginnosar, brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, were amateur archaeologists that were keen on finding artifacts from Israel’s early days. It was when the water receded quickly in the sea of Galilee because of a draught that a boat was exposed and caught the attention of the brothers.

An expert team undertook the digging work of the boat that lasted for 12 days and nights. The boat was a significant discovery as it not only depicted the kind of boat used by Jews in the ancient era, but it was also thought to be the kind of boat Jesus had used. These kinds of boats are mentioned several times in the Gospels.

11. Horse and chariot pits in Zhou Dynasty tomb

Horse and chariot pits in Zhou Dynasty tomb


Scientists and archaeologists think 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 discovered that are more than 2400 years old. One of the highlights of this excavation endeavour was a chariot that was 2.4m long and around 1.7m wide and adorned with bronze and bone.


Preview photo credit ZHANG XIAOLI, XINHUA/FAME/BARCROFT/National Geographic

This article (11 Breathtaking Archaeological Discoveries That Happened By Accident) was published by Thinking Humanity and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to thinkinghumanity.com

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