Archaeology aims to open a window into the past by unearthing artifacts that show exactly how human's ancestors used to live. But sometimes, experts have actually discovered archaeological finds that rewrote history. Rather than confirming a commonly held belief (cavemen were stupid!) these types of finds would upend it (cavemen made art and crafted advanced tools!). More recent historical artifacts that rewrote history have changed the way people think about ancient civilizations and humanity as a whole.
Some of these discoveries might seem minor at first glance. A new burial ground might seem like another collection of bones, until you consider what its placement means about early humans' intelligence. A strange metal mass could be a piece of trash, until historians discover it can calculate the planets' orbits. These eye-opening, and downright weird, discoveries continue to expand people's view of their world. From ancient fossils to strange structures, every object can help modern humans to understand the past a little bit more. Read on to discover a few of these important artifacts in history, and be prepared to be amazed.
While the general consensus for many years has been that the pyramids were built by slaves, that might not be true. A series of old burial plots that were found in 1990 by a tourist suggest that the people who built the mighty structures were not slaves, but rather paid laborers.
These tombs showed workers who were given beer and bread to take to the afterlife, something no slave would ever receive. What's more, the workers were obviously held in high regard, as they were put in tombs very close to the sacred pyramids that were built for the pharaohs themselves.
Although the Ancient Greeks have long been known as the parents of many modern inventions, nothing prepared researchers for the Antikythera Mechanism. This complex mechanical structure is a sort of analog computer. It involves a series of gears and mechanisms that allowed the users to predict the orbits of the planets, when eclipses would take place, and mark the solar and zodiac calendars.
The machine, which was found in a shipwreck in 1900, hails from at least 100 BCE and predates similar technology by almost 1,000 years.
Public perception of Neanderthals imagines them as dim cavemen who were effectively wiped out by the more advanced homo sapiens. Modern research has begun to contradict this point, with recent findings indicating that Neanderthals were more similar to modern humans than many have previously thought. O
ne significant example is the finding of painted shells in Italy that have been dated to a period before homo sapiens arrived in Europe. These ornamental pieces may have been decorated by Neanderthals, suggesting that these early people may have created and collected artwork.
Bygone writers described the human sacrifices of the ancient Incan Empire. But the exact method of sacrifice was never fully understood – until three mummies were found in Argentina in 1999. The perfectly preserved bodies of three children, aged 4, 5, and 13, gave researchers the chance to study them in detail.
Forensic tests showed that the children were given large amounts of maize beer and coca leaf before their death. Archaeologists assume the children were drugged until they passed out, then left to die on the mountaintop.