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The Weirdest Archaeological Discoveries of 2016

Updated March 1, 2018 32.4k votes 4.6k voters 384.6k views16 items

List RulesVote up the year's strangest discoveries about ancient human history.

With a tradition of archaeology stretching back several thousand years, one might think that all the interesting stuff out there has already been dug up and analyzed by this point. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The sheer scope of human history, not to mention prehistory, has ensured that there is a continual supply of new and interesting discoveries to be made for those willing to dig for them. No matter the year, there are always new finds that teach us something new, make us re-evaluate history, or just leave us scratching our heads.

2016 was no different than any other year. Archaeological digs occurred all over the world, and some of the results were truly bizarre. While each of the entries on this list is an important discovery in its own right, and likely contributes to our understanding of human history in some way, the focus is squarely on the weirdest things found in 2016.

  • 1

    A Bunch Of Footless Children

    Sometimes the creepiness of an archaeological find speaks for itself, and that’s definitely the case when the discovery in question is a bunch of footless children. The gravesite was discovered in Peru and is believed to date back to the 13th century. Researchers believe that the children were part of a ritualistic sacrifice committed by a group that existed before the Inca conquered the region. Why they cut their feet off, we’ll probably never know. Perhaps a mistranslation led them to sacrifice the soles of the young?

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  • 2

    The Etruscan Shackled Skeleton

    Sometimes, an ancient gravesite is uncovered and archaeologists instantly know there's a dark story to be told. That’s the case with the Etruscan shackled skeleton, whose name speaks for itself. The specimen, which dates back to the 5th Century BC, appears to have been shackled by the neck and ankles and then buried. It is unclear whether this occurred before or after death, but it definitely makes for a creepier story if it happened before. Some evidence suggests the shackles may be a part of a grim funerary game that may have been played in the area.

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  • 3

    A Pyramid Within A Pyramid

    The pyramids at Chichen Itza are a real landmark of the ancient world, and it turns out there were more of them than previously thought. In a discovery that would make Xzibit proud, archaeologists discovered a hidden pyramid existing inside another, larger pyramid. It was found inside the Kukulkan pyramid, which stands tall among the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. The construction appears to have taken place over several centuries, and it may have been the site of human sacrifice.

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  • 4

    Queen Nefertari's Missing Legs

    Sometimes, archaeology involves re-finding things that were previously lost. This was the case when it came to Queen Nefertari and her legs. Nefertari, wife of Ramses II, was laid to rest in the Valley of the Queens more than 3500 years ago, but the gravesite was ransacked over the centuries by various tomb raiders. Plenty went missing and what remained got all mixed up, which resulted in a pair of legs just lying around in a burial chamber. Researchers finally confirmed that they belonged to Nefertari in 2016, in part due to her reported “statuesque” height and estimated sandal-size.

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