50 photos of amazing worldwide wonders we’ve just discovered


If you’re in Capri, board a rowboat to explore this glowing blue grotto. In order to enter the cave, oarsmen must wait until it’s low tide and then navigate their boats through a four-foot opening. Once inside, visitors can marvel at the sapphire light. Any objects that are dipped in the water will appear silver because of tiny bubbles that appear on their surface.
Slide 1 of 51: Some of the world's greatest treasures have been discovered in the last 50 years, offering amazing insights into once powerful dynasties, brutal battles and ancient customs. From secret Maya pyramids to buried treasures and hidden cities, we bring you some of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of modern times.
Slide 2 of 51: The Maya settlement of Tikal in northeastern Guatemala has been studied for decades, and it’s one of the best understood sites of its kind. Or so experts thought. In 2018, new technology called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has allowed archaeologists to dig a little deeper. LIDAR involves lasers, which pierce through the forestland to the earth below. Based on how long it takes a beam to bounce back, scientists can map any hidden structures that exist beneath the ground. The recent findings have been extraordinary.
Slide 3 of 51: Studies have revealed that Tikal is some four times bigger than experts originally thought. They’ve also uncovered a central temple that was previously assumed to be a hill. Archaeologists are continuing to examine the site and the surrounding Guatemalan jungle, and the new technology is bound to throw up some more secrets in the near future. In the meantime, you can visit the existing Tikal complex independently or with a guide – time your trip for sunrise or sunset for the best views.
Slide 4 of 51: Thanks to declassified spy footage and drone photography, a lost city is being slowly unearthed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Built around 331 BC, Qalatga Darband is thought to have been established by Alexander the Great. It’s believed the fortified city sits on what was once a well-trodden route between Iran and Iraq.
Slide 5 of 51: The site was originally detected when experts watched declassified spy footage that was made public in 1996, but the area’s political volatility meant nothing could be done at first. Recently though, a team of Iraqi and British archaeologists, led by specialists from the British Museum, have been excavating the area. So far, they’ve uncovered terracotta roof tiles and Greek and Roman statues, including one that depicts Aphrodite.
Slide 6 of 51: The archeologists at Vindolanda, a Roman archaeological site just south of Hadrian’s Wall, conduct an excavation of the park each year. In 2017, they found more than they’d bargained for. Swords, writing tablets and shoes were among the items unearthed and, most impressive of all, a pair of leather Roman boxing gloves (pictured). These curious artifacts went on display in the Vindolanda museum in February 2018.
Slide 7 of 51: Another, later dig has uncovered yet more riches. The most significant find was a set of rare iron 'hipposandals', a kind of historic horseshoe. Of the four hipposandals unearthed, only one was damaged – the others remained in perfect condition. The artifacts will go on display at the Roman Army Museum in Greenhead in February 2019.
Slide 8 of 51: Modern technology has helped researchers uncover a giant platform of a similar size to an Olympic swimming pool at the ancient city and UNESCO site of Petra. After poring over satellite and drone images, archaeologists noticed a large rectangular structure not far from the famous Treasury (pictured). It’s thought that the structure was once lined with columns, and experts muse that it could have been a holy building, or some sort of public administrative building. One thing they agree on is that they’ve never found anything similar at the site.
Slide 9 of 51: With its 365 magnificent steps and imposing height, the four-sided El Castillo pyramid (or the Temple of Kukulkan) is one of Mexico’s biggest tourist draws. And, in 2016, archaeologists discovered it was hiding a secret. Already aware that a second pyramid lay hidden inside El Castillo's walls, experts performed scanning techniques and revealed a third.
Slide 10 of 51: It’s thought this 'Russian doll' effect is down to the temple being built in three marked phases. The new discovery, which is 33-feet high, was constructed between AD 600-800, the second between AD 850-900, and the visible exterior pyramid between AD 1050-1300.
Slide 11 of 51: In 2013, a couple of cavers discovered a haul of more than 1,500 fossilized bones in a chamber deep in the Dinaledi cave system near Johannesburg. When the skeletons were eventually removed by an all-female team of archaeologists, it emerged they were in fact the remains of a previously undiscovered primitive species of human. The species is thought to have had an ape-like torso, curved fingers and brains around a third of the size of ours.
Slide 12 of 51: Further analysis suggests this extinct species existed 236,000-335,000 years ago. One theory proposes that Homo naledi, as the species is now known, used the Dinaledi caves as a place to deposit the dead. You can see some of the intriguing fossilized remains at the enthralling Almost Human exhibition at Maropeng, an hour's drive from Johannesburg.
Slide 13 of 51: It was 2012 when researcher Dr. Julian Bayliss first spotted a rainforest atop Mozambique's 3,600-foot Mount Lico on Google Earth (pictured). Though potentially known to locals, the mountain rainforest remained virtually untouched by humans due to its remote location. In 2017, Bayliss flew a drone over the peak and confirmed the forest's existence. In May 2018, he assembled a team to scale the mountain and explore the forest properly for the first time. The expedition was a success and, though research is still underway, the team is thought to have uncovered a string of new species from small mammals to insects – already confirmed is a previously undocumented breed of butterfly.
Slide 14 of 51: When laborers were renovating this former royal palace in 2011, they happened on a treasure trove, tucked away in a store room underneath the building. Stuffed inside three boxes was a huge stash of gold and silver coins and ornaments, weighing in at around 661lb. The hoard is believed to be an offering to the gods and goddesses.
Slide 15 of 51: With its elaborate exterior, Padmanabhaswamy Temple is a decadent sight from the outside – yet this is just the tip of the iceberg. Buried deep within, in a series of vaults, lie treasures said to be worth billions of pounds. The contents of one chamber, Vault A, remained shrouded in mystery for years, but after a legal battle it was finally unsealed in 2011 so an inventory could be taken.
Slide 16 of 51: Inside, it’s said a dazzling array of gold, silver and coins was discovered, including sparkling rubies, diamonds and 18-foot gold chains, studded with gems. A sixth chamber, Vault B, remains locked and the former royal family of Travancore are fighting for it to remain that way, for fear that opening it will enrage the deity. Legend dictates that a curse hangs over the tomb, meaning terrible things will happen to anyone who unseals its doors.
Slide 17 of 51: A three-day trek from the Maya citadel of Tikal (pictured) lies El Zotz, an ancient city hidden in the dense rainforest. In 2010, a team uncovered an ornate pyramid. It’s thought the structure, called the Temple of the Night Sun, dates from around AD 350, and that it was built for the body of a deceased king. In its heyday, it would have been blood-red and visible for miles around – a powerful symbol of the king's dynasty.
Slide 18 of 51: This vast cave in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was first stumbled upon in 1999, by a farmer named Ho Khanh who took refuge from a storm in its depths. Once the storm had passed, Ho Khanh reported his discovery to the British Caving Research Association (BCRA), who happened to be in Vietnam at the time. Unfortunately, he couldn’t manage to trace his steps back to the mysterious cavern. Then, almost a decade later, Ho Khanh rediscovered the cave's entrance while hunting and alerted the BCRA once more.
Slide 19 of 51: In 2009, experts began exploring the newly uncovered cave and were awestruck by what they found. At 650-plus feet high and spooling out for more than three miles, Son Doong Cave was the largest cave complex ever discovered. Stalagmites towered to 80 feet and the cave had a weather system all of its own. In 2010, these findings were announced to the world.
Slide 20 of 51: You can visit the Son Doong Cave on an expedition with adventure tour company Oxalis, currently the only operator to visit the cavern. The tour is a five-day undertaking that includes a jungle trek, a rope climb into the cave’s entrance and two nights of camping within its depths. You'll travel with a 25-strong team of guides and safety experts. If you’ve the steel and stamina, it’s sure to be an unforgettable trip.
Slide 21 of 51: Archeologists have dubbed a site adjacent to a quarry in the Cambridgeshire Fens the “British Pompeii”, having unearthed what is believed to be a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age settlement. The site first came to experts’ attention when a series of wooden posts were spotted jutting out of the clay in 1999, but the first excavation didn’t happen until 2004. These early digs revealed a sword and spearheads, hinting at an early settlement. At this stage, researchers still had little idea of the scale of what they'd soon discover.
Slide 22 of 51: Extensive excavations (the most recent a 10-month dig beginning August 2015) revealed what experts have deemed the best-preserved Bronze Age settlement in Britain. From their multitude of discoveries, archaeologists have been able to piece together the fate of this specific ancient village, and uncover previously unknown truths about the Bronze Age peoples. Textiles, pottery and roof timbers (pictured) have all been among the finds – the latter has allowed experts to learn how a Bronze Age home would have been built.
Slide 23 of 51: Animal bones and fish scales (pictured) offered insights into the diet of the peoples who lived here, while fabrics gave experts a glimpse into the settlers’ clothing. Archaeologists also have enough information to deduce that the village was destroyed by a fire some six months after it was built – the village’s ruins sank into a nearby river, which is why they remain so beautifully preserved. Though there may well be more excavations in the future, experts are now busy studying the treasures exposed in their last dig, so the site is currently off-limits to the public.
Slide 24 of 51: What was once thought to be a natural hill on remote Orkney, in fact turned out to be a vast, Neolithic temple complex, covering more than six acres of land. After the nearby Ring of Brodgar became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, radar surveys were undertaken on the surrounding area and, in 2003, the Ness of Brodgar was detected.
Slide 25 of 51: The huge discovery, which predates Stonehenge, is the world’s most significant Neolithic discovery in recent history. Excavations, which are still ongoing, have discovered 20-foot-thick walls, painted stonework, pathways, pottery and more than 12 temples, all built more than 5,000 years ago. On select summer dates, you can visit the dig – find out more from the Ness of Brodgar Trust.
Slide 26 of 51: Selinunte was an ancient Greek civilisation in southwest Sicily thought to have been established around the 700s BC. Some 15% of the settlement was already above ground, including its five-strong temple complex, which has become a tourist attraction in its own right. But keen to find out more about the classical civilization that once was, archaeologists have spent the past two decades or so excavating the site and uncovering heaps of hidden riches as they do so.
Slide 27 of 51: It’s thought that, at its peak, up to 30,000 people could have lived in Selinunte. But the settlement was devastated when North African troops invaded the town, slaughtering many of the residents. During the digs, the most fruitful of which occurred between 2013 and 2015, archaeologists have uncovered the remnants of half-eaten meals and half-finished crafts, thought to have been abandoned by panicked and fleeing villagers.
Slide 28 of 51: The discoveries have helped experts build a clear picture of what this kind of Greek civilization would have looked like. Researchers have exposed some 2,500 deserted houses, traced streets and discovered what they assume would have been a kind of industrial zone, where many potters are thought to have worked. Around 80 kilns and pottery workshops have been discovered, plus pigments and fragmented ceramics. Selinunte is open daily and you can book a guided tour to discover more about the site's history and the archeological work going on here.
Slide 29 of 51: The live archeological site of Historic Jamestowne offers a detailed insight into what life was like for the 104 travelers who established the first permanent English settlement in North America in 1607. Under frequent attack by Native Americans defending their homeland, the settlers quickly built themselves a triangular fort, using logs. Since 1994, when excavations began, the remains of the original James Fort have been found, along with more than 1.5 million artifacts.
Slide 30 of 51: The remains of burial sites, wells, bread ovens, gun platforms and empty wine bottles have also been unearthed, along with thousands of native American artifacts. One of the most exciting discoveries has been the church site where tobacco grower John Rolfe married Pocahontas, who inspired the Disney movie. A daughter of Virginia’s most powerful Native American, she acted as peacemaker between the English and Powhatan tribe.
Slide 31 of 51: In 2012, archaeologists also discovered the mutilated skull and leg bone of a teenager. This proved to be groundbreaking evidence that the colony turned to cannibalism, when Chief Powhatan laid siege to the fort in the winter of 1609-10, trapping them inside for several months. In a desperate bid to stay alive, they also turned to eating horses, snakes and rats, and only 60 of the 300 survived.
Slide 32 of 51: Until 1994, Gobekli Tepe was thought to be an abandoned medieval burial ground. However, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt discovered it was something rather more astonishing. He found vast limestone pillars, towering up to 16 feet tall and set in circles, along with pulverized human and animal bones. It’s now thought that this could be the world’s oldest religious complex, built some 12,000 years ago. Six temples have been excavated, but geomagnetic surveys suggest there may be 18 more.
Slide 33 of 51: The pillars are carved with lions, scorpions and snakes, and weigh up to 60 tons. It remains a mystery how the hunter-gatherers shifted them into position, but the remarkable feat suggests society in 10,000 BC was far more developed than we thought. In early 2017, a report in Science Advances also announced the discovery of three skulls at the site, which had holes in them. It’s thought they might have been suspended in the air and that Gobekli Tepe was part of an ancient skull cult.
Slide 34 of 51: These spectacular floor mosaics were discovered in the ancient city of Zeugma, located in modern-day Turkey, and were originally founded by Alexander the Great in 300 BC. But, in 2000, the Turkish government built a vast dam just a mile away, which threatened to leave the area submerged under water. This triggered a desperate attempt to excavate and save as many of the mosaics as possible, before they were lost forever.
Slide 35 of 51: The glass floor mosaics, which were discovered in Roman villas, are now on display at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, in Gaziantep, Turkey. Built to house them in 2011, it’s now the largest mosaic museum in the world.
Slide 36 of 51: Marvel at the intricate works, which include Titan Oceanus, the beautiful Gypsy Girl (pictured) and the many intricate murals. There’s also a huge bronze statue of Mars and incredible partially reconstructed Roman villas, including those of Poseidon and Dionysus.
Slide 37 of 51: This curious set of caverns in eastern China was chanced upon in 1992 by a local villager named Wu Anai. They were uncovered when Wu Anai, for unconfirmed reasons, drained a large pond in the area and, once the water was gone, the mouth of a cave was revealed. Curious villagers then proceeded to drain a series of other pools in the vicinity until an impressive complex of caves was unearthed.
Slide 38 of 51: Though subsequent research concluded that the caves are man-made, thought to date back some 2,000 years, their purpose remains a mystery. Also unclear is exactly how they were constructed – reaching a height of 98 feet in some spots, their formation would have been no small feat. If your curiosity is piqued, you can visit one of the caverns, which has been renovated for tourists. Remote Longyou is around four hours southwest of Shanghai.
Slide 39 of 51: You’ll find the wooded Maya site of Balamku in Mexico’s Campeche state. Covering some 62 acres, the park, home to the terraced, stone Temple of the Jaguar, was happened upon by archaeologist Florentino García Cruz in 1990. Archaeological looters had arrived before the experts, but luckily they’d not stolen the site’s great treasures – and what García Cruz discovered was quite remarkable.
Slide 40 of 51: Most extraordinary of all, the archeologist discovered some intricate stucco friezes thought to date back to the 500s AD. Florentino García Cruz soon found that the ornate frieze in the Temple of the Jaguar, depicting a king and a series of complex patterns and symbols, was the largest Maya frieze ever to be discovered. Today a guard stands watch over the temple and its precious artifacts daily, and you can take an independent tour of the small site between 8am and 5pm for a small fee.
Slide 41 of 51: In 1989 a beautifully-preserved, pink temple was discovered hidden inside a pyramid in the ancient Maya city of Copán, Honduras. Thought to date back to the 6th century AD, the three-story structure was buried under mud, plaster and stone.
Slide 42 of 51: The temple’s inner walls were coated in soot from torches and, inside, several religious artifacts were discovered, including incense burners, stone pedestals and flint knives thought to be used in sacrifices. Today, a life-size replica of the Rosalila, which features its intricate artwork, is on display at the Sculpture Museum in Copán.
Slide 43 of 51: In 1987, a series of tombs were unearthed near Sipán, on Peru’s north coast. The most intriguing and exciting discovery was a 16x16- foot tomb, which housed a wooden coffin, containing a skeleton.
Slide 44 of 51: It soon became clear this was the body of someone important – he was dressed in a gold mask, holding a shield and wore a headdress and copper sandals. He’d also been buried surrounded by treasures, including gold bells, a gold and copper rattle and hundreds of gold, silver and ceramic offerings.
Slide 45 of 51: Today, experts believe he is an important Mochican warrior priest, now known as the Lord of Sipán. He wasn’t alone in his tomb, either. Three women, a child, two men and two llamas were also buried alongside him. It’s believed some had died previously, while others were sacrificed. You can see many of the artifacts on display at the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum in Lambayeque, Peru.
Slide 46 of 51: In 1974, laborers digging a well in China happened upon a life-sized terracotta soldier. When archaeologists came to investigate, they eventually unearthed thousands of similar figures, standing in trenches. So began one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in history.
Slide 47 of 51: It’s now thought there are around 8,000 soldiers and archers, plus 130 chariots and 520 horses. The sculptures are all painstakingly created, with unique facial expressions, detailed uniform and treads on their shoes. Many were originally painted, although the pigment has faded over time.
Slide 48 of 51: It’s thought the army was created to guard the body of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC and whose tomb lies around a mile away. You can see the figures at the Terracotta Army Museum in Xi’an, in West China’s Shaanxi Province.
Slide 49 of 51: For more than 300 years, Columbia’s Lost City remained hidden from the outside world, known about only by the natives living deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. Then, in 1972, a group of bird hunters happened on an ancient stone staircase, carpeted with moss. When they hacked their way through, they found the ruins of a vast city buried under thick foliage.
Slide 50 of 51: Built around AD 800, Columbia's Lost City (or Teyuna, as it was known) was home to several thousand Tairona people. But it was abandoned after the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the late 16th century and gradually reclaimed by the fast-growing jungle.
Slide 51 of 51: Today, nearly an acre of the Lost City is open to tourists, although a far bigger area remains hidden by thick jungle foliage. The only way to get there is via a strenuous, five-day hike, culminating in a thigh-burning climb up some 1,200 steps. But it’s well worth it to explore the magnificent tiered terraces, mossy stone paths and ceremonial platform.

The greatest discoveries of the modern world

Tikal’s unknown treasures, Guatemala, 2018

The Maya settlement of Tikal in northeastern Guatemala has been studied for decades, and it’s one of the best understood sites of its kind. Or so experts thought. In 2018, new technology called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) has allowed archaeologists to dig a little deeper. LIDAR involves lasers, which pierce through the forestland to the earth below. Based on how long it takes a beam to bounce back, scientists can map any hidden structures that exist beneath the ground. The recent findings have been extraordinary.

Tikal’s unknown treasures, Guatemala, 2018

Qalatga Darband, Iraqi Kurdistan, 2017

Qalatga Darband, Iraqi Kurdistan, 2017

Roman boxing gloves, England, 2017

The archeologists at Vindolanda, a Roman archaeological site just south of Hadrian’s Wall, conduct an excavation of the park each year. In 2017, they found more than they’d bargained for. Swords, writing tablets and shoes were among the items unearthed and, most impressive of all, a pair of leather Roman boxing gloves (pictured). These curious artifacts went on display in the Vindolanda museum in February 2018.

Roman ‘horseshoes’, England, 2017

Another, later dig has uncovered yet more riches. The most significant find was a set of rare iron ‘hipposandals’, a kind of historic horseshoe. Of the four hipposandals unearthed, only one was damaged – the others remained in perfect condition. The artifacts will go on display at the Roman Army Museum in Greenhead in February 2019.

A secret structure at Petra, Jordan, 2016

Modern technology has helped researchers uncover a giant platform of a similar size to an Olympic swimming pool at the ancient city and UNESCO site of Petra. After poring over satellite and drone images, archaeologists noticed a large rectangular structure not far from the famous Treasury (pictured). It’s thought that the structure was once lined with columns, and experts muse that it could have been a holy building, or some sort of public administrative building. One thing they agree on is that they’ve never found anything similar at the site.

El Castillo’s hidden pyramid, Chichén Itzá, Mexico, 2016

El Castillo’s hidden pyramid, Chichén Itzá, Mexico, 2016

Homo naledi, South Africa, 2013

Homo naledi, South Africa, 2013

Mount Lico’s secret rainforest, Mozambique, 2012

It was 2012 when researcher Dr. Julian Bayliss first spotted a rainforest atop Mozambique’s 3,600-foot Mount Lico on Google Earth (pictured). Though potentially known to locals, the mountain rainforest remained virtually untouched by humans due to its remote location. In 2017, Bayliss flew a drone over the peak and confirmed the forest’s existence. In May 2018, he assembled a team to scale the mountain and explore the forest properly for the first time. The expedition was a success and, though research is still underway, the team is thought to have uncovered a string of new species from small mammals to insects – already confirmed is a previously undocumented breed of butterfly.

Hanuman Dhoka Palace treasures, Nepal, 2011

Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure, India, 2011

Padmanabhaswamy Temple treasure, India, 2011

Temple of the Night Sun, Guatemala, 2010

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam, 2008

This vast cave in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was first stumbled upon in 1999, by a farmer named Ho Khanh who took refuge from a storm in its depths. Once the storm had passed, Ho Khanh reported his discovery to the British Caving Research Association (BCRA), who happened to be in Vietnam at the time. Unfortunately, he couldn’t manage to trace his steps back to the mysterious cavern. Then, almost a decade later, Ho Khanh rediscovered the cave’s entrance while hunting and alerted the BCRA once more.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam, 2008

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam, 2008

You can visit the Son Doong Cave on an expedition with adventure tour company Oxalis, currently the only operator to visit the cavern. The tour is a five-day undertaking that includes a jungle trek, a rope climb into the cave’s entrance and two nights of camping within its depths. You’ll travel with a 25-strong team of guides and safety experts. If you’ve the steel and stamina, it’s sure to be an unforgettable trip.

Must Farm, England, 2004

Archeologists have dubbed a site adjacent to a quarry in the Cambridgeshire Fens the “British Pompeii”, having unearthed what is believed to be a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age settlement. The site first came to experts’ attention when a series of wooden posts were spotted jutting out of the clay in 1999, but the first excavation didn’t happen until 2004. These early digs revealed a sword and spearheads, hinting at an early settlement. At this stage, researchers still had little idea of the scale of what they’d soon discover.

Must Farm, England, 2004

Extensive excavations (the most recent a 10-month dig beginning August 2015) revealed what experts have deemed the best-preserved Bronze Age settlement in Britain. From their multitude of discoveries, archaeologists have been able to piece together the fate of this specific ancient village, and uncover previously unknown truths about the Bronze Age peoples. Textiles, pottery and roof timbers (pictured) have all been among the finds – the latter has allowed experts to learn how a Bronze Age home would have been built.

Must Farm, England, 2004

Animal bones and fish scales (pictured) offered insights into the diet of the peoples who lived here, while fabrics gave experts a glimpse into the settlers’ clothing. Archaeologists also have enough information to deduce that the village was destroyed by a fire some six months after it was built – the village’s ruins sank into a nearby river, which is why they remain so beautifully preserved. Though there may well be more excavations in the future, experts are now busy studying the treasures exposed in their last dig, so the site is currently off-limits to the public.

The Ness of Brodgar, Scotland, 2003

The Ness of Brodgar, Scotland, 2003

The huge discovery, which predates Stonehenge, is the world’s most significant Neolithic discovery in recent history. Excavations, which are still ongoing, have discovered 20-foot-thick walls, painted stonework, pathways, pottery and more than 12 temples, all built more than 5,000 years ago. On select summer dates, you can visit the dig – find out more from the Ness of Brodgar Trust.

Selinunte, Sicily, c.2000 onwards

Selinunte, Sicily, c.2000 onwards

Selinunte, Sicily, c.2000 onwards

The discoveries have helped experts build a clear picture of what this kind of Greek civilization would have looked like. Researchers have exposed some 2,500 deserted houses, traced streets and discovered what they assume would have been a kind of industrial zone, where many potters are thought to have worked. Around 80 kilns and pottery workshops have been discovered, plus pigments and fragmented ceramics. Selinunte is open daily and you can book a guided tour to discover more about the site’s history and the archeological work going on here.

Historic Jamestowne, Virginia, 1994

The live archeological site of Historic Jamestowne offers a detailed insight into what life was like for the 104 travelers who established the first permanent English settlement in North America in 1607. Under frequent attack by Native Americans defending their homeland, the settlers quickly built themselves a triangular fort, using logs. Since 1994, when excavations began, the remains of the original James Fort have been found, along with more than 1.5 million artifacts.

Historic Jamestowne, Virginia, 1994

Historic Jamestowne, Virginia, 1994

Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, 1994

Gobekli Tepe, Turkey, 1994

The pillars are carved with lions, scorpions and snakes, and weigh up to 60 tons. It remains a mystery how the hunter-gatherers shifted them into position, but the remarkable feat suggests society in 10,000 BC was far more developed than we thought. In early 2017, a report in Science Advances also announced the discovery of three skulls at the site, which had holes in them. It’s thought they might have been suspended in the air and that Gobekli Tepe was part of an ancient skull cult.

The Zeugma mosaics, Turkey, 1992

The Zeugma mosaics, Turkey, 1992

The glass floor mosaics, which were discovered in Roman villas, are now on display at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, in Gaziantep, Turkey. Built to house them in 2011, it’s now the largest mosaic museum in the world.

The Zeugma mosaics, Turkey, 1992

Longyou Caves, China, 1992

Longyou Caves, China, 1992

Balamku, Mexico, 1990

Balamku, Mexico, 1990

The Rosalila Temple, Honduras, 1989

The Rosalila Temple, Honduras, 1989

The temple’s inner walls were coated in soot from torches and, inside, several religious artifacts were discovered, including incense burners, stone pedestals and flint knives thought to be used in sacrifices. Today, a life-size replica of the Rosalila, which features its intricate artwork, is on display at the Sculpture Museum in Copán.

The Royal Tombs of Sipán, Peru, 1987

The Royal Tombs of Sipán, Peru, 1987

The Royal Tombs of Sipán, Peru, 1987

Today, experts believe he is an important Mochican warrior priest, now known as the Lord of Sipán. He wasn’t alone in his tomb, either. Three women, a child, two men and two llamas were also buried alongside him. It’s believed some had died previously, while others were sacrificed. You can see many of the artifacts on display at the Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum in Lambayeque, Peru.

The Terracotta Army, Xi’an, China, 1974

The Terracotta Army, Xi’an, China, 1974

The Terracotta Army, Xi’an, China, 1974

It’s thought the army was created to guard the body of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BC and whose tomb lies around a mile away. You can see the figures at the Terracotta Army Museum in Xi’an, in West China’s Shaanxi Province.

The Lost City, Colombia, 1972

The Lost City, Colombia, 1972

The Lost City, Colombia, 1972

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