The Baby Disposal
One thing you will realize by the end of this list is that people, at least in the past, were very fond of cannibalism, sacrifice, and torture. As a case in point, not long ago as several archaeologists were searching through the sewers beneath a Roman/Byzantine bathhouse in Israel when they came across something terrifying…baby bones, and lots of them. For whatever reason someone in the bathhouse above apparently felt compelled to dispose of hundreds of babies in the sewer below.
Although it has been known for years that the Aztecs hosted numerous bloody sacrificial festivals, in 2004 a grisly discovery was made outside of modern day Mexico City. Numerous decapitated and mutilated bodies of both humans and animals shed some light on just how horrific the rituals could get.
The Screaming Mummies
Unlike modern burials, Egyptians didn’t take into account the fact that if you don’t strap the chin to the skull, it will fall open in a permanent scream. Although most mummies exhibit this sort of profile, it can get significantly more terrifying. Every once in a while archaeologists discover mummies that seem to have truly been screaming at their death due to some sort of ritual torture. The one above is name Unknown Man E and was found by Gaston Masparo in 1886.
The First Leper
Also known as Hansen’s disease, leprosy is not contagious but its victims have often lived on the fringes of society due to extreme disfigurement. Because Hindu tradition calls for cremation the skeleton above, often cited as the first leper, was found buried just outside the city limits.
Discovered in 1799 by a French soldier sifting through the Egyptian sand, the Rosetta Stone has been one of archaeology’s greatest discoveries to date and the primary source for modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The stone is a actually a fragment of a larger stone that contained a decree issued by King Ptolemy V around 200 BC with the decree inscribed in 3 languages – Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Ancient Greek.
The Grauballe Man
It’s not a strange occurrence for mummified bodies to be found in bogs but this body, now known as the Grauballe Man, is a bit unique. Not only is he amazingly well preserved with his hair and fingernails still intact, it is possible to reconstruct his demise from the information found on and around his body. Judging from a large wound wrapping around his neck from ear to ear it seems he was sacrificed, probably in an attempt to turn a better harvest.
Since being discovered by pilots at the turn of the 20th century a series of low stone walls in the Negev desert of Israel had puzzled scientists for years. The walls could be up to 40 miles long in some places and were nicknamed “kites” as a result of their appearance from the air. Recently, however, it was determined that the walls were actually used by hunters to funnel large animals into pens or off of cliffs where they could easily be slaughtered en mass.
Although most of the scientific community has now agreed that these figures were part of an elaborate hoax, their discovery at first created a bit of a stir. Found in the ground near Acambaro, Mexico were hundreds of little figures resembling both humans and dinosaurs which for a little while led some to believe that the ancients were better archaeologists than previously thought.
Popularly known as Easter Island, this is one of the most isolated places in the world, thousands of miles off of the Chilean coast in the South Pacific. The most baffling thing about the island, however, isn’t the fact that humans even managed to find and settle it but that they then proceeded to construct enormous stone heads around the island.
The Tomb of Sunken Skulls
While excavating a dry lake bed in Motala, Sweden archaeologists came across several skulls that had stakes driven directly through their craniums. As if that weren’t bad enough one of the skulls even had pieces of the others skulls crammed up inside it. Whatever happened their 8,000 years ago wasn’t pretty.
Although they were literally beneath the feet of archaeologists for hundreds of years, the Nazca Lines weren’t discovered until the early 1900′s for the simple reason that they are nearly impossible to see unless you are directly above them. While there have been numerous explanations ranging from UFO’s to technically advanced ancient civilization, the most probable explanation is that the Nazca people were excellent surveyors, although why they would construct such enormous geoglyphs remains a mystery.
Mount Owen Moa
In 1986 an expedition was making its deeper and deeper into the cave system of Mount Owen in New Zealand when it came across the huge claw you’re now looking at. It was so well preserved that it almost seemed like whatever it belonged to had just died recently. Upon excavation and inspection, however, it was determined to belong to an Upland Moa, a large prehistoric bird that apparently came with a nasty set of claws.
Described as the “world’s most mysterious manuscript” this piece of literature has been dated back to early 15th century Italy. With most of its pages filled with what seems to be herbal recipes, none of the plants match known species and the language remains undecipherable.
This walled complex just outside of Cusco, Peru is part of what used to be the capital of the Inca Empire. The crazy part about this wall, however, is in the details of its construction. The rock slabs fit together so tightly that it would be impossible to slide even a hair between them. It’s a testament to the precision of ancient Incan architecture.
Headless Vikings of Dorset
While digging a railroad in Dorset workers came across a small contingent of viking warriors buried in the ground, all missing their heads. At first archaeologists thought that maybe some villagers had survived a raid and exacted their revenge but upon closer inspection things got a little less clear. The beheadings looked too clean and seemed to have been done from the front rather than the back. They are still not sure what happened.