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Unearthing Buried Riches, Vampire Burials, and Forgotten Cities – Top Ancient Discoveries of 2022

A team of archaeologists discovered an ancient neolithic site, believed to be 9000 years old, in Jordan’s remote eastern desert, in February.

The find, made by Jordanian and French archaeologists, is believed to be a ritual complex, located near large structures known as “desert kites”.

The structures are believed to be large traps used to lure wild gazelles for slaughter.

Such traps consist of two or more long stone walls converging toward an enclosure and are found scattered across the deserts of the Middle East.

“The site is unique, first because of its preservation state,” co-director of the project, Jordanian archaeologist Wael Abu-Azziza, said.

“It’s 9000 years old and everything was almost intact.”

Within the shrine were two carved standing stones bearing anthropomorphic figures, one accompanied by a representation of the “desert kite,” as well as an altar, hearth, marine shells and miniature model of the gazelle trap.

The researchers said in a statement the shrine “sheds an entire new light on the symbolism, artistic expression as well as spiritual culture of these hitherto unknown Neolithic populations”.

The proximity of the site suggests the inhabitants were specialised hunters and the traps were “the centre of their cultural, economic and even symbolic life in this marginal zone,” the statement said.

The site was excavated during the most recent digging season in 2021.

Archaeologists in Scotland unearthed an ancient symbol stone believed to have been created by the Picts, a fierce group believed to be instrumental in saving Scotland from invasion by the Roman Empire in ancient times, research indicated in March.

The 1.7-metre-long stone was found by a team from the University of Aberdeen who were conducting geophysical surveys and accidentally unearthed the artifact near Forfar in 2020.

The stone is believed to be from the 5th or 6th century and they said it was unusual that the stone appears to show carvings on top of each other, suggesting they were made on the same stone in different periods of time.

The Picts, believed to be named after the Latin term “picti” or painted, were a fierce group of warriors who inhabited the region of Britain now known as Scotland around 1500 years ago.

According to etymologists, they painted and tattooed themselves and this is likely the reason for the name given to them in history books.

A $US34.99 ($49.46) purchase got one Texas woman an unexpected piece of art from ancient Roman times.

Back in August 2018, Laura Young was shopping in an Austin-area Goodwill when she stumbled upon a 23kg marble bust.

Little did she know that purchase would have Roman ties and end up in the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), four years later.

She contacted auction houses and experts to get any information she could on the marble structure.

Eventually, in May this year, Sotheby’s confirmed that the bust was in fact from ancient Roman times, and they estimated it to be about 2000 years old.

it is believed to be the bust of Sextus Pompey, a Roman military leader. His father, Pompey the Great, was once an ally and then an enemy of Julius Caesar.

The bust was housed in a replica of a Pompeii home, also known as Pompejanum, which was commissioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

There it was on display until World War II, which was the last time it was seen until Young bought it in 2018.

The bust, along with other artefacts in the home, had been moved into storage before the Pompejanum was bombed and destroyed during the war.

At some point, the piece was stolen from storage.

A sprawling 3400-year-old city emerged in Iraq after a reservoir’s water level swiftly dropped due to extreme drought in June.

Kurdish and German archaeologists excavated the settlement in the Mosul reservoir, along the Tigris River in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, in January and February.

The project was in partnership with the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage in Duhok to preserve the area’s cultural heritage for future generations.

The archaeological site, Kemune, is believed to be the Bronze Age city Zakhiku, a major hub of the Mittani Empire that reigned from 1550 to 1350 BC.

The remains of an infant woolly mammoth were found by miners in a Canadian goldfield and revealed in June.

It’s believed the one-month-old mammoth, found in permafrost in the Klondike goldfields in Yukon, is over 30,000 years old.

Researchers said it was extremely rare to discover such an old fossil with skin and hair preserved.

The little mammoth was nicknamed “Nun cho ga” by local First Nations elders, meaning “big baby animal”.

The surprising discovery of mammoth fossils in a paleontologist’s backyard have led to an even more unexpected finding, according to research released in August.

The roughly 37,000-year-old remains of a female mammoth and her calf show distinct signs of butchering, providing new evidence that humans may have arrived in North America much earlier than believed.

Multiple finds at the site paint a portrait of what took place there thousands of years ago, including bone tools, evidence of a fire, bones bearing fractures and other signs of animal butchering by humans.

Long mammoth bones shaped into disposable blades were used to break down the animal carcasses before a fire helped melt down their fat.

Fractures created by blunt force can be seen in the bones, according to the study.

No stone tools were at the site, but researchers found flake knives made from bones with worn edges.

A chemical analysis of the sediment around the mammoth bones showed that the fire was sustained and controlled rather than caused by a wildfire or lightning strike.

There was also evidence of bone that had been pulverized as well as burned small animal remains, including birds, fish, rodents and lizards.

Dinosaur tracks from around 113 million years ago were revealed at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas, due to severe drought conditions that dried up a river, it was reported in August.

“Most tracks that have recently been uncovered and discovered at different parts of the river in the park belong to Acrocanthosaurus,” park spokesperson Stephanie Salinas Garcia told CNN in an email.

“This was a dinosaur that would stand, as an adult, about 4.5 metres tall and (weighed) close to seven tonnes.”

The 31,000-year-old skeleton of a young adult found in a cave in Indonesia that is missing its left foot and part of its left leg reveal the oldest known evidence of an amputation, according to a new study published in September.

Scientists say the amputation was performed when the person was a child — and that the “patient” went on to live for years as an amputee. The prehistoric surgery could show that humans were making medical advances much earlier than previously thought, according to the study published in the journal Nature.

The remaining leg bone showed a clean, slanted cut that healed over.

There were no signs of infection, which would be expected if the child had gotten its leg bitten off by a creature like a crocodile.

And there were also no signs of a crushing fracture, which would have been expected if the leg had snapped off in an accident.

The person appears to have lived for around six to nine more years after losing the limb, eventually dying from unknown causes as a young adult, researchers say.

This shows that the prehistoric foragers knew enough about medicine to perform the surgery without fatal blood loss or infection, authors concluded.

Researchers don’t know what kind of tool was used to amputate the limb, or how infection was prevented — but they speculate that a sharp stone tool may have made the cut, and point out that some of the rich plant life in the region has medicinal properties.

Researchers uncovered the grave of a woman “vampire” at an archaeological site in Poland, as reported in September.

The body, which dates from the 1600s, was found buried with a scythe across its neck and a padlock around its toe, to prevent it from rising after death.

The woman appeared to be of relatively prosperous social class, as she was buried with a silk scarf and a pillow.

Eastern Europe was at the time rife with superstitious fears of vampires and the walking dead.

Any in the community who stood out either physically or behaviourally, or who were considered immoral, could be treated as such after death.

However, researchers said the use of a scythe – positioned so the sharp reaping edge was over the body’s throat – was an unusual “trap” to find.

A Palestinian olive farmer has uncovered what some experts are calling one of the greatest-ever archaeological finds in Gaza.

Salman al Nabahin said he was digging in the ground in preparation to plant an olive tree when he discovered a mosaic from the Byzantine era – a period from the early-to-mid fourth century all the way up to 1453.

The mosaic shows animals like birds, dogs and rabbits and, according to French archaeologist Rene Elter, is “in a perfect state of conservation”.

“These are the most beautiful mosaic floors discovered in Gaza, both in terms of the quality of the graphic representation and the complexity of the geometry,” Elter said in September.

A hoard of Byzantine gold coins was discovered hidden at the Banias archaeological site in Israel.

The 44 gold solidi are from the reigns of Emperor Phocas (602-610 CE) and Emperor Heraclius (610-641 CE) – the time of the founding of the Umayyad Caliphate, one of the early Muslim powers of the Middle East.

The coins were found hidden at the base of a stone wall – presumably stashed away in the hope that the owner, fleeing the Umayyad conquest, could some day return.