The world of archaeology is filled with fascinating finds. From strange artefacts to remarkable fossils, archaeologists have uncovered some remarkable things. Here are 15 of the most exceptional archaeological discoveries from around the globe:
The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt
One of the most recognisable archaeological finds in the world is the Great Sphinx of Giza. It stood more than 66 feet tall and was carved from a single massive slab of limestone during the reign of Pharaoh Khafre, around 2558 BC.
First discovered by archaeologists in 1817, it’s believed to represent a combination of both man and beast – and is one of ancient Egypt’s most iconic symbols.
The Terracotta Army, China
Hidden beneath an enormous mound near Xi’an in China lie thousands upon thousands of life-sized terracotta sculptures known as The Terracotta Army.
Thought to have been built as part of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s final resting place (around 260–210 BCE), each figure has unique features – from expressions on their faces to distinct hairstyles – helping depict what life was like in ancient China.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Located among lush mountains deep in the Amazon jungle, Machu Picchu is estimated to be over 500 years old and consists mainly of temples, homes, palaces, and agricultural terraces – all beautifully constructed within steep rock faces and connected via a network of trails.
Today, it attracts over 3 million tourists annually – all eager to experience its breathtaking beauty firsthand.
Tikal Temple I & II Guatemala
Known as ‘Temple I’ or ‘El Castillo’ (the castle), this towering structure – which reaches almost 70 feet – was first discovered by archaeologists in 1956 at Tikal National Park in Guatemala.
Built between 700 – 350 BCE, many experts believe this stepped pyramid acted as an astrological observatory for Mayan royalty, who used it for ceremonies honoring their gods before battlefield conquests against nearby rival cities.
Göbekli Tepe Turkey
Göbekli Tepe is an immense temple complex situated atop a mountain plateau near modern-day Sanliurfa in south-eastern Turkey.
It dates back over 11000 years ago – making it one of man’s oldest religious constructions ever built! Although its exact purpose remains a mystery, it’s believed that the site was used for religious ceremonies and rituals.
The Rosetta Stone, Egypt
Discovered in 1799 by French soldiers near the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in Egypt, this ancient stone slab is inscribed with three different scripts – hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek – which helped scholars decipher the mysterious hieroglyphic writing system of ancient Egypt.
Today, it’s one of the most important archaeological finds in history and is housed at the British Museum in London.
The Lascaux Caves, France
Discovered in 1940 by four teenagers in the Dordogne region of France, the Lascaux Caves are home to some of the most remarkable prehistoric paintings ever found.
Thought to be around 17000 years old, these stunningly detailed images depict various animals – from horses and bison to deer and aurochs – all painted in various vivid colours.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel
Discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd in the Qumran Caves near the Dead Sea, these ancient scrolls are believed to have been written between 150 BCE and 70 CE.
Some of the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible provide invaluable insight into Jewish life during this period. They are now housed at the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem.
The Tomb of Tutankhamun, Egypt
One of the most famous archaeological finds in history, the tomb of Tutankhamun, was discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter.
Located in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, this incredible find contained a wealth of artefacts – from jewelry and furniture to chariots and weapons – all belonging to the young pharaoh who died at 19 years old.
The Antikythera Mechanism, Greece
Discovered in 1901 by sponge divers off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera, this mysterious device is believed to be the world’s oldest known analogue computer.
Thought to have been created around 100 BCE, it was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes. It is now housed at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
The Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala
Discovered in the mid-19th century by European explorers, the Mayan ruins of Tikal are some of the most impressive archaeological finds in Central America.
Located in the Petén region of Guatemala, this ancient city was once one of the largest and most powerful cities in the Maya world and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mo ai Statues of Easter Island
Discovered in 1722 by Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, the Moai statues of Easter Island are some of the most iconic archaeological finds in the world.
These massive stone figures ranged from 4 to 33 feet tall and were carved by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500 CE and are now a major tourist attraction on the remote island.
The Nazca Lines, Peru
Discovered in the 1920s by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe, the Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert of southern Peru.
Thought to have been created between 500 BCE and 500 CE, these mysterious lines depict a variety of animals and plants – from monkeys and lizards to hummingbirds and spiders – and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.、
The Tomb of Sunken Ships, Turkey
Discovered in 2000 by a team of underwater archaeologists off the coast of Uluburun in Turkey, this incredible find consists of 14 sunken ships dating back to the 14th century BCE.
Containing artefacts from all over the Mediterranean and Near East – including jewelry, weapons, and pottery – these ships provide invaluable insight into trade and commerce during the Bronze Age.
The Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China
Discovered in 1974 by a team of Chinese archaeologists, the tomb of Qin Shi Huang is one of history’s most remarkable archaeological finds.
Located near the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, this incredible site contains over 8000 life-sized terracotta warriors and horses – all created to protect the first emperor of China in his afterlife.