2015 has been a year of ground breaking research across the discipline of archaeology. The following list represents 10 of the most astonishing discoveries over the past year.
1 – The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project reveals traces of standing stones beneath Durrington Walls super-henge
The remains of a major new prehistoric stone monument have been discovered less than 3 kilometres from Stonehenge. Using cutting edge, multi-sensor technologies the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project has revealed evidence for a large stone monument hidden beneath the bank of the later Durrington Walls ‘super-henge’.
Durrington Walls is one of the largest known henge monuments measuring 500m in diameter and thought to have been built around 4,500 years ago. Measuring more than 1.5 kilometres in circumference, it is surrounded by a ditch up to 17.6m wide and an outer bank c.40m wide and surviving up to a height of 1 metre. The henge surrounds several smaller enclosures and timber circles and is associated with a recently excavated later Neolithic settlement. Find out more
2 – Archaeologists uncover Bronze Age ‘sauna house’ and 30 buildings in Orkney
Archaeologists in Orkney have uncovered the remains of over 30 buildings dating from around 4000 BC to 1000 BC, together with field systems, middens and cemeteries.
The find includes a very rare Bronze Age building which experts believed could have been a sauna or steam house, which may have been built for ritual purposes. Find out more
3 – Queen Khentakawess III’s tomb found in Egypt
Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen, Egyptian officials say.
The tomb was found in Abu-Sir, south-west of Cairo, and is thought to belong to the wife or mother of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago. Find out more
4 – Impressive Tomb of “Celtic” Prince Found in France
Archaeologists in northwestern France unearthed the tomb of an Iron Age Celtic prince who was buried with his chariot at the center of a huge mound.
Standing near the small village of Lavau, in northwestern France, the mound, 130 feet across, was dated to the 5th century BC. The 2,500-year-old tomb featured at its center a 150-square-foot burial chamber, housing the deceased and his chariot. Find out more
5 – Researchers believe that they have exposed evidence of the Acra citadel on the City of David hill
Researchers with the Israel Antiquities Authority believe they have found the remains of the stronghold – the Acra – which the Greeks used to control the Temple more than 2,000 years ago – and evidence of the Hasmonean attempts to conquer the stronghold.
In recent months, excavators believe that they have exposed evidence of the Acra citadel on the City of David hill: a section of a massive wall, a base of a tower of impressive dimensions (width c. 4 m, length c. 20 m) and a glacis. The glacis, which was built next to the wall, is a defensive sloping embankment composed of layers of soil, stone and plaster, designed to keep attackers away from the base of the wall. Find out more
6 – Archaeologists uncover entrance gate and fortification of Biblical city
The Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath, headed by Prof. Aren Maeir, has discovered the fortifications and entrance gate of the biblical city of Gath of the Philistines, home of Goliath and the largest city in the land during the 10th-9th century BCE, about the time of the “United Kingdom” of Israel and King Ahab of Israel.
The city gate of Philistine Gath is referred to in the Bible (in I Samuel 21) in the story of David’s escape from King Saul to Achish, King of Gath. Find out more
7 – Yamagata University Finds 24 New Geoglyphs On Nasca Plateau
The research team of the Yamagata University Institute of Nasca discovered 24 new geoglyphs in the Nasca Region of the Peruvian South Coast.
The geoglyphs are almost invisible on the surface and the team needed to analyze them using a three-dimensional scanner to highlight the images on the ground. As a result, the Yamagata University team was able to identify 24 geoglyphs of animals, some of which probably depict Andean native camelid, llamas. Find out more
8 – Scientists discover world’s oldest stone tools
Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered.
The tools, whose makers may or may not have been some sort of human ancestor, push the known date of such tools back by 700,000 years; they also may challenge the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to bang two rocks together to create a new technology. Find out more
9 – Mummification was commonplace in Bronze Age Britain
Ancient Britons may have intentionally mummified some of their dead during the Bronze Age, according to archaeologists at the University of Sheffield.
The study is the first to provide indications that mummification may have been a wide-spread funerary practise in Britain.
Working with colleagues from the University of Manchester and University College London, Dr Tom Booth analysed skeletons at several Bronze Age burial sites across the UK. The team from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology found that the remains of some ancient Britons are consistent with a prehistoric mummy from northern Yemen and a partially mummified body recovered from a sphagnum peat bog in County Roscommon, Ireland. Find out more
10 – Battle of Britain Spitfire unearthed on Salisbury Plain
An award-winning project which uses archaeology to aid the recovery of injured soldiers has uncovered a crashed Spitfire on Salisbury Plain.
Serving and former Service personnel taking part in Operation Nightingale exercise Tally Ho! excavated the remnants of the fighter plane from 609 Squadron which was shot down by enemy fire during the Battle of Britain on 27 October 1940. Find out more