Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2020

HeritageDaily’s list of the 10 most prominent archaeological discoveries to hit the headlines in 2020.

Archaeologists Discover Giant Ice Age Mammoth Bone Structure

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Image Credit : Antiquity Journal

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a giant Ice Age structure built from the remains of at least 60 mammoths at the Kostenki-Borshevo archaeological complex.

The giant circular structure has a diameter of 12.5 metres and was built around 25,000 years ago during the peak of the last Ice Age (called the last glacial maximum), when communities were mainly mobile hunter-gatherers. This would make the monument one of the oldest known mammoth bone buildings, compared to similar structures that date from 22,000 years ago. Find out more

Archaeologists Find Large Neolithic Structure at Durrington Walls

Image Credit : Ethan Doyle White – CC BY-SA 4.0

Archaeologists from the University of Bradford have announced the discovery of a large prehistoric site at Durrington Walls near Stonehenge in England.

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The archaeologists found a series of Neolithic shafts that date from around 2500 BC and stretch for 2km around the Durrington Walls and Woodhenge monuments. The shafts are around 10 metres in diameter and reach a depth of 5 metres. Archaeologists believe they were used along with an internal post line to mark a boundary and to guide worshipers to the monuments. Find out more

Ornate Treasures Discovered in Tomb of Silla Princess

Image Credit : Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage

Archaeologists have discovered hundreds of grave goods in the tomb of a Silla Princess, buried in the city of Gyeongju, in the North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea.

The latest discoveries consist of a gilt-bronze crown, gold chest ornaments, gold earrings and pendants, gilt-bronze ornaments, gold and silver bracelets, an ornamental silver knife, and hundreds of stones from the strategy board game Baduk (also called Go). Find out more

More Than 100 Painted Coffins Have Been Found at the Ancient Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities وزارة السياحة والآثا

Egyptian antiquities officials have announced the discovery of almost 100 ancient coffins – some with mummies inside them – and around 40 golden statues from the Ancient Egyptian Necropolis of Saqqara. The wooden coffins and other objects were buried during Egypt’s Late and Ptolemaic Periods, which together lasted from 664 to 30BC. Find out more

Largest And Oldest Maya Monument Discovered With LiDar

Image Credit : Takeshi Inomata

Archaeologists from the University of Arizona have made the monumental discovery of a giant Maya plateau, possibly the largest and oldest Mayan monument discovery to date using LiDar.

The monument, measuring almost 4600 feet long at a height of 30-50 feet is located at the recently discovered site of Aguada Fénix located in Tabasco, Mexico near the border to Guatemala. Find out more

Archaeologists Discover Lost Capital of Ancient Maya Kingdom

Image Credit : Charles Golden

A team of researchers from Brown University and Brandeis University has discovered the lost ruins of a Maya capital in the backyard of a Mexican cattle rancher.

Associate professor of anthropology, Charles Golden and bioarchaeologist Andrew Scherer believe that the site (now named Lacanja Tzeltal) was the capital of the Sak Tz’i’ kingdom, located in what is today the state of Chiapas in south-eastern Mexico. Find out more

Ancient String Discovery Sheds Light on Neanderthal Life

Image Credit : Scientific Reports

The discovery of the oldest known direct evidence of fibre technology using natural fibres to create yarn is reported in Scientific Reports this week.

The finding furthers our understanding of the cognitive abilities of Neanderthals during the Middle Palaeolithic period (30,000-300,000 years ago).

Bruce Hardy and colleagues discovered a six-millimetre-long cord fragment consisting of three bundles of fibres twisted together and adhering to a 60-millimetre-long, thin stone tool. Find out more

Over 6000 Ancient Tombs Discovered by Archaeologists in China

Image Credit : Xinhua News Agency

Archaeologists excavating in Chengdu, Sichuan province have discovered over 6000 ancient tombs spanning more than 2000 years.

The tombs date from various dynasties and were discovered during construction works for the Sichuan Xinchuan Innovation and Technology Park. Excavations began in 2015, but the results of the ongoing discoveries have finally been announced by the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. Find out more

Archaeologists Discover Earliest London Elizabethan Playhouse

Image Credit : UCL

Archaeologists from the UCL’s Institute of Archaeology have discovered the remains of what may be the Red Lion, an early Elizabethan playhouse built around AD 1567.

The Red Lion was a purpose-built playhouse in the yard of the Red Lion, a farmhouse east of Aldgate near Mile End. This was to be the first known attempt to provide a purpose-built playhouse in London for the many Tudor age touring theatrical companies, in particular staging a young Shakespeare’s plays in the 1590s. Find out more

Early Big-Game Hunters of the Americas Were Female According to Research

Image Credit : Matthew Verdolivo, UC Davis IET Academic Technology Services

For centuries, historians and scientists mostly agreed that when early human groups sought food, men hunted and women gathered.

However, a 9,000-year-old female hunter burial in the Andes Mountains of South America reveals a different story, according to new research conducted at the University of California, Davis. Find out more

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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