9 Ancient Unintentionally Discovered Antiquities

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From remarkable findings dating back centuries to stunning discoveries made by accident, here are 9 ancient unintentionally discovered antiquities.

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Number 9 Thracian Treasure
The Thracians once inhabited a large area in Central and Southeastern Europe, with Bulgaria representing the cradle of their civilization. Much of their skill is reflected in the Panagyurishte Treasure. They date back to 4th-3rd centuries BC and are believed to have been part of a ceremonial set used by the Thracian king Seuthes III. They were accidentally discovered in December 1949, by Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikov, and called “the richest treasure to have been unearthed in Europe”. When they found the precious items, the Deikov brothers were working at a tile factory, near the Bulgarian town of Panagyurishte.
Number 8 Ancient Scythian Artifacts
These 2,400-year-old Scythian artifacts were accidentally found in Russia, during excavations to make room for power lines. The find totaled about 8 pounds of solid gold. There were cups, neck rings and two other items that surprised archeologists.
Number 7 Derinkuyu
Numerous underground cities cover Turkey’s Cappadocia region, which in ancient times, were hand-carved by its inhabitants from soft volcanic rock. One of these remarkable underground cities is called Derinkuyu, first built in the 8th or 7th century BC. It was extended and refined as time passed. Derinkuyu extends 200 feet down, on multiple stories and is large enough to house 20,000 people along with their livestock. Heavy stone doors protected Derinkuyu’s inhabitants. Despite its staggering size Derinkuyu was forgotten by the modern world up until the early 1960s.
Number 6 Lascaux Cave
This cave system, near the French village of Montignac, is home to one of the most significant architectural finds in history. More than 600 paintings cover the walls and ceiling of the cave’s interior. Most of the paintings depict large animals consistent with the fauna of the Upper Paleolithic. There are also paintings of human figures and abstract signs. Studying the Lascaux cave system wouldn’t have been possible without a teenager and his dog. In 1940, Marcel’s Ravidat’s pet fell in a hole connected to the caves. 18-year-old Ravidat returned to the site alongside three of his friends and entered the cave through a shaft that was about 50 feet deep. The boys thought they had stumbled upon a secret passageway to the Lascaux Mansion, which was located nearby.
Number 5 Terracotta
The Terracotta is widely regarded as one of China’s most important archeological finds. However, uncovering the 8,000 life-sized terracotta replicas and horses was completely unintentional. It happened in 1974, while a seven-man team was digging a well near the city of Xian.
Number 4 Uluburun
While swimming in the Mediterranean in 1982, sponge diver Mehmet Çakir made a remarkable discovery. Off Turkey’s Uluburun coast he found what has been described as one the world’s oldest shipwrecks. Nevertheless, a team followed up on Cakir’s reports and discovered a plethora of relics dating back to the Late Bronze Age. There were hundreds of glass, copper and tin ingots as well as tools, pottery objects, elephant tusks and hippopotamus teeth. There was also jewelery made out of gold and silver, including a unique gold scarab inscribed with the name of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti
Number 3 Ötzi
Ötzi is the name attributed to the well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived between 3400 and 3100 BC. The discovery offered ground-breaking insight into the lives of Copper Age Europeans. His clothes were all made from the leather of various animals, except for his cloak which was made out of woven grass. Ötzi was named after the Ötzal Alps, where he was discovered. On September 19, 1991, tourists Helmut and Erika Simon stumbled upon Ötzi as they were walking a path at an elevation of about 10,500 feet.
Number 2 Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo is one of the best-known sculptures in the world. The marble masterpiece was found on the Island of Milos, in the Aegean Sea. The version of events that’s most commonly circulated is that a peasant named Yorgos Kentrotas found Venus inside a buried niche, in the ancient ruins of the city.
Number 1 Elephant Butte State Park Mastodon
As the men were hiking through Elephant Butte State Park, something protruding from the ground caught their eye. They then dug a bit deeper in the sand and the fossil started to reveal itself. The head paleontologist from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science described it as the most complete he’d seen in two decades. Mastodons were Ice Age distant relatives of modern-day elephants, which migrated to North America about 15 million years ago.

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