By Amy Saad
Throughout 2022 and the beginning of 2023 there has been a multitude of new archaeological finds revealing highly interesting details about ancient civilisations, changing archaeologists' and historians’ perceptions of the ancient world.
1. 2,300-year-old Bronze Statues from the Etruscan-Roman Transition Period
24 bronze statues were uncovered in Tuscany by archaeologists from the Universita per Stanieri di Siena. The statues have been dated to around 2,300 years ago and were perfectly preserved by suspension in geothermal pools and mud. This find is regarded as the most significant since 1972 as it rewrites the assimilation of Etruscans in the Roman expansion period. The statues depict Hygieia and other Greco-Roman mythological divinities thus suggesting that the Great Bath sanctuary of San Casciano was a “unique multicultural and multilingual haven of peace, surrounded by political instability and war” (Jacopo Tabolli).
2. An Ancient Papyrus “Book of the Dead” Found in an Egyptian Sarcophagus
The 16-metre-long papyrus was discovered in a sarcophagus in Saqqara and is the first complete papyrus text to be found in over a century. The papyrus dates to 50BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty- (during the time of Cleopatra). Being buried in a necropolis for Egyptian royalty, the papyrus contained the pharaonic “Book of The Dead” which included instructions for the deceased pharaohs to be guided through the underworld or ‘Duat’.
3. 21 Ancient Han Dynasty Tombs found in China
21 ancient tombs have been found 1,000km from Shanghai. The tombs have been dated to 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty. Those buried were “presumably of royal origin” (Researchers from the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Hunan Province) due to the large collection of artefacts that were buried alongside them. Many of the tombs were arranged side-by-side, three tombs were in a row and four more tombs were lined up together. While more research needs to be done, there is a theory that the joint tombs bury lovers.
4. Ancient Royal Tomb found in Luxor
The ancient tomb found dates back to 1550 BC belonging to a princess or royal wife during the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. Archaeologists have said that the “partial inscriptions and ceramic evidence” suggest this tomb was constructed during the regency of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. While the inhabitant of the tomb remains a mystery, the ornate “surviving decoration and the size” indicate that this was the burial of a “great royal wife and several children of a Thutmosid king.”
5. Viking Hall in Denmark
A large structure has been found in Denmark dating to the late Viking age. It is likely, due to the sheer size of the structure, used as a community hall serving political and communal importance. The 40m length and 8-10m width structure was held up by 10-12 oak posts and were much larger than the houses used at the time, thus researchers believe it was a “prestigious building” used for communal purposes. Archaeologists now are on the hunt to discover any other buildings as a “hall building of this nature rarely stands alone” (Knudsen).
6. Ancient City, Zakhiku, found in Iraq
A Bronze Age city settlement has been uncovered after the Tigris River receded due to extreme drought. The city, Zakhiku, has been dated 3,400 years old and has been completed with a palace and fort. Researchers believe that the settlement held “an important role in connecting the core region of the Mittani Empire” which existed from 1550-1350 BC in present-day north-eastern Syria. This city was likely destroyed by an earthquake around 1350 BC which caused the upper parts of the walls to bury and preserve surviving buildings.