Archaeological finds and sites are everywhere around the world. Some finds are world famous others are not as known but just as important for the insights and knowledge they provide to the community about our past. Here are 8 sites and discoveries that have both intrigued and highlighted important information. These discoveries are some of the well-known findings from around the world, showing an even cross section of our past, from our port and natural disaster history to how we buried our dead.

Urumchi mummies

The discovery of mummies with blonde hair and clad in Celtic tartan weave clothes in Asia intrigued scientists and made the public curious. Scientists and explorers found mummies in the Tarim basin in China and this discovery opened up a range of dialogue the world over about migration theory, ancient exploration, the interweave of cultures and technology.

These mummies have been persevered so well they provided the scientists with information about migration and the peoples that lived in region and possible Indo European languages they spoke. For a culture that existed over 3000 years ago they had advanced weaving technologies and as time progresses scientists are discovering more about their past.

Quipu strings

In Peru Central America, strings with knots on them were used as records and mathematical communication tools for the ancient Incan’s. These Kipu (Quipu) strings are both intriguing and educational. They are intriguing because they still baffle scientists with new interpretations of what the strings mean and their numerical sequences (Quipu Link). They are educational because they show people how an ancient culture communicated numerical information and calculations. The Quipu designs were both innovative and functional. The findings of this ancient communication tool have not only provided information about the Incan culture and how they conduct communications and daily transactions, but also show their innovative ways.

The terracotta warriors

The finding of a century has to be the terracotta army. Clay warrior statues and horses all positioned in rows to protect the deceased first emperor of China. The statues were found near Xian in the 1970s and provide invaluable information about the history of that region. The sheer volume of statues created, 6,000, shows the amount of detail and workmanship that went into creating such a magnificent display. Today the clay statues are still providing scientists with invaluable information about their construction, art and the history of the region.

Hominid finding in Africa

Africa has provided scientists with many findings about our prehistoric ancestors. Some of the more prominent sites discovered in Africa include Lake Turkana, Olduvai Gorge, and Laetotil. The Leakey family was prominent scientists discovering a range of hominid findings in this region. As on example Australopithecus Africianus and Homo erectus remains were found at Lake Turkana.

The varied findings from Africa have provided scientists with the most invaluable information about our human origins and evolutionary tree and its branches, from Afarensis, Habilis, Erectus, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. More recent discoveries are showing new findings and more linkages and branches between our ancestors and modern humans through the use of genetic information, bone remains, and trace findings. As an example the Denisovans, a sub species of humans have provided scientists with more information about our history, how we are all interconnected and how we came to be.

Otzi the Ice Man

A deceased man, Otzi, frozen in the ice in the Alps located between Austria and Italy was thought to be a recent hiker, until it was discovered he was over 5300 years old. Otzi was wearing cloths made out of hide, grass and leather, woven together to form a thick layer of protection against the weather. He had hunting tools with him, tattoos and was wounded.

This discovery of Otzi has enabled scientists to evaluate historical clothing, tools culture and to see how he died. The information Otzi provides is very unique as there has been no other finding equivalent.


The Jamestown site shows how the early European settlers survived in an unknown territory and environment in America during the 1600s. It was in 1607 that ships arrived in the Chesapeake Bay to establish a colony in what was then called the New World. However, Indian cultures and tribes were already populating the region where the British were setting up their new colony and this created hostilities. Therefore, the colonists built a palisade to protect themselves from the hostilities.

The site itself and the reconstruction of the site by archaeologists has shown how the Europeans lived in an unknown new world, and what they did to survive and information about their living arrangements, culture, and relations with local inhabitants. There were language barriers and cultural misunderstandings between the European colonists and native Indian populations. The site is useful today to show how history unfolded in the Americas during the 1600s through an examination of the cultural artifacts located at the site, including their tools, and remains.

Viking Settlement in Greenland

The Vikings had sailed westward to discover, raid and settle many new colonies. In 985 they settled in a place they called Brattahid in Greenland. The settlers lived in Greenland prosperously for hundreds of years until by the 1400s they vanished without a trace leaving behind their buildings and artifacts. Their disappearance was caused by a number of factors, including poor inclement weather reducing their food supplies, illness, and hostilities over resources.  The sites have provided scientists with valuable information about how the Norse settlers lived, their ability to adapt and their medieval culture.

Port Royal – Jamaica

Port Royal in Jamaica was one of the most prosperous ports for trading. It was founded in 1518AD and a strategic centre. However, an earthquake destroyed the port sinking part of it beneath the shoreline and damaging the port. Today, the site of Port Royal has provided many archaeologists with information about the port operations, daily trading and the structure of the town and its inhabitants prior to its destruction when it was at its peak. Seeing what happened shows how fragile ports and townships are and how quickly they can be destroyed.

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