Discover which archaeological discoveries were inadvertently discovered and today are a key piece of human history.
Although the story is told in parts following the fragments found in it, not all important findings have been made by trained scientists or researchers looking for something specific. You’d be surprised to learn that many of the most important archaeological finds in our history have been made entirely by accident.
Between enormous conflicts and wars that have devastated vast expanses of land, to mysterious and unexplained disappearances, history has had important pieces that have been lost for a long time, and was unintentionally discovered by people willing to do daily tasks, find other things, build constructions or simply dig into the unknown.
The list of things that were accidentally discovered underground is very long, ranging from mysterious creatures to complete cities, including pieces of primitive engineering and very important sculptures that relate the culture and customs of ancient civilizations. That is why the 5 most important archaeological finds discovered by accident are summarized here.
City of Derinkuyu: Cappadocia, a region located in Turkey, has many large structures called “fairy chimneys”. These structures are made of a very soft type of rock, which can be carved without much effort, for this reason, people have been carving messages and drawings of their lives there for thousands of years.
Although it was known by the inhabitants of Cappadocia that under the earth were cities, this finding made under Derinkuyu is one of the most impressive. It was 1963 when a man was very busy remodelling his house, in between the work he broke down a wall leading to an unknown room, and this, in turn, was connected to a long-secret corridor, had reopened one of the thousands of roads of Derinkuyu.
When the researchers arrived at the finding they found something surprisingly advanced, a city complete with imposing structures and enough space to accommodate 20,000 people. The city of Derinkuyu has wine cellars, houses, stables, fresh water wells, and more.
Also striking to witnesses is the large fortress that had as a defence system, its army was able to close large stone gates to seal off the city from the inside, preventing the entry of the enemy during an invasion. The biggest question researchers ask themselves is who built this huge city.
Lascaux Caves: The story behind the important archaeological find is very interesting, and few people would imagine it the way it happened. It all began in the south of France, in 1940, four boys decided to go for a walk with their pet, the dog met a rabbit head-on, and immediately started the race to catch him, so the teenagers also started running after him.
The dog entered a kind of tunnel, like a place to hide a treasure. The kids once inside discovered that they were surrounded by impressive paintings, so they saw a fun opportunity to make money by inviting their friends to see the find, in exchange for a ticket they sold them at low cost.
But as expected, the discovery was not kept secret and the news spread quickly in the town, and finally, the archaeologists arrived. They confirmed that the paintings were authentic samples of cave art from the Paleolithic, and they were at least 15,000 years old.
The Lascaux caves have more than 600 paintings and 1500 engravings of impressive conservation, almost all of them representing extinct species of fauna and flora. Today, this site restricts access to visitors, as the state of the works and the age of the people can unintentionally deteriorate the art of the archaeological find just by breathing or talking.
World War II Bomb: During 2013, some workers working on a centrally located construction site unearthed a very hard, strange body with a shape that did not aspire to be solid rock, were frightened to see that it was an unexploded bomb dropped during World War II in 1941, and had ended up buried 20 feet under the ground.
This bomb weighed over 1 ton and contained 1300 pounds of explosives that for some strange reason did not explode on impact. The bomb was carefully dug up by specialists and then transported to a military base for controlled destruction on 5 February 2016.
Roman Villa: A man living in Wiltshire, England, was working with his home’s electrical wiring in the yard when suddenly the electricians said they found something strange. The find was an elaborate tile mosaic, which turned out to be from an ancient Roman villa, built around 175 AD.
This led to an incredibly preserved structure. It is believed that the villa was once three stories high and belonged to a Roman emperor. This finding is one of the most important of its kind in a long time, as the site has not been touched for more than 1,500 years, allowing the research to expand the knowledge of the daily life of the local high society.
Venus de Milo: It is very likely that you have heard and seen pictures of this popular Greek statue, represented in magazines and films related to his empire, hardly anyone would believe that this famous figure was actually discovered by accident in 1820.
The story goes that a peasant was prowling around while looking for blocks to build, and found a cave covered by a marble slab, where this statue, which is now known all over the world, was located.
The Venus de Milo has become one of the most important works of classical art, it contains many mysteries and nowadays there is little information about it, only its name, Venus, is known, but it may be a representation of Aphrodite. This figure may not even be a goddess, but the sculptor’s lover, or any other Greek woman, or even a statue of the artist’s imagination, with no real identification or reference.
The lack of arms has made the Venus de Milo one of the most mysterious archaeological finds found by accident, with a surrealistic appearance, everyone wonders how the breakage of these parts went and why the rest of the statue was not damaged.