10 Amazing Archaeological Finds Discovered by Ordinary People (and One Badger)

The ship sank off the island of Antikythera, only to be rediscovered by sponge divers almost 2000 years later, in 1900. They retrieved the mechanism—now corroded into an unidentifiable lump of metal and wood—with no idea of what they’d found. It took seven decades and numerous X-rays for archaeologists to begin to figure it out.

DEMOLITION CREW FINDS THE MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTION OF ELIZABETHAN AND JACOBEAN JEWELRY EVER DISCOVERED.

Workers were demolishing the Wakefield House in Cheapside, London, in 1912 when a pickaxe through the cellar floor hit a wooden box filled with jewels. The box held more than 400 pieces of late-16th and early-17th century jewelry, among them a Swiss watch set in a solid Columbian emerald, a gold, diamond, and emerald salamander, and a Byzantine gemstone cameo.

Wakefield House was on a street known as Goldsmith’s Row when those jewels were accumulated, so the stash was probably a goldsmith’s working stock hidden under the floor during the English Civil War. The construction workers stuffed the treasures in their pockets, boots, and caps, and sold them to a local pawn shop owner who turned out to be the head of acquisitions for the London Museum. The Museum of London remains today the proud owner of the Cheapside Hoard.

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