As with every year, many new and exciting finds were discovered over the last year. Here are a few of the biggest discoveries of 2019.

(Image credit: © Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

Cachette of the Priests

This year, at the acropolis of Al-Asasif near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, archaeologists discovered 30 mummies well-preserved in their sarcophagi. Believed to belong mostly to priests, the images painted on the sarcophagi were still vivid and and even shiny, because of the techniques the ancient Egyptians used for mixing pigments with egg, and then coating the sarcophagus in an egg-wax mixture. 

 The sarcophagi contained 23 males, 5 females, and two children, which are quite rare. The mummies and their sarcophagi are being conserved, and will be put on display in the Grand Egyptian Museum near the Giza pyramids when it opens later in 2020.

Further Reading: https://www.livescience.com/cachette-of-priests-egypt-mummies-discovered.html 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/19/middleeast/egypt-discovers-coffins-mummies-trnd/index.html

 

 Gold-Lined Greek Tombs

The same team of archaeologists that discovered the Griffin Warrior Tomb at Pylos in Greece in 2015 recently announced a new sensational discovery, that of two tholos tombs that were lined with gold foil and filled with riches highlighting the wealth of the families that used them. Tholos tombs were beehive shaped, and are a well known Mycenaean style for burials at the palaces like Nestor’s palace at Pylos, or at Agamemnon’s palace at Mycenae. 

The tholos tombs were looted in the past; however, archaeologists did recover several important gem stones and jewelry indicating international trading relations with the people of Egypt and the Near East, including a gold pendant with the image of Egyptian goddess Hathor on it.

Further Reading: 

https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2019/12/n20880507.html

 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/science/tombs-archaeology-ancient-greece.html

(Image credit: Aerial photo/Denitsa Nenova/UC Classics)

(Image credit: Photo courtesy Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University )

Pilate’s Road:

Archaeologists in Jerusalem announced that a prominent road built between the Siloam Pool and the Temple Mount may have, in fact, been built by the Roman governor of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. While the road was initially discovered in the 19th century, recent excavations have identified Pilate as the person most likely responsible for its construction due to dating provided by coins. 

The most recent coin discovered in the road fill dated to 30 CE, which means this date is the earliest it could have been constructed. According to the archaeologists, the fact that no coins from 10 years later (statistically the most frequent coins found in Jerusalem) suggests that this road was built during Pilate’s reign. 

Further reading: 

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2019/10/road-built-biblical-villain-uncovered-jerusalem/

https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/2000yearold-pilgrimage-road-built-by-pontius-pilate-discovered-in-jerusalem/

 

Prehistoric Sippy Cups

Bronze Age and Iron Age mothers gave their children sippy cups, according to research published earlier this year. Researchers studied residue samples from four small ceramic cups found in children’s burials in central Europe. Three of the cups contained lipid residue from milk from either cows, goats, or sheep. The researchers speculated that the milk in these sippy cups was possibly used to wean babies from breast milk. 

Further Reading: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/bronze-age-baby-bottles-reveal-how-ancient-infants-were-fed-180973210/

 https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/10/ancient-sippy-cup-may-hold-clues-about-agricultures-spread-in-europe/

 

(Image credit: Katharina Rebay-Salisbury)

Photo Credit: Callao Cave Archaeology Project

Homo luzonensis

Archaeologists in the Philippines announced the identification of a new specicies of hominin. It is called Homo luzonensis, based on the island of Luzon where remains from at least three individuals were discovered. The seven teeth, two foot bones, two hand bones, and portions of a long bone belong to at least two adults and one juvenile of the species. 

The researchers believe that the mixture of ancient and modern traits in the bones are indicative of a new species. The teeth display similarities to modern humans, while the curved foot bone is more like the Australopithicines, who were adept at climbing in trees as well as walking on two legs. 

Further Reading: 

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01152-3

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/new-species-ancient-human-discovered-luzon-philippines-homo-luzonensis/

 

The Greek “Pyramid” Island

News outlets were quick to report on the pyramid found in Greece; however, it was not an actual pyramid, but a pyramid-shaped island upon which ancient Greek islanders constructed a complex out of up to 10,000 tons of imported marble roughly 4,600 years ago. It would have taken as many as 3,500 trips by boat to transport the marble from the island of Naxos 10 km north of the small islet of Dhaskalio.

The settlement at Dhaskalio was related to the maritime sanctuary at Keros, to which Dhaskalio was once connected by a lind bridge. Along with the bulding materials, all food, pottery, and raw materials were brought to the site to be consumed or worked by specialists within the settlement.

Further Reading: https://www.livescience.com/65981-ancient-greek-pyramid-island.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/ancient-greece-archaeology-keros-aegean-sea-bronze-age-dhaskalio-bible-pyramids-crete-milos-a8997666.html

Photo Credit: Cambridge Keros Project