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Important Archaeological Discoveries of 2022

Every year, archaeologists build on our knowledge of the people and cultures who preceded us in this world. Here are five notable archaeological finds from 2022.

1. An 11,000 year old super civilization, Turkey

Image Credit - Berna Namoglu

An important site that is expanding our understanding of the beginning of settled life is Karahan Tepe in Turkey. Although excavations began in 1997, in 2022 researchers now confirm that the location was part of a super civilization that was probably created by the Watchers of “The Book of Enoch.” The site is about 11,000 years old and contains structures that indicate a settled village with hut residences that surround a ritualistic center with more than 250 T-shaped megaliths. Importantly, finds such as arrowheads, scrapers and stone tools made from flint and obsidian, suggests that this was a Neolithic hunter-gatherer or animal husbandry society, as opposed to an agricultural society. Karahan Tepe is evidence of a Neolithic settlement in one location, which is evidence of the construction of a new social order in the history of humankind.

2. Shackleton’s sunken ship, Antarctica

Image Credit: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

The incredible survival story about the voyage of legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica on the Endurance has enraptured the world for over a hundred years. In 1915, Shackleton and his crew of 27 attempted to make the first land crossing of the continent, when the ship became stuck in a dense ice pack. Endurance was ultimately crushed and sunk under the pressure of the moving ice, but amazingly, all the ship’s crew members survived the ordeal.

Since its sinking, numerous efforts have been made to find Endurance’s final resting place with no luck, until 2022. Finally, in March 2022, historically low ice levels allowed the search team called Endurance22 to locate the ship about four miles from its last estimated position where it sits at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, almost 10,000 feet underwater. The wreck is incredibly preserved, largely thanks to the absence of wood-eating parasites. According to the expedition’s marine archaeologist, Mensun Bound, “Never have I seen a wreck as intact or as clean and fresh as the Endurance.”

3. A hoard of sarcophogi, mummies and statues, Egypt

Image credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

At the necropolis of Saqqara, newly discovered artifacts and a new pyramid are rewriting the ancient civilization’s history. Saqqara is home of some of Egypt’s oldest pyramids, serving as the burial site for successive Egyptian dynasties.

The newly discovered pyramid includes the tomb of a previously unknown queen of the New Kingdom named Queen Neith. Other finds include a trove of Egyptian artifacts including 300 sarchophogi and 100 mummies, some of whom are believed to be the remains of King Tut’s generals and advisors. According to Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, “The coffins have individual faces, each one unique, distinguishing between men and women, and are decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead. Each coffin also has the name of the deceased and often shows the Four Sons of Horus, who protected the organs of the deceased.”

Also included among the artifacts is a solid gold mask of a woman, gaming pieces for the ancient game of Senet and a soldier buried with a metal axe in his hand.

4. Neolithic hunting shrine, Jordan

Image credit: South Eastern Badia Archaeological Project.

One of the earliest ritual structures ever found was discovered in Jordan in 2022. The 9,000 year old stone shrine in the Khashabiyeh Mountains is located in a Neolithic campsite near several desert kites. Kites are V-shaped traps that Neolithic hunters herded wild gazelles into for capture.

The shrine appears to be a scale model of a kite, and it features two large standing stones carved with anthropomorphic figures, a stylized depiction of a desert kite, as well as a hearth and an altar. According to Wael Abu-Azizeh of the French Institute of the Near East, “One hypothesis is that the stone altar was used for butchering gazelle carcasses in the context of ritual activities carried out within the shrine.”

5. 12,000 year old footprints, United States

Image Credit: Daron Duke

A set of 88 footprints belonging to a band of adults and children were found in Utah’s Great Salt Lake Desert in 2022. Scientists surmise that the prints are about 12,000 years old, which came as a surprise. They were formed back when the Great Salt Lake Desert was covered in water; conditions which haven’t existed in Utah for about 10,000 years. Around the time the last Ice Age ended, “A group of people appear to have been walking in shallow water, with the sand rapidly infilling their prints behind them…and under the sand was a layer of mud that kept the print intact after infilling,” said archaeologist Daron Duke.

The bare footprints were so clear that toes and a heel can be made out. The set of prints are in an evenly spaced, alternating sequence and most definitely a track pattern. The site is about a half-mile from a site where an ancient hearth, stone tools and the earliest evidence of human tobacco use was found.

Work alongside archaeologists and contribute to science-join one of the archaeological digs from Ancient Odysseys in 2023.