Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries of 2014
Never before heard of in ancient Egyptian history, King Seneb kay's name was found inscribed in hieroglyphics written inside a royal cartouche - an oval with a horizontal line at one end signalling a royal name. King Saneb kay was found in a wooden sarcophagus inside a badly damaged stone tomb with no roof. He was originally mummified but his body was destroyed by ancient tomb robbers and only his skeleton remained. No funerary goods were found in the tomb, which confirms it had been looted in ancient times.
"This was the first time in history to discover the king," said Ali Asfar, Head of Antiquities for the Egyptian government.
In an amazing discovery in the jungles of Mexico, archaeologists uncovered two ancient Mayan cities, including ruined pyramid temples, palace remains, a monster mouth gateway, a ball court, altars, and other stone monuments. One of the cities had been found decades ago but all attempts to relocate it had failed. The other city was previously unknown and is a brand new discovery, shedding new light on the ancient Mayan civilization. Expedition leader Ivan Sprajc, of the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), explained that the finding was aided by aerial photographs of the tropical forest of central Yucatan in the state of Campeche, Mexico. Some anomalies were noticed among the thick vegetation of the forest and so a team was sent in to investigate further. Archaeologists were stunned to discover an entire city in an area between the Rio Bec and Chenes regions, extending some 1,800 miles, which are characterised by their Classic architecture dating to around 600 to 1,000 AD.
Sprajc explained that both cities “open new questions about the diversity of Maya culture, the role of that largely unexplored area in the lowland Maya history, and its relations with other polities."
Archaeologists excavated a spectacular Macedonian tomb in Kasta Hill, Amphipolis, dating to the period of Alexander the Great (4 th century BC), resulting in the discovery of human remains which are currently undergoing testing.
Kasta Hill lies in what was once the ancient city of Amphipolis, conquered by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, in 357 BC. Experts have known about the existence of the burial mound in Amphipolis, located about 100km northeast of Thessaloniki, since the 1960s, but work only began in earnest there in 2012, when archaeologists discovered that Kasta Hill had been surrounded by a nearly 500-meter wall made from marble.
Several months ago, archaeologists discovered a path and 13 steps leading down from the surrounding wall. It was then that they uncovered a limestone wall protecting and concealing the entrance of the tomb of Amphipolis. Behind the wall, archaeologists revealed two marble sphinxes, both headless and missing their wings, but these were recovered during excavations. Bit by bit, the grand tomb began revealing the secrets that had lain hidden for 2,300 years, including two magnificent caryatid statues, a detailed mosaic depicting the Abduction of Persephone, and a secret vault containing a limestone sarcophagus with human remains. Archaeologists are due to announce the discovery of the tomb’s occupant in one month’s time.
In a groundbreaking news release in September 2014, archaeologists revealed the results of a four-year-long project to map the hidden landscape beneath the surface of the Stonehenge environs, and what they found was nothing short of amazing. Through their high-tech devices they could see a landscape teeming with burial mounds, chapels, shrines, pits, and other structures, which had never been seen before. The biggest surprise was a 330 metre long line of up to 60 buried stone pillars, inside the bank of a large, bowl-shaped feature called Durrington Walls, Britain’s largest henge, which sits beside the River Avon.
The discovery dramatically alters the prevailing view of Stonehenge as the primary site in the landscape. Instead it presents the Salisbury Plain as a an active religious centre with more than 60 key locations where ancient peoples could carry out sacred rituals and fulfil their religious obligations. “This is not just another find,” said Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Birmingham. “It’s going to change how we understand Stonehenge.”