2023's Archaeological Wonders: A Year of Thrilling Discoveries

By Jack Ripley | January 26, 2024

Easter Island's Ancient Guardians: A New Moai Emerges from the Earth

Delve into the thrilling world of archaeology as we embark on a journey through the remarkable discoveries of 2023. Join us in unveiling the hidden treasures, ancient mysteries, and long-forgotten civilizations that have resurfaced in the past year. From sunken cities to lost palaces, each find is a testament to human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of our shared history. Step back in time and witness the wonders that the sands of time have graciously revealed.

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Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In the remote expanse of Chile's volcanic Easter Island, a new chapter in the island's storied history unfolds as archaeologists unearth a freshly discovered Moai statue. These iconic stone-carved guardians were originally crafted over 500 years ago by the indigenous Polynesian tribe that once thrived on the island. What sets this finding apart is its location—revealed within a dry lakebed, a testament to the changing climate. In the wake of a volcanic eruption that caused damage to the statues in 2022, the possibility of uncovering more Moai holds immense historical significance for both the native Rapa Nui community and eager tourists. Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, continues to captivate the world with its enigmatic treasures.

Herculean Mysteries Unearthed: A Roman Sewer's Hidden Treasure

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Parco Archeologico dell'Appia Antica, Rome

Beneath the bustling streets of Rome, construction workers undertaking the restoration of a century-old sewer recently made an astonishing discovery—a life-sized marble sculpture depicting a man adorned as the legendary Hercules, recognizable by his distinctive lion-skin headdress. Situated along the historic Appian Way, this remarkable find has piqued the curiosity of archaeologists and art enthusiasts alike. Led by 27-year-old archaeologist Federica Acierno, experts are carefully studying and cleaning the statue, despite both of its legs being broken. Remarkably, the statue's base, complete with its feet, has also been unearthed.

However, the mystery deepens as it appears the sculpture was intentionally buried within the sewer pipe a century ago, some 65 feet below the current street level. Due to its displacement from its original location, dating the artwork becomes a challenge. Instead, experts are relying on its physical characteristics. Notably, the statue's weathered face bears a striking resemblance to Emperor Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius, also known as Decio Traiano, based on known coins featuring his likeness. Decio Traiano ruled from 249 to 251, raising intriguing questions about the statue's origin and its connection to this enigmatic emperor.