All too often, construction work gets a bad rap for being noisy, disruptive and messy but, of course, it’s a necessary part of contemporary society and it won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
But as useful as the industry is for building all those houses we need, not to mention other necessary infrastructure like hospitals, schools, care homes and other such facilities, it seems that the construction sector is also incredibly useful for something else… making exciting historical discoveries!
All sorts of amazing finds have been uncovered over the years, so we thought we’d take a look back and recount some of the most intriguing discoveries that have been unearthed by diggers, excavators and the like. Enjoy!
A 700-year-old ship
News just in! Earlier this month (April), Metro reported that a 13th century ship was discovered just five feet or so beneath where construction workers were building office space in Tallinn in Estonia. It’s thought it is a Hanseatic cog that was owned by the Hanseatic League, a merchant alliance made up of various European nations.
The most famous example of a ship of this kind was the Bremen cog, which was found in Germany back in 1962, but experts now say that this particular vessel is 82 years older and in even better condition… so it’s a very exciting discovery indeed!
Archaeologist Mihkel Tammet was quoted by the news source as saying: “800 years ago we had almost two metres of water here.
“There were probably shallower underwater sand ridges which were hard to map because they changed their shape and location because of ice drifts and storms. Our ship was found on one of these ridges under the sediments. It sank close to the Härjapea river mouth.”
An ancient Maya ball court
Back in 2014, construction workers were building a basketball at a local school in Maxcanu in the Yucatan region of Mexico when, by a quirky little twist of fate, they uncovered an ancient Maya ball game court made up of a long narrow playing field flanked by two walls.
According to Ancient Origins, this particular ball court was found at the foot of a mountain, on a prime piece of agricultural land, suggesting perhaps that the ball game itself could have links to an ancient ritual celebrating the corn god and marking the start of the agricultural season.
A time capsule from 1894
Back in 2015, a shoebox-sized time capsule from 1894 was discovered buried inside part of the Ruthven road bridge in the Cairngorms National Park, according to The Scotsman. In it was a folded newspaper from September 22nd 1894, a bottle of what was thought to be whisky and a paper scroll.
The discovery was made when construction workers from Morgan Sindall started to replace the bridge for Highland Council, with the company going on to work with children from a local primary school on their own time capsule.
Over in the US in 2016, construction crews working on the Valley Football Center expansion project at Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium uncovered 10,000-year-old bones of a woolly mammoth, as well as other extinct mammals from the Ice Age.
Loren Davis, associate professor of anthropology, was quoted by Oregon Live as saying: “It just goes to show there’s a whole world of the past that exists underground. It’s so neat we could find it here at Reser Stadium. As you’re watching a football game, you can think, beneath your feet, lie the bodies of extinct animals that relate to the past.”
A Roman trading settlement
During construction work for the HS2 railway project, archaeologists discovered what started out life as an Iron Age village in South Northamptonshire but later evolved into a wealthy Roman trading town.
The site began in the Iron Age, with more than 30 roundhouses making up the village and built alongside an Iron Age road. Over time, the settlement was able to expand and became more prosperous during Roman times, with new roads and new stone buildings.
It’s thought that the inhabitants continued living at the site and adapted to a new Roman way of life, learning new customs, building techniques and products.
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