The way Hollywood portrays archaeologists and archaeology is completely different from reality. The idea of archaeology in Hollywood is attractive figures on a quest to unearth the most mystical artifacts of all time, while ancient traps try to thwart their efforts. However, the reality is not even remotely close to any of that. The field is basically hours of hard work, where each individual sits under the hot sun and carefully brushes his/her way through soil or sand to reveal something that is probably a few thousand years old. Surely, they don’t come across mummies that come to life, but they do discover some gruesome and disturbing stuff. Here, we are listing 10 of the most disturbing archaeological discoveries ever made.
1. The Headless Vikings of Dorset.
In June 2009, while excavating in preparation for the anticipated Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset, England, archaeologists discovered a mass grave containing the remains of 54 dismembered skeletons and 51 skulls in a pile within a disused Roman quarry.
The archaeologists had unearthed a mass grave containing the headless remains of 54 Viking mercenaries. The team of archaeologists decided to carefully study the positions of the bones. From their findings, they discovered that the bodies and heads were all neatly placed in separate places. The study also concluded that they were all executed, rather than dying while fighting in a war, since their bodies all had the same sword blows. Archaeologists believe that the viking men were captured and sacrificed in a very ritualistic manner.
2. The Screaming Mummy.
Mummification was a ritual that was performed in ancient Egypt. The religious ritual was performed on kings, queens and the powerful.
In 1886, Gaston Maspero, the head of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, was unwrapping the mummies of the 40 kings and queens, when he discovered an unidentified mummy that had not been prepared in accordance with custom. His face showed the utmost terror, which makes experts believe that the man was alive during the process. Since the body had no markings nor beared any name, it was given the name “Unknown Man E”. 100 years later, a team of Egyptologists, accompanied by National Geographic, reopened the case.
The team discovered that the hands and feet of the corpse had been bound for some unknown reason and the jaw was wide open as if screaming in agony. It is believed that in an effort to damn the man, he was either tortured or poisoned before being buried alive.
3. Corpses of the Bog.
The peat farmers of Northern Europe, occasionally come across soul-scarring corpses of people of the ancient times. The bodies are well preserved and stored in places where low temperature and lack of oxygen can play a huge role.
Many scholars believe that the bog bodies were some kind of ritual sacrifice to the gods—perhaps a fertility offering. People who put these bodies in the bog, considered it to be a sacred place. Several such bodies were discovered as part of the bog ritual; which is believed to be a sacrifice for good harvest, safe return of their people, safety from sickness and for good health, etc.
4. The Prehistoric Plague House.
Coming across a dead body can be scary but how would you react if you came across the remains of 97 human bodies? Archaeologists, while excavating, came across a small 5,000-year-old house in a prehistoric village in northeast China which was filled with almost 100 bodies.
While excavating the Chinese village of Hamin Mangha, the 20 almost identical houses seemed to contain nothing but broken pottery, until the gruesome discovery was made inside one of the houses. The victims, aged 19-35 years, were similar to the bodies found in a mass-grave nearby; suggesting that they were locked inside as a form a contamination technique. Some archaeologists believe that the village was plagued by some disease and it was spreading at such a rapid rate, that all of the bodies could not be buried.
5. A 2,000-Year-Old, Intact Corpse.
The body in question belongs to Xin Zhui, a Chinese noblewoman, who was so well preserved by her contemporaries that doctors in 1972 were able to perform an autopsy on her remains.
In 1971, workers digging an air raid shelter near the city of Changsha uncovered an enormous Han Dynasty-era tomb. Inside the shelter was over 1,000 perfectly preserved artefacts, as well as what some claim to be the most perfectly preserved corpse ever found. The tomb belonged to Xin Zhui, the wife of the ruler of the Han imperial fiefdom of Dai. Xin Zhui, the Lady of Dai, died between 178 and 145 BC, at around 50 years of age. Her body is so well preserved that it can be autopsied by pathologists as if it were only recently dead.