All posts by Archaeology World Team

Christians Hid a Dinosaur Fossil 170 Years Ago Because It Contradicted the Bible

Christians Hid a Dinosaur Fossil 170 Years Ago Because It Contradicted the Bible

After 170 years of being concealed by god-fearing individuals, a fossil from a prehistory sea dinosaur, the Ichthyosaurus, has finally been identified, with 160 million years old evidence of life in tow.

Religions have historically not been too open about new scientific findings that clash with established dogma.

So when a family in England in 1850 inadvertently unearthed a dinosaur fossil, an Ichthyosaurus, to be precise, they promptly re-buried it because it flew in the face of the religious teachings the family held dear.

And the find preceded Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by a few years, so one can only imagine how mystified these folks were at the sight of this enormous, lizard-like fish skeleton.

Fossil of Ichthyosaurus.

In fairness to the Temperley clan, of Somerset, the discovery must be framed within the context of their times, Victorian England, a time in which faith ruled communities and folks believed their origin stories lay in the Bible.

Understanding the period in which they lived makes the reasons they re-buried the fossil all the more clear. Now, however, the fossil is the family’s pride and joy, and more than that, it’s part of their brand and business.

Julian Temperley is the head of the family’s distillery, which makes brandy cider, and he is featuring the fossil on an array of product logos. How times have changed!


He told the story of how his ancestors first discovered the Ichthyosaurus in an interview with IFL Science, a web page devoted to science and nature. He explained how his relatives first found the fossil on their property in 1850.

Initially, they took it back to the family home, where everyone marvelled over this curious object. But they felt keeping it, or trying to understand what it actually was, or displaying it, was “denying god,” Temperley said.

Hence, they took it back to the quarry where it had been unearthed and promptly re-buried it.  “Fossils weren’t really explained until Darwin came along,” Temperley said. “Up until then, if you believed in fossils you were denying the Bible.”

Ichthyosaurus fossil.

Over the ensuing decades, he added, “whenever we visited Somerset as kids, we dug it up and were generally amazed.”

As the years passed and the strictures of the church loosened, the family came to realize the fossil was something to be prized and shown.

But it was an act of nature, a flood in 2013 — 2014, that was the deciding factor in the skeleton’s favor.

“We realized it was not a good idea to leave it buried,” Temperley told IFL Science. “I thought we ought to look after it.” Consequently, he spent more than $3,500 (USD) to have the skeleton fully restored and mounted.

Ichthyosaurus skeleton.

But the “fish lizard” is paying him back, as it’s now an integral part of his family’s brand of brandy cider. “Putting it with ageing spirits,” Temperley noted wryly, “seems like the right thing to do.”

Although the hidden dinosaur fossil of the Ichthyosaurus found on the Temperley property so long ago is a rare discovery, the 90 million-year-old remains are not the only one of their kind.

Though the creature has been extinct for many centuries, the longest skeleton found was almost 11.5 feet, discovered by an archaeologist in the 1990s.

That one hangs at a museum in London, and while it may be the largest, it doesn’t have the distinction of adorning a family label — that unique honour goes only to the Temperley creature, truly one of a kind.

Incredible 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread is uncovered at a church near the Sea of Galilee

Incredible 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread is uncovered at a church near the Sea of Galilee

In the ancient city of Hippos, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, an image of Jesus ‘ miracle might have been discovered. There stand the ruins of an old church that was burned down long ago. 

Completed either in the later part of the 5th century or early in the 6th century, the building was probably burnt up in the 7th century, as Fox News states when the city was invaded by the Sassanian Empire.

The longer men have lived in an area, the more common it is to find the remnants older civilizations and times, and Israel has been populated for millennia. 

What makes this particular church interesting, however, is what archaeologists recently found under the rubble and ash.

The church’s floor boasts a colorful mosaic containing inscriptions and images of baskets containing loaves and fishes, which experts believe may depict Jesus’s miracle of the ‘feeding of the 5,000’.

Site of Hippos in Israel.
Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)—The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes—c.1620

A spokesperson for the University of Haifa, who has been involved in the excavation, remarked in a statement that when the roof of the church was burning, inches of ash fell to the floor, covering and preserving the mosaic from the elements for the next 1,500 years.

The mosaic depicts baskets of birds, fruit, and fish, and is thought to be referring to the miracle described in the bible, in Matthew 14:13-21, in which Jesus is said to have broken up five loaves and three fishes and used them to feed the multitudes.

A fire destroyed the fifth-century church in 700AD but the mosaic-paved floor has been remarkably preserved throughout the centuries by a layer of ash

Michael Eisenberg, Ph.D., is the head of the Haifa University team doing the excavation and said while there were certainly other possible explanations for the imagery found in the mosaic, it was hard to ignore the close parallels between it and the story in the New Testament. 

He also allowed that there are some differences, as well.  Some of the baskets in the mosaic are holding fruit, for example, and some others hold three fish, rather than two, as is described in the bible.

A 2,000-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand has been unearthed during an excavation of an ancient city near the Sea of Galilee

Eisenberg’s statement also talks about the implications of the find. He notes that, although the bible doesn’t give the exact location for where the event was supposed to have occurred, only calling it ‘a remote place’, it’s generally believed by religious scholars to have happened near the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee, according to Live Science. 

However, that somewhat vague biblical description could also be applied to the area north of Hippos, where the Burnt Church is located, as well.

The church is situated at the western edge of Mount Sussita, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and the Jesus ministry, where most of his miracles are said to have happened.

Eisenberg suggests that the locals would have been familiar with the miracles when they occurred, and would have a much better idea about the locations involved than modern scholars would.

That would suggest that the mosaic was commissioned by someone who wanted to ‘create an affinity’ with a miracle that occurred nearby.

Hippos is located on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, so if Eisenberg’s suppositions are true, then religious scholars may have been completely wrong about where the event is supposed to have happened.

He further said that he believes that Jesus performed the miracle on the east side of the Sea, before walking across the water to the northwestern shore, which is the area where the Church of the Multiplication is located. 

That church also has a mosaic whose imagery makes reference to the same miracle, although it shows two fish and only four loaves of bread, not five, meaning that the mosaic in the Burnt Church correlates more closely to the story in the New Testament.

The newly-uncovered mosaic also has some variation from the biblical description, however, so the team’s speculations will have to remain speculations, at least for now. 

All the same, the mosaic may offer scholars new avenues of thought and inquiry as they attempt to piece together the place where faith and history come together.

Ancient images of gladiators unearthed at the city of Pompeii

Ancient images of gladiators unearthed at the city of Pompeii

Archeologists in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii have uncovered a well-preserved fresco showing fighting gladiators.

This scene marks the end of a war between a murmullo and a Thracian form of gladiator, one victorious and the other losing. Both types are described by weapons and armor.

It is the latest discovery in Regio V, a 21.8-hectare (54-acre) site to the north of the archaeological park that is yet to open to the public.

A detail from the fresco of two gladiators fighting that was found at a site north of Pompeii’s archaeological park

The fresco was found on a wall beneath the stairwell of what was probably a tavern frequented by gladiators and which provided accommodation on a higher floor for them to sleep with sex workers.

“It’s very probable that this place was frequented by gladiators,” said Massimo Osanna, the director-general of Pompei’s archaeological park.

The fresco was discovered on a wall in what was probably a tavern frequented by gladiators.

“We are in Regio V, not far from where there were barracks for gladiators, where among other things, there was graffiti referring to this world.

“Of particular interest in this fresco is the very realistic representation of wounds on the wrist and chest of the unsuccessful gladiator … we don’t know the outcome of the fight, he could have died or was given grace.”

A well-preserved ‘fast food’ counter was unearthed in March.

Excavations at Regio V have yielded dozens of discoveries since work began last year as part of the EU-funded Great Pompeii Project.

A frescoed “fast food” counter, or thermopolium, was found in March and another depicting the mythological hunter Narcissus enraptured by his own reflection in a pool of water was discovered in February.

Human remains have also been found, including the skeletons of two women and three children huddled together in a villa, as well as the remains of a harnessed horse and saddle.

Much work has been done across the entire park, which has attracted almost 4 million visitors a year since 2013 when Unesco threatened to place it on its list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved on preservation.

“A few years ago the archaeological site of Pompeii was known throughout the world for its negative image: the collapses, the strikes and the queues of tourists under the sun,” said Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini.

“Today’s story is one of redemption and millions of more tourists. It is a welcoming site, but above all, we have returned to doing research through new digs.

“The discovery of the fresco shows that Pompeii is an inexhaustible mine of research and knowledge for today’s archaeologists and for those of the future.”

Oldest Mummy Ever Found in the World 5,500-Year-Old Egyptian Man British Museum

Oldest Mummy Ever Found in the World 5,500-Year-Old Egyptian Man British Museum

A five-hundred-year-old mystery murder could be solved after forensic experts found Ginger, the Egyptian mummy housed at the British Museum, was a young man stabbed in the back during peacetime.

Oldest Mummy Ever Found in the World 5,500-Year-Old Egyptian Man British Museum
Ginger, the Egyptian mummy housed at the British Museum

Forensic scientists have moved closer to solving a 5,500-year-old cold case crime after new technology allowed them to study fatal wounds on the body of a famous mummy.

The corpse, known officially as the Gebelein Man, has been nicknamed Ginger due to his red hair and seen by millions of visitors to the British Museum.

Experts, who used digital images and scanning technology, have now concluded he was almost certainly murdered by an assailant who caught him by surprise.

His injuries suggest he was the victim of a deliberate, violent killing during a period of peace, with his shoulder blade damaged and the rib underneath shattered in a manner consistent with a stab wound.

The virtual autopsy table reveals the stab wound of Gebelein Man. Photographer: Kristofer Jannson

That, in combination with a lack of defensive wounds, indicates Ginger was caught by surprise and stabbed in the back as he went about his daily business.

The mummy, which has lain in the British Museum since 1901, was moved temporarily to Cromwell Hospital in West London to undergo a CAT scan, allowing experts to study his internal organs for the first time.

Ginger is now believed to have been aged between 18 and 21 when he died, with developed muscles.

He was stabbed by a blade of copper or flint at least five inches long.

The virtual autopsy table reveals the skeleton of Gebelein Man. Photographer: Kristofer Jannson

Daniel Antoine, curator of physical anthropology at the museum said: “Not only have we been able to discover that Gebelein Man was young when he died but, unexpectedly, the 3D visualization of the CT scan has confirmed that he was stabbed in the back.

“The analysis of ancient human remains rarely reveals the cause of death but the cut on his back, as well as the damage to the underlying shoulder blade and rib, are characteristic of a single penetrating wound.”

He added the lack of defensive wounds suggests Ginger was caught by surprise rather than being killed in battle.

Experts found the blow, delivered to his shoulder blade, was so forceful it shattered a rib immediately, embedding bone fragments into his muscle tissue, and injuring the left lung and surrounding blood vessels.

The absence of any signs of healing and the severity of the injuries suggest that this can be considered the cause of death, a spokeswoman for the British Museum said.

Visitors to the museum can now use a touch screen on the “virtual operating table” to examine the body more closely than ever before, in an attempt to find clues about his life and death.

The body was discovered in 1896 in a shallow grave in the Egyptian sand. He is believed to have lived around 3,500 BC in an area close to the Nile and about 25 miles south of Thebes.

He is considered to be of the best-preserved mummies in the world, after the heat and sand combined to keep his body largely intact.

It is not known whether Ginger’s murderer was ever caught.

Scientists discover unique carcass of extinct ‘pygmy’ woolly mammoth on island off Siberian coast

Frozen pygmy woolly mammoth carcass unearthed in Siberia could be proof of a new species of ice age beast

Scientists have discovered relics of Mammuthus exilis, or what they’re calling a “Golden mammoth”, named after the color of its seemingly strawberry blonde colored hair.

The discovery of the carcass proves the existence of a miniature or “dwarf” species of a woolly mammoth — something that’s never been seen by scientists before.

The remains of this “Golden mammoth” was about two meters (or about six and a half feet) in height, which is extremely small when compared to a typical woolly mammoth that was on average three meters (or around ten feet) tall.

The mammoth was found on Kotelny island in the Siberian region of Russia. Scientists have heard reports of smaller mammoths being found in this particular area before, but the discovery of this carcass solidified their existence.

Dr. Albert Protopopov of the Yakutin Academy of Sciences said that scientists “have had reports about small mammoths found in that particular area, both grown-ups and babies. But we had never come across a carcass. This is our first chance to study it.”

Dr. Protopopov working on Kotelny Island.
It has been preserved in permafrost for between 22,000 and 50,000 years. Picture: Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha

Scientists have more to figure out, namely whether the discovery of the animal is a one-off or if mini woolly mammoths were specific to the region where the carcass was found.

The bones of what scientists believe were pygmy-sized woolly mammoths have been discovered in the Arctic region of Russia, but Dr. Protopopov believes that this “Golden mammoth” is an entirely new species of pygmy mammoth.

He believes that this species roamed the earth earlier and was not a rare breed, but an evolutionary adaptation specific to the location where it was found.

Dr. Protopopov was joined by a team of “paleontologists, archeologists, zoologists, botanists, entomologists and permafrost experts” on this expedition to Kotelny Island where the “golden mammoth” was discovered.

He told The Siberian Times, “I believe that this mammoth is related to the period of the heyday of the species, which was supposed to be in the Karginsky interglacial time (between 50,000 and 22,000 years ago).

Our theory is that in this period the mammoths significantly rose in numbers –  and this led to the biggest diversity of their forms. So we want to check this theory.”

Where the new species of the woolly mammoth was discovered makes this find all the more interesting. Koletny island, as well as much of the Russian Arctic region of Siberia, is completely frozen in the winter — including the sea.

An Arctic expedition was undertaken by Russia’s Defence Ministry on Kotelny Island.

The mammoth was found in what Dr. Protopopov describes as “an inaccessible place, and is almost completely buried in the ground in a tidal area,” making this discovery particularly remarkable.

Europe has been experiencing one of the hottest summer’s of record, and the extreme temperatures could have enabled the ice to melt enough to make this discovery possible.

It’s a find that has scientists extremely excited, and it’s quite possible that they have the unusually hot summer season to thank for that.

Excavation of the “Golden Mammoth” has been set to start in the summer of 2019, and it’s likely that scientists will be able to find more animals that have been as well preserved underneath the ice as this latest discovery.