Rediscovered Discoveries

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


I have dreams about exploring the basements and storerooms of museums and universities.

No, I don't have some weird obsession with dark, dusty rooms, the basements of these historic meccas are packed full of artifacts that are often still in the crates they were packaged in when they were unearthed from the ground! There are so many things that have not yet been studied, or even discovered, and they are sitting, waiting for someone to find them, beneath the shiny display cabinets and perfectly placed lighting that grace the floors above them. 

Workers preparing burials for transport (A photo of a photo in Archaeology Magazine November/December 2014)

Proof that we still have an opportunity to rediscover our discoveries came from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology just recently. According to Archaeology Magazine, researchers there finally identified the origin of a 6,500 year old skeleton that had been sitting in their storeroom for decades. 

Documentation relating to the skeleton had long disappeared and without the context of where it came from, it was difficult to really study the remains. As part of a project to digitize old documents, the researchers came across Sir Leonard Woolley's notebooks (between 1922 and 1934, he excavated the Sumerian site of Ur in southern Iraq), and were able to connect the unidentified skeleton to this excavation due to the way it had been preserved! 

A complete skeleton that old is extremely rare, and with the new technologies that researchers have at their fingertips, the Penn Museum is optimistic that this new knowledge will help provide new information about the little-known culture that existed at Ur. 

See — there's still plenty of mystery in this world!